Anyone Like ZOOM Lights??

Hey all,

I am a NOVICE when it comes to these lights and I admit it. All I know is to put batteries in them and hit the button. I’ve never modded and I don’t know what 98% of the terms that you guys use mean. I do like a neat light though.

The first 2 lights I bought a couple weeks ago when I got into this were a couple cheap lights from Amazon that I was curious about and wanted to see how good they are for the ridiculous price they were asking. One was $3.50 and the other was $7. The smaller one is what I now know as a SK68 clone and I don’t know what the larger one is. It takes an 18650 and can use one of those cartridges with the 3xAAA batteries. Both are zoom lights.

I have always liked the MAG lights cause of their focus beams and I wasn’t sure how I would take to these lights but for the money, what the heck. Well I have found out that I really like them. The little one especially. I think it can serve a variety of uses, especially camping or fishing. When zoomed to the tightest beam you can illuminate objects that you think you wouldn’t be able to get to and when out, it’s a great light for illuminating an area. The larger is useful too, and I like it, but its not as neat as the little one.

So, I was just curious how many others out there also like the small zoom lights. I am pretty much talking about the AA and 2xAA lights and others that don’t require a fist full of batteries or those “special” cells that so many of them do these days.

If you like them and have a favorite, how about posting it? Tell about your pleasant surprises with these zoom lights and also your disappointments too.

I am always on the lookout for an inexpensive zoom light that I can pick up. I am even thinking of getting 1/2 dozen of those SK68 clones to give to family members.

What do you think?

Thanks for the time.


I love zoomies! :slight_smile:

My current EDC is a very heavily modded Aleto N8 zoomie. Here’s my build thread Modding the Aleto N8

With the mods:

  • 91 mm in length - it’s very slightly shorter than a Sipik 68. Narrower and fits better in the pocket too.
  • Runs on 1x18650 - It’s smaller than a Sipik 68 even though it holds a much larger battery.
  • Electronic Side-switch with DrJones lumodrv firmware: hold from off to start a minimum, double-click for max, triple-click for 25, quadruple-click for 2. click-and-hold from on to ramp up or down (34 ramping steps).
  • Very secure feeling grip: rubber grip around the body and fully knurled head.
  • 33k lux of throw with Edmund Optics fresnel lens in spot mode … much more throw than a Sipik 68. The spot is also quite a bit wider
  • 90 degree wide floodbeam … much wider and brighter than a Sipik 68. Wider than the spill of many reflector lights

Here’s a picture:

I like zoomies, my first real flashlight was the sk68 clone, giving them as gifts to the uninitiated is a great idea.

These links may help with understanding the terminology better

Flashlight Terminology
Battery Terminology

I really don’t get the zoomie concept. I just seems to me that they aren’t very good at either spot or flood. And in a small light, it really wouldn’t matter anyhow.

Zoomies are basically a compromise. With a well-built zoomie you can get much more throw than a comparably sized light with a conventional reflector. And you also have the option of going to flood mode for use up close.

This flexibility is what makes zoomies so nice. A reflector light may produce more pleasing light up close, but doesn’t throw very far. A fixed pure thrower such as a non-zoomable aspheric or a recoil thrower lacks the ability to be able to flood an area up close.

Aspheric zoomies also produce a very clean uniform beam with no visible hotspot in flood mode. For some uses this is preferable to the beam of a reflector light that varies in intensity across the diameter of the beam.

Another advantage of an aspheric zoomie is that the beam can be very precisely controlled. You get less light off to the sides where it might annoy other people. Also, in spot mode, you don’t have light going off to the sides illuminating the foreground and washing out your vision of what’s off in the distance.

Stock unmodded zoomies often leave a lot to be desired though:

  1. The ones using XPE and XRE often throw well, but aren’t bright and their flood looks pathetic.
  2. The ones using XML give decent flood, but due to the huge low luminosity die don’t throw very well.
  3. The flood mode is often quite narrow, making it of limited use up close. This can sometimes be fixed by modding the light so that the lens retracts closer to the top of the LED.
  4. A lot of light is lost into the sides of the bezel in spot mode with most zoomies. To fix this, the light would need either a much wider lens (which makes it impractical for pocket carry), or a reflector-lens such as that used in LED-Lenser flashlights… but they hold the patent on it and are very aggressive about protecting it.
  5. In spot mode, the beam is an image of the LED die. This can look rather ugly in white-wall shots, but is rarely an issue in long distance use. Using the latest generation of CREE leds helps, as the light coming from the top of the die looks more uniform.

Can’t say that I’m a fan. I like aspheric and I like pure flood. I just don’t like them in the same light.

For pure flashlight joy, nothing beats a good thrower, but I do love zoomies for specific scenarios.

1: They are great for light painting photography. A wide evenly lit round beam is perfect for lighting up larger areas with long exposure times. Throwers have their use in light painting also, but nothing beats a good zoomie for illuminating rooms or chambers. Sample: Suggestions for 3 x Nichia 219 build?

2: I do a lot of outdoor rock and ice climbing, and for after work climbing during the darker season I use of bunch of zoomies to light up the rock or ice. I mount them on tripods or stick ’em on trees. Adjusting the width of the beam is useful and it’s nice to have the climb evenly lit up without any hot spots. I’ve used throwers too, but they have to be mounted so far away from the actual climbing do be any good as hot spots over one particular area is not only a waste of light, it can be rather annoying too. Sample: What did you use your flashlight for today?

It was zoomies that got me in to all of this modding. I hated all the blinky modes, wanted mode memory and a lot of light. I couldn’t really find a combination that I liked. My searching led me here :slight_smile:

Aha, interesting.

Yes, Take the lens in my LED Lenser P5 for example: It’s a single piece that encompasses a small aspheric lens in the center surrounded by a TIR reflector for the spill. It also has a pocket in the back center. The LED is mounted on a pillar instead of a typical star. This pillar moves up and down the pocket in the back of the lens, which wraps around and surround the LED in all zoom positions.

Regardless of whether the light is in throw or spot mode, all of the light coming out of the emitter passes through either the TIR portion or the aspheric. Result is no noticeable loss of lumens when cycling from flood to spot mode.

Okay, I want one…
But they’re too expensive…
But maybe you have seen the strange zoomie topic, where there are apparently similar optics in use.

I hope to see the COFLY KX-FH10 drop in price;
it’s an AA/14500 zoomie, smoother flood than the SK68
at present, about $8 various places; found for a bit less at places I’ve never heard of
And speaking of waiting, eventually the LED-lenser patent will expire

I saw the pics of those, and the optic does look like it might be similar to the ones in LED Lensers. They might be violating the patent with a knockoff, or perhaps they are made under license.

One issue is that even those still aren’t that cheap.

From looking at DealExtreme there seem to be 3 brands using LED Lenser’s technology:

  1. LED Lenser
  2. Coast - they use LED Lenser’s technology under license.
  3. Poplite - don’t have any info on this, but they’re quite expensive compared to most DX xoomies, and from the pictures appear to be copies of LED Lenser lights.

The U.S. patent on LED Lenser’s “advance focus technology” is dated 2008. Patents are good for 20 years. So it should expire in the year 2028. That’s a bit too much waiting for me…

I think one other thing that scares off the copycats is that LED Lensers use an engineered optic and don’t have a conventional star. Unlike with typical budget zoomies, the manufacturers can’t just grab off-the-shelf flashlight components and aspheric lenses. Consequently, there’s much less interest in making an LED Lenser copy that uses the same optic.

Patents sometimes really suck…
How can one patent a combination of optical properties (i.e. laws of physics) anyway?

LED Lenser’s optic is a unique combination that nobody else had thought of before. They took out the patent so they could develop and make a profit with their invention. That is the purpose of patents… to give people an incentive to innovate.

Patents can get ridiculous though. I recall hearing about Apple Computer patenting their rounded edges on their iphone, or Ebay patenting the “Buy it Now” button on auctions.

I saw a side view sketch of an interesting optic on LED Lenser’s website once. It appeared to be a conventional reflector light with fixed LED and reflector… but it had an unusual lens consisting of a flat portion surrounding a small aspheric in the center. When the bezel moved up and down it raised and lowered the aspheric changing the focus. The reflector was positioned so that it was underneath the flat lens and not the aspheric.

LED Lenser’s patent is for an integreated TIR/Aspheric reflector-lens. As such, the design of using a small moveable aspheric surrounded by a conventional reflector might not be covered.

That’s capitalist propaganda. :smiley:
It’s greed.
In the perfect world knowledge is something you share.
And it’s also a fact that it’s hardly ever the 1st inventor (discoverer) who gets the credit.
Inventors are not the business types, usually…

It depends on how the system is ‘furnished’ for money hunger.
Anyway, I certainly see a dark side to the patenting business…

I might try that some day, combining reflector and aspheric lens.
100% throw :slight_smile:

They made a focussable TIR i.m.o.
Many TIRs have a lensed centre. Its preferable to have a lensed centre.
The ‘invention’ must be the focusable-TIR-cone-surrounding-bit then.
But I can hardly imagine they invented that in 2008, as optic science and experimenting is as old as glass, candles and shiny bits…

I’m kind of waiting for someone to do a review and breakdown of these types of lights…
So I’ll just sit on the fence here… (for now) :slight_smile:

I never really liked the weird beam Mags make in “flood” zoom. I usually take pains to adjust my Mags’ reflectors so when I crank them down fully, it makes the “perfect” smooth beam with no ugly holes. Then I just leave them cranked down.

Zoomie LED flashlights, to my eyes, are just awful.