Basic Flashlight Performance Characteristics – regular BLF users contribute!

I think we need a BLF simple standard, to make repeatable and comparable tests of light power. My dream is a giant table which covers simple performance characteristics of all flashlights BLFers touched.
I wonder would it be possible to create such guidelines on how to measure basic characteristics without sophisticated devices. My aim is to create an instruction, how to obtain numbers, which could describe flashlights performance. This should be easy enough for not advanced user to conduct in home conditions without any additional devices.
What could be measured and quantified?

  1. Beam width/shape - characteristic giving an idea how wide would the flashlight shine. If possible, good to determine hot spot width and reflected beam width.
    The beam width is quite easy to measure, with a protractor and/or against the wall. You can place flashlight (say) 50cm from the wall and measure the highlighted area diameter.
  2. Luminosity - this is more challenging. Not even thinking of beam integrating, but maybe two readings (on hot spot and on reflected beam) could substitute it? The easiest way is to record how distant objects you can light on, but it’s very subjective. Simple lux-meter or smartphone app could do the job way better, but it requires using “a device”. What do you think? Is there any way to measure how bright the torch shines with bare senses?
  3. Colour temperature – also quite challenging without devices, but a comparative method could work. If a tested LED is put together with well-known LEDs, that could give an idea. What if a tested LED is put between N219c 4000K and XP-L HI 6500K 1A? Alternatively a white paper sheet and white balance set to a certain (common for all tests) number in the camera could give repeatable readings too. Finally (least preferred) we know there is an App doing the job quite good (as far as I remember from other (djozz?) post).
  4. Temperature management: check if present and (if so) how much time passes before it kicks in? Workable just with a watch and a hand on the flashlight.
  5. Mass. It’s an important data anyway, but used together with other characteristics may give interesting info, like: luminosity per 100gram or luminosity*time before temp. management/100g – anyway I mean something telling on how good the mass of flashlight is used (I imagine there are flashlight which are heavy, but due to poor heat transfer they got hot unevenly leading to worse performance than the mass allows for – e.g. UF-1405?)
  6. UI – this should be systematized I think. Maybe a general assessment on how extensive is UI since many of us has different preferences. Say, 5 points for extensive (e.g. Andurill) and 1 for very simple (e.g. classic hated low-mid-high-sos-strobo)?

I could multiply the factors, but people like to KISS (keep it super simple). The easier the better I think. We could also develop this guidelines, and/or make assessment rules.

Guys, professionally I’m into standards, so this is how I came up with this idea. But surely my flashlight knowledge is rather basic. Wouldn’t even dare to call myself a pro user.
This is just a teaser, I want to hear your opinions since I know I may be very wrong with my assumptions.

Do you think easy, repeatable tests can be described in (kind of) manual so every (also unadvanced) user could perform the tests and receive reliable results? If this would be possible, having so many users it’s possible to create a big database giving an idea of what a particular flashlight really is. This is not possible for one man to achieve. Number of BLFers is our strength. If only every other user puts tests of one flashlight – we are there with a vast database on flashlights from all over the world.

many of those are not easily testable or describable
beam pattern—you need an angle vs brightness plot , hard to get and hard to boil down to one parameter

color temp—very hard

total lumens is pretty hard

UIs are all so different it would need 300 variants


A simple test would be how long you can run it at or near full power before it throttles, shuts off or is damaged.

i prioritize small size, at least that is easy, length and diameter

also switch location, side or end

also switch type - electronic, reverse clicky, positive clicky

isn;t there a big data base already?


That’s was i was afraid of… Due to huge result uncertainty it may be not worth the effort…

somewhere on here is a data base, i don;t think the one i sent is it, maybe it is…




Zozz is making something alike:

i thought there was one that listed price, vendor, lumens, battery type, size, bunch of other parameters

it was kind of a ‘find a light for me’ query site

or - maybe that is on site


Maybe this one?

Wooow, this is indeed great info. But a tremendous effort for one man. Even for a dedicated fan. Nearly 300 flashlights listed.

Then another question. Do you think the above mentioned features could be measured with a smart phone and a dedicated app?

it seems useful - til you realize it doesn;t even list convoy or lumintop
also i had never seen it

the owner has a bunch of requirements for being listed - apparently one is ” i have to like the vendor ”

the one i want, was kind of a ‘find a light for me’ query site

so it isn;t that one

still it is useful for anyone wanting to make a database, to look at others


beam pattern—you need an angle vs brightness plot , hard to get and hard to boil down to one parameter
==not doable with phone easily
MAYBE by some kind of camera shot with controlled exposure parameters, plus using a white card and measuring/specifying distance from it

color temp—very hard
would need some processing - MAYBE there is an app already but idk what it would be

total lumens is pretty hard
==not doable by phone
MAYBE by some kind of camera shot with controlled exposure parameters, plus using a white card and measuring/specifying distance from it
might get to 80% correctness

I guess that is probably a question to put to Zozz and other folks here.
My rough question to your question would be “NO” but I am not savvy enough to answer that! I know, however, that testers do use other types of instruments for more accurate data.
See maukka, djozz, HKJ, Texas_Ace, Lexel, Led4Power, Zozz, and many others. Specific instruments for specific “accurate” measurements!

Please mind that cellphones don’t always show what the eyes see! I struggle a lot to catch the tints my eyes see, and sometimes it is even impossible to capture them. To the point I prefere not to use those photos to not bias people.

one approach to take would be to digest reviews and make your own data base from that

some data will be missing

or accuracy questionable

or subjective

or out of date / dynamic [prices]


The thing is…to be “accurate” enough, a tester/reviewer needs to perform all the tests under the same conditions every time and have the data from those experiences (current measurements, parasitic drain, tint, beam pattern, voltage drops, whatever … and all the measurable stuff) meticulously noted down.
That may be quite hard due to the lack of equipment and the lack of time. Specially for those that see this as a hobby!

One thing would be to - as wle says - “digest reviews” and withdraw the data that reviewers/testers post. That would be descriptive depending on the data reviewers provide. Still, many of those things we see/do in our experiences, are not “accurate” enough, namely due to lack of standardized procedure and control.

- UIs: I normally like to provide all the information about the UI in a flashlight as it may lead or not a person to chose it. However, some reviews of the same light may lack some information. To grasp it all, it would be necessary to go through several reviews of the same light to collect all the available data about that.

  • Tint: a person with a good cellphone cannot compete, probably, with another with a professional camera with N number of settings that capture the real beam colour, dimension and pattern.

Some data may be collected and systematized but there will always be things that will be difficult to grasp accurately.

From the 6 points you mentioned, I guess the easiest to collect is definitely the UI, as it is “standard” for a given model. Still, making an assessment of it… I’m not sure if it would be Neutral and clear enough. I don’t care it it is simple or complex, I wanna know how it works and if if fits my needs. As with all the things in a flashlight!

It’s maintained by an active contributor over at /r/flashlight. He does frequent giveaways there, using the money collected from the site’s affiliate links. It may not be a comprehensive flashlight database, but it is still a pretty good overview of what’s available from ~40 brands at Amazon.

I personally find it a bit disappointing because ~95% of the lights in my collection aren’t listed. There’s nothing from Emisar, Lumintop, Sofirn, Fireflies, Thorfire, Convoy, Jaxman, Astrolux, Mateminco, Imalent, Reylight, Okluma, Sinner, or BLF in general. I’ve asked him about these, but generally we just end up arguing since we have very different ideas of what the site should be, and I shouldn’t expect anyone to follow my vision instead of their own. That would be silly.

Regardless, a comprehensive database is extremely difficult to maintain, and may not even be very useful. So it might be the wrong goal to aim for. I’ve found that, for most purposes, it’s a lot less work (and just as effective) to use a curated short list of what’s popular lately… such as /r/flashlight’s Arbitrary list of popular lights maintained by zak.wilson. That list has the answers to most people’s questions, because the questions mostly boil down to “what’s good”.

I presume you are familiar with the ANSI FL1? It isn’t a perfect standard but it is the standard we have to work with. I am more than a little surprised that I’m the 1st person to mention it in this thread.

Many people have tried and it isn’t easy. By far the biggest contribution to this area is zakwilson’s CeilingBounce app. Terry Oregon’s survey of PWM sensors has also made measurements easier for more people. There are maukka’s calibration lights too. And all of the DIY integrator projects that are too numerous for me to list.

I had a lengthy section commenting on each of the 6 factors you describe. But I can replace it all with: good measurements are difficult and expensive and if I say any more than that I sound like a depressing wet blanket.

However I will comment on 1 aspect that doesn’t cost money or involve measuring anything:

Despite my site being the most comprehensive collection of information out there I have completely ignored user interfaces. Categorizing these is hard. My approach has been to only classify the presence of certain UI features that people find desirable. Is there a momentary mode? Is strobe hidden? Can it measure battery charge? Is the light single mode? Etc. Programmers will look at any systematic categorization as both a roadmap and a challenge. We like making original things and the simplest way is to head off into the unknown and force you to add a new category.

I hope those were enough contributions to the thread proper. I don’t want my post to be 100% threadjacking content :slight_smile:

I am very interested in seeing what you come up with. Particularly since you have professional experience in an uncommon field.

It is true that in the 6 years that I’ve been doing this I’ve only advertised once. But it was before you got into flashlights. However I can say with 100% certainly that you personally have seen mention of my site before. Your eyes have slipped over it 1000s of times by now.

Here are the core requirements that I try to follow. It is nice to like a brand. Certainly makes it easier to spend a day typing. But I don’t really like Black Diamond or Petzl or Surefire or Coast or Led Lenser or Maglite for that matter. I do like the majority of lights but “not liked” companies make up 15% of the site.

Thank you. But the “amazon” thing isn’t really accurate. I actively avoid most of the brands on Amazon because most of them aren’t good. There are even a few high profile and highly requested brands that have a massive amazon presence but they have too many bad rumors tarnishing their reputation.

Whenever I am giving advice to aspiring affiliate marketers (what a sad aspiration) it is to avoid amazon as much as possible. Link to what is good instead of what makes money. Linking to a single seller presents a massive and obvious bias. Of the 41 brands I currently track there are 11 of them with no significant amazon presence. Of the 2296 production lights on the site only 1507 (66) are at amazon. And of the 5563 outbound links only 27 of them are affiliated. It is more than a little fun sharing those numbers with people in the business. They immediate go from “please tell me your secrets” to “but then I won’t make any money!” Well that is the secret :slight_smile:

I agree. In fact that List helps guide what brands get added to the site. There is a 71% overlap between The List and my site because of that.

Based on that you shouldn’t like the Arbitrary List? The List only has 25% overlap with your favorite lights. Sending people to it means they will almost certainly walk away with a light you don’t approve of :slight_smile:

You’ve certainly had the grandest ideas of what my site could be. And for that I’ll probably give you the entire database when I get hit by a bus. If anyone can make that wonderful vision happen it is you.

You’re right, I’m too harsh about the site. I’m just salty that so few of the items popular on BLF are listed in the database… and a bit confused about why. Something about it being a store, not a museum… and something about “I know it when I see it” when choosing what gets accepted or rejected from the site.

Normally I’d just add what I feel is missing, and for a while I thought I could since the site says to check out the sources on GitHub, but it’s not designed that way. It’s not the sort of project I can branch, fix, and submit patches for… and, coming from a free software background, that’s a little weird for me. So I probably overreact.

It looks like things are improving though. When I posted earlier, I hadn’t checked the site in a while. It appears that, since the last time I looked, the rate of Amazon links has dropped from 3/4ths to 2/3rds. That’s good progress; increasing the amount of links to smaller shops can really help people.

Mostly, I should try to keep in mind that the site isn’t for me. It’s not for people who read flashlight enthusiast forums frequently, since they probably already know what they want. If I understand correctly, it’s targeted at North American people who are pretty new to flashlights and need a guide for what’s available at stores they’ll feel comfortable with. And that’s okay. Not everything has to be about me. :slight_smile:

Yeah, that would be great.

Oh gosh, it looks like a blind street.
Thanks for all your input, many information gained. So it seems, we already have databases, and manuals for the tests possible to conduct in home conditions. Maybe not a consistent manual book, but at least areas known better than others.
So my concept must be abandoned.