SF14 review

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nquinn
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SF14 review

I’m very new to BLF, originally coming to look for a camping headlamp. In the process I also decided I wanted a small non-right angle light for home and the car that could be powered by AA batteries. (I find that AA batteries aren’t much bigger than AAA but offer a lot more capacity).

Sofirn kindly reached out to me asking if I’d review one of their newer models: the SP10a or the SF14.
At a glance, they look really similar, but the main difference is that the SF10a has a side switch, while the SF14 has a tail switch. A clicky tail switch sounded a lot more appealing to me, especially since the side switch of the 10a had a momentary delay. The downside is a tiny bit longer length.

Image of the flashlight at home:
https://imgur.com/a/7srFH
Amazon (non-affiliate) link: https://www.amazon.com/Sofirn-Flashlight-Keychain-waterproof-Excluded/dp...

Initial impressions

The light has a very sturdy, well made feeling. It comes with a lanyard kit, a clip, and 2 spare O-rings, indicating that it is IPX8 waterproof. The rear switch gives a satisfying click with just the right amount of pressure. A single AA battery (alkaline, I know, I know), slid nicely into the body without much play.

Operation

This is a pretty simple light – turning cycle through off, low, off medium, off, and high by clicking it with a full press click within a second or so of the last click. There is no memory, which means you’ll always end up in mode+1 when you turn it back on when clicking quickly, or it resets to low after some amount of time (probably 30 seconds of no clicking or so, I’m not sure of the exact amount)

It does have an interesting half-press mode though where you can cycle through the modes without turning it off. This works just fine, but doesn’t give the best tactile feedback while doing so. As a flashlight beginner I wasn’t familiar with this type of operation, but it does work pretty well.

Pros:
- Nice clean stepping modes. With a AA it does 3 fairly convenient modes: 3, 33, and 230 lumens. With a 14500 you are at 5, 110, and 600.
- Build quality feels really nice.
- Beam overall gives a medium hotspot with a bit of flooding around it. For a point & shoot style light I actually like this amount of throwy-ness.
- XP-G2 isn’t the most modern emitter, but is still very good. Apparently the XP-G3 isn’t as popular because it can give off some odd tints.
- Waterproofing is nice for this price
- Price is affordable: listed for around $15 on amazon right now

Cons

- As mentioned before, the lack of memory can be frustrating. However, for basic uses, this simplicity might be good.
- Medium mode on a 14500 seems a bit tough on battery life (110 lumen for 5 hours). I probably would have preferred something in the 30-50 range for most uses and longer battery life.
- Single AA battery flashlights have tremendous competition of course! I’d like to put this side by side with more lights. My guess is it’s not the smallest, but also not the biggest model either. It’s just a bit smaller than my H03 which is kind surprising since the H03 is an 18650 light.
- Packaging is kind of simple if you want to give this as a gift

Competitors

I’ll compare this to the lumintop tool AA which is a very common light around here:

Max lumens: Sofirn SF14 600 vs Lumintop 550
Lowest (not quite candle) mode: SF wins with 3-5 lumens (~100hrs) vs. 5-7 (~30-40hrs) to keep power down
Weight (no battery): 39g vs. 25g – Lumintop wins this one by 14g or about half an ounce
Length: 96mm vs Lumintop 80-90mm. Pretty similar.

Overall, I consider this a nice little 1xAA light. I’d say it’s worth the $10-$15 for a simple light. This would be a great light to give to someone that’s not a total flashlight/electronics nut and needs simple operation. (I think press and hold / double clicks / etc on flashlights can be a bit much for most people). I’d recommend this light, and will report back after a few months of usage to see how it holds up. Looking across other 1xAA’s the 600 lumen mark is actually one of the best out there.

After a week or so of use I still love clicking the tail cap of this light and love how much brightness I can get out of a simple AA.

Edited by: nquinn on 11/19/2017 - 11:11
DoubleA
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How does it compare against Thorfire?
.
If I believe correctly, most of Sofirn products are using Thorfire hosts.

and on the first day he said "Let there be light"...

Satan@103TFS
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I got SF14 with some promotion from Ali and like it very much for small EDC ,start on low and 600L on 14500. It one of my favorites.