Lumintop FW3A Flashlight Review
Here’s a review of the Lumintop FW3A flashlight, a light I signed up to purchase around 2 years ago. Read on to see why it’s worthwhile!
Official Specs and Features
Here’s a link to the Lumintop FW3A Flashlight product page. Importantly, here’s a link to the BudgetLightForum.com development page with all the info you might want and more.
There’s just one body version of this light, but so far there are 4 emitter options. Three temperatures of Cree XP-L HI (3300K, 5000K, and 6500K), and one option for Nichia; 219c, 4000K.
It’s expected that later this light will be available in a copper body, and possibly also titanium. Titanium is going to be a killer. There’s a rumor of an 18350 version, too.
Cree options are all $49, and the Nichia rings in a little less, at $44. The coupon NDFW3A will take 20% off! ($39.20/35.20). Mine came from NealsGadgets!
The short review has to include two instructions. 1) Swap the cell by removing the head
or destroying the brain. 2) When you don’t follow step 1, don’t lose the ridiculously tiny little rubber nib that is required for proper flashlight function.
Now that that’s out of the way, go buy this light. That’s it, that’s the review. Go buy two. (I bought one, even though I got one for review!! And I’ll probably buy another.)
The Big Table
|Lumintop FW3A Flashlight|
|Emitter:||Cree XP-L HI (3D (NW))|
|Price in USD at publication time:||$49.95
Buy it at NealsGadgets with the coupon NDFW3A for $39.20 (35.20 Nichia).
|Turbo Runtime||High Runtime|
|Quiescent Current (A):||?|
|Claimed Lumens (lm)||2800|
|Measured Lumens (at 30s)||840 (30% of claim)^|
|Claimed Throw (m)||223|
|Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s)||188lux @ 4.755m = 4251cd|
|Throw (Calculated) (m)||130.4 (58.5% of claim)^ (measured at 30s, not startup! That explains the disparity).|
|All my Lumintop reviews!|
^ Measurement disclaimer: I am an amateur flashlight reviewer. I don’t have $10,000 or even $1,000 worth of testing equipment. I test output and such in PVC tubes!! Please consider claims within 10% of what I measure to be perfectly reasonable (accurate, even).
- Lumintop FW3A Flashlight
- Spare o-rings (2)
I did not get a manual, though you probably will. There’s one below, so it doesn’t really matter.
Package and Manual
The Lumintop-ness of this light is evident from just looking at the box – it’s a very Lumintop box (which is fine, they make great boxes).
I didn’t get a manual; fortunately, it’s available online:
Build Quality and Disassembly
I absolutely love the Lumintop FW3A flashlight. The build is great. It’s a great size and shape. The anodizing is smooth and pleasant. The knurling is plenty, diamond cut, and done better than lights that cost an order of magnitude more. The clip is solid. All in all, the build quality for a sub $40 light is spectacular.
Have a look at those threads. Big beefy square-cut threads. They aren’t anodized but the light can still be mechanically locked out easily, since the electrical connection is actually through the sleeve.
Here’s the driver, showing off a bunch of its goodies.
Closer look at the threads. They’re a pleasure to use.
The cell tube is not reversible. The threads on the head and tail are actually different, (so whether the sleeve will go in either way is irrelevant).
This is the inside of the tailcap, which I recommend you not ever seeing. You’ll lose the rubber nib. You’ll lose it, just trust me on this one.
Here are the parts you’ll have to replace when you take the tailcap apart.
And here’s the best shot I could get of the microscopic little rubber nib that fits into the rubber switch cover. I don’t know why this is made the way it is, but if I was Lumintop I’d ship 10 of these with every light. The light will absolutely not function properly without that tiny piece of rubber.
The inner sleeve has a lip that keeps it in place but it’ll slide out completely if you wish to make it. This is with the tailcap off. The two white o-rings aren’t actually o-rings (in the stretchy silicone sense) but more like teflon gaskets.
And the money shot, without the nib and with.
Size and Comps
Weight: Approximately 53 g without cells
Size: 25.5 mm Ø head x 92.5 mm length
This is an “appropriately sized” 18650 light. Meaning it doesn’t waste any space at all doing what it needs to do.
MUCH shorter than the venerable Convoy S2+.
On par in fact, with the 18350 TorchLAB BOSS 35. This is a feat.
Retention and Carry
The only way included for carrying the FW3A is the pocket clip.
It’s a collar-type clip, and unfortunately, the collar has a slightly larger diameter than the body, but it’s only slight, and I haven’t been bothered by it. The clip is steel, and not incredibly thick; thick enough to be useful, but thin enough to be springy.
There’s also a hole in the top and bottom of the clip, on to which a lanyard might be connected.
Power and Runtime
The FW3A is powered by a single 18650 cell. Springs on both ends means any type 18650 can be used, but the max length is 66mm (which by definition rules out many protected cells, many button top cells, and probably all protected button top cells.)
I tested the light with two different cells (noted in the runtime). Since the light has a FET+1 for Turbo, a high-quality cell will vastly improve performance (conversely, a lower drain cell will provide lesser outputs). The stepdown from Turbo is dramatic and quick, even with a minimal rise in temperature. At 30 seconds, the output was in the extreme downslope, so the output at 30s is an estimated 2700 lumens. More interestingly for the flashlight fanatic is the initial value of around 3600 lumens on startup! Also note that throw in the table above is measured at 30s, which accounts for the number being so disparate from the claim. That’s sort of expected, but for consistency, I’ll still leave the 30s value.
Note that the output seems to modulate a bit there with room temperature fluctuations – it’s not baseline flat. The light never shut off in these tests, but it’s known to have LVP.
High performed similarly.
Modes and Currents
Currents for each mode were not tested because I couldn’t convince my cables to connect with the e-switch in such a way to make the driver happy. (And I’ve killed my fair share of lights with my bench power). But the Turbo draw will be so dependent upon the cell being used, that it’s a little meaningless to quote a number.
Pulse Width Modulation
That’s every mode in the stepped option, plus turbo. PWM is seen on the low three modes but seems to trail off after that. I can’t notice it on any mode with the naked eye, though.
For reference, here’s a baseline shot, with all the room lights off and almost nothing hitting the sensor. Also, here’s the light with the worst PWM I could find. I’m adding multiple timescales, so it’ll be easier to compare to the test light. Unfortunately, the PWM on this light is so bad that it doesn’t even work with my normal scale, with is 50 microseconds (50us). 10ms. 5ms. 2ms. 1ms. 0.5ms. 0.2ms. In a display faster than 0.2ms or so, the on/off cycle is more than one screen, so it’d just (very incorrectly) look like a flat line. I wrote more about this Ultrafire WF-602C flashlight and explained a little about PWM too.
User Interface and Operation
The interface for this light is a tail clicky, but unusually, it’s an e-switch. That’s a bit of a coup, and something not many manufacturers are doing (in tail-switch form). Lumintop actually has the Tool AAA, which has a tail e-switch option. And at least one more option I can’t think of right now.
The button itself is metal (with that rubber cover under it), and has a very minimal amount of travel (1mm or less). Despite being a very big switch, it’s possible to actuate from anywhere on the surface – even the tiniest fingernail on the very edge will still work.
It should absolutely be noted that there are replacement switch covers. For example, Neal sells turboglow options (which I’ll be ordering obviously [r/GITD!!]). There are a bunch of color options. Here’s that option.
This chart will probably be more useful for you right brain users….
But here’s a UI table anyway!
|Off||Click||On (Mode Memory)|
|Off||Click 2x||Highest Hybrid Mode|
|Off||Click 3x||Blinkie Mode Group|
|Off||Click, Click, Hold||Strobe Group (Mode Memory Strobe)|
|Strobe Group||Click 2x||Strobe Cycle (Candle > Bike Flasher > Party Strobe > Tactical Strobe > Lightning Storm)|
|Blinkie Mode Group||Click 2x||Blinke Cycle (Sunset > Beacon > TempCheck > BattCheck)|
|On||Click 3x||Switch between Stepped and Smooth Ramp|
|On||Click 4x||Ramp Configuration|
|TempCheck||Click 4x||Thermal Configuration|
|Beacon||Click 4x||Beacon Configuration|
|Candle||Click 3x||30 minute timer to off|
|Strobe Group||Hold||Heighten selected mode (Make faster or brighter)|
|Strobe Group||Click, Hold||Lessen selected mode (Make slower or dimmer)|
|On||Click 2x||FET Turbo|
|Ramp Configuration||[Wait for Single flash] Click N time for level N.||Selection of the “Low” you like best by clicking 1, 2, 3, etc. where 1, 2, 3, etc are different levels of low.|
|Ramp Configuration||[Wait for Second flash] Click N time for 1+Turbo-N.||Selection of the “Ceiling” you like best by clicking 1, 2, 3, etc. where 1, 2, 3, etc are different Ceiling levels.|
|Ramp Configuration||[Wait for Third flash] Click for how many steps you want in Stepped mode.||Sets Number of Steps.|
|Thermal Configuration||[Wait for First flash] Click for N times for N degrees C.||Displays Current Temperature.|
|Thermal Configuration||[Wait for Second flash] Click for N times for 30C + N.||Sets Temperature Limit.|
|Beacon Configuration||[Wait for First flash] Click for N times N seconds per flash||Sets Beacon Speed.|
This is a second pass on a table for Andúril, and it might still be incomplete. It’s also the longest UI table I’ve done, which highlights the versatility of this UI.
LED and Beam
My review copy of this light (and also the version I ordered) has the Cree XP-L HI 5000K emitter option. It’s a triple, so there are three of them in there. They are behind an optic – in this case a Carclo 10511 (matte), which gives a fantastic, even beam profile. With all the accessory modes (namely Candle), this would make a great WW light! Here is the list:
Cree XP-L HI 7A (WW 3300K)
Cree XP-L HI 3D (NW 5000K)
Cree XP-L HI 1A (CW 6500K)
Nichia 219C 4000K
These beamshots are always with the following settings: f8, ISO100, 0.3s shutter, and manual 5000K exposure. The first is the lowest mode, and the last is the highest mode – between is just ramps along the way.
Tint vs BLF-348 (KillzoneFlashlights.com 219b version) (affiliate link)
I compare everything to the Killzone 219b BLF-348 because it’s inexpensive and has the best tint!
Conclusion on the Lumintop FW3A Flashlight
Buy this at NealsGadgets with the coupon NDFW3A for $39.20 (35.20 Nichia)! I doubt you’ll find a better light for this price.
What I like
- Build quality is good
- Low price
- NW and WW tint options (Cree XP-L HI is great)
- Ramping User Interface
What I don’t like
- Wish the Samsung LH351d would be an option
- This light was provided by NealsGadgets.com for review. I was not paid to write this review.
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