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Thread: What does [x] lumens "look like"?

  1. #1

    Default What does [x] lumens "look like"?

    I've been looking for a LED flashlight that's better than the ones I have (AAA mini maglite incandescent, maglite solitaire, cheap plastic single AA LED light, Rayovac 3 AA & 3 LED). There are a lot of choices, but I'm having a hard time determining which one to get.

    One of the hangups is what exactly does [x] lumens look like?

    For indoor use, I want a light that's not too bright, that I can leave at my bedside.

    For outdoor use, I want a light that's good around the campsite (your basic Algonquin park ones). But I also want a light that's brighter in case I have to spot campsites from a canoe after dark. This has happened before and no one in my group had a light bright enough.

    So I guess my question is, what number of lumens is appropriate for each situation?

    I understand that depending on the optics of the light, the distance to the target, the illuminance of the surface is going to be different given a certain lumen level. For indoor and around campsite use, flood mode is probably enough. For spotting campsites, a light with more throw is necessary. Additionally, the colour temperature of the light is going to be a factor (unless the lumen is already perceptually weighted?). But I am looking for some general guidelines as I look through the reviews.

    I know what the AAA mini-mag incandescent looks like, is the lumen rating at full flood and full spot an appropriate reference point (I think it's 10 to 15 lumens)?

  2. #2
    *Flashaholic* Marduke's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does [x] lumens "look like"?

    For bedside, you want very dim, <5lm at most, <1lm preferibly. For long distance, you want throw. The Fenix TK20 has good throw and a warm tint.

    The AAA Minimag is <10 lm.

  3. #3

    Default Re: What does [x] lumens "look like"?

    Marduke, as much as I respect your opinion, I also think a 700 lumen light cannon fits nicely on the bedside table too

    But yes, I keep a very dim flashlight Fenix E01 beside the bed to navigate to the bathroom or let the dogs out at night.

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* WadeF's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does [x] lumens "look like"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yucca Patrol View Post
    Marduke, as much as I respect your opinion, I also think a 700 lumen light cannon fits nicely on the bedside table too
    OP "For indoor use, I want a light that's not too bright, that I can leave at my bedside."

    700 lumens doesn't fit that request. :P

    Some of my not too bright bedside lights include:

    Fenix E01 with a home made diffuser cap.
    Quark 123A set to turn on in moon mode.
    Photon Rex, dimmer yet.

    Then there is an assortment of brighter lights for things that go bump in the night..
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  5. #5
    Flashaholic* 22hornet's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does [x] lumens "look like"?

    Hello and welcome,

    If you load both your maglites with nimh rechargable cells you will have something like:
    - Maglite Solitaire incandescent: 1 lumen
    - Maglite Minimag 2AAA incandescent: 5 lumens
    - Maglite 6 cell (C or D) incandescent, standard bulb: 100 lumens

    Your incandescent Solitaire is a nice "night-navigation" or "nightwalker" light, and so is your minimag. With ambient light, however, both are underpowered.

    With led upgrades you will have:
    - Maglite Solitaire MJLED: 5 lumens
    - Maglite Minimag 2AAA Terralux TLE-10: 10 lumens

    Both upgrades are worthwile, though the MJLED is expensive (if still available) and the replacement reflector for the TLE-10 is fragile.

    Nice upgrades exist for the larger 2AA Minimag (their replacement reflectors are better as well). A 1 Watt Nite-Ize is very nice and will provide you with some 25 lumens, which is ok for most tasks, and terralux may still have their colored led TLE-5 and their powerful TLE-5EX (advertised at 140 lumens, but "only" 60-80 real lumens). The 1W Nite-Ize is fairly well regulated with alkalines (mine shuts off at the end of a fairly consistent runtime) and does not get too hot.

    The led drop-ins from Nite-Ize and Terralux for the larger - C and D - Maglites are fine as well, but... I really cannot tell you what to buy as everybody has a different taste.

    Kind regards and enjoy yourself with your new hobby,
    Joris
    Last edited by 22hornet; 06-19-2009 at 06:42 AM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: What does [x] lumens "look like"?

    Quote Originally Posted by 1138 View Post
    For outdoor use, I want a light that's good around the campsite (your basic Algonquin park ones).
    Headlamp. You'll love zebralight for champ chores

    The fenix TK20 is also a great general purpose light for the outdoors. Great combination of spill and far-reaching hot spot.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1138 View Post
    But I also want a light that's brighter in case I have to spot campsites from a canoe after dark.
    How far away from your canoe would those potential campsites be?

    If in the ~100 meter (~110 yards, ~320 feet) range, then the TK20 would be perfect, probably a little further away as well (I'm guessing around 150 m). But if that's not at all usefull - then I think you're bordering HID territory.


    I've never tested the top range LED "look far away" lights like tiablo A9, A10, deerelight or the sunlite eagle 16w (though I'd really like to have one of the 16Ws). You may want to ask the forum about how far their useful range would be for your application. They may or may not cut it for your application. But even the weakest, cheapest HID will blow any high end LED lights out of the water.


    It's up to you to decide if the drawbacks of HIDs (either large, heavy or ridicuolus high prices, or all of the three - and not waterproof unless you pay even higher prices!) are OK for your rather limited application (camp site spotting) that you really don't do that often.


    My advice? Get the TK20 and try to plan your trips so you don't have to search for campsites in the dark... The TK20 is a GREAT general purpose light for outdoor applications, including searching for things in the 100-150 m range. If you really need to see things further away than 150 meters then get the stanley HID for around $70. Sold at amazon.com or in Walmart if you're in the US. Check out the reviews at the HID & searchlight section of CPF.
    Last edited by jankj; 06-19-2009 at 05:30 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: What does [x] lumens "look like"?

    Keep in mind that apparent brightness is relative. If you are in a very dark place, an E01 (8-10 lumen) can be too bright, but if you have more light around you can think is too dim to be useful.

    I agree with the previous posts: when camping a floody headlamp is the most useful light you can get. A second one with throw is the next best thing. Then you need to think about backup lights and...

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* jhc37013's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does [x] lumens "look like"?

    Get yourself a good multi mode light like a Fenix and go from there. That will atleast give you something to compare light levels and serve your lighting needs at the same time.
    My flashlight collection HERE

  9. #9

    Default Re: What does [x] lumens "look like"?

    Thanks everyone, your info gives me a good starting point to sort through the reviews and narrow down my choices.

    I'm currently leaning in the direction of getting a multi-mode AA light, with a low mode between 5 to 15 lumens and a high mode of whatever is reasonable for AA batteries. This will be my general purpose light that will see the most use.

    I just need to find one that's:

    - Relatively robust (don't want it breaking if I drop it on the ground)
    - Low maintenance (don't want one that needs special lubes and has parasitic drain)
    - Simple (mode switching and use should be easy to use).
    - Good runtime (low mode should last as long as possible, hopefully at least 10 to 15 hours if possible).

    Quote Originally Posted by 22hornet View Post
    Both upgrades are worthwile, though the MJLED is expensive (if still available) and the replacement reflector for the TLE-10 is fragile.
    Not really sure I want to deal with the Mags anymore. The Solitaire always turns on by accident (and completely drains the battery) if I have it in my pocket or a day pack; the twist switch is so easy to turn. I also had a lot of problems with the AAA mini-mag, the batteries are always dead after I don't use it for a while. The same type of batteries are fine in the other 2 plastic flashlights. I don't know why it's like that, but I don't want to deal with that anymore. Besides, I want a new light because Maglites are so pedestrian.

    Quote Originally Posted by jankj View Post
    Headlamp. You'll love zebralight for champ chores
    A headlamp is definitely on my list of lights to get.

    How far away from your canoe would those potential campsites be?

    If in the ~100 meter (~110 yards, ~320 feet) range, then the TK20 would be perfect, probably a little further away as well (I'm guessing around 150 m). But if that's not at all usefull - then I think you're bordering HID territory.

    I've never tested the top range LED "look far away" lights like tiablo A9, A10, deerelight or the sunlite eagle 16w (though I'd really like to have one of the 16Ws). You may want to ask the forum about how far their useful range would be for your application. They may or may not cut it for your application. But even the weakest, cheapest HID will blow any high end LED lights out of the water.


    It's up to you to decide if the drawbacks of HIDs (either large, heavy or ridicuolus high prices, or all of the three - and not waterproof unless you pay even higher prices!) are OK for your rather limited application (camp site spotting) that you really don't do that often.
    In that situation, we stayed near the shores, so between 50 to 100 m, I'd say.

    I'll have to look into the HID lamps, but I'm not currently planning on getting one since it'll be very rarely used.

    My advice? Get the TK20 and try to plan your trips so you don't have to search for campsites in the dark... The TK20 is a GREAT general purpose light for outdoor applications, including searching for things in the 100-150 m range. If you really need to see things further away than 150 meters then get the stanley HID for around $70. Sold at amazon.com or in Walmart if you're in the US. Check out the reviews at the HID & searchlight section of CPF.
    I am looking at some of the Fenix AA lights, including the TK20. From a form over function viewpoint, I like the looks of the L2T better though.

    Quote Originally Posted by vali View Post
    I agree with the previous posts: when camping a floody headlamp is the most useful light you can get. A second one with throw is the next best thing. Then you need to think about backup lights and...
    I'll probably use cheap lights as backup. Otherwise this can get expensive fast.

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* jhc37013's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does [x] lumens "look like"?

    I would then suggest a Fenix LD20 if you want something thats reasonably easier to carry around in the holster on a belt or in a deep pocket.

    What color finish are you looking for?

    You can get the black at alot of places but batteryjuntion also carries them in a very nice olive drab finish. Don't forget to use your CPF member discount codes at the many places.
    Last edited by jhc37013; 06-21-2009 at 02:27 AM. Reason: typo
    My flashlight collection HERE

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