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Thread: Eagletac M3C4 SST50 - New SMO and Deep Reflector - Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

  1. #1

    Cool Eagletac M3C4 SST50 - New SMO and Deep Reflector - Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, etc.

    Warning: even more pic heavy than usual

    Eagletac has recently revised its M3C4 - SST-50 model (reviewed here) to a new version with a smooth and deep reflector for more throw. This review will compare to this version (labelled as SMO-Deep throughout) to the original M3C4-SST-50 (OP).

    To make them easier to compare, my new SST-50 (SMO-Deep) is in the black body, while my original SST-50 (OP) is in the dark gray natural finish.

    M3C4 SST-50 (SMO-Deep):



    M3C4 SST-50 (OP)



    Specs haven't changed - aside from the head/reflector. Common specs for the M3C4 SST-50:
    • Luminus SST-50 W65S WJ LED (maximum output, single LED)
    • O.T.F. lumen output: 16/56/172/376/800
    • LED lumen output: 20/70/215/470/1000
    • Battery: two 18650 rechargeable or four CR123A primary
    • Runtime: 1.5/3.5/8/28/100+ hours
    • One-piece flashlight head design (from the top of the knurling area to the battery contact point behind the head). This allows optimal LED heatsink capability and operational reliability. The flashlight head is not sealed and user can gain access to the inside of the lens and reflector.
    • Note: the new SMO-Deep reflector has a bigger head than the original OP version
    • Durable hard anodization coating in HA (type III) finish (40 μm in thickness and 350-380 HV in hardness).
    • Reflector design in SMO (deep) instead of original Light OP finish
    • The tail-stand tail-cap receives a new durable protective coating. The package also come with a para-cord lanyard with darken holding clip that fits in the tail-cap lanyard hole. The controller ring also receives the new durable protective coating.
    • The Flashlight head and the body are o-rings and square-rings sealed for operating in harsh and wet environments. Reverse battery polarity protection has been implemented on the battery tray for each battery channel. The water-proof tail-cap now uses stainless steel 304 mounting screws with hex heads.
    • Included accessories:
    • CNC machined 304 Stainless steel bezel
    • Included diffuser filter. YRGB filter kit (yellow for fog and rain) is optional.
    • Paracord lanyard with darken pocket clips and split ring
    • M series nylon holster
    • Estimated MSRP: ~$170

    Packaging hasn't changed from my earlier review. Included with the light are extra o-rings, wrist lanyard, warranty card and manual, primary battery holders, clicky-switch battery carrier, diffuser (swappable with the removable bezel ring) and a good quality nylon case that fits the light well.



    M3C4 SST-50 (SMO-Deep):


    M3C4 SST-50 (OP):




    From left to right: AW Protected 18650, M3C4 SST-50 (OP), M3C4 SST-50 (SMO-Deep), M3C4 3xR5 XP-G with optional clicky switch installed.

    As you can see, the height has increased. Basically, the new head is 7.2mm taller, and 19.5g heavier. Total dimensions are thus:

    M3C4 SST-50 SMO-Deep: Length: 165mm, Width: 61mm (bezel), Weight: 354.2g
    M3C4 SST-50 OP: Length: 158mm, Width: 61mm (bezel), Weight: 334.7g

    Bezel diameter has not changed - the bundled diffuser and optional colored filters still fit as before.

    The internals are the same, so the rest of these body photos are taken directly from my original M3C4 review. Please see that review for a more detailed discussion of the build.



    Like other members of the M3C4 family, the light features anodized screw threads, allowing for head lock-out.

    The lights come in the two types of type III anodizing, as shown above – dark gray or black. Regardless, the plastic control ring and tailcap cover are made of black plastic. Anodizing quality is top-notch on my samples. There is plenty of ridge detail to help with grip, plus some decent knurling on the head. Lettering is sharp and clear, bright-white against the dark background.




    As before, the top of the battery handle still has four Phillips-head screws holding it to the battery tube portion. I would prefer that this were a single piece of aluminum – I recommend you periodically check these screws to make sure they don’t loosen up and compromise water-resistance of the battery handle.




    No changes to the battery carrier. Note that flat-top high-capacity cells may not work in the carrier, as the plastic contact ring around the positive terminal is slightly raised. You can use CR123A cells with or without the included plastic holder.




    The M3C4 series lights use small hex screws at the tail end of the battery tube. The included Allen key may be a bit small for some of the screws (i.e. you may need to find another similarly sized tool). Be very careful not to strip any of these screws when changing the tailcap - it can happen easily. If you encounter any resistance at all, back off and try again, or try a different screw (there are extras included).

    For more on this potential issue, see my original M3C4 review and the discussion threads that followed.



    Original M3C4 SST-50 OP on the left, M3C4 SST-50 SMO-Deep on the right

    As you can see, the new SST-50 SMO-Deep is exactly that - with a deeper reflector and smooth surface. Here are some close-ups.




    For examples of what the optional YRGB colored filter kit (yellow, red, green, blue) and bundled diffuser look like in action, see my original M3C4 review.

    Beamshots

    Here are some up-close shots comparing to the original M3C4s to my new SST-50 SMO-Deep. All lights are on 2xAW protected 18650, about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall). Automatic white balance on the camera, to minimize tint differences.

    The new SMO-Deep version is listed as "Rev" in the beamshots below.













    The original M3C4 SST-50 has a similar beam pattern to other lights with an OP reflector. The new SST-50 SMO-Deep has a more defined and tighter hotspot. Throw is now similar to the Catapult V2, but with a wider spillbeam.

    I've recently updated my 100-Yard Outdoor Beamshot Round-up, including the latest M3C4 lights. Check out that round-up thread for more details on the testing method, plus higher quality JPEG images of all lights. For now, here is an animated GIF of relevant SST-50 comparisons:

    Note: The new SMO-Deep version is listed as "*new*" in the 100-yard beamshots.



    User Interface

    UI is unchanged. To turn the light on, turn the control ring clockwise (with the light pointed away from you). The light will proceed out of Standby and through Moonlight, Lo, Med, Hi and Turbo in sequence.

    To access strobe, rapidly switch from Turbo to Standby and back to Turbo again. This will replace Turbo with Strobe. Do this switch again to advance to Beacon, and again for SOS (note the manual has Beacon/SOS order reversed). Do it once more to return to standard output modes with Turbo.

    Alternatively, you can loosen the head (or click off the optional clicky switch) to break the connection to the battery carrier and fully shut off the light. This also restores the standard output modes upon re-activation.

    Note that the light moves through the output levels in a gradual fade into each level over ~1sec or so as you turn the ring (i.e. you don’t see a sharp jump/drop in output).

    With the forward clicky switch module installed, the light can be turned on in any mode by the switch (with the control ring controlling the output level as before). There is no standby current with the clicky switch in the off position.

    Note that there is a ~1sec lag to activation when the clicky switch is soft-pressed or clicked on. There is also a Med output “pre-flash” if you activate the switch with the ring in the Moonlight or Lo mode state (i.e. the light comes in Med, and fades down to Lo/Moonlight).

    My new SST-50 SMO-Deep seems to have an issue on its Moonlight mode - the output is extremely low (i.e. can stare into it comfortably), and flickers slightly. I can't get a reliable lightbox reading at this ultra-lo level. I suspect this is abnormal on this sample, and the Moonlight modes of the other two M3C4s are the norm.

    Parasitic Standby Drain

    The M3-series lights have a parasitic standby drain. I haven't re-measured it yet, but got 1170uA on my original SST-50 on standby mode. That would translate into 78 days before fully charged 2200mAh batteries would be completely drained. I therefore recommend you store the lights with the head locked-out, or use the optional clicky switch battery carrier. There is no standby current with the switched clicked in the off position.

    No PWM

    All M2- and M3-series lights appear to be fully current-controlled at all levels (so no PWM).

    Strobe/SOS/Beacon



    Strobe is unchanged at 7.9Hz.



    Beacon is a slow strobe, at 2Hz freq.


    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 any extended run Lo/Min modes (i.e. >12 hours) which are done without cooling.

    I have recently devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lighbox values to Lumens thread for more info.

    Throw/Output Summary Chart:

    Effective November 2010, I have revised my summary tables to match with the current ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.sliderule.ca/FL1.htm for a description of the terms used in these tables.



    As you can see, peak center-beam throw has increased considerably from the earlier model. The new M3C4 SST-50 SMO-Deep is now closer to the Thrunite Catapult V2 in overall output and throw.

    Note that the lowest output level (Moonlight) is too low to measure on my new SST-50 SMO-Deep sample. I suspect this is a defect, since the light seems to flicker at this ultra-low level. I expect the light should be more like the earlier M3C3 lights.

    UPDATE 3/15/2010: My M3C4 SST-50 SMO/Deep was returned for servicing, due to the Lo level issue. It now reads as 23 estimated lumens in my lightbox, which is bit higher than the other M3C4 lights in my collection (i.e. 4-14 estimated lumens). Eagletac informs me that the level is hand-tuned, so there is bound to be some variability.

    Output/Runtime Comparison

    Here’s how the new SST-50 SMO-Deep compares the original OP version:



    As you can, output levels and runtimes are pretty consistent. The difference you are seeing above is likely just sample-to-sample variation within the output and Vf bins of the SST-50 emitter. The circuit seems unchanged.

    As such, here are the original runtime comparisons from my earlier review.








    Potential Issues

    The same issues from my earlier M3C4 review apply. The tailcap hex screws seem somewhat variable is size, and may be stripped when trying to screw down. Use extreme caution when switching to or from the clicky tailswitch.

    Standby parasitic drain is still very high for the whole M3C4 series – enough to fully drain a pair of 2200mAh 18650s in less than 3 months. I recommend you store the lights with the head locked out (or with optional clicky battery carrier in the clicked off position).

    The is a Med-level pre-flash when using the clicky switch with the control ring set to Moonlight or Lo. There is also a ~1sec delay in activation when using the clicky switch to turn on.

    Flat-top 18650 cells may not work in the battery carrier, due to the raised plastic ring around the positive contact plate.

    My new SST-50 SMO-Deep sample seems to have a defective Moonlight mode (i.e. ultra-lo and flickers slightly).

    UPDATE 12/13/2010: Eagletac informs me that they manually fine-tune the very low output level on each light. It seems that my sample was tuned too low, causing the flickering. They have asked me to ship it back to them so that they can re-tune it.

    UPDATE 3/15/2010: My M3C4 SST-50 SMO/Deep was returned to me with the corrected Lo mode. It now reads as 23 estimated lumens in my lightbox, which is bit higher than the other M3C4 lights in my collection (i.e. 4-14 estimated lumens). Given that the level is hand-tuned, there is bound to be some variability.

    Preliminary Observations

    As mentioned in my original M3C4 review, the M3-series lights are a nice incremental upgrade to he older Eagletac M2-series.

    The new version of the SST-50 model – with a deeper and smooth reflector for more throw – seems to be a response to user requests. Personally, I like a floodier beam in this class of light, but many seem to prefer the option for more throw. With the bundled diffuser, I suppose everyone gets their wish!

    The SST-50 emitter is actually well suited for throw applications in one sense – there is no center beam void (as in the case of M-CE based lights). Of course, it is still hard to focus such a large die (i.e. you need a deep reflector). Although not quite at the same level of throw as the Thrunite Catapult V2, this new SMO-Deep version is close enough that you would only notice the difference if you had both lights directly side-by-side, shining off into the far distance. That makes this new M3C4 SST-50 one of the best throwers I've seen for this emitter.

    For more thoughts on this class of M3C4 lights in general, please see my earlier review.


    ------

    All M3C4 lights were provided for review by Eagletac.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 01-17-2012 at 10:12 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 SST50 - New SMO and Deep Reflector - Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, e

    Written by Dino2010 on 12-10-2010 10:55 PM GMT

    I have reviewed this M3C4 - SST-50 model to a new version is great.
    Written by brightnorm on 12-12-2010 04:29 PM GMT

    Selfbuilt,

    Another excellent, informative review. I was about to order the light but the Eagletac website makes no mention of this improved version. Do you have any suggestions on how to order the "smooth and deep" version?

    Thanks,

    Brightnorm
    Written by selfbuilt on 12-13-2010 08:10 AM GMT

    FYI, the issue around the abnormally low output has been clarified bv Eagletac.

    Apparently, they have an adjustable element on the circuit that they fine-tune manually on each light, to set the very low output level. It seems that my sample was tuned too low, causing the flickering. They have asked me to ship it back to them so that they can re-tune it.

    This likely also explains the variability in the low output noted in my original M3C4 review.

    Quote Originally Posted by brightnorm
    Another excellent, informative review. I was about to order the light but the Eagletac website makes no mention of this improved version. Do you have any suggestions on how to order the "smooth and deep" version?
    Recommend you check with their dealers directly. That way, you could insure you get what you want. Recommend you check with their dealers directly. That way, you could insure you get what you want.
    Written by nitric on 12-13-2010 08:32 PM GMT

    Great and very informative review. thanks.

    Just for info:

    the M3c4 xm-l t6 is also available, the price should be slightly cheaper than the SST-50 or triple xp-g. 39850 lux at 1 meter (given by ET) with C3000 circuit. So i think i might be getting the xm-l instead of the revised sst-50.
    Written by srwilliams55 on 12-15-2010 08:52 AM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by nitric
    Great and very informative review. thanks.
    I agree. I've learned a lot from selfbuilt's reviews. Thanks!
    Written by brightnorm on 12-25-2010 07:14 PM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by nitric
    ...the M3c4 xm-l t6 is also available, the price should be slightly cheaper than the SST-50 or triple xp-g. 39850 lux at 1 meter (given by ET) with C3000 circuit. So i think i might be getting the xm-l instead of the revised sst-50.
    Will you get them from Eagletac or can you recommend an additional dealer? Will you get them from Eagletac or can you recommend an additional dealer?

    Brightnorm
    Written by DLite57 on 01-02-2011 12:15 PM GMT

    Hello to all. Am a "newbie" here looking for one nice thrower to add to my other torches. I've mainly been acquiring lights for dog walking, late-night deer spotting, etc., but want just one nice thrower with a strobe option also. Mainly have LED Lensers, my T-7 the highest output & most versatile so far.

    selfbuilt, this is one great review! Checked out your other on the previous version of this light. Why ALL throwers don't have smooth reflectors I don't get. Seems like it defeats the purpose of a tight, low artifact beam @ a long distance, plus a deep reflector, as the new version has.

    Wanted the Catapult V2 SST-50, but just can't find them. So, a toss-up between the new one with the XM-L, the EagleTac M3C4, or the JetBeam M2S. I think your review made me decide on this one!

    Any input on my decision would be greatly appreciated. Sorry about my screen name, as was a quick one. 57 is fine or J when replying. Thanks!! Long post. Others won't be! J
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Outdoor 100-yard Beamshots 2011. Latest: IMALENT SA04.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 SST50 - New SMO and Deep Reflector - Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, e

    Written by selfbuilt on 01-02-2011 09:04 PM GMT

    Quote Originally Posted by DLite57
    Why ALL throwers don't have smooth reflectors I don't get. Seems like it defeats the purpose of a tight, low artifact beam @ a long distance, plus a deep reflector, as the new version has.
    Well, not everyone wants a thrower in this class. But I agree in principle where the SST-50 emitter is used - the beam profile is so good with a smooth reflector, there is no real need to go with OP. And the M3C4 series conveniently includes a diffuser, for those wanting more flood. Well, not everyone wants a thrower in this class. But I agree in principle where the SST-50 emitter is used - the beam profile is so good with a smooth reflector, there is no real need to go with OP. And the M3C4 series conveniently includes a diffuser, for those wanting more flood.



    Wanted the Catapult V2 SST-50, but just can't find them. So, a toss-up between the new one with the XM-L, the EagleTac M3C4, or the JetBeam M2S. I think your review made me decide on this one!
    If you can wait another day, my reviews of the Catapult V2 XM-L and M3C4 XM-L will be up. Should have everything posted by tomorrow night. If you can wait another day, my reviews of the Catapult V2 XM-L and M3C4 XM-L will be up. Should have everything posted by tomorrow night.

    Oh, and
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Outdoor 100-yard Beamshots 2011. Latest: IMALENT SA04.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 SST50 - New SMO and Deep Reflector - Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, e

    Written by DLite57 on 01-03-2011 05:31 PM GMT

    selfbuilt, thanks for the welcome & advice! Was about to buy the SST-50 version, ate my dinner, went back & it was sold out on the EagleTac site!

    Seems one popular dealer told me that they had the latest version, but an L.O.P. reflector. Now, I'm more confused.

    I now wait in anticipation of your new review! Have been checking them out & VERY informative. My wife thinks I'm nuts spending sooo much on a torch, but now have the fever. Things have changed alot from my Mag 3-D light, which I still have. Am about to order a drop-in 140l LED for that one.

    Write on!

    J
    Written by DLite57 on 01-03-2011 05:50 PM GMT

    Just read your new review. Very impressive throw with the new emitter. And, again, excellent job on all. You the man!

    Now, since I have an *mazon gift card for part of my purchase, have to see if my wife will "trade" me cash for that!

    J
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Outdoor 100-yard Beamshots 2011. Latest: IMALENT SA04.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Eagletac M3C4 SST50 - New SMO and Deep Reflector - Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, e

    The main review post has been updated with the final review text.

    The thread discussions have been fully restored from the search engine cache data (thank you tandem!).

    Please carry on!
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Outdoor 100-yard Beamshots 2011. Latest: IMALENT SA04.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

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