REVIEWER’S NOTE: This is a quick initial impression review of the Zebralight H50 headlamp (1AA). I’m planning to expand the review after a little field testing.
This light is fairly unique, as it lacks a reflector or collimating optics – the light is pure flood (with at least a 120 degree beam angle). It is meant to illuminate a confined area evenly, hence its use as a headlamp (although it is more versatile and can be used in a number of ways).
As you can see, it comes with all sorts of goodies: including a headband, wrist strap, glare shield (for when used as headlamp), and pocket clip. The Zebralight is usually held to the headband or wrist strap by a flexible GITD silicone bracket (an extra is also included). Light is available in both Cree P4 and Q5 editions – the Q5 is presented here.
The emitter is built right into the side of the light, allowing you place it in various orientations (like in headlamp or pocket light mode). It can tailstand with ease. There’s a round lexan protective coating layer over the emitter.
The tailcap unscrews to allow you to feed in batteries (1AA - works with alkaline, NiMH, L91 lithium, or 14500 Li-ion). Base of the tailcap has a simple gold-plated spring. Machining marks on the head and tailcap make it easy to grip.
As you can see, the light is not much bigger than a standard battery. The hard anodized body tube is quite thin and light. For comparison purposes below, I’ve added the Q5-equipped EDGETAC NiteCore DI and Fenix L1D-Q5 to this review.
Zebralight Weight (without battery or accessories): 18g
Quick and dirty comparison at ~.4 meters from a wall, to show you the different overall spill patterns. All lights are running on Sanyo Eneloops on max.
As you can see, the Zebralight is all flood. Tint is slightly cooler than my other lights, but the difference is not as noticeable as shown in the pics (the Zebralight is actually quite white in tint).
Testing Method: All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's FR.com method. Note that the relative output levels of the Zebralight may not be directly comparable to my other light reviews, since the design and full flood profile required a slight modification to how I mounted the light in the lightbox.
Despite the very floody nature of the Zebralight, my lightbox seems to be fairly accurately gauging its overall intensity. None the less, I’ve left an “*” in the graph legends to remind you that it’s not really appropriate to try and directly compare output between these very different kinds of lights.
Note: my datalogger shut off at 5000 mins for the low mode alkaline run (i.e. 3.5 days), so I don't know for sure when the light cut off. However, when I checked the light at 4 days, and there was zero output at that point.
Note again that my output numbers are an estimate only, given the difficulty of comparing this all-flood light in my lightbox.
- The Zebralight is all flood. Using a protractor, I’d say it has ~125-130 degree beam angle (120 degree with the glare shield on).
- The Zebralight has a nice selection of output levels on standard batteries, with Lo and Medium being considerably lower than most other lights.
- Runtimes seems very good for the apparent output levels. Efficiency of this light seems on par with the big names, which is quite impressive.
- Unfortunately, my datalogger cut-out on the low mode runtime at ~3.5 days (while the unit was still emitting light). When I checked manually at 4 days, the light had zero output. So it seems the stated claim of 3.5 days is very accurate.
- Although not shown above, I did a low mode run on L91 lithium, and got almost exactly 4 days runtime. Given the price of L91s, you might be better off saving them for higher drain devices or higher output mode use, where they should make more of a difference.
- Output on 14500 is higher than standard batteries, with no real difference between Lo and Medium. But on Hi, my sample is screamingly bright (brighter than any of the other 1AA light in my collection)! Note that this is in contrast to some other reports of lower output on Hi with 14500 in this light.
- I seriously doubt the small surface area of the Zebralight could possibly dissipate heat fast enough to not risk damaging the emitter on 14500 on Hi. As such, I don’t recommend you run it this way - and I won’t be doing any runtimes at this level.
- Interestingly, on Med/Lo the light doesn’t just hit the protected 14500 protection circuit and drop to zero output (like most lights). Instead, light goes into a long “moon mode”. I stopped the run at ~4.5 hours, and it was still producing a low level of light on my AW protected 14500.
- The Zebralight has 3 modes, accessed by a twist of the tailcap (i.e. twisty interface). Light comes on Low when first screwing the tailcap tightly closed. A rapid twist off-on and you move to Medium. Another twist and you are on Hi.
- There is no memory mode, so you always start at Lo if the light has been off for more than a few seconds.
- I’m not sure how the Zebralight regulates its low modes. If it uses PWM, then the frequency is high enough that I can’t detect it with my setup, or notice it by eye.
Build, Machining and Anodizing
- Build quality is top-notch. This light has one of the thinnest layers of aluminum that I’ve seen, but still feels solid. Weight of the bare light is a negligible 18g.
- Machining is very good throughout, although you can see some machining marks along a band that runs across the top ribbed portion of the light.
- Anodizing is type III (Hard Anodized), similar in colour to the new Fenix olive green/natural finish.
- Screw threads are very fine, but performance is smooth and I haven’t experienced any problems with cross-threading.
- Double o-rings for water resistance.
- Can tailstand (or headstand for that matter! )
- The silicone bracket holds the light fairly firmly, but has enough play so you can still rotate the light easily. This means that the light can also rotate on you inadvertently while you are moving around.
- A very unique and versatile little light - a true flood lamp.
- Initial impression is that it is very well made.
- Excellent circuit design that accepts a wide range of batteries, and has very good pre-set output levels and runtime efficiency on standard batteries.
- Lacks true low modes on 14500 – and Hi mode is dangerously bright on my sample. However, the light shows an unusual low power “moon mode” feature, even on protected 14500.