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Thread: REVIEW: Zanflare F1 Flashlight

  1. #1

    Default REVIEW: Zanflare F1 Flashlight




    Introduction

    The Zanflare F1 flashlight is a compact flashlight featuring an XP-L emitter, smooth reflector, tail and side switches, and built-in USB recharging. It is available in cool and neutral emitter variants. The F1 can use one 18650, two RCR123, or two CR123A batteries to provide up to 1240 lumens. It is Zanflare’s first foray into the flashlight market and appears well positioned to reach budget-conscious buyers.


    This light was provided free of charge by ZanFlare for review. It shipped from an Amazon distribution center.

    Here are the key review details in one table:

    Personal commentary is at the end of the review.



    Unboxing


    The F1 arrived well packaged. The F1’s box was packed in a bag inside an Amazon box. Here's the bag that contains the F1's box:


    The box itself is a nice modern design. The top has the Zanflare logo, the F1 model designation, and a (not to scale) picture of the F1 flashlight. Both sides read simply “zanflare F1”.


    One end has the logo. The other end is blank.


    The bottom of the box has a label with UPC and LED temperature designation. The box also has the Zanflare website and the name and address for Haiweili Co., Ltd – the apparent producer of Zanflare.


    With the top of the box lifted off, the F1 is visible in form-cut foam.


    Underneath is a lanyard, pocket clip, charging cable, holster, manual, and spare o-rings.


    The manual is comprehensive and is written in English.


    Zanflare provides the F1 with a 3 day DOA warranty, 30 days free return and a 3 year free repair/replacement warranty. It should be noted that the manual states the light must be purchased from Zanflare direct at Amazon Stores for this 3 year warranty to apply.

    After 3 years, Zanflare will repair the F1 for the cost of labor and materials. Given the affordable nature of this light, I doubt many users would seek this repair at cost option.



    Design

    The F1 is a slender single 18650 style flashlight. This form factor is fairly common, but the F1 is easily distinguishable by the variety of grip textures. The width of the lines vary between the head, tail, battery tube, charging port cover. The battery tube’s wrap diagonally around the light; these diagonal lines really make the F1 stand out.


    The F1 is 136mm long, 28mm wide at the head, and I tested weight at 99g without batteries.

    Here is the F1 alongside a single 18650.


    The F1’s size can be appreciated when put next to other similar lights.
    L to R: Nitecore SRT9 (18650*2), Olight R50 Pro (26650), Nitecore TM03 (18650), Nitecore SRT7GT, Zanflare F1 (18650), Thorfire VG-15S (18650), Convoy S2+ (18650), Nitecore C1 (18650), Manker E14 II (18650), Manker E11 (AA).
    As you can see, the F1 is a bit longer than the other compact-head single 18650 lights.



    The head end has a flat bezel and smooth reflector. The flat bezel is comfortable in pocket, but will give no warning the light is on if placed head-down on a flat surface.


    The glass is AR-coated but much less purple than most. The XP-L emitter is well-centered.


    The zanflare logo and HOT warning label are on the side of the head centered directly above the side switch. No other writing is visible anywhere on the light except under the charging cover.


    The switch is small, black, and has a texture with fine concentric circles. The large ridges next to the switch make it easy to locate the switch in the dark. I did notice there’s a very slight gap between switch press and mode switch; this is to say that a gentle press may give the tactile feedback of a press without changing the mode.


    Below the switch is the USB charging port cover - a threaded ring rotates to expose the micro USB charging port and indicator light. This is a great feature as it means there’s no rubber port cover to lose, break, or open accidentally.

    Closed:

    When open, a directional arrow and verbiage showing how to close the cover is also exposed, as are the dual o-rings that help the F1 achieve the IPX-8 at 2m water resistance rating.


    The small LED is red when the F1 is charging. It turns green when fully charged. If there is a charging error (including the tail switch not being turned on), the light will alternate between green and red. See the performance section below for more on the charging performance.

    Below the diagonal knurling, towards the tail, is a flat area designed to accept the pocket clip for head-down carry. The pocket clip can also be attached below the charging port for head-up carry, but then the cover cannot open without removing the pocket clip.
    The pocket clip is also a bit difficult to install as the arms that clip to the F1 lack upturned leading edges to ease the installation process.


    On the side of the tail is a glass breaker. It is very small and low profile; this makes it pocket friendly but does reduce the odds a user will successfully break the target glass on first strike.


    The tail’s switch is a plastic button with rubber underneath, offering both the solidity of plastic and the water resistance of a rubber boot. The switch has the zanflare logo. It is a firm “reverse clicky” switch; it activates after the click is heard as the switch returns to its natural position. Reverse clicky switches do not have momentary on.


    A wide hole opposite of the glass breaker on the tail allows the lanyard to be attached. A notch in the tail allows the F1 to tail stand with the lanyard attached; this is a nice design. The lanyard itself is quite short – it may be too short for large or gloved hands.


    The tail threads are square cut and lightly lubricated. A o-ring (spares included) keeps water out.


    The spring is silver colored. The tail switch is held in place with a simple retaining ring screwed into the tail.


    The F1 can accept button or flat top 18650s, RCR123s, or CR123As. Generally speaking, if it fits, it works.


    The included holster is very unique. Most holsters are made of canvas and accept the light from the top with a hook-and-loop flap securing it. But the F1 has a neoprene tube with side zipper – more of a storage case than holster.


    On the back is a belt loop and a small loop for a key ring or hook.


    On a belt, this design is more difficult to use because the neoprene does not provide a rigid slot to drop the light into. However, it is a great “in the bag” storage option as the neoprene holster protects 100% of the surface of the F1.


    Before moving on to performance numbers, here are a couple more pictures of the F1 outdoors in natural light.




    Performance

    The zanflare F1 is available with two Cree XP-L V6 options: Cool White (6000-6500K) and Neutral White (4500-5000K). The Cool White version was tested here.

    The cool XP-L produces a slightly yellow hotspot and a cool spill with a bluish fringe at the very edge, with a little bit of green in between. The green is not discernable on higher modes.


    To better demonstrate the relative color balance, here is the F1 surrounded by lights with emitters of various tints and temperatures.
    L to R: BLF348 with neutral 219B, Thorfire VG-15S with cool XM-L2, Convoy S2+ with neutral XM-L2 T6 4C, Zanflare F1 with cool XP-L V6, Convoy S2+ with cool XM-L U2 1B, Nitecore C1 with cool XHP35 HD E2, Lumintop Tool with warm 219B.


    Despite the cool 6000-6500K rating, the tint doesn’t appear as cool/blue as some other lights I had on hand. Here it is with cool tint lights only to illustrate the relative tint.
    L to R: ThorFire C8S with XM-L2, Thorfire VG-15S with XM-L2, Zanflare F1 with XP-L, Convoy S2+ with XM-L, Nitecore C1 with XHP35 HD, and ThorFire TA13 with XM-L2.
    Note: Only after preparing this write-up did I notice I unintentionally included 3 lights from one brand; my apologies for the lack of variety in the makes used.


    Zanflare rates the F1 at 1240 lumens on Turbo.

    With an unprotected LG 3000mAh HG2 battery, I tested 1222 lumens at 30 seconds – after which the F1 stepped down. With 2 Fenix 700mAh ARB-L16 RCR123 cells, the F1 output 1275 lumens – exceeding the 1240 lumen rating. Finally, with a protected cell (Keeppower 3500mAh Sanyo GA), a little over 1100 lumens was achieved at 30 seconds. While this is less, one would expect less-capable protected cells to achieve fewer lumens when pushed hard.

    The F1 manual does not state what batteries were used for Zanflare’s testing, but I feel my test results validate the 1240 rating claim quite well.

    For runtime testing, I used the protected cells and no supplemental cooling. Ambient temperature was 79F (26C).

    Here is the Turbo output curve. Output was generally flat after the stepdown between 30 and 40 seconds into the test through 2 hours and 10 minutes, though there was a small stepdown at minute 31.
    Note: Output would be higher with the unprotected cells.

    Turbo can be re-activated for another ~34 seconds after the stepdown with another double press of the side button.


    Zanflare rates High at 590 lumens. My tests with the LG and Keeppower cells both produced a close 580 lumens. The 2xRCR123 test produced a little less at 561.

    The output curve on High mimicked the Turbo output curve closely – which also is no surprise given the Turbo stepdown just past 30 seconds. Zanflare puts the runtime at 2:30; I found 2:54 with the Keeppower 3500mAh cells.


    Medium is rated for 290 lumens. With both the LG and Keepower cells I tested 301. The Fenix RCR123s produced 281. Once again, Zanflare’s rating seems to be right in the middle – and a good representation.

    The output was flat through 302 minutes – over 5 hours into the test. Zanflare reports runtime (to 10%) as 6:00; I found 5:38.


    Low is rated at 50 lumens. I tested between 60 and 63 with all cells. Runtime was not tested; Zanflare reports it to be 22 hours.


    Finally, Ultralow (“Moonlight”) is rated at 1 lumen. I tested it at 0.4 lumen regardless of battery used. This level is an excellent ultralow mode, though the step up to 50 lumens from 0.4 lumens is significant.


    All outputs:


    All runtimes tested:


    The F1 remained cool throughout testing. Starting at 79F ambient, the head temperature was 96F (35.5C) at 30 seconds into the Turbo test. The F1 eventually peaked at 122F (50C) on High after over 30 minutes. It was never uncomfortable to hold, and in hand it would have remained cooler. The F1 manages heat well though the Turbo stepdown is time, not temperature, based.


    I did not detect PWM visually with the “mirror test”. However, a camera’s CMOS sensor did show signs of very high frequency PWM on Low, Medium, and High. No signs of PWM were detected on Ultralow or Turbo.


    I tested throw distance at 1.46 meters and the resulting candela was 15,710 - equivalent to 251 meters of throw. Zanflare reports 252 meters; again it seems the rating is spot on.


    The battery measured between 2.95V and 2.96V, bounced back, after testing. The over-discharge protection functions well; this reflects a safe termination voltage.


    The F1’s internal charging terminated at 4.21V. Charging a fully depleted battery started safe and slow at 0.18A. It peaked at 0.93A through the majority of the charging before dropping back down near completion.



    Outdoor Beamshots

    All photos taken with a Canon SD4000IS camera. 1/4" exposure, ISO1600, Daylight white balance. F2.0.
    Approximate distances: White deck railing @ 15 ft., white fence in distance @ 75 ft., center of boat @ 100 ft.


    Control shot:


    UltraLow / “Moonlight”:
    (Output too low to be visible at this distance; no picture included)


    Low:


    Mid:


    High:


    Turbo / “Flare”:





    Interface

    The F1 uses a reverse clicky rear switch and side button switch in combination.

    The rear switch turns the F1 on and off.

    The side switch changes the brightness mode.

    The F1 turns on in the last mode used – excluding Turbo, SOS, and Strobe modes.

    The normal rotation cycles Ultralow -> Low -> Medium -> High -> [back to…] Ultralow.
    A double-press (2x) activates “Flare” mode (Turbo). Turbo steps down to High just after 30 seconds. If the side switch is pressed while still on “Flare” mode, the F1 will return to the previous mode.

    A long press activates Strobe. Subsequent presses then alternate between SOS and Strobe. Another long press returns to the normal modes.




    Problems

    I experienced a small but easily corrected issue: the tail retaining ring required tightening.

    When I unboxed the F1, I immediately used the unprotected LG HG2 cell. The light generally performed fine, but would occasionally flicker a bit. It also errored partially through the first charge I attempted. When I tried a longer protected cell, the F1 wouldn’t turn on at all.

    Using a pair of snap ring pliers, I checked the tail cap’s retaining ring and found it to be not fully tightened. I removed it, reinstalled it, and the light performed as intended. Total time to correct: under 5 minutes.

    Since that was done, I have used and charged a variety of batteries in the F1. I’ve toggled the tail switch hundreds of times. I took my time completing this review to put the F1 through more durability tests in this regard. The F1 has performed without a single issue ever since. I have also not read of anyone else experiencing the problem, so I believe it was one-off back luck.

    I had contacted Zanflare when I first noticed the issue. They responded quickly (apparently from a Far East time zone) with advice and were ready to send another – but I decided to check the tail assembly and found the easy fix.




    Commentary

    The Zanflare F1 is not absolutely perfect, but it is a very good light – especially for the money.

    I’m impressed with how closely the F1 performed in my testing to Zanflare’s advertised specifications. Zanflare was honest and accurate with all of the claims they made on their debut flashlight; that’s a good way to start building a positive brand reputation.

    I’m impressed that it has USB charging for this price and a charge cycle that produces a good balance between safety and speed. Starting and ending slowly with nearly 1A through the middle will work with a variety of batteries.

    The availability of both cool and neutral emitters also shows that Zanflare is looking to satisfy both common buyers and enthusiasts. The cool version tested here has an agreeable cool tint and the beam is a versatile balance of flood and throw.

    I like the rigid tail switch button as it won’t tear like rubber, though the side switch’s action could be a little more precise. The diagonal grip on the battery tube is nice but the F1’s design would have looked more cohesive if there was some consistency between surfaces.

    I’m pleased to see Zanflare included spare o-rings and so many accessories with the F1, though the accessories do fall a little short. The holster is excellent for storage but is not convenient to use on a belt. The pocket clip is effective but installing it without damaging the HA is a little nerve-wracking. And the lanyard is a little on the short side.


    Overall, the F1 is a quality entry into the marketplace by Zanflare. It represents a very great value given the emitter choice, USB recharging, and solid output levels. It also has a design that steps out from the norm in the compact 1x18650 form factor.




    Meter: Dr. Meter LX1330B
    Integrating "sphere": Homebuilt tube-style device calibrated on other known lights and test results. Numbers should be considered relative to each other and my other review figures but accuracy is in no way certified or guaranteed.

    Camera: Canon SD4000IS


  2. #2
    *Flashaholic* Offgridled's Avatar
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    Default Re: REVIEW: Zanflare F1 Flashlight

    Thank you bro for another well done review. I do like the design!!

  3. #3

    Default Re: REVIEW: Zanflare F1 Flashlight

    Thanks OG!

    This is a delayed response, sorry; I just checked back as it had been moved over to the reviews forum.

  4. #4

    Default Re: REVIEW: Zanflare F1 Flashlight

    Nice review, thanks. Just received mine. I like it. This is my first led flashlight .
    What model of battery do you recommend for the best performance?

  5. #5

    Default Re: REVIEW: Zanflare F1 Flashlight

    Quote Originally Posted by keepruning747 View Post
    Nice review, thanks. Just received mine. I like it. This is my first led flashlight .
    What model of battery do you recommend for the best performance?
    "Performance" can be qualified... is longer running better performance for you? Or higher peak output the performance you're looking for?


    If you want the absolute highest output, you need to go with a high drain UNPROTECTED cell like the LG HG2 cell I used in testing. It gives the highest output on Turbo, but the total capacity is only 3000mAh. Sony VTC5A might be a hair brighter, though only 2600mAh. (More mAh = longer runtime. Higher A, lower resistance = higher output.) Samsung 30Q would also work well; it is 3000mAh. These are all $5-6 each, give or take.

    Or, you could give up about 50 lumen (which your eyes will not notice) and get a PROTECTED Sanyo 3500mAh battery. Keeppower and Orbtronics both take the Sanyo GA cell and add a protection circuit to it to prevent damage from over charging and over discharging. Since this is your first LED flashlight, you're likely not familiar with all of the safety precautions with lithium-ion cells (e.g. don't drain under 2.5 volts, don't charge more than 4.25 volts, don't store in very hot places, etc.). Thus, going with a protected 3500mAh cell will give you a longer runtime (higher mAh) and a little extra safety net (protection). Output on Low, Medium, and High will be the same with this cell as the unprotected ones. A protected GA cell will cost $10-15.

    If you want the extra runtime of the Sanyo GA, don't want to pay for the protected cell, and are willing to learn and apply li-ion battery safety, then the LG MJ1 is another cell to consider. It is an unprotected cell with a 3500mAh capacity that won't give quite as much output as the others, but has the longer runtime and a lower price ($4-5).

    If you haven't found HJK's battery comparator, Google it and you'll find it. It lets you compare two batteries' (like those I mentioned above) output curves at different amperages. The F1 draws around 3A on fresh batteries.

    Whatever you do, don't try to cheap out with no-name or poorly reviewed batteries. Any 18650s with big claims (like 8000mAh) are straight up junk. Stick to the name brands; use HJK's comparator and reviews to help. Any of the ones I listed will work great, and differences will not be huge.

    Short question... long answer. And it could get more technical yet. :-)


    If you wanted a quick answer, I'd tell you Protected Sanyo GA 3500mAh, like those sold by Keeppower or Orbtronics.

  6. #6

    Default Re: REVIEW: Zanflare F1 Flashlight

    Thanks a lot for your detailed response. I have a NCR18650B, protected from Panasonic and I 've ordered recently Samsung 18650 30Q.
    It seems to me that with pana it's not possible to get the turbo mode. At least I can't get it. Maybe with Samsung /non protected.
    Thanks a lot again and have a nice weekend

  7. #7
    ven's Avatar
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    Default Re: REVIEW: Zanflare F1 Flashlight

    Thank you for the excellent detailed review, top stuff

    Looks a great budget option that competes with more expensive lights from well known manufacturers.

  8. #8

    Default Re: REVIEW: Zanflare F1 Flashlight

    Just wondering if anyone knows if I can just replace the battery when needed rather than recharge it in the flashlight. Probably a stupid question but I really have no need for a flashlight that needs to be recharged. I'd much rather just replace the battery and recharge several batteries when needed.

    Edit: Please ignore post, just looked at the user manual on the Zanflare site and it answered my question.
    Last edited by flphotog; 10-07-2017 at 09:45 AM.

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