EDIT - after almost 4 years, it was time to add some new thoughts - HERE
Ever since I read js’ outstanding review of the Lunasol 20 over here, things changed for me. Flashlights remained tools, but took on a new status that was approaching obsession. From the purchase of a simple 5 pack of metal, cheap Home Depot flashlights, to an Olight, to Surefires and then that fateful day to my first McGizmo, I discovered a hobby that, while not ‘cheap’, is still relatively inexpensive and very rewarding – one with such a following that this GREAT forum continues to get better every day, and has amazing amounts of great information. I felt that it was time for me to perhaps contribute a bit more to this forum and offer this LONG review of my new favorite light in hopes that it might help someone.
At my tender young age of 52, I am back in school working on my MBA. In marketing class just yesterday we were discussing the positioning of products. You know – if all you care about is getting from A to B, any car will do, yet many still purchase BMWs and Mercedes and other ‘luxury’ brands. An inexpensive “Old Timer” knife will provide a sharp blade for just about any chore where a knife is needed, yet we have collections of Spyderco, Benchmade and many others. For the bicyclists among us, a Huffy will let us pedal our way to our destination, yet we still own or yearn for a Trek Madone...or some handmade beauty. And if you really just want to light your way, the blister pack, $2 flashlight at the check out line at Wal-Mart will do the job – yet when McGizmo launches a new light, we clamor around like feeding time at the zoo.
And we all keep searching for the light that we consider our ‘ultimate.’ Half the fun is that we never seem to find it. Classic Gizmos circulate among us – sometimes they stick with an owner, other times we enjoy them for a while then put them back up for sale in the B/S/T. Custom builders and modders feed our passion – pushing the envelope – Don keeps introducing new lights, as do the many other great custom builders.
But I think that perhaps a point in time has come when the perfect light has arrived – at least for me, and it is the McGizmo Haiku XP-G. A classic that I will use every day (EDC) and probably never sell.
But let’s set the clock back about 7 months. After reading js’ review of the Lunasol, I knew that there was something special about all of Don’s lights and I just knew I had to have one. I sent an email to fyrstormer asking advice, and he responded with great information that only made me want a Gizmo even more. So I bought a Haiku straight from Don. It arrived. Wow. I was absolutely blown away.
Since that time I’ve managed to amass a decent collection of Gizmos – the Haiku, a Ti PD-S, Lunasol 20, Sundrop XP, 2x123 McClicky hosting a Creemator, and just this week bought a Lunasol 27 from Scout24. Plus the lone Aleph 1 custom that Donn was kind enough to part with. Hung on to a few other lights, including my Surefires and a Jetbeam M1X, but the ti McGizmos became my passion. And the day Don launched the wave of Haiku XP-Gs my order was emailed within an hour of the launch. In his usual amazingly efficient way, Don had the light to me from Hawaii to Northern Virginia in 3 days (with a little help from the post office.)
I could tell right away that it was something special – I already loved the design and the beam of the ‘original’ Haiku, but the first time I used the XP-G for a night time dog walk I thought I was seeing things – an incredible amount of throw with the most amazingly large spill I’d ever seen. Almost like having a mule that throws. An almost perfect beam that, beyond 20 feet or so, has no ‘spot’ – it just transitions into a lovely, as PoliceScannerMan said, “punchy flood." My original posting of outdoor beam shots is over here, so I won’t be redundant, but I do want to share some new photos along with commentary. Please understand that I don’t have the technical knowledge that so many of you have – this is more of an ordinary ‘Joe’s’ perspective on things.
First of all, this has to be my absolute favorite when it comes to design and aesthetics. While many like the bead blasted finish (as do I), I still prefer the look of the ‘plain’ titanium. To me, this is an absolute beauty, and this photo shows it. Incidentally, the Haiku is inside a light box and it is providing ALL the light for the shot – it is on high and aimed into an arch made from white cardboard – the reflections light the photo nicely.
Here’s another shot – my photography skills are limited, but this photo does seem to offer a glimpse into the beauty of this light.
As with all the other titanium ‘Gizmos’ in my collection, it has the absolute best clip I’ve seen. I HATE clips, as a rule – typically, I’ll take the clips off a Surefire or any other brand (too flimsy for my liking), but these clips are STRONG and they hold on – but they don’t get in the way when using the light, and they don’t ‘cut’ into my hand. js went to great detail talking about the clip in his review of the Lunasol 20, and I can’t improve on his review so I won’t try. There’s also a great photo HERE of fyrstormer showing a family of ‘Gizmos’ clipped securely in his pocket. Hope they don’t mind my hijacking their photos and commentaries!!
The 1x123 McClicky ‘host’ is becoming ubiquitous in the community of custom light lovers. Simple, efficient and easy to use. It just screams ‘quality’, from the switch to the threads to the ‘feel’ in your hand.
And of course, the business end with that amazing reflector and XP-G light engine.
This photo gives you a comparison of the XR-E and XP-G Haikus..(taken from one of Don's posts..)
But what’s really nice is the feel of the entire package in your hand. I have large hands, but I have no problem retrieving the light from my pocket and it is no problem holding on. I’ve never dropped one – the ribs (for lack of a better term) on the light head and battery tube make it easy to hold on to – and my cat “Sassy” loves the crenellations on the bezel – perfect for scratching her head and face!
As I write this, it is a snowy day in northern Virginia. Being a ‘southern boy’ originally, this cold takes some getting used to (can’t imagine being where it REALLY gets cold!) but heavy coats and thick gloves help. Wearing big gloves presents a problem for most lights – can’t hold on to the light – hard to operate the switch, etc. But not with this one. The photo shows it – these are ‘uber’ gloves, and I have no problem holding the light in any of my preferred positions, and the nice big clicky button is easy to access –
More Beam shots
One of the things that I really enjoy about js’ review of the Lunasol is his beam shots. While we all love the “shock and awe” of a powerhouse Jetbeam, Hellfighter or some butt kicking HID, in the real world we really need an EDC light that provides useful, reliable light when we need it with enough run time to get us through the day (or night.) I realize that there are many legitimate uses for these powerhouse torches (I love to use my M1X to ‘freeze’ local deer – I enjoy seeing them so close to my house), but the majority of the time we just need a level of light that will illuminate what we are looking at/for in such a way that we can easily see it. Or photograph it. Or whatever. If there is too much glare or all you get is a ‘hot’ spot with no spill, honestly, that isn’t that useful for day in and day out use. The Lunasol 20 and 27 lights obviously provide a nice balance between that flood and spot, but at a compromise (in my humble opinion) of both. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE both these lights – enough that I paid the heavy duty cost of entry to own both – but I still want a light that will provide decent color rendition, enough throw to see 50 plus feet ahead, and still offer a wide enough spill with transition from spot to spill to make it easy to see a wide area – fully illuminated.
I humbly submit that this is the amazing strength of the Haiku XP-G, and offer my beam shots on this post to demonstrate the ‘punchy’ beam characteristics. There are also many others.
But high CRI is a legitimate desire, too. I love my Sundrop XP – use it all the time for photography, but it has no throw. And I realize that Don doesn’t tout the XP-G as a high CRI emitter, but it does a pretty darn good job in this area.
I went on the web this morning searching for a color wheel – found one and printed it on glossy photo paper and took a bunch of photos using various lights. Unfortunately, the glossy photo paper created far too much glare, so I reprinted it on cheap bond paper. Granted, it doesn’t have the ‘pop’ of the colors that the photo paper had, but it is still a good reference point. I’ve also included some items that most are familiar with as related to what their color should ‘look like’ and put them, along with the color wheel, in a shoe box. This first round of photos – I have a Canon Digital Rebel (ancient by today’s standards) with a Canon 28-90 EF lens. ISO is set at 244 – shutter at 2 seconds and at f/25. I ‘failed’ at aiming the lights by hand – tried to get the spot in the same place every time, but I think it gets the point across. For convenience, I’ve created a ‘movie’ of these photos and posted it here (You tube.) The second set of photos is shown as video HERE. I think you’ll agree that all Don’s lights have great color rendition, but to me the Sundrop is the obvious ‘winner’ with a very close second from the Haiku XP-G.
Next, I decided to speed up the shutter and open up the aperture. Added a couple of items and used a mic stand for the lights, but in the course of changing the level of the light and changing the lights, I still ended up moving the spot around. It still gives you a great idea of the quality of the light output when relying on it for color rendition. ISO 244, shutter 1/30, aperture f/4.5
Included are photos of the setup showing the mic stand, light, and box – the box is about 5 feet from the light and camera.
What a great problem – deciding which light to use – but the beauty is that, as you can clearly see, the Haiku XP-G gives, in my opinion, the best attributes of all the lights.
So here you have it – a long, rambling review – but one that I hope you find useful and also one that pays tribute to the ‘man’ and his latest creation.
I stated this in another posting, but I'll say it again here:
" Still a relatively new collector, but I have still discovered a remarkable pleasure and satisfaction in the 'KISS' philosophy of flashaholism. All the concerns about lumens, blah blah, pale in comparison to the satisfaction of owning a simple, durable tool that just plain works - every time you need it.
Don's lights do that better - at least for me - than any of the others I've tried or use."