L3 Illumination L08 (XP-G2 R5 or Nichia 219, 1xAAA) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMS, VIDEO+

selfbuilt

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Warning: pic heavy, as usual. :whistle:

I recently reviewed 1xAA model from L3 Illumination, the L10. This review will be on the 1xAAA model, known as the L08.

L08002.jpg

L08001.jpg


As with its big brother, the L08 is available with either a XP-G2 R5 (Cool White) or the Nichia 219 4500K 92CRI (Neutral White emitter). It is also available in 3-level of 4-level versions.

The L08 also comes in the exact same range of anodizing colors as the L10. Please see my review of the L10 for the full set of colors, as I only have the orange, black and gray versions here.

Like the L10, L3 Illumination reports a common set of specifications for the two emitters. As you will see in my detailed testing later in this review, there are a few output differences between the emitters. :whistle:

Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
(note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results).

  • LED: Cree XP-G2 R5 Cool White or Nichia NVSL219AT-H1 4500K, 92 CRI B10 Bin
  • Four modes of output: firefly (0.09lumens, 147hours) -> Low (3 lumens, 30hrs) -> Medium (30 lumens) --> High (120 lumens, 1.5hrs) (Reviewer's note: these specs are clearly inaccurate for runtime, as they are identical to the "2500mAh NiMH" rated specs of the L10 model)
  • Note: 3 mode model removes Firefly mode of 0.09 lumens. Low, Medium, High only
  • Stable current regulated circuit, stable brightness
  • Uses one 1.5V AAA battery (ni-mh, alkaline ). 10440 batteries are not recommeded, because they heat up quickly.
  • 20-gram weight (excluding batteries)
  • Made of durable aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Premium Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
  • Waterproof to IPX-8 Standard
  • Toughened double ultra-clear glass lens
  • Reliable twist switch
  • Candle mode (Capable of standing up securely on a flat surface to serve as a candle)
  • Size: 77mm(length)x17.1mm(dia) and 14mm diameter at tail-end
  • Mode switch: Tighten and loosen the head to switch between modes.
  • No mode memory, always starts on Firefly mode
  • MSRP: ~$21-23
One additional comment I will make about these specs – they are basically identical to the L10 specs, except the slightly lower max output on Hi (i.e., 90 lumens here, compared to 120 lumens on the L10 spec sheet). I strongly recommend you review the full testing results here - as I find something a little different ... :whistle:

L08004.jpg


Packaging is the same as the L10, and is very basic. A slightly opaque plastic "tube" contains the light, extra o-rings and a small keychain split ring. Printed on the outside of the container are the light specifics (including emitter type, color and mode number). A manual is included separately (although was out of date for the XP-G version in this case). As before, you are best to rely on the website for more recent emitter specs (although as stated above, runtimes specs are identical to the L10, which is clearly inaccurate).

L08021.jpg

L08026.jpg

L08034.jpg

From left to right: Duracell NiMH AAA; L3 Illumination L08; Crelant V10A; Olight i3s; Thrunite TiS; Foursevens Preon P1; Titanium Innovations Illuminati; L3 Illumination L08.

L08044.jpg

L08045.jpg

From left to right: Duracell NiMH AAA, AA; L08, L10, L08, L10.

All dimensions directly measured, and given with no batteries installed. Let's start with a comparison to the 1xAA L10 version, before a list of 1xAAA counterparts:

L3 Illumination L08 (1xAAA): Weight: 22.4g, Length: 77.8mm, Width (bezel): 17.0mm
L3 Illumination L10 (1xAA): Weight: 20.7g, Length: 79.4mm, Width (bezel): 17.1mm
Lumintop Tool AAA: Weight: 15.3g, Length 82.6mm, Width 14.4mm (bezel)
Lumintop Worm Aluminum: Weight: 14.3g, Length 72.0mm (battery installed, off), Width 14.1mm (bezel)
Foursevens Preon P1: Weight 15.3g (with keychain clip), Length 75.6mm, Width 14.0mm (bezel)
Foursevens Preon P0: Weight 13.0g (with keychain clip), Length 55.0mm, Width 12.6mm (bezel)
Olight i3: Weight 13.2g, Length: 71.9mm, Width (bezel): 14.0mm
Titanium Innovations Illuminati Aluminum: Weight 13.9g (with keychain clip), Length 68.8mm, Width 14.0mm (bezel)
Klarus Mi X6: Weight 16.2g, Length 72.9mm (battery installed), Width 12.8mm

As you can see, the L08 is slightly larger than most 1xAAA lights. Surprisingly, it is also slightly heavier than the 1xAA L10, despite have a thinner body (although with comparable overall head diameter). :thinking:

EDIT: Of course, weight with battery installed will be higher on the L10, due to the larger size cell. Total weight with Eneloop battery is 34.1g for the L08, and 47.1g for the L10.

L08009.jpg

L08010.jpg

L08011.jpg

L08012.jpg

L08006.jpg

L08014.jpg


The L08 feels like a solid light for this class, with its larger than typical head and slightly higher weight than typical. I would expect the L08 to hold up well to keychain carry (well, except for anodizing – but that's an issue for any flashlight you keep next to keys). ;) The anodizing quality seems quite good on the colors I have, with no chips on any of my samples (as was also the case on the full range of L10s I was sent). Manufacturer claims hard anodized (aka, type III), which is better than most colored lights (which are only of type II strength).

The L08 has knurling all over the body, which is something most lights in this class lack. While not overly aggressive (i.e., it won't shred clothing), it does help with grip. You may still find it hard to use in twisry-fashion single-handed, due to the overall small size.

Screw threads are standard triangular cut, fairly fine (like most lights in this class). You can expect some play, but I found the fit to be tighter than typical for this class (although that may have had more to do with the o-ring than the threads).

As you can see, the head of the L08 has a brass pill/base, like a number of lights in this class (presumably for heat-sinking purposes). The battery contact surface in the head is flat, but doesn't include a foam cushion like the L10. Also, there is an actual spring in the L08 tail now. :eek:oo: This is unusual, as most small lights (including the L10), only have a small raised metal post in the tail (hence the need for foam cushioning). This should help reduce the risk of crushing your AAA cells in this light.

FYI, the L08/L10 heads are the same diameter, and screw on to each other's body tubes. :whistle: However, there is one key difference – the L08's contact board is isolated from the pill, and needs to make contact with the unanodized ring near the top of L08 battery tube. What this means is that while the L10 head can potentially be run on the L08 body, the L08 head cannot be run on the L10 body. In practical terms, the spring design of the L08 body tube may make it difficult to maintain consistent contact with the L10 head (i.e., mode switching is difficult, if you were to try this).

There are two small attachment points in the tailcap, with a cut-out for the keychain split-ring. As such, the L08s can tailstand stably. :)

As mentioned earlier, the lights are distinguished by their emitter choice:

Nichia 219
L08008.jpg

L08041.jpg


XP-G2 R5
L08007.jpg

L08037.jpg

L08043.jpg


Centering was good on my Nichia 219 sample above – but pretty variable on the XP-G2 samples (both were noticeably off). This doesn't realty affect the beam on such small lights though. Both emitter versions seem to come with the same reflector – and which seems to be the same as the L10. Reflector is not overly deep, with an orange peel (OP) coating to smooth out the beam.

Please see my detailed beamshots later in this review, for each model.

User Interface

The L08 uses the same interface as the L10 – and one that is common on many AA/AAA-twisty lights.

Fully tighten the head and it comes on in its lowest mode (Firefly or Low, depending on the model). Do a rapid twist off-on and the light advances to next level. Mode sequence is Firefly > Lo > Med > Hi in repeating sequence (or just Lo > Med > Hi for the 3-mode version).

Turn the light off by loosening the head. There is no mode memory, and the light always defaults to its lowest setting if you wait more than a second or two before turning back on.

There is no strobe or SOS mode on the L08.

Video:

For information on the light, including the build and user interface, please see my video overview:



Video was recorded in 720p, but YouTube typically defaults to 360p. Once the video is running, you can click on the configuration settings icon and select the higher 480p to 720p options. You can also run full-screen.

As with all my videos, I recommend you have annotations turned on. I commonly update the commentary with additional information or clarifications before publicly releasing the video.

PWM

There is no sign of PWM at any output level, on any model. The L08 is current-controlled. :)

As mentioned above, there is no strobe or SOS mode on the L08.

Beamshots:

For white-wall beamshots below, all lights are on Max output on a Sanyo Eneloop NiMH (800mAh). Lights are about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall).

Automatic white balance on the camera, to minimize tint differences – except for the Nichia 219, which is using a Daylight white balance on my Canon camera.

L08-XPG2-Beam001.jpg
L08-Nichia-Day-Beam001.jpg

X6-Beam001.jpg
i3-Beam001.jpg


L08-XPG2-Beam002.jpg
L08-Nichia-Day-Beam002.jpg

X6-Beam002.jpg
i3-Beam002.jpg


L08-XPG2-Beam003.jpg
L08-Nichia-Day-Beam003.jpg

X6-Beam003.jpg
i3-Beam003.jpg


Beam tint differences are really the first thing you are likely to notice between these emitters. The 4500K on the Nichia is very pleasing (to my eye) neutral white. The higher color rendition index (CRI) should also help display colors more consistently. This is hard to capture on a camera though, due to the narrow range of white balancing options

The second most obvious difference is that the XP-G2 is more "throwy" than the Nichia 219, with a more defined hotspot on the XP-G2 models.

Testing Method:

All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, as described on my flashlightreviews.ca website. 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 any extended run Lo/Min modes (i.e. >12 hours) which are done without cooling.

I have devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lightbox values to Lumens thread for more info.

My summary tables are reported in a manner consistent with the ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.flashlightreviews.ca/FL1.htm for a discussion, and a description of all the terms used in these tables. Effective July 2012, I have updated all my Peak Intensity/Beam Distance measures with a NIST-certified Extech EA31 lightmeter (orange highlights).

Note: The manufacturer recommends you do not run on 10440 (3.7V Li-ion), so I haven't tested them.

L08-FL1-Summary.gif


The performance of the L08 samples is remarkably consistent with the L10 samples I tested previously.

To explore this a little further, here is a breakdown of relative output levels on the L08, using my standard lumen estimation method:

L08-Lumens.gif


In general, I get pretty good match between the Nichia 219 and XP-G2 samples at the Moonlight/Lo/Med levels – and reasonably good concordance to the specs. Where things get particularly interesting is on Hi – the XP-G2 samples were brighter than the Nichia 219, and both models are brighter than the specs would indicate.

To put these results into better context, let's take a look at how the L10 sample did in my earlier review:

L10-Lumens.gif


The above table is a little more complicated, as I had a sufficient number of samples of each L10 model to do statistical comparisons. The bolded numbers above tell you what you need to know. See my earlier L10 review for an explanation and discussion of the statistical methods.

Generally, the L08 samples performed very similar to the L10 samples tested previously (i.e., equivalent output, at all levels). However, my XP-G2 L08 were both marginally brighter than my L10 XP-G2s (even though the specs say that are not driven as hard). :shrug:

As you will see in the runtimes below, part of the reason for the slightly higher max output here may have to do with the AAA NiMH chemistry and capacity, compared to AA NiMH. We'll come back to that ...

In any case, based on these results alone, I would be tempted to conclude that the L10 and L08 are using the exact same circuit (despite the lower reported specs for Hi on the L08). But let's see if that conclusion holds up on further battery runtime testing below … :whistle:

Runtimes

To facilitate output comparisons, I've left the y-axis (i.e., the relative output values) on the same scale for all Hi-mode runtimes.

L08-HiEne.gif


L08-HiL92.gif


L08-HiAlka.gif

L08-MedAlka.gif


As you can see, the L08 is unusually bright on Hi and Med on NiMH Eneloops (for the AAA-class). Unfortunately, it seems to be draining the cells too quickly on Hi on NiMH Eneloops. Typically, the max safe discharge rate for NiMH is 2C (i.e., a full discharge in 30 mins). The L08 is definitely pushing the AAA Eneloop cells to those limits. :sigh:

Another thing that is interesting to note is how much the output drops when run on standard alkaline or L92 AAA cells. For example, going from Eneloop to alkaline on Hi, my XP-G2 L08s drop from an ANSI FL-1 lumen estimate of 155 to 125 lumens, and my Nichia 219 L08 drops from 130 to 90 lumens. I had previously observed a small drop in output in my L10 testing (on the comparable AA battery sources), but the magnitude of the effect is much larger on the L08 with AAA cells.

There are also runtime pattern changes between these two models as well – the L10s were far more flatly regulated on Hi, on all battery types (see my earlier L10 review for runtimes).

There are two possible explanations here – either the circuit in the L08 responds differently than the L10 to battery voltage, or the lower capacity of AAA cells are affecting the results. Fortunately, I can partially verify this by testing the L10 heads on the L08 body. :whistle: Note that while this is technically feasible, it is a bit tricky given the body tube design differences (and won't work for the L08 head on the L10 body). See my build overview comments earlier in this review for more detail.

Here is what the runtime comparisons look like, for Hi on alkaline or Eneloop.

L08-L10-Eneloop-1.gif


L08-L10-Alkaline.gif


The key point above is that when you run the L10 head with AAA cells on the L08 body, it shows exactly the same lower output and stabilization characteristics as the L08. These results make it very clear – the apparent performance differences between the L08 and L10 are due entirely to the difference in battery capacity and chermistray between AAA and AA.

You also have an explanation aove for the slightly higher max output of my XP-G2 L08 samples compared to the L10: either head, when run on AAA NiMH, shows higher initial output than when run on AA NiMH. Eventually this levels off at a comparable output - but ANSI FL-1 output testing only takes into account the peak output within 30-120 secs after activation. Thus, the reason for the higher output on my L08 testing is due to the reduced stabilization pattern of AAA Eneloop cells compared to AA cells.

Taken together, this all supports my conclusion that there is no real difference in the circuit used in the L10 and L08. But there are build differences in how the head is assembled, so you can't easily switch body tubes (again, see my earlier build comments).

Potential Issues

Lights roll easily, unless you get the optional pocket clip.

Although still small in absolute terms, the L08 is relatively large for a 1xAAA light. The head has identical dimensions to the L10 model, for example, and overall weight is comparable between the 1xAA and 1xAAA models.

You need to tighten down pretty far to activate the light (i.e., the isolated contact board in the head needs to reach the unanodized aluminum ring in the body tube).

Output levels are higher than typical for this 1xAAA class, resulting in lower than typical absolute runtimes. The L08 seems to be pushing standard 800mAh Eneloops to their max discharge rate on Hi.

10440 Li-ion is not supported.

Preliminary Observations

As my testing has shown, the L08 has basically the same "guts" as the 1xAA L10 that I reviewed previously. While overall functionality is similar to a number of competing lights in the AAA space, I find the L08's relatively high max output is brighter than most others in this class (at least on NiMH cells).

As with the L10, what really distinguishes the L08 is the option of the latest Cree XP-G2 R5 cool white emitter, or the popular Hi-CRI Nichia 219 neutral white emitter. You also have the option of a 3-level (Lo/Med/Hi) or 4-level (Firefly/Lo/Med/Hi) model. Finally, you have the option of a wide range of anodized colors, just like on the L10. That certainly must make for a lot more complicated inventory control. ;)

Personally, I like the extra Firefly level of the 4-mode option. Note that there is no mode memory on these lights, and they all start at their lowest level.

Comparing the L08 performance to the L10 is interesting. Physically, the models have exactly the same size heads (i.e., it is just the body tubes that differ). And despite the lower output specs on Hi, I found the L08 to have pretty much exactly the same brightness as the L10, at all output levels tested. This makes the L08 quite the high output 1xAAA light – at least when run on NiMH (max output on alkaline or L92 lithium is lower, and more in keeping with this AAA class). Provisionally, I would have to conclude on the basis of this testing that these models share a common circuit.

Note that does not mean the heads are interchangeable. The body design has changed considerably from the L10, where the current passed through the threads and battery tension was maintained by a foam cushion in the head (with a raised tail post). In the L08, there is an isolated circuit board that makes contact with a dedicated area of the body tube (requiring the use of a tail spring instead of head cushion now).

Performance-wise, the various L08 configurations provide acceptable runtime for their output (although my one Nichia 219 sample seemed to underperform in relative terms). But note that the higher-than-typical relative output levels in each mode (for this class) means that absolute runtimes will be short. :shrug: Given the relatively low capacity of AAA cells, I would normally recommend you stick with NiMH Eneloops for the best possible performance. But in this case, the even higher output on NiMH means that standard 800mAh Eneloops are being pushed to their max discharge rate, which is not a good idea. Sadly, AAA-class cells cannot provide the same level of flat runtime stabilization as provided by AA cells in the L10.

Beam pattern is identical to the L10 (given the same size head), and is quite good on both emitter types. I personally prefer the slightly smoother hotspot-to-spill transitions of the Nichia 219 – not to mention its neutral white tint and higher CRI. But that choice is yours. :)

Given the typical usage of AAA lights, I would personally have preferred a more streamlined build and lower drive levels on Med/Hi (i.e., the L08 has the same output levels and size head as the L10 in my testing). The Hi mode in particular could definitely benefit from being reduced. But you do have a reasonable range of other output modes available, especially on the 4-level version. And L3 Illumination does offer a lot of customization options on their small lights (it's always good to have more options to choose from). But this is one case where you may want to carefully consider whether the L10 could better meet your needs :wave:

----

L3 Illumination L08 lights were supplied by sbflashlights.com for review.
 
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AFearlessBirdOfParadise

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Thanks for the review, can I trouble you for a L08 vs L10 picture, side by side for size comparison, and maybe a couple of other views?

By the specs you posted it seems like a couple of mm difference, and it seems like the L08 is largeish for the class, and the L10 is petite for the class.
 

MojaveMoon07

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A couple of other AAA flashlights have claimed to have a high mode of ~ 130 lumens. But I was very doubtful about that claim because till now we hadn't seen a reviewed AAA flashlight with a high mode higher than 80-something lumens.

Question #1:
Given the chemistry of a AAA NiMh battery, is the regulation and runtime of this L08 AAA flashlight probably the best that any manufacturer will be able to achieve for a AAA flashlight with a comparable brightness of ~ 130 and ~ 155 lumens ?

Question #2:
Considering the regulation and runtime of the L08 AAA on high, could this shorten the lifespan of the NiMh battery ? For example since the odometer on a tiny pickup truck goes up to 100 or 120 mph, maybe you could manage to achieve that speed. But I assume that pickup truck would have a short life if you tried to regularly drive it at that speed.
 
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selfbuilt

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Thanks for the review, can I trouble you for a L08 vs L10 picture, side by side for size comparison, and maybe a couple of other views?
Yes, that's a good idea - I'll update the thread tomorrow. :)

Question #1:
Given the chemistry of a AAA NiMh battery, is the regulation and runtime of this L08 AAA flashlight probably the best that any manufacturer will be able to achieve for a AAA flashlight with a comparable brightness of ~ 130 and ~ 155 lumens ?
Well, at the moment. :whistle: As emitters continue to improve in their luminous efficiency, I expect higher outputs will eventually be possible. I would say battery chemistry is what is limiting at the moment, which brings us to ...

Question #2:
Considering the regulation and runtime of the L08 AAA on high, could this shorten the lifespan of the NiMh battery ?
Yes, that is exactly the problem here. As long as you discharge a battery within its max safe discharge rate (which is 2C for NiMH - i.e., fully discharged in 30 mins), you should be fine. But as you can see my L08 samples seem to be exceeding that rate on standard 800mAh eneloops. That is not a good idea for the long-term health of your cells.

Unfortunately, a runtime discharge curve only tells you so much - you would really need to be measuring battery temp and voltage under load to really know when a battery was being pushed too far. The battery gurus in the battery forum here could provide mode info, I am sure.

Wish the light was 14mm at the bezel. Thanks for the review selfbuilt.
Yes, a small bezel would be more convenient for keychain carry. :shrug:
 

gkbain

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Apr 1, 2013
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Thanks for another excellent review.
For white-wall beamshots below, all lights are on Max output on a Sanyo Eneloop NiMH (2000mAh)
Isn't this suppose to be 800mAh?
 

selfbuilt

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Why would someone choose this over the L10?
Yes, I tend to favor the L10 myself for improved regulation and extra runtime (for roughly similar overall size). But weight with eneloop battery is 34.1g for the L08, and 47.1g for the L10 (if that matters).

Thanks for another excellent review. Isn't this suppose to be 800mAh?
Indeed, typo fixed. :)
 

Mr Floppy

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Yes, I tend to favor the L10 myself for improved regulation and extra runtime (for roughly similar overall size). But weight with eneloop battery is 34.1g for the L08, and 47.1g for the L10 (if that matters).

You could still use an AAA eneloop in the L10. The cheap plastic AAA->AA adapters are 3.4g (net 35.8g using AAA in L10), still, the L10 is still the preference for me too. Just goes to show how compact the L10 is.
 

markr6

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Thanks for the review!

My reason for not purchasing an L08 from the beginning was the size...not much smaller than the L10. No real benefit here. Now that I see the runtimes, I have nothing else to contemplate and unfortunatley I can't talk myself into buying any.
 

zebraa

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Thanks for the review!

My reason for not purchasing an L08 from the beginning was the size...not much smaller than the L10. No real benefit here. Now that I see the runtimes, I have nothing else to contemplate and unfortunatley I can't talk myself into buying any.

Agreed. I was thinking with the diminutive size of a AAA, the light would be measurably smaller too-but not so with the L08. It looks like a good light, but it's just not any smaller than the L10.

Thank you selfbuilt for your wonderful reviews that help us inform us, in an incredibly thorough and consistent manner!
 

ronniepudding

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Would you say that power and battery suspension mechanism in the L10 (i.e., "battery crusher" design, with foam doughnut) is better or worse than that of the L08 (i.e., spring and isolated board)?

It seems to me like the L08 is a better design in that regard. Then again, has L3 Illumination just traded one problem ...
-- [risk of battery damage over time in the L10]
for another ...
-- [risk of circuit board wearing out where it contacts the body in the L08]
?
 
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selfbuilt

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-- [risk of battery damage over time in the L10]
for another ...
-- [risk of circuit board wearing out where it contacts the body in the L08]
Yes, it is a bit of six of one, half a dozen of the other. Hard to know which is worse in the end. :shrug:
 

leon2245

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Apr 4, 2008
Messages
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Why would someone choose this over the L10?


I wouldn't, if they'd put a spring in the L10 too.

Also, I like that the head is larger than the body, for quick orientation in the dark (for those of us who carry loose in the pocket & not on a keyring). But that's less of a factor than the spring for me.
 
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