My A2 impressions (and pics!)

grumbler

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Well, got my A2 (four flats). I've joined the club! Since I'm CPF new, and since the A2 is such an acclaimed light, I thought I'd share some of my impressions and pictures.

This'll mostly be a comparison to my LX2, the only "real" light I currently have, and the light I've EDC'd for the past month. (my cousin's been borrowing my e2dl)

design

The A2 feels fantastic. I've read many posts about the excellent four-flats grip, and now I can agree. I don't have a three sided A2 to compare, but if it's truly inferior, then what was Surefire thinking. It's more comfortable than the LX2 and the knurling makes holding the tailcap down easier. It just makes holding it easier. Although they're the same diameter, shaving down those four sides makes it feel so much smaller and easier to grip. Amazing.

The "hex" head of the A2 looks less appealing but is very good at preventing rolling. With the clips removed, the LX2 will roll away, but the A2 won't.

The tailcap switch has more resistance than the LX2's and is better for it. On the LX2, it's very easy to press just a little too hard and accidentally (and annoyingly) activate high every few seconds.

The tailcap is also much easier to turn, and for three reasons: the pocket clip doesn't get in the way, the knurling adds grip, and the lanyard ring has more friction and doesn't spin around uselessly. This is a huge deal. I'd almost say that the LX2 tailcap is flawed for those three reasons.

The A2's more compact pocketclip is less obstructive than the LX2 reversible clip in an icepick grip, but it does have a problem: it ends in a metal tab parallel to and less than a millimeter away from its body. Unlike the LX2 clip, which is smoothed or flared away from the body on both ends, the A2 clip will not slide over my pocket or belt without first being manually lifted. There is another compromise here, though: the A2's clip is far stronger and stiffer than the LX2's, which is nearly useless for bezel-up carry. Of course, the A2 can't do bezel-down carry at all, but this doesn't personally bother me. Bezel-down carrying my LX2 brought its scalloped head at just the perfect distance into my pocket to have its anodizing on the sharp corners chipped away by my keys. I've recently switched to simply placing the light inside the same pocket, allowing the keys to rub against the fluted body, which is quite scratch resistant, and I no longer have chipping issues.

Weirdly, the A2's body is better than the LX2's in nearly every way!

light

The A2 does show its age in its LEDs. They're "angry blue" except for one LED which, weirdly, is "miserable purple". The result is a venn-diagram shaped flood in various gradients of unhappy light, which appears even worse once the A2's incan kicks in. Overall, having the floody light available is very nice; my biggest complaint about the LX2 is its pencil-thin beam, which, while impressively tight, is less useful most of the time.

Surprisingly, however, the A2's low flood is actually dimmer than the LX2's low spill. The LX2 has spill on low, but you just can't see it because of the huge amount of contrast against its hotspot. I have the feeling that once my F04 arrives, the LX2 will obliterate the A2's flood. LED technology definitely has improved; in my opinion, without darkness-adapted eyes, the A2's flood is too dim and would be better with a higher output.

The LX2's high is obviously brighter than the A2's main, but that isn't the point. It's my first "real" incan, and I'm pleased to see how beautifully it renders colors. I won't post any beamshots, because I've already looked at a bunch, and none of them faithfully reproduce what it's actually like to use the A2. If you have an A2, you nod understandingly; if you don't, you should get one.

In nearly every objective point of comparison that I can think of, on high the LX2 handily outclasses the A2. It's more efficient, bright, and throwy. But! (and i admit that this is purely subjective, that i'm likely biased, and that the batteries in the LX2 are more used) The A2 is superior for illuminating objects at close to medium distance (say 10 meters away), which is where objects I'm illuminating usually are, 99% of the time! How? First, consider that their spills are approximately equal. Second, consider that the LX2 focuses much of its lumens into a tiny contrasted hotspot, but the A2's hotspot gracefully dissolves into the corona; at close/medium distances, the LX2's hotspot is jarring, and the A2's smooth beam is lovely and helpful. Third, consider the A2's superiority in color rendering (as js has so carefully explained). Its light is better. Yes, the LX2's beam is in some ways more "impressive", but the A2's beam I prefer most of the time.

snappy conclusion

The A2 is a wonderful light that creates wonderful light. Like js wrote, it's more than a series of numbers: it's a tool with an experience that only our subjective senses can evaluate.

To make it near-perfect, I'd like to replace its LEDs with modern, brighter, high-CRI versions. I guess an Onion ring is in order?

Pics!

the A2 on moss with bokeh series XD

pQY1hl.jpg

QXGeK.jpg

1ohJC.jpg

NpnPA.jpg


One place where the LX2 has improved: On the left, you can see how the A2's lanyard's adjustment sliders have cracked from their springs' constant force. The LX2's lanyard, on the right, is updated and augmented with symmetrical plastic knobs. I'd personally always wondered about those knobs, and now I know. Surefire evolution. I'll try and contact SF later about a new lanyard.

5nieY.jpg


aviation-related pic
(2010 blue angels at kaneohe marine afb in delta roll formation)

CuaWM.jpg


Random notes:
My A2 has clearer etching than the LX2
The A2 displays FCC / CE certification, the LX2 doesn't (how?)

Thanks to gottawearshades for the A2
That's it for now!

(pics are CC Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License)
 
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ASheep

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Congrats on the purchase and thanks for the impressions! A very concise and well presented write-up, with great pics!
I've had my round body aviator for a couple of months now, and I absolutely love it!
I have amber LED's in mine now, in one of Koala's Onion Rings. It makes the low LED's fully adjustable, so if you want more power out of it, or an ultra low low, you can have it! With a Lumens Factory HO-A2 lamp, it's almost perfect!
The next thing I'm getting is a set of AW IMR cells for it, so I can enjoy some guilt-free aviator goodness!
Enjoy your light grumbler!
 

jellydonut

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Hello from another brand new A2 fanaticlovecpf

If you've decided to stick with the A2, I cannot recommend highly enough that you buy LumensFactory HO-A2 non-frosted bulbs to replace the standard bulb. Brighter, whiter, incredible throw for a 100+/- lumen light, and a round hotspot instead of an oval hotspot. The additional brightness also washes out the LEDs completely on high mode so you won't be seeing any 'angry blue' or 'pimp purple' when running the main gun.:nana:

The Valiant Concepts delrin tail shroud is also a neat addition to protect the switch from accidental activation. Tailstanding is nice and practical too, but that's an individual thing I suppose.

My wallet also thanks you for comparing it to the LX2. After getting used to the two-stage tailcap I don't want anything else on my lights from now on, thus the LX2 is (was) a prime candidate for me. I'm gonna take a wait and see and enjoy my A2s for now.
 

JNewell

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It remains a great light. I still have three - my original 4-flats white, a black HA, and a YG that is actually one of my most used lights. I picked up a 4-flats tube on the auction site for $20 and converted that one to the 4-flats type because I like its feel in the hand a little better. I really love the low level, relatively normal (compared to red, blue or real green LEDs) color rendition of the YG LEDs. The A2 isn't the smallest or brightest or longest-running, but it's still a fabulous light and one of my must-have, most-used lights.
 

kramer5150

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Nice write-up.
My A2 red is one of my fave lights. I use it every night around the house. Just last night my brother in law set up his telescope, and my A2 provided low level red lighting to preserve our night vision as we were looking at Jupiter in the night sky.


Fleet Week
is going on in SF. I will be at the blue angels show tomorrow. My kids and I will be boarding & exploring the US Navys finest. I will EDC my A2 and some SF primaires.;)
 

pOkiE

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congrats on your A2...looks pretty sweet. Ive been thinking about getting one myself but have been am still debating if I want a multilevel surefire.

Ahh I missed the blue angels show at Kaneohe MCB! They haven't been here in a few years and I always try to go see them or the thunderbirds when they decide to grace us with their presence...
 

grumbler

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Thanks, guys!
It's only been my first night with the A2, but I expect to continue enjoying using it for many years. My F04 arrived today. I'll see if it changes my opinion on the LX2. After carrying around the A2 today, picking up the LX2 feels like a step back. That tailcap is awful. I wonder why they changed the design so dramatically?

pokie, you're on oahu, too? where do you get your lights from? are there other places besides power edge, security equipment corp, mccully bike, and young guns?
 

RobertM

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Thanks, guys!
It's only been my first night with the A2, but I expect to continue enjoying using it for many years. My F04 arrived today. I'll see if it changes my opinion on the LX2. After carrying around the A2 today, picking up the LX2 feels like a step back. That tailcap is awful. I wonder why they changed the design so dramatically?

pokie, you're on oahu, too? where do you get your lights from? are there other places besides power edge, security equipment corp, mccully bike, and young guns?

I'm surprised that it sound like you aren't too happy with your LX2. What is it that you don't like about the tailcap?
 

Hack On Wheels

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Very nice pictures! ...but where is the bokeh? ;)

There have been a number of threads recently about how awesome the A2 is... I think CPF is trying to tell me something. :thinking:

(And it's working! I'm feeling :broke: in anticipation.)
 

grumbler

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RobertM: First, the resistance of the LX2's button requires a very precise amount of pressure to stay in the low mode "sweet spot". It's difficult to momentarily stay in low without accidentally flickering the light off or high.

Second, with the lanyard ring and pocketclip in place, the tailcap is difficult to turn. My fingers get stopped by the pocketclip, and grabbing the lanyard ring just spins the ring without twisting the cap.

The A2 has a wider "sweet spot" in its switch, its lanyard ring is stationary, and its pocketclip does not impede tailcap twisting.

I guess the biggest problems aren't actually the tailcap's fault, but rather the pocketclip and lanyard ring. It's a nice light otherwise.


Hack on wheels: I'm not sure what you mean, but bokeh is any blurred part of an image outside of the depth of field. Because my lens was wide open at f1.4, there's quite a lot of bokeh in the above pictures–- the description of "bokeh" isn't limited to blurred circles. (well the sort of bokeh in the above images is in fact made up of blurred circles, just a whole lot of them all blurred together) :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh
 

jellydonut

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:thinking: Lanyard ring on all my A2s move. That's kinda why I violently removed it from one of them for EDC. :ironic:
 

kramer5150

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I tried searching for this answer but got lost in the SEA of A2 information on CPF.

Does the Lumens factory unfrosted lamp increase tailcap current draw over the stock bulb?

thanks!!
 
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Hack On Wheels

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Hack on wheels: I'm not sure what you mean, but bokeh is any blurred part of an image outside of the depth of field. Because my lens was wide open at f1.4, there's quite a lot of bokeh in the above pictures–- the description of "bokeh" isn't limited to blurred circles. (well the sort of bokeh in the above images is in fact made up of blurred circles, just a whole lot of them all blurred together) :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh

Mostly just pulling your leg, that's the shallowest depth of field I've seen on here in a while! I'm very amateur when it comes to photography, though I've been thinking of getting a 1.8 prime; 2.8 is what I'm currently limited to and it's a far cry from your 1.4. However, I do have a confession... I used to associate the term "bokeh" strictly with the blurred "circles" effect. :eek:

Now if only I had some moss handy... that's a great surface for photos, as you've demonstrated. :)
 

jellydonut

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Does anyone have an idea as to how to get that #""¤£@$£$@£##%¤ retainer ring out of the tailcap to place the tailstander Delrin shroud there?!

This thing is stuck on something absolutely completely NUTS. They must have used glue or something. There's no reason at all to use glue on an item like this unless they've done **** poor engineering. Do they do this kind of thing on purpose to make their lights as non-user serviceable as humanly possible? I thought this was only a recent thing with the sealed heads and all that.:mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad:

Anyway at this rate I'm gonna have to Dremel the thing out and ruin the rubber boot in the process. Whoever at SF thought gluing the rings was a good idea, they must have been working in an enclosed space with the same glue for way too long.:mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad:

edit - nail polish finally killed the rings. Not even the old boil-in-bag made them BUDGE. Had to be glue on these. >_>
 
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gottawearshades

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Yes.

Thanks for saying this. I had been thinking it was just me. The switch works really well on my older SFs, my A2, a 2nd-generation L1, and an L2 Lunamax, but my L1 Cree and LX2 have exactly that problem. They're a little trickier to hold on low without jumping to high.

It seems like somewhere along the way Surefire got worse at building these.

By the way, the A2 in those pics looks prettier than the one I sent to you.


RobertM: First, the resistance of the LX2's button requires a very precise amount of pressure to stay in the low mode "sweet spot". It's difficult to momentarily stay in low without accidentally flickering the light off or high.

Second, with the lanyard ring and pocketclip in place, the tailcap is difficult to turn. My fingers get stopped by the pocketclip, and grabbing the lanyard ring just spins the ring without twisting the cap.

The A2 has a wider "sweet spot" in its switch, its lanyard ring is stationary, and its pocketclip does not impede tailcap twisting.

I guess the biggest problems aren't actually the tailcap's fault, but rather the pocketclip and lanyard ring. It's a nice light otherwise.
 

grumbler

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jellydonut:

the A2 ring does move, but it moves much less than the LX2's, and it makes turning the A2 tail cap FAR easier. The loose lanyard ring is a main source of frustration behind the LX2's tailcap.

Monocrom:

thanks! I'm new to mods, and I'll definitely look at that. Do you know how Strion bulbs compare in terms of color temperature and overall "quality"?

Hack On Wheels:

I'm really amateur, too. I used the Canon 50mm 1.4, and wide open it does make everything look wonderfully shallow and dreamy. I feel like that lens would make anything look good…

Next I'd like to try and incorporate actual fire into my shots of flashlights.

gottawearshades:

Thanks again man. The girls I've shown it to think it's neat but don't quite appreciate the brilliance of its precisely carved body or digitally regulated current. At least not yet. I believe that I just need to invent some more clever innuendo.

And again, yeah. The A2's body feels way improved over the LX2's. Interesting that the same goes for your other, older lights.
 

jellydonut

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I think I might have to turn one of my A2s into a pseudo-LX2. Sacrilege, I know.. But but but I'll have a spare LVR for my incandescent A2s. And a bulb, and a reflector, and and.. :( I've shot an email to milky but if he doesn't have time for my project I'll have to try to kludge it myself.:sick2:

I remain unconvinced by the smooth fluted body of the new Surefires, and now that I learn that the tail switch isn't as good as the old one either I'm even more unconvinced.:shakehead
 

Monocrom

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Monocrom:

thanks! I'm new to mods, and I'll definitely look at that. Do you know how Strion bulbs compare in terms of color temperature and overall "quality"?

Can't answer the former. But as to the latter, if they weren't quality; no one would pay FM extra to be able to use them in their A2s.
 
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