Whats the difference between a budget and expensive flashlight?

66 posts / 0 new
Last post

Pages

Bort
Bort's picture
Online
Last seen: 1 min 47 sec ago
Joined: 06/01/2012 - 17:15
Posts: 8531
Location: Holding the proverbial flashlight
Whats the difference between a budget and expensive flashlight?

Of course this is budget light forum but what does say Fenix or Surefire or other premium brands have on discount Chinese flashlights such as Sofirn, Convoy and so forth?

The Journal of Alternative Facts TM

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of alternative facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists"

 

 

 

raccoon city
raccoon city's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 hours 44 min ago
Joined: 10/06/2010 - 02:35
Posts: 17622
Location: रॅकून सिटी Palm Desert CA USA

I'm just guessing, but...

Better build quality, usually much better warranty, and sometimes more expensive flashlight features.

skinny_tie
skinny_tie's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 3 days ago
Joined: 09/23/2017 - 03:14
Posts: 528
Location: Australia

Off the top of my head:

  • Nicer packaging
  • Local retailers
  • Proprietary cells (Olight Silly )

I think some of the premium brands might have better regulated and more efficient constant current drivers compared to budget brands, but that seems to be changing.

raccoon city
raccoon city's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 hours 44 min ago
Joined: 10/06/2010 - 02:35
Posts: 17622
Location: रॅकून सिटी Palm Desert CA USA

"Location: Holding the proverbial flashlight"

 

Is that a reference to Proverbs 13:9?

The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.

YuvalS
YuvalS's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 hours 4 min ago
Joined: 09/26/2018 - 10:39
Posts: 524

Brot wrote:

Whats the difference between a budget and expensive flashlight?


The price?

My FW repository

My BLF/OL contest entries: 7th 8th 9th 

Bort
Bort's picture
Online
Last seen: 1 min 47 sec ago
Joined: 06/01/2012 - 17:15
Posts: 8531
Location: Holding the proverbial flashlight

raccoon city wrote:

“Location: Holding the proverbial flashlight”


 


Is that a reference to Proverbs 13:9?


The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.


Not intentionally, but why not Innocent

The Journal of Alternative Facts TM

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of alternative facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists"

 

 

 

Hank33
Hank33's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 months 23 hours ago
Joined: 11/22/2019 - 16:00
Posts: 1405
Location: Vancouver, B.C.

Maybe because Surefire has got a big contract with the different forces and it spread from there? Regarding the light itself, I don’t know if a Surefire is mod friendly but I’m guessing what you get from the factory is what you get so its tried and tested?

Geuzzz
Geuzzz's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 weeks 1 day ago
Joined: 10/25/2015 - 10:27
Posts: 1469
Location: Netherlands

More R&D costs
Higher production costs
Quality checks
More marketing costs
More costs in logistics, resellers, stock.
Better warranty

richbuff
Offline
Last seen: 2 weeks 5 days ago
Joined: 09/22/2015 - 20:38
Posts: 1060
Location: Prescott Az

An expensive flashlight may possibly be very big, and have multiple SBT 90.2 emitters and have tons of power and throw at the same time.

A budget can not be very big, and have multiple SBT 90.2 emitters and have tons of power and throw at the same time. 

Rev 22:15

TheIntruder
Offline
Last seen: 4 days 18 hours ago
Joined: 03/09/2018 - 02:11
Posts: 371

I love my Sofirns, but in comparing an Olight in the same market segment (18650 tube light with charging provisions):

- Olight is made of heavier gauge metal, with flawless anodizing. In hand, it has a heft like a sturdy tool, that the other doesn’t measure up to in that respect.

- The black carrying clip is still all black, after several years of use, and doesn’t exhibit any signs of a chipped finish revealing silver underneath, like the other did, fresh out of the box.

- Its knurling is more refined, and doesn’t feel rough, nor can any of the machined edges be considered sharp.

- The lens is crystal clear, and there is no dust or other contaminants in the reflector chamber.

- It was covered by a five-year warranty, with local, U.S.-based support, and in bespoke clear packaging.

Comparing on sale prices, the discounted Olight was still about double the cost of a typical budget light. It was my gateway into the world of “real” flashlights (don’t count Maglites), and I have no regrets.

That said, it remains my only “expensive” light, while I have a few other budgets lights.

Ironically, of the five Sofirn-made lights that have made it into my hands, the one with the best build quality carries another’s brand name.

Forsythe P. Jones
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/15/2021 - 00:40
Posts: 413
Location: California

I bought a few expensive lights in my CPF days. They were wonderful. The main difference was that the builder was simply trying to build the best light that they could, and implement some new idea that they felt needed building because no one was already building it. They weren’t trying to build yet another light of features X to sell at price Y. Also, they were present on the forum and discussed the design and construction as the light progressed, like the modders do here now.

In that era (before 2015 or so maybe), flashlights had mostly transitioned from incandescent to led, but lights were usually had just one or two brightness levels and were mechanically switched. The main cost of a light went into very high quality materials and maching, and you felt it when you held the light in your hand. There were no mysteries. The hard work and creativity that went into the light was right there in front of you. And justly or not, you felt like you had been part of the process yourself, and that investment made the actual dollars less relevant. So it felt perfectly fine to spend amounts that were crazy if you only went by volts and lumens.

A little later, computerized lights started to appear, and lights started to get “secret sauce”, which was not automatically bad, but which created a great locus to attract bullshit. So from what I gather, expensive lights became shiny baubles like a poor person’s Swiss watches, instead of carrying a sense that you were advancing the state of the art by discussing and buying the things. Meanwhile, the problems that had been difficult for the 2010-era modders became easy to crank out on an industrial scale. I get the impression that those two factors are why CPF shrank so much.

The most interesting new flashlight development to me personally is Anduril, which is what brought me here to BLF. Finally some of that creative spirit is again coming from the users and not just the faraway manufacturers. Of course some of the manufacturers/builders are here in person and I’m glad of that too. But it doesn’t do much for me when there is only a rep posting sales threads, instead of having the person with the machine tools and soldering gear actually here to talk to us.

Anyway, Anduril is an area where I hope I can contribute something, so from my perspective these are good times.

Funtastic
Funtastic's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 hours 45 min ago
Joined: 06/26/2014 - 02:14
Posts: 2336
Location: New Zealand

Way better quality control to the top name brands. As a dealer I’ve had heaps of issue with Sofirn and Convoy models.

Convoy: dirty contacts, loose retaining rings, off center LED, buggy driver firmware (sometimes), dust in reflector

Sofirn: uneven shelf, dirty contacts, dusty reflector, scratches (hidden with a black substance), driver faults

I’ve had a heap of Sofirn models arrive with a faulty driver and or side switch. Customer service is incredible from my contact though, no questions asked replacement.

I also stock the Skilhunt H04 RC headlamp and out of 50pcs I’ve only had one faulty.

Dalamar
Offline
Last seen: 18 min 26 sec ago
Joined: 04/25/2019 - 21:13
Posts: 280

Price matters little, you got Emisar selling linear junk at high prices while still having poorly manufactured hosts. Convoy sells well machined quality linear stuff at rock bottom pricing.

But Buck and buck/boost efficiency lights are 100% guaranteed to be $80+. I guess that’s capitalism for you, predatory as ever, you pay for the name or the features even if the production costs are not a lot different, maybe 10 bucks difference in parts…

I only like high CRI. Collection:

Fireflies NOV-MU 21 4500k E21A

Fireflies ROT66 219B SW45 D220

Fireflies E07 Copper 219B SW45k? (odd/higher lumen bin with lower r9 and higher cct?)

Fireflies E07 219B SW45k

Fireflies E07x Pro sst20 FA4 4000k 

 

Varmint removal:

Convoy M21A C8 ver SST20 4000k (5a)

Convoy S2+ SST20 4000k  FB4 (3200ma)

Memes:

BLF GT94

Emisar D18 660nm SST20 

 

 

CRI test dump https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1kcl_uOhgfpR4RSsa8F4b-UUVP9mkL6Cr...

Unheard
Unheard's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 hour 59 min ago
Joined: 01/16/2019 - 11:38
Posts: 2345
Location: Germany

Some have better drivers with more expensive components (Zebralight). Only way to know is to measure how much energy from the cells is used for generating light.

Smile, you cannot kill them all.

Forsythe P. Jones
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/15/2021 - 00:40
Posts: 413
Location: California

I haven’t compared Convoy etc. but compared to what I’m used to from CPF or even e.g. Fenix, Emisar lights are relatively cheap. Their most important features to me are presence of the builder (Hank) here on BLF, and hackable code (the USB pogo pin gizmo). I just ordered one and I hope there’s no issues with the machining, but I understand it’s a fairly low quantity item without the scale economies of the bigger brands. If the price point can’t cover good QC then I’d rather just pay more. I’m past the point of wanting hundreds of lights. A new fancy light is a once in a few years thing for me so I don’t mind saving up for it a little.

Funtastic
Funtastic's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 hours 45 min ago
Joined: 06/26/2014 - 02:14
Posts: 2336
Location: New Zealand

Fireflies’ QC is pretty bad too unless they’ve stepped it up since being a dealer last year. First package from them contained 14 problematic lights out of 24pcs. I’m still owed 3pcs replacements, but decided to drop the brand and refund customers who run into issues.

Fireflies have some excellent lights though Smile

CR888
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 3 weeks ago
Joined: 01/13/2021 - 08:31
Posts: 338
Location: Australia

What I like about budget lights us the Anduril or Narsil UI. Also the fact you often have a better choice of warmer emitters. I like my Olights, great high quality products but most of the lights are 6K-6.5K and I am just sick of cold tints. I have an Imalent SBT90.2 hunting light with a proprietary battery pack which is basically 2×21700 but can’t be replaced with regular 2×21700. To be honest many of my favourite lights have been designed/influenced by clever BLF members.

CR888

TermsakC
TermsakC's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 hours 54 min ago
Joined: 06/05/2021 - 22:47
Posts: 388
Location: Singapore

I have seen on this BLF pre-owned expensive flashlights can be sold quite easily when offered a 40-50% price cut.

But pre-owned budget flashlights have seldom been offered for sale. Sometimes they are just offered as “gifts” to those buying the expensiuve flashlights.

Unheard
Unheard's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 hour 59 min ago
Joined: 01/16/2019 - 11:38
Posts: 2345
Location: Germany

Dalamar wrote:
[…] you pay for the name or the features even if the production costs are not a lot different, maybe 10 bucks difference in parts…

Coming from a flower shop, I’d say $10 must make $20 in the final calculation plus a significant mark up on price due to the shrunken audience. And there’s the difference between a Sofirn and a Zebra.

Dalamar wrote:
[…] you got Emisar selling linear junk at high prices while still having poorly manufactured hosts.

Wow. Can’t really comment on the ‘poorly manufactured hosts’ except my Emisar and my Noctigon do not appear to be of poor quality. Until now, I even thought they were good value for price.

Smile, you cannot kill them all.

Dalamar
Offline
Last seen: 18 min 26 sec ago
Joined: 04/25/2019 - 21:13
Posts: 280

Unheard wrote:
Some have better drivers with more expensive components (Zebralight). Only way to know is to measure how much energy from the cells is used for generating light.

FF buck driver is not over $10 in parts, if Zebralight is buck/boost it might be a little more but pricing is still doubtful.
the usb charging ic in FF lights is under $1, doubt machining that hole costs over $1.50

If we assume an extra hour to assemble buck ver (unlikely it’s that much unless machining is bad) you basically paying China $25-30 per hour.

I only like high CRI. Collection:

Fireflies NOV-MU 21 4500k E21A

Fireflies ROT66 219B SW45 D220

Fireflies E07 Copper 219B SW45k? (odd/higher lumen bin with lower r9 and higher cct?)

Fireflies E07 219B SW45k

Fireflies E07x Pro sst20 FA4 4000k 

 

Varmint removal:

Convoy M21A C8 ver SST20 4000k (5a)

Convoy S2+ SST20 4000k  FB4 (3200ma)

Memes:

BLF GT94

Emisar D18 660nm SST20 

 

 

CRI test dump https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1kcl_uOhgfpR4RSsa8F4b-UUVP9mkL6Cr...

Dalamar
Offline
Last seen: 18 min 26 sec ago
Joined: 04/25/2019 - 21:13
Posts: 280

Unheard wrote:

Dalamar wrote:
[…] you got Emisar selling linear junk at high prices while still having poorly manufactured hosts.

Wow. Can’t really comment on the ‘poorly manufactured hosts’ except my Emisar and my Noctigon do not appear to be of poor quality. Until now, I even thought they were good value for price.

I had to soften the edges of every Emisar light I bought and the D18 was a bit obnoxious with all the extra ridges in the battery compartment. It was scratching the battery wrappers badly. The D4v1 had a bad thread (chipped anodizing)

Only one of the Convoys needed softening and it was basically the beta version.

I only like high CRI. Collection:

Fireflies NOV-MU 21 4500k E21A

Fireflies ROT66 219B SW45 D220

Fireflies E07 Copper 219B SW45k? (odd/higher lumen bin with lower r9 and higher cct?)

Fireflies E07 219B SW45k

Fireflies E07x Pro sst20 FA4 4000k 

 

Varmint removal:

Convoy M21A C8 ver SST20 4000k (5a)

Convoy S2+ SST20 4000k  FB4 (3200ma)

Memes:

BLF GT94

Emisar D18 660nm SST20 

 

 

CRI test dump https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1kcl_uOhgfpR4RSsa8F4b-UUVP9mkL6Cr...

turkeydance
turkeydance's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 hour 24 min ago
Joined: 02/20/2020 - 18:53
Posts: 1196

the difference between a budget and an expensive flashlight is love.
you better love your expensive flashlight, since it will last forever.

Maglites included.

Bort
Bort's picture
Online
Last seen: 1 min 47 sec ago
Joined: 06/01/2012 - 17:15
Posts: 8531
Location: Holding the proverbial flashlight

Many replies

I expect no warranty on a Chinese light. So i guess that is a big difference.

The build quality is an interesting thought, i seem to recall Omten switches being used which is good. The circuitry has been torn down for most lights.
That said i tend to buy well reviewed lights so perhaps i am getting the best of the Chinese lights and not the average or below average stuff.

Nicer packaging is nice but not worth much money to Bort.
Local retailers is a good point.

Drivers is an interesting one, until the XHP chips all drivers were simply linear but had to be upgraded to run a 6V chip off a 3.7V battery

Surefire having contracts is great but that doesn’t mean they have to raise the price for individual sales.

More R&D costs – If they are spending lots on R&D thats strange, there are BLFers doing stupendous work for next to nothing. They should hire those members and pay them big bucks.

Higher production costs – Most are made in China

Quality checks – This is some labour cost.

More marketing costs – Probably though i am not interested in paying for it.

Quote:
Olight is made of heavier gauge metal, with flawless anodizing. In hand, it has a heft like a sturdy tool, that the other doesn’t measure up to in that respect.

I have wondered if our lights are made of a good metal and if they are using the same anodizing as the big boys. I am reminded of an old BLF post from many years ago saying that the metal our lights are made of is not the high end stuff used in other applications. I can’t remember the exact post.

As for member participation in light design that is supremely awesome, though i am interested in the light itself, not whether a BLFer contributed to it. Not to say contributions are not good, we have some amazingly talented members who have improved this hobby immensely, from feature suggestions to pushiness the envelope mods to software programming.

Quote:

Way better quality control to the top name brands. As a dealer I’ve had heaps of issue with Sofirn and Convoy models.

Interesting. My sample size is small so your perspective is very appreciated.

Quote:
Convoy: dirty contacts, loose retaining rings, off center LED, buggy driver firmware (sometimes), dust in reflector

Yikes. So the quality control is poor, they are just building whatever then shipping it out the door.

Quote:
Sofirn: uneven shelf, dirty contacts, dusty reflector, scratches (hidden with a black substance), driver faults

I wonder what a GCMS would say about the black substance

Quote:
I’ve had a heap of Sofirn models arrive with a faulty driver and or side switch. Customer service is incredible from my contact though, no questions asked replacement.

Glad to hear they are incredible about it and that your not stuck holding the bag.

Quote:
I also stock the Skilhunt H04 RC headlamp and out of 50pcs I’ve only had one faulty.

Thats much better quality control, though one would wish it was zero.

The Journal of Alternative Facts TM

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of alternative facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists"

 

 

 

CR888
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 3 weeks ago
Joined: 01/13/2021 - 08:31
Posts: 338
Location: Australia

The more you pay, the better the advertising budget is which leads to a better distribution network. Often but not always does more money equate directly to higher quality.

CR888

Sirstinky
Offline
Last seen: 7 hours 48 min ago
Joined: 11/02/2018 - 17:07
Posts: 1437
Location: Vancouver, WA

The differences can be subtle or obvious. Like Fenix, Acebeam, Cyansky, Thrunite, even on some of Thrunites cheaper lights, you still get premium finishes with excellent quality. You also get things like fully regulated drivers (boost, buck, or both), and you also get quality control amd testing…Cyansky, Fenix, Imalent, Acebeam, and Olight all test their lights for accurate runtime, output, and I say trustworthy IP ratings. Don’t forget warranties…limited lifetime is common for those. You also get bundled accessories, which some budget brands leave out. I test a lot of lights and I can tell when one is expensive vs budget pretty easily, but there are times when it’s not so obvious (like with Convoy). Then you have enthusiast brands like Lumintop, Thorfire, amd Sofirn that sacrifice quality steps like chamfering, and some fine finishing steps to cut costs.

Onthebrightside
Onthebrightside's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 1 day ago
Joined: 12/05/2019 - 02:56
Posts: 61
Location: Midwest united states

I own tons of high end lights mostly from my cpf days. I still browse there occasionally but I feel like some of them, especially fenix are behind the times when speaking about innovation. Since coming here I really love budget lights and for the most part will be sticking to them. I was surprised to hear someone displeased with emisar. This is now probably my favorite brand. I got the ds18 and was so pleased with the build quality and the functionality that I immediately purchased a second one with the osram leds. Hank is very engaging with his customer base (unlike fenix) which was a breath of fresh air for me. I also like astrolux a lot as well. And convoys are perfect for modding. Jmho.

Sirstinky
Offline
Last seen: 7 hours 48 min ago
Joined: 11/02/2018 - 17:07
Posts: 1437
Location: Vancouver, WA
Onthebrightside wrote:
I own tons of high end lights mostly from my cpf days. I still browse there occasionally but I feel like some of them, especially fenix are behind the times when speaking about innovation. Since coming here I really love budget lights and for the most part will be sticking to them. I was surprised to hear someone displeased with emisar. This is now probably my favorite brand. I got the ds18 and was so pleased with the build quality and the functionality that I immediately purchased a second one with the osram leds. Hank is very engaging with his customer base (unlike fenix) which was a breath of fresh air for me. I also like astrolux a lot as well. And convoys are perfect for modding. Jmho.

You’re right about that. Fenix doesn’t innovate nearly to the point that pure enthuiast brands do. They listen to the consumer and make lights or improve them to fit a need or add some new features or LED. Astrolux, Emisar, Nightwatch, Lumintop, Sofirn, Convoy, all listen to the consumer. They are able to make a nice light at a good price to boot!

Quadrupel
Quadrupel's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 hours 41 min ago
Joined: 12/03/2017 - 10:40
Posts: 834
Location: Lithuania

Without technical knowledge you will buy everything what you see in advertisement.

Bort
Bort's picture
Online
Last seen: 1 min 47 sec ago
Joined: 06/01/2012 - 17:15
Posts: 8531
Location: Holding the proverbial flashlight

CR888 wrote:
The more you pay, the better the advertising budget is which leads to a better distribution network. Often but not always does more money equate directly to higher quality.

My question is what is the higher quality?
Better metal, stronger ano, better driver components, better heatsinking, switches that last more clicks and so forth.
Sirstinky wrote:
Onthebrightside wrote:
I own tons of high end lights mostly from my cpf days. I still browse there occasionally but I feel like some of them, especially fenix are behind the times when speaking about innovation. Since coming here I really love budget lights and for the most part will be sticking to them. I was surprised to hear someone displeased with emisar. This is now probably my favorite brand. I got the ds18 and was so pleased with the build quality and the functionality that I immediately purchased a second one with the osram leds. Hank is very engaging with his customer base (unlike fenix) which was a breath of fresh air for me. I also like astrolux a lot as well. And convoys are perfect for modding. Jmho.

You’re right about that. Fenix doesn’t innovate nearly to the point that pure enthuiast brands do. They listen to the consumer and make lights or improve them to fit a need or add some new features or LED. Astrolux, Emisar, Nightwatch, Lumintop, Sofirn, Convoy, all listen to the consumer. They are able to make a nice light at a good price to boot!


Established brands typically like tried and true, pushing the envelope on their terms and not necessarily as far as it will go because businesses are conservative and careful when they get big. Don’t want to drop the golden goose accidentally.

Quadrupel wrote:
Without technical knowledge you will buy everything what you see in advertisement.

I don’t respond well to advertising, to me its about the specs and the performance. And the quality, if something is amazing but will fail in 6 months from its poor design then its not for me.

I typically read reviews and look for test data before buying a light. That said Bort is not an average person.

The Journal of Alternative Facts TM

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of alternative facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists"

 

 

 

Forsythe P. Jones
Offline
Last seen: 3 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/15/2021 - 00:40
Posts: 413
Location: California

The most expensive lights I’ve bought were made by CPF’ers, and had no advertising at all except for sale threads on CPF, and no marketing other than same.

Garageboy
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 1 day ago
Joined: 09/15/2020 - 09:11
Posts: 38
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Dalamar wrote:
Price matters little, you got Emisar selling linear junk at high prices while still having poorly manufactured hosts. Convoy sells well machined quality linear stuff at rock bottom pricing.

But Buck and buck/boost efficiency lights are 100% guaranteed to be $80+. I guess that’s capitalism for you, predatory as ever, you pay for the name or the features even if the production costs are not a lot different, maybe 10 bucks difference in parts…


The moment all the flashlight nerds took ramping and high unregulated turbo modes over efficiency, was the same moment everyone made a multi emitter with flashing aux LEDs etc

Pages