Zoom vs Fixed, which is better, which do you prefer and why

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viktori's picture
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Zoom vs Fixed, which is better, which do you prefer and why

I'm not sure this topic was asked like this or covered, but lets see.

Here are my current views (no guarantee whatsoever that I'll stick to them by tomorrow Wink ).

I got my first Sipik SK68 yesterday, along with my first 14500s, and I must say I'm impressed. While I had thourough dislike for zoomies (that's junk, unreliable, useless, the lens only prevents the light from getting out, the rings are horrible, etc.), and initially ordered this as gift for friends and family ... I think I might actually keep this, until I find some better zoomie! I

love it!

I'll cheer for zoomies a bit, hope I won't upset anyone. Smile

Flood is great, rather uniform, useful for close quarters or when I need a lot of dispersed light.

Zoom is great, it's ultra bright, great when I need to put some light on a distant object, or perhaps even blind someone temporarily.

And both of these in such a small case! It's small enough that it fits in my palm, and only top and bottom (clicky and lens) are visible when I clench it in my fist (can also be used as support in a fistfight, though hope I won't ever have to use it for that). On 14500's it produces more light than my old Mag 5D could ever even dream of, both in flood and throw mode.

I also have Uniquefire G10 (6 mode) and Ultrafire V6-T60. Both are good and I like them. But...

G10's beam on AAs look like it's coming from a toy compared to Sipik's. I haven't tried G10 on 14500's because the driver will burn. I bought it to be used with AAs, and I think I'll keep it that way.

While V6-T60 does have XM-L and produces much more light (in total, because of the spill) than Sipik, Sipik's beam looks much more useful to me. It radiates more/less uniform beam from flood to throw, no need to point main beam away from the object because it's too bright, simply make it more floody and you see more area with equal brightness. With fixed beam XM-L, the fact that I have to move away the main beam from the close object and use the spill to see it, while at the same time the main beam is blinding me from the side started bothering me even before I got the sipik.

Something to break this wall of text:

Ultrafire V6-T60, Uniquefire G10, Sipik SK68

I'm actually thinking of getting an XM-L zoomie, but it would have to have a REALLY focused/small throw mode. Hopefully better than Sipik's. As far as I know that doesn't exist yet.

So, after my wall of text, what are your opinions and experiences? Smile

Which do you prefer, zoomies or fixed flashlights? And by fixed, I mean something with a reflector. Or aspherics, but that is a whole different category for very specific purposes.

Why do you prefer it?

Which do you hate, and why?

I'd love to hear what you guys have to say!


This is my flashlight collection.

Edited by: viktori on 03/09/2012 - 00:00
trooplewis's picture
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Joined: 03/26/2011 - 15:35
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Location: San Diego

I just own 2 zoomies, a Nebo Redline and an $8 AA one I got on ebay. I haven't used either one for 6 months, they just feel like cheap crap compared to a good non-zoomie. But then again, those two lights are pretty cheap stuff.

I think the reality is that when using them, I've never really needed the zoom.

Rats, finally sold my 2010 509hp Mustang...now I can buy more lights!

Sold the red one too! Now guess what I drive, doing my penance for 500 hp commuters...



viktori's picture
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Location: Croatia

Sipik IS cheap (crap). I probably like it even more because of that. It shines so bright and it's so cheap that if I broke it in any way I'd just order a new one. Smile

If I smashed V6-T60, I probably wouldn't replace it with another so easily.

This is my flashlight collection.

Last seen: 1 year 9 months ago
Joined: 05/07/2010 - 20:42
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Location: Seattle,WA

In general I don't like zoomies. The Sipik SK-68 is bright for its size as it's overdriven. I gave mine away however.

I've had several zoomies and I currently have two but only one that I would consider using. The funny thing is that everyone loves the Sipik and it seems most people who recently bought the Smallsun (larger sized) zoomie don't like it.

The Smallsun is the only one that I do like as far as zoomies go.

In general however I don't like the rings associated with them or the frequently less than tight or precise zoom and I especially don't like zoom lights in flood mode. I get that it's a rather even beam but I don't like the rings or even just the large sharp cut-off (outer circle).

I do like fixed aspherics for throw without spill. That's usually what I'm looking for on those occasions when I do want throw.

I don't mind carrying two lights if I'm going to need both flood and throw.

My general purpose lights are diffused so it's a nice even light source without the sharp cut-off and if they are multi-mode they still throw far enough for most uses.

If I need real throw I'm usually using a headlamp for flood and a compact fixed aspheric for the occasional throw.

The funny thing about the Smallsun zoom is that most mention it not having a memory but mine does have memory. You just have to wait about 30 seconds. The zoom action is firm and the aspheric has less rings than most of my other aspherics.

I think it's also fairly good looking. I don't like crenelation but at least it has minimal crenelation. I think it's pretty well built as well. It's certainly built better than the Sipik that everyone loves.

It's also $14 and throws about half the distance of something like the DBS aspheric that costs $90. It also throws about as far as I ever need a light to throw.

Boaz's picture
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Location: Birthplace of Aviation

You might want to try the tank 737 or an edi-t

both have superior built bodies and feel much better ..they also have multiple modes and  tighter hot spot on throw ..so they will throw further .

if you decide you don't care about throw as much , you can mod them with an xpg or xml emitter

                 υμεις εστε το φως του κοσμου ου δυναται πολις κρυβηναι επανω ορους κειμενη

                            Dc-fix diffuser film  >…  http://budgetlightforum.com/node/42208

harry25175's picture
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i prefer non zoomie flashlight as it is more useful in real life

Rusty Joe
Rusty Joe's picture
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Location: Houston, TX

I second Viktor's thoughts. The Sipik is super-cheap, has great illumination, is reliable, and best yet, is a work light that you never care too much about. When I'm done with the trophies, I go for it, and it's so easy to carry that it can be a great keychain piece. That and the SAIK SA-9 are my favs. That small emitter for throwing and insane flood...too cool. I just bought a batch of 5 more. I can't keep them. Friends keep buying them from me. The whole Engineering department at the lodge has them now.

Having said that, it must be stated that they have their limitations. When we have an incident and PD gets involved, the Ultrafire XM-L comes out. In the final analysis, the greater amount of light in non-zoomies seals the deal for them. They are that appreciated step up when you need them. Then again, most of the time when I really need illumination, I find that I just don't need that much light! 

Vectrex's picture
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Lens-based zoomies make great presents for non-flashaholics, especially here in Germany were almost everyone still thinks that inca. Mags are great lights. Maglite managed to condition the people to associate zooming action with "high quality"  lights. I have given away all my SK68 and RC-29, but I still own my C78 (1AA) and my liteXpress WORKX 501 3D Zoom. The C78 is mainly for closeup work and budget photography lightening... sometimes in a headband. The 501 almost never sees action. I own 30+ lights and only 2 are zoomies. Imho only the flood mode offers something new and unique over reflector based fixed lights. That totally even beam is just something else. General purpose I would always go with a reflector based light.

Attraction of the "Zoomie" and "Flood to Throw" lights.

Last seen: 1 year 9 months ago
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Location: Spain

I use more the zoomies than the fixed ones with reflector.

The one I am using most, is the Yezl T9, I love it on flood, it gives a very big and homogeneous image, which I really like for walking on rocks when I go fishing, as there is no hotspot, the volumes can be seen better than with fixed ones.

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i hate zoomies on bicycle, they lack depth of vision that reflector based light give me

i LOVED my new DRY on bike yesterday, medium mode was great in the woods

Last seen: 7 years 1 week ago
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Since getting into the SK-68s, most of my other lights are seeing a lot less use. My other lights are decent lights too that cost a lot more.

Last seen: 2 months 1 week ago
Joined: 07/30/2011 - 10:13
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I really like my sk68 too bad I have to gift it. I have 3 more on the way though and 2 RC-29.

Well I chose to have both but if I have to choose fixed lights it is. Water, beam and reliablity are some of my issues.

I like: walks on the beach, sushi and things that are paisley.

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motodeficient wrote:

Since getting into the SK-68s, most of my other lights are seeing a lot less use. My other lights are decent lights too that cost a lot more.

+1 it's so small, versatile and a good allrounder.

Ok the beam could be cleaner and the tint could be much nicer but overall this light is unbeatable.

Even my DRY doesn't have the same WTF-factor Smile

And everybody who sees it wants to have it!


Ledsmoke's picture
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Especially for real life situations where you need to be carrying just 1 light.

I know alot of guys are carrying 3 light now, but not me. I was always tired of the big Maglites even in 3*C.

Most my work is done in temperatures around 50°C and I carry loads of tools and machine parts around. I just dont want to carry another pund of flashlight if I can avoid it.

And the Sipik is great because it can run on both 14500 and AA and do really well on both! I love that. If i run out of battery in one shift i pop in a AA and still have a wonderful light for the rest of the shift.

So to sum it up: Below the 10USD mark I have not seen anything as small versatile and solid.

I would love to buy the smallsun zy10 xoomie but have not gotten around to it yet.

~ Ledsmoke ~

Dutch humor:


 I do not think that the BLF-community ben

Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
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Sadly due to patent restrictions (and reasons I cannot fathom) , all the flood to throws are usually cheap garbage.  They ALWAYS have the same High/Medium/Strobe modes, like there is some rule against normal low/med/high.

They are almost always woefully underdriven for no discernable reason. I mean, why CANT you run an XR-E at 1 amp?  It doesnt get all that hot.  Or an XM-L at 2.5 amps with a 1x18650?   They do it all the time with fixed lights.

I just wish there were actually GOOD flood to throws.

viktori's picture
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The one I already have is SK68 from DD. I have two more from TT on the way. At least some are going to be gifts.

I'm also fishing for both Saik SA-9 (or SA-22, are they the same?) and Small Sun ZY-C10.

The one that has tightest and clearest zoomed-in beam will probably end up my favorite and be my permanent EDC.


Though, I completely agree, these are all-rounders. For serious stuff, you'll get a serious flashlight. If I need a POWERFUL light, I'd take my V6-T60, as that's the most power I have at the moment. If I needed a baton, I'd take my Mag 5D, or the other noname cheap D cell junk I keep in my car. Some aspheric for hunting (I don't hunt but I'll probably get one of those eventually). The list goes on.


Sipik SK68 remains a cheap everyday flashlight that I can throw, hit, drop, run over, lose and give anyone without much fear or worry.


Rusty Joe and I are in accordance. Smile

This is my flashlight collection.