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Thread: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

  1. #1

    Grinser2 Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Warning: Pic heavy, as usual.




    Zebralight has gone through a couple of iterations of the 1xAA forward-projecting SC50 model flashlight – although most of these have been relatively minor circuit tweaks.

    For this review, I have on hand a late model neutral-white XP-E emitter SC50w from just before the introduction of the SC50w+ version. Not much has changed - the “+” version has a new secondary Hi mode on 14500 instead of strobe (107 Lumen), and slightly brighter primary Med mode (36 instead of 33 Lumens) on both standard AA and 14500. But otherwise, the build is identical.

    I also have a soon-to-be-released new SC51 cool-white sample. The SC51 uses the newer XP-G emitter (R4 output bin), but is otherwise identical in build to the SC50 line. The circuit seems similar to the SC50w, although strobe is no longer present at all (i.e. the secondary Hi mode is available on both standard AA and 14500).

    SC50w+ Specifications (taken from Zebralight):
    • LED: Cree XP-E Neutral White (color temperature 4000-4300 K)
    • User Selectable Modes: 3 (High, Medium and Low). Each mode can be configured to one of the two sub-levels.
    • Light output values are out the front (OTF) Lumens.
    • AA (alkaline/NiMH/lithium, runtimes based on Sanyo 2700mAh NiMH)
    • High: 107 Lm (2.3 hrs) or 2Hz strobe
    • Medium: 36 Lm (10.5 hrs) or 18 Lm (21.4 hrs)
    • Low: 4.4 Lm (4 days) or 0.6 Lm (22 days)
    • 14500: Outputs same as above, except the the SC50w+ features a 169 Lm max output and a 107 Lm output as the secondary High mode (i.e. instead of 2 Hz strobe, which is still present on regular AA).
    • Battery: One AA size alkaline, 1.5V lithium primary, NiMH rechargeable, or 3.7v 14500 Li-ion rechargeable. Batteries are not included in the package.
    • Parasitic Current Drain: 5.6uA, equivalent to 55 years of battery life.
    • Beam Type: 76° spill beam spread, 8.6° (3 feet at 20 feet) hot spot
    • Dimensions: Diameter: 0.85 inch (22 mm), Length: 3.15 inch (80 mm)
    • Weight: 1.3 oz (36.5 gram) with clip, without battery or headband
    • Electronic soft-touch switch, with a 200,000 cycle operating life
    • Smart user interface provides fast and easy access to all brightness levels
    • Precision machined casing from premium grade Alcoa aluminum bar stock
    • Proprietary heat sinking design bonds the LED metal core board directly to the uni-body aluminum casing, providing unblocked thermal paths to over 94% of the surface area.
    • Durable natural hard anodized finish (Type III Class I)
    • SCHOTT ultra clear lens with anti-reflection coatings on both sides
    • Bezel down clip (pre-installed)
    • Can be used as a headlamp with the included headband (clip can remain installed when the light is on the headband)
    • Orange peel textured reflector
    • Anti-roll and tail-stand capable
    • Battery power can be locked out by slightly unscrewing the tailcap to prevent unwanted activations or parasitic drain
    • Waterproof to IPX8
    • Accessories in the package: One black silicone holder with headband, two o-rings
    • Estimated MSRP: $59

    SC51 Specifications (where different from above):
    • LED: Cree XP-G Cool White (color temperature 6100-6500 K)
    • User Selectable Modes: 3 (High, Medium and Low). Each mode can be configured to one of the two sub-levels.
    • Light Output
    • High: H1 200 Lm (0.9 hrs) or H2 140 Lm (2 hrs)
    • Medium: M1 30 Lm (12 hrs) or M2 8 Lm (39 hrs)
    • Low: L1 2.5 Lm (3 days) or L2 0.2 Lm (16 days)
    • Light output are out the front (OTF) values. Runtime tests are done using Sanyo 2000mAh Eneloop AA batteries.
    • Voltages: 0.7V - 2.5V
    • Battery: One 1.5V AA (NiMH, lithium or alkaline). 14500 Li-ion batteries are not supported. Batteries are not included in the package.
    • Parasitic Drain: Negligible (equivalent to 16 years)
    • Beam Type: 80° spill beam spread, 11° (3.8 feet at 20 feet) hot spot
    • Waterproof to IPX8 (1 meter 30 minutes)
    • Estimated MSRP: $64

    Given that the lights and packaging look identical, I will only show one set in the pics here - except for the emitter shots, of course, where I will show both samples.



    For both lights, included in the simple but firm cardboard box was the light with removable clip (attached), extra o-rings, and a one-page instruction sheet. The SC50w also came with the classic Zebralight headband with soft plastic light holder (shown above) – but the SC51 sample was lacking this accessory.



    From left to right: Duracell alkaline, Zebralight SC51, SC50w, 4Sevens Quark Mini AA, Quark AA, NiteCore D10-SP, Fenix LD10-R4, ITP SA1

    SC50w: Weight: 37.8g (no battery), Width (bezel) 22.4mm, (tailcap) 21.4mm, Length 80.5mm
    SC51: Weight: 37.4g (no battery), Width (bezel) 22.4mm, (tailcap) 21.4mm, Length 80.5mm

    As you can see, the SC50/51 series is quite tiny.

    The overall dimensions of the SC51 are exactly the same as the earlier SC50/SC50+ series – it’s only the emitter that appears different (XP-G on the SC51 instead of XP-E on the earlier models). SC50w first, followed by SC51:




    The SC51 sample I have uses a XP-G emitter with R4 output bin. The SC50w doesn’t specify an output bin for the XP-E emitter, but I understand from Zebralight that the Neutral white version currently comes from a 5B4 tint bin.

    Reflectors look identical, and are medium textured (medium orange peel), and a reasonable depth for this size light.





    The lights have flat-bottomed tailcaps and electronic control switches on their heads. The switches are covered with textured boot covers, and are easy to access. Feel of the switches are good for this type, with a lightly audible click as you make contact. Note that electronic switches are not like traditional mechanical clickies – think more like the buttons on your DVD player, flat-screen monitor, etc.

    Tailcap threads are anodized, allowing for tailcap lockout. This is important on all lights with electronic switches, since there is always some parasitic stand-by current drain to allow the switch to function. Scroll down for a discussion in this case.

    The lights can both tailstand and headstand.

    The lights come with a removable metal pocket clip, held in place by two regular Phillips head screws.

    Fit and finish on both of my samples are excellent. I really like the color – the SC51 is slightly darker than my SC50w specimen, but that is just natural anodizing lot variability. Either way, I personally quite like dark green-grey color. In both cases, the tailcaps are well-matched to the bodies. The overall effect is very similar to a number of Nitecore, JetBeam and SUNWAYLED lights. I would consider the anodizing of Zebralights to be in the same category as those makers.

    One interesting feature – absolutely no identifying or warning labels of any sort on either light. Kind of a refreshing change, to be honest.

    There is little ridge detail or knurling, so I recommend you keep the clip on these lights. The heatsinking fins around the head do provide some additional grip, though.

    Beamshots

    Sorry for the quality of the beamshots – I’ve recently moved, and haven’t had a chance to set up a proper beamshot closet yet. What you are looking at below is un-primed drywall, with a range of spakle/sanding marks.

    All lights are on Max, ~0.5m from a white wall on Sanyo Eneloop. The camera was set to automatic white balance, and the SC50w doesn’t look that warm in real life.






    Although the un-primed drywall makes things a bit messy, you can see that the SC50/SC51 have a wider beam profile than the Fenix LD10-R4. Throw on the Zebralights are reasonable for this class.

    For an explanation and discussion of the various tints – including outdoor shots comparing how they look – please see my 4Sevens Mini Tint Comparison - Warm, Neutral, Cool White . The SC50w is slightly warmer than the Mini Neutral used in that comparison, but you’ll get the general idea.

    User Interface

    The Zebralights have a fairly unique user interface. While it may sound a little complex when first described, it is actually quite easy to use. Both the SC51 and SC50w function the same way, but there have been a few mode changes over time on the SC series.

    On/off and mode switching is controlled by the electronic clicky switch. There are 6 possible output modes on either light, arranged in two sets of 3. Each output set is Lo – Med – Hi. There are two possible outputs at each level, commonly referred to as 1 or 2 (e.g. Lo1, Lo2, Med1, Med2, Hi1, Hi2). The light has independent mode memory to recall your preference at each of the Lo, Med, Hi levels.

    The SC50 series features a 2Hz strobe mode as the secondary Hi, and lacks a memory feature at this level (i.e. Hi1 constant output is the only memorized option). The updated SC50+ series features a 107 Lumen secondary Hi on 14500 only, as well a slightly brighter primary Med mode on both standard AA batteries (NiMH, alkaline, L91) and 14500.

    The SC51 has dispensed with the strobe mode altogether, and has a constant output secondary Hi mode on all batteries. Mode memory has been re-enabled at this level (i.e. you can select and memorize either Hi1 or Hi2)

    From Off, a quick click turns on the light to Hi1 (SC50/SC50+) or your preferred Hi (SC51) instantly. Click quickly again to cycle from Hi to Med, and Low. You need to perform these clicks rapidly if you want to switch modes this way (i.e. from Off, single-click is Hi, double-click is Med, triple-click is Lo). After about a second or so of being On, a quick click will simply turn the light off.

    Alternatively, from Off, a slightly longer press and hold (i.e. >0.5 sec) turns on the light to your preferred Lo mode.

    To advance from one mode to the next while the light is On, press and hold to cycle through Lo, Med and Hi, repeatedly (you can do this directly from Off too). Release the switch to select the level. As before, a quick click turns off the light.

    Double click at any level to toggle between the two sub-levels for that level (i.e. 1 or 2). The light will memorize your choice and return to it next time you cycle or turn on at this level (except for Strobe on the SC50/SC50+). The memory even lasts through battery changes.

    And that’s it – it is really very simple. Once you get used to the timings, you can basically have the light do anything you want, with your preferred Lo and Hi being the most directly accessible from Off.

    Strobe/PWM:

    SC50w:



    The SC50/SC50+ strobe mode is a refreshingly slow “signaling” strobe of 2Hz. For once, we don’t have to put up with nauseating “tacticool” strobes on a 1xAA light.



    On the SC30/H31 series lights I reviewed previously, PWM was in the visible range on the secondary output modes (Lo2, Med2, Hi2) – typically 120-900 Hz. I am happy to report my SC50w sample only has measurable PWM on the Med2 level – and at an extremely high 3.7 kHz.

    SC51:




    However, I am sad to report that the SC51 has reverted to visible PWM on Lo2 and Med2 levels. Worse than that, the Lo2 mode is at a very visible 69 Hz (the Med2 is not as bad at 437 Hz).

    This might have something to do with moving to the XP-G emitter, but I am sad to see a return to the low PWM freq – and one that is about half as fast as the older SC30/H31.

    Parasitic Stanby Drain:

    On the SC30/H31 lights, parasitic drain was typically sufficient to drain a fully charged cell in 1 year (for RCR) or 3 years (for primary CR123A). So how do these 1xAA brethren fare? The following were measured using a DMM:

    SC50w: 7.4 uA on 14500, 2.3 uA on Eneloop NiMH
    SC51: 41.8 uA on 14500, 14.2 uA on Eneloop NiMH

    Assuming a standard 900mAh protected 14500, and a 2000mAh Eneloop NiMH, these currents would translate into:

    SC50w: 13.9 years on 14500, 99.3 years on Eneloop
    SC51: 2.5 years on 14500, 16.1 years on Eneloop

    Clearly, the SC50w drain is absolutely nothing to worry about. While the drain is higher on the SC51 it is still very good – certainly better than the earlier SC30 series.

    Testing Method: All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's flashlight reviews 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.

    Throw values were taken at 1 meter for all lights shown below.

    Throw/Output Summary Chart:





    And no, those output numbers for the SC51 on Eneloop are not misprints!

    Scroll down for a discussion ...

    Output/Runtime Comparison













    I don’t know the output bin of the SC50w, but its performance is quite good for a neutral-white XP-E emitter. It certainly matches or exceeds most R2-equipped cool white lights in my collection. No surprises – all modes tested did very well on all batteries

    So how do you top that? Enter the SC51 - performance on standard batteries (Eneloop NiMH, alkalkine, L91) is simply outstanding.

    Zebralight informed me that the SC51 was optimized for standard batteries, but I wasn’t expecting this kind of performance. Output/runtime efficiency clearly outperforms even the Fenix LD10-R4 – in some cases by as much as 50% or more! Max output is also noticeably higher than the Fenix (which was itself head-and-shoulders above the other lights in my collection). The Eneloop, L91 and alkaline graphs all tell the story pretty well!

    So has the SC51 skimped on 14500 performance? Not all – in fact, I would say it performs as well as any other light given the R4 output bin.

    Something else to note – the regulation pattern (on all batteries) is excellent – perfectly flat in all cases except max output.

    Potential Issues

    The lights use PWM for the lower outputs of the Med/Lo settings. On the SC50w, I was unable to detect the frequency on Lo, and found a virtually undetectable 3.7 kHz on Med. However, the SC51 has a very noticeable 69 Hz on the lower Lo, and a more reasonable 437 Hz on the lower Med.

    Although my SC50w took all my AW protected 14500 (including the older flat-top ones), my SC51 wouldn’t light up on any of them initially. I had to use a small magnet spacer on the positive contact pole of the battery for it to work. I don’t know if this is natural variability, or if there’s been a circuit change on the SC51. I note there is a quick flash when first making battery contact on the SC51, something that I do not see on the SC50w.

    A parasitic standby current is needed for the electronic switch, but the levels are not a concern for either light (i.e. several years, to decades, of battery life). And in any case, the light can be easily locked-out by a twist of the tailcap.

    UPDATE January 7, 2011: Having EDCed the SC50w for several months now, I can tell you of another issue - the light easily turns on if something presses against the switch in your holster/pocket. You need to lock the light out at the tailcap to prevent this. Otherwise, you may notice some heat coming from your pants - the light usually comes on in Max with a quick press. I've also had a few cases of finding it on Lo/Med, with a nearly depleted battery after being on for hours.

    Preliminary Observations

    To start, I found that the SC50w performed admirably – and consistently - on all battery sources. Although Zebralight doesn’t provide an output bin for its XP-E emitter, I’d estimate somewhere around a R2 output level compared to other lights I’ve tested. I'm not generally a huge fan of neutral-warm tints, but I like the 5B4 tint bin of the SC50w.

    Some of the small issues that detracted from the 1xCR123A-based H31/SC30 Zebralights I recently reviewed have been fixed. The standby current has been reduced to negligible levels (i.e. 14/99 years before draining a 14500/Eneloop). The PWM has been raised to virtually undetectable levels (i.e. 3.7 kHz on lower Med, unmeasurable on lower Lo).

    Basically, the SC50w is great little 1xAA light. I've been EDCing it for the last month, and have been happy with its performance.

    But it is also on the verge of being replaced by the SC51 – sporting the new XP-G R4. More than that, the SC51’s circuit has been tweaked for outstanding standard battery performance (i.e. Eneloop, NiMH, alklakine, L91 lithium).

    I’m frankly at a loss … I don’t understand how Zebralight has managed to pull off this sort of performance. The SC51 blows away every XP-E light in my collection – both in terms of output/runtime efficeincy, and max output. For goodness sakes, it's max output on Eneloop is higher than most modern 1xAA lights on 14500!

    And 14500 performance is still fine on the SC51 – while not as outstanding as the standard battery runtimes, it is consistent with a R4 output bin. Note though that I typically needed to use a small magnet spacer for the protected 14500s to make contact in the SC51 (something I didn’t need on the SC50w). Not sure why - the lights look to be the same build.

    If this sort of performance is the wave of the future, I’m looking forward to more XP-G based 1xAA lights!
    ----

    UPDATE 9/11/2010: I've gotten some updates from Zebralight on the issues identified for the SC51 in the review:
    • The H51 and SC51 share the same circuit (a buck-boost, that has been heavily optimized since the original H50)
    • My engineering sample had a lower PWM, but the final shipping version should be close to those found in the SC30/H31 (i.e. twice what I found on the SC51).
    • ZL explains that they use lower freq PWM in the Low2 level for improved circuit efficiency. They claim to be able to filter out the visible PWM with the capacitor in the output stage, even though the PWM may still be detectable by oscilloscope.
    • The positive contacts used in the SC51 are simply from a new batch, which presumably explains the heightened sensitivity to flat tops. Nothing is changed in terms of positive polarity detection.
    • ZL confirmed that parasitic drain is lower on the AA-series lights, compared to their other offerings. They say they will try to implement this feature on the SC30/SC60/H31 lights in the future.
    • One minor difference between the SC50 and SC51 that I didn't note - the threading is a bit thicker now - 1.25mm pitch. In addition to the same circuit, the SC51 and H51 also use the same thread, and tailcap.

    ----

    SC50w was provided by GoingGear.com for review. SC51 was provided by Zebralight for review.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 03-10-2011 at 09:16 AM.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Outdoor 100-yard Beamshots 2011. Latest: Olight S20R.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  2. #2
    gunga's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    I can't wait for the neutral XP-G Zebralights. I hope they have them on the way, I have about 3 Zebralights in mind but am waiting for neutral XP-G. Thanks for the wonderful review!


  3. #3

    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Good stuff!!! Thanks for the review. Please review the H51F also when it comes out.
    Last edited by davidt1; 09-08-2010 at 03:48 PM.
    EDC: Zebralight H52w; Backup/loaner: Olight i3S
    Zebralight Mods: http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...d.php?t=293092
    The only useful tool is the one you have with you when you need it.

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* tre's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Wow! I am amazed how bright that thing is in the ceiling bounce test. That is brighter than most single Cr123a lights. That just went to the top of my list. I love my SC50+ and my SC30. I think I would love an SC51 even more. My SC50+ is going to be a gift for somebody when the SC51 comes out. amazing light. Simply amazing output/run time on an AA.
    Thanks for another great review.

  5. #5
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Great review selfbuilt!

    I have the original SC50 - EDCing that for about 4 months now and it has been a great EDC. As for the SC51, I am especially impressed with the Nimh performance on high. No need to mess around with a 14500. The beam from the XP-G is definitely bigger and more usable for EDC applications. The low frequency PWM is a little disappointing, since I use the low-low is one of my more popular modes. I hope Zebralight fixes that in that production release or is this it?.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic chenko's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    I'm definitely in for a SC51w when it will be available! It's a little dream-come-true light.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Quote Originally Posted by gunga View Post
    I can't wait for the neutral XP-G Zebralights.
    Quote Originally Posted by tre View Post
    Wow! I am amazed how bright that thing is in the ceiling bounce test. That is brighter than most single Cr123a lights.
    Quote Originally Posted by chenko View Post
    I'm definitely in for a SC51w when it will be available! It's a little dream-come-true light.
    Yeah, the SC51 performance is surprising! If they come out with a neutral version of the XP-G, I am sure all the members of this forum would be all over it.

    Quote Originally Posted by LiteShow View Post
    I have the original SC50 - EDCing that for about 4 months now and it has been a great EDC. As for the SC51, I am especially impressed with the Nimh performance on high. No need to mess around with a 14500. The beam from the XP-G is definitely bigger and more usable for EDC applications. The low frequency PWM is a little disappointing, since I use the low-low is one of my more popular modes. I hope Zebralight fixes that in that production release or is this it?.
    Good points - I have actually been EDCing the SC50w for over a month now (on 14500), and find I quite like it.

    Honestly, I'm not sure if I'll switch to SC51 for EDC. Even though it is brighter on eneloop than the SC50w on 14500 (!), I've grown quite fond of the neutral-white emitter and lack of visible PWM. I am quite sensitive to PWM, and will do almost anything to avoid it.

    Dunno if there's any chance of ZL revising that before the release - I doubt it, since the SC30/H31 series also had visible PWM on the lower level. It is just the SC50w that seems to live in a "sweet spot" of undetectable PWM, for some reason.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Outdoor 100-yard Beamshots 2011. Latest: Olight S20R.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  8. #8
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Under your run time graphs you wrote XR-E instead of XP-E for the nw SC50 FYI.

    Man I really wanted the SC51(w) but the SC50w I had was really a great light too.
    Travis

    Various Neutral Tinted Goodness.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    The SC51's output and regulation is stunning on eneloops, truly a next generation light .

    I just received a H51 yesterday, and I understand it uses the same circuit as the SC51 (certainly the low2 has a noticeable pwm frequency, but it doesn't worry me too much). It is an amazing little light, hitting the triple point of price, performance, and design for me.

    Zebralight is now arguably the leader in circuit design for AA's, a front runner for appealing physical design and UI design, and in my opinion one of the most talented flashlight manufacturers around.

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* AlphaZen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    I’m frankly at a loss … I don’t understand how Zebralight has managed to pull off this sort of performance. The SC51 blows away every XP-E light in my collection – both in terms of output/runtime efficeincy, and max output. For goodness sakes, it's max output on Eneloop is higher than most modern 1xAA lights on 14500!
    The SC51 is certainly a leap forward in technology.

    Thank you, Selfbuilt, for the excellent review. I appreciate your candor and it was interesting to read your comments. I could feel your sense of amazement with what Zebralight has pulled off.

    I want one...bad.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Quote Originally Posted by qtaco View Post
    The SC51's output and regulation is stunning on eneloops, truly a next generation light .

    I just received a H51 yesterday, and I understand it uses the same circuit as the SC51 (certainly the low2 has a noticeable pwm frequency, but it doesn't worry me too much). It is an amazing little light, hitting the triple point of price, performance, and design for me.

    Zebralight is now arguably the leader in circuit design for AA's, a front runner for appealing physical design and UI design, and in my opinion one of the most talented flashlight manufacturers around.
    +1. I find Zebralights to have the best UI of all AA lights around, and the side-clickie is very appealing. They also have a reasonable low-low, and a sturdy pocket clip.

    Its on my list, but the price is heavy for my wallet now.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post



    I can't tell- where the clip attaches, are those two protrusions & ring permanently connected to the body, or is it a separate part that removes once you unscrew the clip? Just curious if removing the clip would render a more streamlined body underneath, like their headlamps.

    Also, you mentioned locking it out. WOuld it be possible with this type of button to just leave it on a given setting, then turning it off & on by only twisting the tailcap? Or it will be twist tailcap, push button every time if you lock it out? Either way it's great you can lock it out. And I'm glad I waited for this one instead of letting their sc60 force me into using a battery type I wasn't excited about. Thanks for another great review as always S.B.

  13. #13
    Flashaholic* Lite_me's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    I've been waiting for this review. Thanks selfbuilt! Great job as always.
    "Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it."

  14. #14

    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Thanks for the support everyone.

    Quote Originally Posted by AlphaZen View Post
    The SC51 is certainly a leap forward in technology. ... I could feel your sense of amazement with what Zebralight has pulled off.
    When you review a lot of lights as I do, you are always on the lookout for something new. Of course, that doesn't mean its useful or functional for everyone - the Icon Rogue comes to mind. I enjoyed delving into the exact behaviour of the circuit, although my apparent enthusiasm for discovery wasn't shared by everyone (I recall taking some crap in some quarters for "wasting" my time on it, for example ).

    The SC51 is different - what impresses me in this case (and what isn't obvious from a surface examination) is the performance of the circuit on standard batteries. The graphs speak for themselves - I've never seen anything quite like it. The perfectly flat regulation on the secondary Hi mode is particularly impressive, given that the level is higher than most lights Max output (i.e. look at the alkaline or L91 graphs). Of course, while regulation patterns are interesting to me, what matters to the end user is really the other tidbit to be gleaned in the graphs - it runs more than twice as long as the competition for the same (or more) output!

    Although I don't plan on doing the lower output mode runtimes (they just take too long, and results can be more variable), it certainly seems like the SC51 is the light to recommend on standard batteries.

    Quote Originally Posted by leon2245 View Post
    I can't tell- where the clip attaches, are those two protrusions & ring permanently connected to the body, or is it a separate part that removes once you unscrew the clip? Just curious if removing the clip would render a more streamlined body underneath, like their headlamps.
    No, the attachment point is permanent - it remains if you remove the clip.

    Also, you mentioned locking it out. WOuld it be possible with this type of button to just leave it on a given setting, then turning it off & on by only twisting the tailcap?
    No, locking out the tailcap turns off the light - you would needed to press the switch again to re-activate once the tailcap is re-tightened. But of course, your selection of relative outputs for each level is maintained, and it's pretty easy to jump to the level you want from off (i.e. Hi or Lo directly from off, Med is just an extra long press-hold from off).

    Quote Originally Posted by LiteShow View Post
    The beam from the XP-G is definitely bigger and more usable for EDC applications.
    A thought occurs to me here - both my lightbox and ceiling bounce measures are similarly affected by beam pattern. Lights with narrow spill beams focused for throw tend to report lower than lights with wider and more diffuse spill. So it's possible the tables and runtime graphs are artificially giving the SC51 a slight output advantage compared to some lights. But this effect likely isn't huge - and after all, a number of the other lights also have wider dispersion beams.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 09-09-2010 at 08:48 AM.
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    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    +

    Looks like Zebralight has set the bar for single AA lights,
    simple & efficient,...just like it should be
    {the PWM does need to be increased}}}

    thanks again selfbuilt..
    Last edited by orbital; 09-09-2010 at 09:51 AM. Reason: add

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    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Oh, so, close... I've been waiting to hear more opinions on the SC50 and now a soon to be released model hits most of my hot buttons... great runtimes on AA's... the utility and form factor suit me to a T. But... but... I'm really disappointed to learn about the SC51's low frequency PWM on the lower modes indicated. I'd prefer it didn't employ pwm at all (and still deliver the same performance) but would certainly park my PWM predjudice if the frequency was higher and undetectable to at least the human eye.

    (Detectable by the human eye or not, I don't like PWM as a rule as it frequently interfers with some bike computers)

    I am also sensitive to low frequency light oscillation - back in the day of CRT's it seemed like I was the only one in the office bothered by 60Hz sync on monitors and I'd go around and fix everyone's device. PWM also interferes with some bike computers.

    Still I'm very interested in the smaller form factor and love the side clicky for regular users and would probably buy three of these in a heartbeat (my wife wants a headlamp, I'd like to get her something like this that does double duty as well as a couple or three more for my boys and myself) if not for the low freq. pwm.

    Hopefully a newer release addresses this and I'll be shopping then.
    Last edited by tandem; 09-09-2010 at 09:20 PM. Reason: note on why I don't like pwm in general

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    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    A great review as usual SB, but I cannot find a ZL SC51 anywhere...

    There are all sorts of SC50+, no SC51's that I can find. Are you sure you didn't mean H51?

  18. #18

    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Quote Originally Posted by tandem View Post
    Hopefully a newer release addresses this and I'll be shopping then.
    There's always the SC50/SC50+ series (while still available) .... the SC50w I tested here performed quite well for the class, and no visible PWM.

    Quote Originally Posted by TwinBlade View Post
    A great review as usual SB, but I cannot find a ZL SC51 anywhere...
    I don't believe any of the dealers have in on hand yet. Should be released soon by ZL, but I don't have an ETA. I gather the H51 is now out - so I imagine the SC51 should be shipping soon.
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    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Right on man.

    Any input on who the "usual" stockers will be? I am very interested in this pocket carry pal...

  20. #20

    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    This one has just gone to the top of my purchase list. Unless of course you get to do a review of the H51 and they have the same beam profile. Incredible. Maybe I'll have to get a warm full flood version of the H51 instead. Zebralight were claiming 200 lumens out of the H51 and it looks like they have delivered if this is anything to go by.

    These are the claimed runtimes by ZL for H51. They look pretty close to SC51:
    Light Output
    High: H1 200 Lm (0.9 hrs) or H2 100 Lm (2.1 hrs)
    Medium: M1 30 Lm (12 hrs) or M2 8 Lm (39 hrs)
    Low: L1 2.5 Lm (3 days) or L2 0.2 Lm (19 days)

    Thanks selfbuilt and thanks zebralight!

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    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Nice reviews.

    Perhaps I missed it but one thing I didn't see mention of anywhere in the review is the maximum lumen output of the SC50w (and w+) on High 1 on 14500's, which is 169 lumen OTF according to ZL. H2, as was mentioned in the review, is 107 lumen on 14500s.

    I find I use the 0.6 lumen lower low a lot on my SC50w+ (in fact I frequently leave it on that level all night since it has a 22 day runtime on the lower low level) so I would hope that ZL fixes the noticeable PWM issue on the low level for the production version of the SC51. I would rather have the 31 less lumens OTF of the SC50w+ on H1 (max with 14500s), than put up with noticeable PWM on the low modes of the SC51, but that's just my preference, of course.

    It's nice that the hotspot is a little larger on the SC51 than it is on the SC50. Wish the transition to spill was a little smoother though (iows, wish the spill was a bit brighter) on both models, even if achieving that required making the large size of the spill area a little smaller.
    Last edited by pae77; 09-09-2010 at 11:57 PM.
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    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    There's always the SC50/SC50+ series (while still available) .... the SC50w I tested here performed quite well for the class, and no visible PWM.
    Couldn't go there now as I'm an AA runtime/output junkie. I've been very pleased with my Fenix LD10 R4 in that regard and up to this point had planned on picking up a few more but given your evaluation of the SC51 I'll have to consider that plan.

    Given the following from your review:

    However, the SC51 has a very noticeable 69 Hz on the lower Lo, and a more reasonable 437 Hz on the lower Med.
    ... I could probably live with that for biking as the lower low and medium are not of interest for riding, only the higher and lower highs are of any use, plus strobe (eliminating the H51 in my mind). I wonder if the light employs PWM in its strobe modes; hopefully not. I've found PWM from various lights quite reliably interferes with the operation of wireless (wheel motion sensor is not wired to computer) bike computers.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    So I'm only aware of PWM from CPF, but never noticed it on l1, l4, l5, and a fenix & brinkmann LED- am I just not sensitive to it, or do these models not use this technology at all? They all appear to blink when I point them at a fan (ceiling fan test?), but so do the incans.


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    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Quote Originally Posted by leon2245 View Post
    So I'm only aware of PWM from CPF, but never noticed it on l1, l4, l5, and a fenix & brinkmann LED- am I just not sensitive to it, or do these models not use this technology at all? They all appear to blink when I point them at a fan (ceiling fan test?), but so do the incans.
    Not all lights have PWM. Using a light in rain or snow is a good test for it: If you see streaks coming down, it's because of low frequency PWM strobing.

    Between the PWM and running my SC50w+ on a 14500, I think I'll pass on upgrading to the SC51w when it comes out. And hearing that the H51 has low-frequency PWM is disappointing... hope that gets fixed to SC50 frequency levels.

    I don't think the SC51 and H51 have the exact same circuit; ZL's been saying the headlamp's not compatible with the voltage of 14500 cells, and they don't seem to blow up the SC51...

  25. #25

    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Floppy View Post
    These are the claimed runtimes by ZL for H51. They look pretty close to SC51:
    Light Output
    High: H1 200 Lm (0.9 hrs) or H2 100 Lm (2.1 hrs)
    Medium: M1 30 Lm (12 hrs) or M2 8 Lm (39 hrs)
    Low: L1 2.5 Lm (3 days) or L2 0.2 Lm (19 days)
    Quote Originally Posted by yowzer View Post
    I don't think the SC51 and H51 have the exact same circuit; ZL's been saying the headlamp's not compatible with the voltage of 14500 cells, and they don't seem to blow up the SC51...
    It's a good question - Zebralight hasn't informed of the specs for the SC51. They also didn't confirm 14500 compatibility - I just went ahead and tested that myself. It's possible the lights could use the same circuit - there is certainly precedent for that in their other SC/H models. Time will tell ...

    Quote Originally Posted by pae77 View Post
    Perhaps I missed it but one thing I didn't see mention of anywhere in the review is the maximum lumen output of the SC50w (and w+) on High 1 on 14500's, which is 169 lumen OTF according to ZL. H2, as was mentioned in the review, is 107 lumen on 14500s.
    Sorry, accidentally dropped that when condensing the spec text. It's added back in.

    Quote Originally Posted by tandem View Post
    I could probably live with that for biking as the lower low and medium are not of interest for riding, only the higher and lower highs are of any use, plus strobe (eliminating the H51 in my mind). I wonder if the light employs PWM in its strobe modes; hopefully not. I've found PWM from various lights quite reliably interferes with the operation of wireless (wheel motion sensor is not wired to computer) bike computers.
    Interesting finding about wireless bike sensors, I've never heard of that one before.

    For a full power strobe, there would be no additional cycle sequence within the constant output. In essence, you get very slow PWM - 2 cycles per second (strobe) instead of hundreds or thousands of cycles per second (PWM). If you had a light with a low output strobe, then I suppose it's possible that PWM could be used (although I would expect a low current would be far more likely).
    Quote Originally Posted by leon2245 View Post
    So I'm only aware of PWM from CPF, but never noticed it on l1, l4, l5, and a fenix & brinkmann LED- am I just not sensitive to it, or do these models not use this technology at all? They all appear to blink when I point them at a fan (ceiling fan test?), but so do the incans.
    Fenix doesn't use PWM for its low mode - all are current controlled. Frankly, PWM isn't really an issue if the freq is high enough. It is pretty much undetectable in kHz range, and typically only enters your perception threshold somewhere <1kHz. Under ~200 Hz or so is very noticeable for those who are sensitive to it. You will see it as a corner-of-your-eye "flicker" (or more accurately, latent "ghost" images during your eye saccades).

    Most makers who use it keep the frequency high, but some circuit designs make that difficult (for technical reasons that I am not an expert on).
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  26. #26
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    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Hi Selfbuilt,

    Would you be able to measure the current draw at the tail cap of the SC51 in high mode using a nimh?

    The current draw on my SC50 in high mode using a nimh is about 1.1 A - with a rated 122 lumens output. I am just curious how much current is needed for the SC51 to push 14500 brightness using only 1.2 volts.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Quote Originally Posted by LiteShow View Post
    Would you be able to measure the current draw at the tail cap of the SC51 in high mode using a nimh?
    Ok, but first with the BIG caveat that I don't trust tailcap current draws on max output. Even on my DMM's 10A scale, I know from previous testing the actual output tends to drop somewhat when doing these, suggesting a resistance issue somewhere with the DMM. That being said, here are the initial readings that I get with a Sanyo Eneloop NiMH:

    SC50w: 1.15A on max Hi (i.e. 107 Lm for the "w" version, 120 Lm for the cool white equivalent)
    SC51: 2.15A on max Hi (i.e. 200 Lm?)
    SC51: 1.05A on secondary Hi (i.e. 100 Lm?)

    Lumen estimates for the SC51 are simply based on the H51 numbers - I have no reliable info yet. But these numbers do seem reasonable for those potential specs.
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  28. #28
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    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    Interesting finding about wireless bike sensors, I've never heard of that one before.
    Within the night cycling community it's a known problem for a while now and it seems a great many wireless bike computers are affected. I suspect the magnet-induced signal from the wheel sensor is transmitting a fairly simple digital pulse; some more advanced units might include some basic encoding to avoid cross talk between nearby bikes. Typically what happens is when a light using PWM is within proximity (mounted on the handlebar) the computer either freezes or registers no motion regardless of current velocity. Simple EMI jamming!

    I've not used an all-metal general purpose flashlight that employs PWM on my bike so I can't be sure that the EMI issue would remain present but would not be surprised.

    For a full power strobe, there would be no additional cycle sequence within the constant output.
    agreed

    If you had a light with a low output strobe, then I suppose it's possible that PWM could be used (although I would expect a low current would be far more likely).
    This may be more common in bike oriented lights which tend to use not a constant strobe at X frequency but issue instead a pattern of light bursts, higher and lower outputs. Perhaps some general purpose flashlights have a beacon-ish type mode which puts out this typically attention getting sort of pattern.

    A major bike light producer, Planet Bike, has a pretty bright product out - the "Blaze 2W" - sadly it uses PWM on both its low and strobe outputs. Running the unit on max output does not, as you'd expect, employ PWM. Sadly, strobe seems to, and that's such a common use case that it makes the output mode unusable.

    Fenix doesn't use PWM for its low mode - all are current controlled.
    And they still get great runtimes in lights like the LD10 R4.

    After discovering the PWM EMI problem with bike computers I've more or less avowed never to knowingly buy a bike light or flashlight (that could see duty on a bike) that uses PWM. In the case of the SC51 it at least has output levels that are not so afflicted and these are more likely the levels that would be actually used on a moving bike.

    I could see an H51 or SC51 worn on my noggin... I'll have to try a test with a known offender attached to my helmet to see if the increased separation is enough to minimize EMI jamming.
    Last edited by tandem; 09-10-2010 at 12:28 PM.

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    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    Quote Originally Posted by yowzer View Post
    I don't think the SC51 and H51 have the exact same circuit; ZL's been saying the headlamp's not compatible with the voltage of 14500 cells, and they don't seem to blow up the SC51...
    One notable difference is the lack of a strobe output in the H51's published specs unless I've missed that somewhere.

    Oops, ignore the above, I confused the SC50 with the SC51, according to Selfbuilt's review the SC51 dropped strobe mode, and published specs on the H51 also indicate no strobe output. Hmnn, that's a negative for bikers for the H51/SC51. I use strobe output on the LD10 all the time during the day for riding in traffic. it'd have been nice to optionally enable it.
    Last edited by tandem; 09-10-2010 at 01:00 PM. Reason: re-read review and noted strobe missing on SC51 too.

  30. #30

    Default Re: Zebralight SC51 (XP-G R4) & SC50w (XP-E Neutral) 1xAA Reviews: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOT

    This was the review I've been waiting for.

    What impresses me most is the SC51's output on High2 mode, the Fenix LD10 R4 has been independently measured at over 170 lumens OTF on turbo. The SC51 on H1 shows possibly the 200 lumen claimed, but the H2 shows what appears to be roughly 150 lumens from a single eneloop for 90 minutes! Even more than advertised on the specs of the H51.

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