Niteye is a relatively new flashlight brand, owned by a company that has been around for a while. For a time, JETBeam lights have been distributed by SYSMAX, but due to a recent disagreement, that partnership has ended. From this disagreement, the company previously producing JETBeam lights began producing lights under the Niteye brand. In the past few months, we've seen quite a variety of lights from Niteye, from small single-cell lights to large multi-emitter lights. Now, Niteye has produced a light very similar to their popular EYE10 model, the EYE15.
Thanks to Niteye for providing the EYE15 for review.
Iíll be reviewing the EYE15 in two sections: first, Iíll discuss the light objectively (the facts about the light itself), then Iíll discuss the light subjectively (my impressions about the light's performance when used for specific applications). If you have any other specific applications you'd like the light tested for, let me know and I'll see what I can do.
Below is a video "quick review" you can watch in just a few minutes, if you're not up for reading the full review right now:
This video is available in 720p HD, but defaults to a lower quality. To select the playback quality click the settings button (looks like a gear) after you've started the video.
The EYE15 comes packaged in a cardboard box with a sketch of the light on top, and the specs stickered onto the sides.
Inside the box, the EYE15 sits in a foam cutout. Below the light are the accessories.
(Note: A dent at the tail may be visible in some of the pictures. The light did not arrive that way, I dropped it once during the photo shoot.)
The EYE15 is has a dark grey anodized aluminum body, with a stainless steel bezel and and titanium alloy clip. It's powered by a single 18650 sized lithium ion battery, or two CR123 lithium primaries. It's pretty slim, not much bigger around than the battery it uses, but the magnetic control ring adds a little extra length.
Let's take a closer look, starting at the head and working back.
The EYE15 uses a Cree XM-L emitter in a textured reflector. Due to the large emitter and small reflector, this is a pretty floody light.
The EYE15 is completely controlled by the magnetic ring on the head. More details on the operation of the ring can be found in the Performance section.
One of the criticisms of the EYE10 was that the ring was only textured halfway, and the other half was smooth. In the EYE15, Niteye maintains it's "half" ring style by making half of the ring textured with grooves, and the other half textured with large rectangles, with just a small smooth section in between.
The body of the EYE15 is completely round, and covered in knurling everywhere except for two smoothed sections. One section shows the series and model name, the other shows the Niteye name and website.
The clip of the EYE15 is secured by two allen-screws, the wrench being supplied along with the light, so that the use can attach/remove the clip as desired. The clip does not quite make contact with the body, so it keeps a loose hold on whatever you clip it to.
The EYE15 has no tail switch, being completely controlled by the ring. Instead, a small post is recessed into the tail, with a hole to attach the included split-ring/lanyard. Because the post is recessed, the EYE15 can do a solid tail stand.
Now, let's take the light apart.
Without the use of tools, the EYE15 comes apart into two pieces: the head and the body/tail.
Inside the head, a the small white plastic ring surrounding the positive contact terminal acts as mechanical reverse polarity protection, by keeping the negative end of the battery from being able to reach the terminal. This keeps the light from being damaged if the battery is inserted backwards. The drawback is, this also makes it difficult for flat-top cells to make contact with the terminal. In my tests, I found that the light would turn on using AW brand 18650 cells, but not Callies' Kustoms. All button-top cells I tested made contact just fine. The only exception would be if a button-top cell had an abnormally wide button.
An 18650 battery inserted into the body will extend well beyond the end of the body, making it easy to remove for battery changes.
The EYE15 comes with an allen-screw clip and allen wrench, lobster-claw lanyard, and a spare o-ring.
The lanyard attaches to a hole in the inner post of the tail using a small split-ring, and also has a button for adjusting the loop in the lanyard.
The EYE15 user interface is just about as simple as possible, using only a magnetic control ring.
When fully turned to the left (with the light pointing away from you), the EYE15 is off. Turning the ring to the right will gradually increase the brightness, and all the way to the right is maximum brightness.
The EYE15 also has a Strobe and SOS mode available. To access Strobe, turn the ring to a position at the right (it doesn't necessarily have to be the max position, but it's easiest there). From there, turn the ring to the left then back to the right twice. The light will then be in Strobe at whatever level the ring is set to, until turned to the Off position. To access SOS, follow the same procedure, except turn the ring to the left then right three times.
For more details about the performance of the ring, check the Performance section.
You can click on any of these shots to see them full size.
Light in Hand
White Wall (Minimum, Medium, Max)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 1/20"
Indoor Shots (Control, Max)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 1"
Outdoor Shots (Control, Max)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 2.5"
Submersion: I submerged the EYE15 under about 3 feet of water for about an hour, using the ring during that time. After the test, I could find no evidence of water entering the light, and performance was unaffected.
Heat: When on max output, the EYE15 heats pretty quickly, getting uncomfortable to hold at about 5 minutes, and maintaining that heat until the battery starts to get low. The heat is mostly concentrated at the head, with only a small amount felt from the body, and almost none from the tail section. The fact that it reaches its max heat so quickly leads me to believe that the light is dissipating the heat into the air and my hand fairly well.
PWM: The EYE15 uses pulse-width modulations to control the output throughout the entire length of the ring's travel. At lower outputs, the PWM is visible only when moving the light very quickly and looking at the emitter, or shining the light onto quickly moving small objects (like falling water drops). At higher outputs, the PWM remains but I could not detect it by eye, it was only detectable by viewing through my camera at a very fast shutter speed.
Drop: I dropped the EYE15 from a height of about 1 meter onto various surfaces (grass, carpet, packed dirt, wood). The light sustained a dent in the tail section, but still functions without any trouble.
Reverse Polarity Protection: The EYE15 uses mechanical reverse polarity protection, so that when a battery is inserted backwards it won't make electrical connection with the head of the light. However, this also means that flat-top cells can have trouble in this light. For more details and pictures, you can see the Construction section.
Over-Discharge Protection: When the battery voltage becomes low, the EYE15 begins to flicker and then strobe on and off. Ideally, you should recharge the battery before this point. The light can flicker for about 2 hours before the protection circuit kicks in.
All light that we see as white is actually made up of several different colors put together. The relative intensities of the different colors in the mix are what determine the tint of the white we see. For example, cool white LED's have a lot of blue, and warm white LED's have more red or yellow. This measurement was done on a home made spectrometer. The plot below the picture is corrected for the spectral sensitivity of the human eye. Note: the peak in the 900nm region doesn't really exist, it's a piece of the second-order spectrum that's showing up here because of the high intensity of the light source.
Output, Current Draw and Runtime
The vertical axis of the graph below represents a relative brightness measurement using a home made light box. The horizontal axis is time in hours:minutes:seconds. Runtimes are stated in hours:minutes:seconds. These graphs may be truncated to show detail.
Time Regulated: 1 hr 34 min
ANSI Time: 1 hr 56 min
At the end of the run, the PWM becomes visible and the light begins to flash on and off. This graph has been truncated to show detail, but the flickering continues about two hours after this point.
ANSI FL-1 standard for stating a light's throwing distance is the distance at which the peak beam intensity (usually at the center of the beam) is 0.25 lux. I calculate throwing distance and candela (lux at 1 meter) by measuring peak beam intensity at five different distances and using the formula lux*distance^2=constant, then averaging the results.
Peak Beam Intensity: 3392cd
Throw Distance: 116m
Magnetic Control Ring
The ring of the EYE15 includes 12 click-stop positions, including off. However, the ring is infinitely variable, so each position does not necessarily represent a specific brightness level, but are simply mechanical stops along the stepless brightness increase. This means that when you go a certain position (not off or max), there is a little "wiggle room" within that position, and on some this wiggle room will produce a noticeable difference in brightness.
Below, I've included a graph of the output at each position on the ring:
When using a single 18650, turning from Off to the first position will not turn the light on, but you have to turn to the second position. When turning from position two to position one, the light will stay on. In other words, position one is off while going up and on when going down. In my experience, this is similar to the performance of magnetic control rings on other lights, the point on the ring that will turn the light on being farther up than the point at which it will turn off. This is most likely because the ring controls the current sent to the light, not necessarily the brightness, and it takes more current to turn a light on than it does to keep it on (that's why your parents always told you not to flip your house lights on/off repeatedly ). So, on the EYE15, position one does not supply enough current to turn the light on, but it does supply enough current to keep the light on.
Also, because the ring is infinitely variable, and doesn't have even brightness increase along it's entire path, the difference in brightness between each position is not always the same. Some transitions have a very small visible increase, and others have a relatively large increase between between positions.
Quick break down:
+ Strobe and SOS available in adjustable output
+ Magnetic control ring
+ Slim profile, head same size as body
+ Grip on ring all the way around
+ Sturdy, removable clip
+ Smooth beam
+ Very good regulation
+ Good ramping at high positions
+ Recessed lanyard attachment allows tailstand
+ Tint closer to neutral than cool
+ Long enough to be comfortable in hand
+ Allen screws for clip - classier than phillips
- Minimum output is a bit too high
- Not much visible difference in output on low positions
The EYE15 is, to my knowledge, the first light to implement a magnetic control ring in a slim (head the same size as the body) format. While it's not perfect, it is very well done.
To start, I'll say that if you haven't tried a light with a magnetic control ring, you need to. If you've read my past reviews, you'll know that this is by far my favorite UI for most tasks. For some tasks, you'll want the old fashioned clickie switch, but I believe that most tasks are better served with the control ring. For greater output, turn the ring one direction, and for less output, turn the ring the other direction. This is great, because you can get easily to the output you want without going through outputs you don't want. A control ring light running from an 18650 lion, with this slim profile, is a very appealing setup.
One that that really stand out here, that I also haven't seen in other light, is the ability to adjust the brightness of the Strobe or SOS mode. They are unlikely to be activated by accident, and not particularly easy to activate when you're trying, but once on, turning the ring to the right or left will adjust the brightness of the Strobe or SOS signal. Most lights have a set output level for these modes (usually max), but the EYE15 allows the potential for any brightness of Strobe or SOS within the light's output range. This means a high-output, attention-getting strobe is available in the same package as a long-running, low output SOS beacon, or whatever combination you need.
Also, it's worth noting that to my eyes, the tint of my sample of the EYE15 is a lot closer to what most of us would call "neutral" than "cool". My measurements on the spectrometer, while not yet able to give a precise color temperature in kelvin, do show a proportionally higher peak in the higher frequencies than that in the lower "cool" colors, which confirms what my eyes see. So, while I wouldn't call this a "neutral" tint bin, it's pretty close.
Lastly, I just really like the way the EYE15 fits in my hand. I've been using a SWM V10R or V11R as an EDC for quite a while, and with hands as large as mine, it can sometimes be a bit awkward. With the EYE15, the extra length makes it a lot easier to hold comfortably. However, I do find the EYE15 just a bit too long to keep in some pants pockets. I'm not sure if there is much room for Niteye to decrease the length of the EYE15, as the magnetic control ring does require a significant amount of space, but I would like the EYE15 to be a bit shorter.
The one thing I want to really highlight for improvement here is the need for a lower low. By reports I've heard, the EYE10 has a lower minimum output than the Sunwayman V series (sometimes being difficult to tell if it's on or off in the daylight), which is very impressive, and I was hoping for the same thing on the EYE15. However, Niteye claims a 5 lumen low for the EYE15, and while I appreciate the accuracy of their claim, I do wish the minimum brightness was lower. The ability to use this light at night without ruining night vision or waking a sleeping child would make the EYE15 indispensable.
Overall, I don't hesitate recommending the EYE15. This light will excel indoors and at close ranges, though due to the small head it won't through very far. The slim profile will allow you to carry the light with you easily, and the range of output will be useful for many type of situations.
Long Term Impressions
I'll fill this part in after carrying the light for a while. If nothing get's added here, either I find nothing else worth noting about the light, or I end up not using it often.