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Thread: Magical Flashlights

  1. #1
    Enlightened dangerman's Avatar
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    Default Magical Flashlights

    I've been thinking about why we like some lights and why other perfectly good lights can under whelm. I don't really have a perfect answer but I find it fascinating. What is it that makes one light almost magically desirable and another lackluster and uninspiring?

    Itís easy to see why some lights inspire an almost fanatical following. Iím thinking of the really the high end and exclusive lights like the Mclux III PD. But the funny thing is when an expensive light leaves you unmoved or when a cheaper light grabs your imagination. The more I think about it the more it puts me in mind of women and relationships. Let me illustrate with an example.

    My typical flashlight experience goes something like this. I read things about a light that capture my attention. I research it exhaustively. If I just cannot get it out of my head for a few months I may buy it, but this is actually pretty rare. I guess you could say that as far as flashlights go, usually avoid one-night stands.

    However my latest flashlight purchase, a HuntLight FT-01 was actually a bit of an exception. This was by my usual fussy standards, almost an impulse buy. (I don't mean to single the FT-01 out; it's just an example I'm using from my experience). Do you know what the funny thing is? It leaves me cold and I don't know why. Yet I know many others are delighted with theirs.

    I'm not actually unhappy for any particularly good reason. It's bright, can use rechargables, inexpensive with a reasonable body. It's a bit stubby for my tastes but for around $38 US shipped it's pretty good for the money. Considering the price I don't think there is anything objectively wrong with the flashlight. Yet for want of a better term I don't feel myself "bonding" with it. It really is a case of "it's not you it's me".

    Now I can sometimes take few days to warm to a light. But a little time together can really change how I feel. My Fenix P1 took a couple of nights of carrying and comparison with my other lights. But the love came with time.

    Coming back to the analogy with women and relationships. You could say that I love it but I'm not in love with it. To be quite honest it's even worse than that. I find myself asking where is the love? I'm beginning to think that maybe we are going to be "just friends". Maybe not even that. (Any Australian's interested in buying this please PM me. Like new condition: $40 Australian including postage).

    A little background so you know where I'm coming from with this. I do not consider myself to be a flashlight snob. I have no problem where a light is made but I guess the top quality flashlights tend to interest me more. Unfortunately my budget only allows the occasional expensive flashlight. Some here on the CPF would not consider it one of the more expensive lights, but the most I have spent was for my Surefire A2 Aviator. It is also my favorite.

    I love the look, the feel of quality, and the practicality of the A2. I love the little things like the attention to detail in the machining of the body, the feel of its slender body in my hand. Sometimes I get it out just to look at it and hold it in my hand. Hopefully I hasten to add when my wife is not around. Does this sound weird?

    It's not that this is a flawless light. It doesn't use rechargeables, short battery life on high, low battery life is OK but others like the U2 leave it for dead, bluish LEDs on low. We actually had a rocky start together for the first month with a bad lamp assembly that was dim and then failed. Surefire fixed that up and it's been happy times ever since.

    When I put it down on paper I shouldn't really like it. But in reality this is such a nice usable light. Somehow the strengths outweigh the weaknesses. It almost goes beyond logic into the realms of emotion. Going back to the women analogy this is true love. This my flashaholic friends, is wife material!

    So is this just the power of branding and the Surefire aura that have sucked me in? You might think so at first. But then I look at my other lights. You see while I do like the high priced lights, I have some relatively inexpensive ones that I love almost as much.

    My R500 Scorpion is a case in point. I love the style, the high quality look and feel of the body and the amazing light output at a relatively low price. The Fenix P1 is another example. It is inexpensive with an amazing amount of light in a nice usable beam. Combine this with good runtime and flat regulation in an attractive and tiny package and you have a real winner in my eyes. My wife has appropriated my Fenix L1P but somehow it too has the magic something that makes me keep coming back every now and again.

    Certainly there are better lights out there, but these still have a special attraction to me. There is a kind of magic. Now maybe these aren't quite true love but I really do feel a lot of affection for them. I guess these would be girlfriends or long term relationships.

    So why do some lights grab you and others do absolutely nothing? I think a part of the answer is that some lights bring their various elements together particularly well. If this is in sympathy with your needs and your ideals of aesthetics, utility, value etc then we get that magic attraction. Either that or it must be love!

    What do you all think?
    Last edited by dangerman; 09-20-2006 at 01:28 AM.

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* greenlight's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    Stock green LED Inova X1 glows red..-- gets them every time.
    Last edited by greenlight; 09-20-2006 at 09:47 AM.

  3. #3
    *Flashaholic* Flying Turtle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    I think I understand where you are coming from. While, in general, I seldom get a light I don't like, there are only a handfull that I "love". It seems, in my case, to come down clean simple form, nice even beam, and a reasonable price. My only "high end" light is an Arc LSL. When they cost $120 I didn't consider getting one. When they were closing out for $60 I was lucky enough to snag one. Everything about it pleases me. It meets all three of my criterea. The same can be said for the Arc AA, AAA, brass Matterhorn, River Rock 2AAA, both types of Inova X1, and the Civictor. Many would consider these all cheap or outdated lights, but I think they'll always make me smile.

    Geoff

  4. #4
    Enlightened dangerman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    Thanks Flying Turtle!

    I do love how supposedly outdated lights can still be a source of great pleasure.

  5. #5
    Flashaholic* leukos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    dangerman,

    Your post elucidates the sensuality of our hobby! I think it is quite human to like things that are skillfully made and display fine craftsmanship. If I were to philosophise a little on it, I would say it is related to our inherent desire for beauty. Light is something that is often associated with beauty as well. Perhaps flashlights touch something at the core of our being!
    Light is sweet and pleasing to the eyes....

  6. #6
    Enlightened dangerman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    Very true. I think one of the marks of true flashaholics is when it you care about more than just the function of lights. The form, craftsmanship and so on take on importance, at least some of the time.

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* chesterqw's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    when i read the title, i though you were from japan or something.

    their websites when translated into english has maglite as magical lite or magnetic lite.
    if killing was legal, i would have killed countless number of people...

  8. #8
    Enlightened dangerman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    Definitely not Japanese :-) LOL

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* Nyctophiliac's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    Quote Originally Posted by dangerman
    I do love how supposedly outdated lights can still be a source of great pleasure.

    I couldn't agree more. Of all the lights I own from cheap to expensive (by my standards) My out and out favourite is an ARC cyan First run ( I know, I know. I do keep banging on about it!!)

    It's at least three years old. It's not waterproof. It's only got a Luxeon I. It doesn't have good colour rendition (). It doesn't have two or more levels, etc. etc.

    But it is my favourite.

    I'm absolutely sure there are no definitives when it comes to what we like or dislike. No one can point to a technically correct statistic and say 'this is why this light is better than yours.'

    Also when I shine any of my other torches people aren't impressed. When I suffuse the room in a cyan glow, they go 'OOOOOH!!!'


    Magical?






    Be lucky...


    PS - Nice red INOVA X1 , Greenlight - I have one too, probably my 2nd fave!

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* Concept's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    I do definatly have a somewhat strange attraction to flashlights. I dont know if it is a relationship but I do like to admire the lights.

    I like the design and workmanship that goes into a good light. I also like the functionality which often comes in such a small package. I do use most of them at work so they are quite practical to me also.

    As for hype and mass followings of certain lights I hope that people will in the end get something which is right for them and not what others percieve to be the best. In saying that, there is a great wealth of knowledge here at CPF and if you explain what you want you 9 times out of 10 you will get the right advice.
    Concept

  11. #11
    *Flashaholic* carrot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    Great post dangerman. I have nothing to add but echo leukos' post.
    [gearcarrot.com] Collector and distributor of (mis)information.
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  12. #12
    Flashaholic* Blindasabat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    Good thread. Sometimes it is good to look at yourself and your connection (or lack of) with your hobbies or interests. I try to do that when I decide if or what I can part with to sell.
    But sometimes there seems to be something more practical that seems to be missing that makes me like half my lights half as well as they deserve.
    Like my HDS or FireFly. The HDS is great, but has tiny niggles - is not a tactical clicky, takes a few clicks to get what I want, and is a little chubby. I won't think of selling it, but I don't carry it much and wish it had something more for me. But my Inova T1 is just as thick and even longer, but I grab that at home all the time, then just sit there holding it. The beam seems better for inside use and the momentary clicky is fantastic.
    My Firefly is fantastic too, but it's a twisty where I like clickies a little better, and I don't have a good clip to carry it in my pocket. My excellent Jil Intelli is in the same boat.
    I wish I had a Jil or even FF sized SF L1 or A2, but who knows if that would be good enough either?
    I'm almost more passionate about certain ideas (single cell AA or 123, tactical clickies, multiple levels, strobe, pocketable...) than any actual light.
    I guess I still don't have the perfect one and that is what keeps me coming here.

  13. #13
    Flashaholic* Paul6ppca's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    I have found the price is not the most important factor,I too like well crafted things. I love my lion cub for many reasons,quality,many levels,switch,form.But of late I really like my last 2 purchases, a luxogen lr5,it still surprises me how nice it s beam and finish are,HAIII.My ultrafire,now wait I know its circuit is poor,I got it to mod, it now has a new flupic and a new switch! My best feeilng switch yet for flupic,it does not need to be pressed deeply to turn on and swithing modes is a gentle press. I like it because I made it, and I dont worry if it gets a bit used looking,or even lost!! Is it better than my Jet I , No way, is it in my pocket more,,,, so far it is, we will see how long this new love affair will last.

    Certainly there are better lights out there, but these 2 have something beyond tangable that seems to appeal to me. Do I still want a u60 or a Mclux pd, Yes, do I need them ,no, will I eventually get them,,,,,,,,,,

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    Fascinating post, and I couldn't agree more.

    Some of the lights raved about on CPF leave me cold, then some strike me as perfect.

    I'm having to work at loving my Civictor. People here that I respect rave about them, but various times I've told mine we were going to start seeing less of each other. It's kind of a standby light, small enough to be in my pocket, but if I know I'm going out I'd rather take a Streamlight ProPolymer Lux AA. Yes, it's great to have a decently bright light always with you, somewhere, but it's not really a first choice light.

    Right now I'm falling in love with a Rayovac Industrial w/SMJ. . . I guess I like utilitarian-looking, long-burning lights, but the Rayovac fits my hand like a glove. I know it's a cheesy mass-produced plasticy thing but it's been designed to be used - try holding a Mag with wet/cold/muddy/gloved hands - and there is a neet anti-roll tab built into the head. And the brightness of the SMJ is just right for indoors or the backyard. Of course, I keep asking myself if I would have bought the light in this finished form, ie a LED version, or would I have passed over it for something brighter and sleeker?

  15. #15
    Enlightened dangerman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    Really enjoying reading your thoughts.

    Great to see I'm not alone in getting a little philosophical about things.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    Interesting thread! Comparing a person's flashlight to their significant other......hmm, possibly dangerous!

    Every flashlight has different characteristics that're going to mesh or clash with someone's preferences.......much like someone's preferences are going to mesh or clash with someone else's preferences. This'll be true of all pieces of machinery(cars, trucks, and bikes immediately come to mind).

    The most expensive light I ever purchased was a Surefire A2. A fantastic light......for someone else. The tactical twistie was always turning on when I didn't want it to, the low doesn't provide enough light to be useful for more than 2% of my needs, the high doesn't provide enough runtime without changing batteries four or five times a night. It ate expensive lithium batteries and couldn't use rechargeables. Enter my beloved Streamlight ProPolymer Luxeon AA. Some think it's big, but to me it's easily pocketable. It has a clickie. It's the perfect combination of brightness and runtime. It uses common, cheap, AA batteries, whether they're lithium, rechargeable, alkaline, or whatever. Waterproof and durable. I couldn't ask for more.

    Some might think the SL PP Lux AA is rather homely compared to the b*tchy, high maintenence, trophy girl pretty A2, but it's a trade off I'll happily make.



    P.S. For those who are wondering, my wife is the perfect combination of both. An absolute sweetheart who treats me far better than I deserve(I reciprocate, but that's because she DOES deserve it), and is absolutely gorgeous too.
    Got Biodiesel?

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* Delvance's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    Dangerman,

    Well put, very well put. Your post actually reflects how i feel about lights very well. Just like you, i am also guilty of pulling out the A2 and admiring it's beauty...it truly is a work of art. The machining, anodising, form, function, selection of materials, design and feel all form to create a masterpiece i can appreciate and marvel time and time again. (I dropped mine awhile ago...i got so hurt i bought another one =/...)

    Moving away from production lights, i also catch myself more often than not...just...holding my favourite custom builds. A project light once completed and various tweaks applied, does stimulate me. Perhaps it's the thought of them being your children/creation ? After all, you did create them through your own vision, sweat and materials...knowing every little piece of component they embody and what they can and can't do.

    Few suburbs away only but i'll have to decline your FT-01 offer

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* Casual Flashlight User's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    Greenlight and Nyctophiliac, where do you guys get those green Inovas......They look sweet.

    (sorry for thread hijack folks...but I simply *have* to know this!)


    CFU
    Arc: AAA-P HDS: U60-SSC (P4 USVOI), 18650 tube, 2x123 tube NovaTac: EDC 120P

  19. #19
    Flashaholic* socom1970's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    I can absolutely relate to this thread topic. My HDS U60GT is an amazing light in so many ways. However, my light of choice when i am knocking about the house at night is my Dorcy 1AAA $4.95 Wally World special with a very bright, white LED. It still remains one of my favourite lights of all time (next to my SF L4 and my 9P) I also find myself using my OLD 1st gen. KL1 LuxI head on my E1e a lot. I know the tint is bad, I know the output is no LuxIII, but I love the fins and I love the way the old optic looks when it's on. I recently found my old CMG Infinity w/ red LED that I took to a wire wheel on a grinder in an attempt to make it a bare aluminum light. I did it, but I wish now that I had not done that. Oh well... I fell in love with it all over again.
    "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

    Looking for a Malkoff Titanium VME head.

  20. #20
    Enlightened dangerman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    Quote Originally Posted by Delvance
    Dangerman,

    Well put, very well put. Your post actually reflects how i feel about lights very well. Just like you, i am also guilty of pulling out the A2 and admiring it's beauty...it truly is a work of art. The machining, anodising, form, function, selection of materials, design and feel all form to create a masterpiece i can appreciate and marvel time and time again. (I dropped mine awhile ago...i got so hurt i bought another one =/...)
    Delvance I know the feeling. The first few times I lost some anodise after dropping my A2 on to concrete really hurt. I couldn't stop cursing my clumsiness for days after that.

    I've come to accept that unless you are keeping something purely for collection purposes, we all have to accept that this will happen. On the bright side I don't mind as much any more about cosmetic damage, and am more likely to carry it.

  21. #21
    Flashaholic* Nyctophiliac's Avatar
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    Default Re: Magical Flashlights

    Quote Originally Posted by Casual Flashlight User
    Greenlight and Nyctophiliac, where do you guys get those green Inovas......They look sweet.

    (sorry for thread hijack folks...but I simply *have* to know this!)


    CFU
    The green ones?

    They're stock from anywhere. I got mine from pocketlights.com They are the old spot light type.

    The red ones we were talking about - they are mods (well, mine is) info on CPF - freeze pop method.



    Be lucky...

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