Reviewer's Note: The Element E3 and E3P were supplied by JetBeam for review.
- Material: Grade 304 Stainless Steel
- Battery Type: Regular alkaline/NiMH AA Battery (14500 not accepted)
- LED: E3 - Cree Q2, E3P - Cree Q5
- Size: Diameter 21mm, Length 100mm, Weight 100g
- User interface: 2-stage (Hi and Low), adjusts by turning head
- Circuit: High efficiency" drive circuit with reverse polarity protection (I suspect current-controlled circuit)
- Switch Type: Forward clicky (momentary and constant on)
- Switch button: E3 - Rubber Tail Switch, E3P - SS Tail Switch
- Misc: Unit can tail stand
- Packaging: Comes in Aluminum gift box
- Diffuser: Available with E3P or can be purchased as an accessory for E3.
- Reported Output: E3: High - 100 Lumens, Low - 15 Lumens; E3P: High - 120 Lumens, Low - 20 Lumens
My E3/E3P samples: Diameter 21.5mm, Length 101.0mm, Weight 102-105g
The Element line of flashlights is something of a departure for JetBeam - who are probably best known for their continuously-variable IBS interface. The E3 and E3P are simple 2-stage 1xAA lights (14500 not supported), with a similar mechanism to the classic Fenix L1T (i.e. loosen head for Lo, tighten for Hi).
The other obviously distinguishing feature is the solid stainless steel construction.
Aluminum is generally the preferred material for flashlight body construction, because it is fairly light and easy to machine - and has good thermal properties (i.e. carries away heat well). It needs to be anodized to protect against scratches and dings, but this adds possibilities - for ex., a large number of possible colours and finishes, ability to offer tailcap lock-out, etc.
The "advantage" of stainless steel over aluminum is that it is physically stronger (i.e. won't deform as easily). Along with that it, it is also heavier - which some may like, but others don't. It also doesn't conduct heat as well and can't be anodized, so you are typically limited to a shiny buffed finish or a polished tumbled look (as is the case here). Of course, if you manage to scratch it, you can always buff it out fairly easily (i.e. rub and polish it).
Although I'm typically an anodized aluminum fan, I must say these are certainly the nicest looking stainless steel lights I've come across. I find the finish is very classy looking, and reminds me of titanium lights.
The lights come with aluminum "gift boxes", with a window suitable for presentation. But be forewarned that both of mine came quite dented (the E3 box is considerably mangled on the bottom and along the top edge, not shown in the pics). Both lights were undamaged - I guess the grade 304 steel of the lights is quite a bit stronger than the boxes.
Inside you find the light encased in cut-out foam with warranty card, extra o-rings, and wrist lanyard. Note there is no manual. The E3P comes with an included diffuser tip (available as a separate option for the E3).
Aside from the tail button region (and the body labels), there are no visible differences between the lights. Labels are generally clear and sharp, although the dark grey colour leads to a relative lack of contrast against the brushed stainless steel.
Both lights have a stainless steel bezel ring, and feature OP reflectors. The E3 uses a Cree Q2, and the E3P uses a Cree Q5.
Here are some comparison beamshots between my E3 and E3P samples on Max. Note that aside from tint differences, I find little (or just barely detectable) difference in output between the two models:
Nice beam pattern overall for Cree-based lights.
The diffuser fits snuggly on either light, and works well (slightly smaller than the Fenix diffuser tip).
The E3 comes with a black rubber button cover, and the E3P with a stainless steel button cover. Note that only the cover is stainless steel - the switch mechanism is identical for both units (forward clicky). Both units can tailstand.
The switch has a somewhat longer traverse than most lights of this size, which means you need to push deeper into the light to get it to lock-on. I found the stainless steel cover on the E3P to be a little peculiar - there is no resistance for the first ~1mm or so, and the light will not come on over this range. It seems only once you press down enough to meet the actual switch mechanism does the light come on (and resistance begins). Keep pressing to engage the lock-on. This has something of a two-stage feel, with no light on the initial press. I would recommend JetBeam build-up the underside of this switch cover a bit, so that it makes initial contact with the switch on first press.
The contact surface in the head shows the typical JetBeam reverse polarity sensor. Again, the user interface is very simple - fully tighten the head for Hi output, loosen slightly for Lo output
Screw threads are fairly smooth on my samples, although they could use a little extra lube as shipped.
The plastic insert inside the body tube is interesting, as this wasn't shown on the original product photos. I'm guessing that this was done to reduce battery rattle. Obviously, JetBeam would want to keep the external diameter of the body tube the same as the head, and I guess this would really increase the weight further if they made it all steel. Rest assured the Elements are plenty hefty as it is.
To show you the relative size and weight to other lights:
From left to right, Duracell AA battery, Element E3P, Ese LZ2, Nitecore D10, Fenix LD10, Liteflux LF5XT, Element E3.
Weights: (without batteries)
Ese LZ2: 87.8g
Fenix L1D: 48.6g
Jet-I PRO: 56.5
Jet-I MK-I IBS: 46.9
JetBeam Element E3: 102.0g
JetBeam Element E3P: 105.2g
LiteFlux LF5XT: 53.9g
Nitecore D10: 41.4g
Nitecore Defender Infinity: 44.1g
Rexlight 2.1: 40.1g
As you can see, the Elements are quite hefty at >100g, which is about twice the weight of a typical 1AA light (the Ese LZ2 is also stainless steel). Overall diameter and length are also on the high end.
For beamshots, I've kept it simple - below is a comparison of the E3P to the Fenix L1D Q5 and Nitecore D10 Q5, all lights on Eneloops on max, ~0.5 m from a white wall.
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:
As you can see, there doesn't seem to be a big difference in the output of my two models, despite the E3P being a Cree Q5 and the E3 a Cree Q2.
Note that I don't have many Q2 lights left in my collection for testing, and have incomplete data for the L1D-Q2 and Rexlight 2.1-002. The Rexlight 2.1 is the most interesting example, as the original 001 build wasn't driven as hard as most lights on standard batteries (and hence had relatively lower output with longer runtime). In contrast, the 002 build was maximally driven on standard batteries, and was bright as any other Q2 light I've seen.
Overall output of both the Elements is consistent with the highly-driven Q2 lights overall, and throw is certainly within the normal range.
Hi output: This is a bit odd - although Hi output performance of the E2 (Q2) is as I would expect for a Q2 light, my E3P (Q5) has basically exactly the same output as the E3 with reduced runtime overall. Although it is common to see reduced runtime on Q5 lights (likely due to the higher typical Vf values), you should definitely see greater output for a Q5 light. Not sure what the issue is with my E3P - I have tried cleaning the contacts, with no effect.
Lo output: Low mode runtime on the Elements is very good. On alkaline, output and runtime are in the same ballpark as other current-controlled lights like Fenix and Olight (Olight T10 not shown above, but looks very similar to the E3P curve). This suggests to me that JetBeam is using a similar current-controlled circuit for these lights. As you can see, this is definitely far more efficient than the continuously-variable IBS circuitry (i.e. look at the Jet-I PRO IBS lo alkaline runtime graph).
Aside from the lower than expected output on Hi for the E3P, both lights performed as expected in my testing.
As previously mentioned, I think the stainless steel button cover on the E3P could use some tweaking to improve the feel.
Users not familiar with stainless lights should take note of the increased weight of lights made of this material.
If you are going to give these lights out as gifts, be advised that the gift boxes can be easily dented during shipping.
I'm a fan of the simple two-stage twist mechanism for mainstream lights, as pioneered by Fenix (i.e. L1T). This interface is ideal for non-flashaholics, or those that favour the KISS principle.
The output/runtime performance of these lights on Lo is excellent, close to the current-controlled Fenix L1D. That means excellent output/runtime efficiency, as you would hope in a simple two-stage light. Good job.
Of course, what really differentiates the Element line is their sleek stainless steel construction. The lights feel very solid, and seem well-made with care and attention to detail. Fans of this material should be very pleased the final product.
That being said, I personally still favour anodized aluminum lights for their lower weight and versatility. But there is no doubt the Element lights are visually impressive - the brushed steel finish is very classy and attractive looking, IMO.
I don't know what the issue is with the equivalent output of the Q5 and Q2 versions. Aside from that, I would happily give these lights a clear as a stylish (but bulky) competitor to the classic Fenix line.
In my mind, they are most suitable as gift lights for non-flashaholics, or as "dressy" lights to bring to a classy function.