Dereelight are better known for their 18650 lights and the DBS throwers, but they also have a great little AAA EDC light, the DA3.
The DA3 feels like military-spec in miniature. With grey anodising, fixed wire pocket clip, optically coated lens and styling, it feels built to last.
The anodised threads feel a bit rough when turning the head, although they look smooth and well formed. Even after cleaning and re-lubing them there is a slight roughness.
Although specified as cool-white, the DA3 has a strong tint making the light look very warm. Not unpleasant at all, but not white.
Specified as 86lm maximum output, this is a bright AAA light has a very smooth beam with diffuse hotspot, meaning there is no hotspot tunnel vision at all.
What is in the box:
The DA3 comes in a simple white cardboard box.
The instructions are printed on the underside of the box.
Inside the box is a white dense foam liner holding the DA3 and its included accessories
Shown out of the box are the DA3, lanyard, spare o-rings and diffuser tip
The laser etched Dereelight logo
Detail of the pocket clip from the front.
The DA3’s XP-G R5 1B0 LED.
Removing the head of the DA3 reveals robust design features not normally found on AAA lights.
Inside the head, there is a brass contact/retaining ring which holds the LED driver PCB, and also provides the bearing contact surface for the battery tube. This should make the DA3 very robust and able to withstand a great deal of switching cycles.
The threads are standard triangular form and the DA3 has dual o-rings.
Looking into the body of the light shows the tailspring.
Modes and User Interface:
Pretty much the standard for AAA twisty lights, the DA3 twists on first to low, switching off and on again to get medium, and then once more to get high.
None of the modes exhibit any sign of PWM so appear to be current controlled.
Batteries and output:
The DA3 takes AAA batteries and will work with alkalines and NiMH. I have been using NiMH as my preference is for rechargeable batteries.
The DA3’s high output is very bright for a single normal AAA battery and the quoted 86lm output seems accurate. The lower modes are not quantified, but are well spaced in level.
Running on high, the DA3 does become warm, but never hot.
In The Lab
In an attempt to quantify the actual beam profile I developed the following test. There are probably many flaws in my method, but it is simple and easy to carry out and seems to provide a good enough comparison.
The method used was to put the light on the edge of a table 1m from a wall, with a tape measure on the wall. The zero of the scale is placed in the centre of the hotspot and a lux meter is then positioned at points along the scale, with the measurements recorded. Beam shots are often taken with the light shining on a flat white wall, so this method is simply measuring the actual intensity across the beam on a flat surface, not the spherical light emission.
The results are then plotted on a graph.
For the best throw you want to see a sharp peak with less of the distracting spill. For the best flood light the trace should be pretty flat.
The DA3 has two beam configurations, that of the standard light, and with the diffuser tip fitted. The diffuser gives a full flood beam. The measurements for the graph are taken across a flat surface, however the diffuser tip casts light in an almost complete 360° beam angle.
Taking this a little further, I calculated an approximate factor to apply to the lux measurements, as each measurement gets further from the centre of the beam, it corresponds to a larger area onto which the light is falling. It seems to me that this should also be taken into consideration, so I applied these area corrections and came up with this odd looking graph.
The key quantity here is the area under the graph line. This should correspond to the total light output.
Though strange looking this graph shows how the DA3 puts a lot of light into the spill area, giving a floody beam perfect for the close range use that most EDC lights are put to.
The beam is very floody and strongly tinted. It is difficult to tell by eye what the true tint is. The tint appears strongly yellow with a hint of green giving a very warm colour. Far from being a problem the beam tint is pleasant to use. Although not great for accurate colour rendition, the tint does work well with the greens and browns found outside.
Using the DA3
The dual o-rings, make the DA3 slightly stiff in operation, combined with only mild texturing on the head, one handed operation is not the easiest.
The pocket clip cannot be removed, but the round wire construction makes it inconspicuous and means there are no sharp edges so should prove to be pocket friendly.
The supplied lanyard, compared to earlier versions, now has the an extra plastic part connected to the split ring which provides a braided cord to fit to the DA3 preventing the split ring scratching the anodising.
Fitting this proved challenging as the lanyard hole is quite small and the braided cord expands when you push it lengthways, making it even harder to fit. Several minutes using a wooden toothpick to squash the cord into the hole bit by tiny bit and I managed to get this fitted.
The construction of the plastic part should provide some sort of break-away function if pulled hard enough, though this may not be the intended function.
If you don't need the extra length the plastic/cord section gives (which I did), you can of course leave it out and fix the split ring directly to the DA3 (as shown on Dereelight's website).
As the DA3’s beam is the most floody for a light using a reflector that I have seen, the diffuser was not something I felt the need for. What it does provide is a candle function as the DA3 an tailstand, with the diffuser fitted you have an effective area light – a nice feature.
One of the strongest characteristics of the DA3 is its strong but floody beam making it a great choice for close range tasks. Combined with the robust design features in a compact package, the DA3 is a strong contender in the AAA EDC light category.
I’ll update post 2 of this thread once I have some more comments to add....