Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
STATE OF THE MARKET REPORT: LED Headlamps (2007)
Display Avatars Sort By:
Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
STATE OF THE MARKET REPORT: LED Headlamps (2007) on 03/06/2007 22:37:48 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

STATE OF THE MARKET REPORT: LED Headlamps (2007)

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Apex on 03/06/2007 23:47:43 MST Print View

nm

Edited by FamilyGuy on 10/31/2013 14:55:04 MDT.

eric levine
(ericl) - F

Locale: Northern Colorado
review on 03/07/2007 01:07:57 MST Print View

Great review of the current market, but as the article itself notes, with the Cree it's already somewhat obsolete.

I continue to be amazed that so many "pro" lightweighters go with photons. Beginning around 1996 I've night-hiked alone in Colorado's Comanche Peak and nearby wilderness areas using only an amber photon II. (one setting and an on-off switch) Probably dumb, but when things got hairy, I merely unpacked my bivvy where I was and slept.

I've been a fan of Peter G. of arc fame, but I'd encourage all aaa-arc users to give the Fenix LOD Cree a go. It needs more than a clip attachment to a hat brim, (duct tape?) but it's a TRUE serious night hiking light with a total weight of well under 1 oz.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Apex on 03/07/2007 01:42:17 MST Print View

[NOTE: To keep this Post short, i'm just going to address the point raised by David in his Post, and not include too many other comments dealing with other aspects/sub-topics relative to the Rick's fine Article.]



David, the problem, as i see it, is Rick's very fine Article, which i enjoyed greatly, lumps together, headlamps of different categories, which presumably have different PRIMARY and SECONDARY uses. One would purchase and use one type of headlmp over another depending upon what one's needs were perceived to be for a particular trek. Rick does mention a number of caveats in his article, i.e. decisions that needed to made about how one rates the headlamps (e.g., should the fact that one can carry more AAA batts and still be lighter than a AA headlamp with just one set of batts, and so permit the AAA headlamp to have a longer burn-time be taken into account). I think, as i read the article, that Rick is well aware of some potential points of disagreement and so suggests readers assign their own weightings if they disagree with his.


However, a bit more specifically on the idea of "lumping" which was mentioned in the prev. paragraph, we have:

1) a few very light (one ultra-light) task/proximity lights, offering much lower levels of light output and rarely suitable for anything more than in camp chores, nighttime "pitstops" (viz. "nature calls"), or possibly, for some younger users with excellent low-light vision, walking a non-demanding, well-marked path.

2) some lightweight AAA powered 1W headlamps, suitable for a wider variety of uses (both in camp & on-trail).

-AND-

3) some heavier AA powered 3W headlamps which should really only be used for demanding on-trail purposes, IMO, for at least two reasons: a) their weight makes them a poor choice for non-demanding uses, and b) why waste the batt power for close-at-hand tasks, when for a fraction of an ounce a single LED microlight suffices - save the batt power for more trail use.

Your comment about batt life is rather astute. IME (in my experience) the Eos in LOW o.p. (output) mode provides insufficient light for me to hike most trails, but that might very well be the mode that is used to determine batt life. The Apex on LOW 4x5mm o.p. mode actually puts out a tad more than 4x the OVERALL light output of the Eos on LOW, and the same amount of THROW since it's 4x5mm LEDs vs. a 1W Luxeon with collimating optics (cf. FLR website - FlashlightReviews.com). So, with 4x the light output, one is comparing a "melon ball" to a "melon". It's not really an "apples to apples" comparison (totally different fruits), nor is it even a "orange" to "grapefruit" comparison (same types of fruit, i.e. both citrus fruits - boy, i'm gettin' hungry now, and it's gettin' near b-fast!), to my mind. When one factors light output over time into the equation and NOT just unregulated burn time, the Apex probably comes out providing MORE USEFUL light than the Eos for a LONGER period of time (on a single set of batts, or multiple sets??? don't know) - but, this is just a guess on my part as i haven't seen any burn-time charts or even tables going out that far for the Apex (unless i missed an earlier BPL Review dedicated to the Apex).

What is really needed, IMO, and perhaps it isn't of interest to enough readers of BPL to warrant such, is THREE SEPARATE Articles. Each one a bit more extensive in nature. The three separate articles, would each cover one of the somewhat arbitrary categories i enumerated above in this Post. There certainly are enough headlamps out there to fully populate all three categories, though the 3W category would be just a tad sparse - i can think of 4 offerings, PT, BD, Petzl, and Brunton (formerly Silva), though there might be others.

Anyways, GREAT JOB Rick! now, i'm going to go back an read tht Article again (already saved it to my laptop's HD).

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: review on 03/07/2007 01:51:58 MST Print View

Eric, you're right about the L0D-CE (Cree Edition in "Fenix-speak") - mine is in my pants pocket 24/7 - in the car, home, office, forest; it rocks (as the young'uns say). However, it's really in a totally diff. class than the ArcPremium, wouldn't you say?

The little single Nichia white 5mm LED "Fenix E0 Dart" is a more "apples-to-apples" comparison to my mind - I recently posted on this comparison in another Thread. In summary, INITIAL brightness goes to the ArcPremium (though it's still NOT bright enough to really do much more than tasks and walk a simple path on a moonless, overcast night), weight is a TIE, but cost, post-initial/long term-brightness (meaning, on a single batt, NOT over the LIFE of the flashlight itself), and overall burn-time go to the E0.

Can't wait for Cree LEDs to start to be found in headlamps. I could wish that i waited for a Cree to be used in the Surefire U2 flashlight since i know that i'll probably shell out the bucks to replace my current U2 with a Cree version when Surefire finally gets around to putting them in there (ouch! this one's gonna hurt the wallet! the 5W U2 was bad enough already.). Word is several (about 4 in number) Surefire flashlights will be getting Cree LEDs sometime this year - if i understood the rumors correctly - the L1 is supposedly one of four or so getting a Cree, IIRC.

Edited by pj on 03/07/2007 01:53:25 MST.

Joseph Aulwes
(eispickel) - F
MYO XP??? on 03/07/2007 06:29:35 MST Print View

I can't believe the MYO XP was rated higher that the PT Apex. How did you compare battery life between the two? (The MYO won't stay on high mode... Which is really annoying)
PT Apex will run for 11.5 to 12 hours on the Low 3Watt led setting before dropping out of regulation; it will also run for 9 hours using the High setting of 4 5mm LEDs before dropping out of regulation.
One thing that should be considered is that the PT Apex performs better than the MYO using NiMH batteries because it is regulated.
I guess it all depends on what you consider more important.

Edited by eispickel on 03/07/2007 06:44:20 MST.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Myo XP on 03/07/2007 09:28:52 MST Print View

JP

My Myo XP will run for hours in high mode. It puts out plenty of light for most uses in low mode though. I would have bought the Tikka XP if I had it to do over again. I LOVE the diffuser on the XP series.

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: MYO XP??? on 03/07/2007 10:01:47 MST Print View

>One thing that should be considered is that the PT Apex performs better than the MYO using NiMH batteries because it is regulated.


Also, there is a warning against using Lithium batteries in the Petzl MYO XP (and some other Petzl models), limiting its usefulness in cold weather/expedition situations. The PT Apex, of course, works with Lithium batteries, which are lighter and longer-lasting than alkalines.


I thought the article was great, and it takes into consideration all of the points that I found important in my own light-buying research. I have a Petzl e+LITE in the car for emergencies, Photons and/or Petzl Zipka for backpacking, I bring a PT Eos instead if I might be night-hiking, and have a PT Apex (with a red PT Pilot on the side) for alpine starts.

Joseph Aulwes
(eispickel) - F
Re: Myo XP on 03/07/2007 13:45:43 MST Print View

>>"My Myo XP will run for hours in high mode."

Sorry I was referring to boost mode. The high mode for the PT APEX is brighter than the "high mode" for the MYO XP, but not quite as bright as the "boost mode".

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Myo XP on 03/07/2007 14:24:38 MST Print View

JA,

Actually as Rick Drehrer mentioned in his Article, there is some variablility amongst LEDs. Both of my Apex's are brighter than the Myo XP even when the XP is on boost mode. The center of my XP is perhaps brighter, but OVERALL the Apex still is brighter to my eye. If it were the otherway around, given the weight advantage of the MyoXP, i would go with the MyoXP. I think, however, that this is just somehow peculiar to my headlamps, as FLR has lux readings that agree with what you are saying. So then,...

what are the odds that i would have received two brighter Apex's and a not-as-bright XP? My XP was a very early one and also has a distinct yellowish hue to its light output. Maybe its early nature is what accounts for the lesser LED quality??? Don't know. Also, is the yellowish hue fooling my eye (the Apex has a very white light output)??? Once again, don't know.

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
Re: Myo XP on 03/07/2007 14:42:53 MST Print View

Ugh. I wish the Myo XP box had said something about not using Lithium batteries. I bought the thing for winter use!

Thanks a lot Petzl! Good thing I read BPL.


Edit: email sent to Petzl

Hi,

I bought my Myo XP last year. I selected it for winter camping and ski touring because it's very bright, takes very large batteries, has the excellent diffuser option.

Unfortunately, you later released a bulletin stating that the MYO XP must not be used with winter-worthy batteries, called Lithium Ion batteries:

http://en.petzl.com/petzl/LampesNews?News=159

Could you not have tested your headlamps with all available battery technologies *before* sending them to market? I know that Lithium batteries are not a new development; they were on the market a long time before I bought my Myo XP and a long time before you issued the bulletin above.

And if your headlamp was truly incapable of handling this common (and necessary-in-winter) type of battery, should you not have recalled the headlamp?

This is very frustrating as a consumer. My Myo XP is now a very inferior item due to its' dependence on old-style batteries. I live in Canada where it regularly goes to -40: regular batteries are garbage at this temperature. In fact, my Myo XP is only reliable in the summer now -- when I don't need to carry along a huge mountaineering headlamp!

It has been on 5 trips only this winter, and is now garbage. It sits in a drawer, and each time I see it I am reminded of my experience with Petzl.

Sincerely,
Brian

Edited by bjamesd on 03/07/2007 15:10:03 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Myo XP on 03/07/2007 15:12:50 MST Print View

Brian, agreed. it would be nice if Petzl had been more forthcoming with this info much earlier than they posted it on their website. for some, lack of Li batt use is mitigated somewhat by wearing a hood which then covers and insulates the rear batt. pack.

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
Re: Myo XP on 03/07/2007 15:58:59 MST Print View

-----Reply from Petzl:

Hello,

Thanks for contacting Petzl regarding Lithium Battery use. Petzl was in the habit of recommending the use of Lithium batteries because of all the positive characteristics that you mentioned in your e-mail. As the news bulletin reads;

"Due to recent advances in the performance characteristics of Lithium batteries (especially their higher output during discharge), they can cause the lamp to overheat and possibly damage the LEDs."

Lithiums are now being found to be putting out about 1.7 volts of power compared to 1.5 volts that the normal alkaline puts out, this increase in power output is a recent advance which was unforeseen. Petzl headlamps are designed to not regulate the power source giving a high output while providing a smooth transition from full power to empty battery charge.

Petzl recommends not using lithium batteries since we wouldn't want the LED burn out on a summit attempt. I am sorry that you feel that Petzl has let you down by trying to provide you with accurate honest information to assist you in your mountaineering needs.

Thanks again for contacting Petzl.

Wade Wilson
After Sales Service
Pro Deal Purchases
Petzl America
wwilson@petzl.com
(877) 807-3805 ext. 7271


-----My Reply:

Hi Mr. Wilson,

Thank you for your reply and thank you for clarifying this issue.

My understanding is that the MYO XP will only run at maximum voltage when using the "boost mode", and boost mode includes a temperature sensor that reduces voltage if the bulb starts to overheat. Are you concerned that these "rogue batteries" will kill my headlamp even on "maximum" mode?

Further, may I suggest that you change the product page for the Myo XP, which states: "Operates on 3 AA/LR6 batteries (included)."

What brands of "rogue batteries" are overheating Petzl headlamps? Should these manufacturers of faulty batteries not be held accountable for destroying or rendering useless your products?

Basically, battery-powered flashlights are old and simple technology. As a consumer I expect to be able to buy it and have it work -- especially when it costs $70 or more! If you're stating that it doesn't work to specifications but it's not your fault, I feel that the least you could do is suggest whose fault it *is*.

Brian

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Some additional observations and comments on the Article on 03/09/2007 02:52:09 MST Print View

[Please note that this is a reverse-Rating driven Post, i.e. one long post vs. three shorter ones. Dashed lines separate each sub-Post.]

>>"I challenge Petzl to create a big brother to the e+LITE, regulated and powered by a single CR123 lithium cell. Button cell lights, no matter how attractive size and weight-wise, lack the ability to sustain steady output, even for several minutes. A relatively small bump up to a cylindrical lithium camera battery opens up vast possibilities for improvement."


Brilliant!! I would second that suggestion.

Simply place the short 1xCR123A barrel shapped battery box under the light generating unit (e.g. Streamlight Argo HP using 2xCR123A currently does this).

I would find this headlamp very attractive. It should really extend the very bright short-lived output of the current e+LITE greatly. Figure a single CR123A has ~6x the stored energy. However, it's only 3v vs. the 6v series arrangement of 2xCR2032 currently used in the e+LITE. So, it's really only ~3x the stored energy at the higher voltage. In reality, it's probably more like in between the two numbers since the LEDs won't be driven at 6VDC. There is, however, another factor in favor of the CR123A batt. It's much larger than a Li coin cell and so can dissapate heat better, thus controlling its internal resistance better (meaning keeping it lower), and reducing the amount of voltage dropped inside of the battery and thus available to the electronics. This will do three things: 1) keep the LEDs burning longer, 2) keep the LEDs burning brighter (once the Li coin cells batts heat up, that is, all other factors considered equal for this point), and 3) require less cycling OFF of the headlamp to allow the batts to cool (in fact, a the lower current draws of lower o.p. modes, the larger batt may be able to dissipate the heat fine w/o any great amount of heating up).

--------------------
>>"Oddly, none of our featured lights offers the sophisticated continuously variable output of the miniscule Photon Freedom button-cell light, and there’s certainly no reason why not."


Everyone's tastes are a bit diff. On this point, i prefer something "blander", so to speak. I both like continuously variable light o.p. b/c it's "neat" (as the young'uns say), but i also don't like it. Why? Because...

it makes it much more difficult to "guesstimate" how much more LIFE (aka "burn time")is left in the batts. It's far easier for me to guesstimate that i've run the headlamp on HI for 30min total over the last 3d, and 4hrs on MED over the same period of time. This makes it a little easier to guesstimate how much life MIGHT be left. For example, i could guess that for a given headlamp, i might only have 2hrs left in MED on the current set of batts b/c 30min on HI o.p. is roughly equivalent to 4hrs of MED o.p. (in this particular illustrative headlamp). [yeah...i actually do this kind of "guesstimating"...and so do many of you, i bet!!! i'll admit it, "i'm a techno-geek"! now, will anyone else admit the same?]


[NOTE: semi-tech rant alert; it might be best to skip the following extraneous verbiage as they are the out of control musings of a self-confessed techno-geek.]

Obviously, these little mental tallies/notes aren't really possible when there are 16 or 32 digital steps of brightness and you don't really know which one you might be in at any particular point in time - other than OFF, lowest, and highest. Though, in point of fact, often you can actually SEE the discrete stepping of a Photon Microlight in its lowest o.p. modes since the PERCENTAGE that each STEP represents of the WHOLE is much greater at low o.p. than at higher o.p. To illustrate, in case my writing is unclear, if the the second step is 2x as bright as the first step (it's often a BINARY world in this case), then that one step represents a 100% increase in light output. Each step will add the same AMOUNT of light, but that light will be a smaller PERCENTAGE of the OVERALL light output. The next step represents a 50% increase compared to what the first step offered, or the next a 33% increase, the next adds a 25% increase, and so on (these numbers are just for example and may not represent any actual headlamp, though they probably do, IMO). So, each STEP becomes a smaller percentage of the new total light output. At some point, our eyes are unable to distinguish any STEPS b/c the percent increase is too small. I, personally find 50% very noticeable, but 25% only in a repeated side-by-side alternating comparision. Also, 33% is very difficult to recognize. Anything smaller, for me, "for-ged aboud id" (as Mickey Blue Eyes would say - you might have to live in the geographical region that i do to find Mickey's "d"'s funny; believe me, it's a riot - even amongst my many Italian friends).

To illustrate with "hard" numbers, let's say each step is 50lux. Then, it follows:

step 1: 50lux
step 2: 100lux (100% increase over/from step 1)
step 3: 150lux (50% incr.)
step 4: 200lux (33% incr.)
step 5: 250lux (25% incr.)
step 6: 300lux (20% incr.)
etc.
etc.
etc...

[EOR] (end-of-rant)


---------------------------------
>>"My favorite light in terms of construction and brightness is the Arc Premium pen light. At 0.8 ounces, it's light enough to hide in my kit, but too heavy for a hat brim if I'm wearing a floppier hat. In the latter situation, my choice is the Photon Freedom Micro Light - one in white for camp chores, and one in red for night hiking. My batteries of choice are always lithium."


"Whoa, Nelly!" "Hold on there a minute Babalouey!" [Trivia Question: what character used to utter the second of these two quotes? Warning: answering might show your age!]

DrJ is livin' in the "dark ages" (pun intended)!

ArcPremium???

[trapdoor opens and dancing ArcPremium makes a swift, but ungraceful exit from the stage. Then...enter, stage right, clip in clip, two tiny flashlights from FENIX - the E0 Dart and the L0D-CE (the CE means "Cree Edition" - Rick mentions Cree LEDs near the end of his Article. Pick ONE or the OTHER, depending upon what your needs are, i.e., do you use your ArcP for task/proximity lighting? or for walking a simple path - the appropriate FENIX is superior for the purpose prev. fulfilled by the ArcP, i.e. E0 for task lighting, L0D-CE for distance lighting+almost as much life for task lighting]



If interested, please search the Forums for both of these or even Arc Premium, i've made some lengthy Posts making comparison between them.

Edited by pj on 03/09/2007 04:21:12 MST.

eric levine
(ericl) - F

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: Re: review on 03/13/2007 09:02:20 MDT Print View

We completely agree, though my little arc premiums are the older units, new ones a good notch brighter, I understand.

But I have some new little 5mm Nichias, and as you say, different class entirely. The LOD Cree (LOD-CE)puts my original 123-luxeon arc to shame, and that's still a serious night hiking light itself.

My Cree is now also my EDC (everydaycarry), in MY pants 24/7. However, since you're so jazzed about Cree headlights, I suggest you consider carefully before carrying one of those in your pocket 24/7. Doing so might attract some unplanned attention.

eric levine
(ericl) - F

Locale: Northern Colorado
flashlight output on 03/13/2007 22:25:32 MDT Print View

LUX IS pretty easy to measure with luxmeter, which photographers have used for years. Lux tells only max. brightness, but you could measure the beam in a few places and try to estimate total output.

To really measure accurate output, lumens is often used. Equipment consists of an "integrating sphere" along with various measuring sensors usually mounted in the sphere. A real setup is pure lab equipment and REALLY expensive. No one I know has a real setup.

When you do web searches, prices never even come up on the sites. To me that's always a bad sign, i.e., "if you have to ask price, you can't afford it."

William Wright
(FarStar)
Krill Lights on 05/07/2007 15:26:47 MDT Print View

Has anyone tried a Krill Light (2xAAA model weighs 1 oz; 2xAA is 3 oz) from Kriana Corp (www.kriana.com)? Red or green look to be potentially viable night-vision-preserving area and perhaps reading lighting options with very long (25 to 120 hr) battery life.

Alex Paul
(wingnutLP) - F
The only ultralight head lamp worth looking at on 09/14/2008 11:28:03 MDT Print View

http://www.zebralight.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=183&zenid=tre0mp9rb5p80jtum0eu8f5ol4

Zebralight H50 Q5 it is incredible.

It is a single AA light with huge run times 3.5 days on low! And it has a floodlight beam pattern that is perfect for backpacking.

Edited by wingnutLP on 09/14/2008 11:29:44 MDT.