ITP SA1, SA2, SC1, SC2 Round-Up Review (XP-E R2): RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

selfbuilt

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Reviewer's Note: The ITP SA1/SA2/SC1/SC2 were provided for review jointly by Battery Junction and Going Gear.

Warning: Even more pic heavy than usual! This is will be a round-up review of all four lights. :eek:oo:

Specifications for SA/SC family, according to BatteryJunction.com and GoingGear.com:
  • LED Type: Cree XP-E R2
  • Function: Low-Med-High-Strobe and Digital Infinite Beam Adjustment Output Levels
  • Finish: HA Type III
  • Reflector: Smooth Reflector
  • Lens: Anti-shattering ultra clear lens, anti-scratching and anti-slip
  • Water and Dust Resistant to IP68
  • Switch: Tail switch for turning light on/off and Side switch for changing modes
  • Mil-spec: MIL-STD-810F
  • SA1: 1 x Alkaline, 1 x NI-MH, 1 x 14500 Battery, Size and Weight: L 107mm (4.21’’) x D 26.5mm (1.04’’), 67g (Excluding Battery)
  • SA2: 2 x Alkaline, 2 x NI-MH Batteries, Size and Weight: L 156.5mm (6.16’’) x D 26.5mm (1.04’’), 86g (Excluding Batteries)
  • SC1: 1 x CR123A, 1 x RCR123A, 1 x 16340 Battery, Size and Weight: L 90.5mm (3.56’’) x D 26.5mm (1.04’’), 54g (Excluding Battery)
  • SC2: 2 x CR123A, 2 x RCR123A, 2 x 16340, 1 x 17670 Battery, Size and Weight:
    L 124.5mm (4.90’’) x D 26.5mm (1.04’’), 69g (Excluding Batteries)
  • MSRP: ~$40 (all models)
SC-1.jpg


The SA/SC series are replacements for ITP’s original entries into the LED flashlight world, the C7/C8/C9/C10 lights. Please see my earlier reviews for details of those lights.

This will be a round-up review of all four new SA/SC lights. In the first part of the review, I will provide a general overview of the common build features and design. In the second part, I will provide detailed output/runtimes and size comparisons for each light, with some general comments at the end.

Note: The SC2 will be shown as a representative sample in the pics below.

SC-9.jpg


In keeping with their budget status, the ITP SA/SC lights come in fairly basic packaging – but include a reasonable number of extras. These include a decent quality carrying pouch with closing flap, simple wrist lanyard, replacement o-rings and low profile tailcap button, and a reverse clicky tail switch. Also included is a warranty card and manual. Note the pocket clip is built-in to the light.

UPDATE: As several members have pointed out, the replacement switch and boot cap are a reverse-clicky with lower profile, allowing tailstanding.

SC-2.jpg

SC-3.jpg


Fit and finish were good on all my samples, with no flaws in the black type-III hard anodizing. Identification labels are sharp and clear on all samples (something that wasn’t always the case on my early sample C7/C8/C9 lights). :rolleyes:

SC2-1.jpg


The attached stainless steel clip and checkered body pattern help with grip. I found all samples reasonably comfortable to hold in the hand. Note the presence of the front switch, on the head above the clip. This switch is a reverse clicky, and is used to control output modes. The rear tailcap (forward-clicky) controls on-off - see UI discussion below.

SC-8.jpg

SC-4.jpg


Tail screw threads are anodized for tailcap lock-out. :thumbsup: Note the lights cannot tailstand in its default form with the forward clicky. However, you can swap in the reverse clicky switch and low profile boot cover (included in the package) to restore tailstanding at the expense of momentary-on.

Unlike the earlier C-series, the head is not user-removable. Here’s a shot down the battery/body tube:

SC-5.jpg


Similar to the budget MC-E-based ITP A6 Polestar, the positive contact surface is simply a piece of metal that has been folded-over. This is not particularly impressive. :sigh: There is certainly no physical reverse-polarity protection with this setup.

SC-6.jpg

SC-7.jpg


Unlike the earlier 2-stage reflector of ITP C-series and Olight T- and I-series lights, these new SA/SC lights have a smooth reflector that is not as deep. Actually, there seems to be very fine concentric rings all along the reflector, although these are subtle. They are likely there to help smooth out the beam somewhat.

These lights all use the new standard Cree XP-E emitter, with a R2 output bin (no tint bin reported). For those of you not familiar with tint bins, please see my Colour tint comparison and the summary LED tint charts found here.

For beamshot comparisons, I’ve chosen just the SA1 and SC2 below. All lights are on Max on either 1xSanyo Eneloop or 1xAW protected 14670/17670/18650 as appropriate, about 0.5 meters from a white wall.

SA1-Beam25.jpg

SA1-Beam100.jpg

SA1-Beam1600.jpg


SC2-Beam25.jpg

SC2-Beam100.jpg

SC2-Beam1600.jpg


Note that I do not have an ITP C10 to directly compare, so I’ve used the Olight Infinitum I20 for the second set of beamshots above. The I20 uses the same reflector and similar circuit as the C10, so is directly comparable.

First thing you will notice is that the beam pattern is completely different from the earlier ITP/Olight series lights. In fact, this new emitter/reflector setup produces a pattern that is very similar to the 4Sevens Quark series – a medium intensity hotspot with a very wide and relatively dim spillbeam.

The reflector seems to do a good job of producing a smooth transition from hotspot to spill without rings. :)

User Interface

The SA/SC series have an updated interface. Similar to other lights that use dual switches, the rear tailcap switch controls on-off and the front head-mounted switch controls output modes.

Default rear switch is a forward clicky, so you can press for momentary-on, click for lock-on. :thumbsup: You can substitute the reverse clicky replacement switch and low-rise boot cover if you prefer to have a tailstanding option (note that this would prevent momentary signaling, though).

Front switch is a reverse clicky, and works in two ways. To change between preset output modes, press and release the switch repeatedly until you get the mode you want. Sequence is Lo-Med-Hi-Strobe, in repeating order. The light has a memory mode, and will remember the last setting upon re-activation.

To run through a continuously variable ramp, press and hold the front switch. Initially, the light will ramp from Lo to Hi, and back down from Hi to Lo, in a repeating fashion. Release the switch to select the desired output level. The variable output feature has a separate memory mode, and will retain the relative brightness setting the next time you initiate a ramp. Note the ramp speed is fairly quick (i.e. ~3 secs, see ramp graphs for each model below).

Note that the preset Lo and Hi modes correspond roughly to Min and Max on the continuously variable ramp.

SC-Strobe.gif


Strobe frequency was measured at just under 10Hz.

Consistent with earlier ITP/Olight continuously-variable lights, I was unable to detect the PWM frequency. :) The lights definitely use PWM, but the freq must be above >30kHz or so, as that is the upper detection limit in my setup. You won’t be able to detect it by eye.

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 (i.e. >12 hours) 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.

Note: Effective January 2010, all CR123A runtimes are now performed solely on Titanium Innovations batteries sponsored by a BatteryJunction.com. You can compare the generally excellent performance of these CR123A cells relative to the Duracell/Surefire cells used in all my erlier reviews here. I have marked all the new runtimes of lights with Titanium Innovations CR123As on the graphs with an "*".

Size Comparison Pics, Throw/Output Summary Charts, Runtime Graphs, and Ramping Graphs will be provided for each respective light below.

--------------------------------------

SA1 (1xAA) Comparison

SA1-2.jpg

SA1-1.jpg


1AA-Summary1.gif

1AA-Summary2.gif


SA1-Ramp.gif


SA1-HiEne.gif

SA1-MedEne.gif

SA1-LoEne.gif

SA1-HiL91.gif

SA1-HiAlka.gif

SA1-Hi14500.gif

SA1-Med14500.gif


--------------------------------------

SA2 (2xAA) Comparison

SA2-2.jpg

SA2-1.jpg


2AA-Summary.gif


SA2-Ramp.gif


SA2-HiEne.gif

SA2-MedEne.gif

SA2-LoEne.gif

SA2-HiL91.gif

SA2-HiAlka.gif


--------------------------------------

SC1 (1xR/CR123A) Comparison

SC1-2.jpg

SC1-1.jpg


CR-Summary1.gif

CR-Summary2.gif


SC1-Ramp.gif


SC1-HiCR.gif

SC1-MedCR.gif

SC1-HiRCR.gif

SC1-MedRCR.gif

SC1-LoRCR.gif

SC1-MinRCR.gif


--------------------------------------

SC2 (2xR/CR123A) Comparison

SC2-2.jpg

SC2-1.jpg


18650-Summary1.gif

18650-Summary2.gif

18650-Summary3.gif


SC2-Ramp.gif


SC2-Hi14670.gif

SC2-Med14670.gif
SC2-HiCR.gif

SC2-MedCR.gif

SC2-HiRCR.gif

SC2-MedRCR.gif

SC2-LoRCR.gif


--------------------------------------

Potential Issues

Build quality is consistent with price, and is lower than more expensive offerings. Overall, the SA/SC family build is similar to the ITP A6 Polestar, but without the battery carrier (i.e. also have a front-mounted switch, relatively thin bodies, and a simple contact surface for the positive battery terminal).

The memory modes for the preset levels and the continuous ramp are independent of one another. While some may like this, it means you may be in for a visual shock if you have them set to widely different extremes. For example, if you leave the continuous ramp set at Max and the preset to Lo, when next you engage the ramp from the preset Lo it will jump immediately to Max and start to work down (i.e. it will not start ramping from the Lo preset you were on). As such, I found myself making sure that I kept the continuously variable mode saved to a relatively low level before switching to preset modes, to avoid switching back to something potentially too bright at a later time.

Min/Lo output mode is not as low as other continuously-variable lights (i.e. lacks a true Lo/Moonlight mode)

General Observations

I would consider these SA/SC series lights to be modern build replacements for the “budget-level” original ITP C7/C8/C9/C10 series.

In the context of general-purpose use, there are certainly a number of significant upgrades here: Higher output bin emitter (R2), more useful general-purpose beam (i.e. wider spillbeam, no rings), better checkering and clip for enhanced grip for carry, traditional head-mounted switch for output mode control, and the dual-control option of preset output modes or continuously-variable ramp. This last point is particularly impressive in a “budget” offering. :eek:oo:

Some of this comes down to simple preference – while I liked the original ITP/Olight head-twist mechanism for the ramp, I know most users prefer a button control. So kudos to them on the head-mounted switch (FYI, Mrs. Selfbuilt definitely prefers this new front button over the older twist interface ;)). And although it requires you to switch hand positions, at least it doesn’t clutter the tailcap switch control (i.e. momentary is available). :thumbsup: And they thoughtfully included a reverse-clicky switch and low-rise boot cover, if you want to restore tailstanding ability (at the expense of momentary signaling, of course).

What hasn’t changed is the tailcap lock-out or the excellent overall circuit efficiency. Performance is quite good at all levels tested. The dynamic range of the light is slightly reduced (i.e. it doesn't go as Lo as the previous series did). Note that the ramping speed has also increased considerably. Many users here seem to like this sort of fast ramp, but I personally prefer a more gradual one like the original C-series. :shrug:

Personally, I would like to see a removable clip option and a better contact surface for the positive battery terminal. Ideally, the option to swap heads on different bodies (where appropriate) would have been nice, but I guess something had to go to keep costs down. :shrug:

Also, while most will likely applaud the separate memory controls for preset levels and the continuous ramp, I would prefer to see the ramp start from whatever output level I am currently on when coming from the presets (i.e. instead of defaulting to what is in the continuous ramp memory mode and going from there). Oh, and have I mentioned that a lower Lo mode would really be nice? :rolleyes:

But these issues aside, there is certainly no arguing with what you get here for the price. I see these lights doing very well for the general user, as a front head-mounted button is very intuitive for most people. And if you don’t like seeing strobe in the preset sequence, there’s always the continuously-variable mode for you to use.

All in all, a nice package falling into a fairly unique price/performance niche (i.e. higher-end budget category/lower-end flashaholic category).
 
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TooManyGizmos

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Very nice and detailed review ..... for all 4 lights.

Selfbuilt , as Thanks for your reviews .... I'm sending $10.oo to your Battery Fund.

I agree about the clips , odd and almost useless on the SC1 .(light so short)
It's only usefull for the brim of a ball cap.
Would have made for better clip carry on SC1 & SA1 if they had made a full circular ring (like a washer) go between the body and tailcap. (removable of course) Clips need to be near the end of a light - not in the middle.

Your "Throw Max" figure of 76 , on single cell Li Ion , was right up there among the highest figures. That proves why I've been telling other members that it's a good medium range thrower, for such a tiny light.

And it comes with a second (low profile) switch and boot , which allows it to tailstand.

IMO , they have great runtimes , especially using L91 in the SA1 (2&1/2 hr on Hi w/1 cell). And medium mode really stretches out the times.(Eneloop's are good too) ( Alkies are not so good)

If they could make the infinate brightness go as low as a moon mode ... yet keep the low/med/Hi presets as they are , that would be ideal !

I'm very happy with my SA1 & SC1 . They are a little too fat with 1" head for EDC , but easily pocketable for dog walks/short hikes and put out a lotta light with med. throw. They do have a hole in the endcap for lanyard attachment . I prefer the momentary end switch on mine . I got em as soon as they were available (12-4-09) and I've been recommending em since.

Thanks for the review which backs up with tech. data what I've been saying all along.

They're worth the 40 bucks ! .......... Good tool box ~ Glove box lights !
 
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csa

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Nice review! Good to see quality reviews of budget lights.
 

alfreddajero

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The light will tailstand if you install the reverse clicky with included rubber boot. Once again your reviews are a pleasure to read.
 

Surnia

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I'm very surprised by its efficiency and output numbers, very close to the eagletacs, and exceeding the quarks in the AA category!

excellent review as always selfbuilt, I'm very thankful for your work!

*edit* If you don't mind a further question, when you activate the ramping mode, does it hold the light level you set it at for a short time before ramping, or does it immediately start ramping?
 
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alfreddajero

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I got the light 2 weeks after it hit the online shops and i was impressed with what it came with. Wish they made one with on OP reflector or have an option to get one.
 

jhc37013

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I have been waiting on a review for these lights I probably won't get one from the lack of removable clip but from every thing I gather in your great review I feel comfortable enough to recommend them as budget lights in alternative to Quark and Eagletac. Thanks
 

alfreddajero

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For the price you just cant beat what you get. I was surprised when i got mine. I put a split ring and swivel for the lanyard since most of the time the lanyard gets cut by the sharp edges of the holes. I also used a cutting wheel for the slot so it would be able to tailstand.

http://www.mediafire.com/?gnzm2wjjyzy
<a href='http://www.mediafire.com/?nozkdiocygx'>http://www.mediafire.com/?nozkdiocygx</a>
 

alfreddajero

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For the price you just cant beat what you get. The only think that i didnt like is the holes for the lanyard, i put in a split ring and swivel then attached the lanyard, i also used a cutting wheel to put in a slot for the split ring to get into so the light would still be able to tailstand. I will have to post pics up in a bit since Imageshack is being a pita right now.
 

Surnia

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Alright I just picked the SA2 up from Battery Junction (thanks MattK!), and its absolutely great as a bike light. I run it slightly above medium, and it completely swamps out the Cateye Uno (which from what I can tell, runs on a 5mm behind their opticube). Was riding on the sidewalk (the road was a touch too busy, and this was a local park area anyway), and it made a guy jump (I think he thought i was a car or something, its just crazy bright).

Beam pattern is excellent for riding IMO, the hotspot throws nicely forwards (I could have it point further up, but at its current setting it matches car headlights in angle, as to not disturb drivers too much), while the dim spill works out great right in front of the bike.

minor battery rattle with mine, but solved with a paper shim.. also the clip's a little loose, lack of ability to remove it is also preventing me from tightening it up again.
Thanks Selfbuilt for the review + lux measurements, this is turning out to be a great budget light! I eagerly await your P20 Mk II reviews, as one will likely be a sister light to this one...
 
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selfbuilt

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Beam pattern is excellent for riding IMO, the hotspot throws nicely forwards (I could have it point further up, but at its current setting it matches car headlights in angle, as to not disturb drivers too much), while the dim spill works out great right in front of the bike.

minor battery rattle with mine, but solved with a paper shim.. also the clip's a little loose, lack of ability to remove it is also preventing me from tightening it up again.
Thanks Selfbuilt for the review + lux measurements, this is turning out to be a great budget light! I eagerly await your P20 Mk II reviews, as one will likely be a sister light to this one...
Thanks for the "field" report. ;)

These are definitely excellent "budget lights", given their feature set. I still have a fondness for the original ITP C-series/Olight I-series interface, but I can see these SA/SC-series lights as being more popular with most users. And being driven a bit harder than those earlier lights probably doesn't hurt with most either.
 

Surnia

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More SA2 observational fun!

Decided to do a runtime to actually find out how long this thing will run at medium...
- did a 45 min bike ride at night
- a week later, I set it to high for about 5 mins, then it got warm and decided to try a runtime test at medium
- did a 4.5hr or so continuous run (as I slept)
- continued a few hours later, ran for another 2hr 45min before dropping into low
Total runtime in medium was about 8 hrs, give or take a bit of error... Quite excellent performance in my book.

Now the interesting part is.... The light seems to set a brightness limit when it detects the batteries are low on remaining power. I pulled the cells and let them cool before charging, but forgot to charge them. This allowed me to check ramp capabilities and a strange observation... Plugging in some ancient Alkalines (going on 7 years, still have power in them and have not leaked! exceptionally old radio shack heavy duties that are surprisingly light...), the light would fire up in low and medium, but not access high. The strobe also ran quite contently in medium brightness. Similar occurred with the Eneloops, with the cutoff occurring on low (as they were quite sufficiently depleted). There were 3 modes and 1 strobe mode with the button presses, but they all were firing at the low mode brightness (including the strobe).

I then took the rested (but still depleted) Eneloops to check out the ramping capabilities. Turned it on and found high worked again. However, it lasted about half a minute then dropped into medium. I found this interesting, as it chose to drop into a regulated medium mode, where the strobe also dropped into medium mode. I tried ramping and this was even MORE amusing.

I already established that the light only went up to medium in the previous test, but what would happen with ramping? Apparently the exact same thing would occur. Activating the ramp, it began at last memory point (which I set slightly brighter than medium) and began ramping up for a fraction of a second then dropped back into medium. I kept holding the button (so the ramp programming was still running) to see what would happen, and sure enough once it passed the medium level on its decreasing ramp, it started ramping down. Essentially, the ramping coding is still working (still takes the full 7 seconds to ramp up and down), but the driver will not let the output exceed the maximum mode brightness the cells can sustain. I forgot to check this, but I do believe if you change the cells the ramp memory will only retain the brightness it was at.

Repeated a few times to make sure it was not an anomaly, and it seems to prove that the SA2 uses the preset light levels as regulation points. Ramps will still take 7 seconds, but it will never exceed the level brightness.
- If the light can sustain high, all functions are enabled. (L-M-H-Strobe[H] + ramp [L --> H] )
- If cells can no longer sustain high, High mode is disabled. (L-M-M-Strobe[M] + ramp [L --> M] )
- If cells can no longer sustain medium, medium is disabled. (L-L-L-Strobe[L])

I find this very neat regulation, very useful early warning for the cells
remaining power!


Also the reverse clicky tailcap, If you screw in the retaining ring all the way, the light cannot tailstand, it still protrudes out too much. You can actually screw it in less, which will allow tailstanding. The difference for me was about 1/4 of a turn, and it can now tailstand with negligible wobble.
 

selfbuilt

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I find this very neat regulation, very useful early warning for the cells remaining power!
Thanks for the detailed analysis Surnia.

I don't generally examine the performance of lights on nearly depleted cells, but what you describe doesn't surprise me - I have seen similar examples on other lights (i.e. Med or Hi mode disabled upon activation on alkaline/NiMH if insufficient charge remaining). The effect on the ramping is particularly interesting. As you note, this is actually a useful adaptation of the circuit. Thanks for sharing. :thumbsup:
 
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