Headlamp wanted for close, detailed work

bryan11

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Mar 22, 2009
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I'm looking for a headlamp to doing close, detailed work on electronics and small mechanical things like mechanical watches.

Requirements:
- AA or AAA batteries (will use rechargeables)
- Lots of white light on item two to three feet away
- Under $100, preferably under $50

Would like:
- Ability to aim center of light at a specific area
 

Phantom309

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I have a pair of Fenix HL21's, love em. Single AA, 3 levels, difuser included, comfy, cheap, $35ish.
 

bryan11

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Thanks. The Fenix HL30 looks nice, too. Any other models to examine?
 

eh4

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Zebralight H51Fc is a Great detail work head lamp. AA, floody, 85+cri, 4000K color temperature.
 

reppans

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I wouldn't go for pure flood if the subject is small and stationary. I find some semblance of a hotspot allows you to use a lower lumen level than you would otherwise need with a pure flood throwing lumens all over the place - and unecessarily in the OP's case.
 

larcal

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Hello eh4

Appreciate you bringing the F version of the H51 to our attention, but could you speak to what reppans says in post #8? If one is doing the kind of work the Op mentions, (or in my case carb rebuilds, saw sharpening, soldering) in pretty dark conditions, inside or outside would one use a lot more battery for the same degree of visibility using the H51f vs H51? You know, with the H51 putting more light where you need it. (I imagine you would give a definate yes if comparing to the H502 with it's 120 degree spread).


Regardless of your answer, is it your opinion that such work is significantly more comfortable with the H51f and thus you personally consider it worth the extra battery drain? Maybe that hotspot on H51 is pretty small at close quarters and thus pretty annoying but I have no idea. Lot of money to blow on a wrong decision. Been using the Photon headlamp with eneloops. Thanks.
 
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eh4

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Hello eh4

Appreciate you bringing the F version of the H51 to our attention, but could you speak to what reppans says in post #8? If one is doing the kind of work the Op mentions, (or in my case carb rebuilds, saw sharpening, soldering) in pretty dark conditions, inside or outside would one use a lot more battery for the same degree of visibility using the H51f vs H51? You know, with the H51 putting more light where you need it. (I imagine you would give a definate yes if comparing to the H502 with it's 120 degree spread).

Regardless of your answer, is it your opinion that such work is significantly more comfortable with the H51f and thus you personally consider it worth the extra battery drain? Maybe that hotspot on H51 is pretty small at close quarters and thus pretty annoying but I have no idea. Lot of money to blow on a wrong decision. Been using the Photon headlamp with eneloops. Thanks.

Hello larcal, as for reppans comment about flood lighting; with the Zebra Lights type "F", "Fw", or Fc" you get smooth light from your peripheral to your center of vision (majority of the light is inside 90 degree cone) but you Also get a smooth transition to a Considerably Brighter central zone wherever you point the light. Imagine holding a basketball at arms length, this is about how the reflectored light's otherwise focused hot spot is diffused by the frosted lens. Some will say to get the regular model and put some diffuser tape over the lens, and that might be a good option if you are unsure, but the frosted lens is very well designed.
To me it is adequate for most tasks within 30 feet while being perfect up close and at arm's length as well as for navigating in crawl spaces, basements etc. You get a good sense of where everything is in the space.
I think it is about a perfect compromise.

All of ZL's lights using the 4000 kelvin, higher color rendering led have a "c" at the end of their name, they aren't as " bright" but that is because they aren't blasting out as much of the blue light that our eyes are super sensitive to, in trade you get more balanced light with the red end of the spectrum better represented as well as the blue and the colors in between -I can see better with this kind of light, especially small details and I can use less light, less glare, better contrast, less eyestrain, especially with little shiny metal parts, distinguishing differences in colors of metals, seeing wear, oxidation, etc.
The H1 setting is in my opinion just a stunt to show the max that the light will put out, mostly what it does is heat the light up, consume an AA in less then an hour and help sell the light.
With the AA powered floody 4000k higher color rendering lights such as H51fc the next setting down (H2) gives 3 hours and is nearly as bright visually, I find it perfect for nitpicking tiny details, and at three hours of run time I don't have to fuss with batteries very often. That setting and the 10 hour M1 setting are pretty useful work settings, I forget there is a light on my head just focus on seeing what I'm doing.

If you really need more light, enough to be put off of the "c" lights slightly lower maximum outputs then you might consider investing in the H600Fw and going with rechargeable 18650 batteries instead, that would give you 7 hours of light at about the brightest comparable AA powered light settings instead of less than an hour.

With all that said, if you are in a bright workspace peering into dark areas your eyes won't get to adjust and I doubt that you'd be very satisfied with any of the AA powered varieties.
Say you're trying to locate and jiggle a stuck piece of metal down in a dark hole on a sunny day for a couple minutes -then just get a bright reflectored light with a bright hot spot, but if you're building a clock or other delicate work in the dark for long periods of time then an "F", "Fw", or "Fc" is going to pay off...

Didn't mean to write a book, hope that is helpful.
 
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moozooh

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ZebraLight H51Fc or H502d (the latter is way more efficient, so it runs longer on even higher brightness anyway), Spark SD52-NW.
 

Planz

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Very useful feedback from Greg and Eh4.
My personal experience with the H502 is that it is very good for arms length work as the beam is even and bright.
It is not bright enough for me to see beyond say 5 feet but there are people who do not have issue with that.
As such, I consider the H502 to be a 'dedicated' light, just like a 24mm prime lens.
Most of the time, I use lights for close up work so in that sense, H502 would be used more frequently but if I am going for a walk or shining something deep down the car engine, I would not use the H502.
 

larcal

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Beautiful, Eh4. Very clear and helped me focus. Hah! Definately done with bright hot spots thanks to you and probably going to try the H51f and later as can afford a 502. So true your comment about looking into a dark hole in a bright area and your eyes not being able to adjust between dark and peripheral light.

Seems like the sparks have quality control issues at the moment and maybe issues with eneloops. Not sure about kelvin and cri choices yet. Can you tell me what other headlamps you own and thus consider the 4000k high CRI version superior to? I hear what you're saying, but it's hard to give up those extra lumens, (not just with this light) though it's true as you say that H1 is irrelevent and that the 51w starts getting worse lumen wise starting with M1 Still there's H2 and H3. But, that's my problem. At least I'm thinking in the right direction and learning to obsess like a true CPF'er.

Anyway, previous to both you and Bolster mentioning CRI, I had thought CRI was purely an aesthetic concern and after reading up on it I'm still not sure why how well colors are portrayed in a viewed object helps with perception of detail except for maybe showing some corrosion etc. You're saying it's because low CRI rays have too much blue which has a blinding effect?

I realize color temp is separate from CRI but still do you feel there's some advantage to lower kelvin's like 4000 other then personal comfort preference?

That H51fw might be attractive if one likes a higher H2 and H3 and the kelvin is about the same but the CRI is supposedly lower but how do you know this?, I mean what is the CRI of the W? or anything else. No company provides this info on 99% of their lights and can't find it so if you have a link for this led or better yet most led's please provide. Will need to analyze this when I get into the 502's etc. also. Have you tried the W?

Guess I'd also like to ask you if in your many conversations with others if most or a lot of people share your perception that high CRi really helps with viewing detail, and if there are some types of work where it is not important or better to have the extra lumens and if so what activity that would be as far as getting stuff done, not nature appreciation.

Well, tired out, not writing well. Thanks again
 
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eh4

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I think it is safe to say that many would stand by the assertion that you can see better with HCRI lighting. Love of good color rendering has got to be one of the main reasons that we even have an Incandescent forum here.

There are a couple threads where the resident visual perception professors and PhDs (B0w3er and RedforestUK come to mind) have hijacked the threads in really interesting directions, it gets to be pretty dense reading but it's great when you're well rested with a pot of coffee and some leisure time.

Honestly the CRI makes a Huge difference, I'd rather have a light that was as bright as possible with a focused hotspot just to make out something far away but for being able to See complex scenes, taking in as much detail and quality of vision I think that the pure flood and floody HCRI lights are far better...
CRI relates to how well the led radiates a full spectrum of color frequencies compared to heating a wire, a chunk of carbon, or other natural object... Well they say " black body radiator" but I think that is Basically what the term means.

As for color temperature, it's probably more personal preference, most of the available HCRI LEDs have been low temperature in the past and I associate high color rendering with warm light (closer to yellow/white firelight) but the few people who have messed with cooler HCRI LEDs (closer to noon sunlight) rave about them.
I've been a fan of leds since they first came to the consumer market, loved my old red CMG Infinity, thought the Bright, bright bluish leds were amazing, and only in the last year reading and learning here have I gotten turned on to what is really possible.

There is another aspect that has raised some dander around here, which is a controversial " preference" curve that establishes that the human eye seems to work better at lower "warmer" frequencies when the light is not so bright like at dawn and dusk, and works better at higher "cooler" frequencies when the light is abundantly bright like at mid day... (As determined by " preference").

Anyways I don't find it controversial and since I'm not using many hundreds of lumens I'm very happy with my three 3000-4000 Kelvin lights.
Last spring I ordered a few of the cooler HCRI Nichia along with the older, warmer HCRI Cree LEDs to wire up and try, found out I didn't like the cooler nearly as much... Probably due to the light levels.
- this is also one of the cheapest ways to find out how you like pure flood BTW, just heat sink the die and wire it up to the appropriate power supply and controller.

Aside from those Cree and Nichia leds which are All going into pure flood bench lights, the other HCRI light that I have is an HDS Rotary, it's something like 3500K just guessing, it is truly wonderful even though it took as long between order and arrival as a human baby. All of those have CRI of 90+.
I also have a few cool white led flashlights, mostly unremarkable.
For instance if I take my cool white Rayovac Indestructible (CRI is 60-75?) and quickly look under the sink at the drain I see the rubber, plastic, metal and a little discoloration.
Turn off the Rayovac and turn on the H51Fc (CRI 85+) and I see multiple colors of corrosion, faint rust that ran with an old leak, the difference between Teflon tape and shiny metal next to it, easily tell the difference between brass, copper and steel, there is a lot more information, aside from being so much easier, and the floody plays a part in that as well.

I'd much rather read a book with pure flood, but the floody is an excellent compromise for a good work light with a decent bit of range.
Pure flood starts looking awful anaemic really quick, the same level that works at 2 feet seems, err, is only 1/4 as bright at 4 feet, it gets dim quick but that's what multiple levels are for.
Consider ordering an HCRI Cree and an HCRI Nichia at IlluminationSupply for fun, I think they are around 4$ apiece, that way you get to try pure flood and 3000K vs 4000+K at once....

PS, you wanna see really, really warm, HCRI flood? Take an old incandescent flashlight with fresh batteries and take the reflector out... Maglights are made for this, the newer led Mag lights do it too... I wonder if anyone has tried putting a Cree or Nichia HCRI led into an led Mag light?
 
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Gregozedobe

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Larcal asked me to comment on CRI and colour temp: "Would like to ask you to weigh in with you own personal slant on the importance of both cri and color temp"

My first caveat is that it is very dependent on personal preferences. Some people find High CRI lights are so much better they will no longer consider low CRI lights. There are similar differing opinions re Warm, Neutral and Cool tints. A huge amount depends on what YOU prefer, so what I prefer isn't that much help to you. That said, here are my opinions and preferences:

Until recently I haven't particularly liked any of the High CRI lights I had, largely because they were in the Warm to Neutral tint region (this includes a ZL H51c) - it seems I prefer cooler tints (many of the tints I preferred were in ITP and Zebralight lights), but I also dislike green tints. That changed when I got a H502d, and I like the way any colours with a bit of red "pop" out more compared with my H502. That said, I noticed the standard CW H502 was slightly better for distinguishing between medium dark blue and medium dark green. And the CW H502 is distinctly brighter than the H502d when both are on max brightness.

Really, the only way you are going to know what YOU prefer is to see some of these different tint and High CRI lights in action on the sort of tasks you use them for. If you live near a flashaholic who has a selection of lights with different characteristics you may be able to get them to show you, otherwise CPF has a concept called "catch-and-release", ie buy several lights, compare them, then sell on the ones you don't want.
 

eh4

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BTW, Rayovac Indestructible head comes off with careful plier work the first time.
So for 15$ you could experiment with cool white flood and still have a nice spare beater light to throw in a tool bag when you're done.
Take the head off an old incandecent maglight and you've got warm HCRI flood to compare it with.
Put the reflectors back on and cover with something translucent and you've got a decent approximation of "floody".

That aughta take a lot of the guess work out of the equation, except for the question of relative brightnesses.

Lastly, you might find this thread interesting: http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb...mperature-VS-illuminance-level-Kruithof-curve
 
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