feature photo

Zebralight SC700d Flashlight Review

Zebralight SC700d Flashlight Review

The Zebralight SC700d is a flashlight I wanted for ages before I finally bit the bullet and bought one.  Read on to see how this 21700 cell, Cree XHP70.2 flashlight fares!


Official Specs and Features

Here’s a link to the Zebrlight SC700d Flashlight product page.

Versions

There is just one version of specifically the “SC700d” flashlight.  However, there’s also available the SC700fd, which is a floodier version of the SC700d.  Otherwise, I believe the two are identical.

I’m extremely hopeful that there is eventually a “HI” version of this light (namely a Cree XHP35 HI) because this body really needs to have a thrower option!  I’ve emailed Zebralight to support this idea.  I’m not saying you should too.  Completely unrelated but here’s their contact page!

Price

The Zebralight SC700d sells for $119.00 at Zebralight.com.  This does not include a cell – buying the cell from Zebralight will cost another $12.  That Samsung 40T is a great choice for this flashlight, though!

Note: When I bought this it was listed as “Backordered.”  Right now it’s showing as “In Stock.”  Mine still shipped within just a few days of being ordered, despite being listed as backordered.  I wouldn’t really worry too much if it’s listed as back-ordered, and you want to order it.


Short Review of the Zebralight SC700d Flashlight

I waited probably a year (more? I don’t know) before buying this light, and that was time wasted.  I absolutely love this light.  Spectacular output, great default user interface, very good switch.  The list goes on.  It’s a very, very good flashlight.

Long Review

The Big Table

Zebralight SC700d Flashlight
Emitter: Cree XHP70.2 (Neutral White (5000K), 90+ CRI)
Price in USD at publication time: $119.00
Cell: 1×21700
H1 Runtime Graph H2 Runtime Graph
LVP?
Switch Type: E-Switch
Quiescent Current (mA): 0.02
On-Board Charging? No
Claimed Lumens (lm) 3000
Measured Lumens (at 30s) 2956 (98.5% of claim)^
Candela per Lumen 5.3
Claimed Throw (m)
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 751lux @ 4.801m = 17310cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 263.1
All my Zebralight 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

what's included

  • Zebralight SC700d Flashlight
  • Pocket clip
  • Spare o-rings (2)
  • Manual
  • Samsung 40T (if you purchase it separately)

Package and Manual

box

Standard Zebralight box here, though I hear they’ve switched to a smaller box lately.

box

 

manual

Build Quality and Disassembly

Zebralight is known for this “natural” anodization that’s used on all their lights.  The Zebralight SC700d flashlight has this too.

feature photo

I’m not saying it’s a polarizing color, but you’re likely to either be ok with it or not really care.  It’s fairly safe.  But it’s not black, as are most of the other flashlights available, so in that sense, it’s a nice break.

Furthermore, this flashlight is extraordinarily flashlighty.  Yes “flashlighty.”  When I see a flashlight in my head – the “ideal” flashlight – it’s very much this shape.  It’s not specifically nostalgia (but it’s also not not nostalgia), but man does the SC700d scratch an itch about flashlights for me.  The SC700d can basically become the answer to “what is ‘flashlighty?'”

Here’s a top-down view of the Zebralight SC700d Flashlight.

Part of what’s so great about this light is that it’s not overrun with options.  Do you want to swap the cell?  You remove the tailcap.  There’s no option to remove the cell tube and put the cell in through the head.  Fewer choices is efficient for the user.

I’ll mention these threads here, too.  They’re exceptionally smooth threads, aided by the excellent tailcap grip.  These threads are square-cut, anodized, lubed, and not really very long.  Since they’re anodized, you have the option of mechanical lockout with the tailcap – just loosen the cap the slightest bit to break the connection.

tailcap off

And let’s talk about this knurling.  Not only is there knurling on the tailcap (as there should be, since you remove the tailcap for cell access) but two things:  1), the tailcap is long so there’s plenty of grip.  And 2) the tailcap is completely covered with the knurling, so grip is ridiculously easy.

There’s a great choice of knurling here too.  I would guess this is cut knurling and not rolled knurling.  It’s completely even and uniform.  The little diamonds have flat tops, and while they provide grip, they are not the least bit abrasive.

tailcap off

Interestingly the tailcap has springy parts that aren’t specifically springs – there are these 8 little springy pins for contacting the 21700 cell.  Zebralight has had other lights with these pins, and the pins didn’t work too well – they could dent a cell when the light was impacted.  But these are greater in number, and I believe placed more appropriately to prevent such an issue.

tailcap off showing springs

On the head end (inside the cell tube) are also pogo pins, but they’re fewer.  This makes sense because those pins contact the positive terminal of the 21700, which is a smaller area.  Again, I don’t think these will cause cell damage from an impact, but that’s just my intuition speaking and not experience.

internal contacts

The tailcap is otherwise fairly plain.  There is no magnet or anything else here.  tailcap

Here’s the head.  I love how the head flares, and contains this big deep reflector.  Also, these cooling fins while not deep, do function quite nicely to manage heat.  More on that later though.

cooling fins

cooling fins on head

More of a nice-looking design feature than a useful addition are these inward flares in the cell tube.  These are probably “for grip” or whatever, but really they just sort of look nice and don’t aid in grip any more than the ample knurling already does.

knurling

tailcap knurling

I just apparently took a bunch of random photos of the tailcap, because apparently when I did photos I was so stricken by this tailcap.  I still am.  I absolutely love this tailcap, and would probably run the light down just so I could swap the cell over and over.  Other light should take notes about this tailcap.

tailcap knurling

Size and Comps

Dimensions

    • Head Diameter: 1.5 inches (38.1 mm)
    • Body Diameter: 1.1 inches (28 mm)
    • Length: 4.2 inches (106 mm)

Weight

      • 3.2 oz (91 gram) without battery

If the flashlight will headstand, I’ll show it here (usually the third photo).  If the flashlight will tailstand, I’ll show that here, too (usually the fourth photo).

in hand

Here’s the test light with the venerable Convoy S2+.  Mine’s a custom “baked” edition Nichia 219b triple.  A very nice 18650 light.

And here’s the light beside my custom engraved TorchLAB BOSS 35, an 18350 light.  I reviewed the aluminum version of that light in both 35 and 70 formats.

beside torchlab boss 35

Here are a couple of other random Zebralights.  On the left there is the SC600w III HI (not the SC600Fd Mk III which I reviewed), which I love.  And on the right its the “SC64C” which is really a custom version – emitter swapped to Nichia 219b by Bob_McBob.  You should buy all three of these lights.

with some other zebralight flashlights

Retention and Carry

There’s a removable pocket clip with the Zebralight SC700d.

with pocket clip

About the clip: This is not the run-of-the-mill clip that is on so many lights lately.  Those clips are good, but this clip is better. It’s more of a deep carry clip, which also has a shiny finish that allows easy on and off a pocket. The carry is almost deep enough to put the light flush with the top edge of the pocket – the light sticks over the clip by just a few mm. I like those ubiquitous clips just fine: I really like this clip. (Note this isn’t just Zebralight fanboy talking: the JETBeam Jet-II Pro had a clip in this same style, and I loved that clip too.) The clip is not reversible since there is no groove on the head of the light for it.

It’s hard to really say this is a “pocket clip” though since the head really flares too much for the SC700d to ride comfortably in a pocket.  Belt clip, maybe, and it’d work great for that.  Backpack strap clip, maybe.

The clip doesn’t require too much force to remove.  It’ll come off with little worry of being the clip.  Bear this in mind if you clip your lights in such a way that they could be lost if the clip comes off.  Not to say that it’s loose, though.  It’s more snug than, say, a Convoy S2+ friction clip.

pocket clip installed

Look at that precious little clip hugging the Zebralight SC700d flashlight!

pocket clip installed

The only other means for carrying of the Zebralight SC700d flashlight is… your hand!  Since this light is such a joy to use, you’ll likely want to just carry it and use it all the time anyway.

in hand in hand

I will say that one thing different about this light and the SC600 I mentioned above, is that this light drops the built-in lanyard attachment point around the tail area.  There was a split ring attached to that area, and it’s just completely unnecessary.  I’m pleased to see it removed on the SC700d.

Power and Runtime

The Zebralight SC700d flashlight is intended to run on a single lithium-ion cell.  The cell tube is sized for a 21700 cell.  Zebralight recommends and sells this Samsung 40T, which they graciously provided with my purchase.

samsung 40T 21700

This is a flat top 21700, and while the website doesn’t specify dimensions, it does specify that the cell used should be an unprotected flat top.

That’s not too big a burden, since those are fairly widely available these days.

samsung 40T 21700

The cell fits into the flashlight in the usual way – positive terminal toward the head.

samsung 40T 21700 installed

There’s nothing sticking out when the cell is installed, either.

samsung 40T 21700 installed

Below you can find a few runtimes.  After the test on H1 (the highest mode), I became interested in what the output would look like if there was no air blowing across the light.

runtime graphSo I tested H1 again but with no cooling at all.  Performance is different as you would expect, but the light maintains the programmed temperature very well!  Note that I did not change the PID settings at all, but that’s something you can do.  I think it’d be safe, but I’m measuring external temps here and already seeing 50°C.  It’s likely very safe to go up the allowed 5°, though.

runtime graph

In some other good news, everything below H1 is positively flat regulation.  The output even on the highest H2 just sits at 1425 lumens for over an hour.

runtime graph runtime graph runtime graph

I’m interested to see what no cooling will do for the 1450 lumen H2, so I’ll likely run that test too.  Clearly the lights thermal management is very much on point, and you should have no worries.

As you can see above in all the tests, the SC700d does step down to a very low output when the cell voltage is low.  But on bench power, the light does not seem to shut off until around 2.3V.  Now, the output is very low and likely the cell could maintain that output for quite some time.  The manual says:

Builtin battery protections with continuously monitored temperature, current, and voltage, plus a (2.7V) low voltage cutoff
But I don’t really observe the low voltage cutoff at 2.7V.

Modes and Currents

Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime Measured Lumens Tailcap Amps
H1 3000 “PID” ~ hours 2956 7.88
H2 1458 “PID” ~ hours 1425 2.94
945 “PID” ~ hours 912 1.68
583 “hours” 513 0.86
M1 192 “hours” 171 0.317
M2 52 “hours” 47.3 0.085
25.2 “days” 23.8 0.044
11.6 “days” 10.2 20mA
L1 2.1 “days” 2 5.50mA
L2 0.32 “month” 0.2 1.18mA
0.12 “months” 0.07 0.85mA
0.04 “months” .02 0.70mA

Pulse Width Modulation

There is no PWM here, thankfully.  There’s some sawtooth output on L1 and all three M2 modes, but nothing at all that you’ll notice.

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).  10ms5ms2ms1ms0.5ms0.2ms.  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 Zebralight UI, a thing of legend.  This light uses an e-switch and a very nice one.  It is clicky, with very positive action.

e-switch

The switch really falls in a perfect “users” spot when the light is in-hand.

e-switch in use

First of all, this user interface is basically as hard (or “featured”) as you want it to be.  You can run this as a very simple user interface with easy (or “direct”) access to four modes (low, medium, high, strobe).  But you can do more!  If you wish.  But again, you don’t really have to!

I’m going to try to capture the UI in a table, but I have to be honest, I’m not sure how this will go.  But let’s give it a shot.  Note that there are three mode groups (G5, G6, G7), and the light ship in G5 group.

State Action Result
Off Click High (Your last used of four high possibilities)
H1 3000 Lm
H2 1458 Lm
945 Lm
583 Lm (hours)
Off Click 2x Medium (Your last used of four medium possibilities) (and technically, the light goes to High first, then medium)
M1 192 Lm
M2 52 Lm
25.2 Lm
11.6 Lm
Off Click 3x Strobe (Your last used of four Strobe possibilities)
0.2Hz Beacon at Low
0.2Hz Beacon at H1
4Hz Strobe at H1
19Hz Strobe at H1
Off Hold >0.6s Mode cycle: Low^ > Medium > High (repeated)
On Hold Mode cycle: Low (always starts with Low no matter what mode you’re in!) > Medium > High (repeated)
On Click Off
On Double Click Toggles between Mode and Sublevel.

For example, between H1 and H2.

On Double Click 6x Enters programming for sublevels of a mode.

For example, if you’re in Medium, Double Clicking 6x will enter sublevel selection for M2.)

Sublevel selection for any mode Double Click Cycles the sublevel mode options.

For example, if you are programming M2, continued double clicks will cycle 11.6lm, 25.2lm, and 52lm repeatedly.  Release and wait (or click) at the desired output.

Sublevel selection for any mode Click Selects sublevel.
Off Click 4x Battery indicator

The main emitter flashes brightly between 1 and 4 times to indicate cell capacity

On at H1 Click off then on to H1 Enter PID Thermal Regulation Temperature Programming for three highest output levels
PID Thermal Regulation Temperature Programming for three highest output levels Press and hold to cycle from Low to High 6 times
On the 7th (or more) cycle, release the switch
    • when High, to add 1 degree C (up to 5 max)
    • when Med, to revert back to the factory default
    • when Low, to subtract 1 degree C (up to 5 max)
Off Click 5x Select G5 (Group 5)
Off Click 6x Select G6 (Group 6)
Off Click 7x Select G7 (Group 7)
Sublevel programming for G6 or G7 Click 2x Goes up a level in programming
Sublevel programming for G6 or G7 Click 3x Goes down a level in programming†
Sublevel programming for G6 or G7 Click Exit programming
In G6 or G7‡ Click 5x Reset G5 to factory settings
In G6 or G7‡ Click 6x Reset G6 to factory settings
In G6 or G7‡ Click 7x Reset G7 to factory settings

^ Note that this is technical access to Low from off, despite not being written exactly that way in the manual.

† Successive triple clicks at the lowest output stay at the lowest output (and don’t cycle “backward” to H1)

‡ It does seem like factory resets (for all groups) can be done only when in G6 or G7.  So to reset G5, you’ll need to enter G6 or G7.

Here are some group specifics:

In all three mode groups
  • H can be either H1 or H2; M can be either M1 or M2; L can be either L1 or L2
  • from OFF: 1-click to H; 2-click to M; press and hold to cycle from L, M to H
In G5
  • H1 is fixed at 3000Lm, H2 can be 1458, 945, or 583Lm
  • M1 is fixed at 192Lm, M2 can be 52, 25.2 or 11.6Lm
  • L1 is fixed at 2.1Lm, L2 can be 0.32, 0.12 or 0.04Lm
In G6 and G7
  • H1, H2, M1, M2, L1, and L2 can be programmed to any of the 12 available brightness levels
  • Double-click 6 times at the H1, H2, …L2 to enter the programming mode for that level. Once in the programming mode, use double-click to go up one level and triple-click to go down one level. Use 1-click to exit the programming mode
Three consecutive 5-click (or 6-click, 7-click) to reset the G5 (or G6, G7) back to the factory default settings.
The fact that G6 and G7 allow all steady outputs to be any mode is not to be understated.  If you wanted all high modes, you could program every level to H1.  It’d be a little weird, but you could be absolutely certain that you’d only ever get H1 output.  On the flip side, you could program every mode to be from the lowest to highest mode, and the light could peak at around 25 lumens (and basically last forever).
You could also reverse the mode cycles in whatever way you wish.  Want High to be accessible from double click?  Then program H1 to the M1 or M2 slot.
And finally, it’s not to be understated how easy it is to switch between groups.  And easy to remember – 5, 6, or 7 clicks from off and you’ve switched groups.  Unfortunately, there is no feedback that you’ve switched groups – a readout of maybe 5, 6, or 7 blinks on the lowest output would be nice.  Or maybe a low blink with G5, M2 blink with G6, and H2 blink with G7 or something.  Some feedback would be appreciated.

LED and Beam

The only emitter option for the SC700d is a neutral white Cree XHP70.2

emitter

That emitter is surrounded by a nice and deep lightly orange peel reflector.

emitter on

Drink these lows in.

emitter on emitter on

You can go on about tint shift, and white walls, and whatever all you want, but this is a great emitter.  Zebralight could have pumped out more lumens and probably more throw by going with a cool white emitter.  Thankfully that doesn’t seem to be what Zebralight is about.  This is clearly a sleeper enthusiast’s light!

emitter on emitter on

Here’s a completely uncalibrated in-the-field beamshot.

emitter on

These beamshots are always with the following settings:  f8, ISO100, 0.3s shutter, and manual 5000K exposure.

Tint vs BLF-348 (KillzoneFlashlights.com 219b version) (affiliate link)

I keep the test flashlight on the left, and the BLF-348 reference flashlight on the right.

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

Conclusion on the Zebralight SC700d Flashlight

What I like

  • The size and shape.
  • I really do like 21700 cell lights and this is a great sample
  • The Zebralight user interface
  • Output on all modes is fantastic
  • Flat output at-spec for the duration of all modes under H1
  • Neutral white is the option!

What I don’t like

  • Doesn’t really seem to have low voltage protection
  • Little-to-no feedback from programming

Notes

  • This light was provided by me for review. I was not paid to write this review.
  • This content originally appeared at zeroair.org.  Please visit there for the best experience!
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  • Use my amazon.com referral link if you’re willing to help support making more reviews like this one!
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6 thoughts on “Zebralight SC700d Flashlight Review”

  1. Good points about G6 and G7. The default mode spacing seems a little odd with medium maxing out at only 192. Although perhaps in person it looks better than on paper.

    Weird about the LVP. Do you think using a bench power supply has anything to do with it? Do you drop the output amperage when you lower the voltage to test LVP?

    1. I think the bench power could have something to do with it, yes. And I get your meaning – some drivers will take more current in order to stay above the low voltage shutoff… But I coupled my testing on bench power with my experience doing 5 runtimes. The light switches to such a low output that from, say, 2.8V to 2.7V would likely take [nearly forever]. As a result, lack of apparent lvp doesn’t necessarily worry me in this light.

      The best way I can think of to test this is to discharge a cell to around 2.8V and then see what happens with it in the light. Or some suggestion you might have? Very open to proving it has lvp!

      1. I think you’re right. The best way to answer the question would be to look for LVP using a cell in the light. I’m no expert but I think it’s safe to say that test would settle it.

        I understand what you mean about not necessarily being worried about no hard cutoff for LVP (if that’s the case). Having very low output would actually be quite useful compared to a hard cutoff LVP where the light doesn’t turn back on at all. Like you noted, it would take a long time to get the voltage to a concerning level after the LVP dropdown. In the meantime you would still have some light for an emergency until you replaced or recharged the cell.

  2. Special thanks for the Power and Runtime graph without cooling (uncooled), very informative.

  3. Very good rundown of a special light.

    “Want High to be accessible from double click? Then program H1 to the M1 or M2 slot.”

    ––Thank you! It’s amazing how many people complain about the Zebralight interface for the specific reason that it doesn’t have a double-click turbo with a single-click low. It is entirely on the table. I’m no fan of the G5 program, but Zebralight has allowed me to set my lights up the way you’ve just suggested. If G5 could be overwritten to provide a third custom group, I’d be even happier…but two is fine.

    “Doesn’t really seem to have low voltage protection”
    ––According to the ZL website, it cuts off at 2.7V. Did you ever wind up running that test?

  4. Pingback: Headlamps 2020 and the Zebralight H600 and stuck batteries - Tong Family

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