Reviewer's Note: This is a new review of the ITP C8 1AA continuously-variable light - both the Regular and Tactical versions. Previously, I had posted a pre-review of the 1AA/2AA battery tubes on the pre-production Regular head - that thread has been replaced by this review and a full review of the ITP C7 1AA Regular and Tactical lights. Note that a lot of the background text is similar between this review and the C7 review. A sales thread for the C7/C8 lights is available in CPFM. The lights were provided by ITP for review.
Warning: Pic heavy!
The C8 is part of a series of new continuously-variable lights from ITP. The lights come with either a Tactical or Regular head that is interchangeable on three different battery/body tube configurations: 1xAA/14500 (C7), 2xAA (C8), and 1xCR123A/RCR (C9). The pre-production C9 Regular model was reviewed previously, and the shipping C7 Regular and Tactical versions have just been reviewed as well. Please see my C7 review thread for more background info.
Note that ITP has made individual body tubes/tailcaps available for sale, so you can mix-and-match components for different battery configurations with your preferred head unit (the Tactical and Regular versions differ slightly in circuit programming in the head).
The shipping versions of the C8s come in a standard cardboard box (identified as Tactical or Regular on the top). Included inside are the light, an attached wrist strap, instruction manual, warranty card, and a package of spare o-rings and an extra tailcap switch cover. In additional, a decent quality belt holster is also included.
C7 Weight: 76.2 g
C7 Length: 107 mm (Regular), 110 mm (Tactical)
C7 Width: 27 mm max (at heatsink fins on the head)
Note the aluminum reflector - it's half textured and half smooth, similar to early Olights. In fact, it appears to be identical to the one used by Olight (i.e. same dimensions). This pattern is done to help smooth out the Cree rings around the hotspot, while maintaining decent throw.
Here are some pics of the Regular version, with the pre-production C8 body and tailcap:
And here is the new Tactical version with the shipping C8 body and tailcap:
The quality of the wrist lanyard has improved on the shipping versions.
Comparison of the tailcaps from my C7 review - Regular on the left, Tactical on the right.
The C7 and C8 share the same tailcap and head - much like the Fenix LD10/LD20 or L1D/L2D. The common head features mild heatsinking fins near the base and rounded front edges near the glass lens. The C7/C8 tailcap is more rounded than most lights in this class.
The only visible build differences between the Regular and Tactical versions are are in terms of the tailcap - the Regular features a standard reverse clicky and can tailstand, while the Tactical has a protruding forward clicky that can't. Note that the 1xCR123A C9 has a distinct one-piece body/tailcap design that doesn't use a separate tailcap (i.e. similar to the NiteCore Extreme).
Quality of the screw threads is very high. For the head portion of the body, ITP is using square flat-top thread (similar to JetBeam, although not quite as thick). Thread action is very smooth on all my ITP lights. : This is important, since ramp activation is controlled by loosening the head (again, scroll down for UI discussion). The tailcap has thinner anodized threads that allow for tailcap lockout.
Fit and finish of the type III hard anodizing is very good on all samples - very even, with no discolorations or issues. Logo lettering is not as sharp on the pre-production body tubes as the final shipping versions, so keep that in mind as you look over the pics.
From left to right: from left to right: the ITP C8, Fenix L2D, Fenix E20, JetBeam Jet-I PRO EX V2, MiniMag LED
Features and User Interface
All ITP lights share a common a continuously-variable output mechanism with memory. The Regular version (which comes with a reverse clicky) features an extra strobe and SOS mode, and the Tactical version (which comes with a protruding forward clicky) lacks the strobe/SOS modes. On Regular models, you switch between states (constant-on, strobe, SOS) by soft-pressing the clicky, or turning the light off/on with 5 secs. If you leave it off longer than 5 secs, the light will come back on at constant-on at whatever level you last memorized it at. I measured strobe at 9.5Hz on my sample. Forward clicky on the Tactical model is a straight-forward momentary on with soft press, click to lock-on.
The continuously-variable UI is remarkably straight-forward: to activate the ramp, simply loosen the head slightly. This immediately starts the output ramping. When the light reaches the level you like, simply tighten the head to memorize that setting. To reverse the direction of the ramp, tighten and loosen the head again.
Note that unlike the continuously-variable competition, this UI doesn't require any special manual dexterity (i.e. you don't need to perform a rapid twist switch or click repeatedly within a narrow time-window). Just loosen the head to ramp, tighten to save the setting. Very simple and intuitive.
Turn the light on/off by the tailcap clicky. The light always comes back on at whatever level it was previously set to. Memory is retained even if you remove the battery. The light will flash rapidly 3 times when it reaches the min or max of its ramp.
I believe ITP uses PWM in these lights ("constant-current" is how they describe it) - but the freq is high enough so that I can't detect it by eye or instrument.
All lights are on Sanyo Eneloop, on Max, and are ~0.5 meters from a white wall.
From left to right: ITP C8T, Fenix L2D-Q5, JetBeam Jet-I PRO EX V2
The ITP C8 beam profile is identical to the Olights with the same partially textured reflector (not shown). This produces a nicely defined center hotspot with relatively few rings. Overall spillbeam width is narrower than most lights, due to the relatively deep reflector - similar the JetBeam Jet-I PRO EX V2. Tint is a premium white on all my ITP samples.
Testing Method: All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's flashlightreviews.com method. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different reviews - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan, except for the extended run Lo/Min modes which are done without cooling.
Throw values are the square-root of lux measurements taken at 1 meter from the lens, using a light meter.
Throw/Output Summary Chart:
Note that I haven't included the C8T results in the table, since there was basically no difference in Throw or Overall Output between the two versions.
Variable Output Ramping
The C8 ramping on NiMH was identical to the C7 on 14500, so I'm showing above the 1AA comparison ramp from the C7 review. The light flashes 3 times rapidly to let you know when it has reached the end of its ramp (either min or max).
Output/Runtime Pattern of the C7:
- I think the results can be summed up pretty simply - the ITP C8 consistently beats the output/runtime efficiency of the only other continuously-variable 2AA light: the JetBeam Jet-I PRO EX V2. I'm hoping to have some additional 2AA lights to add into the mix soon.
- The pre-production Regular C8 featured a low voltage warning flash on all battery types, that kicked in once the light was out of regulation. ITP has removed this on shipping versions of both the Regular and Tactical lights, since it was largely superfluous.
- For a greater comparison to competition in 1AA format, please see my C7 review.
First off, let me congratulate ITP on their decision to keep a common head for multiple battery configurations. The ability to perform battery tube "lego" is relatively uncommon in the flashlight world, and most welcome. Fenix is one of the few other companies to offer this convenience.
Build quality is very good, certainly on par with the competition. I would rate the overall build size and "heft" as similar to Olight, but with a more rounded appearance. The head threads are very smooth and solid, and the anodized tailcap threads allow for tailcap lock-out.
The user interface is quite straight-forward and easy to use, with none of the potential problems of some continuously-variable lights that require rapid twisting or repeated clicking to switch states. I personally like the Tactical versions for their lack of strobe/SOS - but the Regular option is there for those who want it (and who favour tailstanding). All in all, this UI should be popular with those that favour a KISS approach.
As for performance, ITP has done a pretty good job on their multi-power circuit. While not as efficient as the current-controlled Fenix, keep in mind that ITP offers a much wider output range (with lower lows), continuously-variable interface, and full compatibility on Li-ions rechargeables (in 1xAA/1xRCR format). It certainly seems to outperform the JetBeam IBS in 2xAA format.
Its also good to see ITP is listening to the feedback of the CPF community (i.e. removing the superfluous low voltage flash, offering individual body tubes at low cost, etc.). The low cost of these lights - and the additional body tubes - makes ITP a serious contender in this space. It bodes well in terms of ongoing consumer choice in the continuously-variable flashlight segment. I'm looking forward to seeing more offerings in the 2xAA segment.