Like my reviews on facebook!
Olight has been a well respected flashlight company for quite some time now, with lights of all sizes and purposes. Now that Cree has updated thier emitters to newer, more powerful and efficient versions, Olight has been quick to update their lights with the new top-of-the-line emitters, and I've been sent a batch of these for testing. In this review I'll cover the i3S E0S, a AAA keychain light updated with the new Cree XP-G2 emitter from the i3 E0S.
Thanks to Olight and GoingGear for providing the i3S for review.
I’ll be reviewing the i3S in two sections: first, I’ll discuss the light objectively (the facts about the light itself), then I’ll 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.
Price: 25 USD
The i3S comes in a small black plastic case with the Olight logo on the top. Inside, the light and an alkaline battery sit in a foam cutout.
The i3S uses a single AAA battery, and is barely larger than the battery it uses. The head is only slightly wider than the body. The i3S comes in several different colors; my review sample is a sort of "burnt orange". It looks like it's also available in blue, purple, red, and black. On the official photos, I think the color matching my sample looks more yellow-gold, but this photo above is pretty much exactly how the color looks to my eyes, a burnt orange.
This light uses the new Cree XP-G2, a brighter and more efficient upgrade from the old XP-G. Other than this, it seems the i3S is the same as the older i3 model. The emitter sits in the center of a small textured reflector, protected by a glass lens.
The head and body are mostly covered by long grooves for grip, except a smooth section bearing the Olight logo on one side and what seems to be a small flame on the other. The grip grooves are very important here, because this light is operated by rotating the head back and forth.
The tail has a clip-on-clip and a lobster-claw keychain attachment.
Now, let's take the light apart!
The i3S comes apart into two pieces: head and body/tail.
Inside the head, a small metal pad makes contact with the battery, so only button-top cells can be used in the i3S. The threads are thick, square-cut and anodized, so they should hold up to wear very nicely. Because they are anodized, the light is off when the head is loose. At the rear of the battery tube is a small spring to make contact with the negative battery terminal.
The i3S comes with a lobster-claw on a short chain, a clip-on-clip, and a single Duracell AAA battery.
The i3S has three brightness modes (Medium, High, and Moonlight) plus a Strobe mode. The mode is controlled by twisting the head back and forth.
When the head is loose, the light is off. When the head is tight, the light is on. When you first tighten the head, the light turns on in Medium mode. Loosening then re-tightening the head within a second advances to the next mode in the sequence Medium -> High -> Moonlight. There is no mode memory, so after leaving the light off for a second it will always come back on in Medium mode. When you cycle through all three modes within three seconds, the Strobe mode is activated.
You can click on any of these shots to see them full size.
Light in Hand
White Wall (Low, Medium, High)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 1/20"
Indoor Shots (Low, Medium, High)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 1"
Submersion: I submersed the i3S under a foot of water for an hour, twisting the head just enough to change modes a few times. I could find no evidence of water entering or damaging the light.
Heat: I could feel no heat buildup on any mode of the i3S.
PWM: I could detect no pulse-width modulation on any mode of the i3S.
Drop: I dropped the i3S from a height of about a meter onto various surfaces, including grass, carpet, packed dirt, and wood. There was no functional or cosmetic damage to the light.
Reverse Polarity Protection: I can find no claim by Olight for reverse polarity protection on the i3S, so I recommend only inserting the battery in the proper direction. However, with the flat contact for the positive terminal, you *might* be spared misfortune if you insert your battery backwards when the negative battery terminal fails to make contact with the head.
Over-Discharge Protection: Over-discharge protection is only an issue when using lithium ion batteries, and I have not yet heard back from Olight if they approve the i3S for use with lions.
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 and Runtime
ANSI FL-1 runtime ratings are the time it takes for a light to fall to 10% of it's original output (counting from 30 seconds after turning the light on).
The vertical axis of the graphs 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.
(The title of this chart reads "Low", but it's actually the medium mode)
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.
Peak Beam Intensity: 399cd
Throw Distance: 40m
Quick break down:
+ Great body color!
+ New XP-G2 emitter
+ Clip goes either way
+ Clip attaches firmly
+ Impressive regulation
+ Smooth beam
+ Can tailstand, even with chain attached
- Head must be very tight to turn on
- Hard to grip when hands are wet or cold
- "Moonlight" mode could be a bit lower
The old iTP A3 was a classic choice for a low-cost and high performance AAA light. Through the years it's received a few upgrades, and it's most recent upgrade to the i3S EOS is to use the new XP-G2 emitter, reportedly brighter and more efficient than the old XP-Gs. The XP-G is smaller emitter and thus easier to focus, but a reflector this size doesn't do much more than keep the light from going backwards, so the i3S is a pretty floody light, intended mainly for use in short-range applications.
The i3S is about average length for a AAA light. It's top output of 80 lumens isn't the brightest available in this class, but with the new XP-G2 you'll see significantly improved run times (I got over an hour on High using an 800mAh Eneloop). The "Moonlight" mode is a bit brighter than what I would label moonlight, but still low enough that it won't hurt your night vision too drastically when you turn it on. The Medium mode is just about right for average use in dark, short-range applications, especially indoors, and it stays well regulated for about 7.5 hours, which would work just fine to leave on throughout the dark hours of a summer night. So, it's understandable that they put the Medium mode first.
For most flashlight enthusiasts, the mode order of the i3S will be it's only significant downfall. With the sequence of Medium -> High -> Moonlight, that means you have to go through 80 lumens to get to the 0.5, and if you don't remember to cover it you'll ruin your night vision. This does give quicker access to High if you need a lot of light quickly, but I usually don't go for the i3S in an emergency if I have a choice, I grab something bigger (which I always have with me ). As many have said before, the M - H - L output sequence seems specifically targeted at the non-initiate to inner circles of flashlight culture, many of whom many never realize the light has any mode other than the first. Ideally, I'd like to see the i3S upgraded to a model with a L - M - H sequence, but with as many upgrades as this has already been through, it seems unlikely that they'll change it now.
One of the upgrades from previous versions that I do really appreciate is the change from a keychain post to a cutout design that allows the light to do a stable tail stand, This adds a bit of extra length, and it doesn't hang quite so straight on your keychain, but I think it's a very good tradeoff.
The only two other complaints I have is that on my sample, the "Moonlight" mode seems like a bit lower would be nice, and that the head has to be pretty tight for the light to activate.
Overall, the i3S is an excellent light in it's class, still a great choice for a AAA key-chain style light if you're looking for multiple output levels and a great price.
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.