Dereelight DA3 Review

subwoofer

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Dereelight are better known for their 18650 lights and the DBS throwers, but they also have a great little AAA EDC light, the DA3.


Initial Impressions:

The DA3 feels like military-spec in miniature. With grey anodising, fixed wire pocket clip, optically coated lens and styling, it feels built to last.

The anodised threads feel a bit rough when turning the head, although they look smooth and well formed. Even after cleaning and re-lubing them there is a slight roughness.

Although specified as cool-white, the DA3 has a strong tint making the light look very warm. Not unpleasant at all, but not white.

Specified as 86lm maximum output, this is a bright AAA light has a very smooth beam with diffuse hotspot, meaning there is no hotspot tunnel vision at all.


What is in the box:

The DA3 comes in a simple white cardboard box.

01da3box1.jpg


The instructions are printed on the underside of the box.

02da3box2.jpg


Inside the box is a white dense foam liner holding the DA3 and its included accessories

03da3box3.jpg


Shown out of the box are the DA3, lanyard, spare o-rings and diffuser tip

04da3unboxed.jpg


The laser etched Dereelight logo

06da3logo.jpg


Detail of the pocket clip from the front.

05da3clip.jpg


And side.

07da3clip.jpg


The DA3’s XP-G R5 1B0 LED.

08da3led.jpg




Looking inside:

Removing the head of the DA3 reveals robust design features not normally found on AAA lights.

Inside the head, there is a brass contact/retaining ring which holds the LED driver PCB, and also provides the bearing contact surface for the battery tube. This should make the DA3 very robust and able to withstand a great deal of switching cycles.

09da3headcontact.jpg


The threads are standard triangular form and the DA3 has dual o-rings.

10da3thread.jpg


Looking into the body of the light shows the tailspring.

11da3tailspring.jpg




Modes and User Interface:

Pretty much the standard for AAA twisty lights, the DA3 twists on first to low, switching off and on again to get medium, and then once more to get high.

None of the modes exhibit any sign of PWM so appear to be current controlled.


Batteries and output:

The DA3 takes AAA batteries and will work with alkalines and NiMH. I have been using NiMH as my preference is for rechargeable batteries.

The DA3’s high output is very bright for a single normal AAA battery and the quoted 86lm output seems accurate. The lower modes are not quantified, but are well spaced in level.

Running on high, the DA3 does become warm, but never hot.



In The Lab

In an attempt to quantify the actual beam profile I developed the following test. There are probably many flaws in my method, but it is simple and easy to carry out and seems to provide a good enough comparison.

The method used was to put the light on the edge of a table 1m from a wall, with a tape measure on the wall. The zero of the scale is placed in the centre of the hotspot and a lux meter is then positioned at points along the scale, with the measurements recorded. Beam shots are often taken with the light shining on a flat white wall, so this method is simply measuring the actual intensity across the beam on a flat surface, not the spherical light emission.

The results are then plotted on a graph.

For the best throw you want to see a sharp peak with less of the distracting spill. For the best flood light the trace should be pretty flat.


The DA3 has two beam configurations, that of the standard light, and with the diffuser tip fitted. The diffuser gives a full flood beam. The measurements for the graph are taken across a flat surface, however the diffuser tip casts light in an almost complete 360° beam angle.

da3beamprofile.jpg


Taking this a little further, I calculated an approximate factor to apply to the lux measurements, as each measurement gets further from the centre of the beam, it corresponds to a larger area onto which the light is falling. It seems to me that this should also be taken into consideration, so I applied these area corrections and came up with this odd looking graph.

The key quantity here is the area under the graph line. This should correspond to the total light output.


da3areaadjustedbeamprof.jpg


Though strange looking this graph shows how the DA3 puts a lot of light into the spill area, giving a floody beam perfect for the close range use that most EDC lights are put to.



The beam

The beam is very floody and strongly tinted. It is difficult to tell by eye what the true tint is. The tint appears strongly yellow with a hint of green giving a very warm colour. Far from being a problem the beam tint is pleasant to use. Although not great for accurate colour rendition, the tint does work well with the greens and browns found outside.



Using the DA3

The dual o-rings, make the DA3 slightly stiff in operation, combined with only mild texturing on the head, one handed operation is not the easiest.

The pocket clip cannot be removed, but the round wire construction makes it inconspicuous and means there are no sharp edges so should prove to be pocket friendly.

The supplied lanyard, compared to earlier versions, now has the an extra plastic part connected to the split ring which provides a braided cord to fit to the DA3 preventing the split ring scratching the anodising.

Fitting this proved challenging as the lanyard hole is quite small and the braided cord expands when you push it lengthways, making it even harder to fit. Several minutes using a wooden toothpick to squash the cord into the hole bit by tiny bit and I managed to get this fitted.

12da3lanyardhole.jpg


The construction of the plastic part should provide some sort of break-away function if pulled hard enough, though this may not be the intended function.

If you don't need the extra length the plastic/cord section gives (which I did), you can of course leave it out and fix the split ring directly to the DA3 (as shown on Dereelight's website).

As the DA3’s beam is the most floody for a light using a reflector that I have seen, the diffuser was not something I felt the need for. What it does provide is a candle function as the DA3 an tailstand, with the diffuser fitted you have an effective area light – a nice feature.

13da3diffuser.jpg


One of the strongest characteristics of the DA3 is its strong but floody beam making it a great choice for close range tasks. Combined with the robust design features in a compact package, the DA3 is a strong contender in the AAA EDC light category.





I’ll update post 2 of this thread once I have some more comments to add....
 
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subwoofer

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The following beamshot was taken with the white balance set to daylight to try to set a benchmark for the relative tint.

As a comparison this first beamshot is of the cool white iTP A3.

(Note the walls are a light sandy colour but the woodwork is slightly dull neutral off-white)

iTP A3 – cool white control shot

15itpa3beam.jpg


Now the DA3. Theoretically cool white, but the R5 bin is actually 1B0 and has a strong warm tint. However your screen may be calibrated, the relative comparison of the tint should be representative of the DA3’s beam tint.

This also shows the DA3’s floody beam.

DA3

14da3beam.jpg




While taking the tint comparison beamshot I had the opportunity to capture the glow in the dark o-ring used to seal the DA3’s lens.

16da3gitd.jpg



Here is a size comparison with the DA3 between an iTP A3 and Fenix LD01 and a naked AAA battery.

17da3sizecomparison.jpg
 
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jabe1

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Can you provide a picture of this light's size relative to other well known AAA lights please?
 

Tatjanamagic

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Deerelight DA3 is an excellent EDC flashlight. I carry it every day in pocket last 7 months. Before that I carried G2 nitrolon :)

I have XPG R5 version that gives excellent flood beam. I can actually lid whole yard with this small beast.

Twist to turn on system is excellent and no way it can accidentally turn on in your pocket.

You can carry it like pencil.

The most important thing is that this flashlight is constructed to save tiny AAA battery. It has 3 modes(low-med-high)

- It always starts on low mode so it is up to you to decide what amount of light U need.

- It is very usable for duty work especially if you are border control policemen. With low mode you can check cars for hours.

- For survival and camping as a backup light because U can carry it and you will not even notice because of its lightweight.

- Also great backup light for hunting. U can trace blood trail with this greenish tint on low mode for hours.

- On high mode you can lid whole room or whole backyard like mine 35×20 meters, and it throws about 40 meters

- I can tell that it is shock proof because I had more than 10 drops on asphalt while doing duty work.

- It can be on keychain all the time.


My conclusion that this is much better EDC light than any P60 style lights because you don't even know that it exists until U actually need it.
 
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Jimbo75

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Thanks subwoofer and Tatjanamajic for the reviews, looks like a great little light, love the floody beam and wire clip. I would pick one of these up if it weren't for the tint. I would like to see a beam shot of the neutral, it maybe more appealing.....hint hint, anyone out there with a neutral and a camera...:D
 

Pvt. Pile

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That's the weirdest tint I've seen in along time. I'm strangely drawn to it. I'm getting one! I'm one of those few people that don't like warm tints, and the yellowish tint that an xp-g s2 puts out is my favorite. I think this will be right up my alley. I'll post back with pix compared to an itp a3 as well. It looks as though its destroying the a3 in output, which is a bright little light in itself.
 

subwoofer

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That's the weirdest tint I've seen in along time. I'm strangely drawn to it. I'm getting one! I'm one of those few people that don't like warm tints, and the yellowish tint that an xp-g s2 puts out is my favorite. I think this will be right up my alley. I'll post back with pix compared to an itp a3 as well. It looks as though its destroying the a3 in output, which is a bright little light in itself.

Indeed, the tint is strong and the photo does represent it well. I used this light only a day or two ago and thought it was a very warm tint. When I was reviewing this I queried Dereelight to ask if they had sent the wrong version as the box said cool white. I was told it was definitely right.

I still like the floody beam, and it is very bright on normal AAA.
 

bon1

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It looks like a nice light, but that tint is definitely too yellow. Could you, please, tell us what the runtimes are for the DA3 when using a 1,900 mAh Eneloop?

Eventually, it says on the official Dereelight website that they also have the DA3 with an XP-E R2 emitter.
 

subwoofer

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I've been re-visiting this light and actually really like the tint. It is a warm tint quite like an incan, just a great deal brighter. The beam is nice and smooth.

I don't have any 1900mAh eneloops (mine are 2000mAh, and AAs), and this is an AAA light, so you are not going to get that kind of capacity. I've not currently got any AAA eneloops to test with. If I get a chance to do a runtime test once I've got some AAA Eneloops I'll let you know.
 

bon1

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I stand corrected on the AAA format and I'll certainly appreciate knowing about the runtimes with this light. :)
 

MojaveMoon07

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There are a few models where, by the time that I finished researching them and concluded I should buy them, they were discontinued. I had a chance to buy the DA3 from a U.S. retailer flashlightconnection; right afterwards he said there weren't enough sales for him to be able to continue to sell it. Based on a google search, there are still some retailers outside the U.S. carrying it including the manufacturer. I want to bump this thread with my report of my enthusiasm and positive experience with the light so that you still have time to consider this model.

Thank you subwoofer
icon14.gif
Your review was so detailed and concise, and your beamshot comparison very well demonstrates the tint and brightness of the spill. flashlightconnection told me that during his time selling it only about one in every fifteen units had that tint; I wound up with one because he very kindly selected a warm tint from among his inventory. I found in another review a photo showing a DA3 with a cool white tint (link); in another discussion (link), here is a beamshot of someone's cool white DA3. Maybe the retailer some of you will order your DA3 from might be able to select a warm-ish tinted unit for you.

The spill, as explained in subwoofer's review, is bright ... bright enough that sometimes momentarily the brightness seems uniform from edge to edge of the beam. This warm-ish tint is soothing and pleasant. I prefer a warm tint because my main objection to a flashlight with a blue cool white tint is that such a tint to me feels stark and lonely. I say "warm-ish" because this unique tint seems to need a classification created just to be able to categorize it; that's why it's great and fortunate that subwoofer's picture's perfectly show the tint.

In the other review I linked, someone reported that an "Alan" from Dereelight says that these are the specs for the DA3:
Low: 2 lumens, 19h;
Medium: 10 lumens, 6h;
High: 86 lumens, 1h


The low lumen rating sounds about right. My DA3's high mode is bright, but my experience with flashlights is limited enough that I couldn't be a good judge of whether my high mode is in the ballpark of 86 lumens. The Medium mode, though, is where I have one of just a few small criticisms of this model. On a fresh eneloop battery, the medium mode seems nearly 100% identical to the brightness of the low mode; in my short time owning the DA3 it seems to be just when I shine the unit at something a foot away or less that I sometimes see a slim difference in brightness.

The clip. I would rather have a clip than no clip since I would be too concerned about scratches to the lens or accumulations of lint in nooks and crannies around the lens for me to feel comfortable carrying this model in the bottom of my pocket. And like subwoofer said, there are no sharp edges; and the clip is so streamlined that it barely projects outward from the DA3. But the tension is so great in the clip that I'm concerned at least while this unit and clip are brand new that I'll fray the threads of the edge of a pocket while trying to remove the DA3 and clip from a pants pocket. Furthermore, I need one hand to keep a tight grip on the DA3 while I try to wedge a fingertip of my other hand under the tip of the clip so I can try to squeeze the pants pocket edge between the clip and the DA3. There is a tiny hole for a lanyard or split ring, but I've seen pictures posted here of various models that show that the split ring can over time wear away to nothing the outer edge of the split ring hole.

The clip does an okay job of preventing the model from rolling. However, because the clip has such a slim profile I think that it might not be enough to prevent rolling if you set the model down on a sloped surface or set the model down too casually.

My other small criticism is about the double o-rings. I guess it's because of that that, even after cleaning the threads and lubricating them with Superlube and lubricating the o-rings with Danco silicone faucet grease, this flashlight still requires two hands to twist the head to adjust the brightness. However, what I think balances this is the fact that you need just a slight twist to turn the unit on or off.

The DA3 can be purchased with an XP-E led. I found a review of this configuration and some comparison outdoor beamshots. You can translate these links at translate.google.com
http://taschenlampen-tests.de/?p=9412
http://taschenlampen-tests.de/?p=10714
http://taschenlampen-tests.de/?p=10767


I'm very glad to have this model because AA and AAA models with a bright spill seem to be uncommon, and such models with a warm-ish tint seem to be even more uncommon than that. The beam pattern is in my opinion comparable to my family's Fenix LD15 and Sunwayman V10a XML.
 
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yoyoman

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Has anyone tried to run this on 10440 Li-ions?

Edit:
I tried last night. Goes into DD - just 1 mode. Bright and gets warm quickly, but doesn't fry.
 
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