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Thread: "Practical" Beamshots?

  1. #1

    Lightbulb "Practical" Beamshots? (indoors, stairs)

    Problem with beamshots is that no single photo can actually show how a flashlight performs under all conditions.

    Typical shot on white surface from reasonably close up does nicely show the beam characteristics - but doesn't really indicate how well the light performs at a distance.

    Real-life situation beamshots are difficult to reproduce by anyone else, and unless the actual scene is known - tends not to show how a light really works to anyone else.

    Also there is the difficulty that a camera (digital or film) doesn't really have the same dynamic range as the human eye.

    All this is really saying photos do show something useful - but can't really substitute for actual usage of the flashlight. To illustrate a flashlight's ability probably numerous different types of beamshots have to be shown......way too impractical.

    Anyway I thought about this and came up with something that most people can at least visualize - shining a flashlight up some stairs.

    I picked some of my brightest lights to fix a constant exposure setting for my camera and set up the "scene" to try to get consistent reproducible results (for me).

    This is the scene - lit by my regular indoor lighting and supplemented by the flash on my digicam - white balance set to Auto (this shot ONLY) for the mixed lighting. Walls are light cream - ceilings stippled white, carpet camel/beige, and that's a colored optical test target on the wall by the door knob.



    The rest of the flashlight shots were all taken with Fixed Daylight white balance -

    and fixed exposure - ISO100, f/2.8 at 0.6 sec, lens = 28mm (equiv)

    The distance from the camera and flashlight to the center of the target (the door knob) was approx 15ft. Ceiling at top of stairs is approx 8ft, there are 10 steps, width of the stairway is 3ft 5in (41").

    From the bottom of the stairs - the camera is about eye-level and the flashlights are held about upper chest/breast level - bascially trying to reproduce how I would see and use a flashlight from the bottom of those stairs.

    Flashlights I used for this trial -


    Not shown MagLite 3D

    Beamshots:

    MagLite 3D (alkalines) ....................................... Streamlight Scorpion Xenon 2x CR123A


    Nuwai Q3 with RCR123 ...................................... 8LED 1AA "Xnova" New (alkaline)


    S1801 1w Luxeon 1xCR123 ................................ Fenix L1 v2.5 (Non-Premium) (alkaline)


    Comments, please?
    Last edited by UnknownVT; 02-08-2006 at 04:47 PM. Reason: typos

  2. #2
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: "Practical" Beamsots?

    Nicely done! I like the QIII view the best--from a house-clearing and kiddie-caltrop finding point of view. It is the only light that lit the stairs enough to see any hazards left in the path, like HotWheels, and Little People!

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* pedalinbob's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Practical" Beamsots?

    BRAVO!

    Bob

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* cratz2's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Practical" Beamsots?

    I think the stair thing is an excellent idea. While house-sitting this winter, I took several shots down a hallway from a distance of 15 feet and felt that overall, that gave a pretty good impression of the comparative qualities of the beam - throw, hotspot, spill, color rendition. I never posted any of them on the forum, or at least I don't think I did but my goal was the same as yours seems to be - to give a usable, real world idea of how the lights compare.

    I also think it's important to use standardized camera settings. I know when I first started taking beamshots a couple years ago, I had a camera with only auto settings. Needless to say, this caused issues, mostly when comparing the dimmest lights to the brightest lights. I just didn't post the ones that were so extreme that the pics were misleading.

    Keep up the good work. You, along with a handful of others, are a great asset to all of us and I particularly like your taste in lights. I'm planning on getting a Fenix non-Premium in the next week or so... pretty amazing difference between your beamshots of the Fenix vs the Q3 on rechargeables.

  5. #5

    Default Re: "Practical" Beamsots?

    Vincent: I really like this presentation. It is VERY helpful for me to understand the various flashlight beams capabilities. I much prefer these beam shots to the white wall shots. Ironically, when I have compared my various lights, I have done the same thing in my basement staircase.
    Thanks for the great pics!

    PS: How is that "Scientist" of yours doing :-)? I managed to find one for myself. Now working on a "Lumberjack".

    Dave

  6. #6

    Default Re: "Practical" Beamsots?

    A scene like this (very very much like this!) should definitely be part of standard reviews. In current reviews it's left to the imagination of the reader to visualize how a flashlight would perform based on a beamshot. Indoors "spill" is very effectively utilized and it doesn't just light up what it hits directly. It bounces off walls, ceilings, etc to illuminate the whole scene. These photos show that very effectively.

    It'd be nice to have a typical standard "outdoor" shot as well but there's too many lighting variables there. Moon, light pollution, air quality that day, etc...

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* Longbow's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Practical" Beamsots?

    Best beam comparison method I've seen!!!
    LUMAPOWER #1} LM303, #2} D-mini

  8. #8

    Arrow Re: "Practical" Beamsots?

    Thank you all for your comments.

    It should be noted that in all cases/beamshots I could see a lot better than the photos show, and I mean a lot.

    The exposure settings favor the lights I originally metered for - which are the brightest - so that I didn't overexpose them. In that way the "Xnova" 8 new is severely diadvantaged - in real-life I definitely could see really well with it - whereas the "standardized" beamshot seems to show that it is almost all dark with just the large'ish central hotspot - that is far, far from the truth.

    Other very famous single white 5mm LED pocket lights like the ArcAAA, Infinity Ultra, Dorcy 1AAA, Photon - would hardly show any light with the "standardized" setting I used for this batch of beamshots -
    yet we all know they are more than adequate for most indoor usage, in fact I find this class of light(s) to be too bright for my own personal hand-held close-up tasks - prefering to use a single Yellow LED Photon 2 for that.

    By changing the exposure settings or using Auto exposure - may actually show how well any light does, and may show the light closer to the way we actually would see - but then the beamshot is no longer comparable to any others.

    So I hope you see the dilema of these types of beamshots.

    Please keep the comments, critques and any suggestions coming.

    Thanks,

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* Lunarmodule's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: "Practical" Beamsots?

    EXCEPTIONALLY WELL DONE !!!

    Thank you, the universally understood dimensional cue of the staricase is simple striaghtforward genius IMHO. So much more usable visual info when its easily related to whats familiar. Major thumbs up! I hope this idea proves contagious...
    LIGHT TRAVELS AT 186282.397 MILES PER SECOND... ANY FASTER WOULD BE DANGEROUS

  10. #10
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    Default Re: "Practical" Beamsots?

    Very nicely done. I am toying with trying this with film. I will need to think through how to simulate your settings.

    Is your color rendering target something special or a standard target available on the market ?

  11. #11

    Arrow Re: "Practical" Beamsots?

    Quote Originally Posted by HarryN
    Is your color rendering target something special or a standard target available on the market ?
    It's an old Paterson (UK) Optical Test target - that's used for lens testing - detail and typical layout -



    The most famous color rendering panel is the MacBeth - but although they will show up quite subtle differences in color rendering - reproduced in such a small image size - will probably either be non-meaningful or plain confusing.
    That's why a simpler RGB (red-green-blue) plus white probably works OK from a distance.....

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* eebowler's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Practical" Beamsots?

    Unknown: Just to add to the completeness of your post. Please tell me/us what is the width of the door itself. This will give us an idea of how wide the beam actually is at 15 ft. Thank you.

    eebowler.

  13. #13

    Arrow Re: "Practical" Beamsots?

    eebowler wrote: "what is the width of the door itself."

    Door is 24" wide x 80" tall......

    test target card - 9"x 8.5"

  14. #14
    *Flashaholic* PlayboyJoeShmoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Practical" Beamsots?

    Nice job! I try the lights I like a lot or have a special attachment to in situations like these. My outdoor area is likely quite a bit darker than many of y'alls!

    Until I can get an appropriate camera, you will just have to take my word on it!
    http://img32.imageshack.us/img32/2640/usflaghalfmastmdwht.gif

    PBJS



  15. #15

    Default Re: "Practical" Beamshots?

    Unknownvt,


    Is that Q3 stock (other than using Rechargable batteries)? It is VERY bright and clearly dominates the Fenix. Impressive.

    I also really like your beamshots. They are very helpful when comparing two different lights.

  16. #16

    Arrow Re: "Practical" Beamshots?

    adirondackdestroyer wrote: "Is that Q3 stock (other than using Rechargable batteries)?"

    Yes, very much stock - the earlier version.

    Please see:
    Nuwai Q3
    and
    Nuwai Q3 with RCR123 + Nano Charger

    There is a newer version with new step-up circuit that draws about 1A - compared to previous ~700mA (distinguished by a tactical clicky - with momentary ON).

    However I have been told in both versions when the Vin (V of battery) exceeds the set Vout (in this case the Vf of the LED) the circuit stops working - so in effect the Q3 becomes direct-drive on 3.6/3.7V rechargeable RCR123.

    Thank you for your kind comments.

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* WNG's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Practical" Beamshots?

    excellent beamshot idea and proposal. Nice work!

  18. #18

    Default Re: "Practical" Beamshots?

    Quote Originally Posted by UnknownVT
    adirondackdestroyer wrote: "Is that Q3 stock (other than using Rechargable batteries)?"

    Yes, very much stock - the earlier version.

    Please see:
    Nuwai Q3
    and
    Nuwai Q3 with RCR123 + Nano Charger

    There is a newer version with new step-up circuit that draws about 1A - compared to previous ~700mA (distinguished by a tactical clicky - with momentary ON).

    However I have been told in both versions when the Vin (V of battery) exceeds the set Vout (in this case the Vf of the LED) the circuit stops working - so in effect the Q3 becomes direct-drive on 3.6/3.7V rechargeable RCR123.

    Thank you for your kind comments.
    Ok, I really don't know what any of that ment. (Sorry). Can you please explain that to me.
    I want to get a Q3 and use Rechargables, if there is anything I should know about different versions of the Q3, that would be nice if you could tell me.

    Thanks

  19. #19

    Default Re: "Practical" Beamshots?

    I wonder how a 2500 nmih rechargeable , or a lithium battery affect L1P performance. I use both in mine and can see a bit of difference vs straight alkys. Also, for the scorpion how was the bean focused, what would it look like near the 2 extremes or focus?

  20. #20

    Cool Re: "Practical" Beamshots?

    So the Q3 gets significantly brighter with R123s?

    -David

  21. #21

    Exclamation Re: "Practical" Beamshots?

    adirondackdestroyer wrote: "Ok, I really don't know what any of that ment. (Sorry). Can you please explain that to me.
    I want to get a Q3 and use Rechargables, if there is anything I should know about different versions of the Q3, that would be nice if you could tell me."

    No problems -
    didn't mean any of my input to sound (unecessarily) complicated.

    Short version -
    Both earlier and newer versions of the Q3 appear to work well with the higher voltage - 3.6/3.7V rechargeable RCR123 - as reported on CPF.

    Explanation -
    the two versions of the (different DC-DC step-up) circuits are essentially by-passed with a battery voltage that's higher than the Vf of the LED -
    so the rechargeable RCR123 at rated 3.6V or 3.7V will direct-drive the Q3 -
    ie: the circuit(s) are not doing anything and the LED is driven directly by the 3.6/3.7V rechargeable battery - hence the reported substantial increase in brightness levels (and short'ish runtimes of about 30-40mins).

    Now note these are the higher voltage - rated 3.6V or 3.7V rechargeable RCR123's in the Q3.

    The less common 3.0V rechargeable RCR123 would probably work more like the regular non-rechargeable CR123A batteries.

    Cheapo wrote: "So the Q3 gets significantly brighter with R123s?"

    Yes, very much so (at least compared to using a regular CR123A in my earlier version - that draws about 700mA) - it is very noticable - so it would seem a pretty substantial increase
    - my conjecture - since the 3.6/3.7V rechargeable RCR123 is direct-driving the Luxeon III at about 740-800mA - this is putting about 3watts directly into the LED - without any losses due to the circuit - (unless my understanding about how these step-up circuits stop working is wrong)

  22. #22

    Cool Re: "Practical" Beamshots?

    so you own the newer version?

    -David

  23. #23

    Arrow Re: "Practical" Beamshots?

    cheapo wrote: "so you own the newer version?"

    No, I only have the earlier version of the Nuwai Q3 -
    which has the reverse clicky and draws about 700mA on regular non-rechargeable CR123A.

  24. #24
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: "Practical" Beamshots?

    QIII with R123 RoCkS

  25. #25

    Arrow Re: "Practical" Beamshots?

    I realized I've accumulated some more stairs shots in the course of doing reviews.

    Bunch of 3watt (clone) single 3.6V RCR123 rechargeable lights from LightHound -


    Nuwai Q3 on regular primary 3.0V CR123A


    and just to put things into context -
    SureFire 9P xenon 3x CR123A

  26. #26

    Arrow Re: "Practical" Beamshots?

    I have taken more of these stairs "practical" beamshots in the course of doing the comparison review of the River Rock 1.5w 2AA (link) (aka Aurora 1.5w 2AA) - thought I'd add them to this repository.

    These beamshots should be directly comparable to each other as they are all taken with the same exposure settings -

    River Rock 1.5w 2AA ........................................ Costco 1watt 2AA

    Dorcy 1watt Luxeon 3x AAA .............................. Energizer LED HeadBeam - 2x Brighter


    and for reference here's a MiniMag 2AA new bulb new batteries -


    I've also started another thread on another varient of the practical beamshot - outdoors -

    Nuwai Q3 on 3.6V RCR123


    please see this separate new thread -

    "Practical" Beamshots? pt.2 (link)

  27. #27

    Arrow Re: "Practical" Beamshots?

    I started to do these more "practical" beamshots because of the more powerful/brighter lights really needed more distance to start showing differences.

    In the course of doing the review -

    A Classic Revisited - Dorcy 1AAA

    a request was made for stairs beamshot using the two different types of Dorcy 1AAA - the original and gen2 reflector type and the latest gen3 focus lens type.

    Using my standardized settings for my stairs "Practical" Beamshots -

    ISO100 0.6sec f/2.8 daylight white balance - lens set at 28mm (equiv)


    showed virtually nothing - if examined closely one can just make out some vague details....

    This is obviously in comparison to the much brighter lights I originally started these beamshots for - typically the 3watt Nuwai Q3 (on primary CR123A) and 3D MagLite.

    Despite the differences in brightness levels the eyes adapt very quickly and one can see quite a lot even on a single 5mm LED typified by the Dorcy 1AAA.

    So I optimized the exposure just to show the difference -
    this is giving something like 5x the exposure
    at +2 1/3 Stops more exposure than my standardized settings -

    ISO100, 3.2sec, f/2.8, daylight, 28mm


    The gen3 Dorcy 1AAA using the focus lens does NOT throw any better - unless you consider its spot is larger and a lot more even........

    For typical indoors usage the older style reflector based ones - ie: gen1 and gen2 would give more and more useful light - as the reflector directs more light forward especially light that's emitted in directions other than forward. Whereas a lens focusses the already forward light into a spot and basically loses the any light not already going forward.

    However the spot is pretty even and light is limited to more or less the spot - which can be a good thing for certain applications - like not disturbing others or not attracting attention.....

  28. #28

    Arrow Re: "Practical" Beamshots?

    Here's my latest batch of standardized Stairs "Practical" beamshots -

    Camera settings - Standard 0.6sec, f/2.8, ISO100, daylight white balance, lens at 28mm equiv.
    and where the lights are lower powered - an extra shot at +2 1/3 Stops (5x) More Exposure

    Inova X1 Spot - White


    Inova X5 (white)


    1/2w 1AA AdvancedMart - New Twisty version SK-230A


    and the older Clicky version 0.5w 1AA - AdvancedMart LED-005S

  29. #29

    Arrow Re: "Practical" Beamshots?

    The Fenix P1D-CE with Cree XR-E has raised a great deal of interest here on CPF -
    in the course of reviewing the light - please see -

    Fenix P1D-CE comparison Review

    I also did some of my "standardized" stairway shots -

    Fenix P1D-CE RCR123 High ................................ Cree XR-E in Fenix L1T/L2T RCR123 High

    The Fenix P1D-CE seems about the same as the Cree XR-E in Fenix L1T/L2T in these shots -

    Whereas outdoors in Post #6 and #12 of "Practical" Beamshots? pt.2 (outdoors)
    the P1D-CE seem to out do the Cree XR-E mod L1T/L2T -
    I suggested this could be due to the orange-peel/stippled reflector (McR18) used in the Cree mod

    A light that was very impressive outdoors was the 1watt Dorcy 3D -
    Dorcy 1watt 3D


    and just to show its versatility that Cree XR-E mod in L1T using a single NiMH AA -
    Cree XR-E in Fenix L1T/L2T 1x NiMH AA


    Interesting how throw makes all that difference between indoors and outdoors -
    the Dorcy 1watt 3D really makes the case in point.......

  30. #30

    Arrow Re: "Practical" Beamshots?

    I've said previously I thought the P1D-CE on high may have been brighter than the very bright/intense SureFire 9P - xenon, 3x CR123 (standard P90 module) - so using the same desaturation/removal of color technique - we can compare these "standardized" stairways shots without the distraction of different colors/tints -

    Destaurated/Colors removed versions -

    Fenix P1D-CE RCR123 High ................................ Cree XR-E in Fenix L1T/L2T RCR123 High

    vs. SureFire 9P xenon 3x CR123


    Some previously spectacular LED lights - LuxIII on RCR123....
    Nuwai Q3 with RCR123 ...................................... LightHound V3 on RCR123


    Cree XR-E in Fenix L1T/L2T 1x NiMH AA High

    This shot is "impressive"
    compare it with the previously spectacular 3watt LuxIII on RCR123 above
    and the 3D Mag and the Dorcy 1watt 3D below -
    and this is the Cree on a mere single NiMH AA battery.....

    Here's that impressive Dorcy 1watt 3D compared to a standard 3D Mag -

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