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Thread: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    NITECORE have been busy bringing out a lot of new products incorporating novel ideas. This includes the Multitask Hybrid series that includes the light on review here, the MH1A, which is not only able to run on both standard AA and 14500 cells, but incorporates a li-ion charger for 14500 cells into the light itself.

    Considering the MH1A is one of the smallest of the MH range, will the added bulk of an incorporated charger prove its worth? – With a claimed 550lm output on 14500 it sounds promising, so let’s take a look.





    Initial Impressions:

    With the added lumps and bumps in the body of the light, the MH1A does look a bit strange and does take a little getting used to.

    For a 1xAA light, the MH1A is a bit longer and wider than most, mainly due to the inbuilt charger and its cover, however, the MH1A also has a head the size of many CR123 lights. As it incorporates a relatively large surface area emitter, the XM-L U2, this larger head allows for a bigger reflector. The head size may be due to be some component sharing with the other MH series lights (but I don’t have any others to compare it with).

    Overall it does appear lumpy and bumpy although each change in profile has a definite function. One useful consequence of the body shaping is that it makes it easy to use various grips all of which feel totally secure.



    What is in the box:

    The MH1A’s retail packaging.



    Included are the MH1A, belt holster, pocket clip, lanyard, USB charging cable, instructions, spare switch boot and two spare o-rings.






    Taking a closer look and looking inside:

    As we’ve mentioned the added bulk of the built in charger, here is the MH1A with a standard AA battery so you can see how the MH1A sizes up.



    Looking straight into the lens, the MH1A’s reflector is fitted right up to the XM-L U2’s dome. One of the tightest reflector fittings I’ve seen. This should mean that the maximum possible control over the beam pattern, and gives little room for anything other than excellent LED centring.



    The reflector is deeper than it is wide, and flawless. The colour of the reflected light on the lens shows the anti-reflective coating that is used to minimise losses.



    Breaking the MH1A down into its main components, from left to right we have the light head and uncovered charging port, the charger port cover (which uses o-rings at both ends to maintain waterproofing of the charger port), the battery tube, and tail-cap switch.



    With the light disassembled the generously lubing (as supplied) is all over the charger port area. The standard micro-USB port is used for the charging connection. The threads on the left are to secure the charger port cover.



    To reveal the charging port, the port cover is unscrewed until it is able to slide down….



    …as shown here.



    With the micro-USB cable plugged in a charger indicator light is visible next to the USB socket (more on this later).



    Inside the tail-cap is negative terminal spring



    Looking side on, you can see that the tail-cap design does allow for tail standing, however, this is not very stable as the light is top heavy.



    The head contacts show the physical reverse polarity protection designed into the contacts.



    The battery tube threads at the head of the light are bare aluminium and near-square cut threads. These are very cleanly cut and ultra-smooth in operation.



    The tail-cap threads are fully anodised and more trapezoid in form.





    Modes and User Interface:

    NITECORE describe the MH1A as having Turbo and User-defined modes.

    Turbo is chosen by tightening the head. Like this it will always be Turbo, and the forward-clicky tail-cap operates with momentary or permanent on.

    Turbo mode automatically reduces from maximum to a slightly lower level (but which is still much higher than the ‘High’ mode) after 3 minutes to avoid overheating.


    User defined modes are accessed when the head is loose. With the head loose, the MH1A operates as a simple five-mode light with memory. Switch the light on and off rapidly cycles through the modes High-Medium-Low-SOS-Strobe. As long as you leave the light off for 1-2s before switching on again, it will remember the last used mode.


    Switching between Turbo and User-defined is simply through tightening or loosening the head. Doing this rapidly, does not affect the User-defined mode.



    Batteries and output:

    With a choice of 14500 for maximum performance, or AA as a backup, the MH1A gives you good flexibility.

    The convenience of having a built in li-ion charger means that with a 14500 fitted, the MH1A functions as a rechargeable light (but always having the option to swap the cell if needed).

    Based on this charging function, I thought it was only fair to test the output using a 14500 charged by the MH1A rather than an external charger. After completing the charging (indicated by the charge light going on steadily – it flashes twice a second during normal charging) the 14500 cell measured 4.15V, so achieving a pretty reasonable state of charge and one at which you could happily keep topping up to without excessively shortening the battery life.

    With the built in charger, the tail-cap switch must be on for the charging to work. If you leave it off, the charge light flashes rapidly indicating a problem.

    As well as a 14500 cell, the testing was also carried out with AA Eneloop Ni-Mh cells.


    To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

    Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

    NITECORE MH1A I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency (Hz)
    Turbo – ICR 14500 457 (stepping down to 350lm after 3minutes) 0
    High - ICR 14500 58 0
    Medium - ICR 14500 10 0
    Low - ICR 14500 2 0

    Strobe runs at 18.5Hz

    At switch-on fresh off the charging cycle, the MH1A initially outputs 906lm! But this quickly drops in the first few seconds.

    On AA, things are perfectly useful, but somewhat different.

    NITECORE MH1A I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency (Hz)
    Turbo – AA 162 5550
    High – AA 35 1100
    Medium - AA 8 0
    Low - AA 2 0

    As the ICR cell did not deliver the claimed 550lm, I popped in an IMR cell and the MH1A is a bit of a pocket rocket on this.

    NITECORE MH1A I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency (Hz)
    Turbo – IMR 14500 536 (stepping down to 384lm after 3minutes) 0



    On Turbo, the MH1A is giving everything it can, and the output does decline quite quickly for the entire 3 minute maximum output. The output then drops to around 350lm (so still significantly brighter than High mode) and continues to decline gradually. This runtime terminated with the 14500’s protection kicking in so there was a sudden cut-off with no warning.





    In The Lab

    NEW for Winter 2012 ANSI standards include maximum beam range. This is the distance at which the intensity of light from an emitter falls to 0.25lux (roughly the same as the lux from a full moon). This standard refers only to the peak beam range (a one dimensional quantity), so I am expanding on this and applying the same methodology across the entire width of the beam. From this data it is possible to plot a two-dimensional ‘beam range profile’ diagram which represents the shape of the illuminated area.

    In order to accurately capture this information a test rig was constructed which allows a lux meter to be positioned 1m from the lens and a series of readings to be taken at various angles out from the centre line of the beam. As the rig defines a quadrant of a circle with a radius of 1m, all the readings are taken 1m from the lens, so measuring the true spherical light intensity. The rig was designed to minimise its influence on the readings with baffles added to shield the lux meter from possible reflections off the support members.

    The distance of 1m was chosen as at this distance 1lux = 1 candela and the maximum beam range is then calculated as the SQRT(Candela/0.25) for each angle of emission.

    In this plot, the calculated ANSI beam ranges are plotted as if viewed from above (for some lights there may also be a side view produced) using a CAD package to give the precise 'shape' of the beam.


    The MH1A’s beam profile one of the smoothest I’ve seen. And the beam shot photos also confirm this. There is a soft hotspot, but the spread of light has an gentle transition with no spikes moving from hotspot into the spill.



    The complete beam range profile is very smooth and well-shaped for an EDC size light.





    The beam

    The indoor beam shot shows the very smooth transition from hotspot to spill with no flaws or artefacts. A really excellent close to mid-range beam



    With a little more range outdoors, the spread of light covers a large area very evenly.





    What it is really like to use…

    Being slightly larger than the average single AA light, the MH1A actually feels a bit more comfortable to hold, it has more substance.

    I suspect, like me, you will want to run this on 14500 primarily as it is a very good brightness from a pretty compact light. The high mode has proven to cover most of my requirements, and with a quick tighten of the head, you can have a blast of around 500lm.

    As a fan of forward clicky switches, for their more immediate response, I really like the MH1A in Turbo mode for the ability to use the momentary function. Where this falls down is on the User-defined mode. The timing for mode changes is around 1-2s which means if you try to use it to flash or give a few bursts in the user-defined mode, you end up changing modes. If the time between presses needed to change modes could be made shorter (meaning you have to press it faster to change mode) this would make the mode selection more stable. This type of mode changing does not mix so well with forward clickies. However that is a minor point.

    The built in charger has been working reliably and it is very convenient to top up the battery with the same charger as my phone or from a USB port. I was not expecting to find his so useful, but as I am frequently charging a smart-phone, or Kindle, popping the cable into the MH1A means it is just the next in line, and always ready for action.

    The supplied belt holster and lanyard are both excellent quality and do add to the experience of using the light. The holster has a D-loop making it easy to clip on and off, or a choice of fixed or Velcro belt loops. The lanyard is a fabric tube and feels high quality and very comfortable, with an adjustable stop to lock it round your wrist.

    The pocket clip is long to reach over the charger port cover, and looks well made.

    Overall I’ve found the MH1A to be a really handy pocket rocket. The Turbo output is impressive, the beam is really good and smooth, and the twist action for changing between Turbo or User-defined is incredibly smooth. On top of this, the unusual profile gives you a secure grip, and the built in charger gives you the convenience of topping up as and when you feel like it.


    Test sample provided by NITECORE for review.
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  2. #2
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    reserved...

    Following a few comments I've received regarding the safety aspects of the charger, in the interests of science and safety, I've just tried this.

    The MH1A's charging light has four possible indications:
    Steady on - Fully charged
    Flashing 2 times per second - Charging normally
    Flashing rapidly - Problem, not charging (maybe the tail-cap switch is not 'on')
    OFF - no USB input or not charging.

    So I popped in an old Ni-Mh which powered the MH1A perfectly well.

    Connected the USB lead (charging light rapidly flashing) and switched on the tail-cap, at which point the charging light went off.

    So it looks like the MH1A's charger does protect from users trying to charge Ni-Mh.


    Just to make sure I hadn't blown the charger circuit, I popped in a partially used 14500 and charged this normally.

    I have also just confirmed that it will reset a protected 14500 if the protection has kicked in. (I just ran a 14500 down until the protection stayed on and the battery read 0V and then plugged in the charger. It charged normally.)
    Last edited by subwoofer; 01-25-2013 at 09:44 AM.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    Very nice performance.
    Last edited by Badbeams3; 01-22-2013 at 03:20 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    Nice beam for it's size but very strange charging port implementation, there are far better solutions I think (like magnetic port on Klarus RS11).

  5. #5
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    Quote Originally Posted by Fliz View Post
    Nice beam for it's size but very strange charging port implementation, there are far better solutions I think (like magnetic port on Klarus RS11).
    The advantage of the micro-USB port is that you don't need another specialist cable. I've been charging the MH1A with my phone charger.

    Just updated post 2 regarding the charger's safety testing.
    Last edited by subwoofer; 01-25-2013 at 09:45 AM.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    I have this light for over a month EDC and it is great! However, the holster is getting a bit worn around the bottom and looks like it won't last much longer (the top and bottom of the light are somewhat angular and sharp).

    Question - do you know if the IMR battery can be charged internally? From Lighthound:

    "Attention : These IMR cells have much lower internal resistance than regular LiIon 3.7V cells and they may end up with a higher ending voltage when charged in certain chargers ( especially older version WF-139 charger ). Please check the voltage of them right out of the charger to see if they are above 4.20V when fully charged with your charger. Overcharging above 4.25V may shorten life/cycles. Above 4.50V may even pop them or making them leak. DO NOT use the charger if it seems to overcharge IMR cells."

  7. #7
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    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    Great review! It convinced me to order one. I have been playing around with different "Ultrafires" and "Trustfires", etc. for a few years now but this will be my first "higher end" light. Judging from this review, I don't think I will be disappointed.

  8. #8
    *Flashaholic* Patriot's Avatar
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    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    Thanks for covering this light SW. I kind of like the "gadget factor" with this set-up although the shape takes some getting used to. Still, seems like an impressive product and that reflector fit is incredible. I hope other manufacturers take note.

    Again, thank you for your time and hard work!

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    Quote Originally Posted by Patriot View Post
    Thanks for covering this light SW. I kind of like the "gadget factor" with this set-up although the shape takes some getting used to. Still, seems like an impressive product and that reflector fit is incredible. I hope other manufacturers take note.

    Again, thank you for your time and hard work!
    This light has actually become my work EDC.

    The extra output on 14500 and the fact I can charge it using my mobile phone charger (well just a USB port), makes it super convenient, and I can always pop an AA in if needed.

    I've tried out one of the early Xtar's which I think were the first to have a built in USB charger, but the charger didn't work and I didn't trust it.

    The charger in the NITECORE (both this and the P25 I've reviewed as well) works perfectly and seem very safe and reliable.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    I just received this light a few days ago. I was really interested in the Micro USB charging aspect since I have a usb charger in the car and usually carry backup power in the form of a usb battery pack. I'm also playing around with a GoalZero solar pack that can connect to this light. I have to say the convenience of the usb charging or swapping in a AA really reduces the possibility of reaching for this and not having it be powered....good stuff. Nice review.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    Quote Originally Posted by Hudson_CM View Post
    I just received this light a few days ago. I was really interested in the Micro USB charging aspect since I have a usb charger in the car and usually carry backup power in the form of a usb battery pack. I'm also playing around with a GoalZero solar pack that can connect to this light. I have to say the convenience of the usb charging or swapping in a AA really reduces the possibility of reaching for this and not having it be powered....good stuff. Nice review.

    It is very convenient. I have mine with me now. Working in IT I always have a USB port or charger available and carry a backup AA if the 14500 ever runs out of juice.
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    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    As a fan of forward clicky switches, for their more immediate response, I really like the MH1A in Turbo mode for the ability to use the momentary function. Where this falls down is on the User-defined mode. The timing for mode changes is around 1-2s which means if you try to use it to flash or give a few bursts in the user-defined mode, you end up changing modes. If the time between presses needed to change modes could be made shorter (meaning you have to press it faster to change mode) this would make the mode selection more stable. This type of mode changing does not mix so well with forward clickies. However that is a minor point.
    Of all the MT and MH reviews I have seen you are the only one who has made this useful observation regarding the time interval for changing mode. I completely agree with you that if that time interval was shorter, the UI would be much better especially considering it has mode memory and you have to cycle through the flashing modes. What I find annoying though, is that some of these lights even have 2+ seconds timing: my MT1A, MT2A, and MT26 have a 1-2 second interval, which I find still acceptable, while my MT2C, MT25, and MT40 have a 2-3+ seconds time interval: it makes it much easier to accidentally cycling through!

  13. #13
    Enlightened kestrel140's Avatar
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    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    This is the most underrated and often overlooked flashlight available today. I use mine at work and as an EDC light and the power to size ratio is perfect. This is a feature packed light. I purchased mine beginning of 2013 for $50, now they are $75 which is somewhat puzzling. Nitecore hit a homerun with this light. .

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    Quote Originally Posted by kestrel140 View Post
    This is the most underrated and often overlooked flashlight available today. I use mine at work and as an EDC light and the power to size ratio is perfect. This is a feature packed light. I purchased mine beginning of 2013 for $50, now they are $75 which is somewhat puzzling. Nitecore hit a homerun with this light. .
    I have to say I agree. This lives in my work bag, and is loaded with a 14500. The fact that after charging my phone I can use the same lead to top up the cell is what particularly makes it for me. Then if needed an AA can always be popped in. This is why it has been a stayer in my line-up.
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  15. #15

    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    I have to say I agree. This lives in my work bag, and is loaded with a 14500. The fact that after charging my phone I can use the same lead to top up the cell is what particularly makes it for me. Then if needed an AA can always be popped in. This is why it has been a stayer in my line-up.
    Same with me, mine's always with me.

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    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    Hi, and thx for the testing.
    I really like this and i have plenty of lights but i like the feel of it.

    But i have a question to you results:

    I have the new Version with 600 Lumen and i want to know what it means that you have PWM Numbers on your Turbo and High with Eneloops, i can no see any PWM at my Model wit an Eneloop? Why should there even be PWM on Turbo with an Eneloop ?

  17. #17

    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    Thanks for the review,would this light easily clip to a ball cap?

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    Quote Originally Posted by C-130 View Post
    Thanks for the review,would this light easily clip to a ball cap?
    See RYP's post below.
    Last edited by subwoofer; 11-20-2014 at 02:56 AM.
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  19. #19
    Flashaholic* Ryp's Avatar
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    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    The clip only fits so that in a pocket it would be lens down, so this would be the wrong way round for a base ball cap.
    Actually, you can put the pocket clip so that the light is bezel up.


  20. #20
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: NITECORE MH1A Review (1xAA/14500)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryp View Post
    Actually, you can put the pocket clip so that the light is bezel up.

    Thanks for posting that. I was having a bad day.

    Only goes to prove I am human (though the aching body is a constant reminder) ;-)
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