Flashlight for photography

Hello there! First post. I’ve read lots of older posts discussing this, but has technology moved on since 2017?

I’m looking for:

Very high CRI (92+)
Uniform beam with gentle falloff and no rings or holes
Zoom, or a 1-handed way of restricting the light to spot
Quick power adjustment - rotary dial is ideal but anything quick and fine-grained is OK.
SAFE! No unprotected batteries or chance of fire while bouncing around during travel (or perhaps I just worry too much?)
Ideally 5600K, but if the CRI is really good, I can change it with filters.

Previous suggestions were to mod a zoomie with a Nichia high CRI, use cinefoil to snoot a wider light like the Astrolux mf01, or get a Jaxman Z1. All get fairly close… but is there anything better now?

The purpose is to add accent light to small parts of photos - it’s not the main light, so it doesn’t need masses of power - maybe 1000 lm but more is welcome. Avoiding spill in the wrong places is as important as power in the right places.

An almost perfect device has recently been invented: the “”Bitlighter”:https://www.bitlighter.com”, but at 12” it’s too long for me. I’m looking for closer to half the length, and don’t need its extended battery life (and would prefer a cheaper price tag!).

Thanks for any help or suggestions! Warm wishes, Dean

Welcome to BLF!

I don’t have specific flashlights to recommend, but I have some questions that might lead to more suitable recommendations.

Will this be used for long-exposures? Will the light be in a fixed position or used with a ‘light painting’ technique?

You mentioned 5600K. Are you using strobes as main lights?

Is this for macro work, or more standard focal lengths?

What’s the distance between the flashlight and subject?

Would a speedlight with a snoot be more suitable? Do you prefer a flashlight because of size/cost/convenience or other reasons?

Most compact flashlights with one 18650 cell and one LED can sustain 1000 lumens for only a couple of minutes before heat becomes an issue. Most lights have a time or temperature-based ‘stepdown’ and the light will dim to protect itself.

Will you need the light to remain at a constant output for longer than a couple minutes? If you’re taking multiple photos, your exposures may be affected by a slowly dimming flashlight.

Do you already own any LED flashlights?

Hi Goshdogit, thanks for the welcome!
The light will be on a “voice activated light stand” - i.e. an assistant!
It’s mainly for static shots, mainly indoors in industrial settings or offices. There will be some some long-time exposures, but using a time-stacking technique, so it only needs to be a bit brighter than the surroundings to work (i.e. hundreds of exposures in normal indoor light using with overlaying frames - only adding what gets lighter).
We will sometimes mix it with strobes - the 5600K is more because my brain can translate any light into 5600K, and we have every filter needed to tune 5600K into whatever we could meet or want. 3200K would work too, but it’ll look cheap under office fluoros without lots of extra filters, whereas 5600K still feels “classy” even if it doesn’t fit the ambient.
Not for macro - it’s normal focal lengths. Mostly as a separation light, but sometimes as a deliberately harsh spotlight in darker settings.
Distance normally 2-8m.
A speedlight or strobe would be far more suitable, but we’re currently working with engineers who only have iPhones, so no option for flashes. We’re using it to show how much you can do without studio gear or camera gear if you know what you’re doing.
We don’t need constant output for long - a couple of minutes is fine.
I’ve got Led Lenser P17 (original 220 lumen model) with unusable rings to the light at anything other than full spot or full flood. A couple of small zoomies to test - horrible colour makes them difficult to use (although with 1/4 CTO and 1/8 minusgreen gels it’s in the right ballpark, but still not what I’d want to use).

If you know a way to get rid of the orange fringe at the edge of the beam from aspheric lenses in zoomies, I’ll be super-keen to know! I plan to try slightly frosting the back of the lens with sandpaper to see if it helps at the cost of throw.
Thanks again for the questions! Dean

Hello! Look this flashlight.
Wizard Pro Nichia is the perfect combination of the Nichia LED and Armytek’s innovative design for the most comfortable color reproduction with an incredibly bright light output. Magnet USB charger, headband, hand band, steel clip and plastic holder in the set allow to use the flashlight in any everyday situations.

Brightness up to 1400 OTF Lm.
Beam distance up to 97 m.
Up to 200 days of light with one power source.
18650 Li-Ion battery and USB charger are in the set.

Thanks, Armytek. Looks promising… incredible 10m drop resistance too! I hope I’m not still holding it when it falls that far. The beam is a bit floody for me at 70 degrees… a zoom is a key part of what I’m after, as it’s keeping light off things that lets me emphasise just the things it touches. I’d be back to wrapping it in cinefoil.

Jaxman E2L high CRI version 5700K https://www.aliexpress.com/i/32812945810.html

I think slightly frosting the front of the lens wil be more likely to get the wanted result.

Thanks djozz. In Australia we do most things upside down! I was copying the Bitlighter that seems to use an aspheric that’s frosted on the back (not certain… never held one). But if you think the front is better, I’ll try that.

Thanks Max-Max. That ticks nearly all the boxes perfectly. Love the 5700K high CRI and decent power in a tiny, cheap flashlight. It doesn’t have a zoom, but at this price it would make sense to just get a couple and keep the cinefoil glued to one to snoot it down by hand.

Scratch what I said. I just checked with two cheap zoomies with plastic lens, frosting one on the front, the other on the back. First, the frosting needs done very evenly because any unevenness in the frosting directly causes a flakey beam, and second: the beam unevennness is much worse with the front of the lens frosted than the back. But it does get rid of the orange edge and makes the edge softer in general. I suggest to do check how the frosting is with a already frosted film like DC-fix to keep the beam even, but you then have no control over the amount of frosting of course. I just got the best result using careful sanding with 1000 grit sandpaper on an acryl lens.

Wow! Thanks, djozz for trashing two lenses to help answer a question. I really appreciate it. Just to clarify - it was frosting the back (nearest the LED) that got rid of the orange edge or frosting the front that got rid of it? I don’t mind unevenness within reason - it’s the colour that’s really bugging me. Making the edges softer is a very good thing for me.

Good idea regarding the film. I’ve got a Rosco swatch with every possible strength of diffusion and hadn’t even thought of using it. It’s designed to use against hot tungsten lights, but I may still keep the fire extinguisher handy just in case, though!

Looks like that Bitlighter is another example of overpriced photo equipment. While it’s performance probably is worth it to a busy pro photographer, there sure is a healthy margin on the product…

Anyway, it seems they use a Nichia 144 emitter and a frosted (backside) aspheric lense with a short hood/snoot. This is a good and simple approach, so following their lead wouldn’t be a bad idea. The large LES (light emitting surface) of the 144 should help achieve smoother beam profiles.

I’d be curious how a large SunLike COB emitter would do with a frosted or dc-fix modded aspheric lense. I’m not sure if a larger or smaller diameter optic would be better, nor what focal length is better. My gut would steer me towards larger diameter and shorter FL - but really i don’t know. UF-1504 host maybe with a XHP35 driver and a GT-FC40 5000K 95CRI emitter? Should be good for ~1500lm @ 1.25A.

Thanks, Jared. That’s impressive reverse-engineering. The curve on all the lenses I’ve seen suggests seriously short FL, but I don’t have a point of references for flashlights of what’s considered long or short. Would the FL be the distance of the lens to the emitter at full zoom? If so, large diameter and short FL would capture the most light, but I’m not sure of the effect of the dome or not on the emitters. I’m Googling the rest of your terms to try to keep up!

I do a some photography with flashlights myself, but it’s a totally different type of photography. I have some photos in the link in my signature below, and a few in here too: Exploration photos with my flashlights

For me what is important is the width of the beam in full flood mode. Almost all of the zoomies I’ve found are too narrow for my purposes. I’ve only found one that is wide enough without requiring modifications to the body: https://www.fasttech.com/products/1601/10002775/1206500 This body can be found all over the place with different names.

However, I replace the driver with one of my own and also install different LEDs so I still modify them. This light gives a nice uniformed beam, but bare in mind that I’m not too concerned about the edge of the beam. This one does have a little shift on the edges.

The Wuben TO50R is not the “ideal” light you are searching as it doesn’t have zoo, but it has 5000K 90CRI leds, it has 2800 lumens on max, floody beam with no artifacts, uses protected batteries, has different levels for brightness adjustment.

Not sure if it suits your needs, but maybe you can take a look :beer:

It looks good, and I see has optics available giving slightly more throw. The smooth beam pattern is perfect too. Thanks for the suggestion!

Taken from my review of the light:
Distance: + 50m


Hi Mike, nice pictures! How do you get the light so even along the length of the long tunnels? I love the shots with the ambient light streaming in mixed with flashlight, and the deep multi-exposure (3/27/17) is delicious! I wouldn’t be able to resist gelling the lights slightly blue and yellow from different directions, and it would probably end up looking like a disco.

Almost all of those photos are long exposure shots, so I’m either running around “painting” with the flashlight, or painting from a stationary position. For longer tunnels (that I’m not running around in) I start with widest zoom and then gradually zoom in. It usually takes a few shots before I get the “choreography” right.

I’ve seen many photos similar to mine but with multiple colors. I think it’s very hard to get it right, most of them like you say end up looking like discos, and personally I don’t think that suites those kind of environments.

Thanks, but that one isn’t a multi-exposure shot, it’s a single exposure with a lot of running around :slight_smile: While switching locations I only use a dim headlamp and never point it in the direction of the camera.

There is Jaxman Z1 zoomie with XHP50 Hi CRI (5000K, CRI 90)