Have hand-held lights peaked in terms of technology

I do believe you are correct.

I like to compare flashlights to smartphones.

The transition from incandescent to LED was like transitioning from candy bar dumbphones to the first smartphones.
After the transition, improvements to the power and features of the phones and flashlights came fast and where big leaps.
As time went on, progress slowed down. Compare the Samsung s22 ultra and the s23 ultra, barely any difference.

The way I see it, unless a newer and better way of producing light is invented, we have nearly reached the peaked of handheld lighting.

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I doubt its actually peaked, but the gains will probably be much smaller as time goes on. Maybe better runtimes and heat management could be improvements.

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Good point about the runtimes. Battery’s are definitely still improving and have a long way to go…

Inflation does not prove apex of technology.
My first XM-L lights peaked at about 700 lumens and were 65 CRI. And 18650 batteries were 3400mAh. Lumens were under 100lm/w at 10W

Today we have 10,000+ lumens in burst mode, 95CRI and 5000mAh 21700s and 6800mAh 28600s. XHP-70s can get about 1500 lumens out of 10W.

We will see better, more lumens/watt and at higher CRIs, and better batteries.
Not to mention more throw.

The new 4680 battery might have 25000-30000mAh!

The point I was trying to make about inflation is that some lights are just riding the inflation wave with little or no improvement in technology.

Regarding heat management, where is the technology there? More fins, more bulky metal? Fan possibly? The fan is nice but that also works against you from the minute you turn it on.

Good analogy on the smart phone. I think people are keeping their phones longer and longer now.

Consumers are less likely to buy a new phone just because it has a gazillion megapixel camera.

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Agreed.

More efficient emitters means less heat.
If you increase lumens per watt then you have less heat to get rid of.

Though i want to see combo light/IR LEDs, send the heat out the front just like it does lumens.

The only improvements we see are when a new LED is released, I think that’s all we have to look forward to in terms of output.

The Cyansky H5GT was a major improvement in technology though, the reflector rotates to change between LEDs, the driver and LED are both fixed in place for optimal heat dissipation. Very impressive design for hunters.

Things are stagnating to some extent, which is why we are getting more silly max lumens ratings that last only a few seconds so that manufacturers can sell more lights to muggles that don’t know any better. However on the plus side we have seen increased adoption of 95CRI LEDs, though so far only with limited manufacturers. We also keep seeing lights such as she Olight Marauder Mini that make a leap in efficiency and sustained brightness.

Imho we are moving backwards.

The Skilhunt H03 used to cost less than ~ 25$.
The H04 costs 42$ and is essentially the very same light, maybe even worse.

Zebralight peaked with the MkIII generation of their lights being lightyears ahead of what other brands offered. However the newer Mk IV generation was worse in almost every aspect and was plagued with bugs.

Hanks seems have moved from creating the best lumen to cost ratio lights to milking fanboys.

There is no good boost+buck+fet or buck+fet driver.

However developments such as a boost driver from Hank, the lume1 driver (needs improvement), widespread implementation of 519A leds and of course the whole oeuvre of Simon gives some hope.

OP touches on two points:

  1. Incremental improvements are slowing down
  2. Lights from China are becoming more expensive.

On the first point, ‘technology peak’ depends on what metric you’re measuring; we’ve been in the realm of generally diminishing improvements for a while now- lights from 5 years ago are still have very usable brightness and runtime.

From a CCT/Tint/CRI perspective specifically, things have improved impressively over that time, and, while improvements are probably going to slow down without substantial innovations in chip design or phosphor chemistry, there is still some way to go to improve efficacy.

I see the wikipedia page for luminous efficacy lists the theoretical limit of white LED with phosphorescence color mixing as 260-300lm/W. I looked up the datasheet for the XM-L3 (I don’t know if this is most efficient LED on the market) and at 5700K, low CRI, 700ma drive current, the LED does about 190lm/W, suggesting that we should expect at least some small improvements.

With regards to User Interface, the proliferation of e-switches has offered the possibility of a much more feature-rich interface. If I had to guess, I’d say the advances in e-switch UI have peaked, and future advances will come from other innovations, voice activation, sensor based brightness, rotary switches, etc.

Phosphor converted colour LED’s are quite new, and I’ve not yet seen many lights using them. The Cree XE-G in particular looks quite good in output and colour options; I think they’ll make nice multi- coloured lights in triple or quad-arrangement with optics, or arranged more compactly in an orange peel reflector.

Finally, for the technology point, I hope that there is an increase in the availability of better (more efficient, customisable, etc) drivers.

On point 2, I believe the era of super cheap lights from China is over; increases in material costs, manufacturing costs, energy, labour, shipping etc are all going to contribute to price increases.

The political relationship with China and ‘the West’ is already changing, I would not be surprised if imports from the East get slapped with an ‘environmental tax’ or something when coming into the USA/EU/UK/etc.

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Good points.

Then their is also the “Starbucks” effect where cheap light manufacturers try to market their lights like an Acebeam or a Fenix.

Whoops, forgot to even think about LEP- perhaps space for some big improvements in CCT/CRI/Tint here, probably following a similar evolution to what we saw in high brightness LED emitters, which were initially limited to cool white, low CRI offerings.

On thing is shipping form China got more expansive.
Some shops on Aliexpress don’t ship to Germany because shipping makes the whole product too expansive.

Electronic parts got really expansive the last two years. Stories from EEs are: We have to pay premium. A 20 cent chip was at peak $5.

Well, I think lamps are still cheap.
A Wurkkos TS10 is 18€/$
A TS21 kit with battery is below $30
A Sofirn HS10 for 14€ with battery and int. charger.

How many burgers equals a cheap lamp?

A lot of good points made here.

I guess y’all noticed after a thousand lights and 20,000 posts I myself kinda just quit? I began to feel those points that have been made. We got the manufacturing market to quit adhering to the low emitter specs and everything bloated. Heat production is entirely out of control with the attractive massive output numbers. Up to us, the end user, to be more realistic now about using mode levels and come to grips with that simple fact that we have found the limits.

It is what it is. More is not necessarily better.

Anyone notice that Maglite is still a successful company? Many Many people need light that lasts as long as the darkness. :wink:

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Just like cameras, I think excellent flashlights will be built into smartphones in the future.

I can see the Galaxy S900 with an Astrolux MF05 sticking out the side.

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I don’t think anything has peaked but gosh it’s come a long way just from ten years ago. But then again, as is sometimes the constant battle with china manufacturing, I think we see ourselves now having to remind/complain/beg that some standard features not be omitted in new models. A lot of people are fearful of lithium cells, right or wrong, and it’s like through the successes of many vendors, sometimes they leave out things like low voltage stuff and polarity protection…and although springs have improved for a great many lights we pretty much never see wire bypasses anymore (maybe a good thing). On the flip side of that, everyone wants to move to solid contact posts on the drivers these days, and while that can give better current flow, it’s used in lights that don’t need it and it has a handful of other drawbacks.

Drop protection? Most of it is a farce and could certainly be improved…potting is not the only answer there I think.

We’ve seen a few lights with OLED screens and some controls. That could go somewhere, but at cost and complexity of potential failures and repairs.

Voice control? Yuvpal (forgive me if I got the u/n wrong) made his voice controlled headlamp for caving in last year’s OL contest. What a feat! That could definitely go somewhere.

User-programmable firmware? That was a thing many years ago, I think maybe corralled and protected by a patent now? Anduril gives us a fair chunk of that but many people find Anduril and single-button interfacing too confusing. I think this area could go a long way. Plug in a cable or use bluetooth and be able to choose options and set parameters - not unlike how some OBDII mod apps work for cars.

The challenge of some of this is whether it’s worth the cost in development, components, and retail markups. Look at what we have now for cheap, though…it’s amazing.

With any luck cells may continue to improve, too, but for now the focus is better applied to quality designs in drivers.

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I too feel like some sort of out of band configuration would go a long ways in terms of making configurable microprocessor-controlled UIs more palatable.