Olight Baton Pro Review (2000 Lumens, 18650, EDC, Magnetic Recharging)

Olight has  new light on the market the Baton Pro. This is an update to the older S30R II and shares a lot of features with the S2R Baton II I looked at a few months ago. Thanks to SkyBen Trading for sending this to me to review. I will have a link to their shop in the description on where you can pick up this or any other Olight. 

 

YouTube Version of this Review:

Purchase this light on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2NyAG35 

 

Packaging

Olight has continued their white box theme of 2018 and 2019 and the Baton Pro is no different. It’s a white compact cardboard box, with a fold out top. On the front it shows the light, on the sides it gives a QR code and warranty time period (5 years). On the back it describes the light in pretty good detail and gives a runtime table. 

The light is held in a white plastic holder, underneath are all the accessories held in place with a cardboard warning to remove the plastic protector to operate the light. Accessories for the Baton Pro include the customized (Proprietary) 3500mAh 18650 Olight battery, Blue pocket clip, Standard olight lanyard, Revised MCC II Charger, instructions and brown felt Olight bag. 

Construction

If you have seen my review of the S2R Baton II you will notice a lot of the same design similarities on the Baton Pro. The light is made from aluminium and anodized a semi gloss black. Starting at the tail you will see the magnetic charging port. I did test the open contacts for safety with steel wool and didn’t have any issues. There is a magnet in the tail cap that is sufficiently strong to hold the light in a horizontal position on a painted steel surface. The tail also has a spot drilled in for the narrow included lanyard. The body tube and tail cap are all one piece. The bodies texture is a pyramid type design with the top milled off. It looks kind of like a corn cob. I like this new texture it provides quite a bit of grip but isn’t so aggressive it will tear up your hand or pocket. 

The head here is different from the S2R II, it’s a bit longer at the top. This allows for a different optic, and some decorative milled circles. The side button has an LED in the center used for low battery indication. It’s a slicker plastic feeling button not a silicone button. It’s surrounded by a gloss blue ring, an Olight signature. The clip is removable but fixed in place. The only markings on the light are the Baton Pro are the Name and the serial number. Opposite this is the Olight logo.  

The top of the light features a recessed blue Olight bezel. It’s a larger diameter as well as deeper then what was on the S2R Baton II, more similar to the S30R Baton II released a few years ago. On the top it’s engraved 2000 lumens and cool white. It features TIR style optic with a frosted center, clear cone and a flat glass lens on top. 

Size & Weight and Comparisons

I measured the length of the Baton Pro at 108mm, maximum diameter at 25mm, minimum diameter at 23mm. Weight with the included battery and pocket clip was 110g. 

Size wise the Baton Pro slots in the middle, it’s shorter then the S30R II with a narrower head, but not as short as the S2R II. Weight wise this makes it only 12 grams heavier then the S2R II, and within 1 gram of the S30R II.  While total output is a big jump up on the Baton Pro it’s more of an incremental change elsewhere. 

LED/Beamshot/Runtime

Olight doesn’t specify the LED that’s being used in this light officially only that’s it’s cool white. It’s tint is cool white and pretty similar to the S2R Baton II that was using a SST-40. My guess would be it’s the same LED but I can’t be for sure. Not naming the LED is a shame for a light in this price category from a big player in the market. This gives them production flexibility but isn’t good news for enthusiasts. 

The beam pattern with the optic has a hot center but alot more gradual spill then the TIR in the S2R Baton II. This new optic does seem to introduce some distortion mainly in tint it seems in the spill, where as the S2R Baton II is a harder cut off.

Officially output is listed at the following:

Turbo 2000 Lumens with step down to 600

High 600 Lumens

Medium 120 Lumens

Low 30 Lumens

Moon 5 Lumens

 

Mode spacing here on the normal modes excluding turbo is fairly even. It’s disappointing to see moonlight be so high at 5 lumens, to me this more like low not moonlight. The difference between high and turbo is pretty big. Now the interesting thing is it can sustain high (because it’s a lower output) for longer then average. Heat was well managed at the hottest it getting was 101F at the 5 minute mark. 

Runtime

In Turbo the Baton Pro only lasts for 1 minute before stepping down 60% of relative output around 600 lumens, for around 15 minutes. At that point medium is the bulk of this lights runtime at 150 minutes before stepping down one more time for another 40 or so minutes. Total runtime is just shy of 200 minutes. Total runtime is pretty good for a single emitter 18650 but that time is well below the advertised max output and a large majority of its under 200 lumens, a bit disappointing in the output regard.

UI

The Baton Pro has the standard Olight UI many of us have come to know, and I like with the slower fades from off/on and between modes. From off, long press to activate moonlight mode at 5 lumens. To turn on in normal modes single click the switch, to change brightness level hold the button and the light will cycle through the 4 available modes lowest to highest. Double click to access turbo. Triple click to access strobe. The light also features memory mode for normal modes. 

 

Lockout can be accomplished when the light is off by pressing and holding the switch for 2 seconds until moonlight mode comes on and immediately shuts off. If you then press the button the red LED under the power button will come on to let you know your in lockout mode. To exit lockout press the button for about 1 second until moonlight mode stays on. Personally I will just give the body of the light a ¼ turn to mechanically lock it out. The light features a short 3 minute timer, and a longer 9 minute timer. If these are setup (See the included manual) the light will automatically shut off when the end of the timer is reached. 

 

Charging

The new MCC II charger is like we saw on the S2R Baton Ii. It’s edges are chamfered, and it’s still magnetic. It can now charge at 1A. Charging Time from a completely empty battery to charged was 4 hours and 41 minutes. Maximum charge rate I saw was 0.80A. . I would like to see a higher then 1A charge rate on their updated charger. That said this is very safe and conservative charge rate for the included 3500mAh battery. Full voltage was 4.185v.

 

Pro’s

  • I like the revised design and grip. Its an increase in texture but not too aggressive.
  • Good Basic, familiar UI
  • Useful beam pattern, not a pure flood or thrower.

 

Con’s

  • No Specific LED or Tint is officially mentioned here. This is very disappointing from Olight but gives them flexibility during manufacture.
  • Moonlight mode is quite bright at 5 Lumens
  • Proprietary battery is necessary for onboard recharging to work. The light does work with flat top with a magnet or a button top for just lighting.

 

Conclusion

The Baton Pro continues Olights small incremental updates of their lights in 2019. It would appear that the marketing department is pushing for those big lumen numbers rather then the R&D department coming out with bigger innovations or filling holes in the product line (Like a lantern or a Bike light).

 

That said this light has some good features, I like the texture on the body, the small speed improvement in the charging system. It puts out quite a bit of light for it’s size in a good quality beam pattern. It’s disappointing they don’t say exactly what LED is being used here or the tint, only that it’s cool white. Hopefully they won’t continue this practice for future lights. Overall it’s a bright compact light with a good 5 year warranty.

Lumintop FW3A Review (Triple LED 18680 EDC light) BLF Designed

The Lumintop FW3A is a EDC style, small form factor triple LED flashlight that enthusiasts on the BLF forums designed and programmed during the past 2+ years. It takes design inspiration in several places from high end custom lights, and brings it down to an economical price. BLF was able to get Lumintop to agree to manufacture it and the rest is history. There have been a lot of reviews on the light so far, but here is mine. I purchased my original FW3A here in gray, but am thankful for Banggood for sending me the FW3C copper version of this light so that I can show it off and review it for my viewers.

 

Youtube Version of this Review: 

Packaging

Packaging is nice at this price point. Lumintop designed a brown cardboard box with a line drawing of the light with a few specs on the outside. It has a slip cover and inside the lid folds out to reveal the light protected by cut foam with the paperwork on top. One of the important things that comes with this light is a little reminder to no open it from the tail side, and only open from the head side. This is because the tail assembly is where many of the difficult clearances are set and small parts are. More recent versions have added a retaining ring in the light which helps keep things together, but the best place to install a battery is by taking off only the head. Accessories are limited, with a couple of o’rings and the manual. 

 

Construction

The switch in the light is a metal electronic switch in the tail and has very little travel but a positive click. This combined with the inner tube construction allows for the eswitch to work and give all the different functionality of the UI. That said it’s very important that the tail of this light is screwed down tight and not removed for reliable function. In my copper light there is now a retaining ring added which helps with this situation.

The body of the light is tapered, and this just makes it more ergonomic, it fits well in the hand and works better when clipped to pants or a bag. Threads are beefy, square cut and raw base material. 

The head is two pieces, first on the outside you have the diamond knurled piece where the pill of the light and driver is and then you have the very top part where the Carclo 10511 semi clear optics sit. If you have a turbo glow gasket like I do in my copper FW3C here, it’s as simple to install as inserting it between the LED board and optic. 

One final note on the construction of this light. The FW3 series of lights was designed with modders in mind. As a result, no glue was used in the construction of the light and that combined with a light at this price point made the light a little finicky. A good amount of people needed to troubleshoot their lights upon first getting them and as a result there is an extensive help thread over on the BudgetLightForums. 

 

Personally I have been pretty lucky, my original gray aluminum light here was perfect out of the box and worked well, I did have a loose retaining ring in the head that I tightened down just to keep it working well into the future. 

 

My Copper light here was a different story, it ended up having a slight problem with the location of the oring on the inner tube which made it not work reliably. After about 15 minutes of troubleshooting using the thread I will have a link to below I got it working again. It did have a design revision in the tail with the addition of a retaining ring to keep it from falling apart on removal. Most problems I have seen are usually fixable but there have also been some bad LED’s reported too. 

 

Size | Weight | Carry

I measured overall length at 93mm, maximum diameter was 25.4mm and minimum diameter on the body at 21.5mm. Weight with the battery (VTC6) of the aluminum bodied light at 98.1g, and the copper FW3C with the same battery is 170.6g. 

 

While watching this light develop over the 2+ years I was part of the vocal minority asking for a deep carry clip option. So far one hasn’t been made, but after carrying each light for a while I am not sure it really needs one. The clip is pressure fit between the tail and body of the light with an oring on either side. You can attach a lanyard on either the tip or top of it. It’s no secret that I don’t often EDC a 18650 light but with the FW3A it’s been a very pleasant light to carry in a front pocket. For me the shortness and small diameter combined with the taper on the body really make it a pleasant carry. While the copper adds weight I don’t notice that it’s too heavy and I like the way it looks.

LED | Beam Shots | Heat

The FW3A series of lights is available with a number of emitters. Banggood currently has 4 of them. 2 XPL-HI options at 5000k and 6500k, producing about 2800 lumens, and then a Nichia 219C at 4000k producing about 1600 lumens and a SST20 at 4000k a little under the XPL-HIs. The later two are 90+ CRI models. The Nichia is the least powerful of the bunch while the XPL-HI are the most output. Nielsgadgets also offers a XP-L Hi in warm white at 3300k. What I have here is a Warm White XPL-Hi in my Gray FW3A, and a SST20 in my Copper FW3C.  Thanks to that Carclo 10507 optic, the beam patterns for a triple is quite good, large hot center and fairly even spill. Throw is easily past 200 meters. Heat is considerable on this light especially on the higher outputs. 

 

SST-20 Emitters at 4000k 

 

XPL-HI at 3300K

 

Runtime

Runtimes and outputs on this light are basically what you should expect out of high performance hot rod like this with a limited amount of thermal mass. So in the normal UI you have high mode, and then a very limited “turbo”. Here is a graph that shows what 1 minute on Turbo looks like and we can see after 20 seconds it steps down ? of relative output,  Normal high mode starts to ramp down fairly quickly and stabilizes at about 9 minutes, but at a considerably less output. Long term the light sits about 40% relative output for well past 200 minutes. Overall runtime on this light is 100% thermally driven due to it’s mass and only having air to cool it. 

The light does have low voltage protection onboard, so running unprotected batteries is fine and recommended for best performance here, but in my testing I couldn’t get find where exactly this kicks in at becaused the light runs quite low but never shut off in over 300 minutes. 

 

UI

This light is using Toykeeper’s Anduril UI. It’s currently one of my favorites available as it has a ton of options and neat little Easter eggs that commercial UI’s don’t include. By default the light comes in ramping UI which is where I left it. The ramping is fast and logical. A stepped mode is a variable that you can configure as well if you prefer. 

The light has thermal controls, you can configure beacon mode, as well as 5 types of strobe including candle mode, party strobe, and lightning storm. You access these with 2 taps and a hold, and then two taps to change modes inside this group. Candle and lighting mode are my personal favorite. How practical these are could be a point where one could argue, but I like that they are present and it just makes things fun. Due to how you access these strobe modes I would not call the light a tactical UI or tactical light as you have to remember a series of presses and pauses to get there. 

 

For instance 4 clicks gives you lockout, and another 4 clicks unlocks the light, or you could just unscrew the head a tiny bit. If you activate momentary, the only way to clear it is to unscrew the head to do a full reset. 6 clicks from off gives you muggle mode which limits the lights output and output for a less complicated interface. 

 

Personally I find the UI to be easy to use for what you want to do most often, but a little more complex to get to those modes you don’t use very often. This is a UI where you should take a look at the manual or at least the graphical manual for the UI and spend some time playing with your light to get the most out of it.

 

Firmware Flashing

Not all the FW3’s are coming with the latest version of firmware on them. It’s relatively easy to flash your own firmware if you want with only needing a computer, and inexpensive programmer. If this is something you would be interested in having me demonstrate on video, let me know in the comments below and I will add it to my list of future videos. 

 

Mods

Lots of mods are available around this light. First and easiest are probably the Turboglow gaskets in a wide variety of colors, I have a lava colored one here in my Copper light and I quite like it, I think I will probably get a green or blue one for my aluminium version here soon. You can also get turbo glow to replace the tail switch, and a piece of sapphire glass for the lens, and tritium drilled optics. Since the light doesn’t have any glue an LED swap to something else is also pretty easy. Firmware is also flashable too, if you would like to see a video on how to flash firmware on the FW3A lights to make sure you have the latest version of Andril let me know in the comments below. 

Pro’s 

  • Nice value for what your getting with a wide variety of materials and colors to choose from. 
  • While this started as just 1 line it’s spawned an entire family, with different LED choices, Material Choices, and soon a single emitter version, and a version that takes a 21700 battery for extended runtime.
  • Highly customizable, lots of emitter and material choices too.

 

Con’s

  • It’s a little bit of a fiddly light, for the BLF editions the decision was made to not glue anything for easier modding, the result is sometimes you have to just play with things a bit to get it to work reliably. I had this problem on my copper one, but not my original. 
  • While I appreciate the small as possible size, that also means not a lot of thermal mass for heat dissipation and that means this light gets hot, from head to tail, pretty quickly on higher modes.

 

Conclusion

For me this is the enthusiasts light of 2019. It wasn’t a surprise since most of the development has happened on the forums in the open, but I don’t think anyone anticipated how popular this light would be and how it would spawn so many different versions. It’s really amazing that so many volunteers give their countless hours away to produce a flashlight for the community. Their hard work really shows through on this one. I have a couple different BLF designed lights and I don’t regret any of them. If you are a flashlight enthusiasts, collector, or EDC community member and you don’t have an FW3 series of light at this point, I would strongly encourage you to pick one up today, you won’t regret it. 

 

Personally I don’t EDC a ton of 18650 light in my daily activities due to their typical larger size. That said the FW3 series of lights has been the exception. That tapered body makes a big difference in carry and so does the short overall length. While I would prefer a little deeper clip the included clip is pretty good. Modding capacity of this light is also very high, with people doing tons of things, and the aftermarket producing parts to add glow buttons, glow gaskets, drilled tritium optics, and more.

 

Below in the description I will have links to the different versions (Many colors of aluminium, Titanium, copper, etc) of the FW3 series of lights that Banggood is carrying currently as well as the TurboGlow gasket I have in my copper light here. 

 

If you are a flashlight enthusiasts, collector, or EDC community member and you don’t have an FW3 light at this point, I would strongly encourage you to pick one up today, it might not be your one and only EDC light but it will be one to have a ton of fun with at an affordable price and will impress you for its abilities for the money and size. I recommend it! 

 

Full Image Gallery on the FW3A: https://imgur.com/a/97Do9Mt

 

Pickup the Copper Lumintop FW3A From Banggood for $54.90 with Coupon Code BGLFCF2 at https://ban.ggood.vip/Ia5w

 

The Turboglow Gasket I am using can be found at https://ban.ggood.vip/Ia5u

 

Original Grey Edition: https://www.banggood.com/custlink/KKm36YwdNE

Blue Edition: https://www.banggood.com/custlink/3mvm6R7ysc

Olive Edition: https://www.banggood.com/custlink/3GK3BEThb5

Purple Edition: https://www.banggood.com/custlink/DDD3Bd1EQ8

Titanium Edition: https://www.banggood.com/custlink/Gm3K0EfYQ4

TurboGlow Button: https://www.banggood.com/custlink/DvDD6huEsA

 

Troubleshooting Thread:

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/66960

 

Useful Information on the FW3A lights and Troubleshooting:

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/67058

 

User Manual:

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0031/0155/6806/files/Anduril_-_FW3A_user_manual.pdf?16

Astrolux S43 (Quad Nichia LED, 18650/18350, USB Recharging, Hand Warmer Feature)

Astrolux has a small quad LED light, the S43. This builds on the the similar S41 and S42 line of lights. The S43 is a revised design, let’s see what’s good and bad about it. Thanks to Banggood for sending this to me to take a look at today.

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/7w2r7Ym

YouTube Version of this Review: https://youtu.be/dq8lWspqUSY

Packaging

Packaging is pretty similar to other Astrolux lights of this size. It’s a brown paper box, with a bowtie cut in the middle almost. On the side is a sticker with the model and LED option on it. Inside the light is protected in foam. The S43 comes with lots of accessories that were once addon items in previous version. It now comes with a deep carry pocket clip, 18350 tube, lanyard, and glass breaker/skull cracker spike. It does come with a manual but it’s not quite accurate, it seems to be largely recycled from the S42.

Construction

The head of the light has a non removable crenelated bezel that’s moderately aggressive. Underneath it has a small quad optic, similar to the S41. Below that the light has it’s button that glows green (Can be configured to turn off), surrounding the button is a copper/bronze colored bezel. The sides of the driver are a larger piece of milled aluminum with small heatsinks on the sides. Opposite the side button is the Micro USB charger port and cover. The port is fairly deeply recessed but I didn’t have a problem accessing it with a standard cable. The charger cover does have a tab that I seem to catch with my finger when the light is in use. It’s more annoying than functionally wrong.

The body tube is fairly smooth with no knurling ot texture for grip which is unfortunate.. There are indents at either side for the clip. The tubes are not reversible. It looks very similar to the battery tube on my Emissar D4. The S43 also comes with a 18350 tube which is nice that it’s not an additional purchase. The shorter tube is the same just shorter. It also has areas for the clip to connect. Threads are acme cut, and there is no spring in the head. This causes a bit of a problem if the light is jolted as it loses connection and doesn’t come back on by default.

Glass Breaker/Skull Cracker Spike. The tailcap of the light has as an optional (included) steel spike that can be screwed onto back of the light. For me this is more of a gimmick than useful. Yes it could be used a a self defense option, or used to break glass but the last thing I want is this spike sticking out of my pocket or poking a hole in my bag. Thankfully it can be removed and the threaded hole could be used to connect to a tripod. Personally I would get more use out of this if it was a magnet instead. The spike screws into a ¼ 20 insert. The insert can be removed and I am guessing it’s roughly a ? screw but I ma not quite sure. With the insert screwed in it doesn’t tail stand very stably.

Other versions of this light are also available. There is a version where the head portion is copper, and a red/green anodized version for the holidays. There isn’t a stainless steel model yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see one eventually.

Size/Weight

I measured length at 122mm without the spike or threaded adapter with the 18650 tube. Maximum diameter is 30mm at the head, and minimum diameter is 24mm on the body tube. Weight with battery and clip is 141.5G

LED/Runtime

The light comes with 2 versions, a cool white Cree XP-G3 LED and a Neutral white Nichia 219C at 5000k which is what I have. Tint on mine seems a little warmer than 5000k but I don’t mind. The light is capable 2100 lumens on it’s turbo mode.

Beam shots has a warm hot spot in the center that a gradual fade as you move from the center. For a quad light it’s fairly round. At short distances you notice a few artifacts but these mostly fade away at 4-5 feet.

Output & Runtime

The S43’s runtime and heat output is a little disappointing but roughly what I would expect from a small diameter quad Nichia light. So the light is capable of a maximum of 2100 lumens and has a ramping UI as it’s primary UI. I did my testing with a Sony VTC6. In turbo the light ran for just slightly over 1 minute before starting it’s stepdown. At the 1 minute mark I measured 113F at it’s hottest point. That is pretty warm very quickly. Between 1 and 2 minutes the light stepped down twice to about 10% relative output. This is a very big decrease in output really quickly. At 2.5 minutes the light reaches it’s comfortable longer term output at about 5-8% relative output. After 6 minutes I measured the light was 95F. It held this low output out to 375 minutes where the light stepped down a few more times to run at bear minimums. I stopped my runtime test at a little over 500 minutes. Overall I felt like while this light gets bright it’s almost unusable because of how fast the light steps down and how much it steps down. At least with it’s ramping UI you can adjust the output to exactly where you want it. Performance with a quality 18350 should be similar just with a shorter overall runtime. The light does have Low Voltage Protection which is good since you want to run it with a unprotected cell for the most output.

UI

This light has one single side switch (A change from the S41), and uses NarsilM ramping firmware for it’s UI. By default it comes with the Ramping enabled but there is a stepped mode if you prefer. For my testing I left it in the default ramping UI. Ramping is fast taking just under 2 seconds to go from the lowest to highest mode. It gives a brief flash at the top to let you know your there, and does it at the bottom too, although thats hard to see at such a low output. I will like to the manual in the description so you can look at the other options, it looks a little complicated to adjust but after you have done it a few times it’s not too bad.

Link to Mode 1 Manual

Link to Mode 2 Manual

Recharging

The light does have onboard recharging via MicroUSB. I measured the speed at 0.72A and this resulted in my 3000mAh Sony VTC6 taking 5 hours and 2 minutes to charge to completely full. A little slow for an 18650 but a very safe speed especially if your using it with a 18350.

Pro’s

  • I like that it now comes with the 18350 tube and a pocket clip for the price. (They used to be add on items)
  • Nichia LED option
  • NarsilM Firmware (Ramping UI with lots of configurable options)

Con’s

  • Step downs from Turbo are large and the light gets beyond warm
  • Breaks connection (Light turns off) if using flat tops and the light is jolted (Doesn’t come back on)
  • Smooth body

Conclusion

For the price this is one of the least expensive Quad LED lights you can get usually (when on sale, see youtube for a coupon). For its size it puts out a ton of light, but at least in this S43 the step down from Turbo to high is quite large and it gets hot! Turbo is more of a momentary because it lasts so little time. I wish it had a bit more grip and didn’t lose connection if jolted hard (Like if using the glass breaker), especially for a light that advertises itself with tactical features.

Xtar X2 Dual Bay Smart Quick Charger Review

Xtar has a new charger on the market the X2 and X4. Today I have a review of the X2, a 2 bay 2A charger capable of charging Li-ion and Ni-MH batteries, with AC or USB Power. Thanks to Xtar for sending this to me to test and review.

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/T2ewQ1Z

YouTube Version of this Review: https://youtu.be/MXD3-AGlmew

Packaging

The packaging is a white retail box with a gloss photo of the X2 on the front. The sides list a few key features such as the charging speed, Inputs, LCD display, the chemistries and sizes of batteries that are supported. The back gives more specifications and features of the charger. It contains a scratch off anti counterfeit sticker and is insured worldwide. The package contains the charger, AC power cable, and the manual.

Construction

The Xtar X2 charger is a 2 bay charger that can accommodate most common battery sizes. I had no trouble with all 18650’s, it will fit 2x 26650, and I didn’t have any issues with an unprotected 20700. Smaller batteries were ok too, 18350, AAA, etc. It will not charge a protected 21700 battery. The metal sliders are fairly smooth and have enough tension on them to hold a battery securely.

The body of the charger is a black ABS plastic that is heat and flame retardant, and is kind of in an X configuration, in outside appearance. There isn’t a fan in this charger meaning it’s silent, and I didn’t notice it get warm during use. There is one button on the top, middle near the screen that when held turns the screen off, for night time charging if you wish.

I took some photos of the inside of the charger here. I am not a circuit engineer but to me it looks decent. Quality of the solder joints look good, A few components are not 100% squarely placed but not bad either. I don’t see any cold joints or things that I am alarmed about. If you see something you are concerned about, make sure to leave a comment.

Screen

The screen is a LCD with a dark black background and white text that’s tinted blue with a blue backlight. On each bay you get a 0-100% indicator showing what percentage the battery is at, on the top right corner you get the current voltage, below that you get the charge rate, below that in the center you get the mAh that’s been put into the cell since the start of charging, and lastly on the bottom left hand corner you get the cell chemistry that’s been detected. The screen is easy to read and I had no complaints about it. It does time out after a few minutes, you can press the button to wake it up.

Performance

My main charger for a while has been an Xtar VC4 which I really like, but the problem with it is it’s USB only input power, sometimes if charging performance isn’t what I expect I end up doing the dance of “is it the USB power supply? Or the wire, or something else?” The X2 solves that because it’s a part of Xtar’s AC series, meaning it plugs directly into the wall. You can also power it via MicroUSB if you prefer. For my tests I used the AC power source.

The charger has reverse polarity detection and didn’t charge batteries when they were placed in backwards. Battery chemistry was correctly identified, when you place a new cell in it takes a few seconds for it to go through detection and begin charging.

The charger is capable of a maximum of 2A across both bays. The left bay is capable of up to 2A under the correct conditions, and the right bay is capable of up to 1A under the correct conditions. If there is only 1 battery in the left bay and it’s a lithium ion type chemistry it will charge at 2A. If you have 2 Lithium cells they will each charge at 1A. The charger does a great job of recognizing the type of cell, my smaller 18350’s despite being lithium will charge at a slower 0.5A rate which is great for battery longevity. It detects this all on it’s own and it does this in either bay. You can also mix chemistries across the charger, 1 18650 for example in the left bay and one AA NiHM in the right, it will charge the 18650 at 1.0A and the NiHM at 0.5A.

While slower charging is safer, I would like to see the charger capable of a combined 4A across each bay, for faster charging of large batteries like 26650 and 20700’s etc.

The charger has 0V activation (Although this is generally not recommended for batteries with a Lithium chemistry). For charging it has a 3 step process TC-CC-CV with soft start technology. This helps with overall battery longevity and long term health.

Pro’s

  • All automatic, this make the charger very easy to use but doesn’t give enthusiasts any options on what speed to charge the batteries at. Default settings are conservative, which is safe.
  • AC Power via a fairly standard cable. The charger is compatible with 120/240v so it’s safe for international use. It can also be powered via MicroUSB.
  • Very affordable, at US retailers it’s coming in well under $20.

Con’s

  • Only a combined total of 2A charging speed, while adequate, I would like to see it able to charge 2A per bay in 2019 if connected via AC.
  • I would like to see the USB input be in USB-C over MicroUSB because it’s 2019.

Conclusion

The Xtar X2 is my current favorite 2 bay charger. I really like that it’s got dual input including AC, which makes it versatile to use whatever power source is best for you in your situation. It takes a wide variety of sizes of batteries, and the most common chemistries as well. Xtar has a good reputation around the Flashlight and Vape communities for making quality chargers at affordable prices. The X2 is no different, and continues this trend. Xtar also makes the X4 version of this charger if you want 4 bays. It offers a little faster charging depending on where you put batteries and isn’t much more expensive. Either charger would be great for anyone who is just getting into flashlights or if your just looking to upgrade to a newer/faster charger. I recommend it.

Sofrin Q8 VS BLF Q8 Comparison

Today on my review table I have the Sofirn Q8, this is a version of the well regarded BLF Q8 that I reviewed last year. This review is mainly showing the differences between the two lights. If you haven’t seen my original review of the Q8 you will want to check it out first and then watch or read this review. Thanks to Sofirn for sending this to me to take a look at.

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/T3d7H8t

YouTube Version of this Review:

So as you might know the BLF was a forum designed light, it was produced by Thorfire. The contact that BLF had at Thorfire changed employers and went to work for Sofirn. WIth everyone’s permission he was allowed to take the BLF Q8 design with him and Sofirn decided to make a few changes to the light and produce it under their name.

There are 2 significant changes on the Sofirn Q8.

Round Body Tube

On the BLF Q8 there were milled flat’s into the body tube, on the Sofirn Q8 those have been removed, and it’s now purely knurling. I don’t have strong feelings on if this is a good or bad change. The additional knurling does add some additional grip.

LED Choice

The Sofrin Q8 uses the Cree XPL HI LED’s in a 6000k temp. The BLF Q8 uses the Cree XP-L V6 HD LED with a 5000k tint. What does this mean practically? It means the Sofrin Q8 has a slightly cooler beam tint, and throws slightly better because the XPL HI LEDs don’t have a doam.

From a practical standpoint I actually like the slight increase in throw that the light has, in my night shots you will see it’s noticeable but not a dramatic difference. I wish the Sofrin had a tint closer to 5000k but the 6000k isn’t too blue. Overall I think the slight increase in throw is worth it.

Runtime test

I did do a runtime test with the Sofrin Q8 using 4x Samsung 30Q batteries and the graph shape matched the BLF Q8 but overall runtime as a bit shorter. The Sofrin Q8 came in at 325 minutes while the BLF Q8 was just past 350 minutes.

Sofirn https://i.imgur.com/OoIRBbP.jpg

BLF https://i.imgur.com/pS99l3d.jpg

Other then the changes mentioned above the Sofirn Q8 is the same as the BLF Q8. I was a really big fan of this light originally and still am. It’s a fantastic value for a soda can style light, it has the all important tripod mount (Or lanyard attachment point). The firmware is the excellent Narsil so it’s configurable and in my opinion is one of the best ramping firmwares out there. As far as I know most of the BLF Q8 mods should work on the Sofirn Q8. The light does get warm when you run it for an extended period of time but that’s to be expected on a light this compact and bright. Overall I enjoy both lights, if you are looking for a little more throw the Sofirn Q8 is a great choice, both are great lights and I recommend them highly.

Some additional comparison photos, the Sofirn Q8 is on the Left, BLF Q8 is on the Right

Jetbeam FL-12 Review (USB-C, Adjustable LED Fill light for Videography & Photography)

Jetbeam has a new product on the market that is aimed at videographers and photographers but has some application in the flashlight world as well. It’s a small portable fill light, with adjustable tint, and brightness, in a small package that’s made to be mounted on your camera or nearby to provide fill light when videoing or taking photos. Thank you to Jetbeam for providing this for me to take a look at. It’s been on my want list since it was announced.

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/5PXLAnS
YouTube Version of this Review: 

Packaging
Packaging on this fill light is minimal. Outside is a retail box, unfortunately mine was damaged a bit during shipping. On the front it shows the light, on the back it gives a runtime charge we are used to seeing. Inside the light is housed in a plastic tray. Accessories with this are pretty minimal. It comes with a lanyard and USB-C OTG cable used to charge the light and it can be used to use the light as a powerbank to charge other devices. More on that a bit later.



Construction
When I first put the Fl-12 in my hands the first thing I thought was, this feels alot like an iPhone. The sides and back are milled from a solid piece of aluminium, and then anodized in a silver. It looks to be very precise. The only downside as with many phones is that it makes it a little slick to hold onto. On the back an area is cut out near what I am going to call the top for a small OLED screen that gives you the status indicators. It displays what tint/temperature the light is outputting, the intensity level (available in 5% increments) and then the estimated runtime at that level and tint.



Cut into the metal bezel is a ¼ 20 threads to allow you to attach the light in a horizontal or vertical configuration to a tripod, a hotshoe adapter or any other place where you can put a ¼ 20 accessory. Also in the side is the USB-C charging port. No silicone cover is provided for this connection which is a little unfortunate as it exposes it to dust, and moisture but most Smartphones follow this method and don’t have a problem.

The front has 120 LED’s a combination of ½ to provide the warmer tones, and the other ½ to provide the cooler tones. They are arranged in a matrix of every other and are even for the most part. They are slightly rearranged around where the threaded insert is inserted. Over the top is a piece of clear acrylic and it shipped with a piece of protective plastic over the top. I am leaving this on mine to provide a bit more scratch resistance.

The back is a solid piece of milled aluminum that has a small OLED screen that’s used to tell you what mode you are in, power level, brightness, tint temp, and estimated runtime. The internal non user replaceable battery is rated at 2600mAh of capacity.

Size and Weight
I measured the Length at 131mm, width at 66mm, and depth at just under 10mm. Weight came in at 142.9 Grams.

LED/Runtime
The exact LED’s used in this are not mentioned which is a bit of a disappointment. It would be really nice to know what the CRI on them is as well. For video and photo work you ideally want a high CRI LED, and these are more of a cri in the 70-80 range I would guess. There are a total of 120 LED’s on the light, with 60 being used for Warm white, and 60 being used for Cool White. The array is fairly even but there is some rearrangement that happened to accommodate other components in the casing.


The light will also run while plugged in to USB-C so it could be nearly endless amounts of runtime if you wanted.

I did 2 runtime tests with this light, both at 100% brightness with one being the warmest temperature, the other being the coolest. So for the 3000k test, total runtime was right at 70 minutes. During this time output gradually decreased despite being at 100%, it lasted 65 minutes at 80% relative output. This is a little better then the OLED screen predicted. The 5500k runtime test was very similar, 70 minutes of total runtime, and the light slipped to just under 80% relative output at about 50 minutes.

UI
UI is very easy on this. You have 4 buttons along the side of the panel, that if it’s mounted to your camera horizontally will be on top. You have a power button, pressing once quickly wakes up the interface, you need it on in this mode to use the OTG charger to charge another device. If you press again and hold slightly the light interface comes up. Here you can preset using the + and – icons which options you are on, press the mode button to select it and then use the + and – to adjust the brightness and tint temp. Press mode again and then + or – to adjust the other. Press the power button once more to turn it on once you have your settings preselected. It’s pretty intuitive when it’s in your hand. You can adjust brightness and tint temp on the fly while the light is on as well to get your perfect exposure.

Charging
The FL-12 comes with a USB-C 3 where the other two ends are a full size female USB 3.0 port, that allows you to plug in a standard USB cable and use the FL-12 as a powerbank to charge your phone, or camera that can be powered by USB. You can’t charge your device and use the light on the FL-12 at the same time unfortunately. The other end allows you to charge the FL-12 via a standard male USB connection if you don’t have a USB-C cable handy at the time. I measured charging speed at 0.8A which isn’t super fast but should be good for the long term health of the battery.

Pro’s

  • Feels well built, and the size is very similar to a modern smartphone
  • USB-C recharging and can act as a powerbank!
  • Nice OLED screen on the back for info & runtimes that the light beats slightly.
  • I like that it can mix and match tints between 3000k and 5500k

Con’s

  • Plastic front panel is susceptible to scratches, I left the protective cover on.
  • I would like to know more on what the CRI is. I would suspect its between 70-80.
  • No cover for the USB-C port, although most phones get by fine without this too, so not a big concern.

Conclusion
I have showed this to a few friends who also do video/photography work and they instantly wanted one. They were both pleasantly surprised at the price point when I told them. It’s around that $50 mark currently with Jetbeam’s website. It’s well built and reminds me a lot of a premium smartphone. My only major complaint is no CRI data is given. CRI is pretty important invideo work, especially if you shooting video of people for something like an interview. My guess is this is somewhere about 70-80 CRI, it’s not bad but could certainly be better. Other then that I think it’s pretty awesome, I plan to use it as a fill light for photos and I may use it as a top down fill for some video content as well. Having a small portable light will come in handy!

Jetbeam has a new worldwide website for sales, they have asked I share a link to the light on their https://goo.gl/GwxgNX (Affiliate Link)