Budget light vs Expensive

my first real led light was a fenix pd30 q5 about 5 years ago. great light that was about $65 back then. still have it on standby. my edc is a convoy s2 and it’s medium mode is brighter than the pd30’s turbo mode. I think many people here like myself take pride in building or modding. the s2 was my first build
ever and I love it (if u wanna call it a build). I am probably going to put together a
C8 next. btw the s2 parts were less than 1/3 the pd30 price and IMO blows it away

Im new here too, the mrs says im cheap and I guess that extends to torches. If I used the torch every day for work etc I would probably have a couple of more expensive torches, but for the odd use and bike ride I cant really justify spending a bucket load of cash

Because of this forum and users I can see what it will be like before I even search

Well said RaceR86! I agree 100% (and could have written all the same things!)

Welcome to blf

Best advice for newbs is .... Convoy lights ... Hard to beat for the price

Maybe you veterans could make a thread filled with words of wisdom, it would save us noobs a great deal of money and heartache. Something like “Must have lights” or something.

You mean a thread like

Must have Flashlights?
Are there any MUST HAVE lights out there
Must have budget lights.
What are the top 3 must have 18650 budget lights?
Top Ten must have budget lights

Depends how much you’re willing to spend and what you’re looking for.
When I first started my absolute limit was $30 and I was just searching for pure lumens. Then I wanted some throw as well, and then build quality such as coated lenses, good knurling and square threads, then I looked at mode spacing and PWM, then tint and so on…

For a lumens per dollar kind of ratio yes, you could say that anything over $40 is expensive and not worth it, but often they’re cheap because they lack certain things which makes other lights ‘complete’ such as no PWM drivers, aesthetics, feel, build quality.

Lights from Fenix, Nitecore, Armytek etc. while expensive are essentially the whole package. So if you’re looking for the whole package then no, they’re not overpriced (relative). They have the output, but also have everything else which some appreciate and some don’t care for. Just know what you want in a light and from there you can choose if you want to spend big or spend less.

Yep, those expensive lights are deservedly expensive when they work out the quirks. That means a nice physical user interface, nicely spaced modes that are easy to use, a beam pattern that isn't ringy, assembled correctly, no huge issues with the quality of its parts, etc. Usually the cheaper lights get some of that wrong, and it takes some modding to address those issues.

Then again, what I consider perfection might be a nightmare of a light to someone else.

Yeah well…yeah something like that :bigsmile:

I have both budget lights and expensive ones but for budget lights I want quality too. One reason I have fallen in love with Mountain Electronics and RMM’s lights. Richard offers some of the best budget lights which he has modified for increased output. This means that they have been opened up and checked for proper assembly as part of the modification process. His modifications are also inexpensive for what you get.

He has refused to accept and sell some lots of lights due to internal construction changes that he felt did not allow reliable modifications and has returned such batches to China for refund or replacement. He just dropped one light shortly after he announced it when he ran into unacceptable failure rate of the host lights as received. Richard is quality oriented and offers good quality at excellent prices IMO. I have his latest firmware version SupFire M6 Mod option two and a customized Small Sun ZY-T08 arriving tomorrow per USPS tracking. I also have several others of his customized lights.

Just one example, Richards M6 lights come with XM-L2 LEDs while the one I bought direct from China showed up with XM-L versions. Cheaper and lower output LEDs used in the one bought direct from China so either an older or cheaper version and I paid as much as Richard charges for his unmodified M6 with the newer and higher output LEDs.

I would also add that I have recently bought two budget lights that have had problems. A 12 LED Supernight supposedly super high power light bought through Amazon Prime died completely within 5 minutes of powering up and a SolarStorm T4, a brand new model light, arrived with a electronics problem which causes the LEDs to ALL stay on at a very low level even when the light is off unless the battery compartment is loosened to lock out the light. I admit the fact that the LEDs being on is hard to see in normal indoor lighting levels but it is clear under dim light.

I really like the SupFire M6 and L1 lights from the construction standpoint as both have very heavy duty battery contact/driver plates in the head. Most Chinese budget multiple parallel battery lights use standard thickness PCB copper plating for the battery contact area. The M6 and L1, as well as the BS Terminator, use thick metal contacts there which should be far more durable long term. Also, so far, the M6 and L1 are not being copied by everyone with resulting inconsistent quality and internal construction, very unlike the SRK and it’s zillion clones.

I may just confine my budget light purchases to RMM modified lights as he checks them out thoroughly as part of the modification process. I have 30+ higher end lights w/o any problems as received and to get two defective budget lights within a week or so is disappointing.

I'm a severe Budget-a-holic; the only non-budget brand (UltraFire/TrustFire/FandyFire) type light I have was given to me; it's a low-end Streamlight Junior LED. Just based on this light, I've found several issues that a big no-sale points, even on budget lights.

  1. Streamlight is proud to advertise this; their lights feature "C4" LEDs. (What's C4? That's not a Cree bin...) In my case, that's a EZ-1000 XR-E of an unknown brightness bin. An outdated emitter in a top-shelf brand light? No thanks.
  2. Emitter is off center and poorly focused. Backing the reflector off a half-turn helps improve the focus, but now there's a gap.
  3. Hollow Pill! This light has a hollow pill, relying on only the outer diameter of the star board to transfer heat from the emitter to the body. This is typically considered unacceptable, even with an UltraFire light.

I'm considering an upgrade to XP-G2 for this particular light. Maybe someday.

To the OP - Basically, it is all about what YOU want and need. No one can tell you that, you have to learn it yourself.

#1 likes A,B,C

#2 likes D,E,F

Everyone has different preferences and needs. You will learn what you like, by buying them, just like everyone else. Some people are impressed with name brands, some people want anything cheap and call it gold. In the end, it's all individual preference.

I think most all "budget lights", like Convoy, anything with fire in the name, Sky Ray, Solarforce, etc, etc, etc, are basically junk. Most all of them really have poor anodizing, poor fit and finish and poor threads. Put them against a couple really good brand names and they don't compare, but then again, I only mod lights. I don't keep them, so I use the cheaper ones, because once I mod them, I have to resell them and the overall price gets too high when using expensive lights. After all this ain't CPF.

Unintended firefly mode. I like it even better now.

In my opinion expensive lights are only useful if you want a big light with massive output.
Most single battery quality budget lights are almost the same as expensive ones, and even better since you can choose the exact tint you want on some.


Even lower than firefly. Useless for actual illumination of any thing. Needed to be in a quite low light room to even tell that the LEDs were barely glowing. Way below most moonlight output levels so to me pretty useless other than to increase parasitic drain when theoretically off. The only LED I have seen with nearly that low a glow from is my Jetstream TCR2 Titanium at the lowest possible led output setting using the continuously variable adjustment magnetic ring, and even the Jetbeam minimum is higher than the T4 “off” output.

This review shows it being a little lower than the V10R, but I thought the SWM was already way too bright. You don't have a H600mkII or H52 do you? Those might be better comparisons. I haven't found a low that's too low to be useful. Even the lowest is still useful when camping. I can still make it out when it's hanging from the top of my tent on a dark night when I can't see anything else in the tent, and that's about perfect.

I do not want to see it, I want to see WITH IT. Just being able to see that a LED is dimly lit is totally inadequate for me which it seems to me is what you are describing in your tent scenario. There may be a large difference in eye sensitivity between individuals too as I am now 70 and no longer have the visual acuity and pupil dilation of a 15 year old.

That's what other modes are for though. You're probably right about visual acuity, but I'm nowhere near 15. My night vision is already suffering, but mostly in the sense that it takes me far longer to adjust to dark conditions than it used to.

I’m new to all this. I had a couple of older LED flashlights bought in target that had multiple LED bulbs and they were pathetic. Then I happened on an ad for an UltrafIre that promised 400 Lumens and I started to do some research. I’ve looked at a bunch of flashlights online, read the reviews, etc. But I decided that The SolarForce L2 series was the best budget light for the money. Ordered one with a 2.9V - 9V XM-L2 U2 drop in and was blown away by the quality. I think the fit and finish are great. And what is better is the feel of the light, the weight, the balance just feels perfect. The head is small which I like, but I know it also limits the amount of light that can be transmitted.My only complaint is I want to push the LED to give me the maximum bright depending on the configuration without getting expensive and building a pocket light house. I am assembling an L2M mini with one CR123 but the drop ins don’t have the XP-G2 so I want a drop in that works on the low voltage yet stills gives me lots of light. On the other extreme, I want to put an extension on the L2P so I want a XM-L2 or MT-G2 LED that will run with 3 or 4 RCR123 batteries. I can’t find these online. But over all I like the Solarforce, I don’t want a larger head. This is a small light that I can easily throw in a coat pocket or backpack and not feel any weight and yet is very bright in an emergency. So I don’t understand what is so bad with SolarForce.