Neutral White (Warm Tinted) - Quark AA2 Neutral White Comparison Review

UnknownVT

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There's been quite a bit of recent interest in Neutral white (Warm) Tinted LEDs.

Once again I have by the kind courtesy of 4Sevens a Quark AA2 Neutral White for review -

Important Note of self-correction -
I have been calling these LEDs "Warm" tinted
(my excuse: since they are "warm" when compared to regular cool white LEDs).

BUT for clarity -
Cree designs these XR-E Q3 5A LEDs "neutral white" - which are in the color temperature (CCT) range of 5,000 – 3,700 degK.
(Q3 5A = 4,300 degK)
Cree does have separately warm white LEDs - that are in the color temperature range 3,700 – 2,600 degK.
For comparison Cree's cool whites are in the range 10,000 – 5,000 degK.

Size -
Quark2AAWarmSz.jpg

externally it is identical to the regular cool white Quark AA2. The Neutral White version has the regular clip still attached - whereas the other Quark AA2 has the clever rubber strap attached.

Head -
Quark2AAWarmHd.jpg

hmmmm... I think in this shot one can just make out that the Neutral White LEDs seem to have a bit more brown reflected in the reflector(s).

How does it compare?
I only have one other Neutral White/"warm" LED flashlight - but I'm sure like others I'd like to see how a Neutral White light compares to a regular cool white light -

vs. regular cool white Quark AA2 - both Max and NiMH -
Quark2AAW_Quark2AA.jpg
Quark2AAW_Quark2AA2U.jpg

they seem about the same brightness level - but it is hard to tell with the different tints.

So I took those beamshots and removed the colors by desaturation -
Quark2AAW_Quark2AAdeSat.jpg
Quark2AAW_Quark2AA2UdeSat.jpg

it would appear that the regular cool white is just a bit brighter - but I certainly couldn't tell just eyeballing the beams even when side-by-side - so in practice it probably would not make much practical difference in the difference in brightness - BUT the tint difference may be important - see later.....

vs. Fenix LD20 - both Max and NiMH
Quark2AAW_LD20.jpg
Quark2AAW_LD20U2.jpg

it seems that the Fenix LD20 may be a just a bit brighter - but then its beam is noticeably narrower than the Quark AA2 Neutral White. Also notice how much nicer the Quark's beam is - it is due to the self centering LED to reflector design - this is a point worth emphasizing as it is a definite incremental improvement in flashlight design.

vs. Fenix L2D-RB100 (my favorite regular tint) both Max and NiMH
Quark2AAW_L2Drb100.jpg
Quark2AAW_L2Drb100U2.jpg

in real-life and and in isolation the RB-100 tend to have a somewhat brownish/pinkish tint - but in comparison with a true Neutral White (warm tint) - it looks blueish..... The levels look very comparable.

vs. NiteCore EZ AA-W (Warm tint) both on Max and NiMH (obviously the EZ-AA is a single AA light)
Quark2AAW_NiteCoreEZaaW.jpg
Quark2AAW_NiteCoreEZaaW2U.jpg

the NiteCore EZ-AA actually looks brighter - but its beam is considerably narrower and the Quark's hotspot is definitely brighter.
But what is more important to me is the difference in tint - the NiteCore seems more saturated deeper in color, whereas the Quark is paler. I'm not sure which I prefer - but the point is even with a noticeable tint difference neither is objectionable - whereas we tend to be very sensitive to greenish tints in cool white, and some even have problems with blueish tints....... whereas warm seems just well... warm, and differences seem less objectionable.....

OK what about color rendition - this is a not very well understood subject - evidence by many who would just quote CRI figures (incandescent are "perfect" at CRI=100 by definition - yet anyone having to see yellow on white or sort out navy blue and black will attest this is far from perfect)

Anyway I took pictures of a Macbeth color rendition chart -
McB_Quark2AAwarm.jpg
McB_Quark2AA.jpg

McB_NiteCoreEZaaWarm.jpg
Macb_DayLtCntrl.jpg

Mb_ScorpionDayL.jpg


INDEX to follow up parts -

Explanation for the warmer tinted Neutral white with reference to Kruithof curve - Post #5

Outdoor Foliage comparison beamshots - Post #9

Lower level comparisons and tint shift - Post #14

Standardized Stairway beamshot comparison - Post #25

Stairway hotspot comparison - Post #26
 
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passive101

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Re: Warm Tint - Quark AA2 Warm Comparison Review

I noticed this in my real world test of a fuse box and my bathroom walls and what is on the counter. I have to admit I do like the color rendition of that other light better, but my new quark is much better then my old P2D :)
 

fisk-king

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Re: Warm Tint - Quark AA2 Warm Comparison Review

just received mine in the mail today:D can't wait to try it out tonight!
 

passive101

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Re: Warm Tint - Quark AA2 Warm Comparison Review

Why does the color rendition seem better on the cool white quark then on the neutral?
 
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UnknownVT

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Re: Warm Tint - Quark AA2 Warm Comparison Review

Why does the color rendition seem better on the cool white quark then on the neutral? :confused:

OK here's an explanation of sorts.

I take my beamshots and the shots of the rendition chart with fixed daylight balance on my digicam.

Which means if anything deviates from "standard daylight" (about 6000deg Kelvin) it will show up.

The neutral white LEDs used in these Quarks is the Q3-5A which is rated at CCT= 4,300 degK this puts it in the yellow tinted range compared to the standard cool white which is closer to about 6,500 deg K - so standard cool white is closer to daylight - therefore seems to approximate the daylight control shot better.

Color temperature of Neutral White LEDs seem to be well chosen to be kind of in between daylight and incandescent which is in the range of 2700–3300 K.

There is a very good reason for this, most people at lower light levels tend to see/think a warmer tint is more "natural" - this is both physiology, as well of evolution/conditioning - we need to see well while light is dim - sunrise and sunset as well as by fire/candle light - hence our leaning toward amber-yellow as light lowers.

I had a long thread -

Puny LED flashlights (Not!) + COLOR RENDITION Comparison
which only started to point out LED flashlights had began to overtake even the "ultra bright" xenon CR123 lights (the SureFires and Scorpions of this world) - the discussion quickly turned to incandescent being better outdoors, and color rendition was not widely understood (eg: CRI being quoted) so I did a lot of finding out and discovered the Kruithof curve - see my reply to milkyspit in Post #123 and subsequent discussion.
(there's a kind of index in the first post of that thread)

You might want to check out the discussion in my other review -
NiteCore EZ AA-W (Warm tint) Comparison Review

The one thing one might take a note of is how well the blues are rendered in both the Neutral White (warm) LED charts - whereas the typical incandescent Scorpion does not do well at all.

The cool white LED does do well - but look at the reds, browns and yellows they are just not as "pleasing" as the Neutral White (warm) LEDs.

Most people who complain about LEDs are about the "washed out" colors - the rendition charts kind of helps us understand why - the Neutral White (warm) tints might not be as accurate when compared to daylight but the colors are punchier and stand out more - and in the dark we are looking for differences/contrast to distinguish/discern things, and as long as the light is not grossly inaccurate then which ever emphasizes the contrasts tend to be preferred, hence the preference by lots of people for incandescent over LED outdoors - it's obviously not due to rendition accuracy when compared to daylight - it's how distinct things looks and how "colorful".

Neutral White LED seem to me to be even better because there isn't the problem of yellow on white or being able to distinguish between navy and black......
 
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UnknownVT

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Re: Warm Tint - Quark AA2 Warm Comparison Review

Note of self-correction -
I have been calling these LEDs "Warm" tinted
(my excuse: since they are "warm" when compared to regular cool white LEDs).

BUT for clarity -
Cree designs these XR-E Q3 5A LEDs "neutral white" - which are in the color temperature (CCT) range of 5,000 – 3,700 degK.
(Q3 5A = 4,300 degK)
Cree does have separately warm white LEDs - that are in the color temperature range 3,700 – 2,600 degK.
For comparison Cree's cool whites are in the range 10,000 – 5,000 degK.

I am adding this to the opening post to avoid confusion.

Here's the Cree XP-E Binning & Labeling pdf.
 
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hiker123

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Nice review.
Will you be adding any outdoor shots between the Neutral and Cool Quarks?
Cheers
 

UnknownVT

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Will you be adding any outdoor shots between the Neutral and Cool Quarks?

...but of course - thanks for reminding me -
however I had to wait for it to be dark -
it's dark now - so....

Quark2AAW_foliage.jpg
Quark2AA_foliage.jpg


when it's dark any light is better than no light -
regular cool white in Cree XP-E is actually a lot better than any 5mm LED (which have blueish tendencies).

However in a typical outdoor scenario of foliage - one can see that the warmer tinted Neutral White seem so much more realistic/pleasant colors - it's not that one cannot see colors well in the cool white in comparison - it just tends to look less saturated - kind of washed out - confirming what people have been saying about incandescent vs. LEDs for years.

However this Neutral white is not as yellow as an incandescent and does not have the typical yellow on white or navy blue vs. black issue that incandescent have.

Seems like a very good middle ground/compromise to me as a light for illuminating the dark......
 

bhvm

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Excellent comparo!

Somone please Add a Warm white (3000~3500k) Power LED in here! Much appreciated.
 

clg0159

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However in a typical outdoor scenario of foliage - one can see that the warmer tinted Neutral White seem so much more realistic/pleasant colors - it's not that one cannot see colors well in the cool white in comparison - it just tends to look less saturated - kind of washed out - confirming what people have been saying about incandescent vs. LEDs for years.

However this Neutral white is not as yellow as an incandescent and does not have the typical yellow on white or navy blue vs. black issue that incandescent have.

Seems like a very good middle ground/compromise to me as a light for illuminating the dark......

Well said!
 

hiker123

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Thanks again for the outdoor pictures. This is a great thread on the tint comparisons.

Do you get to keep the light for a durability test? I'm sure sooner or later there will be one.
Cheers
 

UnknownVT

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Lower levels comparison

vs. regular Cool White Quark AA2 - both NiMH
going from lowest to higher levels -
Quark2AAW_Quark2AAL1.jpg
Quark2AAW_Quark2AAL1U2.jpg


Quark2AAW_Quark2AAL2.jpg
Quark2AAW_Quark2AAL2U2.jpg


Quark2AAW_Quark2AAL3.jpg
Quark2AAW_Quark2AAL3U2.jpg


Quark2AAW_Quark2AAL4.jpg
Quark2AAW_Quark2AAL4U2.jpg


It may be hard to see but the lower the level the more saturated/yellower the tint - this applies also to the regular Cool white......

For some time I felt the Quark AA2 Neutral white seemed more yellow/saturated than the NiteCore EZ-AA W the only other "Warm"/Neutral White LED I had - and could not understand it when the comparison beamshot seemed to be the opposite to what I saw.

Then I realized I was doing most of my eyeball comparisons with both the lights at LOW levels - where the NiteCore uses very fast PWM - so effectively there is NO shift in tint - whereas the Quarks use current regulation - so at lower levels - there is lower drive current - hence a shift in tint toward yellow-green (just like for regular Cool whites).

Hopefully these comparison beamshots show -
Quark2AAW_NiteCoreEZaaW_Low.jpg
Quark2AAW_NiteCoreEZaaWlow2U.jpg

the brightness levels are not the same but hopefully one can see that the Quarks now seems more saturated/yellow than in the Max level beamsots in the opening post. It maybe marginal/subtle in the beamshots - but the eye can definitely detect this....

So how can I show this shift toward yellow as the levels lower?

Here's a crude attempt to show this shift in tint - I used a NiteCore EX10 (Q5) regular Cool white as a comparison - and tried to approximate/match the brightness levels by eye - other than the minimum levels.

Again going from Lowest levels to higher levels -
Quark2AAWL1_EX10min.jpg
Quark2AAWL1_EX10min2U.jpg

the Quark AA2 Neutral white reaches a much lower levels on its min than the NiteCore EX10 (Q5) - easy to see even with the tint difference.

Quark2AAWL2_EX10Adj.jpg
Quark2AAWL2_EX10Adj2U.jpg


Quark2AAWL3_EX10Adj.jpg
[
Quark2AAWL3_EX10Adj2U.jpg


Quark2AAWL4_EX10Adj.jpg
Quark2AAWL4_EX10Adj2U.jpg


Still difficult to see/discern unless one is deliberately looking for it - in these beamshots notice how the brighter/higher the levels seem to be paler than the lower levels?
In real-life I can quite easily see a shift to more yellow/staturated tint the lower the level on the Quark.
 
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vali

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The first time I fired up my warm Quark I thought just the same: "OMG, it is really yellow".

In some threads, when ppl was talking about the 3Q 5A emitters, they usually said it was somewhat pink, but I dont see any pink in mine :oops:.
 

pipspeak

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Thanks for the review/explanations

COuple of questions -- in absolute lumens terms, roughtly how much less light does a Q3 put out compared to the Q5? I know it's probably not enough to notice but I'm just curious.

Secondly, to what extent do you find the neutral/warm tint helps with perceived throw? Does the improved color rendition make it look like it's lighting up more in the distance, or less?
 

UnknownVT

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COuple of questions -- in absolute lumens terms, roughtly how much less light does a Q3 put out compared to the Q5? I know it's probably not enough to notice but I'm just curious.

Secondly, to what extent do you find the neutral/warm tint helps with perceived throw? Does the improved color rendition make it look like it's lighting up more in the distance, or less?

Good questions -

I do not have any equipment to measure lumens output (normally $$10's of K) I do what everyone else does - eye-ball the lights side-by-side and I take side-by-side beamshots as the closest approximation to seeing things live.

Look at these beamshots with colors removed by desaturation
(from the opening post) -
Quark2AAW_Quark2AAdeSat.jpg
Quark2AAW_Quark2AA2UdeSat.jpg

it would appear that the regular cool white is just a bit brighter - but I certainly couldn't tell just eyeballing the beams even when side-by-side - so in practice it probably would not make much practical difference in the difference in brightness - BUT the tint difference may be important.....

Which brings us to the next question -

I feel I do see better under these Neutral white (warm) LEDs - the colors are, well, warmer and more "colorful" and they seem to me to have better contrast for distinguishing/discerning things - which is what we mainly want to do with a flashlight in the dark.

There is a good physiological reason as well as evolution/conditioning that human eyesight tends to see better with more amber/yellow bias at lower light levels. (see Kruithof curve and discussion in Post #5)

For normal eyesight there is also the "chromatic interval" where yellow is the wavelength that is focused on the retina, whereas red is focused behind, and blue in front.

But these neutral white (warm) LEDs do not suffer from a lack of blue in their overall spectrum - as there is not the usual yellow on white or navy blue to black difficulties found normally with incandescent lights.

Of course YMMV and personal preferences do come into the equation - for someone who can't stand yellow tint - these would probably be "horrible" - just like I prefer to lessen any hint of green, and even prefer not to have too much blue tint.
 

hiker123

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Even more pictures! :)

Good shots - I can clearly see the tint shift on the Neutral going from moon mode to high. You have shown it quite nicely.
Cheers

Edit: How do you feel about the tint shift in moon and low vs medium and high? Is it too yellow in the lower two modes for you? From the pictures (to me) medium and high look about what I was expecting. In moon and low it looks more saturated than expect.
 
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UnknownVT

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Even more pictures! :)
Good shots - I can clearly see the tint shift on the Neutral going from moon mode to high. You have shown it quite nicely.
Cheers
Edit: How do you feel about the tint shift in moon and low vs medium and high? Is it too yellow in the lower two modes for you? From the pictures (to me) medium and high look about what I was expecting. In moon and low it looks more saturated than expect.

What a nice person :)
this was just what I was about to talk on, thank you!

The shift in tint to more warm in a typical current regulated circuit could be an inadvertent advantage that someone can take into account in their design......

One has to refer to the Kruithof curve (please also see Post #5 & #17 ) to understand for most of us the lower the light level our eyes also shifts toward warmer and warmer tints -
so this shift in LED tint as the level goes lower happens to coincide with the way we see!

So it's then a design to pick an illumination level for the tint and then allow the shift toward warm tints fall where they may.

This would be my preference - YMMV - I would like to see 4,400 degK at the High level (which is level 4 on the Quarks about 70 lumens - not the Max level) - so if I was designing I would then choose a 4A bin which is in the color temperature range of 4,500-4,750 degK - ie: one step up from the ideal - so that on Max the light would be a little more blue - which is fine as our eyes would prefer a more blue at higher light levels - on High (70 lumens) the shift may have dropped the color temperature to a slightly warmer tint might not be exactly 4,400 degK but between high and the medium the color temperature probably will be in the range of around 4,400 degK; the low to moon will then probably be lower than my "ideal" 4,400 degK which is again fine because at lower levels we see better with a warmer tint........

The current Neutral white LED used is a Q3 5A - which is in the range 4,000-4,300 degK - this would probably be the tint at Max - that means the lower levels would be correspondingly warmer - so the light is a bit warmer than ideal -
however this is really just being nit-picky as the differences for the warm tints as I pointed out are really minor, compared to the difference in seeing with these Neutral white warm tints when compared a typical cool white - even then YMMV - I think it's just us flashaholics that would be so interested in such minor differences -
like I said before in the dark ANY light is better than no light......

But I now do like the warm tints :p
 

dudu84

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I just received my Quark AA tactical neutral LED version today, first word came to my mind when opening the package was "Wow!" :twothumbs

Mine allows lockout as a part of the threads inside the tailcap is anodized, Is yours the same, UnknownVT?

Not sure if this is useful to anyone but the switch looks identical to Fenix's (spring and board are slightly different though), which happens to be the same as the forward clickies being sold on KD :popcorn:
 
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