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.