First of all, I want to say a big THANK YOU to Bill Waites for the use of his MagCharger; his generosity made this thread possible.
I will be comparing and reviewing both the Tiger11 and the MagCharger-WA01160 while also discussing some very general topics and my somewhat pointed opinions on them. This thread might possibly be better placed in the Reviews forum, but given the philosophical rambling and tangential discourse involved, as well as the nature of the "review" itself, I decided to place it here. Moderators, you have my blessing if you would like to relocate it, and I apologize if I am in error on this matter.
HOW BRIGHT IS IT?
That's one of the main questions about a light, isn't it? and it's only natural. We never outgrow the love of sheer output and the need to compare the output of one light against another. However, even so, there are so many problems in trying to answer this question. What do we mean? Lumens or foot-candles? Total output or intensity? Throw or flood? Not to mention such things as beam profiles, artifacts, and color-quality.
I don't have all the answers. I'm not even sure I have any. But what I do know is that we should all do our utmost to avoid turning a flashlight into a single number. To illustrate what I mean, let's consider the SureFire A2 vs. the L2. The A2 is rated at 50 lumens on high, while the L2 is rated at 100 lumens. The A2 runs for 50 minutes on high, and so does the L2 (depending on how you define the end of run--to 50 percent intensity in this case). So one might--from these numbers--simply jump to the conclusion that anyone who is willing to pay $20 more to get an A2 must be congenitally insane (that would be me) or irretrieveably stupid. I confess that this attitude makes my blood boil and gets me hot under the collar. A flashlight is more than a collection of numbers! And anyone who takes the time to live with both the A2 and the L2 will come to see that the comparison is not so simple as lumens, runtime, and cost. But I will leave the details of this example for my review of the A2.
Back to the topic at hand. So, how to proceed? Obviously, beamshots together with a considered, balanced, and objective review go a long way towards getting beyond the single-number reductionism I think we should all avoid. There is no substitute for hands-on experience of a light together with a set of beamshots which the reviewer deems to be faithfully representative.
That is my opinion. And I also dislike the other number which lights get reduced to: lux. I understand that a light meter is a useful tool, and I have no problem with lux measurements given in a proper context, but they are in no way as important as either beamshots or the considered opinions of the reviewer.
As for the beamshots themselves, the camera, the same as the light meter, is a tool that must be used within its limitations. A camera and an eye are by no means identical, just as a light meter and an eye are not identical. In some cases, the camera gives a radically different picture than what you really see. What can you do but either throw those shots out, or put them in context and qualify them with comments?
So this is what I have done. I have lived with the MagCharger for some time now (hehe, sorry, Bill) and I have gone out walking with it in the fields, and illuminated walls and objects inside my house, and I have taken it apart to some extent and gotten a feel for how it works. I haven't had as much experience with MagChargers as with TigerLights, but I think I have spent long enough with this light to get a pretty good feel for it and its' pros and cons.
It's a classic, no doubt. Take a stock MagCharger, drop in a $5 Welch Allyn 01160 halogen lamp, and you've got a very bright, long-throwing light for just over $100. Swap in an Aero 4AH NiMH battery stick and you've got an even better, longer-running light. The stock reflector is aluminum, and thus will not melt even with the 1160, and the stock lens is mineral glass, so the only heat issue stemming from the upgrade in power is the plastic bi-pin socket in the pedestal. I am told that prolonged and repeated running with the 1160 will eventually do considerable damage to the plastic of the socket. However, a mica shield placed between the socket and the lamp helps to minimize or eliminate such heat damage. Ginseng, master of all things MagCharger, has posted authoritative and informative threads on MC heat-shielding as well as many other MC topics. The MC60 will run for 40 minutes with the stock pack, or an impressive 70 minutes with the 4AH Aero pack. The light is hard anodized black with a nicely grippy checkered body.
But it is a big and heavy light when compared to a Tiger11 FBOP or SureFire M6. Everyone makes decisions about how big is too big, and how much runtime is enough, and so opinions will vary. To my mind, the MC60 is simply too big and heavy, and I prefer the TigerLight or SF M6. I can pocket these lights or carry them in a pouch, but one simply cannot do this with a MagCharger. Still, I can see where someone would think that as long as you're going to be using a light as big as the TigerLight, you might as well go to a larger light and enjoy the increased runtime. It's a personal decision, and can't be argued.
Another thing that I didn't like about this light is the cam-action focusing. I personally, have never found this feature to be desirable. I have always put the beam to its best setting and left it there. For me this is just off of the maximum throw position, but either setting is acceptable. Thus for me at best the focusing is superfluous, while at worst it is annoying. I did not find it to drift off of its set focus in normal use, however, except when there was a need to change or adjust the lamp.
This is my biggest complaint. The process of nudging and coaxing the lamp into a well centered position is time consuming and tedious, which would be one thing if you did it once and were done with it, but that is not the case. The lamp has a tendency to drift of off center, and thus to yield a beam with a squashed or aberrant hot-spot. I prefer the SureFire lamp assemblies or my ring-potted lamps, because I will gladly trade focus-on-the-fly capability for a beam with a centered hot-spot that STAYS centered.
So, to sum up: it's bright, it's economical, it's well made, and if you don't mind the size and weight, cam action focusing, occasionally drifting hot-spot, and heat sensitive bi-pin socket, this light may be for you.
The Tiger11 (FBOP)
Getting your hands on a Tiger11 is neither so inexpensive nor so easy as for a MC60. I am not the only person that could make a Tiger11, but as far as I know, right now I am the only one who is making them, although they are not generally available at the moment, given my commitments to the M6-R and USL projects.
So that's for starters: this light is a rarity compared to an MC60. Next, as I mentioned, it is about twice as expensive to get a Tiger11 setup. The light itself costs $130 or so, unless you buy a TL modders special ($75) which lacks the battery pack and lamp assembly. And then the battery pack costs in the neighborhood of $50 (or more, depending on which batteries were used), while the reflector, lamp, and UCL add up to another $35 or so. Thus, at best it is $150 for a Tiger11, and at worst, it is about $200.
Is it worth it? Heck yeah! It is small; it is bright; and it is bomb proof (well, figuratively speaking). The Tiger11 is significantly smaller than a standard Mag2D, which in its turn is smaller than a MC. You can actually stick the TigerLight in a pants pocket and it will stay there while you do something else, and even though it's not comfortable, it gives you an idea for how manageable the light is. Many carry it in a BlackHawk pouch or a jacket pocket without trouble. Yet it still runs for around 30 minutes, more or less, depending on which batteries I made the pack out of. The KAN packs run for around 29 minutes, while the Gold Peak and Sanyo packs run for around 35 minutes.
Heat is not an issue with the Tiger11. There is no pedestal to melt, no plastic parts at all near the lamp. And the lamp assembly itself is set inside a rubber gasket or "hose" which pushes down on the battery pack and up on the reflector. This affords a certain degree of shock-isolation. I have occasionally dropped my TigerLights, but never broken a filament.
The exterior is hard anodized and textured, like paint with sand added, for a very nice grip and feel, in my opinion. The switch is placed in the rear which allows for an overhand grip, or for a fourth finger or pinky finger underhand activation grip, which I find to be quite comfortable.
The one problem with the Tiger11 is that there is a small but non-zero chance that the lamp will insta-flash if the light is turned on hot off the charger. There are something like 25 Tiger11's in the field, and I only know of one instance of this happening, so it is not a big deal, but on the other hand, I specifically warned everyone against turning on the light hot off the charger. I myself have intentionally tried to flash an 1111, and after 6 or 7 times, I stopped trying. So, the Tiger11 is not so high-strung as to be impractical, but nonetheless, is high-strung enough to make me concerned in the case of certain uses. I should mention that the MC60 is free of this problem: hot off the charger activation is a non-issue.
OK. So, which is brighter? hehe. I went out to my favorite beam shot photo op spot and took what turned out to be some half-way decent pictures. My camera is an Olympus digital with what they call a "night mode" which uses a long shutter open time and special electronics to try to capture what the eye really sees at night. The camera needs to be on a tripod in order to use this feature.
Below is the MC60 alone:
Next, the Tiger11:
And here is both lights pointed at the trees. The Tiger11 is on the right.
And again but on the side of the barn, Tiger11 on the right.
Next I took both lights indoors for some up-the-wall shots. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] Tiger11 on the left.
And here is a close-up of the floor end of things:
And here is a close-up of the wall end of things:
And finally, I shined both lights up against the ceiling and took a direct picture of the hotspots. Tiger11 is on the right this time.
So, I think the pictures tell the same story which I am about to put into words: the Tiger11 is putting out somewhat more lumens, and they are whiter than the MC60 lumens. Both lights throw almost exactly the same distance, but the Tiger11 illuminates a larger area with higher CCT light.
In terms of beam quality, that is really dependent on whether or not a smooth or LOP, MOP or HOP reflector is used. In these pictures, I used a light orange peel reflector, which lessened the throw ever so slightly, but which smoothed out the beam artifacts somewhat. An HOP reflector would yield a SureFire type beam with about 15 percent less throw. As you can probably see, the Tiger11 used here has a marginally nicer beam, which could have been somewhat nicer if I had set it slightly off maximum throw focus. However, as it was being compared against the MC60, I set it to maximum throw, but used an LOP reflector.
Keep in mind that a Carley RF1940 can be modded to fit the MagCharger, and in MOP or HOP would yield a very nice beam quality, at the expense of throw, for two reasons: 1. the orange peeling would reduce throw, but also 2. the 1940's geometry is not as tight as the stock MC reflector.
THE NUMBERS GAME
So, with all of this context in mind, let's run some numbers using Welch Allyn specifications and the re-rating formulas:
The 1160 is a 5.0 volt, 3.45 amp 326.7 lumen lamp with a life of 550 hours. Pushed to 6.2 volts--which is just about the mid-point voltage of the 4AH "UMP" pack--it is drawing 3.88 amps and giving 693.7 lumens with a life of 41 hours. This equates to 451 lumens out the front of the light, assuming a 35 percent loss rate. With the stock pack, this number drops to 357 lumens out the front, because the mid-point voltage of the stock pack is 5.8 volts.
The 1111 is a 6.0 volt, 3.35 amp 465 lumen lamp with a life of 100 hours. Pushed to 7.0 volts, it is drawing 3.64 amps and giving 797.6 lumens with a life of 11 hours. This equates to 520 lumens out the front of the light. And actually, the Gold Peak 2000 4/5A's (which were used here) will hold 7.2 volts at the mid-point of the run, and thus this number would jump to 572 lumens out the front.
Now this is only a 27 percent increase, (vs. the MC60 with UMP), and a 50 percent increase in lumens output is generally necessary for one light to be obviously brighter than another. In other words, both the numbers and the reality tell the same story: both these lights are very bright. The Tiger11 does beat the MC60 in output and equals it in throw, and is putting out a whiter light, but it definitely does NOT "blow it away". I would specifically not use the phrase "no comparison". These lights are in the same class and are friendly competitors. There are many reasons why a person would choose one over the other.
ONE LAST DIGRESSION: LUMENS INFLATION
Finally, as people may have noted, above I have followed what Gineng and others have established as standard hotwire practice when trying to put a lumens number to a given light setup. First, you simply can NOT use the nominal voltage rating of a battery pack when choosing the applied voltage to use in the re-rating formulas. In many cases, the pack doesn't even stay above nominal voltage for 1/10 of the runtime! The best practice is to actually measure what the voltage across the lamp is at the mid-point of the run. THAT is the voltage that should be used in the re-rating formula.
Next, not all of the bulb-lumens make it out the front of the light. There are always losses. Standard hotwire wisdom around CPF estimates these at about 35 percent, or in other words, a 65 percent figure for lumens out the front of the light, also called "torch lumens".
As impressive and fun as it is to think of a Tiger85 or Mag85 as "putting out 1234 lumens" it is just not commensurate with reality nor with the SureFire ratings, for example, and it causes what I have been calling "lumens inflation." I don't mean to be an a** about this or anything, and I know that not every modder has a volt-meter, but I just wanted to mention it.
OK. Well, there it is. MC60 vs Tiger11. It's been a long time coming and it's kind of anti-climactic, but I hope it has been helpful. Thanks everyone.