Sofirn has a new light on the market called the SP36. It’s basically a smaller, lighter version of the BLF/Sofrin Q8 that has charging over USB-C. Instead of 4 18650 batteries, it’s using 3, but retains 4 LED’s. Thanks to Sofrin for sending this to me to take a look at. Remember to checkout the coupons at the end of this post if you are interested in this light.
Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/Tfteaor
YouTube Version of this Review:
Packaging is pretty minimalistic. The light arrived in an unlabeled brown cardboard box with a bit of foam in the bottom. The light was in a thin sheet of bubble wrap. It arrived with a Happy/Not Happy card, a manual that while small print does a solid job of explaining things and does warn about using button top protected cells. It also includes a USB-A to USB-C cable which is nice given how USB-C is still an up and coming spec.
Construction of the SP36 is comparable to other Sofirn lights, and is good for the price range. The light is made from aluminum and anodized a semi gloss black. All edges are nicely machined. Threads are square cut but mostly dry. The tail cap is removable, and flat, it tailstands very well. Inside you can see 3 phillips screw holding the rear circuit board in place, these were very tight, but removable with the right driver and pressure. The board itself has 3 fairly heavy duty dual springs inside. The body tube has 3 bands of continuous heavy knurling on the outside, it’s a basic design but it’s effective. The inside has a seperator for the 3 batteries and when everything is screwed in I didn’t get any rattle.
The head is very reminiscent of the Q8, which this light is roughly based off of. Unfortunately the circuit board is glued in place, I tried removing it with a pair of snap ring pliers and ended up damaging the circuit board slightly. Reading on BLF the board is removable but it takes heat and a lot of work. The exterior of the head features milling on the sides for heat dissipation. On the front you have the only label on the light, it’s name. Below that is the button. It’s recessed into a milled area. Under the electronic button you have 2 green LED’s. Opposite the button on the other side of the light you have the USB-C charging port. It’s at normal depth and I didn’t have trouble with different cables I tried. The cover is tight fitting and stands proud a little bit. It’s rounded and comfortable in the hand. The bezel is smooth and flat, it’s all one piece so it’s not removable. The lens is glass and has some anti reflective coating. The optic is a deep quad with thin walls.
Unfortunately the head lacks a threaded insert for connecting the light to a tripod or for a solid attachment point for a lanyard. This is disappointing to me as I really like that on these larger lights, I think it helps for use with area lighting and lanyard attachment. I will have to look up some paracord work to use an attachment instead.
The SP36 feels good in my hand. If the Q8 is just a little too fat, the SP36 should be about right. I measured total length at 125.25mm, maximum diameter at 49mm, minimum diameter at 45mm and weight with 3x Samsung 30Q at 436g.
Compared to the Q8 you really notice the difference in diameter in the head. There is a difference in size in the body tubes but it’s less than you would think. Only about 5mm of difference in diameter. The difference in weight with 30Q’s is 157g. While that’s significant both lights are heavy enough it’s hard to tell much of a difference when in use.
This light uses the Cree XP-L2 LED’s in the 5300-5700k range. Mine seems to be on the cooler side of this, I guess I will call it neutral white, better than cool white. Beamshot is more of a flood then the Q8, but with the 6000 lumens its enough power to throw ok too. Good general purpose beam. There are not any real artifacts i notice at 10+ feet. At shorter distance there are definitely petals in the beam due to the deeper quad reflectors.The head can be powered directly off USB-C but it won’t get anywhere near full brightness.
The light does have LVP (Kicks in at 2.8V) but Sofrin recommends using button top protected batteries. I didn’t have any of those I wanted to use with this light so I used button top Samsung 30Q’s for my runtime tests which worked well. Turbo (6000 lumens) ran on this light for 2 minutes before stepping down to a relative output putting it around 1200 lumens where the light ran and declined out to the 145 minute mark where it stepped down significantly over several steps over the next 30 minutes. At about 180 minutes the light effectively was at 0% relative output but still powered on out to 400 minutes.
The SP36 6000 lumens and smaller diameter means it gets warm, pretty quickly. At the brightest I measured the light at 1 minute at 104F, at 5 minutes at 107F, and at 10 minutes at 116F. This is quite warm, and the light gets even warmer, after about 20-25 minutes (I did a brief turn off, then turn on and run again) it was at 139F which is too hot to hold and is in burn you territory.
NarsilM 1.2 Firmware with good ramping support. It has lots of options but it’s also easy to use. I love the ramping, it’s easy and intuitive and you can pick the exact amount of output you want. On this light there is no complaining when it comes to mode spacing. I plan on leaving my light at the default settings but if you do want to change things please consult the UI section of the manual. You need to read it more than once before attempting to make any setting changes. Things that are configurable are vast. You can disable ramping and go with 12 different mode spacing options, you can configure moonlight levels, thermal controls (Several), blink modes, mode ordering, LED locator feature, battery level indicators etc.
In stock mode the light also has memory mode, direct access to turbo with a double click. Triple click shows the battery level. 4 clicks to lock or unlock. When in max output mode double click to get to the different strobe modes.
The SP36 features USB-C for recharging which is great. Unfortunately it only accepted a charge while using a USB-A to USB-C cable, not a C-C cable. It doesn’t support USB-C PD for faster charging meaning it took me 4 hours and 25 minutes to charge 3x Samsung 30Q batteries that were depleted. The peak charge rate I saw was 1.86A. With the ability for USB-C to draw more wattage from a compatible charger, and that this light has 3x batteries it would be nice to see this utilized but for the price here, I am just happy it has USB-C.
- Proven Design & well built (Except for the glued in board)
- USB-C recharging
- Good NarsilM 1.2 firmware
- Good pretty comprehensive manual, with some funny translation easter eggs. Very small print though.
- No Tripod mounting hold or place for a Lanyard. Kind of disappointing as this is a larger heavier light and I tend to use a lanyard with them.
- XP-L2 LED’s in a cooler neutral white.I would love to see some different LED’s (warmer, High CRI, etc). offered here as would many on BLF. I would love to see something like a LH351D used on this light.
- Heat – It gets really hot, fairly quickly and can get dangerously hot.
The Sofirn SP36 what you get when you take a BLF Q8 and reduce it by ¼ in most ways. It has one less battery, the body is narrower, and it’s lighter, but the spirit of the Q8 and SP36 are same. It gains USB-C charging which is great to see over MicroUSB, but it’s not gaining a big speed increase USB-C is capable of, so with 3 18650 batteries it still takes a while to charge. The built in charger does seem to add some cost over a Q8 which is to be expected. The SP36 is a good light, I think the decision between it and a Q8 variant comes down to how much you want built in USB-C charging and how much of a tint/LED snob you are. Both are great lights and I don’t see getting rid of either anytime soon.
Save 20% on either light with the coupon code “B5LGDT2Y”