Choosing an LED flashlight: all the secrets in plain language. What is a Cree T6 LED? How do flashlight manufacturers cheat? What is the focus of a flashlight with focus? Choosing a good LED flashlight: pocket, or bright and powerful may not be so easy, and I will try to make this task as easy as possible.

In this text, I will talk about the basic terms in simple terms. You won’t choose a car without understanding the difference between an automatic machine and mechanics, right?

lumens | candela | color temperature | tint | bean | driver | stabilization, thermoregulation and stepdown | flashlight types | difference between LEDs | the most capacious 18650 battery

What was and what is now.

Still that way in 2015 if you wanted to buy good LED flashlight with a brightness of 1000 lumens, then you had to pay at least $ 100 that way. And now, after 4-5 years, the situation has changed dramatically. And the old models are still unsuccessfully sold at those prices (see the picture below)

This brightness has become, well, completely normal and quite feasible for budget flashlights of the order of $ 15. By the way, the brightest flashlight in the world now shines under 100,000 lumens (Imalent MS18). Of course, the simplest mathematics convicts the manufacturer of the traditional embellishment of the characteristics and the representatives of the manufacturing company avoid discussing this at the largest international lantern forum. However, the threshold of 50,000 lumens (see Imalent MS12 review) has been crossed, which seemed unthinkable relatively recently.

«Good”I singled out separately above because both then and now there are a lot of miserable crafts on aliexpress that promise 100,500 lumens for only $ 10. This, by the way, is also true for accounts. Yesterday I was holding 12000mah batteries in my hands -)

So, the buyer needs to buy a modern LED flashlight for aliexpress. He goes into the search and sees just an abyss of all sorts of different models. He sits and scratches his turnips, but what to buy? There are some lumens, here are candela. The buyer decides not to worry and just choose the most popular flashlight on aliexpress. No sooner said than done. And now, a month later, there is one more owner of a dumb zoom in the world.

There is, of course, another extreme. b

I hope my guide will help you refrain from making a purchase that you will later regret. Believe me, now there is an opportunity to buy a very good and inexpensive flashlight for absolutely any purpose.

If any questions remain, write in the comments, I will help with the choice or I will add / correct the text. So let’s get started.

LED flashlight. How to choose the right one.

Brightness = Lumens

What to understand:

1) Bright, powerful flashlight does not mean long range. It is clear that the increase in brightness will increase the range. But the combination of optics and LED plays a decisive role here. 500 lumens from the right bundle can shine further than 5000. The closest analogy is the carrying capacity and speed in cars.

So, with rare exceptions in the form of search lights, a flashlight or a bright or long-range. And it’s not a fact that you will be satisfied with the dimensions of models that combine these two characteristics. These two on the right: Mateminco MT70 (which, by the way, is just this exception — it is both bright and long-range) and Imalent RT70 are also not the largest.

2) The more decent the brand, the greater the chance that you will receive what is stated in the specification and vice versa.

Buying a nameless (as a variant of g * vnofaer) flashlight on ali promises the simplest deceit — “it shines at 1500, let’s write 2000 3000 5000 lumens», while decent brands practice another trick.

The maximum brightness is indicated there for turbo mode. And the company’s marketers prefer to consider its duration something like this: “in a turbo it eats 5A, we have a 2500mah battery, which means we write for half an hour.”

In fairness, a number of manufacturers now honestly write something like 2000-> 1000 (1 min + 70 min). This indicates the brightness and duration of operation at maximum brightness and the same for the level at which the brightness falls off the turbo.

And yes the brightness in the turbo is bound to fall. According to the time interval specified in the driver or the operation of thermoregulation. This fall is called «Stepdown».

Turbo by its name implies short-term work at maximum capacity. Only now the fall can happen in a minute and you will have time to consider everything. Or maybe, as with the expensive and pretentious nitecore MH23 for 1/4 somewhere 2 seconds. Technically declared brightness is, but in fact it is not. As a rule, the flashlight normally works exactly in the mode where it falls from the turbo. Take this brightness as a normal working one, and judge from it what a flashlight can do.

So if you see some crazy brightness numbers, if the seller in the hunting store blows in your ears that the return from the light of the flashlight will be almost like from a gun, ask him about the duration of this turbo. And that is such an everyday term «turbo».

Here I went into the territory of another topic, thermoregulation and stepdown. ABOUT them in more detail later.

From good. For order flashlights 1000 lumens of lies about brightness is not worth waiting for (I’m talking about normal brands). Technology has reached such a level that such brightness is achieved without the slightest problem. They are cunning here already with stabilization, about which again we will go further.

3)For most household you really need the same 1000 lumens turbo and 600-700 lumens relatively constant brightness. Now these figures are not impressive, but believe me, the way it is. With a monstrous number of flashlights that have passed through my hands, for 5 years I manage 300 lumens with a 14,500 lithium pocket flashlight. This is quite enough to shine on the sides during evening walks.

as an example, here is the light of the most popular flashlight on aliexpress (from decent ones) Convoy S2 + 6500K xml2 4 × 7135. Somewhere around 600-700 lumens. It seems to be a little, but within fifty meters you will have enough for your eyes. At the same time, the difference in color temperature is clearly visible here, which will be discussed later.

5) Some, especially cunning manufacturers consider brightness without taking into account losses in optics. Or it’s just “so, with a current of 4A, this LED should give out 1500 lum, so we’ll write it.” But this is a specific case, which I mentioned here just to mean that they can do it anyway.

Range = Candela

What to understand:

1) There is range and there is useful range. Well, at least for me.

Here the trick is that, like brightness, range is indicated according to the standard ANSI (this I take here is the best case). So it pleases the very fact of counting according to some kind of standard. That’s just 500m ANSI range means that at a distance of 500m the flashlight will give a brightness of 1 lumen. And then what’s the point of such a homeopathic brightness? So it turns out that the really useful range can be noticeably less, that way 350m. Therefore, in my reviews I always try to single out exactly useful range in two forms: a) with good detail and brightness b) well, at least to distinguish a PAZik from an elephant.

Given the resolving power of the human eye and most situations where you need a long-range light, if the flashlight shines well at a distance of 300-400 meters, then this is enough.

2) Light distribution.

The farther the flashlight, the less convenient it is for working near and vice versa. In the vast majority of cases, range is achieved by combining a specific LED with a deep, smooth reflector. As a result, this is the picture. It is very bright in the center, Egyptian darkness on the sides. Here is an example of a good long-range combat at a short distance.

Light distribution is extremely influenced by the type of LED and reflector.

All else being equal.

  • 1) A smooth reflector is better than a textured reflector. (and as I said, less comfortable up close)
  • 2) A smaller LED (XHP35) will give more candelas at the same brightness than a large and bright one (XHP70). A simple example is to pump a liter/sec through a small hose and through the width of your wrist. Where will the jet hit next?
  • 3) dedomized an LED (i.e. with the silicone dome removed) will produce even more candela. the brightness will be slightly less. Dedominated is denoted by HI (high intensity) with HD (hi density) dome.
  • In my opinion, the best LED for a long-range flashlight is the dedominated XHP35 with its choice of color temperature. Alas, nothing can be found with him now Relatively good — XPL-HI. If the flashlight you are looking at is built on the XM-L2, then it is better to look for something more modern. Although, in fairness, and here were good models. For example, the same Maxtoch Shooter 2x
  • The longest range modern LED will be someone from the Osram line. There is a wonderful example of how a penny flashlight with such an LED hits Very far

How far does a modern powerful long-range flashlight shine? In reality, they shine somewhere at 1-1.2 km. Great examples are Acebeam K75, Olight Javelot Pro.

There are a couple of long-range models, but it will be inconvenient for you to carry a 3kg club, this is just a forum Wishlist.

3) At a distance of 300m that way, a powerful top-end long-range flashlight will work at 20-30% power, and some ordinary one at 75%. Accordingly, the latter is faster and discharged. True, for sure, and it will cost less.

4) In the same case and at the same brightness warmer light will be more distant. Cold light is perfectly reflected from any dust and drops in the water, pretty much eating away the long-range potential. What color are your foglights in your car? And then we come to the next section.

Kelvin = Color temperature.

Here it is useful to study two words directly related to the topic.

Bin. Binding of LEDs is both the process (and the result) of sorting LEDs into groups according to brightness and color temperature.

Tint — shade of light inside one bin. The light is green there or slightly goes into redness.

The most popular LED brand, Cree ranks them into nine groups, from 0 to 8.

0-2 — cold light from 5250K) | 3-5 — neutral (3750-5250K) | 6-8 — warmbelow 3750K.

Each group is somewhere within 500K, + there are additional ABCD subgroups. The number indicates the shade, which is called tint.

By and large, if you are not a lamplighter, then there is no point in bothering with bins and tints. It’s enough just to know that such a thing exists.

So if you need to choose a convoy flashlight on aliexpress, you will see this table

then just look at the numbers below.

U2-1A 6500-7000K T6-3B 5000-5200K T6-4C 4300-4500K T5-5B 4000-4200K T4-7A 3000-3200K

That’s all, the temperature is directly indicated in Kelvin, you don’t need to bother with deciphering the color-brightness bins.

And here, in fact, the question is about what is LED T6 LED, as they are called on aliexpress.
The answer is simple.

There is NO LED like T6!?

At the same time, by the way, no one will say what an XHP90 160 190 LED is and so on. They have nothing to do with the original CREE XHP, technically, it’s just an abstract set of numbers.

T6 is just one group of brightness and nothing more. Of course, if you want to buy a flashlight with «T6 LED» in the description, you should expect that you will get some kind of fake with a terrible blue light beyond the threshold of 7000K. The brightness in such models usually does not exceed 400-500 lumens. It’s like calling a shotgun a size 6 shot.

Real Cree XML2

zoom fake.

Yes, if we met these numbers here, I’ll tell you about what it means for Convoy 7135.

[ 7135  — это стабилизаторы тока. Чем их больше, тем больший ток будет подаваться на светодиод и ярче будет светить фонарик.  Вроде бы вот оно —  бери больше, тот же 8х7135 и радуйся. Ан нет — чем ярче тем быстрее греется и тем быстрее разрядится аккум, уронив яркость ( вы же не ждете за 10-15 баксов полной стабилизации яркости?). Лично я для того же S2+ всегда ограничиваюсь 4х7135 и мне этого более чем хватает. ]

In fact, the most important thing to know about color temperature is:

1) With rare exceptions, the warmer the light, the lower the brightness. Manufacturers are chasing large numbers in the specification, so in most cases they put a cold LED. Buyers either don’t know the difference or don’t have a choice. The ability to choose between CW NW is an indicator of a good relationship between the manufacturer and the buyer.

2) The warmer the light, the greater the penetration power. And it can greatly negate this difference in brightness. The difference between cold 6500K and warm 3000K light will be especially good in smoke / dust / fog. No wonder the same firefighters need warm light. Yes, remember the foglights, in the end. All good long-range shots are made in a neutral light.

Here is an exceptionally clear picture for you. Convoy S2+ XML-2 in three colors, 420050006500K.
clearly visible difference in brightness. On the one hand, 6500K is clearly brighter, on the other hand, the cold light is clearly not so pleasing to the eye. Personally, I like the option in the center. 5000K is not so yellow, while there is no significant dip in brightness.
It is worth noting that for some other LED, for example SST40, the difference in brightness between 6500 and 5000K will not be so significant, 1800 lum versus 1500 in a conventional model.

Stabilization and thermoregulation


keeping the brightness constant as the battery power drops.

If you buy a budget flashlight, then most likely the brightness will drop like this. However, in medium modes, a 1% drop in 5 minutes is not so scary, the eye will not notice it. For example, the mentioned inexpensive popular flashlight with aliexpress convoy S2 +

Convoy С8+ XPL-HI stabilization with biscotti driver looks 100% much worse.

A more decent flashlight is more likely to give a much more pleasant graph of full brightness stabilization. As you turn it on in one mode, it will shine. Unless it goes to a lower level as it discharges. Although the choice of an inexpensive model can be a pleasant surprise. For example, Sofirn Sp35, an excellent inexpensive pocket flashlight with built-in charging and convenient controls.

Now the same Fenix, by the way, gives graphics on the packages by which you can evaluate the stabilization. In general, as I said, the more decent the brand, the more likely it is that the stabilization will be complete. And you should also ask about that if you buy a flashlight offline.

thermoregulation — brightness control depending on the level of heating of the flashlight.

«saw» is a clear example of impractical and over-aggressive thermoregulation. The flashlight heats up, the brightness drops. At this brightness, the carcass cools down and the brightness jumps up again. The result is a moronic leapfrog.

Having bought a Klarus flashlight, with a high probability you will get just such a saw — this is such a chip of the manufacturer. Here is an example of a graph with and without cooling. In addition, there is a hell of a gap between turbo and high. Also, Clarus’ favorite joint.

Good thermoregulation is when, during cooling, the brightness either switches to a fully stabilized (ideally) level higher than high (top picture — Lumintop ODL20C) or the turbo increases for a long time (bottom picture). The latter I find more practical. Working at a level close to the turbo will delight you with good brightness and range, but will inevitably make it shorter — there will be more flashlight to eat.

1) in most cases, cheap flashlights do not have thermoregulation. So there are chances that it simply cannot be held in your hands (if it is some kind of relatively powerful craft). 2000 lumens in the size of the convoy C8 will just fire it up so you can’t hold it without gloves. And besides hands, excessive heat is extremely harmful to batteries. I have an expensive vtc6 that once died. And it might get worse.

IN Convoy L6, although this is not an example of a cheap craft, there is also no thermoregulation. Due to good power, the flashlight is able to maintain maximum brightness for a very long time, but at the same time you will have to look at the flashlight from the side. You won’t be able to hold it in your hands.

And this is how the purely long-range awl Sofirn SF47T (far left) holds the turbo. It is smaller overall, but due to the lower brightness and heats up less.

Outcome: It is important not only how brightly the flashlight shines, but also:

a) how long will it shine at this brightness | b) how it will shine then.

What’s the point of impressive brightness if it lasts for seconds?

Reflectors, TIR-optics, flashlights with zoom.

I have already explained the basics:

with the same LED and in the same mode, a flashlight with a smooth reflector will shine with a long-range textured reflector, a deep reflector with a long-range shallow one. In principle, even in such dimensions, it is possible to achieve an increase in range due to the presence of some kind of long-range LED. Good example — Wurkkos FC12

Of course, long-range light will be inconvenient at close range, and short-range light will not penetrate into the distance.

In fact, that’s all you need to know about reflector effects when choosing a flashlight.

TIR-optics. If it is completely simplified, then the TIR lens controls the light flux better. As a rule, TIRs are set to provide a pleasant blurred light up close.

If you have the desire and direct hands, a wide choice allows you to put the TIRKA on the flashlight with the dispersion angle you need. As an optician, TIRs can be very beautiful. For example, in the Fenix ​​E16, the central smooth part forms a narrow beam of light, while the microlenses dotting the perimeter provide good illumination. As a result, a tiny flashlight gives a pleasant light distribution.

There are whole blocks of TIR lenses

in most cases, TIR optics are placed to achieve maximum light dispersion. Actually — «fluder«As a category of flashlights, it is also translated as flooding.

In fairness, people who care about the presence or installation of TIR optics already know what it is and why.

Flashlight with zoom

And here is the softest part. Due to its price and beautiful marketing figures, the most popular flashlight on aliexpress in 2019, the same as 5 years ago, is a vile zoom lens.

The Chinese are generous, they promise neither more nor less on different versions. It would seem that there is an opportunity to choose a flashlight with almost any brightness:T6 4000 lm L2 8000 lm V6 10000 lm

It is clear that in reality you get shit. There is nothing here. No:

  • 1) Normal light distribution. At the near end, you get a dim circle. On the far side is a tiny square with veins.
  • 2) heat sink. However, it makes up for it…
  • 3)No normal brightness, there will not be more than 300lum in the T6 version. Buying older versions is a scam, because for 13 bucks you can buy the same convoy.
  • 4) range. At the far focus, it shines as well as the cheapest S2 +. It would seem why? Yes, because the aspherical lens gives the wildest loss of brightness when the lens is pushed forward.

But there is a bluish light and hellish PWM flicker in lower modes.

see for yourself. This cheap LED flashlight shines equally nasty at any distance and at any focus position.

Convoy C8+ XPL-Hi 6500k

Ultrafire T6

Convoy S2+ XML2 4×7135 6500k

Although, for 3 bucks it is quite possible to throw it into the glove compartment of the car as an emergency, which is what it is.

However, if the zoom system is implemented with TIR optics (for example, the FD series for Fenix ​​or) and the more affordable Bright Beam Falcon), then there is almost no loss of brightness and such a flashlight is close to universal.

If you just need to take a flashlight with a zoom, with adjustable focus, then there are actually no options here. You are limited to only one decent and, fortunately, inexpensive model — Convoy Z1

The last thing left to say is batteries and chargers. and here you need to know one thing.
now, in 2020, the most capacious 18650 battery is 3500mah. no 7000-12000 and close does not exist. As a rule, to find out the real capacity of such a battery, you need to subtract the zero at the end. I did a little management optional 18650 battery (with links), I advise you to take a look

What battery to choose for a flashlight?

If you need a capacious battery for a flashlight from aliexpress, then in 9 cases out of 10, this NCR18650B repacking will be enough for you. Capacity 3200-3300, there is a protection board.

If the flashlight consumes this way from 5A (i.e., conditionally from 1500 lumens), then you should take care to buy any high-current ones, most likely you will still be slipped a repacking of something worse, but there will be enough current. Go to the same store at the link above and take HG2 VTC5 there.

What is important to know. There are Samsung, Sony Murata, Sanyo-Panasonic, LG. All. no ultrafires, trustfires and other things there (especially with fire at the end of the name). What kind of chemistry is inside, it is not clear. Equally, there is no point in buying exorbitant prices for Nitecore Fenix ​​ Olight batteries and any other flashlight brand. You will just pay 3-4 times the top price for a logoed heat shrink. The cell inside will be from the same ones that were given above.

What is the longest range flashlight?

The last thing worth mentioning. I often came across a phrase like “what is the brightest and longest-range flashlight on aliexpress now? Want to buy!» The answer, by the way, is this one.

And if I stated everything well enough, then you understood that in the vast majority of cases, brightness is the opposite of range. But! There is a category of flashlights that still combine these characteristics. This — search lights. As a rule, now they are built on the basis of a huge smooth reflector and a dedominated XHP70 LED, which produces about 6000 lumens in forced mode. And such a bunch gives light with enough side fill to make it relatively convenient to work close. At the same time, at maximum brightness, the range will be, although lower than the top-end rangers like Acebeam T21 or Olight Javelot Pro, but far beyond what you usually need. And since such flashlights usually run on 4×18650 power, you get an excellent runtime and complete stabilization as a bonus.

In my opinion, the best low cost search light on the market is the Mateminco MT70, an amazing flashlight from every angle. There is also a universal option with low and high beams at once, Wurkkos TS32.

To the heap there is also a video version of all of the above, with a large number of illustrations. If you are interested in the topic of flashlights, subscribe to my channel with reviews of flashlights on utube.

useful links

A little helpful right from the start. To know:

how to buy a good 18650 battery from aliexpress here

how to buy a good charger for Li-Ion batteries here

which camping lantern to choose here

how to choose a good headlamp (with examples in different price ranges) can be found here

I think that if I’m already telling you about how to choose the right LED flashlight, then it would be wise to advise some interesting models. So catch my personal TOP 10 LED flashlights for 2022 HERE

Interesting inexpensive models

If we talk about interesting and worthy budget models, then I think that now it is:

Important! This manual lanterns. The rest — headwear and camping look at the links at the beginning of the review, I recommend. There is plenty to choose from.

Sofirn SP35 (2021 version with 21700 battery) is a compact medium-sized flashlight with decent brightness (1800lum), full stabilization, fast built-in type-C charging, and convenient control. The flashlight calmly, for a long time and without drawdowns and overheating keeps a level of about 900 lumens, which is enough for the eyes. Color temperature, hooray, 5000K!

Sofirn SP33S is a wonderful bright medium-range flashlight with convenient controls and built-in charger

sofirn C8G — A powerful long-range flashlight with a capacious 21700 power supply and excellent control. The best, in my opinion, a budget long-range flashlight.

Sofirn SP40 is an inexpensive 18650 headband with built-in charger. The best model on the market under $40. Everything that is cheaper than this model is slag, everything that is better (often insignificant, noticeably more expensive)

The Wurkkos TS32 is a great all-round flashlight with low and high beams.

offline stores also sell flashlights, but on Eldorado it will be horror, while the situation is much better on Yandex-Market, here they sell a “bright beam”, which is extremely interesting in older models, its own. my pocket flashlight and browpiece are «Bright Beam». And I can choose myself any, generally. V literal any sense. this is not to show off, but to show that YAL is a really worthy company.

in the more expensive segment, there are a lot more decent models, which it makes no sense to bring here because of their number. But many of the above cost dramatically less and at the same time the difference in price is much greater than the difference in functionality. That is, saving a lot, you will lose insignificantly.

OK it’s all over Now. I hope that this work has not gone to waste. And now, if you want to choose a flashlight, you know what to look for and what questions to ask so as not to waste money and get exactly the flashlight you wanted to buy.

If any point remains undisclosed, write — I will add. And so, I will gradually finish off and restructure this text so that in the end it will be as clear and understandable as possible.

Important! When paying on Ali, we choose “payment by RF or Qiwi card” — the exchange rate is 20-30% better and the final price tag will be much less than you see on the product page! You can find out how to save money on purchases on Ali in the discount channel in telegram, see the link to it below in the “about the author” block

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