Best Budget Flashlights Ever? BLF and TLF FW3 & FW1a Review and Comparison

Best Budget Flashlights Ever? BLF and TLF FW3 & FW1a Review and Comparison


As I creep up on the big 50k subscriber mark,
which in reality means nothing to most everyone everywhere, I figured I’d put on the brakes
a bit and review some flashlights. Today’s video film is going to be for the
Budget Light Forum/ The Light Forum designed and Lumintop mass produced FW series. What that means is that flashlight manufacturers
by themselves can’t design a decent light if their life depended on it… so some people
got together, mostly a guy named Fritz, and a women legally named Toykeeper collaborate
on features and specs, and tell Lumintop what makes a good flashlight. If that sounds backwards it kind of is. The models we are looking at specifically
here are kind of all variants on the same design. They are small every day carry sized lights
with electronic tailcap switches that have a common operation, and a pocket clip. You can choose many variations of tints, from
warm to neutral to cool white, materials the lights are made from, and pick a single or
triple LED emitters. The three lights reviewed are the standard
aluminum FW3A which I bought in a warm emitter early this year, then the bead blasted raw
copper neutral white tinted FW3C variant released this summer, and the single emitter cool white
tinted FW1A. The copper and FW1A were provided by Neal
at Neals Gadgets for review. The copper when new has a nice bead blasted
texture, that slowly takes on the charm of old pennies. And one more time a big thanks to Neal for
his patience because I’ve had these for months now. However I can call it long term testing instead
of procrastination, and it makes it all seem better. If you don’t know shit about tint buying. Know that a tint is described in temperatures
Kelvin. The warmer or the tint the lower the K number. The cooler the Higher the K. Now to confuse you, here are these other blank
stare inducing numbers, which refers to the emitter … the lower the number here the
cooler. The higher the number the warmer or lower
the Kelvin. 1 is cool, 3 is neutral, 7 is the warmest. And talking about either at parties or gatherings
will guarantee you won’t get invited again in the future. Output levels… we’ll make this section
easy for all three lights. I have them all set to the smooth ramping,
meaning they don’t use the individual levels. Emitter options affect output levels. On moon my original FW3A with the warm emitter
has the lowest moonlight mode. Then the smooth ramp up to high, gives you
the following three levels. And on turbo the obvious winner is the copper
triple. These are my tested figures. They’re estimates only, I’m stupid, sloppy
with testing methods, and not good at math, so please treat them appropriately. Ok user interface or as regular viewers know
it- a reminder to use hand lotion. First put in the battery, the positive goes
toward the lens like normal except lumintop recommends you unscrew the head instead of
the tailcap. The UI here programmed by Toykeeper is one
of the most advanced in a light… however she has made the basic operation simple. So you can loan it to idiots. I will not go into all the details, but I
will cover the basics- how it comes out of the box, etc, furthermore, and ergo to a fortnight. It has a simple dimming scale. To get to the lowest output from off the shortcut
is press and hold. Release when it gets to the brightness you
want, or appropriate for the crime you’re committing. Press and it goes up the brightness, release
whenever you want. a quick release and press goes the opposite
way. A double click while on gets you to turbo. From off if you want Turbo, turn it on then
double click. Or from off a double click gets you to high
and double click to turbo. 15 clicks activates invisibility. Since these lights have an electronic switch,
that on some models is touchy… the lockout is important. Click 4 times from off and it locks out, that
means it only has a low momentary on and won’t burn a hole in your tactical purse. Click 4 times to get back to regular operation. Also something I’ve found is if the tail
or head isn’t fully cranked down sometimes the LEDs will rapidly flicker- and you think
it’s broken but it aint. A few other quick shortcuts. When on 3 clicks gets you to stepped operation
or smooth ramping. I will not show you how to do any further
programming. However it has blinking modes that mimic candlelight. Thermal configuration that will allow you
to hold it’s high modes for longer- as long as you can handle holding it. The muggle mode which is six clicks from off
that keeps it from getting over 300 lumens or so… and with that I broke my promise
about not getting into the bullshit any further. Runtimes, which is appropriately named, for
the amount of viewers I lose right now. For this section we’re just doing the turbo
on all three lights using a Sony VTC6 high drain battery. In the frame you see a clock denoting runtime
and how you’ve wasted your time, and a lux meter showing if the light dims or brightens. Through some calculator heavy math, I estimate
basic lumen and output levels over the course of the time. That could be wrong First turbo on the copper. Performs best in the first minute. Sound familiar? I measured 3471 lumens at startup, within
30 seconds we hit 880, 1 minute down to 516 lumens, and by 5 minutes we settle in at about
250 lumens. Its fluctuates between 250 240 and 230 lumens
until close to the 4 hour mark, in case your wife or friend asked who was listening in
very intently to your flashlight content. Which is still a lot of light. Anything over 1000 lumens in lights this small
is overkill. 4 and a half hours it raises to about 330
lumens, before it starts dimming to about 11 lumens around 4 hours 50 minutes… then
low light sub lumen until I kill the test after 5 hours- Ending voltage on FW3A copper
was 2.68v Now the triple aluminum. Startup I estimate is 2106. 30 seconds we hit 725 lumens. 1 minute 543. 5 minutes we are doing about about 292. 10 minutes we hit in the 120 lumens, and we
fluctuate over the next few hours from a low of 115, and up in the 140s for an hour or
two. Although we’re using Sony VTC6 batteries,
different types and tints of emitters, and different heat dissipation properties of copper
versus aluminum will affect runtimes and outputs. Then we have a high of 183 lumens at 4 hours
3 minutes, before dropping to 12 lumens around 5 hours and hitting a sub lumen mode when
I finish the test- ending voltage is about 2.90 volts on the battery, with light still
coming out. Finally the FW1A everyone exclaims. I know this one is my favorite runtime too. Startup is estimated at 1508 lumens. 30 seconds we hit 860 lumens, 1 minute 500
lumens, 5 minutes 292. 10 minutes we settle in at 250 lumens for
a while. You know the main difference in these light
happens in under the first 30 seconds. The thermal regulation kicks in because its
so much heat to get rid of for a tiny light. It kinda makes you wonder whats the point. You know lumens wise- not universe wise. 3 hours 52 minutes we have creeped back up
to 311 lumens. However it’s emergency mode continues for
a long time you get sub lumen modes until I quit the test at over 10 hours. Ending voltage was about 2.7 sexy volts. Beamshot comparisons. Zebralight, emisar, olight. A mixture of tints and beam profiles. Compared here at startup brightness with fresh
batteries all around. Two of the FW3as are floody because they have
frosted optics. Gives you a nice fade from the hotspot to
the spill. Good for closer stuff and not throw. So a great EDC. First the Copper FW3A triple. Neutral White- good tint, great EDC. Neutral white is probably most pleasing all
around to people, in theory- if this wasn’t a niche hobby. Ok really no one cares. Now the original aluminum triple. This is a warm tinted light, this is close
to older incandescent tints and I like it. Does warm tint make anyone else think of pee. Ok good I’m the only one. Not as high a turbo- but who cares. You can see it start to step down here, you
can always double click to reset turbo for a few more seconds of stupid brightness. Now the single emitter throwier FW1a. It’s small but it achieves its spottiness
via a reflector and a HI emitter. Cool White tint for maximum throw and output
on a single. Now back to the Neutral White FW3A copper. Again you can see a bit further with the FW1A,
but I prefer an EDC with a more dispersed beam pattern for closer illumination. Now a Zebralight It’s a throwier, warmier,
tintier and spottier type light. I’ve had this for years now, and I honestly
prefer the recessed side switch of a zebra light to the tail caps of the FW series from
lumintop. Now another old favorite the all copper Olight
S2. Cool Tint, wider spot, mellower high. The S2 has been a pretty reliable beamshot
comparison light over the years. Back to the copper fw3a for a sec. Now finally the Emisar D4. A purer white, than the slightly rosy tint
of the FW3A. I believe this is a nichia. I don’t have a super strong preference of
white white I like better. Perhaps you do, and perhaps I don’t care. Now let’s look at the FW1A since it has
a different beam profile. Compared to the Zebralight here. Both kinda spotty. This Zebralight light has the older less programmable
UI, and I like the simplicity of the Anduril firmware. Although I like the new Zebralights UI better. Now versus the Light S2. Not quite as throwy. I think I like the Zebarlights tint profile
better. Finally the Emisar. This is kind of dragging on isn’t it. I mean what did we expect huh? Imagine writing it. Ok the warm tint. And we’re going to scroll through this fast. Lumintop. Zebralight. Lumintop. Pause Emisar. Lumintop. Olight. Is that it, have we compared them all. Who cares. Wrapping it up. Ok so the Emissars and the Lumintops are probably
the closest competitors in the compared flashlights. If I had to break it down it would be do you
prefer tailcap switches or side ones. The Emisars are about 40-50 and these are
about 45-50 depending on emitter options for the aluminum and about 70 for copper or titanium. I have included a 20% off code down below. Don’t know when it will expire. Don’t care. 2 of these lights were provided by Neals Gadgets. 1 was provided by my own poor financial decisions. Neal used to work at Banggood, now he has
his own site. I don’t even have my own site. I found between the three lights here the
copper had a very feather touch switch, the original FW3a had a nicer click. There’s some delay to off… and I’ll
be honest, I have had quite few lumitop lights over the years and several have had odd switch
fitment. Or click behaviors. I tried adjusting the retaining ring to make
it feel a bit clickier on the copper, and now I’ve been talking about switches for
a whole paragraph, so the jokes on my. I mean also you too. The machining on these lights is great, and
the UI is awesome if you want to spend some time with it. There’s nothing that interests me less than
setting the thermal regulation to prolong the turbo a few seconds longer. The emissars and now this are the two budget
lights I’d recommend, depending on which you can get cheaper. Personally if I were to pick one out, I’d
take a triple in Titanium in a warm tint because it’s a little lighter than aluminum. Or aluminum if you don’t have other flashlight
nerds to impress. Nothing wrong with Zebralights- my favorite
EDC lights, which often have uglier tints… or lights which are more expensive and have
my least favorite UI. Anyway if you like the sort of video where
a guy speaks 2100 words about a flashlight, congratulations. Make sure you like, subscribe, follow me on
Instagram, buy through links below… comment… you can even buy a tee shirt- I already have
one. These all help support whatever this 15 minutes
of content can be best described as. Here are my patreons, You can be like them
too. Thanks to them, a whole lot. Thanks for watching.

About the author

Comments

  1. Are any of these available with a U.I. offering "Vibtator Mode"? What about a built-in microphone, behind the tail cap switch?

  2. Shot a for a new flashlight video man! Been binging your channel since i came across it last week. Regards a subscriber from South Africa

  3. I have the fw1a and love it. Only problem: you have to lock it. The switch is sensitive, i burned my leg with it 😂

  4. I own the FW3T and I love mine! I carry and use it every day, so handy when you want quick moonlight getting up early, and still a powerhouse checking the backyard while walking to the car when its dark out. feels great in the hand too. great video my friend!

  5. Thanks to your videos, I no longer need to take Ambien. I can sleep at the push of the play button. I nap regularly anytime I like. I once threw my phone at a vicious dog that was trying to attack me. Your video was playing when it landed at the dogs feet. One second later, the dog was asleep. I would've made it to safety but I glanced at the video when I picked up the phone and passed right out. Thank you for your contributions to the insomniac folk like me. Sincerely, an always faithful fan. Keep up the great work, Sir.

  6. I was worried the commies in Cali got you Bro! But then again it looks like you got out of Virginia at the right time. What's the best flashlight for the boogaloo?

  7. This video confirmed that there is so much more in current flashlight technology than I will ever need, or be hip enough to want. I'm clearly not cool enough for one of these. I guess I will continue to carry my Streamlight Microstream and replace the AAA lithium battery every month and deal with my 30 or so lumens. Which however, is plenty enough light to see the pile of dog shit on the ground taking out the dogs at night and pick it up so I won't step in it. I think the turbo mode on one of those fancy ones you got could actually cook the pile of shit from a few feet away.

  8. I have the FW3A, and I'm not very keen on it. It has a ton of potential, and is loaded with features, but the switch is s*** for EDC, and there's too many quirks and quality issues for it to be a reliable light. Shelf-queen.

  9. Not impressed with the built quality. Mine is broken after a week. All I did was take the battery out, charge it and put it back in. Doesn't work anymore. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and family!

  10. How do I get one of these with a red beam? The only affordable LED flashlights I've seen with red lights are the really cheap garbage kind. They suck. So does trying to take a shit in a port-a-john in the dead of night without getting screamed at by an E7 for using a white-light and giving away your position to a made-up enemy in a pointless field exercise so you can actually see what you're doing.

  11. I know you hate doing flashlight reviews since they take a ton of time to complete, but I'm glad you did these models. I own a FW3A and love it. Considering maybe getting a copper or Ti for the next one, can't decide. Awesome review, and thanks again for spending the time to crank this out!

  12. I want a flashlight that houses a knife. I'm guessing you do too? When did knife channels become flashlight channels? Advanced "Everything" Bro…nice ring to it.

  13. I don't even care that much about torches, but I'll watch the video just to add another view to your stats. Anything I can do to ultimately add to the glorious fuckwittery I've observed with large shiny things, can only benefit me in the long run 😁.
    Happy new year dude

  14. Hope you had a very Merry Christmas knife bro. I look forward to your upcoming videos in 2020. Much love from South Florida. 👍

  15. I just bought an FW3A based on your suggestion. Thanks for taking the time to do your reviews, and geek out over the details. I wouldn't have known which one to pickup until you compared all 52,574 lights in this video. Happy new year.

  16. This video had so much math in it my geometry aggressively humped my algebra into a per-calculus state of trigonometry. Now I need a cigarette, a hot shower, and a long cuddle. AKB, call me.

  17. Just stopping by to let you know that I literally fell asleep during the turbo mode measurings section. I am typing this after regaining consciousness following a 3-hour nap.

    Some might say that my tough day at work combined with watching your very boring flashlight review narrated in that monotone voice was the cocktail that caused me to doze off, but I know in my heart that your YouTube content gives me the comfort I require and makes me feel safe in this dangerous world we live in, something akin to a virtual safety blanket.

    Keep those reviews coming 😉
    Signed: A refreshed and well-rested viewer from Portugal

  18. New audio equipment? The sound is so much better. I doubt my headphones alone are gonna change the audio that much. Whatever you are doing differently keep doing it.

  19. It was right when you mentioned that Muggle Mode was six clicks from start that I realized you passed 50,000 subs… and I thought to myself, "How does he not have more?" and simultaneously "How does he not have less?" 😉

  20. I've used the single switch ones, and I end up clicking away like a dipshit trying to figure it out when I really need it. If they made one with a mode selector, and an on/off, I'd be more than happy to pick one up.

  21. So, when I watch one of your videos…I often times go to your page and watch several.  My favorite ones are the cheaper/foreign knife reviews.  The world wouldn't be the same without THEE Advanced Knife Bro!!!

  22. Finally u came back! Glad to see ur review again.. (cause runtime test, its rare someone tested it).. I owned lumintop edc18 nichia.. love its front e-switch..

  23. I prefer the side switch too. I ended up on the EDC18 and have been carrying it for over a month beside my leatherman free p4. The clip holds it perfectly and has yet to slide out even upside down when I rushed to get ready one day. Left it on my coffee table for a few hours on medium accidentally for an hour or so…. so now I have something that resembles a shitty ashtray burn mark with 3 cigarettes put together. I may have tried burning a garbage bag at one point as well… I successfully wasted a bag in my curiosity. Didn’t know about the 1A, hope they come out with an edc06? version. Thanks a bunch! Keep ‘em coming!

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