Signing up here has been one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done lately. It’s been fun reading & learning. Thanks to everyone who has communicated with me via the back-channels and in my intro thread.
Until this week I hadn’t given much thought to flashlights for many years. My only LED flashlights are Coast HP1, Coast G19 & some Harbor Freight giveaways. Otherwise, Maglite 3D & 4D incandescent lights have been around the house and in the cars.
I’m ready to get some hands-on knowlege of tint, color rendition, batteries, chargers, UIs, etc.
With $300 to start, which lights (& tints), batteries & charger(s) should be first? I live in a large, metro area and don’t hunt, night-fish or crawl through pipelines with headlights on. Rather, I might have to change a tire in the dark, find some stuff in a couple of poorly lit attics and/or search a couple of acres for “what’s making that noise.” Again, car & home applications.
$300 isn’t firm if $150 will do or $500 would be more fun. I’ve got a short list from some others here, but anybody else got suggestions for how to spend my money?
Do yourself a favor and get yourself a BLF Q8. You should be able to pick one up with a code or discount for 40-65. Prob the best light you’ll get for that money. Then get one of the new Emisar lights, D4, D1 or D1S. I’d also highly consider one of the Convoy L6. Consider tints. Many new people find through experience that neutral tints make it easier to resolve colors and that can be useful. But others genuinely like 6500 k. Lots of good chargers. I’ve had really good luck with Xtar chargers. Batteries, don’t get fixated on a brand name. The cell inside is what’s important, but it’s important that it’s a genuine Samsung, Panasonic, or LG.
Never skimp on quality batteries and charger. Lots of good options to choose from. Basically stay away from anything the has fire in the name (except Surefire). Look for OEM brands like Panasonic, LG and Samsung. Avoid garbage like Trustfire, Ultrafire, Tenergy and Nuon. The XTAR VP2/4 or Nitecore D4 are solid, easy to use Li-ion chargers.
If i were going to add one more light to this list it would be something smaller like the olight s1A. This really fits nicely in the pocket but you can still hold on to it, it has a great beam, and super low moon mode. https://olightworld.com/olight-s1a-baton
Emisar flashlights - the D4 is really cool, puts out a lot of power from s small host, albeit not sustained. The D1 is more practical and has the same cool user interface
Convoy S2+ host + MTN-electronics 17mm FET+1 driver + a couple of emitters with different tints (cool, neutral and warm). This would be a modding starter kit as you would only need to solder 2 wires on the LED board, super easy, results in a great flashlight if you don’t want to mod any further, output still can be raised if you like to keep modding.
Batteries with higher capacity for longer run times: Sanyo NCR18650GA or Samsung 35E. They both can sustain 10A discharge, so you are not trading capacity for all that much discharge rate. If you only buy a handful for now, the 30Q will give performance on lights that make use of higher drain without giving up to much capacity. The Sony VTC5a (lower capacity and higher discharge) and VTC6 (same capacity as 30Q, higher discharge) are also popular choices on the forum
Nitecore TIP (the high CRI version)
What I’d get if I had the budget:
What I wouldn’t get if I was starting:
Any luxury materials (flashlights made completely out of copper/titanium) or special editions
Anything from more expensive brands
Flashlights that run on a battery type I don’t already have. I’d start with 18650s, and only after a while flashlights that use 18350s, 16340s, 26650s, etc
none of the following lights are your typical Low CRI 6000k Cool White
they are all High CRI 4000k
18650 option… read review: JAXMAN E2 Nichia this light also has an 18350 option (this light offers a choice of either 4000k or 5700k, both high CRI) It uses PWM, which gives it a demerit in my snobby view
“Light” Pocket carry,
AAA Lumintop Tool w Nichia, the Titanium version is most pocket friendly read review
Notes and suggestions
Storing Lights with LiIon cells in a hot car may not be wise, but there are plenty of cheap Cool White, Low CRI 18650 options.
Eneloop AAA and AA are Fun, for me. Imo AA Eneloop is a candidate for car storage, thought disposable Ultimate Lithium are better.
Using unprotected lights with unprotected cells may not be wise
For lights that do NOT have built in low voltage protection, use protected cells
Buy lights that have a way to let you know when the battery is getting low, so you don’t have to take the cells out and use a meter on them repeatedly and unnecessarily.
What I carry most
the range of color they offer me (two on left are modified)
For headlamp, have a look at skilhunt H03, coupons always available somewhere to bring the price down to around $30.
Lumintop tool is a nice AAA light with a satisfying tail clicks (well, more satisfying than the practical twisty switch most AAA lights use)
If another batch is ever made, the BLF-348 is really nice for the money.
Fun-wise, Emisar D4 is pretty rediculous for size:output, comes in multiple “flavours” of LED so you’ll have to make a choice! Puts out a floody beam. I don’t routinely carry mine as I find the side switch is a bit too easy to press, it’s more of a “take if you know it’s going to be dark” kind of light.
TN42 is also a fun one, throws a beam of light rediculously far, Astrolux M02 might give it a run for itsoney, cost wise, but I’ve not looked at any of the reviews.