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Thread: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

  1. #1
    Flashaholic iamerror's Avatar
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    Default Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    The more expensive flashlights usually have a glass lens (or window, if you like that term better) instead of a plastic one. I have been thinking... maybe plastic ones are actually better? They should be more durable at withstanding falls, etc. They do however let out less light and scratch easier. If a light were to take much use and abuse would a plastic lens be more suitable? Your thoughts?

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* leukos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    I guess it depends what factors are more important to your uses. Except for my PT40, all my lights now have glass windows (probably in reaction to all the scratched windows of my old maglites). Sapphire is one tough window that can stand up to a lot of abuse; I would trust it over plastic.
    Light is sweet and pleasing to the eyes....

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    Flashaholic* Long John's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    Yes, it depends on your uses. I had an UCL in my favour Magmod, but it was too fragil. I changed the broken glas into a hardened mineral glas from member "4Sevens", so far it's ok

    The disadvantages of plastic are scratches and less transparency, but at a light with really hard abuse, it could be worth.

    Best regards

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    Tom

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    Flashaholic* Concept's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    I agree on the scratching issue I dont know of any plastic that can stand up to the mineral glass or pyrex in regards to toughness.
    Concept

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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    Glass lenses have nothing to do with the flashlight being expensive. There's plenty of cheapies out there that have el-cheapo glass lenses.

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    Flashaholic* chesterqw's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    high quality glass should help ... but high grade optical plastic should work too.

    the only thing is that glass will scratch less easily.

    mineral glass is a good choice and less fragile then most 'glass'

    the borofloat(did i spell it correctly?) is made of something which can withstand high heat

    pyrex is tough but more easily scratched then mineral glass.
    if killing was legal, i would have killed countless number of people...

  7. #7

    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    Speaking of glass lens, does anyone know where I can get a UCL for my MMLED? I think it uses a 22.6mm lens, and I can't find the UCL in that size.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    There is glass ... and then there is glass

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* Trashman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    I'm guessing, since the Barbolight has a plastic lens, that plastic is more suitable than glass for dive lights.

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    Flashaholic Biker Bear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    Now, if they ever manage to grow cheap diamond - that would make the ULTIMATE flashlight lens. Until then, synthetic sapphire will probably be the best there is.
    Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. -- Salvor Hardin
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    Flashaholic* RCatR's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    Plasic for my beaters, UCL for my babies

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    I noticed a huge difference when my MiniMag got it's crappy lens upgraded with a Mineral Glass Lens. It's not UCL but it was still noticeable.

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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    Try this website...I am not sure the thickness you are looking for, but the left hand column has different thickness. Your size I think you are limited to 1.0mm thickness.http://www.toolsgs.com/cart/browse.asp?subcat=258&pg=2
    Quote Originally Posted by adirondackdestroyer
    Speaking of glass lens, does anyone know where I can get a UCL for my MMLED? I think it uses a 22.6mm lens, and I can't find the UCL in that size.

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    Flashaholic Schnotts's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    Glass is the way to go! Doesn't scratch like plastic!

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    *Flashaholic* andrewwynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    I figure that i'm like 'the vast majority' who will.. instinctively clean the dirt off a window of their light (torch for most of the world) with their T-shirt or a spit-wetted thumb when needed.. it's this basicaly 'crazy behavior' that ruins a perfectly good plastic window, but i just can't help it so whenever i can i use glass.. it's worth the risk for me (drop=break risk that is).. Also many of my lights are far too powerful to use plastic, they just will melt within minutes.

    -awr


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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    Quote Originally Posted by andrewwynn
    I figure that i'm like 'the vast majority' who will.. instinctively clean the dirt off a window of their light (torch for most of the world) with their T-shirt or a spit-wetted thumb when needed.. it's this basicaly 'crazy behavior' that ruins a perfectly good plastic window, but i just can't help it so whenever i can i use glass.. it's worth the risk for me (drop=break risk that is).. Also many of my lights are far too powerful to use plastic, they just will melt within minutes.

    -awr
    Pretty much what Andrew states,
    I use glass in all my mods since I will get better brightness with them. No scratches so it has that extra bit of class.
    I've broken glass "windows" in a modded minimag by dropping it in some gravel but had a spare so no problem. My D cell sized Mag mods run glass to keep the reflectors stabilized as plastic will bow under pressure. If I drop the Mag in gravel, I'll have the weight of the flashlight and 8 NiMH AA cells to make sure the glass gets destroyed.
    Thanks to kiu, he is making black HA-III crenulated strike bezels which will help protect the glass. The farther up the head the gravel has to go to hit the glass, the less force and chance it has to actually shatter. I have two of them on order, one for my LuxV Mag and one for my upcoming Quad XR-E Mag.
    For my EDC 2AA and AAA lights, the stock plastic lens works fine and has taken some hits. When glass breaks, it can tear up the reflector and punch a hole in the Luxeon domes. Not a good thing if your really, really need the light to work in rough situations.
    Peak Pacific AAA UP brass (EDC) E01 (keys), Peaks, Arcs, Fenix, Q5 Aspheric HA-III Mag etc.

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* Long John's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    Quote Originally Posted by BentHeadTX
    Pretty much what Andrew states,
    I use glass in all my mods since I will get better brightness with them. No scratches so it has that extra bit of class.
    I've broken glass "windows" in a modded minimag by dropping it in some gravel but had a spare so no problem. My D cell sized Mag mods run glass to keep the reflectors stabilized as plastic will bow under pressure. If I drop the Mag in gravel, I'll have the weight of the flashlight and 8 NiMH AA cells to make sure the glass gets destroyed.
    Thanks to kiu, he is making black HA-III crenulated strike bezels which will help protect the glass. The farther up the head the gravel has to go to hit the glass, the less force and chance it has to actually shatter. I have two of them on order, one for my LuxV Mag and one for my upcoming Quad XR-E Mag.
    For my EDC 2AA and AAA lights, the stock plastic lens works fine and has taken some hits. When glass breaks, it can tear up the reflector and punch a hole in the Luxeon domes. Not a good thing if your really, really need the light to work in rough situations.
    BentHeadTX

    I had an UCL in my Trilux-D-Mag mod with Kiu's bezel ring. I don't know if you plan an UCL or hardened mineral glas, but my UCL shattered after a little hit of the bezel ring at a door frame. It's extremly fragil, since the UCL should not be hardened.
    So my advice is, go with the mineral glas. I can't see a difference in output with my pure eyes, but the advantage of more thoughness is it worth.

    Best regards

    ____
    Tom

  18. #18
    *Flashaholic* andrewwynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    i've killed 3-4 UCL just from heat alone.. they are quite fragile.. but here's the problem.. most likely you had your bezel tigher than necessary, introducing some pre-loaded stress.. glass is nearly impossible to crack until it has some initial crack.. but the UCL glass has little chips all around (as will all cut to circle glass that is not polished afterwards).. when tightening the bezel 'full tight' rather than just a big snug it pre-stresses the thin glass and a small tap can break it pretty easy.

    I like the UCL for the anti-reflective properties in lights w/o extreme power.. Long John is 100% correct about 'cant see the difference'.. you won't be able to, except that with anti-reflective windows, there is an elegance to them when they are off and handled.. not getting that glare off the lens brings them to 'another level up' in elegance even if the difference in output is small.

    -awr


    Regulated hotwire 'the hotdriver' also for Surefire M6 • 3-level high-power LED drop-in for mag. the 'BAM!' click here
    I have disabled PMs.. use the 'email' link instead!Genesis 1:3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light...

  19. #19

    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    I'd always go coated optics if you are running a hot light. The extra 2% or so you get from the coated optics means less heat build-up.

    Hard coated AR polycarbonate is probably the best, unless you go for the synthetic sapphire windows.

    Thoughts?
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    Quote Originally Posted by adirondackdestroyer
    Speaking of glass lens, does anyone know where I can get a UCL for my MMLED? I think it uses a 22.6mm lens, and I can't find the UCL in that size.
    Try flashlight-lens.com Thats where I got mine. Sometimes he is out of stock, just keep trying.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Long John
    I had an UCL in my Trilux-D-Mag mod with Kiu's bezel ring. I don't know if you plan an UCL or hardened mineral glas, but my UCL shattered after a little hit of the bezel ring at a door frame. It's extremly fragil, since the UCL should not be hardened.
    So my advice is, go with the mineral glas. I can't see a difference in output with my pure eyes, but the advantage of more thoughness is it worth.
    Thanks for the heads-up Tom and Andrew,
    As I am gathering parts to build my XR-E Quad Mag, I've been thinking about the "window" that can handle the stress of holding four McR19 Flood aluminum reflectors. The UCLs seem to be fragile so I guess I'll go with the mineral glass. The light's primary use is a frame mounted bike light so toughness is necessary.
    Already sent my order to 4sevens for a three-pack of the mineral lens...thanks for the tip!
    Peak Pacific AAA UP brass (EDC) E01 (keys), Peaks, Arcs, Fenix, Q5 Aspheric HA-III Mag etc.

  22. #22
    Flashaholic* Long John's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    Quote Originally Posted by BentHeadTX
    Already sent my order to 4sevens for a three-pack of the mineral lens...thanks for the tip!
    This was a very good decision

    You're welcome BentHead

    Best regards

    ____
    Tom

  23. #23
    Flashaholic Theatre Booth Guy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    Quote Originally Posted by iamerror
    The more expensive flashlights usually have a glass lens (or window, if you like that term better) instead of a plastic one. I have been thinking... maybe plastic ones are actually better? They should be more durable at withstanding falls, etc. They do however let out less light and scratch easier. If a light were to take much use and abuse would a plastic lens be more suitable? Your thoughts?
    I used to strongly favor glass until a very short drop of my HDS EDC took a chip out of the lens. Switched to the plastic one (with anti-scratch coating) and managed to put several scratches in it by wiping dust off. While I don't like the ease of scratching plastic, it seems more up to being dropped.

    On a positive note, my E2e got dropped at the very wrong angle and it took a chunk out of the floor with just a tiny bit of damage to the anodizing! Their very thick pyrex lens' seem much tougher.
    Brian

    After getting an HDS, other flashlights seem much less relevant (Except for some of the really special lights found on CPF!)
    When things are really dark, a dim light for a long time is much better than a blinding light for a short time.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    I am in the minority, plastic works every bit as good as glass to me. In fact it is in some aspects preferable for durablity. Scratches in plastic can be fairly easily polished out too, but scratch a sapphire or glass and it has to be replaced. Then again I dont freak out about artifacts in the beam, or the tint of the LED either.
    Lee

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  25. #25
    Flashaholic* chevrofreak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    I prefer glass, as long as it is mineral or borofloat/pyrex. I tested some 1mm thick mineral glass I had by smacking them with a hammer. They dented before they broke, which took quite a few smacks to accomplish.

    The 52.1x2mm mineral glass windows I had made (that 4sevens now sells) are very tough and I have heard no reports of them breaking. They have beveled edges which prevents them from catching on threading and chipping.

    Some glass chips very easily. I had a UCL chip just by setting it into the bezel ring of my Pelican M6. I'd rather have something stronger than something that transmits 5% more light.

    I think antireflective coated mineral glass is the way to go if you want every last bit of light to make its way out.

  26. #26
    Flashaholic* Anglepoise's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    Quote Originally Posted by chevrofreak
    I prefer glass, as long as it is mineral or borofloat/pyrex. I tested some 1mm thick mineral glass I had by smacking them with a hammer. They dented before they broke, which took quite a few smacks to accomplish.

    The 52.1x2mm mineral glass windows I had made (that 4sevens now sells) are very tough and I have heard no reports of them breaking. They have beveled edges which prevents them from catching on threading and chipping.

    Some glass chips very easily. I had a UCL chip just by setting it into the bezel ring of my Pelican M6. I'd rather have something stronger than something that transmits 5% more light.

    I think antireflective coated mineral glass is the way to go if you want every last bit of light to make its way out.
    I agree. I have just looked at UCL and it chips.

    Do you have a recommended supplier of coated mineral glass in sizes around 16mm to 22 mm??
    David............................................. "A few of my Home Built lights"

  27. #27
    Flashaholic* chevrofreak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anglepoise
    I agree. I have just looked at UCL and it chips.

    Do you have a recommended supplier of coated mineral glass in sizes around 16mm to 22 mm??
    I don't know of anyone that sells them aftermarket.

    Inova uses coated mineral glass in their lights though.

  28. #28
    *Flashaholic* LuxLuthor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    I have not had any breaks with Borofloat lenses, but two UCL broke easily, and I will never buy them again. I need the glass over plastic for the heat demands. Where are these 4Sevens one at?

  29. #29

    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    Can the lens on a Surefire G2 be changed to a nice UCL glass lens? I noticed on flashlightlens.com they have an application chart and all the sizes for various lights. The G2 is listed as having a 28.8mm lens, and flashlightlens.com carries the UCL in the 28.8mm size, so I figured it was for modding a G2. Can anyone comfirm this? Does the lens on the G2 pop right out, or does it take some serious convinving to get it out of there. I hate how the G2 has a plastic lens but I really like everything else about it.

  30. #30
    Flashaholic* chevrofreak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a glass lens actually better than a plastic one?

    Quote Originally Posted by LuxLuthor
    Where are these 4Sevens one at?
    http://fenix-store.com/index.php?cPa...79d41ee5b94764

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