The Nitecore EC22 is a single emitter small diameter 18650 light with a rotary switch instead of a more traditional button. This allows Nitecore to make a light that instead of having preset modes make it infinitely variable and ramp via the smooth rotary on the front of the light. Thanks to Nitecorestore.com for sending this to me to take a look at.
Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/XRkJ8Gg(link is external)
The YouTube Version of this Review
The packaging is Nitecore’s standard Black and Yellow retail hanging box, with pictures of the light, and details on the back. Inside the box is a plastic tray with the light itself, holster, lanyard and extra origin. The holster here is a more basic model and it almost looks like it was designed for a shorter light. The EC22 fits but ther just isn’t much room for the velcro to latch. It does have a D ring and velcro belt loop.
This light is made from nicely milled aluminium and hard anodized black. It’s pretty narrow for an 18650 light. There is some fairly smooth knurling on the tail cap and body tube. The tail cap has a large recessed flat that would have fit a magnet or tail switch if Nitecore chose to do so. However in the EC22 it was just left blank with a large lanyard hold for easy of mounting.
The clip is “Titanium plated stainless steel” I believe this is most likely a TiN based PVD coating used to increase scratch resistance. The clip can attach at the rear of the light for tip down carry or closer to the middle for use on a hat as a headlamp. I wish the retention was a bit tighter out of the box but you can tighten the clip up by bending it if you wish.
Closer to the front there is a 6 sided hex anti roll ring. At the front there is the rotary switch in machined aluminum. It could use a bit more grip in my opinion as it’s a bit stiff. Threads are square cut and nicely greased with an oring on each side of the body tube.
Maybe I am a little OCD but for me on lights with a milled flat on the body tube with writing it should line up with the button. Unfortunately my example of the EC22 suffers a bit in this regard because to have it line up with the button it won’t make contact. It requires just a touch more rotation to make contact and this makes the flats off axis.
Switch and UI
The UI of this light is very simple due to the linear rotary switch near the front. There is a strong detent on the switch and when you turn it on or off it makes a click that you can hear and feel. The rotary switch rotates clockwise, in my right hand this feels pretty natural to use your thumb and push back. Either way it’s a smooth operation but has decent resistance. I do wish it had a bit more aggressive grip on it due to its resistance. It can be turned on with one finger but is easier with two. I don’t see this light coming on accidentally in your pocket or bag. The light starts in the lowest output it can do which is below a lumen and the further you advance the rotary switch the brighter it gets, do the reverse to turn it off. From off to full is 270 degrees of rotation.
There is no extra modes on this light, shortcuts, or memory mode. This makes it really easy to use.
LED + Runtimes + Temps This light uses a Cree XP-L HD V6 LED in cool white. It’s pretty standard cool white, not too cool and not warm. I don’t notice any significant cree rainbow in this emitter. The reflector is smooth and the lens is anti reflective coated. This light will work with button top batteries and flat tops. It’s nice to see Nitecore evolve into using both types on several recent lights.
The beam does have some artifacts at the 5-6ft range. I think the bezel causes some distortion as well as the LED Die itself as its kind of square distortions. The reflector itself doesn’t get that close to the LED itself which could be part of it. At further distances it’s not as noticeable.
Parasitic Drain I measured at 1.5uA
I did my runtime testing with a Nitecore branded IMR 3100mah button top protected battery. As you can see from the graph the light does have active thermal controls. You can see this as the light ramps down from turbo it dips down, cools off and then for a short time increases in brightness before settling in to about 55% of relative output for a solid 80 minutes. The next 25 minutes the light decreases significantly in output smoothly as the battery runs out. Total runtime of usable light with this 3100mah battery is just at 160 lumens which is quite good. Longer runtimes can be expected for lower outputs as well. Heat was not an issue.
- Really easy to use interface once you know which direction the rotary switch operates.
- Large lanyard hole and tail standing design.
- Can use flat tops and button top batteries.
- Body tube flats don’t line up with the button on my example.
- Pocket clip should have better retention and I would prefer deeper carry.
Nitecore isn’t afraid to try new things with their flashlight designs. For me a rotary switch like this is new and I like it. It’s a little stiff but I expect this to loosen up a bit. I really like the infinitely variable light output this has and I think a rotary switch like this is a decent way to do this. It makes its operation very logical. I think if Nitecore wanted to make a “Tactical” model they could add an electronic switch to the tail cap to add some shortcuts but this would complicate the UI. If you have not tried a light with ramping output it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite features when done right. The output beam isn’t as smooth as I would like to see but I don’t think a non flashaholic would notice this. For me it’s not a deal breaker for what is otherwise a nice flashlight. Thanks again to Nitecorestore.com for sending this to me to evaluate.