- Dec 3, 2021
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
(Lumintop EDC Pico, Frog, Tool AA)
I use flashlights as working tools and am mainly concerned they do their job well in different environments, for different people and with different purposes. My life is outside the lab, so while those men and women provide information that's valuable to evaluate how honest a manufacturer's marketing team is and do a head-to-head comparison on paper with another light, I look at it from a user's standpoint.
In general, I'd say the Frog v2 is a tiny light that's hard to hold on to, packs a heck of a punch, and makes for a great talking point. Considering the price I'd say it's "neat but not necessary" as there are other tools that get the same job done for less money, though they're probably not nearly as small, stylish, versatile, or as well built. If you like and collect neat lights however, it's hard to deny this one is really unique and good value for the money.
Let's start off by looking at how bright it is, or rather how bright it seems to be. Human perception is a funny thing, we're able to take in such large and varied amounts of information under a wide range of conditions it becomes difficult to quantify values with exact certainty. So why not guess? If it looks good, it is good!
Normal modes (using the included 10180 cell)
Low (75 lm)
Med (340 lm)
High (575 lm)
Moonlight (1 lm, should probably be called "Firefly")
Turbo (750 lm)
(all lumen ratings are a wild approximation using my non-calibrated opto-comparators)
According to the included User Manual labeled
"GT Nano / FROG 2.0 LMT 220801"
I'm way off, the manufacturer ratings with 10180 and 10440 cells are:
Moonlight (1/1.5 lm, 14/58 hr)
Low (35/40 lm, 1.5/3hr)
Med (175/220 lm 25/45 min)
High (390/500 lm, 40 seconds)
Turbo (600/750 lm, 20 seconds; 135/150 m)
Lumintop ratings are usually pretty accurate and reflective of what you can expect to experience. (From my guesses I'd wager they're more accurate than I am.)
Moonlight mode should probably be called "Firefly" as that's more accurate. It's about the same brightness as a Convoy S2+, very stealthy and just right for late nights and long battery run times.
Low, Medium, and High are about the same as a Lumintop Tool AA with lithium cell, which is a great Every Day Carry light though the Tool lacks Moonlight mode, which is where a problem with the Frog comes in. Given the Frog's Moonlight is perfectly dim, switching up one level to Low is blinding. Lumintop could reduce Low, Medium, and High to 1/3 their current values, especially given the run-time of High is 40 seconds. This is the case of a tiny light having "too much attitude."
Turbo isn't much brighter than High but when you wish High had "a little bit more" this light delivers despite its incredibly small size. It lasts about 20 seconds depending on the head temperature before very gradually ramping down smoothly without any annoying stepped brightness levels—very nicely done.
Given the size of the light and the incredible brightness it puts out the brief usable time in High and Turbo are understandable. If longer working time is needed Medium and Low work well at short distances outside, though are bright for indoors.
The light has Memory and remembers the last Normal brightness level it was at; Memory cannot be disabled and remains through Lockout, so you have to remember what brightness it was at last or risk blinding yourself. Memory is great when the light needs to be used intermittently for the same task. No Memory works well when the light is off for long periods of time and needs to start in Low mode as to not ruin night vision.
Pulse-Width-Modulation (the flashlight sets the brightness by very quickly pulsing the LED on and off) is not visible (no annoying strobing effect) and no noise can be heard (no high-pitched squeal from a poorly designed driver). The brightness is controlled by temperature sensing/compensation and ramps down pretty quickly so the head shouldn't overheat even if brightness is bumped back up after it ramps down. The head has reversed battery protection so mistakenly putting the battery in backwards won't destroy the electronics As the battery discharges and voltage falls the LED driver lowers the brightness and at 20% battery capacity blinks a Low Battery Warning (3 flashes-pause-1 flash-pause). If voltage falls below 2.9V the light is turned off to protect the battery.
The "neutral white" Osram NM1 LED tint is about 4000K, which is very nice and allows viewing through mist, fog, and smoke that higher Kelvin lights aren't so good at. The light is great for noticing details that tend to wash out with a 5000K Cold White Luminus SST20 LED light. (Given my lumen estimation was off my Kelvin estimation probably is also. I didn't disassemble the light to verify LED type, but sufficed to say it works as described.)
(Lumintop EDC Pico, Frog, Tool AA)
The "reflector" is smooth (which is great!), though is actually a Total Internal Reflection optic. The throw pattern is "circular-ish," possibly due to having a rectangular LED coupled with a small TIR optic. Everything inside the housing is perfectly centered and the bezel is very well machined. The manual claims there is anti-reflective coating on the clear lens--if there is it's minimal (Lumintop isn't known for using much if any AR coating). The lens isn't recessed from the bezel so the smooth lens can scratch easily, though so far I haven't scratched one.
Lumintop often has a yellowish tint shift between the beam's hot spot and flood, the Frog doesn't seem to have that (or at least it's minimal), though the center of the hot-spot is a bit dimmer than the rest of the hot-spot; it's hard to notice and only a minor point, but that does make the subject you're illuminating less crisp and detailed than if the hot-spot was uniform.
A refreshing change: the usual Lumintop green glow-ring found behind the lens is really dim. I'm not a fan of the glow-ring, though on lights with non-illuminated switches it can come in handy when turning off and setting down the light, then needing to pick it back up (like late at night when you're tired, going to sleep, and suddenly remembered something). In general, Lumintop glow ring brightness tends to not last long, so it's not very useful and not very stealthy at the same time. In my opinion a glow ring makes the light look "cheap," so to me it's the worst combination of outcomes for only a marginal increase in price. Like I said, at least this one is really dim.
Speaking of illuminated switches, the Frog has a bright red LED under the switch toward the body. Given the Frog's tiny low-capacity 80 mAh battery I'm not sure making it that bright was a good idea, but on the up-side you can tell if it's not in Lockout even in direct sunlight, so in that respect the LED always serves a purpose.
The side switch has a raised metal surround (so the light cannot roll away and there's less chance of accidentally turning the light on) with a clear rubber electrical button that has a black contact in the center; it makes a quiet "click" sound when pressed. (It's an e-switch, not mechanical.) It's firm but not "too firm," just right for the small light.
There is no tail switch.
It is not a Twisty head, the light is switch operated.
Lockout is enabled/disabled with 1/16 turn of the head (the switch also stops illuminating). When taken off Lockout the light blinks once at Low brightness and the switch illuminates. Unlike the Lumintop EDC Pico twisty, Lockout mode is very reliable. The light isn't prone to turning on unintentionally, but given the small battery size turning off the illuminated switch will increase standby time.
The method of mode selection is "odd," but it works consistently and I have no complaints. Turning it off is where I usually mess up as "hold for one second" is different from the mechanical lights I usually use.
Because the head is compatible with the GT Nano the light has several body options, the smallest Frog body (as opposed to the smallest Nano body) is very attractive and makes the light quite the talking piece though the battery doesn't last long and the light is "too tiny," literally being held between a thumb and first finger by even the most slight of women. With the small body it's just slightly bigger than the Lumintop EDC Pico and a lot smaller than the Lumintop Tool AA; to shorten up the Frog further use a GT Nano's "small" body.
(A Lumintop EDC Pico is probably a better choice as a keychain flashlight—it's half the price with the same run time, simpler to use, and won't kill the battery with outrageous brightness levels.)
(EDC Pico, FROG, Tool AAA, Tool AA, Convoy S2+)
The mid-size body works better for any lengthier time of use but is still too small for all but the tiniest of hands. Neither body is a tail-stander, though any GT Nano body could be used instead to rectify that.
(The Lumintop Tool AAA is possibly a better choice as a tiny indoor Every Day Carry light—it's easier to hold on to and operate, and the brightness modes are better spaced though the mode order is High-Medium-Low instead of Low-Medium-High.)
The large tube with the mid-size body work together to hold 3 AAA cells which works fine, though make the light look like a grass snake (it's also a bit heavy); the head still heats up so despite the larger size the run time on High and Turbo won't be any longer.
(The Lumintop Tool AA is probably a better choice as a small but powerful indoor/outdoor Every Day Carry light—it's very light, easy to use, and the sustainable brightness and run time are far better.)
Charging the small battery works as expected by removing the head and using the plastic and brass USB-C screw-on adapter and takes about an hour normally 1.5 hours if the light went into Shutdown. The adapter glows red while charging and green when done or not making good contact with the battery. The larger 10440 battery uses the same setup with the mid-size body though takes longer to charge (apx. 3 hrs.). I think this is a good compromise that keeps the light small yet doesn't require carrying a regular-size battery charger.
Everything is solid and the o-rings are lubed well. The fine V-shaped threads are machined well, anodized with the rest of the body, and fit well. It's probably hard to start threading them in sub-freezing temperatures with cold hands, but with patience and care they don't cross-thread and work well on a light this size. Claimed impact resistance is 1.5 m and waterproof to 2 m (IP68), though with single-seals the Frog probably shouldn't go swimming.
Packaging is a somewhat generic white box with a minimalistic off-white pattern and white foam inside. It's not "presentation quality" but a big step up from a brown cardboard box with cutouts to hold the contents (basically it looks "nice"). Two extra o-rings, the standard Lumintop sturdy metal D-ring clip (a keychain clip, not a pocket clip), user manual in a size related to the flashlight (tiny with microprint), and very odd USB to USB-C (that's really short, plasticy, cheap looking and yet the ends magnetically snap together) were included. Lumintop, if anything, is consistently eclectic.
Aside from being a conversation starter, the Frog is a unique jack of all trades but master of none. I find myself disliking using the light, preferring to use something better suited for the task: the EDC Pico for emergencies, Tool AAA for around the house at night, Tool AA for Every Day Carry, and Convoy S2+ for work. Yet I don't dislike the Frog, it is a quality light with a lot of reliable features, and in a pinch can briefly fill in for just about any EDC—in that sense it's useful to have along, is lightweight, versatile, and takes up almost no space (even with the charging adapter).
It's kind of like that annoying friend you'd rather not take along yet they have experience and knowledge to get you out of almost any bind. And...they don't ride for free, you have to feed them. On a scale of 0-to-5 this is probably a 2.5. If Lumintop changed the brightness spacing it would be a far more useful light.
Would I buy it again? It's not a flashlight I'd buy two of, and at
$37.25 for the whole set,
$27.50 without the AAA tube, or
$21.50 for just the light
that I'm not sure I need even one of...yet it's not a bad price for the quality—and it is a quality light. It's probably best as a conversation enhancer with potential use as a backup-backup light. If Lumintop changed the brightness spacing and allowed enabling/disabling Memory it would be a far more useful light.
If you have almost no budget but want a very versatile light, the Lumintop Tool AA at $12.50 ($20 on sale with battery and additional magnetic tail cap) is probably a better option.
NOTE: This is an unbiased review from a practical standpoint. I purchased the light from:
AliExpress "LUMINTOP Official Store" (Store No.2529001)
"Lumintop Frog 10180 flashlight 570 lumens 10440 flashlight 750 lumens mini keychain torch"
and am not using affiliate links (in other words I'm not compensated in any way and have no relationship with any company other than as a consumer).
The mode listing by Lumintop doesn't describe all of the features so here's a breakdown. Note I could not find a Ramping mode, Battery Voltage Check, software Lockout, or other NarsilM modes, and the included manual did not state those features (unlike the previous manual) so there appear to be different versions of the firmware. I'd personally rather call "Moonlight" mode "Firefly" as that's more accurate in describing "just enough light to see by."
Click: On in last Normal mode (memory).
2-Click: On in Turbo.
3+Click: (no effect)
Hold 1 second: Moonlight mode.
Hold 5 seconds: Moonlight for 4 seconds, then 1 blink and into Signal mode.
ON (Normal mode)
Click: Next Normal mode.
2-Click: Turbo mode.
3+Click: (no effect)
Hold 1+seconds: Off.
Click: Last Normal mode (memory).
2-Click: Turbo mode.
3+Click: (no effect)
Hold 1+seconds: Off.
Click (if the previous mode was Off): Low.
Click (if previous mode was not Off): Last Normal mode (memory).
2+Click: (no effect)
Hold 1+seconds: Off.
Click: Minimum of 1/2 second blink (low power only).
2+Clicks: Minimum of 1/2 second blink (low power only).
Hold 1+seconds: On for duration of press.
Hold 5+seconds: 1 blink and Off.