UPDATE 11/14/2008: My review of the 18650-sized Encore version of this light is now up.
REVIEWER’S NOTE:This comparison review will compare the Lumapower Incendio to other lights in its class (single CR123A/RCR). The light was provided free of charge by Lumapower for review.
This light is Lumapower’s newest offering, and is a bit of departure for the company. Many of their general-purpose lights have been fairly bulky, and their thrower models typically have especially wide and long heads (to accommodate deeper reflectors for more throw).
In contrast, this single CR123A/RCR Cree Q5 light is designed to be as small as possible, while still using a clicky (and a forward one at that). I’ll forgo detailed specs and get right to the pics:
As you can see, the kit comes with a nylon holster with closing flap, extra o-rings, instruction manual, and warranty card. The belt holster is fairly substantial, but I can’t really see myself using it for such a small light (and I personally generally prefer holsters without a flap anyway). Still, better than some makers who don’t give you anything!
For scale reference, below is a pic of a Surefire CR123A, the Incendio, Fenix P2D-Q5, Horus FD-1.3, Lumapower DminiD-Q2, and a MXDL 3W twisty lux clone (not used in the runtime comparisons – just here as a size reference for a really small twisty CR123A light).
As you can see, the light is quite small for a clicky CR123A light. I’ll give detailed runtimes against the P2D-Q4, Horus FD-1.3 and DminiD-Q2 later in this review.
I’ve taken body measurements with my electronic caliper and postal scale and get the following:
Overall length: 76mm
Width: 20-21mm (thickest at the head knurling)
Battery tube wall thickness: 1.9-2.0mm
Weight: 31.2g (without battery)
The light has “type II+” black anodizing, according to Lumapower. Apparently, this is some sort of enhanced type II anodizing, but not as thick as hard anodized (HA, aka type III). Lumapower claims this is equivalent to what some other makers call type III - but obviously we would all rather see confirmed HA if possible. Lumapower’s other lights are typical type III (although I recall the black MRVs were only type II).
Anodizing and lettering is perfect on my specimen, no chips or flaws on the visible exterior surfaces. In fact, that is probably some of the finest lettering I’ve ever seen – especially the individualized serial number. May mean something for young’ns out there, but it doesn't do much for us old geezers starting to loose our near vision Still, an impressive feat as the lettering is very crisp and clear.
The body features some knurling around the head and tail to help with grip (it is fairly mild, but does the job – better than perfectly smooth lights). Light also comes with a thin metal clip attached to the base (not removable). This is probably more useful as an anti-roll feature, since I can’t see too many cases where you would need to clip the light in the same direction as the bezel points (i.e. clip is really designed for holding the light when not in use).
Tailcap is a forward clicky, covered with a GITD switch cover. Switch is recessed so that the unit can tailstand when the light is activated. When off, the switch protrudes enough to cause a fairly severe wobble. I must say, this is the first time I’ve seen a light this small with a forward clicky switch that could tailstand (when activated, at any rate).
Switch has a pretty good feel for my thumb and index fingers – not too stiff, not too loose. The traverse is also fairly typical. No problems so far in my testing, quite comfortable.
Unfortunately, the switch is not accessible by the end user, so no replacement or adjustment would be possible – you would have to send a malfunctioning light back to the manufacturer/dealer. Apparently, that’s the price you pay for keeping the overall length down.
As you can see above, the Incendio uses the new “silver” version of the Cree Q5 emitter (i.e. the area outside central die is silver in color, instead of the standard Cree yellow). My understanding is that there are no output differences between the silver and yellow versions, and these simply reflect different manufacturing plants. Also note the GTID o-ring in front of the lens.
The IncenDio has enough screw threads on the body tube to do the job, but they are not exactly plentiful. Threads are smooth and arrived clean and in good shape. Threads are not anodized, so no lock-out is possible. You’ll note the clip doesn’t get in the way of the head, so potential scratching won’t be an issue as it is on some lights.
The contact surface on the inside head has a plastic cover with a slightly raised brass contact point in the centre – this doesn’t appear to be removable. But it does mean that contact shouldn’t be an issue, even with relatively flat top batteries (although all RCRs I’ve seen typically have button tops anyway).
Note that my blue-label protected AW RCR batteries are a little too thick to fit inside the battery tube. Black-label protected AW RCRs fit fine, as do unprotected batteries (which I don’t recommend, as the light doesn’t have a low voltage protection circuit). My gray-label protected Ultrafire battery fits, but it is a bit tight.
Surprisingly for such a small light, the head can come apart to reveal the emitter and OP aluminum reflector (which can be unscrewed from the head piece). This would also allow you to adjust the reflector height somewhat (i.e. unscrew the head to defocus). The contacts for the emitter are protected by a little black plastic disc (removed for the pic above). This should facilitate swapping emitters, should you so choose.
- The IncenDio has 3 output modes (Hi – Med – Lo), accessed in a looping sequence by soft-pressing the clicky repeatedly. To select the desired mode , simply press the switch further until the click is made, then release.
- The light has a memory mode – if you leave if it on for more than 2 secs in any given mode, you will see a quick flash telling you that setting is saved. Next time you turn on the light, you will still be in that mode (soft-press if you want to cycle further from there).
- Light has no SOS or strobe mode.
- Light is current-controlled for its low modes, so no PWM flicker. Typically, I’ve found that current-controlled lights are more efficient that PWM, but can’t go down to as low output levels. See below for output/runtimes in the IncenDio’s case.
Comparison taken at ~.5 meters from a wall, to show you the different overall spill patterns. All lights are running on AW RCR max.
As you can see, the Incendio has a very nice beam. In fact, this is one of the smoothest beams I’ve seen from a Cree light – relatively little evidence of the dreaded Cree rings. Although my sample is excellent in stock form, you could always defocus the beam a little further by unscrewing the head portion (this sometimes help lessen rings with Crees) .
Spillbeam is also wider than most lights, with a smooth transition from spot to spill. So how does it throw?
As you can see, it’s not exactly a massive thrower, but it’s not bad for its size. As you’ll also note, output/throw is a bit higher on RCR compared to primary CR123A.
I must say, I am rather pleasantly surprised here – this is a fairly useful beam pattern from such a small light. Good job!
Testing Method: All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's FR.com method. My relative overall output numbers are typically similar to his, although generally a little lower. You can directly compare all my review graphs - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another.
To start, I thought I’d compare primary CR123A and RCR runtimes invidiually. I’ve plotted Hi-Med-Lo on the same graph, but at two different output and time scale resolutions, to help you see the runtime patterns better.
Primary CR123A – long output and short time scales
Primary CR123A – short output and long time scales
RCR (black label) – long output and short time scales
RCR (black label) – short output and long time scales
Preliminary Output/runtime observations:
- The Incendio is fully regulated on both RCR and primary CR123A. Note that output is a bit higher on RCR, in all modes.
- Runtimes on primary CR123A are quite good, and remarkably consistent with Lumapower’s published specs (i.e.: ~2 hours on Hi, ~35 hours on Lo). Regulation is also quite good.
- Runtimes on RCR are not quite as long as on primaries, but still very respectable (Lumapower made no claims about RCR runtime). Importantly, output is fully regulated on RCR – which is very impressive (and quite uncommon) in such a small light.
- Relative output levels of Lo, Med, and Hi are very sensible, IMO. Lo mode is fairly low for this type of light (see comparison runtimes below for a greater discussion on this).
Of course, as with any light, how does its performance stack up to the competition? Below are some comparison runtimes for the other multi-level CR123A lights used in my size comparison.
Note that output measures for the DminiD-Q2 are likely being underestimated somewhat on the graphs – my lightbox doesn’t like really strong throwers!
Note: this graph has recently been updated with the P2D-Q5 runtime. If you don't see the trace above, please re-load/refresh this page in your browser window.
Comparison Output/runtime observations:
- Relative to its output, the Incendio has very good runtime efficiency in all modes on both primary CR123A and RCR.
- IncenDio output/runtime efficiency on RCR seems to be as good or better than the DminiD (considering my DminiD is only a Q2, of course). Output levels are also roughly similar to the DminiD.
- The only one of my single CR123A/RCR lights that can do lower output than the IncenDio is the Horus FD-1.3. But the Horus is a RCR-only light, so the comparison to a multi-power circuit is probably not fair. FYI, the Horus is also the only light with a low voltage cut-off circuit allowing use of unprotected RCRs.
- Output/runtimes on primary CR123A show that the Incendio has lower output than the Fenix P2D-Q5 in all modes, but with typically similar runtime. This means that the Incendio is not quite as efficient as the Fenix, but is certainly not bad. The Incendio is also fully regulated on RCR, which the P2D is not.
- Interesting output blip at the end of the Lo mode primary runtime on the Incendio. It surprisingly jumped up to initial brightness levels for the very last portion of its run. I've seen small blips before on some lights, but not usually this pronounced. Also, the light flashed (at a low intensity) for several minutes before finally going out.
I’ve always been a fan of the truly small form factor – I like to keep small CR123A lights stashed away in various places as backup lights (e.g. each of my various jacket pockets, glove boxes, etc.). Up until now, these have typically been twisties (e.g. Fenix P1/P1D, or my SSC-modded MXDLs). But this is the first clicky version that meets my standard for a tiny stash-away emergency light (i.e. negligible size and weight, takes 1 CR123A, and can still tailstand).
User interface is quite good, and an improvement from previous Lumapower models (e.g. Dmini-D), but the memory feature still needs work. Regular readers of my reviews will know that I prefer a Lo-Med-Hi sequence, but a good memory feature can make up for that. Unfortunately, in this case you need to reset the memory every time you turn the light on (i.e. have to wait 2 secs for the memory to set again). If you just flash on quickly, and turn the light off before 2 secs is up, you will find that the light advances to the next mode the next time you turn it on. Unfortunately, I’ve seen this on a number of memory mode circuits – much better would be recalling the memory setting UNLESS the light was on for more than 2 secs (then, by all means, re-set to the new level). But like I said, at least this is a step in the right direction.
Personally, I quite like the look and styling of this new light, but your tastes may vary. I only wish the clip pointed the other way. I find bezel-pointing clips like this are good for larger lights that you want to stash on your belt for carry. But this light could be ideal for attaching to a brim of a ball cap to use as make-shift headlamp – but that requires a reverse pointing clip. Still, it least makes a useful anti-roll device. And the clever design means it won’t scratch the finish while unscrewing the head (are you listening Fenix? ). Personally, I think a lanyard attachment with a lobster-claw style clip might also be something for Lumapower to consider as well.
Exterior styling aside, there’s no arguing that this is one of the prettiest beams I’ve seen for a Cree light. Beautiful smooth beam, only the faintest of Cree rings, and more than acceptable throw. What’s not to love? Great for multi-purpose use. I’ve shown it around a little, and it has sure impressed family and friends for its size and output.
Another area where this light shines (pardon the pun) is in its very good output/runtime efficiency - although not as efficient as the Fenix on primaries (basically similar runtimes but with slightly lower output levels). But unlike the Fenix, the Incendio is fully regulated on RCR (where output is slightly higher than primaries). Good job, Lumapower.
I’m going to start carrying this light around in my current jacket (bye-bye little P1 ), and will let you know my experiences with it as time goes by. But so far, it’s a happy little addition to my extended light family.
UPDATE: May 3, 2008. Not to stir up controversy, but I've found my sample also has the now-infamous hidden SOS mode. Using the method described here, I've managed to elicit a very definite SOS mode once. But this was not easy to do - frankly, my hand has gotten sore from all the "smacking"! So I'm guessing there's a lot of variability in how sensitive individual lights are to entering this mode. Personally, I don't see this as a major issue - I certainly saw no evidence of the SOS mode in regular usage, and have only been able to elicit it once in all my testing. But I just figured you should know ...
UPDATE: Sept 17, 2008: According to batteryjunction's website, it seems the Incendio has been updated to a V2. New features include a removable pocket clip, shortened memorization delay (now down to 1 sec), reverse polarity protection, and a switch that is supposedly now serviceable if needed. All sound like good upgrades to me!