Sunday, January 5, 2014

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Thrunite TN32 comparison...


The trees lit by the TN32 are 400 meters away!

So I just received my new Thrunite TN32 flashlight, a sort of belated Christmas present. It is physically the largest light I own now and it also has, by far, the tightest focus and greatest throw potential of all of my flashlights. In fact, it has been reviewed and tested by others and measurements indicate it should throw a visible beam up to 950 meters. The above photo was taken in Minnekhada Park the other night, and from that same spot, I could also clearly light up trees right by the High Knoll lookout, and that is about 800 meters away, so I would say that the 950 meter estimate is pretty close... although one would need ideal conditions to achieve that - really dark, no dust or haze etc.

All the beam-shot photos that night were taken with my Fujifilm X-E2, 14mm f/2.8 lens set to f/4. ISO was set at 800 and the exposure was 30 seconds. That yielded photos that were distinctly brighter than they looked in person (the shots looked darker on the camera's rear LCD) but after examining all the different shots carefully in Lightroom, I decided that dragging the exposure slider down by 1 stop yielded results very close to what I saw visually with dark-adapted eyes, perhaps just a bit brighter still on the higher output lights.

Other than the glow from the light-polluted clouds, there was no light in the marsh at the centre of the park so my eyes were well dark adapted, which helps a lot when lighting things far away with a flashlight. In fact, even my 1000 lumen headlamp, with its 90 degree wide beam could be seen to just barely make it out to the trees 400 meters away, and it is only rated to throw 70 meters. Of course "just barely" means I could see a very slight difference in the tree's brightness when toggling the light on and off, but it most definitely was not putting out a useful amount of light at that distance at all. On the other hand, the ArmyTek Predator Pro I have is rated to throw a beam to 400 meters, and it definitely was very easy to see on the trees and still yielded a useful amount of light, albeit in a fairly small area.

Here is a small animated GIF showing all the tested lights. Note that since GIF files are not colour managed in any way, if you are running a wide-gamut display, the animations will appear to have overly saturated colours …



Here is a screenshot from Google Earth showing the spot: I was on the trail at the bottom of the vertical yellow line, the direction of the beam-shot, and the trees at the top of the yellow line are what was lit up. At the moment the marsh is totally flooded, whereas the Google Earth aerial shot was presumably taken in the summer, when the marsh contains much less water…



Here is a comparison showing the size of the TN32 compared to some of my other lights…



One interesting thing is that the SupBeam X40 and Thrunite TN32 share the same OEM, and you can actually take the battery tube and battery insert from the X40, with its built-in charging system and battery status light, and use it with the TN32. The X40 tube threads in perfectly, the light turns on etc. however, the only odd behaviour is that even with fully charged cells, on max output the TN32 will cause the status light to switch from green to amber within a few seconds. I suppose the status light is calibrated for the current draw and battery-sag behaviour of the X40 and thus doesn't work properly with the TN32?

Although the TN-32 "only" outputs 1700 lumens, it does so with a small Cree XM-L2 LED which, in most other lights, generally only manages 1100 or so lumens at the most. The TN32 is driving that LED to within inches of its life (apparently consuming about 6 amps) and has beefed up internal heat-sinking to cope with the high output and keep the LED from overheating too quickly. Since the light has quite a large reflector with a small LED, it is extremely tightly focused, has minimal spill and virtually all of its lumens are concentrated in the beam's core, making for the brightest and farthest throwing light in my collection. In fact with current LED technology, you'd be hard pressed to buy any off-the-shelf flashlight at the moment that throws farther with a single LED, regardless of cost or size. I am aware of only one for sure: the Olight SR95S-UT which is substantially larger and far more expensive.

In comparison to the TN32, my EagleTac MX25L3 has a considerably larger LED (Cree MT-G2) with much higher output, but since it also has a smaller reflector, its beam is much wider (more "floody") and the hot-spot is nowhere near as tightly focused. While it still does an amazing job of lighting up a large swath of trees at 400 meters, it cannot compete with the TN32 for long distance throw.

In order to more easily compare the light hitting the distant trees, here is another animation, this time zoomed in on the lit up trees…

Following are larger versions of all the shots, in the same order as the animations. Click on each to open a 1600 pixel wide version. I'll start again with the same shot that was at the top of this blog entry…

First the new TN32, using a Cree XM-L2 LED and rated at 1702 lumens which, at 400 meters, seems like it is not even breaking a sweat and just getting into its stride! Note that it was humid enough that the backscatter from this light, when held in my hand, was enough to limit what I could see at a distance. For handheld use, it would have to be dry, crystal clear and not dusty at all in order to really make the most of this light in absolute darkness. Anything brighter would, in my opinion, actually be overkill...

Next up is the MX25L3, rated at 2750 lumens with one huge Cree MT-G2 LED. It was amazing to me how it could light up a wide swath of trees as well as it did at 400 meters with only a single LED! Handheld, the backscatter was probably the least distracting of all my bright flashlights and this is due, I am pretty sure, to the warmer and more neutral beam which has less blue spill in it.



Next the X40, with three Cree XM-L2 LEDS and a 3480 lumen rating, also impresses with its ability to visually light up a large area at 400 meters. Interestingly enough, it doesn't really appear any brighter than the MX25L3, maybe just a little more tightly focused. Perhaps I have a slightly under-performing X40, an over-performing MX25L3 or some combination of the two? You can easily see what I mean with the zoomed in animation. The X40 had by far the most distracting blue backscatter when handheld too, more so than the TN32 which might be surprising from looking at these shots. I think the hot-spot is so much brighter that the TN32 simply "shines back through" the backscatter allowing me to more easily see at a distance when compared to the X40.



Now comes the Predator Pro v2.5 with the cool beam, using a very small Cree XP-G2 LED rated at 670 lumens. Its combination of fairly large, deep reflector and really small LED means it can still throw quite a well focused beam for such a compact light with modest output. It doesn't light up a wide swath like the X40 for example, but its hotspot intensity is not all that much less when you consider that it only has 1/5 the total rated light output of the X40! The Predator Pro is rated for 400 meters of throw and this does seem to be about its useful limit...



Next we have the Predator v2.5, with its warm XP-G2 LED, rated at 640 lumens. It has a more uniform beam tint and much less distracting blue backscatter but visually however, there seemed more difference than the 30 lumen drop in output would suggest. At this 400 meter distance, it wasn't really too useful any more...



Now for the dimmer and less focused lights. First, the SRT7 with its Cree XM-L2 LED rated at 960 lumens, still manages to get out there although in real terms, it wasn't putting enough light on the trees to distinguish details in much of a useful way. At 400 meters, it is considerably over its rated useful throw of 308 meters, so that is not too surprising…





Now for the even dimmer and more floody SRT5, also with a Cree XM-L2 LED but only outputting 750 lumens. Its small, relatively shallow reflector doesn't give it much focus or throw, and at 400 meters it is pretty much useless...



Finally, here is the headlamp, not designed at all as a throw light and totally out of its league! The ArmyTek Wizard Pro Wide outputs an impressive 1010 lumens but since it has a 90 degree beam angle, the brightness drops off very quickly with distance. Even though it is only rated for 70 meters of throw, as mentioned, one could just barely see it slightly lighting up the distant trees at 400 meters, but not in any sort of a useful fashion at all of course! So, you could consider the headlamp as the "ambient control shot", since the distant trees weren't really any brighter with it switched on. However the brighter clumps of grass in the foreground along the shore did reflect more than the dark green trees and amazingly enough, it was quite easy to see its effect on those even though they were probably about 360 meters away, or thereabouts...

Lastly, a few more notes on the TN32 itself. While quite large and heavy, it is still way smaller and lighter than the old D-cell MagLite I used to carry around and it absolutely blows my mind how amazingly bright and awesome these latest LED flashlights are. I think the beam tint of the TN32 is decent for light painting, not quite as blue as the X40 for example. The tight focus should make it useful for reaching out and selectively lighting stuff up a long way away when taking photos at night. I am very much looking forward to doing some night shots in Utah and Arizona later this year, and doing some light painting in, for example, Arches National Park, could be quite interesting. It was getting too late last night to do anything creative at Minnekhada Park though, so that will wait for a future visit.

The TN32 has the easiest to adjust brightness of any of my large lights. You can twist the selector ring easily with thumb and forefinger when holding the light normally, allowing easy access to its six different well spaced output modes, all with nice positive detents, from a dim 0.6 lumens up to its max of 1702 lumens. The continuously variable ring on the X40 is fairly stiff, especially when used out in the cold, as is the rotating head design on the MX25L3, so for those lights I really need two hands to easily adjust their brightness. Also, the TN32 came with a nice little storage trunk, with high density foam that's cut out and fitted for storing the light in its holster...



By the way, the white lanyard you see on some of my lights, like the TN32 here, isn't a standard one. Rather it's an aftermarket white glow-in-the-dark para-cord lanyard. It sounds cool, but in practice, it doesn't glow for very long. Still, it is a good lanyard and having something white attached to the light means it can be slightly easier to find in the dark if there is even some light to see by.

Well there you have it, yet another geeky flashlight article. I'll probably update my beam-shot gallery in the previous post with a TN32 beam-shot as well, but otherwise I think it'll be back to my regularly scheduled programming… blogging that's more photography specific again!

5 comments:

Jessi said...

Thank you for a great photo comparison! Seeing your photos bumped the TN-32 way up on my shopping list!

Taufik said...

Very informative review. Have been looking actual comparison of MTG2 light to thrower for a while.
you make me wanna buy TN32..

walter waltsworld said...

Very good review, you should compare your TN32 ThruNite against the Nitecore TM36, i think the TM36 will throw even further than the TN32, if you are interested in selling your TN32 let me know.

Mike Mander said...

Walter, sorry for the delay in publishing your comment. Got lost in the comment moderation page. I wish I didn't have to moderate, but there is too much spam otherwise.

Anyway thanks, glad you liked the review. As far as I know, the NiteCore TM36 is a *much* stronger thrower than the TN32 and its internal build quality is extremely high too. I also love the NiteCore's OLED status display. However the TM36 is simply too large a light for my tastes. Even the TN32 is a bit to big for my liking. I have recently acquired a Vinh Nguyen modded Olight "SR52vn" which essentially equals the throw of the TN32, but in a much smaller and more compact light. A de-domed LED is what allows it to have so much throw with a relatively small reflector. It's very impressive! I should have another few rounds of beam-shots coming in the next few weeks, including a Vinh modded SupBeam "K40Mvn" also, which puts out over 3900 lumens from one MT-G2 LED with a tighter focus than my MX25L3. Stay tuned...

Gordon said...

Nitecore TM36 will throw the beam for about 100 metres more than ThruNite TN32 however it's almost three times more expensive.
In terms of value for money it is hard to beat Thrunite TN32.

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