UPDATE: Please see my more recent Part II - September 2011 outdoor round-up thread for updated comparisons.
Welcome to my new and improved 100-yard outdoor beamshot round-up thread for 2011 - Part I (June).
This is a new thread, to replace my earlier 2010 outdoor comparison review. That thread was getting a bit cumbersome with all the updates, so I have created this new thread to profile all currently shipping "throwy" lights in my collection. For comparisons to older lights, please see my original 100-yard beamshot round-up.
I have decided to re-organize this page by emitter class and not battery type, as there is a lot of overlap now. Where feasible (and relevant), I will show multiple battery configurations/outputs for individual lights (i.e.currently at 25 lights, with 29 separate beamshots). I am also including direct links to my full reviews for each light in question, in case you want to read up on them.
How to interpret these images:
External beamshots are tricky to do well. The shots will never match what you see, due to limitations of the camera relative to your eye (e.g. lower dynamic range, restrictive settings, etc.). There are also numerous compensations in you brain/visual system that invalidates direct comparisons (e.g. pupil responses, dynamic white balancing, etc.). When you throw in varying natural lighting conditions (e.g. moonshine, clouds reflecting ambient light, wind, fog, etc.), plus all the 3D topographical landscape features that can confound a single light source, you get quite a lot to deal with!
For these reasons, I have limited myself to a simple set of outdoor beamshots, all taken at the same time, in the best conditions I could find (i.e. clear night, little wind, foliage fully extended, etc.). As before, I am using the same closed and deserted service road for these shots. Here is an aerial view taken from Google maps:
As you can see, there is a straight line from my position (pictogram) along the road, to a copse of tree located 100 yards away. There is a dead birch tree right at the red arrow-head that is a convenient marker for the photos.
I’ve also highlighted a point 30 yards from my position (blue arrow). The reason for this is shown on the side schematic for this area:
As this road goes along a ravine, and there is a significant elevation drop beginning about 30 yards in. The road makes a right turn as it winds down the ravine. Here is a control shot in daylight to show you what I mean:
This shot is taken at eye level, and I have centered the camera on the copse of trees at 100 yards (specifically, right in the middle of the dead birch tree – red arrow). The blue arrow indicates the point at 30 yards beyond which the road "falls out of view" as it dips down.
For all night-time flashlight pictures, I have angled the light directly above the camera (roughly eye level), focused on the center of that dead birch tree. Because of the positioning, this means that a good amount of the hotspot's corona should light up the road up to that ~30 yard mark. You will thus be able to see not only the center beam throw at 100 yards, but the corona and wider spillbeam in the foreground just in front of the camera.
Although you can't see them in the daylight shot, there are a series of communication towers located in a clearing ~650 yards away. Although I didn't realize it when first scouting this location, the red aerial warning lights on these towers will show up as distant red dots in the background of the night time shots. There's also a photo-reflective sign along the bottom portion of the road that you will notice in the shots (left-over from when the road was in use, warning of the steep curve).
Unless otherwise indicated, all lights in this round-up were run on Max, on the highest rechargeable battery option the light would take. The camera settings are optimized to show off the hotspots - 5 sec exposure, f2.7, ISO 80, automatic white balance (to minimize tint differences, which can be distracting).
PLEASE NOTE: the pics typically look considerably under-exposed relative to what I subjectively saw during shooting! Most of the lights could easily light up 100 yards, but it may not look that way in the pics. This is just the difficulty of finding a good exposure that shows you everything - it doesn't match what the eye sees.
You also need to realize that your monitor and graphics card setup may look very different from mine - I know from experience that this can vary widely in terms of brightness and contrast. Again, the goal is only to provide relative throw comparison, not absolute representations of what I saw.
HOW TO BEST COMPARE THE IMAGES: All images are reduced to 50% for this page – but each image is a link to a higher resolution scan. The best way to directly compare the lights is to open them in separate tabs. If this doesn't happen automatically when you click on them, right-click on an image, and choose "Open Link in a New Tab". Then repeat this process for a second light, and so on. This way, you will then be able to switch between your browser's tabs to see the matching higher resolution images taken at exactly the same position (i.e. the images should look stationary, with only the flashlight lighting conditions changing).
And now for the main show ...
Standard Emitters: XP-G
Detailed reviews on all of the above:
4Sevens Maelstrom G5 (Cree XP-G R5, 2xCR123A/1x18650)
ArmyTek Predator (Cree XP-G R5, 1x18650 2xR/CR123A)
Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5)
Lumintop TD-15 Terminator (Cree XP-G R5)
Ray Tactical X60 (Cree XP-G R5)
Tiablo A9 Special Edition (XP-G R5)
High-Output Emitters: MC-E, XM-L, SST-50, SST-90, and multiple emitters (e.g. 3x XP-G)
Detailed reviews on all of the above:
4Sevens Maelstrom X7 (Cree XM-L, 2xCR123A/1x18650)
Eagletac M3C4 (3xR5 XP-G - cool white)
Eagletac M3C4 (SST50 cool white) - New SMO and Deep Reflector
Eagletac M3C4 (Cree XM-L - cool white)
Fenix TK35 (Cree XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A)
Fenix TK45 (3x Cree XP-G R4)
JetBeam Backup BC40 (Cree XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A)
JetBeam M1X Review (Cree M-CE)
Lumintop TD-15X Terminator (Cree XM-L)
Olight M31 (Luminus SST-50, 2x18650/18500, 3x-4xCR123A/RCR)
Olight SR90 Intimidator (Phlatlight SST-90)
Skilhunt Defier X1 (XM-L, 1x18650/2xCR123A/2xRCR, 2x18500/3xCR123A)
Skilhunt Defier X3 (XM-L, 2x18500/3xCR123A/3xRCR, 2x18650/4xCR123A)
SunwaymanM40A (Cree MC-E, 4xAA)
Sunwayman M40C (Cree MC-E, 2x18650)
ThruNite Catapult V2 (SST-50, 2x18650/4xCR123A)
Thrunite Catapult V3 (Cree XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A)
Thrunite Scorpion (Cree XM-L, 1x18650, 2xRCR/CR123A)
Thrunite Scorpion V2 (Cree XM-L, 1x18650, 2xRCR/CR123A)
Again, as with all beamshot comparisons, simple pics can be misleading. But this should give you a rough idea of relative beam pattern and throw among these lights.
As before, I will be posting animated GIFs of the full resolution pics in some of my recent reviews, to show the most relevant comparisons.