Warning: pic heavy, as usual.
The 1xCR123A/RCR-based V11R is the new version of the V10R from Sunwayman. Although I haven't tested the older V10R, I did review the 1xAA-version, the V10A – which shares the same head.
For this review, I have also picked up the Sunwayman AP-05 AA-extender for the V- and M-series lights. So you can look forward to a wide range of testing across all supported battery types here.
Reported Manufacturer Specifications:
- LED: CREE XM-L U2
- Output/Runtime using 1 x CR123A: Max 190 lumens (1.5 hrs), Min 1 Lumen (35 hrs)
- Using 1 x Li-Ion 16340, Turbo Mode: 500 lumens (25 min) - CAUTION: Do no run for more than 5 minutes in Turbo Mode
- Constant current circuit, constant output
- Effective range of 456 feet (130 meters)
- Uses: One CR123A Lithium battery, or one RCR123A. AA extender allows for use with AA Alkaline and 14500 cells.
- Working voltage: 0.9~4.2V
- High quality OP reflector maintains great throw distance and spread with an ideal beam pattern
- Dimensions: 3.3" x .9" (84 x 23mm)
- Weight (w/o Battery): 1.7oz (49g)
- Aerospace-grade aluminum alloy
- Military Specification Type III hard anodized body
- Waterproof, in accordance with IPX-8 standard
- Ultra-clear tempered glass lens resists scratches and impacts
- Tactical forward click switch with momentary on
- Tail stand capable (can be used in "candle" mode)
- Accessories: Clip, O-ring, lanyard, holster
- MSRP: ~$85
Standard Sunwayman packaging includes a belt holster, clip-on style pocket clip, lanyard strap, extra o-rings, manual, warranty card and product insert.
From left to right: CR123A; Sunwayman M11R, V11R, M10R; JetBeam PC10; Thrunite Neutron 1C; Zebralight SC30; 4Sevens Mini 123.
All dimensions are given with no batteries installed:
Sunwayman V11R: Weight 50.5g, Length: 84.3mm, Width (bezel): 23.1mm
Sunwayman M11R: Weight 45.8g, Length: 76.4mm, Width (bezel): 23.1mm
Rofis JR10: Weight 75.0g, Length (max): 110.6mm (angled): 92.9mm, Width (bezel): 24.8mm
Jetbeam PC10: Weight: 50.5g, Length: 93.6mm, Width (bezel): 22.6mm
Lumintop ED10: Weight: 21.5g, Length: 70.4mm, Width (bezel): 20.7mm
Thrunite Neutron 1C: Weight: 45.2g, Length: 91.5mm, Width (bezel) 22.0mm
As mentioned above, Sunwayman also sells an optional AA-extender for the V11R:
With this extender in place, you can now run AA/14500 batteries. Note the extender has a narrower internal diameter than the regular CR123A-size battery tube, thus preventing AA-size cells from rattling inside the light.
From left to right: Duracell AA NiMH; Sunwayman V11R with AA extender, V10A; Foursevens Quark AA; Fenix LD10; Jetbeam E3S; Tiablo E2A; Zebralight SC51.
Sunwayman V11R with AA extender: Weight 59.70g, Length: 100.5mm, Width (bezel): 23.1mm
The build has a number of updates to the earlier V10R/V10A.
But first what hasn't changed – you still get the same rich, dark gray natural finish anodizing. Sunwayman has always had one of the best quality anodizations, with a very attractive finish (IMO). As always, all labels are fairly small and bright white against the dark background.
One of the main physical differences is the addition of reasonable knurling to both the body tube and control ring, thus enhancing grip. This makes the control ring easier to access by feel, and improves the overall gripability of the light.
The clip-on style clip is of improved quality, and holds more firmly against the light now. It is still not as robust as a screw-on clip (e.g., see the M11R I have just reviewed), but a definite upgrade from before.
The switch cover is something else that has changed – you now have a distinctive-looking metal boot cover. Personally, I have always preferred rubber boot covers – the main issue with metal ones is that you have to hit the cover right on the center, or you may not activate the underlying switch (i.e., less forgiving than rubber). The switch feel with this type of cover is also different – you may worry about not reliably activating the switch, due to the perception of less direct contact. However, I understand Sunwayman will soon begin shipping a rubber cover with the light, so you will have the option to change it yourself.
The light can still tailstand, but with more scalloped edging around the base (which facilitates access to the switch).
Screw threading size and diameter has not changed from the early Sunwayman lights, which means you can still mix-and-match heads and bodies across all models. Screw threads are anodized, for head lock-out.
As before, you activate the V11R by the tailcap switch. Half-press the tailcap for momentary-on, click for locked-on
Output level is controlled by the magnetic control ring in the head. As before, the V11R features a continuously-variable interface – you control the output level by twisting the ring. You can thus select your desired mode while the light is off (at least approximately).
And that's it - no blinking modes, no standby modes. For a more detailed examination of the build and user interface, please see my video overview:
Video was recorded in 720p, but YouTube typically defaults to 360p. Once the video is running, you can click on the configuration settings icon and select the higher 480p to 720p options. You can also run full-screen.
There is no sign of PWM that I can see, at any output level – I presume the light is current-controlled, as claimed.
There is no Standby/Off mode on the control ring – if you click the switch on, the light will come on at whatever level the ring is set at (i.e., from Min to Max).
At the lowest output level, I measured the current as 19.7mA for 1xCR123A installed, and 14.4mA for 1xCR123A. Although only approximate, that gives you an estimated runtime at the lowest level of just over 4 days on 1400mAh CR123A, and just over 2 days on 750mAh RCR. These exceed the 35 hr max runtime spec provided by Sunwayman.
One question users often ask is whether a given continuously-variable ramp is "visually linear". The short answer is the V11R – like its predecessor V10A/V10R - is generally "visually-linear" (in the sense commonly understood here).
The reason that this is an issue is that we do not perceive brightness in a linear way, relative to actual lumen output (e.g., a 200 lumen does not actually look twice as bright as a 100 lumen light to us). So if the light varies the output through a control ring in a lumen-linear fashion, it will seem very distorted to our relative perceptions (i.e., it will seem to spend a lot of time at the higher end of the output range, with little perceptible difference).
The common solution that flashlight makers have adopted for this problem is to adjust the variable interface to correspond to a logarithmic ramp of circuit power. This is what is known as "visually-linear" here, as there is a long-standing belief in many lighting/electronic/optic communities that we perceive light in a logarithmic way.
To compare two otherwise similar lights – one with a circuit-linear and one with a logarithmic "visually-linear" ramp – see my reviews of the Jetbeam RRT-21 and the Sunwayman V20C, respectively.
While most consider a logarithmic ramp a huge improvement over a standard circuit-linear ramp, it is still not perfect from a relative perception viewpoint. This has become increasingly obvious to me as flashlight makers have expanded the dynamic range of their offerings (i.e. both higher Highs and lower Lows) – the logarithmic relationship for our perceptions just doesn't seem to hold true at the extremes
In reviewing the scientific literature, I have discovered that the logarithmic adjustment model actually dates back to 19th century testing methods. More recent psychometric research from the late 20th century to today has indicated that the range of relative human sensory perceptions appear to more closely follow specific, discrete power relationships. For perceived brightness of a non-point source of light (which would include a flashlight beam), current research findings typically find power values in the 0.30 to 0.35 range (i.e., very close to a cube root, or 0.33).
For a full discussion of this issue - including detailed graphs and primary literature references - please see this post and the subsequent discussion.
To show this graphically, let's start with what the V11R's ramp would look like in terms of estimated lumen output. To measure this, I slowly turned the ring at as close to a constant rate as I could manage, over ~25 secs or so. My lightbox collected output readings every second, which I then converted to estimated lumens and plotted against the estimated degree shift of the ring (i.e. with 360 degrees being a complete turn). Note the ring only turns about 1/3 the circumference of the light, or about 120 degrees.
I have blown-up the first quarter of the ramp in the inset graph, to show you that output does indeed increase over the whole ring (albeit seemingly slowly at first). As you can probably tell, the pattern does look rather logarithmic (i.e., if I were to plot these on a log scale, you get something approximating a straight line).
But again, as more recent research has showed, we don't really perceive light in a perfectly logarithmic way. Plotting with a cube root transformation should give the best indication of what you are likely to see by eye.
The point to the above is to show that the V11R uses a logarithmic ramp (like the earlier V10A), but rises to a higher max output. I haven't plotted the performance on 1xCR123A, but it should look intermediate to my AA and 14500 ramps above.
The V11R has a fairly typical looking head for a light this size. The reflector is lightly textured (i.e., LOP). Emitter was not perfectly centered on my sample, but it was pretty good.
And now, the white-wall beamshots. All lights are on Max output on the identified battery type. 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.
1xRCR (AW Protected 750mAh) Li-ion Comparison:
1x14500 (Aw Protected 14500) Li-ion Comparison:
1xAA (Sanyo Eneloop) NiMH Comparison:
Ok, those are a lot of beamshots. But the take-home message is that the beam pattern is what you would expect for a light this size.
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 devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lightbox 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. Effective March 2012, I have updated the Max Output ANSI FL-1 lumen estimates to represent peak output measured at 30 secs (my earlier gray tables were based on a later time point for Max output). Please see http://www.flashlightreviews.ca/FL1.htm for a discussion, and a description of all the terms used in these tables.
The reported 190 lumens Hi output spec on 1x CR123A seems pretty accurate in my testing. But the 1 lumen Lo output spec seems very conservative - mine went down to one of the lowest levels I've ever seen.
On 1xRCR, the reported 500 lumens Hi output spec again seems pretty believable for the light. Although the Min output increased somewhat, it is still among the lowest I've seen for this battery type.
The reported 130m Beam Distance spec seems rather optimistic. On 1xRCR, it does approach something close to that – but the ANSI FL-1 spec should relate to 1xCR123A performance.
On standard AA batteries, V11R output has increased my older XP-G-based V10A, but throw has decreased (as you would expect for an XM-L emitter)
On 14500, you get comparable characteristics to the 1xRCR, naturally.
The V11R performs well for the output levels (i.e. overall efficiency is good).
One oddity however – on all levels below Max levels, the light doesn't hold its initial output. Rather, it drops off over time, eventually stabilizing at a level <60% lower than the initial output.
This may be a quirk of my one sample, but on 1xRCR it actually rises in output slightly over the first 1-2 mins, before starting off on its descending trajectory (you can't really see it the runtime above, due to the scale height).
Although peculiar, this drop-off was still gradual enough that you will not notice it happening by eye.
Overall efficiency is again very good, on all standard AA-class batteries, at all levels tested.
Again, overall efficiency is good on Li-ion.
But the same pattern of shifting output over time (with a delayed stabilization) is observed here. Indeed, it was even more pronounced on all my 14500 cells – there was a clear increase in output over the first 3+ mins, sometimes rising by as much as 30%, before descending into a gradual drop-off. As before with 1xRCR, the light eventually leveled off somewhere <40% of its initial output level.
Note I observed this on a number of 14500 and RCR cells (including different brands), and the effect seemed to be consistently greater on 14500. Interestingly, if you scroll back up the standard AA runtimes, you'll note something similar (but far less pronounced) seemed to be occurring there too.
Not sure what it all means, but again it is not something you can notice very easily by eye (i.e. it is still gradual enough that you can't notice the change in output). And you can of course always turn the ring if you want more light later on – that's the advantage of continuously-variable.
The included metal clicky switch cover can make it difficult to reliably access the switch, and the switch feel with these sorts of covers is never as good as with rubber boot covers. But I understand Sunwayman plans to start including a separate rubber boot cover with the light soon, so you will have the option of switching it over yourself.
As before, relatively few screw threads hold the head onto the body – but this means the light continues to be backward compatible with all the earlier M- and V- series lights.
Given the circuit overhead of the continuously-variable ring, runtime at the lowest output might not be as long as you would expect (i.e., 2-4 days, depending on battery type). This is comparable to the earlier V10R/A series.
The initial sub-maximal output levels set by the ring are not full stable on Li-ion batteries, but rapidly rise and slowly drop-off over time, eventually settling at a much lower stabilized level. I don't know if this was a quirk of my one sample, but it is not a problem in practice – the change in output is gradual enough for you not to notice by eye, and you can always adjust the ring for more output later if needed.
UPDATE July 2, 2012: The control ring is a bit stiffer than I would like, and you can potentially unscrew the whole head (breaking contact) when trying to turn it (depending on how you are holding the light). Others have commented on this latter point, but it hasn't been a big issue for me in practice for single-handed use (I think because the longer length of the AA-size makes it easier for my hands to grip it solidly - may be more of an issue in default 1xRCR length).
Over the years, I have carried a number of different lights on my person – from Fenix, Jetbeam, Zebralight, 4Sevens, Liteflux, Nitecore, Sunwayman, and more. One key spot is a 1xRCR or 1x14500 class light in a holster on my belt – and for last six months or so, that position has been held by the Sunwayman V10A. It has done the job well, which is why I haven't felt compelled to replace it. Until now, that is.
The V11R (with the 1xAA extender tube) fixes a few of the minor concerns that I had identified on the V10A. To wit, the lack of suitable tactile differentiation of the control ring from the rest of the head, the lack of sufficient knurling/grip elements on the body, and a weak clip that can easily be pulled off. All of these are better on the V11R (I wouldn't say perfect, but much improved certainly).
About the only new feature that I don't like is the metal switch cover on the V11R – I am therefore glad to hear that Sunwayman will be offering an extra rubber boot cover with the V11R from now on.
I am also glad to see what hasn't changed – most notably, the logarithmic "visually-linear" ramp of the control ring. The lack of detectable PWM, the good overall output/runtime efficiency, the excellent anodizing, and the consistent threading (allowing you mix-and-match heads and bodies across the whole M- and V-series line) are all worthwhile things that I am glad they kept unaltered. The circuit glitch of not maintaining the initial set output level on 3.7V Li-ion sources is a bit strange, but not really a problem in use (i.e., gradual enough not to notice, and can always adjust the ring for more light eventually).
Oh, and the natural-anodized AA-extender piece is a nice addition, so that you don't have to buy a whole new light for added AA/14500 flexibility.
At the end of the day, this is really more of a cosmetic upgrade to the V10A/R line. There may not be a lot here to compel an upgrade from those who hold the earlier series (although I appreciate the extra grip features and improved clip). Certainly, if you are in the market for a well-designed, continuously-variable light in the CR123A- or AA-class sizes, the V11R is a strong contender.
V11R was supplied by Battery Junction for review.