The Black Diamond Apollo lantern has been on the market for about a year now. A number of people have posted here on CPF that they have them, but no one, as far as I know, has posted any pictures. So this is my contribution.
I wanted an LED lantern for use at home during power outages. My main requirements were:
- Runs on AA batteries
- Good light quality (even and white)
I had read positive reviews of the Black Diamond Apollo on some camping web sites and when I saw it was on sale at REI, I bought one last week. I paid $34.99, normal REI price is $49.99.
The light comes in a simple cardboard box. The package identifies it as a “3 Watt” lantern but doesn’t describe the model of LED that is used. Someone in another post said they thought it was a Cree. I’m not inclined to take the light apart to try and find out.
For storage, the lantern collapses with its reflector housing telescoped down and its legs folded up. In this picture you can see the red/yellow/green battery status lights above the orange power button. Oddly, these indicators are covered when you raise the reflector housing. Supposedly, green means you have more than 50% battery power, yellow means less than 50% and red means less than 20%. I haven’t had the lantern long enough to know how accurate these will be (I’m skeptical).
Batteries are loaded by unscrewing the bottom of the lantern and inserting four AA cells into the battery carrier. The instructions that come with the light state that the light “functions with 4 AA alkaline batteries or the Black Diamond NRG rechargeable battery kit (sold separately).” The kit is a proprietary battery pack. No mention is made of lithium batteries. I used rechargeable Eneloop NiMH batteries with no problems. The battery carrier is made of thin plastic and it takes a fair amount of force to insert the batteries, which made me nervous that I might break the carrier. Otherwise the light has good build quality.
With the reflector housing and legs extended the Apollo lives up to its name by resembling a lunar lander. Since the lantern projects most of its light downward, the legs help to broaden the illuminated area. They also allow you to level the light on an uneven surface. In addition, there’s a folding ring on top for hanging the light.
The Apollo produces an even, diffused light. There are no rings or undue glare. The light is a cool (but not blue) white. A very nice feature of this lantern is the variable output level. A single press of the power button turns on the light at its brightest level. If you then press and hold the button, the light dims until it reaches its lowest level at which point it flashes once and then begins to get brighter again. You simply release the button to keep the light at the desired level.
The Apollo provides a good, useable amount of light. It lights up a room well enough to see everything, and is a good reading light within about 3 feet. Unfortunately I can’t do much of a comparison because the only other LED lantern I have is an Eveready Folding 4AA model I bought about four years ago, and that’s really in a different (dimmer) class. The Apollo’s instructions list a value of 50 lumens on high. Here's a shot in the kitchen on the highest level.
Here is the same shot on the lowest level.
And the same view with the Energizer 4AA lantern. (I think this is a second generation model - 2 leds, both on in high.)
The specs in the instructions state a runtime of 15 hours on high and 60 hours on low. This is curious because I only got about 4 hours on high with the Eneloops. Four hours at this level is adequate for my needs, but I wonder how they ever got 15 hours, especially if they are talking about alkalines.
Overall, I am pleased with the Black Diamond Apollo. There are cheaper and brighter LED lanterns available, but this one meets my needs for a quality, AA-powered emergency light.
Even, diffused light
Handy, ergonomic design
Battery carrier might break