Warning: pic heavy, as usual.
The PK30 is a new high-output thrower light from Lumintop but one that runs on common AA batteries (6xAA). Most AA-based lights are designed more for flood than throw, so it should be interesting to see how this sample performs.
Common Manufacturer Specifications:
- CREE XM-L LED
- Automatic rotary structure, with stepless light modulation
- Uses 6 x AA batteries
- Max Output/Runtime: 600 Lumens / 1.5 hours
- Low Output/Runtime: 6 Lumens / 100 hours
- Light modes: Low-High, Strobe, SOS
- Aerospace aluminum body, Mil-Spec hard-anodized, o-ring sealed
- Smooth reflector
- Tactical tailcap switch, press for momentary-on, click for locked-on
- 99% high-transparent tempered glass with anti-reflective coating
- Strike Bezel
- Superb heat release system provides excellent heat transport capacity
- Weight (excluding batteries): 16.22 oz (460 g)
- Size (L x D): 8.69" x 2.49" (220.7mm x 63.2 mm)
- MSRP: ~$160
- Includes: presentation carrying case, holster, wrist lanyard, spare o-rings and switch cover
Packaging is definitely high-end, with a solid presentation case with handle, metal closing clasps and hinges (very reminiscent of some of the high-end Olight offerings). Included with the light are a good quality holster with velcroed closing flap, wrist lanyard, spare o-rings, boot cover switch, and manual. Light uses a battery carrier (included inside the light).
From left to right: Duracell AA, Lumintop PK30, Olight S65, Fenix TK45, JetBeam PA40.
All dimensions are given with no batteries installed:
Lumintop PK30 6xAA: Weight: 454.0g, Length: 218mm, Width (bezel): 62.0mm
Fenix TK45 8xAA: Weight: 307.3g, Length: 202mm, Width (bezel) 50.6mm, Width (tailcap) 44.0
ITP A6 6xAA: Weight: 209.9g, Length: 174mm, Width (bezel) 48.0mm, Width (tailcap) 37.8mm
JetBeam PA40 4xAA: Weight: 184.0g, Length: 183mm, Width: 40.8mm (bezel), 42.1mm (max width)
Olight S65 6xAA: Weight 215.4g, Length: 180mm, Width (bezel): 38.7mm
Sunwayman M40A 4xAA: Weight: 247.0g , Length: 145mm, Width 57.0mm (bezel)
As you can see, the PK30 is more substantial than other lights in this class both heavier, and longer than typical, with a wider head. This should translate into good throw.
Build is distinctive, with a large head and "pineapple" styling on the body. While not as aggressive as actual knurling, I found grip to be reasonable (although the light may be slippery when wet). Anodizing is matte black, with no chips on my sample. The (thankfully minimal) labels are bright white against the black background.
Tailcap screw threads are anodized for tail lock-out.
Light can tailstand, despite the forward clicky switch. There is a lanyard attachment hole on the tail. Light has a slightly scalloped bezel ring on the head.
Lights use square-cut screw threads, anodized for lock-out.
The output control mechanism is controlled by ring near the head. My unit is sealed, so I was unable to open it up to take a look. However, it feels and works exactly the same way as Neoseikan's Neofab Legion II. In that light, I was able to open it up to show a sturdy coiled spring that wrapped around the base of the head several times. It was fixed within the body of the head at one end, and attached to the control ring on the other.
Lights use a battery carrier for 6xAA cells, of above average quality. One unusual feature the carrier fits into the light in either orientation, but Lumintop initially warned that you could damage the circuit if you reverse the direction. They have apparently added reverse-polarity detection to the circuit on recent samples, but early editions had no such protection.
To be on the safe side, always make sure the ("+") terminal markings on the carrier struts point towards the head (the light will not activate otherwise). Note that these markings are not for positioning the batteries inside the carrier for that, just remember that the (flat) negative battery terminal goes towards the springs, and the (button) positive battery terminal goes to the flat plate in the carrier. Labels to this effect would have been a good idea.
The PK30 uses a fairly unique interface. To start, turn the light On/Off by the tailcap forward clicky switch. Press for momentary on, click and release for constant on.
Mode switching uses a control ring one that feels identical to the Neoseikan Neofab Legion II. The control ring turns about an eight of a full turn in either direction from its resting point, with fairly reasonable resistance. With the light on, turn and hold the ring to the left to lower the output, or turn and hold the right to right to raise the output level. To select the level you want, let go of the ring (it quickly springs back to its default position). The light will memorize the last level you left it at when you turn it off and back on.
There are also two "hidden" modes Strobe and SOS accessed by a quick twist to and from the ring extremes (i.e. far-left/far-right for strobe, far-right/far-left for SOS). You are highly unlikely to enter these by accident.
For a more detailed examination of the build and user interface, please see my video overview:
Video was recorded in 720p, but YouTube defaults to 360p. Once the video is running, you can click on the 360p icon in the lower right-hand corner, and select the higher 480p to 720p options, or even run full-screen.
The PK30 has a fairly visually-linear ramp, and takes ~5 secs to go from Min to Max.
There is no sign of PWM that I can see, at any output level. Either they are using a frequency that is too high for me to detect, or the light is actually current-controlled as claimed.
Strobe was measured at 9.7 hz. Interestingly, this frequency and oscilloscope pattern is virtually identical to the Olight S35/S65 (i.e. there is a rapid oscillation at the beginning of the On signal on those lights too).
The PK30 has a large smooth reflector. Light uses a Cool White XM-L emitter, well centered on my sample. Given the dimensions and shape of the reflector, I would expect very good throw with a well-defined hotspot. These sorts of flat-bottom reflectors also tend to produce some artifacting in the corona around the hotspot (i.e. patterns and tint shifting).
And now the white-wall beamshots. All lights are on Sanyo Eneloop NiMH, at the maximum supported number for the given models (4x, 6x or 8x). Lights are 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.
And now for the outdoor shots. These beamshots were done in the style of my earlier 100-yard round-up review. Please see that thread for a discussion of the topography (i.e. the road dips in the distance, to better show you the corona in the mid-ground). We are also in early winter here now, so I was lucky to get these in without snow on the ground.
As you can see, the PK30 throw a lot further than the more general beam of the Olight S65. Let's see how it does compared to the standard 2x18650 "throwers":
While the PK30 is not as bright overall, peak throw is pretty close at this distance.
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:
My summary tables are reported in a manner consistent with the 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.
For comparison, here is a recent 2x18650 comparison chart:
The PK30 is definitely the best throwing AA-based light I've tested so far. It is pretty comparable to many of the dedicated 2x18650 throwers.
Max output is quite reasonable for the 6xAA class (e.g. comparable to the Olight S65).
Runtime is also comparable to the S65, although the PK30 doesn't show the step-down pattern early in the run on Max. Overall efficiency and regulation seems excellent, at all levels tested. This is particularly impressive, given the continuously-variable interface.
Runtime and output both seem to slightly exceed the manufacturer's reported ANSI FL-1 specs, at least on max.
Overall build of the light is fairly heavy.
The battery carrier fits in either orientation, but only one arrangement will activate in the light. Lumintop initally warned that the reverse orientation may damage the circuit, which could easily occur if you don't pay close attention when inserting the carrier. They have apparently added a reverse-polarity feature to the circuit on recent shipping models.
Light is not grippy as some, and can roll fairly easily.
I've enjoyed seeing the recent expansion of the multiple-AA-class of high output lights. The PK30 fits into a definite niche within this category a 6xAA "thrower" light, nearly comparable to the Thrunite Catapult in throw. I don't have a Fenix TK41 to directly compare, but I gather throw is similarly comparable.
The PK30 also has a few other distinctive features like its intuitive continuously-variable interface. Lumintop has adopted the spring-loaded control ring design used on the Neoseikan lights, and paired it with a continuously-variable ramp. This is quite a creative combination, and it works well in practice (i.e. hold to the left to ramp down, hold to the right to ramp up). The ramp is fairly visually-linear, and reasonably quick.
And it doesn't stop there despite being continuously-variable, I see no signs of PWM, and output-runtime efficiency matches the best current-controlled, defined-level, multiple-AA lights out there (e.g. Olight S65). Oh, and the regulation pattern is excellent too. This is remarkable all-around performance, especially for a continuously-variable light. I quite like that the SOS and strobe modes are "hidden" (i.e. unlikely to trigger accidentally). As an aside, I note that the strobe pattern is also identical to the S65.
Are there any drawback to the light? Well, the battery carrier fits in either orientation, but you could potentially damage the light if you put it in the wrong way. The beam tends to have a slightly irregular corona (common on these sort of flat-bottom reflectors). And grip could be better.
But these are relatively minor complaints considering what you are getting here. The PK30 is very solid light, with outstanding throw, a novel (and intuitive interface), and support for standard AA batteries. The presentation case is also a nice touch, adding to the overall quality feel. I am sure it will be very popular here.
Lumintop PK30 supplied by Lumintop for review.