A few years ago, innovative so-called «laser headlights» appeared in the automotive industry. BMW, Audi, and then some other manufacturers began to offer this option in their luxury models.
Around the same time, flashlights with the same technology appeared, which was called LEP (Laser Excited Phosphor) — a phosphor with laser excitation.
The technology is protected by hundreds of patents, both Western and Chinese. Apparently, therefore, only general principles are described in the public domain, which, in general, is enough to satisfy the curiosity of an ordinary consumer.
Here is how OSRAM describes laser headlight technology:
- laser diodes produce three separate beams of blue laser light;
- rays are directed through a prism, merging into a single beam;
- the concentrated beam passes through a phosphor lens, which gives a diffused white light that is safer for the human eye;
- the white beam is reflected from the reflector and hits the road through a transparent lens.
In the description of the same technology by flashlight manufacturers, two differences can be seen:
- only one blue laser is used;
- the laser beam focused by the lens does not pass through the “phosphor lens”, but at an angle irradiates the luminescent phosphor substrate, which, as a result, is the source of light radiation.
As a result, a light beam with a very high intensity is obtained at the output, which then passes through an optical system consisting of lenses and reflectors.
Automakers are not very limited in their choice of design, since any auto headlight is a sufficient volume of at least a few liters. Lenses, reflectors, and prisms are widely used to obtain the required beam shape. Flashlight manufacturers are constrained in this regard, because the flashlight must be compact. Therefore, the optical system in flashlights is simpler and consists solely of lenses. There are compact flashlights with 20-30 mm lenses (like the Astrolux WP1 considered in the review with a range of 1 km), and slightly larger ones with 40-60 mm lenses (like the Astrolux WP2 with a range of 2.3 km). Larger lenses allow you to reduce the angle of «opening» of the output beam and thereby increase the range with the same light output of the light source.
A brief background is completed, it’s time to move on to the review of the lantern.
Here are the specifications given by the manufacturer of flashlights Astrolux (trademark owned by Banggod online store):
Name: Astrolux® WP1 1000m 480LM LEP Spotlight
Light source: WP-T2 laser
Modes, luminous flux and duration of work:
- Maximum — 480 lumens — 4.4 hours
- Medium — 75 lumens — 7 hours
- Minimum — 15 lumens — 11 hours
- Strobe — 300 lumens — 9.7 hours
- SOS — 300 lumens — 8.5 h
Intensity: 250,000 Cd
Range: 1000 m
Color temperature: cool white
Fall protection: up to 1.5 m
Waterproof: IPX8(2 meters underwater)
Dimensions: 156mm x 36.5mm x 26.5mm (Length x Head diameter x Battery compartment diameter)
Weight without battery: 161 g
- Magnetic rotary switch in combination with tactical end button
- Battery reverse polarity protection, compatible with 21700 and 18650 batteries
- Temperature control technology for overheating protection
- Special high-transparency lenses
- High strength aluminum alloy body
- Hard anodized HAIII body surface
Contents of delivery
The flashlight comes in a plastic case with stickers on the front and back. The quality of the case is good and compares favorably with the cheap boxes in which many Chinese merchants pack their goods to improve their attractiveness. No stamping defects or burrs. The lid fits snugly and precisely into the base. The two halves of the case are connected by loops (albeit plastic ones). Movable latches allow you to put a padlock (and even two padlocks). I consider this as protection from children, albeit not very reliable — «the laser is not a toy for children.» The case is a bit large for the flashlight in question with accessories, probably due to the fact that the significantly larger WP2 flashlight is supplied in the same case.
- Flashlight Astrolux® WP1
- 5000mAh Li-Ion 21700 battery with built-in micro USB charger
- Two spare o-rings
- Spare tactical button rubber pad
- Belt pouch
- Instruction in English
The flashlight is equipped with a 21700 battery with a capacity of 5000 mAh and a built-in micro USB charger. The battery bears the “proud” name “Lithium”, that is, in fact, it is non-branded. By the time the LEP flashlights under the Astrolux brand were released, batteries of the same brand were not produced, which is probably why the flashlight was equipped with a similar battery. Now, 18650, 21700, 26650 batteries have appeared in the assortment of Astrolux, they can be found on the website of the Banggood online store.
Color filters are also available for this flashlight, but they are not included in the package and must be purchased separately.
The flashlight has a classic form for «tactics» with a rear button and a swivel ring. Some design refinements are noticeable that the manufacturer applied when designing the case — a round tail cap, an 8-sided battery compartment tube, a 12-sided head, 9 milled recesses in the swivel ring. Maybe too much, but for my taste everything looks good.
The flashlight unwinds into 3 parts — the head, the battery compartment tube and the cover with the back button. Threads of different sizes, and therefore different sizes and red silicone o-rings included.
A tactical ring made of hard rubber is put on the battery compartment tube.
The two springs on the button and the driver are high and quite rigid, so not only the “regular” 21700 battery does not hang in the flashlight, but also the recommended 18650 battery.
The driver is fixed in the head of the flashlight with two screws, not glued.
In the depths, you can see the back of the laser module, which I (yet) did not dare to remove.
The flashlight is turned on by the rear tactical button, the rotary magnetic ring switches modes in order Low-Medium-High-Strobe-SOS.
The instructions indicate that the flashlight has two modes of thermal control:
- when the temperature reaches 60°C, the lamp reduces the output brightness by 50%
- also, the brightness decreases 3 minutes after the maximum power mode is turned on.
In practice, the brightness decreased after 2.5 minutes (by 60%), while the case warmed up to only 45 ° C. It is possible that the cut-off temperature was just reached at the location of the temperature sensor.
The flashlight gives an extremely narrow beam of light, with virtually no side illumination.
At a distance of 5 m, the light spot looks like a clearly defined circle with a diameter of 40 cm. That is, the beam opening angle is 4.6 °
The light spot is limited by several thin concentric circles that are blue and purple in color. Very weak side illumination is a yellow-green and violet-blue rings.
The photo of the light spot was made using a self-made “target” (the diameter of the outer circle is 20 cm), the lamp was installed at a distance of exactly 1 m. XHP HI 6500K). All lights worked in minimum modes.
On closer examination in the minimum mode of operation of the Astrolux WP1, artifacts can be seen in the light spot. This is probably projected by some unevenness of the surface of the phosphor substrate irradiated by the laser. I had to work hard in a graphics editor with contrast, brightness and color levels to make these artifacts visible in the photo below:
At medium and high brightness levels, artifacts are not noticeable, the central white field is very uniform.
For «field» testing of the Astrolux WP1 LEP flashlight, two companions were chosen for it, long-range flashlights Klarus G35 and Utorch UT02. Both use XHP35 HI LEDs, but the former has a turbo light output of 2000 lumens and a color temperature of 6500 K, while the latter has 1300 lumens and 5000 K respectively.
The first series of photographs compares three lamps at short distances — up to a white fence in the center of the frame 190 m. The side illumination of the lamps on ordinary XHP35 LEDs is clearly visible, and the complete absence of such from the LEP lamp:
The second series of photographs highlights the top of a multi-storey building located at a distance of 360 meters:
It can be seen that Utorch with its 1300 lumens in turbo mode loses, the illumination from the Klarus beam in 2000 lumens mode is almost comparable to the illumination from the 480 lumens of the Astrolux WP1 LEP flashlight.
With comparable luminous fluxes, the WP1 leaves no chance for lamps with traditional LEDs. 400 lumens Klarus LED vs 480 lumens Astrolux LEP:
Illumination measurements were also taken at a distance of 5 meters for three compared lamps. In the center of the light beam, the illumination was:
- Astrolux WP1, High mode — 11.400 lux
- Klarus G35, Turbo mode — 7.240 lux
- Utorch UT20, Turbo mode — 3.970 lux
Regarding the practical use of flashlights with LEP technology and a specific flashlight Astrolux WP1.
The main features of such lamps, as can be seen from the above, are:
- extremely thin focused light beam;
- almost complete absence of side illumination;
- the possibility of a multiple reduction in the luminous flux compared to traditional long-range lanterns, which is a direct consequence of the first two features.
Spot focusing in combination with the lack of side illumination makes the flashlight practically useless for «walking» use. At a distance of 1-1.5 m, the illuminated spot has a diameter of 8-12 cm, which is at least 2 times less than the length of the foot. That is, the place where you put your foot on the next step is not fully illuminated. Purely psychologically it is unpleasant, it is checked up on itself.
These same features make the flashlight a good choice if the object of your interest is a fairly remote object (on a hike, on a sortie, at sea). You accurately highlight the object with light, side illumination does not affect neighboring areas.
In addition, objects close to you are not distinguished by side illumination, which, taking into account the peculiarities of human vision, would worsen the visibility of a distant object. As an illustration, you can refer to the photos of comparative tests, which are given above. Traditional long-range LED flashlights create side illumination near the surface of the earth, which is much brighter than the illumination of the object of interest to you far away. Vision becomes difficult to separate useful information from parasitic.
LEP flashlight due to its features seems to be a good choice for hunters and some professionals with special needs. Especially in combination with color filters. It is important to note another feature that is a consequence of the characteristics of the LEP-lantern — less visibility from the side. For the categories of consumers mentioned, this will certainly be an important factor.
And of course, no one canceled the “wow effect”, flashlights with LEP technology will not soon become widespread.
In conclusion, I would like to express my thoughts about the scope of delivery of this flashlight.
Wuben, for example, supplies its long-range flashlight in three thoughtful configuration options — Basic, Standard, Extended.
The only Astrolux WP1 flashlight we reviewed could have been standard. The box, battery and case could have been excluded from the initial version, which would have reduced the price by 10-15 dollars. A complete package could include all the color filters currently sold separately, underbarrel mount, remote tactical button, spare battery and charger.
In Banggood’s home store, the Astrolux WP1 flashlight is priced at $164.96 with a coupon. BGAWP
You can also buy the older WP2 model with an increased range of up to 2.3 km, the price of this flashlight will be $ 202.46 with the same coupon. BGAWP
A set of two models of Astrolux WP1 and WP2 flashlights with the same coupon will cost 15% less than buying them separately.