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Thread: Review: FOURSEVENS Atom AL Headlamp (CR123, RCR123)

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Review: FOURSEVENS Atom AL Headlamp (CR123, RCR123)

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Author's Statement for Transparency and Disclosure
    The test sample/s featured in this article have been provided for technical testing and review by the manufacturer. Test samples are retained by the reviewer following publication of the completed review for the purposes of long term testing and product comparisons.

    All output figures and test results published in this review are the sole work of the reviewer, and are carried out independently and without bias. Test results are reported as found, with no embellishments or alteration. Though best endeavours are made to maintain the accuracy of test equipment, the accuracy of these results is not guaranteed and is subject to the test equipment functioning correctly.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




    'SHOT SHOW Specials' are a series of reviews inspired by, or as a consequence of, my visit to the SHOT SHOW 2015.
    These may contain photos taken while travelling, and may be of a slightly different format.


    FOURSEVENS brought the Atom family into being after the success of the original full flood AAA powered P0. The Atom AL is the brightest of the Atoms running on a single CR123/RCR123. The Atom lights are super compact flashlights which fit into a headband mount with an articulated holder turning them into full flood headlamps. This review is of the Atom AL headlamp.





    Taking a more detailed look:

    As with the rest of the FOURSEVENS stable, the light is presented in a clear package that lets you look all round the light.




    The Atom AL is supplied fitted into the headlamp mount. Included in the box are the adapter collars to fit each of the different Atom lights allowing you to use the one headband for any of the Atoms. Also included are the instructions, the elastic headband, various size O-rings and a lanyard. (The CR123 may not be supplied as standard).




    The fully assembled Atom AL headlamp.




    The model designation is engraved into the stainless steel body. There are polished areas at each end of the Atom AL, and the rest of the tube is bead blasted.




    The base of the Atom AL has a hexagonal shape which locks into the headlamp mount and prevents the base turning, and a strong magnet which holds it in the mount.




    This is one of the clear features of the Atom range; they really are only a bit bigger than the battery that powers them.




    Inside the head, there is the positive contact, which appears to also be a pressure switch, surrounded by a rubber washer. You can also see how thin the wall of the tube is.




    In the battery tube, there is a slightly raised negative contact.




    The threads are very cleanly cut square threads.




    The overlap of the head to the body really is super thin. (0.2mm thin, I believe. Something FOURSEVENS are rightly proud of)




    Looking more closely at the magnet, lanyard hole and hexagonal shaping.




    Peeking through the glow in the dark 'reflector' (which is not a reflector at all) is the dome of an XP-G2 LED. Covering the emitter is a slightly domed plastic lens.




    A small animation to show the range of movement the headlamp mount allows.





    The beam

    Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.
    The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball "Off-White", and the walls are a light sandy colour called 'String' again by Farrow & Ball. I don't actually have a 'white wall' in the house to use for this, and the wife won't have one!



    Simply a full flood beam. Those familiar with this location for my indoor beamshots will not have seen such full flood before. Though only 120 lm, the High mode seems very bright despite being full flood.





    Modes and User Interface:

    Almost as simple as it gets, the Atom AL is a twisty with two modes.

    To switch ON to Low, tighten the head. Loosen again to switch OFF.

    From Low, tighten the head further to switch onto High. Loosen again to return to Low.



    Batteries and output:

    Able to run on both CR123 and RCR123, the Atom AL gives you the choice of guilt free rechargeable lumens, or super reliable primary 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.

    ___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
    FOURSEVENS Atom AL - CR123 I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
    ___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
    High 120 0
    Low 5 0


    Performance and runtime is much better on CR123, with the runtime trace on RCR123 ending abruptly as the cell's protection kicks in. Output is very well regulated for 2.5 hours on High when using CR123.





    Troubleshooting

    This is a new section I am adding to mention any minor niggles I came across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

    Nothing has come up during testing.

    As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar 'issue' that might be fixed in the same way.



    The Atom AL in use

    The Atom AL is super compact, but feels satisfyingly heavy due to the stainless construction and magnet. The headlamp holder allows you to direct it anywhere within an entire hemisphere thanks to its full articulation. This feature also gives it a very distinct look for a headlamp.

    Thanks to the forward projection of the headlamp holder, the Atom AL still worked very well even when mounted over a baseball cap. Without a cap, the front of the light is visible in my peripheral vision, but not the spill beam (so there is no glare for you).

    With the magnet securing the Atom AL into the headlamp holder, it can easily be pulled out of the holder to let you use it as a flashlight and then popped back into the holder as required. I've not used any other headlamp with this ease of access to the 'flashlight function'.

    I found that when using a 'twisty' attached to your head it was very easy to turn it the wrong way (so turn it off rather than onto High. This is mainly due to never having used a headlamp with twisty interface before, as I'm sure I will get used to it.

    An observation I should make is that a full flood headlamp is great for the person wearing it, but high glare for anyone they are with. Just bear in mind that you will be blinding your companions with the Atom range.

    Also of note was that with the RCR123s I have, to access High it seemed to require tightening the head far more than felt comfortable. With CR123 no such issue. The button tops are likely to be different lengths, so some RCR123s may have no issue at all.

    As you tighten the head, initially the Low mode can flicker a bit until you tighten it a little more. The same can happen when tightening further to get High, but as long as you move through the flicker part of the tightening, the output is completely stable.

    Of course full flood is ideally suited to close ranges, and is my preferred beam pattern for a headlamp. This is thanks to the almost total lack of having to 'point' your head to see what you are looking at. The flood beam fills the majority of your field of vision allowing your eyes to move around naturally.

    Admittedly, I was dubious about the strange looking Atom headlamps, but actually they work really well. The "it's a headlamp, no it's a flashlight, no, it's a headlamp, no it's…." flexibility of the Atom headlamp is more useful the more I use it. You can pop the headlamp holder on your head in case you need to go hands free, and swap between hand-held and headlamp use with the greatest of ease.



    Review Summary

    _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
    Things I like What doesn't work so well for me
    _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
    Super compact and sleek Mode spacing a bit wide going between 5lm and 120lm
    Stainless steel Need to make the head very tight to get High with RCR123 cells
    Full Flood beam Flickering at mode transitions (from OFF to Low and Low to High)
    Easy switching between headlamp and flashlight configuration Magnet can make cell removal difficult
    Articulated, comfortable, headlamp mount/holder Very 'glary' for companions
    Integrated magnet for mounting options





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  2. #2
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review: FOURSEVENS Atom AL Headlamp (CR123, RCR123)

    Reserved for updates...
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  3. #3
    Enlightened wle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review: FOURSEVENS Atom AL Headlamp (CR123, RCR123)

    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    Reserved for updates...
    i wish they would make one with just one change: spot/halo pattern instead of flood

    though i realize that would mean it would be a little longer

    i actually hate all their tiny lights either use the tiny expensive batteries, or cannot use rechargeables.. now here is this one that uses a rechargeable battery, but has a weird pattern..


    wle

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    Default Re: Review: FOURSEVENS Atom AL Headlamp (CR123, RCR123)

    Quote Originally Posted by wle View Post
    i wish they would make one with just one change: spot/halo pattern instead of flood

    though i realize that would mean it would be a little longer

    i actually hate all their tiny lights either use the tiny expensive batteries, or cannot use rechargeables.. now here is this one that uses a rechargeable battery, but has a weird pattern..


    wle
    FOURSEVENS list a version of the Atom AL with reflector on the Atom page of their website. Though I've not seen it personally, it might go some way towards your needs.

    They also have some small lights that use AA and AAA in the Atom, Mini and Preon range. OK, not as tiny as the Mini MLR2, but if you want performance and a tiny light there are always compromises.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Review: FOURSEVENS Atom AL Headlamp (CR123, RCR123)

    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    Also of note was that with the RCR123s I have, to access High it seemed to require tightening the head far more than felt comfortable. With CR123 no such issue. The button tops are likely to be different lengths, so some RCR123s may have no issue at all.
    I noticed the same issue with my light. I have generally been keeping a CR123A in it for occasional sporadic use (e.g., it spent the winter in a jacket pocket, and I didn't want to worry about temperature or self-discharge), and both modes worked fine. But the other day I put in an RCR123 (Olight 650mAh) to use it as a headlamp for an extended period, and could not get it to come on in High. That is, I'm actually not sure whether I could have gotten it to work or not, because I stopped tightening at a certain point.

    Does anyone know of a brand of RCR123 that would work better with this light? Maybe one with a 'taller' button?

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review: FOURSEVENS Atom AL Headlamp (CR123, RCR123)

    Quote Originally Posted by somnambulism View Post
    I noticed the same issue with my light. I have generally been keeping a CR123A in it for occasional sporadic use (e.g., it spent the winter in a jacket pocket, and I didn't want to worry about temperature or self-discharge), and both modes worked fine. But the other day I put in an RCR123 (Olight 650mAh) to use it as a headlamp for an extended period, and could not get it to come on in High. That is, I'm actually not sure whether I could have gotten it to work or not, because I stopped tightening at a certain point.

    Does anyone know of a brand of RCR123 that would work better with this light? Maybe one with a 'taller' button?
    One of the best people on CPF to answer that would be HKJ. I know he has done some tables of 18650 measurements, and might have done some RCR123s. I was using AW cells, and they did work albeit with a firmer twist than I would have liked.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Review: FOURSEVENS Atom AL Headlamp (CR123, RCR123)

    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    One of the best people on CPF to answer that would be HKJ. I know he has done some tables of 18650 measurements, and might have done some RCR123s. I was using AW cells, and they did work albeit with a firmer twist than I would have liked.
    After posting here, I asked Foursevens customer service the same question, and they said it might be an issue with the light itself since it shouldn't be that difficult to get both modes with an RCR123, and issued me an RMA. So my light is in the mail back to them, and I'm hoping when I get it back I won't have the same problem.

    But thanks for mentioning HKJ. Looks like he has done tests on 'small' batteries (including RCR123/16340), which includes the length of the overall battery (which is helpful) but not how much the button protrudes from the top of the battery. But I'm not certain that's even what the issue is, and hopefully sending the light back to the company will fix my problem.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Review: FOURSEVENS Atom AL Headlamp (CR123, RCR123)

    Turns out there was nothing wrong with the light. It also turns out that AW 16340s have a fractionally taller button than Olight brand. Works just fine with an AW cell, both modes and everything.

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