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Thread: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

  1. #1
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    Default Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    I ordered the headlamp from the Zebralight website and chose the free shipping option. The site suggested shipping would be between 2 and 8 weeks. So when the courier turned up 8 days later with a padded parcel from China requiring a signature, I was MOST impressed! Excellent work Zebralight

    Inside was a solidly constructed brown corrugated cardboard box. Upon opening was a notice suggesting the use of either an AA Eneloop or and Energiser Lithium battery. Lithium ion batteries are not supported although this isn’t spelt out in the information in the box. There was also a fold-out sheet listing safety instructions and information detailing the lamps operations. In addition, there was the headband, a small Ziploc bag with two spare o-rings, and a belt/pocket clip. The clip appears to be made of quality spring steel and while not attaching rigidly to the body of the lamp, does fit securely enough to require some force to remove. And after removing and attaching a number of times now, there is no evidence of wear or marking on the body – something I was a little nervous about.

    Operation:

    The lamp has three main levels, High, Medium and Low. Each of these main levels has two sublevels which can be programmed. This gives the following combinations possible:
    H 140 lm and H1 94 lm or H2 62 lm or strobe
    M 36 lm and M1 18 lm or M2 9 lm
    L 1.8 lm and L1 0.34 lm or L2 0.01 lm

    The last setting used in each of the three main levels is memorised.

    Turn the light on by either one quick depress of the soft-touch switch turning the light onto High. Or, by pressing and holding the switch for more than approximately half a second, the light turns on in the Low setting. Whether on or off, by pressing and holding the switch, the light cycles Low-Medium-High. Release the switch at any point to select the desired level.

    To program the second sublevels:
    Go to a main level, then perform six double clicks. On each subsequent double click thereafter, the light cycles through the available brightness levels or strobe function. When you have the desired level, switch the lamp off. That second sub-level will now be memorised and retained even through battery changes.

    A nifty feature is the battery indicator which is activated through quickly clicking four times. The lamp will then flash from 1-4 times to indicate the state of charge of the battery.

    In use:

    If you are looking for a light that has ‘intensity,’ you need to look for another model headlamp. There is no reflector to focus the light generated, but rather you get this particularly wide (120°) pool of light. If being used in headlamp form, the pool of light is so wide it goes right to the periphery of your vision, up, down and to the sides. Anywhere you can comfortably move your eyes will be will be lit within the range of the headlamp. And how far is that range? Outdoors, I would say the comfortable maximum is somewhere around 25 feet. Where this lamp really excels is enclosed spaces and working close up.

    This model from Zebra is the ‘c’ version they refer to as ‘neutral white’ (a Correlated Colour Temperature of 4000 Kelvin) as well as high CRI – Colour Rendition Index. (a rating of 100 is attributed to sunlight under which the various wavelengths of reflected light are equally visible.) Typical values of CRI from other flashlights in the Zebra range are 65-75, while the high CRI versions are nominally 85. Putting it all bluntly, it’s a nice light to view things under.

    The clever thing about all the ‘headlamps’ in the Zebra range of course is there ability to be used independently of the headband. They can either be hand-held, or can tail-stand to throw light into a room or workspace. To use as a headlamp, slide the body into the two rings in the silicone holder and rotate up or down as required.

    The headband doesn’t have a strap going over the top of the head, but because of the low weight, doesn’t really need one. It takes little tension on the strap to hold it in place.

    Something I hadn’t realised until receiving the lamp is the Glow In The Dark ‘reflector’ (which as I’ve already indicated, isn’t a reflector at all) While it does look very cool in the dark when the lamp is first turned off, the intensity quickly fades to the point of not being particularly useful to locate the lamp in the dark.

    Taking the battery compartment apart, the grippy tail-cap is just that. And the threads and o-ring were nicely greased, Actually I didn’t realise just how nicely until I cleaned them off for a photo and went to regrease them. YUCK! Grit! It took me 15 minutes mucking about, finally resorting to washing the threads with IPA and blowing them off with an air compressor to get them properly clean prior to regreasing. Sheesh.......

    Water/dust proofing is to IPX8 standard – 2 metre submersion for 30 minutes. I haven’t put it to the test.

    EDIT: Has now been put to the test. See here: http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...-goes-swimming

    If you want a flashlight that can continue emitting photos for a considerable period of time, how does 2.8 months sound? That’s a spec that comes from Zebralight. I’m afraid I’ll have to take their word for it, because I don’t see myself setting it up for a test to determine the validity of the claim any time soon!

    Here are some photos:



































    And the clip.... complete with finger-prints! Ooops.....

















    The lamp can be rotated very readily in the silicon head-band holder. If that becomes a problem, simply slide it along to engage a silicon ring into the 'land' that the clip fits into. It then locks much more securely. BUT, at the expense of the lamp feeling slightly weighted off center.








    Now for some real-world weights. My scales are plus or minus about a gram as you can see by adding up some of the separate components:

















    While I haven't done a run test on the lowest setting, I have test run it on high to determine the run time. Here is an animation the shows how the lamp did over a period of a little under 50 minutes...




    Camera settings: ISO 320, F5, shutter, 2 seconds, focal length 24mm (full frame image sensor) The lamp was 1.7 metres to the centre of the bush, camera 1.3 metres behind lamp.

    As you can see, the light maintains regulation well until around 40 minutes, then starts to go into mild decline. It tips over the cliff soon after 45 minutes. So on my test with the Varta 2100mAH cell, it doesn't do quite as well as ZL/s claimed run-time with an Eneloop 2000 mAH cell.


    So, how do the various levels look on the H502c. As you can see from the captions on the images, I run only the main and sub-level 1 to give you an idea.





    Thought I'd better try the difference between an Energizer Lithium and the Varta NiMH.





    And now for an animation of the beam pattern shot at different shutter speeds. These were shot against a light coloured wall (cream) to give an idea of the beam pattern on 100 ISO.





    And a beam slice.





    Hmmm... bit worried about whether I've overstepped the mark with the size of the images I've used here. And perhaps the time involved for the gifs to load. Apologies if I haven't quite got the formula right. Will correct as necessary.
    Last edited by skycamnz; 09-01-2012 at 03:40 AM. Reason: Some images resized

  2. #2

    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    That animation, of the runtime test, must be the greatest thing I've seen in years.

    great review!
    If you ask me what light to buy, I have an uncontrollable urge to say "Fenix"

  3. #3

    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    Agreed, that's fantastic! While I've seen variations of it, I like the one minute intervals that depicts real world brightness.

    Thx a lot for the great review!

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* Bolster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    Nice review.

    The $500 dollar question is:

    IS YOURS WATERPROOF?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    Thx for the excellent review skycamnz.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Ezeriel View Post
    That animation, of the runtime test, must be the greatest thing I've seen in years.

    great review!
    Thanks Ezeriel. There were quite enough photos I'd already included without another 10-15 just in separate beam shots! PLUS, it's a whole lot easier to see exactly what's going on between shots if they laid over the top of each other. I knew about the technique but had never used it before so had to spend quite a bit of time getting it sorted out. At least I'll get a flying start on the NEXT review. Asthis was my first review and I'm only a novice still trying to find my way around, I thought I'd better try and put my best foot forward. I'm in awe of some of the reviewers on this site and obviously have access to equipment most of us don't, and never will. As I have no way to plot a graph of the voltage or light output versus time, thought I'd try to depict it visually.


    Quote Originally Posted by turboBB View Post
    Agreed, that's fantastic! While I've seen variations of it, I like the one minute intervals that depicts real world brightness.

    Thx a lot for the great review!
    Cheers turboBB. I'll take it the idea gets a thumbs up and will employ the concept in future.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Bolster View Post
    Nice review.

    The $500 dollar question is:

    IS YOURS WATERPROOF?

    Ahhh.... so I'm going to have to take one for the team huh...

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    OK I have been looking at this light for a while but I have not seen anywhere as to the tightness of the cases so I ask the same question....are they waterproof?

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* Bolster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    Quote Originally Posted by rjdriver View Post
    OK I have been looking at this light for a while but I have not seen anywhere as to the tightness of the cases so I ask the same question....are they waterproof?
    That subject is the topic of the H502 Waterproof Poll.

    It appears (at least as of Aug 24) that most people who have water tested their H502s and reported to the poll, have not had a problem. However there are 3 reports that have been mentioned in other threads (that I'm aware of) that have indicated a problem.

    The question gets sticker when you try to answer, "how waterproof is waterproof?" There are obviously degrees.

    Some people are already jumping to conclusions, but at this point, I'd say no definitive answer. Have a look at the poll thread tho. It's better than relying on third-hand rumors and innuendo.

    EDIT: I noticed that skycamnz has not answered the poll...
    Last edited by Bolster; 08-24-2012 at 10:33 PM.

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* skyfire's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    theres a pretty big difference in brightness with a nimh compared to the energizer lithium.
    if i were to get the H502c i would be using it with energizer lithiums. with the wider beam and the lower than rated 150 lumens with primaries, there doesnt seem to be any significant upgrade to my h501w.

    great picture by the way!

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Bolster View Post
    That subject is the topic of the H502 Waterproof Poll.

    It appears (at least as of Aug 24) that most people who have water tested their H502s and reported to the poll, have not had a problem. However there are 3 reports that have been mentioned in other threads (that I'm aware of) that have indicated a problem.

    The question gets sticker when you try to answer, "how waterproof is waterproof?" There are obviously degrees.

    Some people are already jumping to conclusions, but at this point, I'd say no definitive answer. Have a look at the poll thread tho. It's better than relying on third-hand rumors and innuendo.

    EDIT: I noticed that skycamnz has not answered the poll...
    I had actually started a new thread entitled 'Attempted Drowning... ZL502c going down.' And had a number of photos and my findings listed. But the content was lost. I'll get to at least putting a summary back soon. In the meantime, I'll vote in your poll

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* Bolster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    Quote Originally Posted by skycamnz View Post
    I had actually started a new thread entitled 'Attempted Drowning... ZL502c going down.' And had a number of photos and my findings listed. But the content was lost. I'll get to at least putting a summary back soon. In the meantime, I'll vote in your poll
    I noticed your thread with the awesome photos was wiped out...glad you're rebuilding it!

  13. #13
    *Flashaholic* Flying Turtle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    Great review and seriously good pics. I may now be sold on this light. The old H50 needs to retire. Thanks for your work.

    Geoff

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    Flashaholic* B0wz3r's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    Excellent review! Very helpful! I am saving my pennies for a 502c and I was wondering what the tint was like. Thanks for the beamshots and the other pics.

    One thing I notice though, is that many comments here in other threads have called the GID assembly a 'reflector'. From your pics, it's clearly not any kind of reflector at all, as it's highly transparent; you can see the insides of the light through it! That also is very helpful info to have too!

    Thanks again for the awesome review!
    What? Me? Derail a thread?

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    Quote Originally Posted by B0wz3r View Post
    Excellent review! Very helpful! I am saving my pennies for a 502c and I was wondering what the tint was like. Thanks for the beamshots and the other pics.

    One thing I notice though, is that many comments here in other threads have called the GID assembly a 'reflector'. From your pics, it's clearly not any kind of reflector at all, as it's highly transparent; you can see the insides of the light through it! That also is very helpful info to have too!

    Thanks again for the awesome review!
    Thanks BOwz3r

    My first comment is that as I'm VERY new to the flashlight market/hobby/passion/obsession, there is still HEAPS for me to understand and get familiar with.

    If I were to make the decision again as to which model I'd purchase, I think I'd opt for the 502d. Not quite so warm, but slightly more output. I still love the 'c' to bits though.

    'Translucent' is how I would describe the 'reflector.' Like looking through a misty window.

    I'm not sure whether you are familiar with any of the other lights I have, but here is a pic for comparision. Shot at 100 ISO, 1/8th sec, f7.1, Color balance on auto. And I've added some fill-in light in Photoshop to help make the tint in the area outside of the hot-spot more obvious. I did play around with shooting at various color temperatures, but nothing quite matched what my eye was perceiving so stayed with the auto setting. The wall is a light cream.





    It doesn't take much looking to see which is the warmest of the three!

  16. #16

    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    Great review especially with the photos. Thanks a lot for the time and effort!! I would like to see outdoor H502 shots with measured distance and how far and wide of an area it illuminates. I know people have descried that it does not illuminate well at distance but it's easier to judge by photos than words. too bad goinggear on youtube has not done any reviews of the light. His basic outdoor video is informative.

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    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    Quote Originally Posted by mega_lumens View Post
    Great review especially with the photos. Thanks a lot for the time and effort!! I would like to see outdoor H502 shots with measured distance and how far and wide of an area it illuminates. I know people have descried that it does not illuminate well at distance but it's easier to judge by photos than words. too bad goinggear on youtube has not done any reviews of the light. His basic outdoor video is informative.
    No problem getting some outdoor shots of the beam to indicate the spread of light and some measurements. But it is all too easy to show a dim light looking bright or a bright light looking dim. Under 'abnormal' lighting conditions (read: anything other than daylight conditions) cameras will all to readily give a false representation of what the eye is actually percieving. Will try and take some shots that as closely as possible replicate what I feel I'm seeing.

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    Enlightened Incan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    just got my H502C in the mail on tuesday. nice, even flood but it could stand to be brighter. its purpose is for close-up applications, no doubt. that 120 degree beam really dilutes the lux. im happy with the light but i would still plan to carry a second light with some more throw.

    unscrew the cap from a 2-AA mini-mag and youll have a good idea of what the H502c is like in medium mode.

    the headband has a slightly flimsy feel to it, as well.

    maybe ill really like this light. time will tell. im gonna give it a good, honest test in the next few months
    Last edited by Incan; 09-06-2012 at 09:11 PM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Incan View Post
    just got my H502C in the mail on tuesday. nice, even flood but it could stand to be brighter. its purpose is for close-up applications, no doubt. that 120 degree beam really dilutes the lux. im happy with the light but i would still plan to carry a second light with some more throw.

    unscrew the cap from a 2-AA mini-mag and youll have a good idea of what the H502c is like in medium mode.

    the headband has a slightly flimsy feel to it, as well.

    maybe ill really like this light. time will tell. im gonna give it a good, honest test in the next few months
    Hi Incan. Yes, you are right on with the intended purpose of the light. Indoors/closeup work. Mega lumens is interested in some outdoor photos with the light which I'm hoping to do tonight. But outdoors is not really what it was designed for.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    Took a couple of photos tonight in an attempt to demonstrate how the light performs outdoors. This is NOT really what this lamp is designed for unless you are only interested in lighting things at close range. I have had to play with the photo a little in order to try and get it to duplicate as closely as possible what I saw. The photo shows more of a drop off in illumination on the fence on the right of the picture than what I observed though.

    In this shot, the fence was at 4 meters (approx 13') from the light. The light was on the highest setting.

    As far as beam spread goes, the 120 degree beam pattern on my rough measurements means the area illuminated is about 4 times as wide as the distance to the object being viewed.


  21. #21
    Enlightened Cavannus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    Thanks for the review -- nice photos and detailed text!

    I still hope Zebralights releases a warm & very high CRI version of their H50x lamps (typically using the Cree XP-G 90). I know they don't plan to do so since most of customers prefer neutral white rather than incandescent-like tints.
    I used my H501w underground (in caving) for several years to replace candle or acetylene lighting for breaks as well as for long-exposure photography. Since then I've preferred using flashlights with diffusers because of the XP-G 90 inside, but they're less convenient than a Zebra, which is the reason why a 3000K/90CRI H502 Zebra would be the perfect acetylene-like lamp for me.
    However this H502c shows several improvements and I think that any caver or underground photographer should have it.

  22. #22
    Flashaholic chenko's Avatar
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    Default Re: Zebralight H502c High CRI Review

    Seriously, this is a GREAT review. Thank you for taking the time to put it together so accurately. Both writing and media are really well made.

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