[Review] Nitecore LA30 Lantern ... Built-in Li-ion + 2xAA! + High CRI

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CivilGearReviews
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[Review] Nitecore LA30 Lantern ... Built-in Li-ion + 2xAA! + High CRI

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Hi All! Nitecore sent me the LA30 to test and wanted to share my thoughts and results here.

***

This is a new addition to Nitecore’s L-series (for lanterns) which features BOTH a built-in li-ion battery and the option to add 2xAA (Alkaline or NiMH)! If you’re in need of an everyday lantern, whether at home or abroad, say hello to the LA30!

Nitecore LA30 Lantern Review CivilGear 037

Nitecore LA30 Lantern Review CivilGear 003
 Link to manufacture product page: http://flashlight.nitecore.com/product/la30

 

OVERVIEW

Overall, you can’t really find a lantern that has 2 different power sources which is a really handy feature. If inside the light can light a room or tent very well but if you are outside, it’s best that the light be hanging and pointed down; that’s when the magnet and hook come in very well, but you may want to bring some  nails or twine to help mount the light to a tree.

 

QUICK SPECS

20180326141551_55044[1]

 

FEATURES

20180326141552_57851[1]

 

SIZE

20180326141518_96086[1]

 

INCLUDED

  • NITECORE LA30 lantern
  • O-ring for battery cover
  • O-ring for screw
  • USB charging cable
  • Instruction Manual (pdf)
  • Warranty Card

Nitecore LA30 Lantern Review CivilGear 002

 

OPTIONS

There are 2 body colors available, yellow or blue.

 

PRICE

 Current price is $40 USD (buy links at the very end of the review).

 

LOOK & FEEL

OUTSIDE

The light has very pleasing curves and looks easy to clean if it gets dirty. I really like the large and triangular shaped switch, and the rubber cover makes it easy to find in the dark, perhaps having the rubber glow in the dark would be a nice touch. The ploycarbonate plastic feels very thick so I’m not worried about dropping it and getting any cracks. The USB cover is very easy to remove and it moves out of the way easily. The magnet is pretty strong and can hang upside down and on a vertical surface without sliding down by itself.  Another suggestion would be to shape the bottom of it so you can always have a small carabiner attached.

 

 

INSIDE

The thumb screw, used for accessing the AA battery bay, works fairly well but perhaps would have liked the tread to be a little thicker gauge. The AA contacts have brass/gold layer for good anti-corrosion protection and current flow. Also, there is no rattling noise when shaken.

 

 

ACCESSORIES

No other accessories except the USB cable is included.

 

OPTICS

LED SPECS

Nitecore says there are 8 High CRI LEDS but does not specify the make or model.

 

BEAM PROFILE

Nitecore does not really advertise the beam angle and this is usually the case for most lanterns.  From what  I’ve collected it seems to be a wide 240 degree total spill with a more concentrated area of about 140 total degrees. Notice the extra wide angle means that light will shine behind the lantern a little bit, although it’s relatively dim. 

The secondary red looks to have exactly the same beam profile so I didn’t measure it.

The first rectangular graph is cut across the beam and helps a bit better to see what angle the spill starts at as usually it is quite a bit dimmer then the center. It’s quite possible that a very low lumen outer spill might not register using these methods. The percentage is a relative comparison to the brightest light recorded (generally, in the center).

The second, polar graph, is a simulation of the light along the beam.

Currently, these readings are strictly sensor recorded, and are not adjusted based on human perception of light but may be an interesting idea for the future.

 

 

Secondary Red

 

TINT

The LA30 (left) is a bit warmer than the mostly neutral, Nichia 219B (in the Nitecore MT06MD penlight).

Nitecore LA30 Lantern Review CivilGear 029

 

Below is a quick color temperature graphic for reference. I usually use the “cloudy” color balance setting on my camera but tints don’t always appear exactly to the eye.

AGI Tint CCT

OUTPUT LEVELS

I’m pretty easy to please about mode spacing but my only remark is that the light does not have a 1 lumen output which someone may want in the middle of the night in a shared tent perhaps but I suppose you could use the lower 5 lumen red light in that situation as well.

Here is a video of me going through all the different modes:

 

Low->Mid->High

 

OUTDOOR BEAMSHOTS

 All the pictures below are taken with the light in HIGH.

 

POWER

BATTERY

The LA30 has a built-in Li-ion battery advertised at 1800 mAh. The user has the option of using 2xAA batteries (not included) as well. The AA batteries can be Alkaline or NiMH, no primary lithium or 14500 allowed.

 

INDICATORS

BATTERY LIFE

You can check the status of the battery by tapping the power switch; red indicator light will blink three times for more than 50% battery, twice for less than 50% battery, and once for less than 10% battery.

 

DURING CHARGING

The indicator light will be red while charging and bright green when completed.

 

CHARGING

The built-in battery took about 5h 30m to charge (a little more than the 5 hours stated in the manual), which resulted in a calculated capacity of about 2020 mAh (a little more than the advertised 1800 mAh). The port is easy to uncover and has wide accommodations for USB plug.

NITECORE LA30-USB

 

PERFORMANCE

NOTES ON METHODS

I measured the light output in relative LUX and I have not spent time yet to calibrated for lumens or factored % of max output. The charts I’ve provided, while are literally quantitative, I suggest using as a qualitative reference for how the output may behave over time; typically lights aren’t left on this long and the max output can be reset. 

PWM check using a 50 millisecond test period with a sampling rate of 3,000 times per second.

Temperature measurement condition is at room temp and currently no fan cooling.

I am still very new at doing these types of measurements so I am no authority on on this subject, but please let me know if things don’t look right or you see anything that I could do to improve for next time.

 

BATTERIES USED FOR TEST

The internal battery is used for one test and basic (2000 mAh) Enelopes are used for the other test.

 

RUNTIMES

It seems that the built-in battery and the AA batteries do not work together; if the AA cells are inserted then only the AA cells will be used and the user must remove them in order to use the built-in battery. Wish that it would use the AA batteries first then use the li-ion battery.

This runtime is for the built-in battery:

NITECORE LA30-HIGH

 

This runtime is for the 2xAA NiMH (Panisonic eneloops, 2000 mAh):

Nitecore LA30-AA-HIGH

 

Runitime for alkaline AA (Amazon Basics)

NITECORE LA30-ALKALINE-HIGH

PWM CHECK

There appears to be no significant PWM on any constant mode. Second graph is of Nitecore R25 that has PWM.

 

 

STROBES

There is no strobe. 

 

FLASHING/BEACON

For the red beacon the frequency is 1 flash every 2 seconds, with the flash lasting about 0.2 seconds.

 

TEMPERATURE

 A max temp of about 87°F was observed for High using the li-ion battery. 

 

 

USER INTERFACE

The UI is pretty straight forward and not many pit falls but I am firstly surprised that there are no special white modes like a white beacon or SOS; and for all the special red modes, I’d think there ought to be a red safety/warning flashing mode.

Perhaps the red profile could be accessed by a combo of: quick press then a press hold and then have special white modes with a quick double click of the switch. Curious that there is a red SOS but this sorta makes sense if you are on the side of the road and don’t want to shine bright white light at oncoming drivers.

Other thoughts:

  • There is a drop-and-find mode but when you turn on and off (in the regular manner) the light the drop and find light turns off. I wish it would stay enabled till you turned off the light with the extra long press and hold.
  • Wish there was a lockout mode, perhaps a x3 click or x4 click, but that may confuse the general consumer this is probably geared towards.
  • Glad it always starts in low

 

NITECORE LA30 USER INTERFACE DIAGRAM CIVILGEAR 01_1

 

CONCLUSIONS

 HIGHLIGHTS

  • Can use built-in battery or add your own AA batteries for long trips.
  • Great warm tint.
  • Has both a hook and magnetic base or attachment.
  • Large accessible power button.
  • Pretty easy user interface

 

 COMMENTS

  • Wish that the light could use AA batteries and switch to built-in li-ion battery when AA batteries are exhausted.
  • There is no white beacon or red warning flashing mode
  • Perhaps a lock-out mode would be nice.
  • Rubber bottom would be nice anti-slip improvement.
  • Would like drop-and-find mode to stay on until toggled off by, from on, doing long 3 sec press to turn off.
  • Would like exterior design to incorporate the use of a small carabiner

 

PURCHASE

The current price for the light is about $40 USD see links below:

Nitecore Store Link: http://www.nitecorestore.com/nitecore-la30-bi-fuel-lantern-p/fl-nite-la30.htm (non-affiliate)

 

ACCESSORIES

Panasonic Eneloop Pro 4xAA Ni-MH Rechargeable Batteries with Charger (affiliate)

 

NOTES

Disclaimers:

  • CivilGear Reviews received this product for testing and providing an honest review.
  • CivilGear Reviews was not paid for writing this review.
  • CivilGear Reviews is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com
mcfarlie6996
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I’m honestly thrilled that it has a warm tint. I have the LR30 and it’s near 5500K in my opinion and so I keep it in my car because that’s certainly not a tint that I’d enjoy camping with.

No primary lithium? I’m confused as to why not.

Does the light charge while it has AA batteries in it or does that interfere? Also, if it does charge, is it still operable while charging? I’m curious if you can charge the built-in battery while using the AA batteries. Or if the light will turn On at all while charging.

I’m a little disappointed at the runtimes. Or well mainly the ATR technology. I mean, does 250 lumens really create that much heat that the light needs it to drop in output? 87 degrees isn’t all that much but yet it loses half its output? Ehhh.

Nitecore!! You need a Moonlight mode on this!!! 8 lumens is too bright!!

Great review!

dealgrabber2002
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Does the lantern work while being charged?

bmengineer
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Not to be that guy, but if people are folloeing your suggestion to put nails into trees, please make sure your nails don’t have any copper in them.

Find all my reviews of flashlights and more gear at www.bmengineer.com

CivilGearReviews
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mcfarlie6996 Thanks! Yeah the manual says no on the primary lithium but I'm not sure why either, go figure. Good questions about charging the light with AAs in it, and yes it does charge the li-ion even if the AAs are in it. And yes I slipped up and forgot one of my pics that shows the light on while plugged into a power bank, thanks for catching!