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Introduction Having someone to hold your torch so you can have both hands free is useful in many situations, especially if they are good at pointing it where you want to see and of course, not in your eyes. When no such brilliant helper can be found, a head torch can do just as good a job. Head torches come in many different varieties, ranging from low CRI - high output, to illuminate large areas to high CRI - low output, for illuminating closer, with better quality light. Sofirn sent us one of their head torches to review, that can combine both: The Sofirn HS20. The Sofirn HS20 is a dual head lamp, with independent controls for a high output - low CRI and a low(er) output - high CRI emitter. This sounds like a brilliant idea, so let's delve into it and see how they've done! Unboxing The Sofirn HS20 comes in a generic brown box with the company logo stamped on the top and a sticker specifying the exact model it contains. The torch and all the accessories are tucked inside in no particular order. The accessories include a 1m (3ft) long USB A to USB C charging cable, 2 spare O-rings, the head strap and the manual. The torch itself comes protected in a bubble-wrap bag. There is a label on the torch, held with a rubber band, reminding the end user to remove the insulation paper from the battery (which is shipped inside the torch) so the torch can function. The design of the Sofirn HS20 makes it a dedicated head torch, as it is not convenient to operate in hand. It consists of a tube, with 2 end caps and a protrusion in the middle of the tube, which houses the 2 emitters and their optics. On top of the protrusion there are 2 buttons, to control the 2 emitters separately. The emitter on the left (as you face the torch) is a Cree XHP50.2 inside an orange peel reflector. Despite being marketed as a spotlight, this configuration with a large dye emitter and a shallow, orange peel reflector is not going to focus the light into a narrow beam and have a lot of throw. I consider it instead to be the high output option. The emitter on the right is a Samsung LH351D CRI90 behind a TIR optic, which is protected by a glass lens. This is marketed as a flood light and indeed the TIR optic makes it floody. It is also the high CRI, lower output option. One of the end caps is marked with the USB symbol. The other has the mandatory CE / RoHS / do not throw in the bin markings. Unscrewing the USB marked end cap reveals the USB C charging port. Unscrewing the other end cap reveals the battery, with the insulating paper on top. The battery is a Sofirn branded, button top, 3000mAh, 18650, Li-Ion battery. A brass puck at the back of the driver PCB makes contact with the positive terminal of the battery while a thick, good quality spring on the end cap makes contact with the negative terminal. The torch fits securely in the silicone cradle of the head band and the straps are soft and adjustable. Build Quality The build quality of the Sofirn HS20 is... OK. All parts fit together nicely and the anodization is uniform but there are some milling defects that can be seen under the anodization, especially on the edges of the milled grooves at the back. This has no functional consequences whatsoever, of course, but it detracts from the aesthetics. Specifications The specifications of the Sofirn HS20 as found on the company's website can be viewed below. The high output Cree XHP50.2 emitter has a CCT of 6000K-6500K and a CRI of 70 while the high CRI Samsung LH351D emitter has a CCT of 5000K and a CRI of 90. The USB C port facilitates fast charging with 2A current and can charge the included battery in 2.5 hours. User Interface The Sofirn HS20 features one switch per emitter, for fully independent control. From OFF: Click throw / flood button to turn on throw / flood emitter. Press and hold to select modes low / medium / high. Click to turn off. Double click throw / flood button to turn on throw / flood emitter on Turbo. Click to turn off. Triple click any button to activate lock out. The flood emitter will flash twice. Clicking any button while in lock out mode will make the flood emitter flash twice to indicate the torch is in lock out mode. Triple click throw / flood button to go out of lockout mode and turn on the throw / flood emitter. Press and hold throw / flood button to turn on throw / flood emitter on Eco mode. Keep holding for more then 1sec to go to and cycle through the standard modes: low / medium / high. Click to turn off. From ON: Click the throw / flood button to turn off the throw / flood emitter. Double click the throw / flood button to go to Turbo on the throw / flood emitter. Click to return to the previous mode. Triple click any button to cycle through throw / flood / throw + flood. Long press the throw / flood button to select modes low / medium / high on the throw / flood emitter. Click to turn off. The switches are also lit, to provide information on the battery level. Modes and Run Times The Sofirn HS20 has 5 modes for each emitter: Eco, Low, Medium, High and Turbo. The output of each mode for each emitter as well as the 2 emitters combined together, according to Sofirn, is shown in the following table. My measurements are in the table below in orange, while the company specifications are in black. It looks like the specifications of the Sofirn HS20 are quite accurate! Size Comparison Here is a side by side photo of the Sofirn HS20 with the Sofirn HS10. The Sofirn HS20 is quite compact for a dual emitter head torch with a 18650 battery. Photometry I took some photometry readings with an Opple Light Master Pro. The results are in the following table. The CCTs of both emitters seem to be warmer than spec. The CRI readings are what is expected. On the other hand, it looks like the Opple Light master pro has trouble reading the Duv of the Cree XHP50.2 emitter, which, as you can see in the following photos, taken with a white balance of 5500K, is definitely not on the rosy side. The photos show the Sofirn HS20 on the right, compared to the Sofirn HS10 on the left. The Sofirn HS10 uses a Samsung LH351D 5000K emitter, which is the same with the Sofirn HS20 flood emitter. On the first photo we see the Sofirn HS20 spot light, on the second the flood light and on the third, both. Beam Profile As there are 2 emitters with their separate optics in the Sofirn HS20, we have 2 beam profiles and of course, the combination of both. The first photo shows the beam profile of the spotlight, with the Cree XHP50.2 emitter and the shallow, orange peal reflector. The second photo shows the beam profile of the floodlight, with the Samsung LH351D emitter and the TIR optic. It is obvious that the first has a tighter hot spot than the second and as it also has more output, it is certain it will throw further. In the last photo, we have the combined beam profile of both emitters. Beam Shots Here are some beam shots of the Sofirn HS20 flood light, spot light and dual emitters, at Low, Medium, High and Turbo. The following video shows a comparison of the Sofirn HS20 to the Sofirn HS10, on Turbo, using both emitters of the Sofirn HS20. The distance to the end of the alley is 70m. Driver The driver of the Sofirn HS20 features thermal step down, reverse polarity protection and low voltage protection. It is a FET driver and uses PWM on all modes to control the output. The PWM is of high frequency and not visible to the eye. Here is the PWM when only the spotlight is on: Here is the PWM when only the floodlight is on: And this is the PWM with both emitters on: The camera can see the PWM but the eye cannot. Current Draw The following table shows the current draw of the Sofirn HS20, using the included battery. Charging The Sofirn HS20 comes with USB C onboard charging. The battery included with the Sofirn HS20 is rated at 3000mAh and I measured it at 3043mAh. The battery's internal resistance was measured at 50mΩ. It looks like the battery included with the Sofirn HS20 is of high quality. The torch has under voltage protection and turns off when the battery voltage drops to 2.88V. Charging the battery of the Sofirn HS20 is very easy. Just plug the included USB A to USB C cable and any USB charger that can provide the required maximum current of 2A into the USB C socket on the torch to charge it. Using a lower output charger will still work but the charging will be slower and take more time. There is also support for USB C to USB C cable charging. The indicative LED next to the USB C socket will turn red while the battery is charging and green to indicate a full charge. Charging the Sofirn HS20 battery from 2.88V to 4.12V, where the charging terminated, took 2 hours, 28 minutes and 2 seconds, which is in accordance with the 2.5 hours charging specification. The maximum current drawn was 1.7688A. Output & Runtimes The Sofirn HS 20 is rated at a maximum output of 2700 Lumen and a maximum throw of 136m. I do not own a multi thousand dollar worth integrating sphere, just a logging Lumen meter and a home made integrating tube. The array is calibrated with 3 separate, professionally measured lights and gives me consistent results, but there is definitely room for error and deviations are to be expected. Running the Sofirn HS20 with the included battery and using both emitters yielded a maximum output of 2616 Lumen at turn on and 2456 Lumen at 30 seconds (ANSI). That is very close to spec. The outputs of the spotlight and floodlight emitters were also up to spec. You can see the full runtimes of each emitter separately and both together, on Turbo, in the graph below. Here are the first 10 minutes, in greater detail. I measured the throw of the Sofirn HS20, using the included battery and both emitters, at 138m (4732cd). The spotlight was measured at 127m (4002cd) and the floodlight at 71m (1271cd). Conclusion The Sofirn HS20 is a value for money, dual head torch that includes a high CRI floodlight and a high power spotlight with independent controls and an intuitive and simple user interface. It comes with a comfortable, adjustable head strap, USB C 2A charging and a 3000mAh 18650 battery. The build quality is good and the design is very functional, but the finish could be better aesthetically, as there are some small imperfections in the milling, under the anodization. The driver uses PWM to control the output in all modes, but the PWM is high frequency and not visible or in any way tiring to the eye. The driver also has thermal regulation, low voltage protection and reverse polarity protection. If you are in the UK, you can purchase the Sofirn HS20 from Amazon for £56.99, minus a 10% voucher available at the time of this review. From anywhere in the world, you can purchase it from the Sofirn Website for $41.99 plus the tax for your country. For Greece, the tax is $5.46 and brings the total cost to $47.45. Let us summarise the pros and cons of the Sofirn HS20. Pros + Dual emitters, 1 high output Cree XHP50.2 and 1 high CRI Samsung LH351D, with independent controls. + Simple and intuitive user interface. + High and true to spec output. + Temperature regulation, low voltage protection and reverse polarity protection. + USB C 2A onboard charging with USB C to USB C support. + 3000mAh 18650 Li-Ion battery included. + Comfortable and adjustable head strap. + IP68. + Value for money. Cons - Small imperfections in the milling, under the anodization. TheLAB.GR Thanks to Sofirn for providing the torch for review Polymeros Achaniotis 13/04/2022
Introduction Sometimes you need a pocket torch and sometimes you need a head torch. And then, there are times your usage scenario is so versatile and complex that you need to cover all possible situations. We all have to make compromises with the EDC torch we carry and choose the one that is most likely to serve our needs for the day, but what if there was a torch that was so versatile it could eliminate the need to choose? Brinyte aspires to provide the answer to that question with their new Brinyte HL16 Noctua. The Brinyte HL16 Noctua is a headlamp like no other that I have seen, as its head rotates from 0 to 90 degrees, including 3 intermediate positions, thus providing unparalleled versatility and eliminating the need to compromise when choosing your EDC torch type. But what compromises did Brinyte have to make, if any, to realise such a unique and complex design? Read ahead to find out. Unboxing The Brinyte HL16 Noctua comes in a very nice cardboard box that is held closed with a blue paper ribbon, bearing the company's logo. The front of the box features a photo of the torch, emphasizing its articulated head and the magnetic charging capability. The back is less exciting, but provides a useful QR code to find out more about the product. The top and bottom of the box are plain white, while the longer sides feature the name of the torch and one of them has a photo of the torch mounted on the included head strap. Upon opening the box we find a card, explaining that the battery is already inside the torch, but insulated from the tail cap by an insulation film. The film has to be removed before the torch can be used. Inside the box we find a head strap, a magnetic charging USB cable, 2 spare O Rings and 2 leaflets. One of the leaflets is the warranty registration card which will allow the owner of the torch to extend its warranty from 2 to 5 years, free of charge, by registering the product on the company's website. The other leaflet is the user manual, which is easy to understand and includes helpful illustrations. The magnetic charging cable is 53cm long, including the plug and magnetic head. It is rather stiff and not at all like the much nicer charging cable that is included with the Brinyte PT18pro Oathkeeper, which is supple, sleeved, significantly longer at 102cm and features an illuminated magnetic charging tip. This is a definite downgrade from the magnetic charging cables of previous Brinyte models. Thankfully, the much nicer cable included with the Brinyte PT18pro Oathkeeper is compatible with the Brinyte HL16 Noctua. If the charging cable is a bit disappointing, the head strap makes up for it. It is very well made, has a good quality rubber cradle for the torch and adjustable size. The weaving is elastic and features ventilation holes which are a big help in warm weather. Finally, the torch itself! The Brinyte HL16 Noctua features a unique design, with an articulated head that can turn from 0 to 90 degrees. It is made of black anodized aluminium, with blue accents and has a large rubber button with the company logo engraved on one side and a magnetic charging connection point on the other. The head and the tail of the light feature a faceted milling design that provides both added grip and aesthetics. The articulated head is designed and executed with precision and definitely adds to the value and - I am sure - to the manufacturing cost of the torch. There are several detents visible, which means the head will not only stop in the 0 and 90 degree position but also in some positions in between. The clip is sturdy, thick and well designed. It comes positioned in the bezel up carry orientation and is as deep carry as can be, allowing for the articulated head. It can easily be removed and installed in the bezel down carry orientation, which makes the torch a very deep carry. With the clip removed, the Brinyte HL16 Noctua can be mounted onto the head strap. The front of the light features a crenelated bezel with an eye catching design. Inside the head sits a smooth reflector, which is unusual for a head torch as it will increase the throw, but taking into account that it is not very deep and that the torch is a multifunctional one, it was probably chosen to balance the beam for all uses. The tail cap is smooth and features a magnet that is not very strong but can hold the weight of the Brinyte HL16 Noctua in any orientation. Unscrewing the tail cap reveals the insulating film blocking the negative pole of the battery from making contact with the spring of the tail cap. Let's remove it. The included battery is a Brinyte branded 16340 Li-Ion battery, with a rated capacity of 650mAh. The spring in the tail cap is not thick, but should be sufficient for the current requirements of this torch. The head features a brass button battery contact, with no spring. Despite only having a spring on one side of the battery, hits and bumps did not cause the Brinyte HL16 Noctua to turn off. With the insulator film removed and the battery re-installed, the Brinyte HL16 Noctua is ready for action. Quality The build quality of the Brinyte HL16 Noctua does not allow for any complaints. The fit and finish are excellent, the milling is perfect and the anodization is without any flaws. Articulated Head The one unique feature of the Brinyte HL16 Noctua is its articulated head, that will turn from 0 to 90 degrees. The movement of the articulated head is smooth and enjoyable and makes for an addicting fidget toy. Besides the two extreme positions, the head of the torch will stop in 3, equally spaced, intermediate positions, thus allowing for the light to be directed where it is needed. This is a very nice and useful feature that I have not seen on any other torch available today. Size Comparison The following photos offer a direct size comparison of the Brinyte HL16 Noctua to the Olight S1R Baton II. The Brinyte HL16 Noctua is significantly longer, despite using the same size battery. This is a compromise Brinyte had to make to achieve the articulated head design. Nevertheless, the torch is still easily pocketable and the added functionality of the articulated head is worth the extra length. Tint and Beam Profile The tint of the Brinyte HL16 Noctua is above the BBL (greenish). It is similar to the tint of the Olight S1R Baton II but warmer, although that could easily just be due to the tint lottery. The emitter used in the Brinyte HL16 Noctua is not high CRI. We can also see from the angle of the beams that the Olight S1R Baton II has a floodier beam pattern than the Brinyte HL16 Noctua. The beam pattern of the Brinyte HL16 Noctua is well balanced although the smooth reflector makes it throw more than the average EDC or head torch. On the other hand, that helps balance the lower power, giving it about the same intensity and throw as the Olight S1R Baton II, despite having about half the Lumen output. There is a clear hot spot surrounded by the spill which gradually fades out. No ugly artefacts, despite the smooth reflector. Beam Shots I tested the Brinyte HL16 Noctua over a distance of 70m. The following video shows a comparison of the Brinyte HL16 Noctua to the Olight S1R Baton II. Driver The driver of the Brinyte HL16 Noctua is a linear, unregulated driver that uses PWM to dim the light, on all levels, except, of course, on full (High). The PWM is visible to the camera but not visible to the naked eye, on any level. Even though I prefer constant current drivers, PWM is an efficient and cost effective way to achieve LED dimming and if it is done at a high enough frequency, as seems to be the case here, it is not a problem. The driver features thermal regulation, low voltage protection, over charge protection and reverse polarity protection. Specifications The specifications of the Brinyte HL16 Noctua , as found on the company's website, are as follows: Despite the table stating that the maximum output is 500 Lumen, the actual advertised output as stated in the manual is 520 Lumen. I have made Brinyte aware of the mistake in the table and they will correct it. The output is lower than other contemporary torches of this size and that is the 2nd compromise that Brinyte had to make so that the Brinyte HL16 Noctua can have its articulated head. This is because the thermal mass of the head is too small and the thermal conductivity through the articulation is too restricted to allow for higher output. Nevertheless, 520 Lumen is more than enough for any task expected from a torch of this size and the articulated head will definitely come in more useful than a few seconds of extra brightness. The Brinyte HL16 Noctua is IP66 rated which means it is dust tight and can withstand powerful water jets, but it cannot be submerged. That is the 3rd and final compromise, after the limited maximum output and longer body, that Brinyte had to make to allow for the articulated head. IP66 is more than adequate for normal use and unless you drop your torch into a puddle, you should be alright using it in any situation. The drop resistance rating is a respectable 1.5m, so the articulated head does not seem to limit the durability. The maximum throw is 140m, which is a lot for the 520 Lumen rating and is due to the smooth reflector. User Interface The user interface of the Brinyte HL16 Noctua is very simple and can be seen in the following animation. To turn the torch on, press and hold the button until it lights up. The torch features mode memory, so it will turn on at the last used mode. Press the button to cycle between the 4 main modes: High, Medium, Low, Moon. Press and hold the button to turn the torch off. Double click the button at any time to enter Strobe mode. Press again to go to the previously used mode. I disagree with the company's decision to make the UI go from high to low as I find this counter intuitive, especially on an EDC or head torch. When I am on Moonlight and need a little more light I would like to be able to go to Low without having to be blinded by High first. I also miss the ability to turn the torch on at Moon mode, regardless of the previously used mode. Some torches use press and hold from off to go straight to Moon mode, but as the Brinyte HL16 Noctua uses press and hold to turn on, this is not possible. I understand that the press and hold to turn on choice makes a lock function unnecessary, but I would prefer a Moon shortcut and a lock function. Modes and Run Times The brightness of the modes and the respective run times, according to the manual, are shown in the table below. I have added a row with my own measurements. It is very refreshing to see a company that does not overestimate their product's Lumen output! Kudos to Brinyte! Current Draw As the UI of the Brinyte HL16 Noctua goes from High to Low, so will our current draw measurements. The torch draws just over 1.4A on High, just over 0.5A on medium, 134mA on Low and 13mA on Moonlight level. The current requirements are not demanding and the battery is a standard 16340, so the Brinyte HL16 Noctua has the advantage to be able to run on any 3.7V Li-Ion 16340 battery. Charging The battery included with the Brinyte HL16 Noctua is rated at 650mAh and I measured it at 697mAh. The battery's internal resistance was measured at around 112mΩ. It is clear that the battery included with the Brinyte HL16 Noctua is of high quality. Another positive point for Brinyte. The torch has under voltage protection and turns off when the battery voltage drops to 2.77V. The indicative LEDs around the magnetic charging port are lit green during operation if the battery charge is from 100% to 40%, lit red if it is from 40% to 5% and blink red if it is below 5%. Charging the Brinyte HL16 Noctua is very easy. Just use the included magnetic cable that automatically attaches to the torch when you get it near enough. The other end of the cable is a standard USB A plug and can be connected to any USB charger or computer USB port. The indicative LEDs around the charging port will turn red while the torch is charging and turn green to indicate a full charge. Charging the Brinyte HL16 Noctua from 2.77V to 4.18V, where the charging terminated, took 2 hours, 18 minutes and 51 seconds. The maximum current drawn was 0.5542A, so any USB charger or computer USB port will be sufficient. A charger is not provided with the light but you can use your phone charger. Unfortunately, the indicative LEDs turned green way before the charging was actually completed, indicated by the green arrow in the chart above. The voltage of the battery at that point was around 3.9V and there was still a long time to go and a lot of energy the battery could absorb and store before the charging actually completed. This is a practice that some other companies, such as Olight, have as well and with which I do not agree. Brinyte maintains that this increases the battery life as it is not fully charged every time and also that most users will not take the torch off the charger the moment the indicative LEDs turn green. In my opinion, this is nonsense. I want to know when my battery is actually fully charged and not have to guess (or use measuring equipment as above) and if I want to give my battery a full charge to get the full run time it is for me, the user, to decide. Having indicative LEDs that lie to me and having to leave the torch on the charger for a longer time, with no visual indication of when the charging is actually completed is most inconvenient and has no advantage whatsoever. Output & Runtimes The Brinyte HL16 Noctua is rated at a maximum output of 520 Lumen and a maximum throw of 140m. I do not own a multi thousand dollar worth integrating sphere, just a logging Lumen meter and a home made integrating tube. The array is calibrated with 3 separate, professionally measured lights and gives me consistent results, but there is definitely room for error and deviations are to be expected. According to my measurements, the maximum output (at turn on) was 556 Lumen, which is 7% more than the advertised 520. ANSI output (at 30 seconds) was 510 Lumen and at 2 minutes it was still 463 Lumen. Then the output declined rapidly over the next 38 seconds to 315 Lumen. It then followed the gradual declining curve of the battery output and gave useful light for over an hour, as the specifications promise. The rest can be seen in the graphs below. The first graph is the full runtime graph. And here are the first 10 minutes, in greater detail. At the end of the battery life, the very low output fluctuates as the indicative LED flashes red to show that the remaining battery capacity is below 5%. The temperature was very well controlled, as you can see in the runtime graphs. The head and switch temperatures are close but there is some difference despite their close proximity, which demonstrates the thermal impedance of the articulated head. The maximum intensity of the light was measured at 5002.4cd, which translates to a throw of 141m. That is 1m more than the 140m advertised. Conclusion The Brinyte HL16 Noctua is a unique EDC sized head torch with excellent build quality and an articulated head which allows it to turn its beam from 0 to 90 degrees relative to the body of the light, including 3 intermediate stops. Its aluminium body is well made and hard anodized and the fit and finish are flawless. The torch meets and exceeds all of its specifications, which is refreshing to see as very few manufacturers respect their customers enough to provide true and accurate measurements. The head band provided is very comfortable, it is adjustable and the weave allows for ventilation. The clip is unidirectional and very well designed and can be installed in 2 positions, for bezel up or bezel down deep carry. The driver uses PWM to dim the output, so PWM is present at all output levels, except on High. The frequency of the PWM is high enough to not be visible to the naked eye and did not tire me when using the light. The unique articulated design of the head of the Brinyte HL16 Noctua imposed some limits on this torch. The maximum output is lower than most comparable sized torches due to the thermal barrier imposed by the articulated head while its total length is increased and its waterproof rating decreased for the same reason. Nevertheless, the advantage provided by the design will outweigh the limitations for many users. Besides, maximum output is only available for about a minute on all small torches and after that, the output of the Brinyte HL16 Noctua is similar to theirs. The Brinyte HL16 Noctua is currently under mass production and scheduled to be available for purchase at the end of October 2021 from the company's website and the cost will be $69.98. Brinyte have provided a $10 discount code for the readers of this review, which brings the price down to $59.98. The discount code is: HL16Noctua Disclaimer: I get absolutely no percentage of the sales or any other personal benefits from Brinyte, except for the fact that the torch was provided for review free of charge. Let's list the Pros and Cons of the Brinyte HL16 Noctua: Pros + Unique articulated head design that allows for 0 to 90 degrees position, including 3 intermediate stops + Measurements show specs to be accurate and not exaggerated, showing respect to the customer + Good and balanced beam pattern + Good quality head strap + Magnetic charging + Magnetic tail cap + Included good quality battery + Low Voltage Protection, Over Charge Protection and Reverse Polarity Protection + Thermal regulation + Low power and charging LED indicator + Good quality unidirectional clip that can be placed in 2 positions, for bezel up or bezel down deep carry + Compatible with all 3.7V Li-Ion 16340 and with 3.0V CR123 batteries Cons - High to Low User Interface - Charging indicator indicates charging complete a long time before it is actually completed - Maximum output limited to 520 Lumen - Longer than most 16340 torches - IP rating limited to IP66 - The driver is not regulated and uses PWM to dim the emitter - The charging cable is a downgrade from the one included in previous Brinyte models TheLAB.GR Thanks to Brinyte for providing the torch for review Polymeros Achaniotis 16/10/2021