Lumintop FW3E Flashlight Review

I have in my hands today something that is pretty interesting!  It’s the Lumintop FW3E, which is an answer to the “inner sleeve issue” that some of the FW series lights have had.  It has no inner sleeve!  Read on for photos and testing.


Official Specs and Features

There is no official page yet!  It’ll probably be right here though once it’s up.

Versions

No data on that at this time.  Expect the usual compliment of emitter options.

Price

Again no data on this, but expect similar pricing to the other FW series triples.  This one will necessarily include a cell though, so you’ll need to pay for that in the expected price.


Short Review

This is a fine concept and I’m pleased that it won’t be plagued by inner sleeve contact issues.  It works fine with the caveat that the output seems lower than I’ve experienced with other FW series triples.  Also the threads are the grittiest threads I have ever experienced on a flashlight.

But remember – this is a prototype!  The other FW lights I own have excellent threads, and I’d expect the production version to have that as well.

Long Review

The Big Table

Lumintop FW1A Pro
Emitter: Cree XP-L HI
Price in USD at publication time: [unknown]
Cell: 1×18650
Turbo Runtime High Runtime
LVP?
Switch Type: E-Switch
Quiescent Current (A): ?
On-Board Charging? Yes
Charge Port Type: micro-USB
Chargetime
Power off Charge Port with no Cell? – (Charging is on-cell)
Claimed Lumens (lm) [unknown]
Measured Lumens (at 30s) 820
Candela per Lumen 4.3
Claimed Throw (m) [unknown]
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 183lux @ 4.753m = 4134cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 128.6
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).

What’s Included

  • Lumintop FW3E Flashlight
  • Proprietary 18650 with built in (micro-USB) charging

I didn’t get a retail package, so no manual or anything else.

Package and Manual

Build Quality and Disassembly

Externally this light is just like the other FW triples in look.  Same knurling, same shape, same etc.

But!  See the pic below.  You’ll see a usual accompaniment of triples and singles and then the FW3E.  It’s middle height!

Not shown here but that optic is a normal Carclo optic, and there’s a lens over it – it’s not the optic/lens one-piece combo Lumintop toyed with for a while.  This is good news.

Same switch as other FW lights.

I’ve said it before but I like this knurling a bunch.  It’s not too aggressive but it does what needs doing (grip for cell swaps).

Same on the tailcap, but this could be blank – no need to remove this.

The threads look normal on the FW3E but they’re just the grittiest threads I have ever felt.  It’s not quite like there’s sand or something in there – it’s a much “harder” grit.  Like forcing sand over threads on a chalkboard.  It’s quite grating.

That said, I have almost no doubt that the production version will have better threads – threads on every single FW light I have are absolutely fantastic (and also unanodized) so…Lumintop does know how to do this right.

Here’s the difference, and what makes this the E of the FW3E!  Above you can see there’s no inner sleeve.  Below you can see that the head has a spring (positive contact) and a brass ring with a big lip (negative contact)!  All the contact for power is on the positive end of the cell!!

And here’s that cell.  Yes, it’s proprietary.  More on the cell later.

The tailcap also is removable.

Size and Comps

Weight: Approximately 103g with cell
Size: 25.5 mm Ø head x 96.5 mm length

Again, the FW3E is a bit longer than the triples, and a bit shorter than the singles.  In the photo below, the FW3E is the sixth light from left (ie it’s to the right of the brass).

Retention and Carry

It’s a collar type clip, and unfortunately the collar has 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.

It’s a bezel down and non-reversible.  So no hatlight use here.  In fact the collar won’t even fit over the bigger threads on the head end, and you’ll probably break the very thin o-ring that lives atop the clip, when reinstalling it.  I did anyway.  And this is not one of the o-rings there are spares of.

With how smooth the body is, and the mouth seen below, the light is very easy to get over a pocket.

The clip also has a couple of holes, including the one on the shoulder being shown below.  Good place for lanyards or whatever.

Power and Runtime

The FW3E is powered by a lithium ion cell, 18650 sized.  The light will ship with a cell, because the cell it uses is proprietary.  That’s going to be a massive downside for many users (including me) but it answers some important issues that the FW series lights have had.  Namely the positive terminal is a normal button (ish) top, but it’s surrounded by an exposed negative contact.  That negative contact connects with the lip on the brass ring in the head, seen at left below.

Only this cell will work in the FW3E.  (Other cells of the same type might but that’s unknown for certain – for example Olight makes some similar cells which might work too.)  Regular 18650 cells do not work in this light!

But, you’ll never have to worry with the annoying inner sleeve contact issue.

Here’s the cell – it’s a 18650 cell with added charging circuit (micro-USB) and both positive and negative terminals on the positive end.

Here’s a runtime on turbo, where “Turbo” means turning the light on and double clicking (the highest possible output).  The stepdown is very fast, and thus a 30 second reading shows only 820 lumen output.  2800 lumen initial output is respectable (but also essentially not a meaningful number).

The high output (which is the highest stepped mode) also has a fairly massive stepdown but at 30 seconds measures higher than turbo!

The output switches to extremely low when the cell goes below 3V.

The charge circuit on the cell charges as follows.  The charge rate is surprisingly slow even for micro-USB – at well under 0.5A for most of the charge time.  Thus full charge takes around 8 hours.

PWM

We know Andúril utilizes PWM. Note the timescale, though – the PWM is very fast, so not noticeable at all (for me anyway, and likely for you too).

 

For reference, here’s a baseline shot, with all the room lights off and almost nothing hitting the sensor.  And here’s the worst PWM light I have ever owned.  Also one of the very first lights I ordered directly from China!

User Interface and Operation

The UI on this light is just like the other FW I’ve reviewed, so there’s no point rewording it.

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), 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.

I can’t say exactly how this e-switch works in this configuration – but it’s definitely still an e-switch!

Unfortunately upon reassembling after this photo, the light isn’t working right.  I had to take it apart again and really crank down that retaining ring.  And the issue’s been present before (not just after disassembling the tail switch).  Unless things are very tight enough (yes “very tight enough”) the light will just blink very fast and in low output.  Not usual operation.  Still you’ll need to fully tighten the tailcap first, then put in the cell, then put on the head.

All in all I’m not entirely sure this is a better setup than with the inner sleeve.  In the end, the best FW series light is the EDC18.  ¯_(ツ)_/¯

This chart will probably be more useful for you right brain users….

LED and Beam

My review copy has Cree XP-L HI emitters in triple format.  I wasn’t told what temperature specifically but it’s fairly good if coolish – maybe in the 5000K range.

These beamshots are always with the following settings:  f8, ISO100, 0.3s shutter, and manual 5000K exposure.  This is the stepped output – all 8 levels.

Tint vs BLF-348 (Killzone 219b version)

Test light is on the left!  This is the stepped output – all 8 levels.

I compare everything to the Killzone 219b BLF-348, because it’s inexpensive and has the best tint!

Conclusion

What I like

  • Cree XP-L HI is a fantastic emitter!
  • Andúril is still fun and feature rich
  • Build quality (outside of the threads) is very good
  • Tailcap issues seem to have finally been sorted with the little white nub and retaining ring

What I don’t like

  • Threads on this copy are absolutely terrible
  • I’m not sure switching to this setup is actually better than the “inner sleeve” option
  • Stepdowns are aggressive – and yes I used factory temperature tuning just like I imaging everyone else will do (thus it’s a completely fair testing)

Notes

  • This light was provided by Lumintop for review. I was not paid to write this review.
  • This content originally appeared at zeroair.org.  Please visit there for the best experience!
  • For flashlight related patches, stickers, and gear, head over to PhotonPhreaks, another site where I write!
  • Use my amazon.com referral link if you’re willing to help support making more reviews like this one!

Author: zeroair

4 thoughts on “Lumintop FW3E Flashlight Review

  1. Hey ZA, the fact that it’s an E-Switch in the tail probably means that it has a tiny capacitor in the assembly. Of course this allows the e-switch to operate even when the light is off and no current is passing through the circuit.

    Like the Tool and the Drop/Lumintop E-switch lights, this often means that after reassembling the light, a short period of time is needed to recharge the capacitor. This often gives the user the impression the light is not working immediately after reassembly.

    I don’t know for sure if this is the design of this “E” model. Just a heads up based on other e-switch lights.

Leave a Reply