Nicron H15 Headlamp Review

Nicron H15 Headlamp Review

I reached out to Nicron recently and they sent over a few lights – including this Nicron H15 headlamp!  This is a dual emitter headlamp – read on!


Official Specs and Features

Sorry!  I can’t find any official pages for this headlamp yet.

Versions

There is only one version of the Nicron H15 headlamp.  A similar but bigger light is the Nicron H25.

Price

Probably around $40 (maybe even $30), but again no official listing, so it’s hard to say.


Short Review

I quite like this little headlamp.  The Nicron H15 is a dedicated headlamp (ie not really for “right angle” uses), but the dual emitter setup works well.  The user interface is good, but I could stand to have an added (lower) mode.  Also, I would prefer high CRI emitters, and not the cool (and very cool) choices seen here.  Finally, the PWM is bad.

Long Review

The Big Table

Nicron H15 Headlamp
Emitter: Samsung LH351b (Spot)
Price in USD at publication time: ?
Cell: 1xAA
High Runtime Graph
LVP? Yes
Switch Type: E-Switch
Quiescent Current (mA): 0.08mA
On-Board Charging? No
Claimed Lumens (lm) 100
Measured Lumens (at 30s) 160 (160% of claim)^
Candela per Lumen 3.8
Claimed Throw (m) 42
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 101lux @ 2.786m = 784cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 56.0 (133.3% of claim)^
All my Nicron reviews!

 

 

Nicron H15 Headlamp
Emitter: Samsung LH351b (Flood)
Price in USD at publication time: ?
Cell: 1xAA
High Runtime Graph
LVP? Yes
Switch Type: E-Switch
Quiescent Current (mA): 0.08mA
On-Board Charging? No
Claimed Lumens (lm) 100
Measured Lumens (at 30s) 143 (143% of claim)^
Candela per Lumen 0.6
Claimed Throw (m) 14
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 34lux @ 1.87m = 119cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 21.8 (155.7% of claim)^
All my Nicron reviews!

 

Nicron H15 Headlamp
Emitter: Samsung LH351b (Spot)
Price in USD at publication time: ?
Cell: 1×14500
Turbo Runtime Graph High Runtime Graph
LVP? Yes
Switch Type: E-Switch
Quiescent Current (mA): 11.9uA
On-Board Charging? Yes
Charge Port Type: micro-USB
Charge Graph
Power off Charge Port
Claimed Lumens (lm) 450
Measured Lumens (at 30s) 593 (131.8% of claim)^
Candela per Lumen 4.5
Claimed Throw (m) 89
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 208lux @ 3.816m = 3029cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 110.1 (123.7% of claim)^
All my Nicron reviews!

 

Nicron H15 Headlamp
Emitter: Samsung LH351b (Flood)
Price in USD at publication time: ?
Cell: 1×14500
High Runtime Graph
LVP? Yes
Switch Type: E-Switch
Quiescent Current (mA): 11.9uA
On-Board Charging? Yes
Charge Port Type: micro-USB
Charge Graph
Power off Charge Port
Claimed Lumens (lm) 400
Measured Lumens (at 30s) 506 (126.5% of claim)^
Candela per Lumen 0.7
Claimed Throw (m) 30
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 68lux @ 2.655m = 479cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 43.8 (146% of claim)^
All my Nicron 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

Nicron H15 Headlamp what's included

  • Nicron H15 Headlamp
  • Nicron 750mAh 14550
  • Charge cable (USB to micro-USB)
  • Spare o-ring
  • Manual

Package and Manual

Nicron H15 Headlamp box Nicron H15 Headlamp box Nicron H15 Headlamp box

Build Quality and Disassembly

Nicron H15 Headlamp

The Nicron H15 headlamp has a nice build quality, and with the cell included, packs a good value (that is, if the price is around the same as the H25.)

Nicron H15 Headlamp

It’s a designated headlamp though, so there’s no real pocket-carry opportunity.  Not a huge deal.

The “open” side is labeled.  This is the left-hand side when the light is on your head with the switches on the top.

Nicron H15 Headlamp tailcap Nicron H15 Headlamp tailcap

Only one cap is removable, and the threads on this end are short.  They’re also anodized and minimally-to-appropriately lubed.

Nicron H15 Headlamp tailcap

Unlike the H25, the Nicron H15 headlamp has springs on both ends.  Sorry for no picture in the cell tube!

Nicron H15 Headlamp tailcap

Size and Comps

Officially 65mm x 37mm x 35mm, and 58.5g (excluding cell and headband).  The plastic backing isn’t removable, so that weight does include the plastic.

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

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.

Nicron H15 Headlamp with torchlab boss 35

I said Nicron sent a few lights.  They sent this H15, but they also sent an H25, which you can see below.  These lights are very similar in look.  And they do both have dual emitters.  But the user interface is slightly different, the emitters are different, and of course the cell used is different.  Between the two I’d call the H15 a better choice, simply because it will also run on 1.5V cells!

Retention and Carry

As I said, this is only a headlamp.  As such, the light comes attached to a headband.

Nicron H15 Headlamp headband Nicron H15 Headlamp headband Nicron H15 Headlamp headband Nicron H15 Headlamp headband

The band itself is easily removable – you can see the gaps in the plastic piece above.  The band also has two silicone grippers and is overall very nice.

Nicron H15 Headlamp headband

Unlike the H25, there’s no top plastic piece for an over-the-top headband, but this light sits so nicely and is so small that you’re unlikely to want or need that.

Power and Runtime

Nicron provides the appropriate cell with the H15.  It’s a 14500 lithium-ion cell.  The H15 headlamp will also operate (at lower output) on 1.5V cells.  That is, primary alkaline and NiMH cells (like Eneloops) work just great!

Nicron H15 Headlamp included 14500

The included cell is a standard button top.

Nicron H15 Headlamp included 14500

Either type of cell is installed the same way – positive terminal into the headlamp.

Nicron H15 Headlamp included 14500 installed

With two emitters you’d probably expect a bunch of runtimes.  And I do have a few for you.  The two switches and two emitters can be seen as two independent lights.  Both can be on any level at any time without respect to what the other is doing.  So that leaves many possibilities of runtimes.

I tested mostly the highest option of each individual setting and cell, and threw in a Medium run too.

Nicron H15 Headlamp runtime graph Nicron H15 Headlamp runtime graph Nicron H15 Headlamp runtime graph Nicron H15 Headlamp runtime graph Nicron H15 Headlamp runtime graph

Charging

The Nicron H15 headlamp itself doesn’t have onboard charging, but the included cell does.  The cell has a micro-USB port in the positive end.

Nicron H15 Headlamp cell

Also included is a charge cable – USB to micro-USB.

While charging, an emitter on the positive terminal of the cell lights red.  When charging is complete, a green emitter turns on.  Here’s a charge graph with a couple of tests. Charging looks fine.

Nicron H15 Headlamp charge graph

Modes and Currents

14500 (4.2V):

Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime Measured Lumens Tailcap Amps (@4.2V)
Turbo (High of Both) 700 3.26
High (Spot) 450 2h 593 2.13
Medium (Spot) 250 3.5h 293 1.05
Low (Spot) 50 10h 62 0.14
High (Flood) 400 1.7h 506 2.36
Medium (Flood) 250 3.5h 299 1.20
Low (Flood) 50 9h 64 0.19

AA (1.5V):

Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime Measured Lumens Tailcap Amps(@1.5V)
Turbo (High of Both) 1.30
High (Spot) 100 3h 160 1.08
Medium (Spot) 60 5.5h 96 0.56
Low (Spot) 10 18h 21 0.10
High (Flood) 100 2h 143 1.15
Medium (Flood) 60 7h 80 0.66
Low (Flood) 10 20h 20 0.11

Pulse Width Modulation

My biggest gripe with the H15 is the PWM.  The default mode order is Highest to lowest, which is how the graphs below are presented.  Every mode has PWM, and on the lower modes, it is absolutely visible.

AA Flood:

AA Spot:

AA Both High:

Nicron H15 Headlamp pwm graph

14500 Flood:

14500 Spot:

14500 Both High:

Nicron H15 Headlamp pwm graph

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

Two switches are used for the operation of the Nicron H15 headlamp.  One’s a power switch (and has a power symbol, and Nicron calls this one “Switch A”) and the other one controls the floodlight and is called “Switch B.”)

Nicron H15 Headlamp dual switches

These are very low action, low profile e-switches.  I like them quite a bit.  They’re big enough to get on easily, but they’re sleek enough that you’re very unlikely to click them accidentally.

Here’s a UI table!  Remember that the switches each completely control their respective emitters.  Almost everything that goes for one emitter goes for both (with two exceptions.)  Unlike the H25, I don’t believe the mode order can be swapped from HML to LMH (another gripe).

State Action Result
Off Hold Switch A (1.2s) Spot High
Spot On Click Switch A Mode advance (High to Low direction)
Spot On Hold Switch A Spot Off
Off Click either Switch Battery indicator for 14500 cell onlyª
Off Hold Both (1.2s)^ Turbo (both emitters on)
Off Hold Switch B (1.2s) Flood High
Flood On Click Switch B Mode advance (High to Low direction)
Flood On Hold Switch B Flood Off
Off Hold either for 10s Reverse mode order (for both emitters) (light will blink throughout this process.  Just wait it out.)

^ Technically the manual graphic indicates “holding both” would go to Turbo (both emitters on highest), but in reality I found it to require separate actions – click one emitter to the highest output, then click the other to the highest output (per the required steps in the table above.)  Holding both to get to turbo would be the ideal option, though.  This brings up the point that the graphic in the manual isn’t completely clear.

ª Battery indication displays as follows:

Four blinks (of spot emitter): >90% capacity
Three blinks (of spot emitter): 70-90% capacity
Two blinks (of spot emitter): 30-70% capacity
One blink (of spot emitter): <30% capacity

It is possible to have not only both white emitters on at one time but also Spot and Red on at the same time.  (The limitation of “Spot” and red (and no Flood) is probably because the flood switch controls red too – can’t control both at once with the same switch.

Aside from the bug in my user interface that caused the floodlight to go off on its own after exactly 1 minute (which if written as a feature might not be the worst feature ever!), there was also quite a few instances where clicking (not holding) Switch B didn’t go to red, but to the flood modes.  I can’t explain it, and I’m eagerly awaiting Nicron to explain it, too.  I’m interested to see if the H15 has this as well (and will know soon enough.)

LED and Beam

Nicron utilizes two of what I take to be the same emitters in the H15.  These are Samsung emitters, but Nicron doesn’t state which ones specifically.  They’re almost certainly LH351b but are very much “on the cooler side.”

Nicron H15 Headlamp emitters

The emitters may be the same, but the reflectors are not – one (the spot) has a smooth reflector, and the other (the flood) has a wavy reflector.

Note that, unlike the H25, the H15 headlamp does not have a secondary emitter.  The H25 has a red emitter.

LED Color Report (CRI and CCT)

Flood:
Nicron H15 Headlamp cct report

Spot:

Nicron H15 Headlamp cct report

Beamshots

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

AA Spot:

AA Flood:

AA Both (at equivalent levels):

14500 Spot:

14500 Flood:

14500 Both (at equivalent levels):

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.

AA Spot:

AA Flood:

AA Both (at equivalent levels):

14500 Spot:

14500 Flood:

14500 Both (at equivalent levels):

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

Conclusion

What I like

  • Remarkably low quiescent current with lithium-ion cell
  • Very good micro-USB charge profile
  • Dual emitters fit their job well (flood is floody, spot it spotty)
  • Good user interface
  • It’s orange!
  • Hits output claims
  • Hits throw claims
  • UI can be corrected to LMH.

What I don’t like

  • PWM on all modes
  • Cool white emitters (Flood as warm would have been great!)
  • Modding is not really a good possibility
  • Could use 4 modes instead of just 3 (with the added mode being lower)

Notes

  • This light was provided by Nicron 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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