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Thread: NITECORE SENS Series Review (AA, CR, Mini)

  1. #1

    Wink2 NITECORE SENS Series Review (AA, CR, Mini)

    NITECORE has launched a new line of EDC lights featuring Active Dimming Technology (ADT) that automatically and constantly adjusts output depending on the angle in which the light is held. This allows true one-handed use without the need to manually adjust output for most occasions.

    However, in the few days I've been testing the light, I feel that another acronym that would've been quite apropos is what I would dub Active Savings Technology (AST) as the constant minute adjustments in current draw really help to prolong the battery life during use. So is it gimmicky or a "Gimme!"? Read on to find out...


    MFG SPECS
    MSRP:$31.95 USD ea.

    • CREE XP-G (R5) LED
    • Highly effective current circuit board
    • 3 brightness levels
    • Active dimming system with auto-adjust function
    • Soft turn-on mode and low illumination for everyday usage
    • Convenient one-handed operation
    • Board voltage circuit, compatible with primary or rechargeable Li-ion batteries
    • Reverse polarity protection
    • Equipped with integrated lens
    • Constructed from aerospace grade aluminum alloy
    • Type III military grade hard anodizing
    • Special-made rhombic knurling for better grip
    • Waterproof in accordance with IPX-8 (2 meters submersible)
    • Tail stand ability


    PACKAGING / CONTENTS
    The lights were sent as is without any packaging or accessories however the instruction manual mentions there should be a keychain / spare o-ring included:



    CONDENSED VIDEO SUMMARY

    Will have this fleshed out in a few so in the meanwhile, here is a video summary focusing on the ADT but just as importantly the AST:



    DESIGN / FEATURES
    NOTE: Given the heads of all three lights are identical, I will focus on just the CR model for this review and where there are unique differences, will highlight them individually.

    The SENS seires feature a TIR lens:


    It helps shape the beam of the XP-G sitting right underneath it (which looks to be perfectly centered - last pic was taken at a slight angle):


    As with every TIR I've ever handled, there are some minor dust in the interior of the lens and this one is no exception:

    However, this doesn't contribute to any artifacts in the beam whatsoever (at least that I could note on all my samples).

    The head is perfectly flat so one wouldn't be able to notice if the light was on when stood bezel down:

    Light tilted slightly in right pic to show that it was on.

    There is rhombic texturing around the entire circumference of the head that provides decent grip:


    The lights do not feature any engraving beyond the company and model name for each:


    The same texture on the head is repeated over nearly the entire surface of the body:


    The tail ends of each light are slightly flared to provide both aesthetics and more stable foundation when tailstanding:


    There are two oblong holes that can be used as attachment points for a wrist strap:

    The recess in the middle allows the strap to be nestled within it so as not to obstruct tailstanding.

    The threads aren't square-cut but I didn't have any problems when threading on the head. There is a nodule underneath the head but regardless you still wouldn't be able to use flat-top cells (if you happen to have any in AA, CR123A, CR2 format) since the foam ring around it acts as a physical reverse-battery protection:

    The heads are identical on all three lights thus are able to accomodate a broad voltage range.

    There are three leaf springs in the base of the tailcap:


    While I didn't encounter any issues with the various batteries used during testing (as detailed in the Runtime section), the XTAR 16340 is overly long and instantly turned on the SENS CR as soon as the head was pressed down and not even threaded on yet. These XTAR cells will NOT work in the CR:

    L: Tenergy LiFePO4 (33.6mm) | R: XTAR 16340 (35.6mm)


    SIZE & HANDLING

    L to R: Panasonic CR2 | SureFire CR123A | NITECORE SENS Mini | NITECORE SENS CR | Zebralight SC30 | XTAR WK21 | Sunwayman M11R | NITECORE SENS AA | Sunwayman V11R | Eneloop XX


    FIT & FINISH
    The overall quality of the SENS series lights are outstanding. I could not find any traces of missing anodizing and it matches perfectly between the head and tube on each model:


    As can be seen in the photos in the Design/Features section, all the laser engravings are nice and sharp w/no blotchiness.

    There was a decent amount of grease applied on both the threads and o-ring. If there was but one nitpick which may really be more a design decision than one of fit & finish, it would be that the heads do not screw down completely with a battery in place:

    Given these are EDC lights and may be pocket-carried, they can easily accumulate crud/dirt/lint in this gap. Also, since these are twisties, when "locked out" there will be inevitible battery rattle.

    While accelerometers are not new, their utilization in a flashlight to control LED's is. While I haven't encountered any issues in the short time I've had these lights, it remains to be seen how this holds up in the long run.


    UI
    At first glance, these look to be the typical twsity lights wherein both turning the light on/off as well as changing output levels are achieved by screwing the head on and then off. As explained in my video, there are two main ways to use the SENS series lights; AD (Active Dimming) mode or a manual mode with three output levels:
    - ADT mode is activated by turning the light on with the head pointed straight up. Once engaged, each light will start to automatically dim if pointed at any angle below horizontal. The lower you point, the lower the output; all the way until it is pointing straight down. When the light is straight down and then suddenly pointed at a horizontal plane, it will ramp up to full brightness immediately.
    - Manual mode features three output levels that are activated depending on the angle of the light
    * Horizontral for High
    * 45 deg. (pointed towards the ground) for Med
    * Straight down for Low

    If you haven't already done so, please check out my video above which covers ADT as well as the current draw in-depth.


    BEAMSHOTS
    Indoors (5m)

    SENS AA (AW14500)

    High




    Med


    Low


    SENS AA (ENELOOP XX)
    High




    Med


    Low



    SENS CR (AW16340)
    High




    Med


    Low


    SENS CR (Tenergy LiFePO4)
    High




    Med


    Low


    SENS CR (SureFire CR123A)
    High




    Med


    Low



    SENS MINI (PNSC CR2)
    High




    Med


    Low

    For details of the above indoor shots and comparo vs. many other lights, please check Epic Indoor Shots Trilogy

    Whitewall Hunting
    Exposure settings in sequential reading-order from top left: 1/25, 1/100, 1/800, 1/1600 @ f2.9 on AWB (light is ~.4m to wall / camera ~.59m).

    AA - AW14500



    CR - AW16340



    Mini - CR2




    RUNTIME
    The relevant battery stats are provided above each runtime graph along with:
    - Voltage of the battery at the start and end of the test
    - Current draw as taken right before the test
    - Actual runtime using ANSI FL1 (first in HR and then in M so for the RL3100 read this as 2.3hrs OR 138min)
    - NEW (as of May 2012): Lumens measured on PVC LMD @ 30 seconds
    - Also for High, captured the temperature: ambient, the head at start and the max it reached (fan was used for all bats)

    Below are the runtimes for each light on Max output.
    [ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY TO COME]

    AA



    CR


    Mini





    =======
    Disclosure: SENS series provided by NITECORE for review.
    Last edited by turboBB; 07-16-2012 at 10:04 PM. Reason: Design / Features completed, Fit & Finish & UI sections added

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* TooManyGizmos's Avatar
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    Default Re: NITECORE SENS Series Review (Mini, CR, AA)

    ~

    Thanks for the review , BB

    It has a nice beam too .

    ~
    ~ "She" says ... ... I have ... TooManyGizmos ~

  3. #3

    Default Re: NITECORE SENS Series Review (Mini, CR, AA)

    i have one of them. its very flashy and its charging time is perfect. i love this

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* tobrien's Avatar
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    Default Re: NITECORE SENS Series Review (Mini, CR, AA)

    very nice work bud!
    aka Edgar Allan Bro, Brosama Bin Liftin, Walter Crunkite, Bro Namath, Teddy Brosevelt, and the Tomahawk Crunkmissile.
    my lights - review of PrecisionWorks - that's Gucci Mane in my avatar

  5. #5

    Default Re: NITECORE SENS Series Review (Mini, CR, AA)

    Thx guys! Indoors 5m shots for each light using various battery types now added. Should have rest of review wrapped up shortly.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bevis View Post
    i have one of them. its very flashy and its charging time is perfect. i love this
    Charging?
    Last edited by turboBB; 07-14-2012 at 10:19 PM.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* tobrien's Avatar
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    Default Re: NITECORE SENS Series Review (Mini, CR, AA)

    so the throw is pretty darn good given their size?

    i wonder about a nichia 219 swap lol
    aka Edgar Allan Bro, Brosama Bin Liftin, Walter Crunkite, Bro Namath, Teddy Brosevelt, and the Tomahawk Crunkmissile.
    my lights - review of PrecisionWorks - that's Gucci Mane in my avatar

  7. #7

    Default Re: NITECORE SENS Series Review (Mini, CR, AA)

    @tobrien - these are the first lights that I've handled featuring TIR/XP-G combo so I don't have any others for direct comparison, however, they are definitely not in the same league as ones featuring XR-E's/XP-E's. I'll be adding lux measurements shortly.

    Bulk of Design/Features section now up.

    Cheers,
    Tim

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* tobrien's Avatar
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    Default Re: NITECORE SENS Series Review (Mini, CR, AA)

    Quote Originally Posted by turboBB View Post
    @tobrien - these are the first lights that I've handled featuring TIR/XP-G combo so I don't have any others for direct comparison, however, they are definitely not in the same league as ones featuring XR-E's/XP-E's. I'll be adding lux measurements shortly.

    Bulk of Design/Features section now up.

    Cheers,
    Tim
    Ah okay, I assumed because they had TIR that they'd be in line with the XP-E and XR-E lights
    aka Edgar Allan Bro, Brosama Bin Liftin, Walter Crunkite, Bro Namath, Teddy Brosevelt, and the Tomahawk Crunkmissile.
    my lights - review of PrecisionWorks - that's Gucci Mane in my avatar

  9. #9

    Default Re: NITECORE SENS Series Review (Mini, CR, AA)

    All, review pretty much wrapped up. Just need to add final thoughts after I create one more vid and add some additional minor details.

    @tobrien - I will have lux numbers later today.

    Cheers,
    Tim

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