Looking to upgrade from a Maglite, what do you use?

bykfixer

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Ok, I'm going to circle back to Maglite products again.
The electronic switch of the ML50/300 does have parasitic drain, yes but with a quarter turn twist loose of the tailcap that cuts the circuit. No more parasitic drain. I loosen mine a full rotation for good measure.

Going the Malkoff route I have a 3D classic (ie was incan) and replaced the bulb assembly with a Malkoff module that easily fastens to the light. You all but lose the ability to focus though. Some focus ability but not spot to flood, like the stock platform.

Going away from both I opted for the HL4-X and set it up to start on low so it has a 600 lumen medium that is plenty bright and runs all light. It uses primary CR123 cells or could use 18650's but I don't.

See, the industry is ate up with 'smaller/brighter' is better so the D sized flashlight is going the way of the vcr.
 

scalpel_ninja

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A bit out of the box and a shameless sales pitch: how about a Fenix PD40R? Below is a size comparison. It’s the one on the far left, 21700 cell, onboard charging, and simple to use rotary function with four levels of brightness and strobe. Next to it is a 2AA Malkoff with VME head, then MD2, and finally a Surefire 6P. The Fenix is up for sale! 😁

CABD523E-BA44-4DA8-BFC6-BED0A056AA7B.jpeg
 

brachypelma44

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I've seen a lotta people recommending small flashlights. Folks, that's not what I'm after - I've got plenty of tiny lights. I just want a modern solution to the Maglite question. Something roughly the same size as a 2D or 3D, and built just as tough, but with more modern performance, and rechargeable.

Maybe something like the Convoy L6. Not a small light by any means. High CRI version here if you prefer.

It takes two 26650 batteries, which are large-ish li-ion cells. The best ones have a capacity of 6200mAh each: Vapcell k62

Most chargers that do 18650 and 21700 can also fit 26650, but not all, so check and make sure to get one that does if you go this route.

One other note if you haven't ordered a Convoy product on aliexpress before: Typically, there is a 3-4 week shipping period, so just bear that in mind if you're in a hurry to get something quickly.
 
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xxo

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A ML300L or LX running high capacity low self discharge NIMH's would be a good upgrade. The Chinese NiMH D's are not as low self discharge as the Japanese AA eneloops, but they are not bad if you charge them every 6 mo. or so. Using eneloops in 3 AA to D parallel (NOT Series!) adapters is another way to go, though the adapters are cheap and probably won't last forever. I like to run a single protected 26650 in my ML300 and single protected 21700's in my ML50's using 3D printed adapters. Compared to 2 or 3 Hi cap NiMH's, a 26650 will have a little less run time, but it is easier to recharge a singe 26650 than 2 or 3 NiMH's and it is a lot lighter weight. Comparing a single 5000 mAh 21700 to 2 or 3 5000 mAh C cells, the 21700 will actually have more energy.

The ML50 and ML300's are just as well made as the old Mags, though they have slimmed them down slightly so they don't weigh quite as much. The heat sink and new focus system are much improved. The electronic switch with programmable function sets with different modes is very nice, though there is some parasitic drain with all E-switches (not a big deal with rechargeable. batteries, plus you can lock the light out).

Some details on the ML300 from Old Lumens (RIP) -

 

Mike G

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Ok, I'm going to circle back to Maglite products again.
The electronic switch of the ML50/300 does have parasitic drain, yes but with a quarter turn twist loose of the tailcap that cuts the circuit. No more parasitic drain. I loosen mine a full rotation for good measure.

Going the Malkoff route I have a 3D classic (ie was incan) and replaced the bulb assembly with a Malkoff module that easily fastens to the light. You all but lose the ability to focus though. Some focus ability but not spot to flood, like the stock platform.

Bit of a hack but good to know that works. Seems obvious in hindsight, but still. Also, like I said, my Maglite is already an LED, so I don't think the Malkoff is gonna be the way to go for me.

A bit out of the box and a shameless sales pitch: how about a Fenix PD40R? Below is a size comparison. It’s the one on the far left, 21700 cell, onboard charging, and simple to use rotary function with four levels of brightness and strobe. Next to it is a 2AA Malkoff with VME head, then MD2, and finally a Surefire 6P. The Fenix is up for sale! 😁 -snip-
Going away from both I opted for the HL4-X and set it up to start on low so it has a 600 lumen medium that is plenty bright and runs all light. It uses primary CR123 cells or could use 18650's but I don't.

Again, guys, I don't need another small flashlight - though I'm sure those are both quite good, and I'll remember them when I do need one, it's not what I'm looking for right now.

Maybe something like the Convoy L6. Not a small light by any means. High CRI version here if you prefer.

It takes two 26650 batteries, which are large-ish li-ion cells. The best ones have a capacity of 6200mAh each: Vapcell k62

Most chargers that do 18650 and 21700 can also fit 26650, but not all, so check and make sure to get one that does if you go this route.

One other note if you haven't ordered a Convoy product on aliexpress before: Typically, there is a 3-4 week shipping period, so just bear that in mind if you're in a hurry to get something quickly.
A 5000K Sofirn SP70 from the sofirnlight.com store with its 90mm head would be another good choice.

Now, that's definitely a little more like it! Although, the Convoy seems a little too chunky (over half a kilo just for the flashlight, sans batteries - wowzers), and both seem to underperform compared to the ML300L at similar-ish output. Definitely the closest so far to what I'm looking for. Got anything else like that?

A ML300L or LX running high capacity low self discharge NIMH's would be a good upgrade. The Chinese NiMH D's are not as low self discharge as the Japanese AA eneloops, but they are not bad if you charge them every 6 mo. or so. Using eneloops in 3 AA to D parallel (NOT Series!) adapters is another way to go, though the adapters are cheap and probably won't last forever. I like to run a single protected 26650 in my ML300 and single protected 21700's in my ML50's using 3D printed adapters. Compared to 2 or 3 Hi cap NiMH's, a 26650 will have a little less run time, but it is easier to recharge a singe 26650 than 2 or 3 NiMH's and it is a lot lighter weight. Comparing a single 5000 mAh 21700 to 2 or 3 5000 mAh C cells, the 21700 will actually have more energy.

The ML50 and ML300's are just as well made as the old Mags, though they have slimmed them down slightly so they don't weigh quite as much. The heat sink and new focus system are much improved. The electronic switch with programmable function sets with different modes is very nice, though there is some parasitic drain with all E-switches (not a big deal with rechargeable. batteries, plus you can lock the light out).

Some details on the ML300 from Old Lumens (RIP) -



I watched the video - looks good overall, but you're sure those plastic gears in the head aren't liable to break? I think I remember hearing that was the problem bit. What brand would you say is the best for NiMH Ds?

I'm certainly intrigued by the idea of running Li-ions in a Maglite as well, but couldn't find any adapter kits, not for the ML300L at least. If it really is tough as you say and the plastic isn't a problem, or can maybe be replaced with metal, converting one to run on 32650s or 32600s would be pretty sweet...
 

bridgman

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If it helps, I don't remember ever reading about an actual problem with those gears, just a lot of people saying "they look flimsy".

Given that all they have to do is rotate the reflector on a shallow thread and that the (tiny) load is divided across a lot of teeth it's not clear how a real problem might manifest itself. Maybe there is some designed-in skipping/slipping when you rotate the head more than a quarter turn ?

I have had good success with EBL NiMH in both C and D.
 

xxo

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I watched the video - looks good overall, but you're sure those plastic gears in the head aren't liable to break? I think I remember hearing that was the problem bit. What brand would you say is the best for NiMH Ds?
Never heard of them breaking, pretty much a non-issue as they do not transmit much force - just like you don't hear of the cams on the old Mag plastic reflectors breaking.

I've had luck with soshine and tenergy centuras.
 

Mike G

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Never heard of them breaking, pretty much a non-issue as they do not transmit much force - just like you don't hear of the cams on the old Mag plastic reflectors breaking.

I've had luck with soshine and tenergy centuras.
I'm thinking more along the lines of... shall we say, percussive maintenance (and not necessarily maintenance of the flashlight!)

I think the only NiMH Ds I can get my hands on here are the EBLs. Which just leaves the question of Li-ion conversion...

Also what chargers do you guys use for the Ds?
 

aznsx

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I didn't come from a ML and don't know your specific application(s), but what do I use? For my light in a (perhaps) similar / comparable category, I use and recommend the Streamlight Stinger 2020. Note that it's not a marginal update to the venerable Stinger models, but is 'clean sheet' design. It may or may not suit your needs, but if you even considered a Magcharger model, you should definitely put this on your list to check out also. I've been using one for ~1 1/2 years, and would buy it again tomorrow if I lost mine.

From the product page link below, goto "Documentation" and check the "Fact Sheet" for the most complete specifications, and also the "Data Sheet" and "Info Sheet" for other stuff.

There are too many great features I like to list them all, but a few of my favorites are Borofloat glass lens, FL1 2-meter impact rating, and "Assembled in USA". Others are things like the great design of the dedicated 3-position direct output level control switch (ease of use, but almost impossible to actuate by accident) , and the great design of the 2x18650 cell carrier (which also incorporates the tail switch module, by the way). When I run low on juice (great 'low batt' indications too) it can be swapped almost as quickly and easily as a magazine in an auto pistol - even in the dark (and BTW it is a $9 part!). It so easy because it's accessed via a flat, hinged end plate (with flat gasket seal - no 'O ring') with a quick release spring-loaded closure (no threading or parts removed), and can be inserted in either direction (rotationally).

Also note that the run time specs / chart and graph are, per FL1, quoted using the 18650s which SL includes / sells, which although a good cell, is only rated at 2600 mAh. I'm using commonly available 3500 mAh cells (mine are from Fenix) which obviously extends those run times considerably.

Perhaps the most uniquely impressive thing about the light to me is the external design (including machining / surface treatments), which for 'ergonomics' / ease of use, handling, balance, and working well with a wide variety of different gripping / holding techniques is superior to anything else I've ever used, but that's only fully appreciated by actually using the light for a while. I'd have to TRY to drop this light. True, it doesn't look like 'your Father's flashlight', but also definitely doesn't handle like it either!

If you find it to be of interest and have a question, feel free to ask. I've been using the light for a while and might even have an answer (or not:)

 

bridgman

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I'm thinking more along the lines of... shall we say, percussive maintenance (and not necessarily maintenance of the flashlight!)

That's fair... although my understanding was that one would normally hold onto the head end and communicate with the tailcap end so there wouldn't be much stress on the focusing mechanism anyways. I don't know how the plastic parts would hold up to banging the bezel directly (ie lens down) on a hard surface but that seems like a fairly unusual scenario.
 

Mike G

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Still open to other suggestions, by the way. I did a little further reading and found this graph on another forum:
ML300LX-HIGH.jpg
What a buncha BS, eh? Rated at 487 lumens on high, with a 6h30m runtime indicated for high... but you get neither of those things at once. I guess even Maglite isn't above abusing poorly thought-out (perhaps intentionally so?) ANSI standards to make their products look better than they are.

Even their older LED models do this. Even the 4D ML300, which they explicitly state on their website:
They all brag about high lumens and how bright they are, but they only run for a short time before the brightness dims down (...) Well, not this one. Not the ML300L 4D LED Flashlight by Maglite. It's got 1002 lumens(...)
I was afraid that Maglite was being run by snakes instead of lions these days, but I can't say I expected this.

I thought about getting an older incandescent Maglite and putting a Malkoff or Firefly in it, but now I'm not so sure - does anyone know if their output and runtime claims are legitimate? On the surface I'd assume not since as far as I understand, the circuit board that controls the ramping is in the switch, not the emitter. Unless they took that into account for their ratings it would still do the same thing. Correct me if I'm wrong. They also seem to not compensate for voltage changes since they indicate different outputs depending on number of cells - running on more than two lithium-ion cells is probably out of the question. Unfortunately I do want the staying power of 3+ 26650s or better.

That's fair... although my understanding was that one would normally hold onto the head end and communicate with the tailcap end so there wouldn't be much stress on the focusing mechanism anyways. I don't know how the plastic parts would hold up to banging the bezel directly (ie lens down) on a hard surface but that seems like a fairly unusual scenario.
You're not wrong, by the way - but the head can be used as well. Just depends how you're holding it at the time. Using the tail is a little safer for the light, I think, but the balance is a little better using the head. I've also used the head as an improvised hammer, which might not be the brightest idea ever but it didn't seem to hurt the light none.
 
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bridgman

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If it helps, that curve seems pretty typical. IIRC the FL-1 standard measures brightness at the 30 second mark. The only thing I don't understand about the curve is that it apparently spikes *up* around the 40 second mark, where I would expect it to be heading down.

There may be flashlights out there which can sustain full output until the batteries run down but I don't think I have ever seen one, except for the ones with quite low output. A modern high-output flashlight can run 5 or 6 amps through the LED and a good chunk of that power is going to end up as heat. A bigger/heavier flashlight body like the Maglite will be able to soak up more heat in the body before the driver has to start throttling, but even that is only postponing the inevitable unless you have screaming fans or a chilled water hookup.

One trend I have been seeing more of recently is to label the high setting as "turbo" (which feeds more power into the LED than the heatsinking can sustain) then have a "high" setting pegged at around the point that can be sustained.

Still not sure if I like that though - it adds another mode, and one can make a good argument that 99% of users would rather have peak power for the first minute or two even if it was unsustainable than to artificially limit the output to a sustainable-under-all-conditions (eg high ambient temperature) level.

If you want to give smaller flashlights a try (and I understand you said that's not what you are looking for) I received a Convoy S21A earlier in the week and really like it so far. It's not much larger than the very popular S2+ but feels much larger in hand, particularly because the cutouts in the tail switch shroud are larger and so your thumb fits in much more easily. They are also now available with high-CRI emitters (as is the S2+) which are finally starting to make tiny cracks in my preference for incandescent.


I went with a 4000K emitter, green anodizing and the 4-mode driver. That one extra mode relative to the S2+ makes a big difference IMO.

0.1% is not "moonlight" but low enough to navigate indoors without disturbing anyone, 3% is comfortable for regular indoor use or walking around outdoors, 30% is a decent outdoor light for investigating strange noises, and 100% gives a nice blast (close to 2000 lumens) on a fresh cell. The light heats up pretty fast on 100% and so output drops to the 700-800 lumen range depending on temperature within a minute or two, but that is pretty typical.

Beam quality is very nice and I am "warming" to the neutral 4000K colour temperature.

Only caution is that it uses a 21700 (that was one of the things I liked about it) with ~50% more capacity than an 18650, but the 21700 is long enough that it won't fit a charger designed around the 18650. I have Nitecore I2 and I4 chargers and the 21700 just fits. A button top 21700 would not fit, by the way.

re: upgrading an older Maglite, my impression is that the Malkoff drop-ins (which are unfortunately out of production AFAIK) were the gold standard since they used a screw thread to force the LED's heatsink into good contact with the flashlight body.

I have an 800 lumen Firefly upgrade and it works well (adding low/med/high modes makes the light a lot more useful) but I suspect you would see a similar degree of throttling to what the graph above shows or worse... the new Maglites have a pressed-in metal thermal path from LED heatsink to flashlight body.
 
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Mappo

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Big Malkoff fan, seriously built like a tanks. American made and simple. I have tried many of the more modern Lights with ramping and programable UI. There nothing like a simple back-clicky light. You will be happy, assuming you are game for the buy in price. 🤙🏻
 

Mike G

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If it helps, that curve seems pretty typical. IIRC the FL-1 standard measures brightness at the 30 second mark. The only thing I don't understand about the curve is that it apparently spikes *up* around the 40 second mark, where I would expect it to be heading down.
I'm not sure, but I think the 40 second mark may be the point at which the light ramps down - 10 seconds seems like a reasonable buffer for gaming the ANSI system. The ramp-up would be shorter in that case, I think I remember hearing it's about ten seconds of ramp-up when the light turns on?

There may be flashlights out there which can sustain full output until the batteries run down but I don't think I have ever seen one, except for the ones with quite low output. A modern high-output flashlight can run 5 or 6 amps through the LED and a good chunk of that power is going to end up as heat. A bigger/heavier flashlight body like the Maglite will be able to soak up more heat in the body before the driver has to start throttling, but even that is only postponing the inevitable unless you have screaming fans or a chilled water hookup.

One trend I have been seeing more of recently is to label the high setting as "turbo" (which feeds more power into the LED than the heatsinking can sustain) then have a "high" setting pegged at around the point that can be sustained.

Still not sure if I like that though - it adds another mode, and one can make a good argument that 99% of users would rather have peak power for the first minute or two even if it was unsustainable than to artificially limit the output to a sustainable-under-all-conditions (eg high ambient temperature) level.
I don't necessarily care about super high output, I've had my priorities rejiggered twice already now and lumen rating has gone down both times (I don't reckon I'd realistically need any more than maybe 400 lumens). Reading into it, it seems candella and, to a lesser extent, CRI are way more impactful on a light's performance. Not sure how exactly candella relates to lumens or how a light is tuned for one vs. the other, though.

A note: I mentioned wanting a 3-cell light before, but having thought about it, reconsidered, and thought about it more, I think a 4-cell (given either D cells or 26650s) would be more suitable as a talking stick. Maybe less portable, but that's not a Maglike's role - if you're carrying it around for a long time, you don't put it in your pocket, you get a holster for it.

Re: turbo, I actually kinda like the idea of a "GIVE 'ER ALL SHE'S GOT" mode for emergencies when you really wish you brought a bigger light, but didn't, though I agree that a simple UI is better - the simplicity of my Maglite's mechanical switch is hard to beat (especially since there's zero parasitic drain). If it's there it should perhaps have its own toggle/activation button, "behind" the mechanical switch so to speak. Or otherwise just not get in the way and leech precious electrons. I suppose I dislike misleading output figures more than I dislike turbo mode fine print, ultimately.

re: upgrading an older Maglite, my impression is that the Malkoff drop-ins (which are unfortunately out of production AFAIK) were the gold standard since they used a screw thread to force the LED's heatsink into good contact with the flashlight body.

I have an 800 lumen Firefly upgrade and it works well (adding low/med/high modes makes the light a lot more useful) but I suspect you would see a similar degree of throttling to what the graph above shows or worse... the new Maglites have a pressed-in metal thermal path from LED heatsink to flashlight body.
You're right about the oldschool Malkoff dropin being out of production - the one with the securing screw. They make adapters instead that let you drop in the emitters that they use for their other lights. But they seem too heavy on lumens and not heavy enough on candella. Their claim of 4h +2h per extra cell on alkaline D cells seems somewhat promising, if true, but again unless anyone can say otherwise for sure, I don't think they can handle the extra voltage of 3 or 4 Li-ion cells, or could do so without going off script in performance. They could also have a bad case of ramping down/throttling (as you mention) either rapidly or over time, which renders all my speculation largely pointless.

Re: the Firefly, I was thinking about the less hot 235-325 lumen one mounting the Luminus SST 40, to clarify. That's the one that's just the emitter slug and uses the stock reflector. Same concerns as with the Malkoffs, basically. And they don't even list the candella, actually...

I made a note of that Convoy light for future reference when I decide I need a new one (y)

Browsing the interwebs, I came across the Nitecore TM39, and the Lumintop BLF GT - performance wise, those are two lights I can definitely get behind, but they still don't manage to be quite what I want! They're both inappropriately shaped for reverse-grip use, have complicated electronic UIs, probably weigh too much (hard to tell without having one in my hands, but 1.3-1.8 kg sans battery seems like it'd start feeling about 10x heavier real quick), and a little on short side for use in contact-based communication (or fire poker, or general-use "ten foot pole", etc)

It's funny, sourcing a good flashlight that ticks all the boxes I need is proving disproportionately more challenging than I thought - finding suitable battery cells was way easier, in fact I pretty much wrapped that up from start to finish since I came back last Wednesday, even not spending much time on it. I found a couple American outlets that'll ship to Canada, and I've got my pick between protected or unprotected Keeppowers, up to 5500 MaH, and unprotected Vapcells, up to 6200 mAh, all flat-top 26650s. Easy enough to turn into button cells with some small magnets if need be. Now I just need a flashlight to put them in! :yellowlaugh:
 
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vicv

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I don’t see the issue with the runtime graph you’ve shown. Most lights do this. It isn’t snake or lion like behaviour (whatever that means😁). Your eyes will never see that ramp down to 70% or the lowered output. What it will do is double the runtime. With no downside. It shows that it is a well engineered light. Gives a large blast of light at turn on and gradually goes down as your eyes become used to the light
 

bridgman

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Not sure how exactly candella relates to lumens or how a light is tuned for one vs. the other, though.
I find that water pressure vs volume flow is a pretty good analogy - lumens is the amount of light coming out, and candela is the brightness at a single point (usually the brightest one). A floody light might have high lumens but not particularly high candela, while a light with a reflector generating a narrow spot without much spill can have insanely high candela from the same number of lumens...

... because you are squirting the same amount of water through a much smaller hole :)
 
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Mike G

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Look for a used Eagle Eye X9 and have it modded if you desire. This is an extremely lightweight 2-26650 light with a great reflector.
Doesn't look too bad, but I definitely want more than two cells... I suspect 4 is the magic number, but I wouldn't be opposed to trying a 3-cell.

I don’t see the issue with the runtime graph you’ve shown. Most lights do this. It isn’t snake or lion like behaviour (whatever that means😁). Your eyes will never see that ramp down to 70% or the lowered output. What it will do is double the runtime. With no downside. It shows that it is a well engineered light. Gives a large blast of light at turn on and gradually goes down as your eyes become used to the light
Gotta disagree with you there bud - Maglite claims a certain lumen output and runtime on the high settings of their lights. Well, the runtime is technically correct, but lumens is only peak output, since that's all that's measured in the ANSI standard - the measurement is taken, I believe, either at the 30 second mark, or over the first 30 seconds of power-on. So, just looking at the specifications - without very specific knowledge of how they're evaluated - you'd think their ML300 2-cell could output ~500 lumens for over 6 hours, but the real output past the first 5-10 minutes is less than half that. It is very misleading to consumers. To say nothing of the outright lie about the 4-cell version:
1660717456894.png

Source
powerex.jpg

qunatum.jpg

Source 2. Hope linking to another forum is kosher.
IMO, getting even 20% less light than promised is a downside, and yes, it can make a difference in the field. It's indicative of good marketing, not good engineering. If it were good engineering, you'd be able to access the high output mode whenever you needed it... not when the manufacturer says you get it. Frankly, even if we assume it to really be harmless and no of difference, I'd still oppose the practice on the pretense that it's just misinformation. That's reason enough. But I admittedly digress...

I find that water pressure vs volume flow is a pretty good analogy - lumens is the amount of light coming out, and candela is the brightness at a single point (usually the brightest one). A floody light might have high lumens but not particularly high candela, while a light with a reflector generating a narrow spot without much spill can have insanely high candela from the same number of lumens...

... because you are squirting the same amount of water through a much smaller hole :)
Makes sense enough to me. In terms of how it's measured, if I understand correctly, lumens is how many light rays (yes, yes, I know, technically waves, shhh) come out of the emitter, and candela is how energetic they are, and how many of them land in a given area? Upon inspection, you're right, the FL1 standard does specify peak beam intensity, so perhaps that's a somewhat misleading number to chase in a vacuum as well. Doesn't really tell you anything about the size of the hotspot, how sharp or fuzzy its border is, or how bright/efficient the spill is.

Sometimes I wonder why we bother with standards :yellowlaugh:
 
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