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Thread: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

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    Default What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Hey guys! Looking at this forum, I'm seeing a lot of people who EDC lights that max out at 200, even 100 lumens. What's the benefit of it? Please help me understand, I'm by no means a devoted user of hotrods and pocket torches that give a good 5 seconds of fame, but I can't realistically see how 200 lumens does much. I usually go for something around 500 or 600 lumens to increase my visibility. Even with high CRI, I'm not entirely sold on lower levels of output. What am I missing?

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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Well, the dark isnít any darker than it was a couple of years ago when 200 lms was the best we could get. For many, itís still plenty for our daily usages, especially if you live in a rural area without much light pollution.

    Also, A lot of us like older limited run and custom stuff that isnít available now, and they often were lower output due to the tech at the time, and we like the lights too much to abandon them for a whiz bang new trophy wife.

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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Following. I have also been trying to crack this. I am also just a fan of nice flashlights and do not have near the understanding as many here. But I donít understand mcgizmo sapphire being 5 lumens and that kind of thing. I also agree doesnít have to be a rocket and appreciate good run time and think 500-600 lumens is a sweet spot For most tasks.

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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Everyone's needs are different. Although addressing a slight variation on this topic, my thread linked below contains quite a bit of useful discussion and thoughts on "optimal" output ...

    https://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb...-single-output

    Might be worth a look ?

    To specifically address OP's question, most of my flashlight use occurs at well under 100 lumens, and often less than 50 lm.
    ... is the archimedes peak

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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by nbp View Post
    Well, the dark isnít any darker than it was a couple of years ago when 200 lms was the best we could get. For many, itís still plenty for our daily usages, especially if you live in a rural area without much light pollution.

    Also, A lot of us like older limited run and custom stuff that isnít available now, and they often were lower output due to the tech at the time, and we like the lights too much to abandon them for a whiz bang new trophy wife.

    I definitely understand that sentiment. It's like a faithful companion, right? Customs sure are addicting. Don't get me wrong, I love the McGizmo Haiku, and it certainly is useful in a pinch, but I can't see it as a heavy duty light. That is, of course, heavy in terms of illumination, because it certainly can withstand just about any sort of physical trauma.

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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Great thread, and please know I mean no disrespect to the amazing makers on this forum. But the OP wasnít saying a single output level, he asked about the MAX level. Even if you mostly use your light at under 50, arenít there times lighting a room or walking outside you would want option for higher max?

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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by archimedes View Post
    Everyone's needs are different. Although addressing a slight variation on this topic, my thread linked below contains quite a bit of useful discussion and thoughts on "optimal" output ...

    https://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb...-single-output

    Might be worth a look ?

    To specifically address OP's question, most of my flashlight use occurs at well under 100 lumens, and often less than 50 lm.

    Thanks for that link, it does help me see some different perspectives. I guess I could see the lower outputs being great in smaller indoor spaces, and just in general for their reliability and run times. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like I'm missing details when looking with a 50 to 100 lumen light. Of course, using the higher rated lights causes things to appear overwhelming and over tinted, but even so, I can feel like I'm seeing the whole picture if that makes sense? Do you feel like you're seeing plenty with the lower lumens, or is it more like you have an adequate view? I understand lux is also an important factor, and not just lumens.

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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by richardparker View Post
    Great thread, and please know I mean no disrespect to the amazing makers on this forum. But the OP wasnít saying a single output level, he asked about the MAX level. Even if you mostly use your light at under 50, arenít there times lighting a room or walking outside you would want option for higher max?
    Yes I understand that, but if most of my EDC flashlight needs can be met with a single output of around 30 lumens, then lights with 500 - 1000 lumens are not especially necessary in most cases.

    What does one give up or trade off, for those massively higher outputs ? Even if they are multi-mode, runtime and efficiency may be impacted. Quality of light may be lessened, as high-output emitters tend to be cooler in tint and lower in color rendering. Very high output lights often include more "modes" and complex user interfaces. They may cost more, or build quality may suffer, as heat becomes a bigger issue. They may be larger and heavier. They often require multiple cells to power, which can increase safety risks. They may be less flexible in choice of battery chemistry. Components may be more stressed by the output, reducing reliability and durability. I'm sure there are other potential issues, but those were simply the first few that came to mind.
    ... is the archimedes peak

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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Before LED's the typical flashlight put out a lot less lumens yet that was good enough.

    I see it as having cars that can go 200mph while the speed limit is 70 or less. So for some 0-60 in 6 seconds is important. Some feel 0-60 eventually is good enough. So regarding lower output flashlights many times 100 or less lumens is plenty. Take a SureFire 6P for example. In it's day it was a very useful light for most needs. And like NBP said, dark hasn't gotten any darker.

    For me the about only time I need more than a couple hundred lumens is when I'm surrounded with light pollution and all of its crazy shadows. Recently my work had me on Main St USA and my 650 lumen light struggled to adequately light objects more than a couple dozen feet. Tonight, out in the country the low setting on my SureFire G2x Pro is plenty of light to walk around with. So I'm actually using a 1972 2C flashlight the most. But I prefer a throwey beam so that seems brighter than a pure flooder as well.
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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by vph0107 View Post
    Hey guys! Looking at this forum, I'm seeing a lot of people who EDC lights that max out at 200, even 100 lumens. What's the benefit of it? Please help me understand, I'm by no means a devoted user of hotrods and pocket torches that give a good 5 seconds of fame, but I can't realistically see how 200 lumens does much. I usually go for something around 500 or 600 lumens to increase my visibility. Even with high CRI, I'm not entirely sold on lower levels of output. What am I missing?
    I've had an obsolete and well-worn Fenix LD01 on my keychain for a decade or so. I believe it peaks at 85 lumens, which is a nice step up from its predecessor - whose designation I forget - that sported a Luxeon I LED that might have produced an entire 30 lumens. I've contemplated a replacement - and in the AAA formfactor one can likely get much brighter with 10440s - but its output is sufficient for my keychain EDC needs.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    I still carry a Surefire E2e most of the time. It's not the quantity of light, but the quality of light that I prefer. 60 lumens is the average output with 80-100 starting out on fresh batteries. It's usually plenty! A lot of times I use the MN02 lamp assembly which reduces the average output to 25 lumens and this is usually enough light as well.
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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    I carry E1L 40 Lumens for my work about IT Support , It good for label and some sticker
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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    some of My uses (reasons) are reading a book, getting up in the night, looking inside other flashlights and things (you don`t want high lumens for that!), a night light, finding dropped things in the cinema, using lots of low lumen incan mules instead of candles for having a bath.

    these are just a few of my low lumen uses, they may not seem much but actually constitute over 95% of my runtime, very rare I use High Lumens for anything, and I`v got them to use!

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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    The benefits? Usually size and runtime, as mentioned. I find outdoors at night the temptation may be to use more light than I need, just because it's fun. To paraphrase Ron White, "I didn't know how many lumens I was going to need to see over there, but I knew how many I was going to use!" I certainly have lights for that, and enjoy them. Running out to the car to grab the phone charger I forgot? Low lumens will do. Making sure the chickens got locked in at night? Same. I, personally, also don't enjoy drawing too much attention if I can help it.
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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    I think the answer largely depends on 2 things: 1) how far you want to reach and 2) the amount of ambient light.

    In a park where they run some sparse lights I need a few tens of lumens of flood light to watch my step and at least a thousand lumens of throw if I want to spot a hare or a squirrel. For now I am happy with an incand M6 with a 20W axial bulb (600lm perhaps) but I would be happier to have twice as much

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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    If you get used to a certain amount of light having more than what you are used to costing more and requiring more often battery changes isn't necessarily more attractive. I love having a light that on turbo gets up around 1000 lumens but for working on things and dropping the light and getting it all dirty and scratched up having a very sturdy inexpensive light that does 100-200 lumens is perfectly fine. I just bought a cheap $8 2AA plastic light at HD the other day that is about 50 lumens because it was cheap and plastic and I don't have to worry about it getting damaged or the cheap alkaleaks destroying it and it is waterproof. I bought the light to sit around waiting to be used in my garage where I am rough on lights I wouldn't trust a nice powerful $30+ light with multiple modes to stand up to the abuse and get lost down in an engine compartment.
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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Runtime runtime runtime, 30 lumen is plenty bright.
    In no order: HDS/Malkoff/OVEREADY/McGizmo/Sky Lumen -PSM

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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    I wouldnít say youíre missing anything per se.
    For example: Walking outside and hear something creepy, imagination running wild? Youíre right! Iíd want a pocket sun so I can see whatís going on.

    Working on something small on a work bench? Bingo! I donít need a light capable of signaling UFOs if Iím working on something 12inches from my eyes 👀

    In general (for me), a bright light is going to reflect off of a lot of surfaces, so I prefer to have lower lumens and illuminate the item, not roast it. More often than not, I just need to find something close by or observe something in the correct lighting. Lower lumen lights does that for me 👍🏽

    My $0.02

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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by PaperKnife View Post
    I wouldnít say youíre missing anything per se.
    For example: Walking outside and hear something creepy, imagination running wild? Youíre right! Iíd want a pocket sun so I can see whatís going on.

    Working on something small on a work bench? Bingo! I donít need a light capable of signaling UFOs if Iím working on something 12inches from my eyes 👀

    In general (for me), a bright light is going to reflect off of a lot of surfaces, so I prefer to have lower lumens and illuminate the item, not roast it. More often than not, I just need to find something close by or observe something in the correct lighting. Lower lumen lights does that for me 👍🏽

    My $0.02
    I see. Yeah I guess it is true that if the light is too bright up close on an object it actually obscures your vision. I guess I don't find myself in the dark indoors too often, and most of the time I'm using a light it's outside. Maybe I've just become used to liking higher lumens because I'm using my lights in bigger spaces a lot of the time.

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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    I hike every morning into the Catalina mountains on a goat trail. It is rocky, twisty, surrounded by cacti, and rattlesnakes abound. When I use my light, it is set around 3 lumens. I prefer to use my night vision (as in the rods and rhodopsin in my noggin). If I use max (300 lumens) it is only for things 200+ yards away. I don't want my night vision destroyed and then HAVE TO use the flashlight for the rest of the hike. There is no light pollution where I hike and even a half moon with a clear sky is enough. I only use the 3 lumens if I want to check something out.

    If I'm out in the Jeep at night exploring, night vision is gone from all the lights on the Jeep, so If I get out and want to see a few hundred yards off, I need more lumens because of the lack of rhodopsin in the eyes. So there is a dedicated light in the Jeep with more lumens and a tighter beam.

    It is all what you use it for and what the ambient light around you is like.
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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by PaperKnife View Post
    In general (for me), a bright light is going to reflect off of a lot of surfaces, so I prefer to have lower lumens and illuminate the item, not roast it. More often than not, I just need to find something close by or observe something in the correct lighting. Lower lumen lights does that for me 👍🏽
    I think this gets into the varying definitions of EDC or carry lights. In my work backpack I've got more powerful lights that are nominally 800, 1600, and some 2300 lumens. But that backpack generally goes home to office and occasionally to the makerspace - it's certainly not on my person at all times. For actual on-person carry I find I only need to be able to perform close tasks and navigate truly dark areas with enough throw to see perhaps 10 meters.

    My reality is that I'm a suburb-sweller that does desk jockey work. The only sort of holster that's going to blend in would be for a cell phone, otherwise whatever I carry needs to fit neatly into my pants pockets - and without clashing with my other on-person items. Single-AA lights are too big for the keychain but might slot into a pocket gracefully while 123A and larger are just too much.

    I'll carry larger lights for specific tasks. i.e. I've got Emisar D4s and FW3As that are great for walking the dogs and offer canned sunlight on demand, but they get clipped to the pocket for the duration of the task then otherwise live in a cabinet.

    But that's just me and my circumstances.
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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hogokansatsukan View Post
    I hike every morning into the Catalina mountains on a goat trail. It is rocky, twisty, surrounded by cacti, and rattlesnakes abound. When I use my light, it is set around 3 lumens. I prefer to use my night vision (as in the rods and rhodopsin in my noggin). If I use max (300 lumens) it is only for things 200+ yards away. I don't want my night vision destroyed and then HAVE TO use the flashlight for the rest of the hike. There is no light pollution where I hike and even a half moon with a clear sky is enough. I only use the 3 lumens if I want to check something out.

    If I'm out in the Jeep at night exploring, night vision is gone from all the lights on the Jeep, so If I get out and want to see a few hundred yards off, I need more lumens because of the lack of rhodopsin in the eyes. So there is a dedicated light in the Jeep with more lumens and a tighter beam.

    It is all what you use it for and what the ambient light around you is like.
    Hogo, what color temperature do you prefer in that 3lm light?

  23. #23

    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by ma tumba View Post
    Hogo, what color temperature do you prefer in that 3lm light?
    It changes but currently around 5000k is what I have been using. I'll go down to 4000k and up to 5700k. I've come to the conclusion that it seems more dependent on my mood than anything else. Anything lower than 4000k is just too warm for me.
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  24. #24

    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Some good points being covered.
    Personal preference is what it really boils down to.
    The main take away ladies and gentlemen, buy more lights, feed the demon

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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    As a rule, I want enough light to clearly see what I want to see, but not so much light that I have to wait for my eyes to adjust.

    If I'm looking at something at arm's length, even during the day, 3L is typically plenty. Looking across the room, I step up to 30L. Very rarely do I go higher than that with my EDC. I will usually reach for another light if I need more.

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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    I think that for complete darkness in the wild the best light for me is the original incand A2 with custom 5mm ring. I have a multimode calipso ring currently set to provide either a sublumen high cri 3000k beam or ~20lm 5600K beam. and the main bulb delivers a very tight ~100lm beam which is good well beyond 10m.

    But again, if there is an ambient light the A2 is not good

  27. #27

    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    I would turn the question around and ask why do you need 500 or 600 lumens for EDC? I carry 37 lumen a LED solitaire on my keys for EDC and I don't feel the need for more lumens for reading something or looking at something up close, finding something that fell under the desk or in the back of a closet, for lighting up a key hole or walking down a dark path or set of steps. There are times where I would want a bit more throw, but throw is NOT lumens. I prefer to use as few lumens as possible to get the beam pattern and beam distance that I want, in a EDC flashlight more lumens represents more glare (try reading something with a 500 lumen flashlight), loss of natural night vision, shorter battery life, more heat generated and more unwanted attention.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    It's interesting looking at the post counts of the various responders and corelating them with their answers.
    Achimedes' Graph is still relevant!

    Oh, and as for me, I use a 170Lm HDS most of the time and rarely feel the need of anything else. I went searching for a lost dog in the woods a while back and the HDS never felt underpowered.
    Of course it does make a difference when the stated lumens are accurate and not exagerrated by the manufacturer.
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    Flashaholic Katherine Alicia's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by xxo View Post
    finding something that fell under the desk
    ^^^ THAT^^^ exactly that! I knew I forgot to add something :-D

  30. #30
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    Default Re: What are the reasons for carrying low-lumen lights?

    Sometimes, you just need enough to see. Not to stand out. For use, I value lower lumens more for runtime and discretion.

    For fun, higher lumens to make daylight will certainly put a smile on your face.

    It's worth noting that many lights that advertise high lumens cannot hang onto them. I often carry a 4000 lumen pocket rocket not because it is so bright (that's for fun) but because it can get so dim. But at 4000 lumens, it'll only do that for a few seconds before it throttles down to a more reasonable 300-400.

    I think I use under 1 lumens the most. Next, under 30 lumens.

    My bike light is the one place where I want the most lumens for the longest amount of time.
    Last edited by carrot; 09-10-2020 at 11:43 AM.
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