Ese LZ2 Stainless Steel 1AA Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, & more.

selfbuilt

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Reviewer's Note: The Ese LZ2 was supplied by CPFM dealer shiningbeam for review (www.shiningbeam.com).

UPDATE: This light is no longer available in the form reviewed here.

A relative newcomer to the flashlight world, Ese appears to trying carve out a niche at what I would consider the high-end of budget lights. Although I no longer review budget lights, I thought this specimen deserved comparison testing, as it seems to overlap price-wise with the low-end of premium lights (~$30-35). Specs according to the dealer:

  • Cree XR-E premium Q5 LED emitter
  • Shiny stainless steel body
  • Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating
  • Memory feature will memorize the last mode
  • Smooth alumimum reflector for better throw
  • 6 Modes: Low>Mid>High>Strobe>Police Style Strobe>S.O.S
  • Powered by one AA (1.2V/1.5V) batteries,
  • Accepts voltage input of 0.9V-1.5V
  • Comes with spare O-rings and silicone tailcap
  • It can tail stand

LZ2-5.jpg


In keeping with its budget-status, the light came wrapped in bubble-wrap in a padded envelop. Included were spare o-rings, extra tailcap button, and basic wrist strap.

LZ2-6.jpg


LZ2-2.jpg


LZ2-3.jpg


LZ2-4.jpg


LZ2-7.jpg


LZ2-1.jpg


The light is very sturdily built, definitely better than the cheaper budget lights I’ve tested. The stainless steel body is quite solid, with a polished smooth surface. Frankly, I find it a bit too smooth, as it’s hard to get traction when unscrewing the tailcap sometimes. But the screw threads are smooth and solid, and the o-rings are a decent thickness - both of which contribute to a smooth and confident feel when unscrewing the light components.

Due to the stainless steel construction, anodizing is not possible – hence no tailcap lockout. The light can indeed tailstand. Switch action seems pretty standard, and has worked reliably in my testing.

The reflector is smooth, but not as shiny as most other smooth reflectors I’ve seen. There is a slight misalignment of the emitter in the reflector on my sample, and the reflector seems a little more forward from the emitter than is typical. Taken together, these factors likely explain the somewhat reduced throw compared to the competition (scroll down for the summary table).

UI is very straight-forward: click to turn on/off, soft press or turn off/on rapidly to advance to the next output level. Sequence is Lo > Med > Hi> Strobe > Intermittent Strobe > SOS. If you leave the light on for ~3 secs at any one level you will see a brief flash to let you know the memory feature has been activated. Next time you turn on, the light will come back on at this level.

The runtimes will provide more info about relative output levels, but a few general comments about the circuit:
  • The circuit seems to be a slightly revised version of the 5-mode circuit common to a number of MTE and Ultrafire lights.
  • The 3 main output levels seem unchanged from earlier 5-mode circuits (and lack a true low mode). :sigh:
  • Tint change from low to medium was very evident on my sample (i.e. from cool pink to warm yellow/green) – as I have noticed on previous lights with the 5-mode circuit.
  • Strobe freq has been increased to “tactical levels” – I measured 13.7Hz on my sample (which is indeed very distracting, as intended)
  • ”Police Strobe” seems to be intermittent strobe cycle where you get ~0.6 secs of tactical strobe, followed by a ~1.2 sec pause, repeating in an endless loop. Not quite clear what the point of this is. :duh2:

For beamshots, I’ve kept it simple – below is a comparison to the Fenix L1D Q5, both lights on Eneloops on max, ~0.5 m for a white wall.

LZ2-Beam1.jpg

LZ2-Beam2.jpg

LZ2-Beam3.jpg


As you see in the pics, the smooth-reflector LZ2 is surprisingly free of rings :eek:oo: (but that is likely due to its somewhat de-focussed reflector).

Testing Method: All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's flashlightreviews.com method. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different reviews - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan, except for the extended run Lo/Min modes which are done without cooling. Throw values are the square-root of lux measurements taken at 1 meter from the lens, using a light meter.

Throw/Output Summary Chart:

LZ2-Summary.gif


As you can see, the LZ2 has very good overall output for 1AA on NiMH. :thumbsup: However, its throw is less than the competition, and it lacks a true low mode. See the runtimes below for a greater discussion of the output levels and their performance.

Output/Runtime Comparison:

LZ2-Hi2650.gif

LZ2-HiEne.gif

LZ2-HiAlka.gif

LZ2-HiL91.gif


As you can see, the LZ2 holds its own quite nicely at its maximum setting. Alkaline/L91 performance was particularly impressive. :) Of course, all 1AA lights tend to be somewhat range-bound for output, given the power limitations of this battery source. But the LZ2 holds its own well here.

LZ2-MedEne.gif

LZ2-MedAlka.gif


On medium, the best I can say is that the LZ2 does an acceptable job. I would like to have seen better regulation on alkalines, though.

LZ2-LoAlka.gif


Low mode is where this budget circuit really shows its limitations – output is simply too high, and runtime performance too low. This remains a common problem for all budget circuits. :(

General Observations

First impressions are that the LZ2 is a well built light for the price (~$30-35). I’m not generally a fan of stainless steel, but this is definitely the best built example I’ve seen with this material.

It also held up well physically in my testing – something that is very rare for budget lights I’ve tested. Usually, some component fails or experiences intermittent problems early on (like a faulty tailcap switch, o-ring failure, flickering, internal component wobble, etc.). Even my branded budget lights (like MTE and Ultrafire) have typically experienced these issues, to the point that I am not comfortable recommending any of them (with the exception of Romissen – it is the only one among the budget makers that has yet to disappoint me). The Ese LZ2 is remarkable for its consistent build performance in this class.

That being said, quality is still not as high as a Fenix or one of its other mid-range equivalents. But I would rate this light at the top end of the budget lights for overall build quality, and thus reasonable value for the price.

Although the beam is not as throwy as most other lights, the overall beam pattern is very pleasing – with a surprisingly lack of rings for a smooth reflector. :) Tint, output, and performance were all excellent on the max setting of my sample. If this were a single-stage light with all these features, the review would end right here with the recommendation that this is a serious contender for the budget single-stage class. :whistle:

Where things go downhill is in the circuit performance. It’s disappointing that the budget makers have not managed to source a substantially improved circuit after all this time. Basically, if you took one of the original 5-mode budget circuits/lights and added a newer emitter, you would get equivalent performance to what is seen here. Consider it a personal plea, but I wish the circuit makers would stop adding useless features like an intermittent strobe, and work on fixing things like tint shift, poor regulation on alkalines, and lack of true low modes. But at least this circuit version includes a memory feature.

Bottom line, if you are comfortable with the features and performance of this budget circuit, then this is probably the best built light you can get with it. But given the decent build quality Ese is obviously capable of, I would like to see them start using better circuits. I would also like to see what they can do with aluminium bodies, since stainless steel is of limited usefulness IMO.
 
Last edited:

DM51

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A very good review which will be helpful to members considering the range of high-end budget / low-end premium lights.

Excellent attention to detail, with very useful observations on both the good and bad points of this light.

Moving to the Review section.
 

aljsk8

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i just got this light - as an owner of

$20 stainless steel ultrafire c3
$100 stainless steel civictor and
$300 custom stainless steel photonfanatic one off

id say this $35 ESE LZ2 is up there with the big boys appart from the circuit/emitter setup

swap out the board and emitter add soe nice lube and give the body a once over with brasso and you have a very nice light

generally very impressed with this light
 

RGB_LED

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selfbuilt, as usual, a great review! Detailed and concise while also providing factual and personal observations. :twothumbs

I was looking at picking up a few of these lights for x-mas gifts to those friends who are just on the cusp of being a flashoholic or even just to female friends who may need a light in their purse (this light definitely has a bit of bling to it with the polished finish!).

The output definitely surprised me as it's up there with the big boys. But, of course, there's a reason the more established manufacturers have consistently excellent lights - the circuit. Still, on High, it's right in the mix and is only beaten by the D10 and H50!

The deciding factors for me though are: the total output, memory mode (a pleasant surprise!), ramping from Low-Med-High (can do without strobe modes though), price and looks (don't know if I like the polished finish of this light vs. matte finish of the C3), so this sounds like a very good light. If it were $10 less, I think they would be flying off the shelf faster than the single-mode stainless steel C3's that were so popular a little while ago.

Thanks again selfbuilt... :goodjob:

Now... if they only provided better holsters than the cheap ones that dx sells... :rolleyes:
 

selfbuilt

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swap out the board and emitter add soe nice lube and give the body a once over with brasso and you have a very nice light
I agree - this light is just begging to dust off the old soldering iron and grab a new driver board. I could see this build easily becoming the stainless steel modder's standard. :thumbsup:

I was looking at picking up a few of these lights for x-mas gifts to those friends who are just on the cusp of being a flashoholic or even just to female friends who may need a light in their purse (this light definitely has a bit of bling to it with the polished finish!).
If it weren't for the extra strobe/SOS modes (especially the intermittent strobe), I would be comfortable recommending this light for non-flashaholics. I think the smooth "shiny' stainless steel makes it a real eye catcher.

But as an aside, I typically recommend Fenix L0D or E1 for women's purses (due to their lower weight). They also come in a range of colours. I think the extra heft of stainless steel is likely to appeal more to men. ;)
 

aljsk8

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I took this light appart last night to do a little mod

when you look on selfbuilts photos you can see the emitter is lower than the reflector - so much so in my case the there is a gap - not sure if light can escape through the gap due to the way the emitter radiates but i didnt like it anyway

so - if you remove the reflector and the pill you can see there is a sholder on the reflector that sets the position of the emitter

you can file this sholder down slowly and then marry it up to the pill to see where you are up too

i did mine just enough so the ring on the cree "just" enters the reflector opening

do it any more and the rings will get worse
also the wires soldered on the cree will short against the reflector - basicly you want to shave 0.5 - 1mm off the reflector sholder

when you reinstall everything you will now find the body of the light might not touch the gold ring on the driver board - i added some solder around the ring to fix this

the overall result of this mod is a compleatly centered led that sits very nicely in the hole of the reflector
the beam is still slightly unfocused with a tiny bit of the "cree dark ring" but very pleasing for a smooth reflector

ill post a photo if i can get a good one

Alex
 

alfreddajero

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Now this is funny....i was taking a look at this light over at shiningbeams sight......and now a review as well...nice job as always.
 

OCDGearhead

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Very nice review.

I just ordered a couple for Christmas. One of the better looking lights out there. Needs a few more strobe functions though...:sigh:
 

alfreddajero

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I just recieved this light the other day and im liking it so far.....way too heavy to edc and sometimes the modes change when you half press the switch before you turn on the light.
 

alfreddajero

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I was going to ask you if you knew that actual lumen rating for the torch....i have been searching everywhere and this light is not even on there site.
 

selfbuilt

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I was going to ask you if you knew that actual lumen rating for the torch....i have been searching everywhere and this light is not even on there site.
IMO, lumen ratings are not very helpful - since almost no manufacturers use actual calibrated integrating spheres to measure them. And "bulb lumens", as they are sometimes called, are really just a reflection of the emitter specs (which are often not too useful because losses within the circuit/reflector/lens etc are not consistent - and more importantly, current levels can be quite variable among circuits).

As an aside, even those that do have actual IS measures (e.g. Surefire) often low-ball their estimates, to insure a minimum spec (e.g. there are reports here of E1Bs that are apparently twice as bright as others).

In any case, the relative output values shown in my reviews should help you out. If there is a comparator light whose lumen estimate you trust, you can just compare the relative outputs shown here. :)
 

cheetokhan

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I finally broke down and got one of these. I think it's a gorgeous light, I just don't like the UI that forces me to switch through every mode and I have no use for the disco modes. I sure wish I could get my hands on a driver board like the one in the Jet IBS lights.
 

alfreddajero

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I think this light is well made....and i also hate the UI........I would love a three mode version.
 

KBOy

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Great Review , nice light ,but the Smooth alumimum reflector is not good.
 

bcwang

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id say this $35 ESE LZ2 is up there with the big boys appart from the circuit/emitter setup

I'd say the circuit and emitter setup is one of the most important things in a good light. I mean what else is left, a metal shell and a switch. The "lighting" performance seems pretty un-interesting imho.

Like all those cheapie fenix clones i see on DX. I got one that looked like my l1p, only it performs so bad I can't use it. If the finish was worse I might be ok since it's cheap, but when the light it produces is terrible then it's useless.
 

online backup

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A very impressive review of the material.. i can say that because I am working on an advertising company and I must say that the author did his job. Good work.

online backup
 

warrennnnnnnnnn

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Mar 3, 2013
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Just so you guys know, this light is now out of production, and I have only been able to find it on a Chinese site called GoodLuckBuy. Just so happens that the one they are selling uses 14500 batteries, not the standard AA. I found this light while browsing DIY bike flashlight mounts, and I love it so far, I just wish I had known. I write this in hopes that I can save someone else some time and frustration!
 
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