NITECORE TM11 ‘Tiny Monster’ Review - 2012

subwoofer

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Triple XM-L lights have become commonplace, which a testament to the strengths of this formula. NITECORE’s TM11 was an early adopter of this format and has been around for a little while now. With minor improvements being implemented along the way, the TM11 is still standing tall (metaphorically only as it is very small – tiny even) and showing that it is one of the strongest performers in this class with a measured 2457 ANSI Lumens!

35-TM11-.jpg




Initial Impressions:

NITECORE’s unassuming packaging belies how good the tiny monster that lurks within will prove itself to be.

With its reputation and the manufacturers claims to live up to, can this small light, no bigger than a can of soft-drink, really be that good? In the hand it seems far too compact to do so.

With no cells in it, the TM11 feels solid but not over engineered, and with four 18650s loaded (the heavier of the power sources) it suddenly feels full of potential as the compact package is now quite weighty.

Click it onto turbo, and if you haven’t yet experienced a 2000lm triple XM-L light first hand, expect jaw dropping to ensue. Even if you have, the very compactness of the TM11 and amount of power on tap should still bring a smile to any lumen junkie.



What is in the box:

The large box is plain cardboard with a printed label on the card. No frills, but neat.

03-TM11box-.jpg


Inside is a closed cell foam liner holding the TM11 firmly and providing excellent protection. The TM11 is supplied fitted into its quality holster and includes a spare o-ring, lanyard and instructions.

04-TM11boxopen-.jpg


The TM11 out of the box

02-TM11-.jpg




Taking a closer look and looking inside:

Multi-emitter lights combine the LEDs and reflectors in different ways. The TM11 has a single reflector, in a single housing, but this reflector is made up of three shallow overlapping reflectors.

The lens has an anti-reflective coating and is held in place with a stainless crenelated bezel.

The tail has nice detailing which appears to be a cosmetic feature, serving no practical function I can determine.

09-TM11tall2-.jpg
21-TM11talltail-.jpg



The TM11 has plenty of crisply executed knurling around the head and body of the light. The battery tube has four panels cut into the battery tube to give very positive grip and each panel has text etched into it. Here the model name is shown

07-TM11detail-.jpg


A second panel

23-TM11Nitecoredetail-.jpg


Looking into the business end shows the shallow merged reflectors forming a compound reflector. In the spaces between the individual reflectors have black panels with ‘NITECORE’, a nice detail.

10-TM11LEDs-.jpg


Heat-sinking fins are relatively sparse considering the TM11’ s output, but precisely machined. The warning is laser etched.

11-TM11detail-.jpg


Opening up the TM11, the contacts in the head are substantial looking, with raised rings for the positive (inner ring) and negative connections. As the battery tube is screwed into place, the positive contact will drag around on the ring, so it will be interesting to see how this holds up in the long term. Though the gold plating may come off, it looks like the raised ring is metal, so should prove durable.

12-TM11headcontacts-.jpg


Photographing the threads of the battery tube proved a little difficult as they are reasonably fine and the diameter of the tube meant the camera lens kept hitting the tube. The threads are a trapezoid form and fully anodised.

13-TM11thread-.jpg


Looking into the battery tube (on the left focusing at the negative contact at the bottom of the tube) shows the flat plate spring contact used for the negative cell terminals, and focusing higher up shows the machined cell separators and central support pin meaning a single 18650 or 2 CR123s can be used if necessary.

14-TM11negative-.jpg
15-TM11cellseparators-.jpg


Detail of the heat sink fins.

16-TM11findetail-.jpg


The TM11 name etched into the tail.

17-TM11taildetail-.jpg


Comprising of a hole drilled through the base of the battery tube, the TM11 has a lanyard fixing point.

18-TM11lanyarddetail-.jpg


The bezel has small indents, probably for a matching tool used to screw it into place.

19-TM11headdetail-.jpg


To give an idea of size, there are two AW IMR 18650 cells next to the TM11. Remember these are unprotected, so around 4mm shorter than a typical protected cell.

20-TM11size-.jpg


The supplied holster is very well made and fits the TM11 well. The front flap is held in place with Velcro.

05-TM11inholster-.jpg


There are three possible fixing choices, a metal D-loop, a fixed belt loop and a Velcro belt loop.

06-TM11holsterback-.jpg




Modes and User Interface:

One of the TM11’s special features is its power switch. The single switch has two stages, just like most camera shutter buttons where you half press to focus. Surrounding the button is an illuminated ring which is used to give the user information.

Excessively close-up view of the aforementioned button!

22-TM11button-.jpg


The TM11 has two main ‘modes’, Turbo, and ‘Daily’. Turbo is exactly what it says – Maximum output. ‘Daily’ is a set of three output levels with low, medium and high.

Half pressing the button gives access to the ‘Daily’ mode. If you release the button within one second, it will stay on. If you keep the button held down, for more than one second you use the momentary function and as soon as you let go, the light will switch off. In momentary mode you cannot change output level. If you entered constant output, further half presses change the output level cycling through low medium, high, low etc. To switch off from constant output, briefly fully press the button and let go.

Turbo is accessed by fully pressing the button. Just like the ‘Daily’ mode, you can use a momentary output or constant output, and just as before, fully press the button again to switch off.

When the TM11 is on, double clicking the button fully accesses Strobe.

The TM11 has two types of ‘off’ mode, ‘standby’ and ‘lock-out’. In standby mode, the illuminated ring flashes every three seconds to help you locate it in the dark. This is the normal condition. To enter ‘lock-out’, with the TM11 on in any mode, press the button fully for more than 1s. The TM11 will flash once then go off. To exit ‘lockout’ a rapid triple click of the button switches it on.

The illuminated ring around the switch also serves to provide information to the user:

-When you first screw the battery tube into the TM11’s head, the ring will flash to indicate the battery voltage. First it flashes the whole volts, then the 0.1V, so if the batteries are at 4.2V, the TM11 will give four flashes a brief pause then two more.
-Flashing every three seconds while the light is off indicates the light is in standby.
-When entering lockout mode, the battery voltage display is shown just as described above.
-With the TM11 on any output level, the ring will remain illuminated.
-When the battery voltage is getting low, and the TM11 is switched on, the ring will start to flash. (This flashing appears to get quicker the lower the battery voltage, but this is a subjective observation)



Batteries and output:

The TM11 is very versatile in the power options. CR123s (not RCR123s) and 18650s can be used.

Fully loaded the TM11 takes either 4 x 18650, or 8 x CR123, but if necessary, you can use 3, 2 or 1 18650s and 6, 4 or 2 CR123s. Of course if using the lower number of cells you need to be careful about using the higher outputs, as these may over-drain the cells, but you have the flexibility.

18650s must be button top as flat top cells won’t make contact reliably and one or more cells may not be providing power. Also due to the design of the contact spring, you actually need the extra length of a protected 18650 to make contact. The longest protected cells I have used are the Xtar 3100mAh ones, which were actually a bit of a tight fit lengthwise.

Like many lights, the TM11 has a parasitic drain due to its electronic switch (rather than a physical switch that cuts the circuit). On standby the current draw is 0.4mA and on lockout this drops to 80uA (or 0.08mA), and for 3100mAh cells this equates to 3.5 years on standby or 17.5 years on lockout!



To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. The sensor is a photo-diode restricted to visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not register). This was chosen as our eyes can only use the visible wavelengths of light so this is generally the only useful output. The integrating sphere was calibrated using 12 different reference sources and taking an average of the factor used to convert the measured voltage output to Lumens. Output figures are quoted as ANSI lumens where the measurement is made 30s after turning on the specified output level. Initial figures when first switching on are always higher, but all quoted measurements are ANSI.

02integratingsphere2.jpg


Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

The TM11 on test…

32-TM11integratingsphere2-.jpg


For the Turbo runtime graph a cooling fan was used. In this set-up, the maximum temperature the head reached was 50C

31-TM11integratingsphere1-.jpg




NITECORE TM11I.S. measured ANSI output LumensPWM frequency (Hz)
Turbo using 8xSYSMAX CR1232457N/A
Turbo using 4 x 186502447N/A
High1295N/A
Medium6274000
Low2423840

The Strobe is a two-tone strobe alternating between 12 and 6.6Hz

Loaded up with Xtar 18650 3100mAh cells, the TM11 has the following output curve on Turbo

26-TM11turboruntime-.jpg


This gives an amazing 1 hour at over 2000lm, then a further 36 minute with over 1000lm and another 30 minutes before the output drops to 200lm. Following this there was a further 40 minutes of usable light. This is a light you can rely on not to leave you in the dark and gives a fantastic performance on continuous maximum output.

When the batteries get very low the LEDs just dim gradually. I got bored waiting for a complete shut off and here used an exposure of 1/3200s to capture the LEDs in detail.

27-TM11LEDs-.jpg




In The Lab

In an attempt to quantify the actual beam profile I developed the following test. There are probably many flaws in my method, but it is simple and easy to carry out and seems to provide a good enough comparison.

The method used was to support the light 1m off the floor and 1m from a wall, with a tape measure on the wall. The zero of the scale is placed in the centre of the hotspot and a lux meter is then positioned at points along the scale, with the measurements recorded. Beam shots are often taken with the light shining on a flat white wall, so this method is simply measuring the actual intensity across the beam on a flat surface, not the spherical light emission.

The results are then plotted on a graph.

For the best throw you want to see a sharp peak with less of the distracting spill. For the best flood light the trace should be pretty flat.


The TM11 beam profile is shown here compared to the Fenix TK41 as this is a well-known high performance light.

The TM11 has a very strong peak, however it also has a wide hotspot and smooth transition into a nice bright spill area.

29-TM11beamprofile-.jpg


Taking this a little further, I calculated an approximate factor to apply to the lux measurements, as each measurement gets further from the centre of the beam, it corresponds to a larger area onto which the light is falling. It seems to me that this should also be taken into consideration, so I applied these area corrections and came up with this odd looking graph.

The key quantity here is the area under the graph line. This should correspond to the total light output.


This shows just how much light the TM11 outputs, and it overwhelms the already impressive TK41 especially the spill and outer spill. The TM11 is also a flood monster.

30-TM11areaadjustedbeamprofile-.jpg




The beam

The previous beam profile graphs, show the TM11 as having not only a strong hotspot so having good range, but also having masses of spill light. The compound reflector and multiple emitters mean the outer edge of the spill beam is a little messy, but this can’t be helped.

37-TM11beam-.jpg


To give a comparison of the TM11’s powerful beam, here I’m comparing it to the Fenix TK41 as this is a known top performer.

The following image shows the direct comparison of both lights with exactly the same exposure.

40-TM11-TK41.gif


If that doesn’t make you want one, nothing will!



What it is really like to use…

34-TM11-.jpg


Using the two-stage switch initially took a bit of getting used to, but it did become just as natural as using the two-stage switch of a camera shutter button. For such a simple user interface the TM11 manages a great flexibility of control.

It is an unfortunate consequence of having a light such as this, that you quickly get accustomed to the massive output and it becomes ‘normal’. Other lights just seem to pale into insignificance once this Tiny Monster has made itself at home in your hand.

The large diameter of the light means anyone with small hands may find it a bit tiring to use for a long time, but with average or larger hands should find it comfortable enough.

High output + small size = HOT…….and the TM11 can get pretty hot. Used outside and held in the hand (as your hand is one of the best heat sinks) the TM11 should not get worryingly hot, but if you pop it onto a table, tail-standing it on Turbo to light up a room, it will get VERY hot.

The locator flashes are reassuring and have not been disturbing when the TM11 is sitting on the bedside table. Being able to stop these with the ultra-low drain lockout mode is great for longer term storage, and being able to run of just a single 18650, or 2 x CR123 is great as a backup option.

It is a little heavy for regular belt carry, unless you need a 2000lm light every day, but this is because of how much battery and output power if packed into such a small space.

The TM11 may have been around for a little while now, but for massive output, small size, quality and versatility, it continues to impress and is a very strong contender for making your wallet lighter.

36-TM11-.jpg



Test sample kindly sent along to the CPF UK meet in June, to then be reviewed, by NITECORE.
 
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subwoofer

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reserved...

Update 7/11/2012 -

As the reviewing wheels are starting to turn again I've decided to try something a little different as an update to this and future reviews.

I'm looking for a little feedback on whether this is a useful change or not.

As a replacement to the beam profile graphs you can see in the main review, which are intended to represent how the beam intensity changes across a cross-section of the beam, I have produced this prototype image.

In this plot, the ANSI beam range (the distance from the light source that the intensity drops to 0.25lux) has been calculated across the width of the beam and plotted as if viewed from above (for some lights there may also be a side view produced - more on than another time).

Please bear in mind that this is a prototype and is not the final version. It has been drawn in a CAD package to give the precise ANSI beam range 'shape' of the beam.

In this case there is a 50mx50m grid and about 120° of beam angle (60° either side of the beam centre) is represented. The local intensity throughout the beam is not represented, only the limits of the beam's range according to ANSI standards.

The difference here is that whereas in the beam profile graphs, the peak intensity across the beam cross-section is shown which clearly shows the width and strength of the hotspot and spill, in this representation the peak intensity is shown as the greatest beam range. I am not intending to do both, it is one or the other.

41-TM11beamrangegraphsmall.jpg


Comments please...
 
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Travelmate

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Hi!

Since you also reviewed the Niteye Eye30 desert edition which would you prefer to own and why?

Thanks
 

djabi90

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I have this light and I must say one word. BLINDING! Awesome light of the size. I am having a problem with this monster though. When I have it off it blinks once every 4 seconds.When I have it on low, medium, high or turbo it blinks once every 3 seconds. Anyone have this problem? I just recently started having this issue. Anyone else have this problem?
 

Draven451

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What an awesome light! Another excellent review :)


Sent from my iPhone 4s using Tapatalk
 

dwminer

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I have this light and I must say one word. BLINDING! Awesome light of the size. I am having a problem with this monster though. When I have it off it blinks once every 4 seconds.When I have it on low, medium, high or turbo it blinks once every 3 seconds. Anyone have this problem? I just recently started having this issue. Anyone else have this problem?


Batteries need charging?
 

IMSabbel

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Batteries need charging?

Would also be my guess. I think below 3.6V or so it starts slow blinking, and below 3V it is getting frantic.

Just look at the voltage blink when doing a hard-off (holding the button for 3 seconds while the light is on)
 

BLUE LED

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Nice beam shot comparison between the TK41 and TM11. Are you able to buy the holster for the TM11 separately.
 
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CYMac

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I love your review with the lumen test! Where can you get those equipments anyway? Man, flashlights are much better than airguns. At least their lumen level is over their stated claim. Airguns are totally opposite!
 

subwoofer

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Nice beam shot comparison between the TK41 and TM11. Are you able to buy the holster for the TM11 desperately?

I don't think NITECORE sell the TM11 holster separately, but they might if you contact them directly.

I love your review with the lumen test! Where can you get those equipments anyway? Man, flashlights are much better than airguns. At least their lumen level is over their stated claim. Airguns are totally opposite!

The equipment was all bought from various online sources including ebay, but the integrating sphere requires you to design, assemble and calibrate it yourself. (Having a Master's degree in Engineering helps with this :)
 

ClassicGOD

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Awesome review, thanks!

BTW. "Few years" :O AFAIK TM11 was introduced in late (October?) 2011. It's not even a year old. :)
 

subwoofer

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Awesome review, thanks!

BTW. "Few years" :O AFAIK TM11 was introduced in late (October?) 2011. It's not even a year old. :)

Thanks :)

Sometimes time flies by, and sometimes it crawls along. My time-scales got a little out of synchronisation there, so I've removed the 'few years' reference now.
 

BLUE LED

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It looks like the side spill is a contender to your HID blinding Pete with he's PH50.

The drop in output is a little better than I would have expected. Did you use a cooling fan.
 

subwoofer

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It looks like the side spill is a contender to your HID blinding Pete with he's PH50.

The drop in output is a little better than I would have expected. Did you use a cooling fan.

The side spill/flood-light of the TM11 is good for the user, and is not as bad as the evil eye stabbing spill of the notorious 65W HID (but is quite bad when tail standing the TM11 on a table to light up a room).

A cooling fan was used in the runtime test (and should be visible in one of the review photos). If just left sitting on a table on Turbo with no cooling fan, the TM11 gets very hot, but in normal use with your hand acting as a heat-sink and outdoors with normal air movement, I've not come across and overheating issues.
 

CYMac

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I don't think NITECORE sell the TM11 holster separately, but they might if you contact them directly.


The equipment was all bought from various online sources including ebay, but the integrating sphere requires you to design, assemble and calibrate it yourself. (Having a Master's degree in Engineering helps with this :)


Thanks! The design and everything is really cool, definitely cool to know the TM11 can give more than 2000 lumens too!
 

Patriot

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1891L in the EYE-30 compared to 2457L. Impressive! If you could only own one, for your purposes, which would you take? I ask because I own the EYE-30 and my first TM11 failed. I sent it back for a refund.
 

shelm

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The TM11 may have been around a few years, but for massive output, small size, quality and versatility, it continues to impress and is a very strong contender for making your wallet lighter.

Thanks for the review! Comprehensive and helpful.
( i didnt read it though, no offense ;) )
 
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