Zebralight H50 for Christmas! (A Review)

GuyZero

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I have the best wife in the world, and this Christmas she got me a Zebralight H50 Q5! Man, she's great! But this isn't a review about my wife...

This is my first hands-on exposure to a Zebralight, and I'm very impressed! But there are a few things I would like to see as improvements or future accessories.

The beam is just as good as previous reviewers had said - very broad and very even. Extremely nice to work with as you don't have to turn your head to put the beam on what you're looking at; having all that light in your periphery feels very natural. I've read some complaints from people that too much light is wasted into the sky from the top while you are walking, but I disagree; If you were to cut the vertical range of the beam it would not be nearly as nice to work with, for instance, if you were under a car, or in a small space, as you would then have to tilt your head up and down to move the light where you wanted to look again.

The wide, diffused pattern is so nice, in fact, that when I was done testing out my brand new light on high in our bathroom on Christmas morning (the only truly dark room in our house) I reflexively reached to turn off the light switch when I left the room because I forgot that the overhead lights were not actually on!

The three levels of brightness are very well proportioned in 5x increments of brightness: 2.6 lumens, 13 lumens, and 66 lumens. Spacing them this far apart makes each level truly useful for different needs, with none of them feeling redundant because it's so close in brightness to another. 2.6 lumens is just right for reading a book in bed in a dark room, or for moving around a very dark house at night with out disturbing others. 13 lumens is good for getting clear lighting for a close up project, walking around the house with the lights off, or walking down a familiar trail at night. 66 lumens lights up a whole room, illuminates the nearby portions of an unfamiliar trail, and provides ample light for working on dark or dirty objects like you find under a car or house.

The light comes with a "glare shield" that I've read is intended to block the light from the extreme bottom of the beam from causing glare on glasses. I don't wear glasses and can't comment on that, but am blessed with a rather pronounced bridge on my nose and the beam was broad enough that if I want to aim the beam to illuminate the ground directly in front of my feet it also just skims the bridge of my nose. This creates quite a bit of glare and makes it very difficult to see out into the darkness if you are outside. The included glare shield fixes this problem, but I'm left wondering if the light could have been designed with a lip built into head, or perhaps with the LED slightly recessed, to correct these problems with out needing a separate attachment. This is not a major concern, however, and does not significantly detract from my love for this light. A CR123A powered version would probably cause the LED to stick out far enough from your head to eliminate this minor problem as well.

The glare shield does not block light to the sides, however, which can make this light a little annoying for other people around you as they will see the unshielded LED when they look at you if they are anywhere in your field of vision. It's not a terribly blinding light for other people at any distance past about 5 feet; not like shining a focussed flashlight beam in their face, but it is almost impossible not to shine it in other people's eyes unless you remember to point it straight up when they come near you. A second glare shield that restricts the beam down further, perhaps by forcing the light to shine through a short tube of silicone would be another welcome option for such instances.

The light diminishes quickly with distance however, and I estimate that you only really get about 15 feet of throw inside, and about 10 feet if you are outside. You could walk down a trail with no problems at all with this light on high, but you would not be able to see anything at any distance. You'll definitely want a hand held flashlight with better throw (like a Fenix) to supplement the Zebralight H50 if you plan to use it for navigating in the woods. But the positive thing about the Zebralight for this purpose is that the beam is broad enough to constantly illuminate the ground at your feet so you are less likely to stumble while using it.

I find the headband very comfortable for what it is, and the light itself is very light weight. Based on my experience with other, less comfortable headlamps, I anticipate being able to use this light for many hours with no discomfort.

The switching mechanism is beautiful in its simplicity, but a little fiddly in use. The beauty of headlamps is that they allow you to work with both hands free. But the Zebralight's twist switch requires that you use both hands to operate it, which means you have to empty your hands of what ever you are working on or carrying in order to turn on your light. I can see that this design offers a lot of reliability to the light, but a clicky switch option would be a very welcome improvement.

I've read that Zebralight is working on a CR123A version of this light. I welcome that innovation, but I really value the ability to use common rechargeable AA cells, so I implore them not to retire the current form factor.

Overall I would recommend the Zebralight H50 as an excellent light to anyone that wants a very good, regulated, lightweight, very compact, very durable work headlamp for close to medium range work. I would recommend looking elsewhere or supplementing with a hand held thrower if you are looking for something to go beyond 15 or 20 feet, which this light is clearly not meant to do.

What I like:
* Broad, even beam is extremely nice to work with
* Three brightness levels are very distinctly useful
* More than adequate run times, even on high
* Very reliable design
* Lightweight, compact, and comfortable to wear
* Regulated output
* Waterproof
* Extra O rings and headband mounts included
* Uses common AA battery

Additional/optional accessories that I would like to see:
* Second glare shield option that further restricts beam width in all directions for use around other people.

* Optional accessory tail cap that includes a reverse clicky switch (like the Fenix handheld lights). This would give purchasers the option of having the standard, compact and very reliable twisty switch, or switching to a slightly longer tailcap with a more convenient, one-handed clicky. I will buy this as an accessory in a heartbeat if one becomes available!

* Optional red lens filter attachment to preserve night vision. For military applications, this would be especially nice if it could work with the more restrictive glare shield option I mentioned above.
 

GuyZero

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One more additional/optional accessory that I would like to see that I forgot to include above would be a headband mounting bracket that doesn't glow in the dark. I understand the benefits of having them glow in the dark, but headlamps are not particulalry "cool" fashion accessories as it is, and having a glow-in-the-dark bracket strapped to your forehead does not help any. I would love to have a plain black option.

One last idea in hopes that Zebralight is listening; Maybe they could package these new accessories together and market them as a "tactical" accessory pack. Inlude a couple black brackets, a clicky tail cap, a couple of the more restrictive glare shields (one with a red filter), and maybe a simple pouch to keep track of them in... I would buy such a "tactical accessory pack" immediately!

But then again, this is my fantassy world I'm playing in here, so I might as well ask for it to be free too. ;)

Seriously though, thanks, Zebralight, for producing such a great and practicle headlamp!
 

slo-ryd

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Nov 30, 2007
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Ky
Great review!

I got my son one for Christmas. He was wearing it and target shooting with his new BB gun when I got home tonight. :)
 

slo-ryd

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Nov 30, 2007
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He'll shoot his light out!! :)

Lol, a bb is very close to the perfect size to do just that.

I was personally amazed that you can buy a BB gun and it doesn't come with safety glasses?! Didn't they see that movie? :crackup:
 

hopkins

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Nov 15, 2007
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California
Hi guyzero
think you can mod the 'glow in the dark bracket' with
some black enamel paint.

Clean it and sand it to roughen the surface then
dip it into black paint. Use fishing line to suspend it.
Think it'll turn off the glow with a few coats.:thumbsup:
 

GuyZero

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Hi guyzero
think you can mod the 'glow in the dark bracket' with
some black enamel paint.:thumbsup:

That's a good idea to paint the bracket, except that it's made out of fairly pliable silicone rubber. I don't think any paint would stick to it for very long. :(

I guess I need to decide if I prefer a glowing backet strapped to my head while I'm using the light, or black paint transfer on my forhead after I'm done using the light... ;)
 

BlackDecker

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Nice review, guyzero! I also own the H50 Zebralight... I use the L91 Eveready Lithium AA battery with excellent results. It runs a good 30-40% longer than a NiMh Sanyo Eneloop. A few grams lighter, too.
 

GuyZero

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Sorry to post again, but I've got this rolling around in my head and keep coming up with ideas.

Just in case the fine folks at Zebralight are listening - please understand that I'm not in any way meaning to criticize your product! It's GREAT! These are just ideas for accessories.

Adjustable Glare Shield idea:
Here is how you could make a glare shield that would be user adjustable on the fly.

Create a silicone hood for the head of the light, similar to the glare shield you already produce. Design it so that it holds a large plastic or metal ring with somewhat course threads on the inside.

Create a plastic or metal tube with threads on the outside that mate with the threads in the ring. Provide some grip on the end for the user to grab.

As the inner tube is screwed in or out of the inner ring it will get closer or farther from the LED. From the LED's perspective, the hole that it shines through will get larger or smaller, thus blocking more or less of the side spill and creating a smaller or larger arc of light. Depending how long of a thread path you give it, it should be able to adjust from somewhere around 100 degrees to about 75 degrees.

The side spill light would just be blocked and wasted, not focused and used, but I think any kind of focusing would degrade the even flood quality of the light anyhow. This would allow the user to choose a wider beam when they are by themselves, and a narrower beam when they are working in close proximity to others.

As another bonus, rather than providing a whole other hood with a red filter, you could simply provide a second threaded tube with a red filter in it that could be screwed in in place of the clear one when red light is needed.

Should I feel silly posting random product ideas to a news group like this?
 

Valolammas

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Great review, and you sure have interesting ideas.

The side spill light would just be blocked and wasted, not focused and used, but I think any kind of focusing would degrade the even flood quality of the light anyhow.

It's always a shame to waste light, but I agree.

Should I feel silly posting random product ideas to a news group like this?

I didn't follow the first ZebraLight thread very closely and haven't bothered with the H30 (?) thread, because I don't want a CR123 powered one, but I gather they actually do listen to suggestions and feedback. So I don't think it's silly at all.
 

JCup

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Terrific review. I agree!

See also this message thread by nzbazza, good background info.

https://www.candlepowerforums.com/threads/169180

I received my H50 in 8 days over the holiday. It is a beautiful piece of work. All the accessories fit/work well, and the overall value is more than satisfactory.

On high power, it fills a room with uniform light into every corner, your entire field of view! It takes a lot of light output to do this, and the result is mind boggling when you are used to little beams that illuminate one area and leave most of your FOV dark or too dim to recognize an object.

Not sure where I saw this on CPF, but this morning (pre-dawn) I left a dark room after searching (in closet? under bed? Oh, there they are in the corner!) for a pair of shoes, and hit the light switch as I exited. Nice "wow" moment.

This LED and lens combination produces a uniform light flood, almost free of artifacts. As you move your head, you don't see any distracting light rings or dark spots, and it makes a big difference in the overall effect.

The "high" output is not necessary if you are working close (within arm reach). And the "medium" level gives my half a century old retinas enough light to read or do work requiring close focus.

I cannot imagine a more perfect setup for a headlamp than this, the AA NiMH power source with this type of regulation is ideal. Why anyone would prefer CR123A is beyond me. The total power output of the AA format is roughly the same, and with a tiny boost circuit that works this well, I figure a couple of charged Eneloops will last me for say an entire camping trip...
 

bhds

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One more additional/optional accessory that I would like to see that I forgot to include above would be a headband mounting bracket that doesn't glow in the dark. I understand the benefits of having them glow in the dark, but headlamps are not particulalry "cool" fashion accessories as it is, and having a glow-in-the-dark bracket strapped to your forehead does not help any. I would love to have a plain black option.

+1
It's a nice gimmick but about as useful as a s.o.s mode.:duh2:

Other than that its a fantastically useful light:thumbsup:
 

Burgess

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Excellent Review !

:thumbsup:



Gotta' rate ZebraLight as the Top New Light Manufacturer of 2007.

:twothumbs
_
 

Phaetos

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May 13, 2007
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I got mine in the mail yesterday. I love the little thing. Perfect to strap around my neck and take the dog out at night. This little light will get much use.
 

p1fiend

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Jul 3, 2006
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:thumbsup: Fantastic review!
Extremely nice to work with as you don't have to turn your head to put the beam on what you're looking at; having all that light in your periphery feels very natural.

Very much so! It makes it seem like you have a light bulb floating over your head.

if you were under a car, or in a small space, as you would then have to tilt your head up and down to move the light where you wanted to look again.

I just changed the oil on my car, and used only the Zebralight under the car. I barely had to move my head to move the light onto what I was looking at since the beam is so broad.

The wide, diffused pattern is so nice, in fact, that when I was done testing out my brand new light on high in our bathroom on Christmas morning (the only truly dark room in our house) I reflexively reached to turn off the light switch when I left the room because I forgot that the overhead lights were not actually on!

I did the same thing!!! Now I don't feel that foolish :laughing:


I find the headband very comfortable for what it is, and the light itself is very light weight. Based on my experience with other, less comfortable headlamps, I anticipate being able to use this light for many hours with no discomfort.

Changing the oil under the car and cleaning up, I wore the Zebralight for about 1 & 1/2 hours, OVER a ski cap, since it was quite cold out. After a minute or two, the light felt natural on my head and I only noticed it once I removed it.

Overall I would recommend the Zebralight H50 as an excellent light to anyone that wants a very good, regulated, lightweight, very compact, very durable work headlamp for close to medium range work.

Tonight was the first time I've ever used a headlamp and the first use of my Zebralight. I love the natural flood: the fact that I don't have to aim the light at what I am viewing is the best point. I see the Zebralight being strapped to my forehead quite a bit more in the future. :twothumbs
 

paulr

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Mar 29, 2003
Messages
10,832
I like the GITD bracket but since they ship the light with a couple spares, I think they could include a mix of GITD and non-GITD.

I used my H50 to fix a computer under my desk at work a couple weeks ago. Once I finished, I forgot I was wearing the light. For the next 15 minutes or so I went about my work in the office, typing at the keyboard and talking to people, while still wearing the h50 TURNED ON. Nobody said anything about it but I noticed someone glancing at my forehead, and then I realized I'd forgotten the light. They must have figured I was a complete geek so nothing surprised them :).
 

hopkins

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Bad Bad you nasty Glow in the Dark Bracket ::eek:

Greetings GuyZero: an idea to hide the glow:
--Buy a $3 tube of black RTV silicone rubber and goop coat the bracket &
then smoothe out bumps when it skins over but before it cures.
'Clean it with acetone first' they said.

or if its driving you nuts: some special paint for silicone surfaces. See this site:
http://www.artmolds.com/product243.cfm
.
and reposting to a thread you start is a good thing. keep it up. Helps to
focus our thoughts.:cool:
 

GuyZero

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Mar 6, 2002
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Bellingham, WA
I just got to do my first real project today with my Zebralight!

My sister managed to tear the leather seat in her car and doesn't really want to spend the money to professionally fix/replace it right now. So I decided to do a temporary, or, we'll-see-how-long-it-lasts fix with some black duck tape. I wanted it to last as long as possible for her, so I was being really careful to have the ends of the tape end down inside the seems of the existing leather. I probably spent a god 1.5 hours out there trying to make it not look white-trash.

Other than the fact that I was out in kneeling in the cold sticking duck tape to a seat for over an hour, the Zebralight made the job really nice!

As a side note, the repair didn't turn out half bad - you almost can't tell it's not the same leather and it seems quite sturdy. Time will tell I guess.

-GZ
 

TorchBoy

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This Zebralight sounds like a great headlamp. My only question is: Isn't 66 lumens a bit dim when it's so spread out?
 
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