Warning: even more pic heavy than usual!
UPDATE JUNE 12, 2012: This review has been updated with the results of the SR95UT ("Ultimate Thrower"). The SR95UT is a limited edition version of the SR95, with the Luminus SBT-90 emitter.
UPDATE DECEMBER 22, 2012: The previous limited-edition SR95-UT has been replaced with a new version with even greater throw, the SR95S-UT. Please see my dedicated review of that light for more info.
Welcome to my review of the Olight "mystery light", the new SR95:
This light may look a lot like the original member of the Search & Rescue line from Olight, the SR90. And it does share a lot of similarities (including the same emitter type, the Luminus SST-90). But there are also a significant number of differences, as you will see below.
Note the external styling of the SR95UT is identical. Scroll for a comparison of the parts that matter …
Manufacturer's Specifications for the SR95:
- Equipped with a premium flux bin Luminus SST-90 LED (P bin)
- Output and Run Time: High: 2000 lumens/ 110minutes；Medium: 600 lumens/9.5 hours；Low: 120 lumens/46 hours
- Strobe mode: 10 Hertz Strobe
- Beam intensity in center: 129,600 candela
- Maximum throw: 720 meters
- A large capacity 7800mAh 7.4V rechargeable lithium battery pack guarantees long runtimes and is compatible with Olight SR90/91/92 LED flashlights.
- Hollow structure in the head reduces weight by 30% compare to traditional sealed packet design.
- Hollow structure also allows twice the cooling surface area than that of solid design, and the advanced design utilizes the head, as well as the reflector, to aid in heat dissipation.
- 18mm diameter power button ensures ease of use even using thick gloves or in adverse conditions.
- Material: Aluminum body with anti-scratching type III Hard Anodizing
- Dimensions: Length: 325mm, Head Diameter: 90mm Body Tube Diameter: 48.4mm
- Weight: 1230.5g
- Color: Black
- Charger: AC 100～220V 50~60HZ input. Recharge under constant current and voltage) 3A/8.4V
- Reflector: High-efficiency, large diameter smooth reflector
- Lens: Tough ultra-clear tempering glass, with anti-reflective coating
- Striking bezel: Aluminum body with anti-scratching type III Hard Anodizing
- Switch: Side switch
- 2 Gold plated, metal O rings
- Waterproof rating: IPX6
- Impact resistance: 1.5 (meters)
- Integrated power input socket on the tailcap, with four indicators on the tail for indicating the batteries condition
- Included accessories: Carrying strap, AC charger, power cable for charger, user manual, warranty card
- MSRP: $450
Manufacturer's Specifications for the SR95UT (where different from above)
- Luminus SBT-90 LED
- Output/Runtime: 60lm (48h), 300lm (10h), 1050lm(1h55min)
- Peam Beam Intensity: 168,100 cd
- Maximum throw of 820 meters
As you can see in the specs above, the SR95UT differs solely in the choice of emitter used (with corresponding differences in output and throw, which I will describe below).
As my SR95 was an engineering sample, I didn’t know initially what the final packaging would look like. The SR95UT came in full retail packaging (shown above), which includes the new-style presentation case shown on the X6 Marauder (i.e., two-toned black and silver, with metal hinges and closing flaps). There is an identification badge on the top, showing the model. Inside, you find the light with battery handle attached in cut-out foam, along with a charging power cord and transformer, shoulder carrying strap, spare o-rings, warranty card and manual.
From left to right: Redilast Protected 18650; Olight SR95, SR90, SR92; Thrunite TN31.
Olight SR95: Weight: 1,224g (with battery pack), Length: 323mm, Width (bezel): 87mm
Olight SR95UT: Weight: 1,221g (with battery pack), Length: 323mm, Width (bezel): 87mm
Olight SR90: Weight: 1.6kg (with battery pack), Length: 335mm, Width (bezel): 97mm
Olight SR92: Weight: 1,148g (with battery pack), Length: 271mm, Width (bezel): 98mm
Thrunite TN31: Weight: 725g (with 3x 18650 protected cells), Length: 203mm, Width (bezel): 79.0mm.
All my build comments below refer jointly to the SR95 and SR95UT. I will discuss the emitters and beam patterns later in this review.
Note that the above weights don't tell the whole story – virtually the entire reduction in weight on the SR95 comes from the head. The new battery pack handle is on slightly lighter than the original model (i.e., SR95 battery is 511g vs 532g for the SR90/92 default battery). So that the means the SR95 head is about ~350g lighter than the SR90 head, despite being only about a centimeter narrower and shorter.
This difference in weight is noticeable, and contributes to giving the SR95 a more comfortable hand-feel (i.e., much better balanced than the SR90, which was front-heavy). It also brings the SR95 more in keeping with some of the smaller recent lights that were starting to narrow the gap to the original SR90's output and throw.
Let's start with the case:
You will note the model number is clearly identified on the label badge (i.e., SR95UT in this case). Overall, this case is very similar to the new style found on the Olight X6 Marauder.
Let's compare the heads. SR95 on the left, SR90 on the right:
And the rest of the SR95:
As before, the SR-series lights use a common battery pack handle, and interchangeable heads. There have been some changes to the battery pack (more on this in a moment).
Fit and finish has always been are excellent across the SR-series line, and the SR95 is no exception. Even though my sample is an engineering sample, the glossy black anodizing was flawless – there are no chips or scratches.
Lettering is sharp and clear as always, in bright white against the dark black background. Labels have thoughtfully been kept to a minimum, consistent with the other models of the line.
The SR95UT has a unique serial number (reflecting its limited edition status).
The head is where the action is, of course. The bright blue on/off button is larger now, and the switch feel is a little "softer" (i.e., less force required). The switch is an electronic switch programmed to act like a reverse clicky (i.e., need to release it for the light to turn on). As such, there is a small standby current drain (see measurement later in this review)
The obvious major change to the head is the appearance of new cut-outs that let you see the heatsink assembly below. Olight appears to have been able to drastically reduce the heatsinking mass, while increasing the output of the light (compared to the original SR90). Scroll down to my runtimes to see temperature, output and runtime comparisons.
The other obvious difference is the reflector assembly, which is slightly smaller now. Scroll down to my beamshots section for pics and a discussion.
One small difference – the front-mounted gold-plated anchor ring for the shoulder strap rotates very easily on my SR95 sample. On most of the other SR-series lights I've tested, the ring was not perfectly flat. This meant it fit into the groove fairly firmly (i.e., could rotate, but was stiff). On the SR95, the ring spins freely – this can actually be rather annoying on the SR95 sample, as it never stops moving. The SR95UT's ring was more stable, as with earlier lights.
SR95 on the left, SR90 on the right:
Ridge detail has increased on the handle – the checkering rectangles are now about half the size they were previously. Grip was always decent, but I find it is actually improved now. This is good, since this is not a light you would want to drop on your foot. Battery capacity has increased, despite a slight drop in weight (see my runtimes later in this review)
The new pack is still fully compatible with the older models. I have tested the new battery pack handle on my SR90 and SR92, and all lights work on all battery packs.
The light can tailstand.
As always, the charger attaches at the tail-end of the light (just under that rubber protective cover). The battery read-out gauge works as before (press the bottom button, and up to 4 green LEDs light up to let you know the relative charge status of the battery). Note that you need to have the light off for at least a few seconds, and not plugged into the charger, for an accurate charge reading.
The charger is unchanged from the earlier SR-series lights, and still has the same model number.
Turn the light on/off by pressing and releasing the big blue button near the head. The electronic switch acts like a reverse clicky.
To change modes, press and hold the switch for more than 1-2 secs. The light cycles between its three output modes, in repeating order (i.e., Lo > Med > Hi). Release the switch to select the mode you want. This is a slight departure from the earlier SR-series lights, which only had two modes (basically, Med and Hi, compared to the SR95's Lo/Med/Hi).
Press and release the electronic mode switch again to turn off (actually a Standby mode).
There is a "hidden" strobe mode, accessed by double-clicking the electronic switch.
Light has mode memory, and will return to the last constant output mode you set it to after turning off-on.
Light has a "lock-out function" to prevent accidental activation. Cycle through Lo > Med > Hi three time to temporarily deactivate the on/off switch. To unlock, click the switch three times or disconnect and re-attach the battery pack.
To charge the battery pack, connect the cable from the included AC charger/transformer to the port under the rubber cover on the tailcap. There is an LED status indicator on the transformer brick – red means the battery pack is charging, green means it fully charged (or not connected).
For more information on the light, including the build and user interface, please see my video overview:
For a quick video comparison of the SR95 to the SR95UT, and an overview of the retail packaging, see this additional video:
As always, videos were 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.
As before, there is no sign of PWM on any level – I believe the light is current-controlled as before.
I did detect some high frequency circuit noise on the Med level on my SR95, but it was not perceptible by eye (>20 kHz)
Strobe was a typical tactical strobe, 9.6Hz in my testing.
Due to the electronic switch, there is always a standby drain when the battery is fully connected. I measured this as 53uA on my SR95 sample. I don't know for sure how the battery pack is configured, but the 7.4V and 7800mAh spec suggests a 2s3p arrangement (i.e. two series of three 2600mAh 18650 batteries in parallel). That would translate into 16.8 years before the pack would be fully drained - definitely not a problem.
Olight's "lock-out function" presumably uses an even lower level standby drain, but measuring it isn't possible with my limited setup.
To break these currents, you need to twist the battery pack typically at least one full turn (to break the double spring contact in the head).
Let's start with the regular SR95:
The Luminus SST-90 emitter was well-centered at the base of a very large and deep reflector. The reflector shape has changed somewhat from the SR90 - the SR95 is narrower and deeper. The SR95 reflector had to be narrower, due to the smaller head. The finish is still mainly smooth, but there seems to be a very slight texturing to it now (this shows up as the slightly "fuzzy" looking pictures above). It should still provide excellent throw.
The SR95UT uses the Luminus SBT-90 emitter:
(as an aside, you can see they are still using the same black mask for the SST-90 die on the SR95UT's SBT-90).
The most obvious visual difference is that the big round emitter dome is missing on the SR95UT. In actual fact, the SBT-90 does have a covering, but it is very thin over the emitter die -resulting in improved light transmission for focusing. However, the maximum luminous flux of the SBT-90 is considerably lower than the current SST-90s (especially the premium bin used in the SR95). Note that the actual die size is the same (i.e., 3mm x 3mm).
Note also that this is different from end-user "de-doming", a popular SST-90 mod here. While this may increase the throw on your SR90/95 sample, there is a risk of catastrophic failure to the emitter die if you attempt this. Also, lifespan of the emitter is presumably considerably reduced (i.e., there's a reason why the covering dome is there in the first place). It stands to reason that if Luminus could make a stable SBT-90-style emitter with the higher luminous flux capacity of the SST-90, they would.
To help you compare, here are some side-by-side pics – first the SR95 on the left, SR90 on the right:
And now the SR95UT on the left, SR95 on the right:
And now, what you have all been waiting for. All lights are on their respective battery pack, on Max, 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.
First thing to notice about the SR95 is that it is putting out more light overall than the SR90, but the max spillbeam width is narrower (i.e., the overall spill is brighter on the SR95, although it isn't as wide). The throw seems slightly improved as well, with the extra output likely compensating for the slightly smaller head/reflector (scroll down for the direct throw and output measures).
Don't be concerned about the apparent distortions in the corona around the hotspot on the SR95 – that's an artifact of the ridiculously close distance to the wall. In real life, the SR90 actually seems to have more artifacts in the corona at intermediate distances. Although you can't really see it, here are a couple of close ups of the hotspot at ~8m from the wall.
There is definitely more light in the corona of the SR95. Also, don't get hung up on the tint differences – some of that is just due to the camera's auto white balance. My SR95 is a touch on the warm side, and the SR90 was definitely on the cool side of cool white. But as always, YMMV …
As for the SR95UT, you can see that it puts out a brighter and much more tightly focused hotspot. Overall output is less, consistent with the specs.
For outdoor beamshots, these are 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).
Again, you can tell that the SR95 puts out more light overall than the older SR90. It also has a broader hotspot (due to the brighter corona again). Peak throw is only slightly improved on the SR95 (although the advantage is more noticeable in real life than the pics above).
The real stand-out is the SR95UT – thanks to the much more focused beam, you get a tighter and brighter hotspot. Overall spill is dimmer of course, in keeping with the lower overall lumen output.
Here is a blow-up of the center of the images, to allow you to compare the SR95 and SR95UT hotspots and coronas:
Scroll down to my Summary Tables for actual beam distance and overall output measures.
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. Please see http://www.flashlightreviews.ca/FL1.htm for a discussion, and a description of all the terms used in these tables.
Note that my SR90 was from one of the first batches of this light, and relative output is likely to have increased since then. Olight currently cites 1750 lumens for the SR90, which is believable.
The SR95 clearly has more output and throw than my SR90. I suspect much of this is higher throw is the result of the higher output, as the SR95 reflector is slightly smaller. According to Olight, the extra output on the SR95 is due to a premium high output P-bin SST-90 used in this model.
As expected, the SR95UT has less output overall – although my ~1300 lumen estimate is higher than the manufacturer's specs. What is truly impressive is the throw – this is by far the furthest throwing reflector-based single-LED light I've tested to date.
Now, I know people are very sensitive to minor differences in raw lux @1m numbers for these lights. But as with lightboxes, you can only really compare throw values to other lights tested with the same meter, under common conditions (i.e., calibrations vary, sometimes widely). Up until now, the light meter used for beam intensity/distance measures in all my summary tables has been the budget Cer CT1330B (which is generally believed around here to commonly have lower numbers than some others lux meters). I recently picked up the slightly more expensive budget-model V&A VA8050, which gave me ~12-15% higher lux readings on average.
As I have no idea which of these lux meters is closer to the "true" reading, I have recently ordered a proper NIST-calibrated and certified Extech meter. This should resolve the matter, and I will update this review with new throw measures once it arrives. In the meantime, I will present both the Cer and V&A meter findings.
Ok, with the V&A meter, you can see the SR95UT just about breaks through the 200K lux @1m level. Again, we will have to wait for the NIST-calibrated meter for the most accurate measure. But it looks like my SR95UT samples exceeds on both output and throw measures (which makes sense – if my sample is brighter overall than spec, throw should also be increased).
UPDATE JUNE 13, 2012: There has been some discussion of how variable the SR90 can be in overall output. Here is a table showing how my estimate lumens stack up against manufacturer specs. You will note my SR90 is something of an outlier:
I believe this can be easily explained by the wide output range used for SST-90 emitter binning by Luminus. We are all used to Cree bins that typically only differ by a consistent ~7% over each bin range. In constrast, Luminus uses a variable bin range, sometimes exceeding a 20% difference within a given bin. That's a lot more variability, and means two lights with emitters from the same bin could be as much as 20% different in output. Moreover, the availability of a specific bin is never guaranteed by the light manufacturer - it is quite possible that they have had to use more than one defined output bin over the production run of the SR90. If so, that would translate into potentially up ~40% difference between samples.
You will note that my SR95 is at least 40% brighter overall than my early model SR90. Given that runtime on a common battery is not all that different (see analysis below), that would suggest the output gain has come from use of a higher output bin and not by driving the emitter harder. Given the variability reported for SR90 output, I strongly suspect that two different output bins were used over time. You could thus expect anywhere between ~1-40% difference between any two SR90 samples. My SR90 is likely just a lower performing member of the lower output bin used.
First off, here is how the SR95 compares to the SR90 – both on its new battery pack, and on the older SR90 pack - in an estmated lumen scale.
As you can see, not only has output increased on the SR95, but so has runtime.
The output increase is likely due mainly to the higher SST-90 output bin (although it may also be driven slightly harder too). The longer runtime is clearly due to increased capacity in the battery pack (i.e., compare the SR95 head on the different battery packs). I would estimate SR95 battery pack capacity has increased by up to ~20% from the earlier SR90/92 battery pack.
The SR90 maintained a perfectly flat stabilization, but my SR95 shows a slight drop-off over time. This made me wonder about heat, so I did a comparison with a thermal probe in place, as illustrated below.
The black and gray lines represent temperature, and should be read off the right-hand y-axis scale.
The SR95 maintains perfectly flat thermal regulation (around ~38oC), as the output drops slightly over time. In contrast, the SR90's surface temperature slowly rises over the course of the run, reaching a max around ~37oC. This is actually what I expected to see, given the differing regulation patterns in my lightbox.
The take-home message here is that the SR95 does NOT run that much hotter than the SR90, despite the greatly reduced mass in the head. Recall that total head mass has dropped by ~350g (i.e., a full third of the SR90's head weight).
So, in other words, with the SR95 you get greater output (due mainly to a higher flux bin), in a head that has a third less mass than the SR90, with only a nominal increase in surface temperature.
Here is how the SR95 and SR95UT compare to the high-output competition, using my standard relative lightbox output scale:
And finally, here they are against the really high-output lights, like the Olight X6 and the Titanium Innovations L35 HID (back in an estimated lumen output scale):
SR95 performance is excellent for a SST-90-equipped light driven to these levels. Note however that my runtimes for the SR95 were slightly lower than Olight's specs.
For the SR95UT, runtime was generally comparable to the SR95 – just with lower overall output (as you would expect from the SBT-90 emitter). But my output estimates for the SR95UT are noticeably higher than Olight's specs (and thus consistent with the slightly lower runtime observed).
UPDATE DECEMBER 23, 2012: I have done a few more thermal measurement tests, without fan cooling, in my more recent SR95S-UT review. The relevant observation for the standard SR95 is shown below:
As you can see, without fan cooling, the SR95 gets very warm - nearly 65 degrees Celsius, over the course of the run (with fan cooling, it never reached even 40 degrees). But the main thing to observe above is that the SR95 just slowly drops in output on Hi - but at an accelerated rate when no cooling is applied. In constrast, the new SR95S-UT has a thermal step-down feature, which kicked in once the surface temperature reached the low 50s (degrees Celsius). See that review for more details.
Due to the electronic switch, all the SR-series lights have a stand-by current when the battery is fully connected – but it is negligible at 53uA on my sample. The "lock-out" mode is likely even lower. You can break these currents by unscrewing the battery handle by a full-turn.
While the SR95 is greatly reduced in weight from the SR90 (and is better balanced), it is still a substantial light. I recommend use of the included should strap.
Recharge time for a depleted battery was about 5 hours in my testing (i.e. from the point when the protection circuit has been tripped, to when the green light comes on the charging transformer). This is not unreasonable, given the increased storage capacity of the pack.
Due to the cut-outs in the head, cleaning may be an issue.
So, let's see if I can sum this up simply: the SR95 is smaller and lighter than the SR90, but with more output and throw, and even long-lasting battery performance. Oh, and it doesn't run any hotter either.
That is not usually the kind of opening paragraph I get to string together. All things being equal, something typically has to give (i.e. if you shrink a reflector, throw drops – if you increase the output, heat rises and runtime drops – etc.). The reason this is not the case here is that Olight has made simultaneous improvements across the board. Specifically:
- Output has increased by using a premium P flux bin (and not by over-driving, thus sparing heat and runtime)
- Thermal management has been significantly improved allowing a reduction in size and weight, without significantly increased heat.
- Since the weight has been reduced mainly from the head, the SR95 feels a lot better balanced now, with a more appropriate center of gravity near the switch.
- The greater output more than compensates for the reduction in the reflector size, so overall throw is still increased (though not by as much as overall output has increased)
- The battery pack capacity has increased by up to ~20%, with a slight reduction in weight. Significantly, the new pack is still fully compatible with the older SR90/92 heads, and even the charger remains constant.
- The circuit has been updated with a true Lo mode now (still has Med/Hi and hidden Strobe, as before)
- The build features a more rakish design with cut-outs showing some the head internals. Oh, and they have tossed in a bigger switch button.
These changes are a welcome update to the line. Frankly, some of the competition had been creeping into the SR90's output space – providing nearly as good output and/or throw, but in a smaller, more portable size.
Of course, what this also means is that there is basically no reason to buy a SR90 anymore – the SR95 is an improvement in just about every sense. I can only presume Olight plans to discontinue the older SR90 model.
That being said, is it worth it to you upgrade from a SR90? I am always loathe to make specific recommendations, as your needs may vary. You have to ask yourself - do I really need the extra couple of hundred lumens for a full 2000 lumen light? Or the extra 10 mins of runtime on Hi? Or the small increase in raw lux @1m? Or the extra Lo mode? Maybe yes, maybe no. Personally, the main compelling feature for me is the 20% lower overall weight and the much better balance. In my testing, it makes the SR95 far more comfortable to carry around than its predecessor.
Without a doubt, the SR95UT has greatest throw I've seen to date in a reflectored light. The SR95 still provides greater throw than the original SR90, but is mainly distinguished by the increased overall output. If you are interested in maximum throw, and are willing to forgo some overall output, the SR95UT is the clear throw king at the moment.
UPDATE DECEMBER 22, 2012: The previous limited-edition SR95-UT has been replaced with a new version with even greater throw, the SR95S-UT. Please see my dedicated review of that light for more info.
SR95 and SR95UT provided by Olight for review.