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Thread: Spark ST6-500CW review.

  1. #1
    Flashaholic brandocommando's Avatar
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    Default Spark ST6-500CW review.

    I just got this in the mail today so I thought I would attempt my first ever review on it, and post up some pictures. As it is a new offering, I figure there is somebody out there who could benefit from it. The ST6-500CW has an XM-L led with a T-6 bin and reportedly is a 2B tint, it has 5 outputs.
    Super: 500lm 1.4hours (Only triggered by quick double click)
    Max: 320lm 2.5hours
    Med1: 150lm 8hours
    Med: 50lm 28hours
    Low: 8lm 8days

    What I like the most about this headlamp is the simple design, and the fact that there are no wires sticking out or running along the headband. To me this is the weakest part of any headlamp and I always worry about the wires getting pulled out or getting caught on a tree branch and ripping the headlamp off of your head (this has happened to me several times.) I will be using this for hunting primarily and I often go through some pretty thick brush. The headlamp seems very solid and I like the all metal construction, the only plastic on it are the small buckles used for adjusting the headband.

    First up is the packaging, simple yet functional, mine arrived in a bubble wrap bag and there was one tiny dent in the corner of the box. Not a big deal. There is a 4X5 card included that has operation, emitter, output & runtime, (for the whole Spark lineup,) maintenance, and warranty information on it. It has a 1 year warranty.


    Here is a picture of the reflector size compared to a Z44 bezel with a crenelated bezel ring. As you can see the Spark's reflector is just a little bit smaller than a standard P60 sized reflector.


    When I first turned it on I was suprised at the feel of the button. I was expecting a big powerful click but the action is very subtle, similar to the buttons on a cell phone. It is activated and depressed with very little effort, which should be good for one handed operation. Operation is very simple, hold down the button and it begins cycling though the different modes. When the desired mode is reached, simply release the button. "Super" mode is achieved by a double click.
    One thing I noticed was that if you do the double click too fast it does not accept the input and does not go to super output, it simply shuts off. You need to double click with just a little bit of time in between for it to work properly. I also was pleased to learn that if you shut it off in super output and turn it back on, it comes on in super output with one button press. No need to double click again. I have ran it for the full 5 minutes and after it automatically switched itself down to "max" it was warm, but not at all overly hot. I do not think immediately switching back to super output would cause any overheating problems, it has some pretty good heatsinks on it.

    Here is a pic of the button and the heatsink.


    The bezel ring is removeable, and is easily unscrewed. I removed mine for photo purposes and immediately put it back on, I did not attempt to remove the reflector.
    EDIT: I have since removed the reflector, the results can be seen HERE.


    The rubber rings should do a very good job of holding the headlamp body in place. The fit is very good and it is adjustable, but firmly held in place, I do not see it shifting up or down inadvertently. I like this approach as the unit is infinitely adjustable, and should not wear out like a plastic "clicking" mechanism. The elastic headband seems to be good quality and is a good size, I was hoping it would be a little more heavy duty but time will tell how well it holds up. It goes on over a baseball hat without any problems and works well, the bill of the hat does not interfere with the beam. The weight of the headlamp is not too bad and although it is a little front-heavy due to the fact that there is no battery pack in the back, it stays in place very good for normal operation. I am guessing it may bounce around just a little bit while running or jogging, but shouldn't be a problem. The headlamp is slightly smaller than I was expecting, but it is nearing the upper limits of what I would consider normal in the weight department, which is why I would like to see the straps slightly beefier.

    The rubber rings.


    For comparison I will be putting this up against the only other 1 X 18650 XM-L I currently own, a Nailbender 2.8 amp dropin with a LOP reflector. The tint on the drop in is 1D compared to the 2B tint of the Spark. The max current of the Spark is reported to be 1.5 amps.

    The test subjects.


    For the comparison both lights will be using a freshly charged Redilast 2900mah 18650 cell. The Redilast fits fine, but it is a little tight. I will also run the Spark off of 2 primary cr123 cells for comparison as it is reportedly brighter.

    Here are some indoor shots, the countertop and the wall used in both these shots are yellow to start with so please bare that in mind. Also the crenelated bezel on the test flashlight does narrow down the beam by a small amount V.S. a standard bezel ring.

    Beam pattern. Spark on the left, Nailbender on the right.


    This is at a distance of about 10 inches from the wall. The Spark is on the left with an outer beam of about 20 inches. The Nailbender is on the right and the outer beam is about 10 inches. Again, wall is painted yellow!


    I am very happy with the tint of this headlamp so far. It is not too cool for me at all, and in fact has a nice yellowish color to it that I expect to do pretty well outdoors. It does have a slight blueish tint in the surrounding spill, but I believe this is pretty common with the new XM-L emitters. Some people have claimed that this is an "almost" neutral tint. I do not think that this is necessarily the case. On my headlamp, the low and medium 1 tint is dark yellow, to greenish, and then turns to a pleasing, brighter yellow on medium 2, max, and super. I have compared it so some other truly neutral lights I own, (LD25, and LD40,) and there is a pretty significant difference.

    Here is the daytime shot of the testing area I will be using. The test "subject" is at a distance of 50 feet.


    Here are some animated gif's, it was a very dark night with a little bit of rain. I am using a pretty basic Nikon coolpix camera on the auto setting. I checked the exposure on all the shots and it is 1 second. I have left out the photo's of the low modes in these because it was barely enough to light up the test subject at 50 feet and so nothing showed up in the pictures.

    Here is the comparison of the 1X18650 V.S. 2XCR123 on med 1.


    Here is the comparison of the 1X18650 V.S. 2XCR123 on med 2.


    Here is the comparison of the 1X18650 V.S. 2XCR123 on max.


    Here is the comparison of the brightest settings.


    I have also included these so you can see the difference between max and super with the two different battery options.

    Max and super, 1X18650


    Max and super, 2XCR123.
    Last edited by brandocommando; 03-31-2011 at 09:12 PM. Reason: gif's added!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    Great Review, I cannot wait to see the beam shots.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    Cool pics and summary. I just received mine today. Overall, I'm impressed with the apparent build quality of the light and strap. I'm surprised at how little difference I notice between the max mode and the super mode.

    I like the user interface and I like the low mode. I'd like to see if I can get an extra headstrap, so I can modify it to work on my bike helmet. I already have tried a couple setups on my bike helmet with Twofish Lockblocks that show promise. I need some night time to do some real testing.

    Looking forward to more of your review.

    Brad

  4. #4
    Flashaholic brandocommando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    I agree, indoors the difference between max and super is pretty minor. Waiting for dark now... maybe the outdoor shots at night will show more of a difference.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    The beam pattern shot is really nice. What a great comparison it gives. You're going to have to paint one of your walls white if you keep getting cool flashlights! I really want one of those ST6-500W. I just don't know if I'll be comfortable working with such a large headlamp. It looks like it could give me a headache. It must feel heavy? I wouldn't be wearing a hat.
    Last edited by recDNA; 03-28-2011 at 06:33 PM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    HI BC,

    Thx for putting up this review. I've been contemplating this HL but kinda put-off by its inability to remain in super mode. I have enough lower output HL's so would like to add a true high-output model but withou breaking the bank (a la Petzl Ultra of Silva Alpha 6).

    Would be interested to know how hot it gets in that mode and whether you think it'll be able to sustain continous use (5min, reset, 5 min, reset, etc etc). Of course, don't do this on account of me if you think it may damage the HL due to overheating.

    Looking forwad to your night time shots.

    Cheers,
    Tim

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* psychbeat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    ooooh nice!!

    Im probably going to have to get one of
    these this winter..

    my only complaint besides the 5 min shutoff
    is that I wish you could swap in p60 modules.
    if so it would be the perfect "big gun" headlamp
    IMHO

    Id probably put a wider strap on it and lose the top
    strap so I could use it with a fullface helmet.

    thanks much for the detailed review!!!

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* Bolster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    [removed]
    Last edited by Bolster; 03-30-2011 at 09:59 AM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    I'm impressed by this light's specs. I love that it has a wide 90-degree spill beam... that plus the long runtimes. 150 lumens for 8 hours is certainly cave-worthy.

  10. #10
    Flashaholic brandocommando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    I made some pretty major changes and added some better gif's, instead of the slideshow links I had before. It shows that there actually is a fairly noticeable difference between the 2 highest modes.
    I think these show the differences much better.
    Last edited by brandocommando; 03-30-2011 at 03:44 PM.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* Bolster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    Very well done. Wish I knew how to make an animated gif.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    Awesome comparison pics! Definitely shows the diff between max and super. I'm going to try to take some comparative beamshots tonight between the ST6-500CW and a couple bike lights I have...

  13. #13

    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    Wow, thx for doing the animated gif's. It does really help highlight the differences between the battery types and especially between Max and Super (KAMEHAMEHA!!).

  14. #14

    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    I recently got a ST6-360CW and thought I'd chime in with one point. It's already been mentioned that the light has a memory function, so that if you turn the light off on high it will come back on on high (or medium or low). I noticed that this is true if you do a fast click, the kind you'd normally use to turn a light on. However, if you turn the light on with a press-hold-release, the light will come on low, as it's beginning to cycle through the modes. This is a nice feature, probably incidental to the design, but helpful nonetheless. Essentially you always have two options when deciding what mode you want the light to come on in, the last mode you were using, or low.

  15. #15
    Flashaholic brandocommando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    I just tried this on my ST6-500CW and it did not work the way you described. Too bad, as that would have been a nice feature. The ST6-500CW comes on (in the mode it was turned off in) the instant the button is pressed down. Holding the button for any length of time only causes it to start cycling through the modes as usual. I can only guess they must have different switches, (forward V.S. reverse?) Or, the drivers are programed differently.
    Last edited by brandocommando; 03-30-2011 at 11:12 PM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    Hmmm...in that case, I want to apologize for any confusion. I assumed the two models would function identically with the exception of the different outputs. When my 360 is off and I hold the button down, it starts cycling through from low (no matter what mode it was in when I turned it off). It is a nice feature.
    Last edited by motigg; 03-31-2011 at 10:15 AM.

  17. #17
    Flashaholic druidmars's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    It's not in the specs but I'm wondering: can one use RCR123s with this light? Probably too much voltage right? Just to be sure...
    Last edited by druidmars; 07-14-2011 at 01:25 PM.
    Nitecore TM26, Eagletac G25C2 MKII, HDS Rotary 200, Spark ST6 500CW, Olight SR90 Intimidator, Ra Clicky 140 Executive, VaraPower 2000, Dereelight DBS V3 2MT-M XM-L (warm white), EagleTac P100A2, iTP A1, A3, SA2, 6D Maglite incan, Petzl headlamp.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    You can use 2xCR123 primaries but the max voltage for the ST6 is 6V so no RCRs

  19. #19
    Flashaholic druidmars's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    Thanks mate! That's what I thought but better safe than boooom!
    Nitecore TM26, Eagletac G25C2 MKII, HDS Rotary 200, Spark ST6 500CW, Olight SR90 Intimidator, Ra Clicky 140 Executive, VaraPower 2000, Dereelight DBS V3 2MT-M XM-L (warm white), EagleTac P100A2, iTP A1, A3, SA2, 6D Maglite incan, Petzl headlamp.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    Just wanted to put a +1 in for this light. I've not had too much experience with anything other than basic/budget headlamps and this thing blows them away. Modes and UI are great. The levels are well separated, so getting the right amount of light for a job is easy. Also, the UI scrolls through them quickly enough that it's not a pain. The throw is also pretty impressive. I honestly don't think there is much difference between the Max and Super modes even on a very dark night the difference is only slight, but the double click to go straight to Super is very handy.

    As mentioned, removing the reflector gets you a very nice flood. I haven't tried the diffuser lens yet, simply because if I want flood I just pull out the reflector. Headband and "mount" are well built and pretty rugged. My only gripe with this light is that it doesn't come with a holster/pouch to put it in, but thats easily fixable for a few extra bucks. All in all, I couldn't be happier with mine so far and would not hesitate to recommend it.

    Also, just noticed that the SB Flashlights website says they are now using an XML U2.

  21. #21
    Flashaholic* psychbeat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    Ive been LOVING my NW460.

    the only thing Ive had happen was the thin zebralight
    style strap tends to slip on a fullface helmet sometimes.

    Im considering replacing the strap or adding some silicone
    stripes on the inside of the headband. I usually just push
    the top strap to the side.

    I also wish the silicone lamp holder was a bit more robust
    as the light can tend to flop just a tad.

    runtime is EXCELLENT on panasonic NCR18650s

    I DO hate the 5min stepdown which I think is a bit
    conservative considering its almost the mass of a p60
    host and those run up to double the amps.

    I still might buy the zebralight version as theirs wont have
    the 5min stepdown on max. Whenever it comes out
    that is...

    Overall a great power-HL package.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    I am guessing it may bounce around just a little bit while running or jogging, but shouldn't be a problem
    I'm wondering if anyone has had a chance to try this headlamp while running. My worry is that it will either bounce, or change its angle by pointing more downwards.

    The headband and mount look much beter than the ZebraLight's though

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    I haven't done any running in mine but the headband rubber straps keep the light in a pretty firm position. it takes some effort to change it's angle.

  24. #24
    Flashaholic ryguy24000's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    Kind of a funny thing. I had a ST5 125ow and the holder became a little loose. When I jumped or made a hard bouncing movement the lamp would actually bounce and reposition pointing up! I have since had the light replaces and the replacement strap is definitely tighter.

  25. #25
    Flashaholic* psychbeat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    Quote Originally Posted by DisrupTer911 View Post
    I haven't done any running in mine but the headband rubber straps keep the light in a pretty firm position. it takes some effort to change it's angle.
    My ST6-46nw bounces a little but doesnt change angle.
    the backing just twists the strap a little and bounces.
    not too bad tho and you can cancel it with tightening
    the top strap etc.
    Id still prefer a slightly stiffer/wider backing.
    I think using a thicker strap would help too.
    if the angle loop holders loosen up Ill probably
    just add a ziptie around one of the sides since
    I almost never remover the light from the holder.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    Is there a good option for these batts in terms of rechargeables?
    Finding mixed reviews and have no personal experience.

    j

  27. #27
    Flashaholic* psychbeat's Avatar
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    Default

    I use panasonic NCR 18650
    In mine.

    AW sells great batts too!

  28. #28
    Unenlightened
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    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    Good review, thanks

    The tint looks interesting, not too cold (?). If i'm right, nowadays 500CW is equipped with U2 emitter and not with T6. U2 is even brighter but does anybody know about the U2 tint compared with T6 in 500CW?

    I have been reading CPF three weeks (especially tint threads CW vs. NW!) and CPF marketplace and looking Youtube videos, especially this one:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4D1-W94Qm0
    There seems to be significant difference in brightness between 500CW and 460NW, much more than I expected, or is is just the video?

    I can not decide between ST-500CW and 460NW. I just can't.
    Nowadays choosing a used car seems to be much easier for me than decide between two headlamps ...

    I have no NW lights yet, just cool whites:
    - Thrunite Catapult V2 XM-L
    - 4Sevens MiniAA (R5) and MiniAA2 (S2)
    - Fenix HL21 Headlamp (R2)
    - MTE M3-2I (MC-E, 1x18650)
    - MTE C3-907 (R2, 1xAA)

  29. #29

    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    There are new versions of the Spark ST6 headlights.

    ST6-500CW
    Super: 500 lm / 1.8 hours
    Max: 220 lm / 3.5 hours
    Med2: 80 lm / 12 hours
    Med1: 12 lm / 120 hours
    Low: 0.5 lm / 90 days

    SD6-460NW
    Super: 460 lm / 1.8 hours
    Max: 200 lm / 3.5 hours
    Med2: 70 lm / 12 hours
    Med1: 12 lm / 120 hours
    Low: 0.5 lm / 90 days

    In my ST6-500CW there is a hole in the tail cap for a magnet, like SD6.

  30. #30

    Default Re: Spark ST6-500CW review.

    Got my ST6-460NW today, quickly swapped in the diffused/frosted lens, I like it in flood lens & long runtime with 18650

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