Understanding beamshots, why do we do them?

Hello everyone. I am curious, why are beamshots so desired in flashlights? What are you looking for in a beamshot? Why beamshots on a white wall....is this to show the hotspot of the beam? I am asking this from the visually impaired point of view. I can not tell if an LED is a tad green or a tad blue. I can tell the difference from say an XP-G and a 5MM LED, but not something so subtle. When I see a picture of a beamshot on a white wall I see a pattern with a hotspot but may not see a tiny ring in the beam for example. So what are you sighted folk looking for in a beamshot? :)

Comparing beamshots with flashlights is like comparing 0-to-60 times for sports cars. It is a primary and very visual indication of performance of any light.

OK that makes sense. I am a gearhead so I get that reference. :) So what are you looking for in a beamshot on a white wall and those done outdoors?

Pictures are the best way to describe a light's throw vs. flood, tint, and relative brightness.

The most useful ones compare to a well known light's characteristics to give a better comparison since cameras and monitors can be misleading.

There is so much personal preference, it is best to judge for yourself based on a comparison than just to take someone else's opinion.

Edit: Forgot to mention smoothness of the beam. The newer emitters don't have all the rings like the XR-E's, but some can get doughnut holes at close range.

So in a nutshell when I look at a beamshot it is simply up to me which one I may prefer then. It is not about one light being better than another so much as to which one I may prefer, is that about right?

Pretty much. We all have different needs/wants/choices. And since all design is a matter of picking a suitable set of compromises, the choices from one light to another will be different. If you are looking for a light to use at short range, you want a different beam than if you are looking to spot things at half a mile.

Alright I think I get it now. :) Thanks for the help with this.

Here are some examples on the

Left is an XML bigger circle ie: floody greenish tint.

Right is an XPG tight beam neutral tint looks yellowish.

Two XMLs neutral on left cool white on right difference in beam size is due only to the reflector.

XPG on either side with an XML in the middle.

Cool white XPG on left neutral XPG on right

Alright, here is what I see on my 22 inch LDC monitor, I see the XML in both pics as being a more floody beam but I do not see the slight greenish tint, yet my wife does see it. In that top pic both tints look the same to me, I just see a size difference in the hotspot. On the bottom pic I see a slight blue tint on the left, white flood in the middle, and yellowish on the right. My wife is seeing what you described above.

With the variations in monitors, video cards and color settings your results are really good. You should have a basic idea about what people are talking about now, I hope this was helpful.

It was very helpful so thank you very much. I like a floody type beam in general, so this helps me to learn. Thanks for all the help.

I don't care so much 'bout the whitewall shots. Sometimes it gives a good impression of the tint, especially if compared to other light or lights. But the real world outdoor beamshots are where the magic happens. In a properly taken outdoor beamshot one can really see how the light illuminates the surroundings. I don't have good enough camera to do proper outdoor (or indoor either) beamshots, but it's always two thumbs up for everyone including them to reviews etc.

Time to hit the uploader!

Ok here are 4 torches. We can compare the different sort of beams in the same environment outdoors.

Distance is about 10m, or 32ft.

Things we can look for, in a list so we can try to objectively assess it.

# Brightness

  • Overall brightness
  • Hotspot brightness
  • Spill light brightness
  • Corona brightness (the area around the hotspot, but within the spill light)
# Distribution of light
  • Size of hotspot
  • Shape of hotspot (whether the hotspot has a bright center, fading outwards, or even the opposite - doughnut ring)
  • Size and shape of coronal light
  • Width of spill light
  • Overall beam smoothness or ringiness
# Quality of light
  • Tint of beam
  • Distribution of tint - white hotspot, yellow corona, blue spill light - this describes big emitting surfaces like SST-50/ XM-L to a small degree
  • Smoothness of beam (again)
# Subjective - you can really make up anything for this...
  • Usability - in the context of the beam shot - so how well it lights up (focal point, adjacent to it, mid distance, wide)
  • Just how much you like the way it looks - combining all of the above.

  • Top Left M60R = 2x 18650 - SST-50 Very cool white
  • 800 lumens with a smooth beam with wide decently bright and even but well defined hotspot, with a very even spill and no apparent corona. (even spill, no corona means the area adjacent hotspot feels darker although a white wall beamshot would appear perfect this is the difference between real life and white wall, and the usefulness of a blended hotspot/corona
  • Top Right EX10 = 1x CR123 - GDP emitter cool white
  • Overall 120 lumens, very smooth beam, defined smallish hotspot, but fades into the spill quite quickly. Also has a slightly narrower spill light. (its hard to read this beamshot because of the exposure settings being tailored for brighter lights)
  • Bottom Left 120P = 18650 - XM-L 5B Mod
  • 600 lumens of a very nice neutral tint (so much nicer than a cool white IMO). Virtually no hotspot, with what can be called a very wide hot"spot" which completely blends into the spill light. Not a throwy light for long distances, but fills a medium distance area with alot of light very well.
  • Bottom right Trustfire R5 A3 = 14500 - XP-G
  • 200+ lumens with a medium sized well defined hotspot with a smooth transition, however with a slight doughnut effect in the beam (darker right in the middle (which is aimed just above the limestone wall)).
I will try to upload more pictures of other torches where you can see more differences.

I describe this location as a medium distance example

Reference to throwy/floody is relative to the total light output, not the absolute - i.e. we are comparing beam distributions.

Nitecore Extreme - 150 lumens? You can see a well defined medium hotspot, with a Darker corona - this was one of the signature beam patterns of the XR-E generation of emitters. This is a good torch for distance and is quite throwy, but can be quite tunnel visioned at range because the mid distance/adjacent area is not lit up. Wide spill is nice though.

Legion II - Much throwier beam, it has a very bright corona which lights up the area next to the hotspot - this makes for a very practical light for shining mid-long distances AND lighting up the adjacent area (reduces the tunnel vision effect at long distances) - however the narrow spill (which comes from a deep throw orientated reflector) makes the short range very claustrophobic.

This makes this light a Nice practical torch for Mid - Long distances

D10 - XR-E 5A tint. - Again, showing the classic dark corona of the XR-E emitters. This has a medium well defined hotspot bracketed by the dark corona. Relatively throwy for its size (compare to below) but the beam is not as even. Slightly "ringy" as some may call it (but not severe)

Overall not bad for mid distance slightly more throwy than floody.

D10 - XP-G 5C1 Mod - 14500 - This has a very smooth beam, with a wide lightly defined hotspot which blends very smoothly with the spill. The gentle transition fills the area very well but this distribution does not throw light far, more of a floody beam. Overall output is higher with the XP-G vs XR-E, but not as throwy.

This is a very good general purpose beam for short-med distances. Great for pocket EDC.

Maglite 4D Luxeon - Very throwy beam, but the lack of corona/spill brightness makes it a very long throwing light, but very claustrophobic. (this is with lens focused for max throw)

Hopefully these give some idea in the variation in output beams, and I hope give you something to think about when comparing beams. The idea is to just try different lights and compare them, with experience allowing you to compare known torches vs new torches, which is why beamshots exist.

That was a great job , Okwchin . Thank you .

That was a very thoughtful thing to do for me. Alright of those beamshots what is the most pleasing to my ey is the:

Bottom Left 120P = 18650 - XM-L 5B Mod


D10 - XP-G 5C1 Mod - 14500

I like that wall of light as I can not see a very far distance. What kind of flashlight do I need to get those types of beams? :)

Least favorite beam:

Maglite 3D Luxeon

:) This was very nice of you to do for me, thank you.

Neutral tint (because I love them), but importantly large emitters in small bodies can create walls of light.

Pocket XP-G = D10

pocket sized XM-L = 120P type.

Essentially a compact XM-L torch is likely to give you such a beam pattern, with a head smaller than 1" (7/8 in the case of the D10)

Which lights are you referring to here? I an rather new to all this. :)

The ones in the beamshots -

Essentially just go for compact torches with LEDs such as the XP-G and the XM-L (newer - tends to be more floody/ can be much brighter)

Im sure there are many other users on BLF who know of examples of a smooth even beam floody light, im just not very up-to date.

And because theres a lunar eclipse this hour, heres a beamshot I just took.

And for comparison here is a beam shot of a Very throwy 1x 18650 light. Visible defined narrow hotspot, defined corona and narrow spill. Its a 1.5A driven XP-G with the very nice 5B1 tint, on a very deep 34mm diameter reflector. Can even see the beam coming out of the torch

OK here goes, my first attempt at beamshots. I used a 7.2MP Casio point and shoot camerea set on a table for a tripod. The first shot is a 4Sevens 123X2 with a something-R2 LED. The second shot if a Solarforce L2P with Ultrafire 5 mode XML T6This was done at 70 feet away from the fence.