Dec 21, 2005 at 10:34 pm #1217400
@jerimothLocale: New England
OK, I’ve always been a fan of ultralight lights like the Tikka Plus, which I used on a number of trips to the Andes, and one trip on Everest, no prob. Then I tried the EOS, loved that, then the Tikka XP, loved that. Now I find myself comparing the Black Diamond Spot to the Tikka XP, and the Spot wins hands-down. The Spot’s spot is bigger, brighter, and floodier than the Tikka spot. The Tikka XP’s flood (with the plastic lens) is better than the 3 LEDs that make the Spot’s flood for reading or local area illumination, but then again that’s with the high power mode on the Tikka compared to what I assume is lower drain for the Spot. So, I’m leaning towards the Spot.
Just to make myself more crazy, I’ve looked at the (much heavier) Apex and have to say that this is maybe the brightest light (subjectively) I’ve seen while still having plenty of flood/spot options and long burntime. I suggest this since basically I’m scared of falling into a crevasse due to headlamp brightness problems (happened once when I couldn’t see through my tinted ski goggles and a dim petzl micro incan). I’m tempted to bring both but if I can get away with the Spot, and a photon mini LED backup, that would be great, because the spot uses 3 AAA, whereas the Apex uses AAs. Of course I’d use Lithium to save weight but also because I’ll be operating for five days or so in very cold temps. Hard to find reviews on flashlightreviews, or Candlepowerforums, of the Spot, although the Apex gets high (and deserved) marks on one review site. Any recommendations?Dec 21, 2005 at 11:07 pm #1347371
@kdesignLocale: Mythical State of Jefferson
I believe that the Spot is either partially or fully unregulated, the one sour note. I wish BD would get it right. I’ve been reasonably happy with the regulated EOS in inclement conditions. If you feel that doesn’t have enough candlepower or is too spotty for your taste, it would be hard to beat the Apex (even though it is on the heavy side) I’m spoiled, I could never go back to an unregulated Luxeon headlamp. If this is for professional related or SAR work—go for the heavy artillery.Dec 22, 2005 at 10:50 am #1347390
As an owner of the EOS, I wonder what qualities the Tikka XP, the Spot and the apex have that makes you prefere them. I can not imagine a better light than the EOS.
I ask because I was going to buy a second EOS and would like your imput first.
PaulDec 24, 2005 at 4:13 pm #1347452
@jerimothLocale: New England
That’s a really good question. I think the Tikka XP is a bit lighter- but the Spot also seems lighter than the EOS. I was very impressed by the brightness of the Spot, and can imagine putting in a fresh set of lithium AAAs before a summit attempt, and using regular batteries on other days. I took an EOS up Rainier a few months ago and loved it- I guess I just like the idea of a very good spot and the light from the 3 other LEDs seemed bright enough for walking, reading, or camp tasks. I think when it comes down to it, the EOS may in fact be a better light overall, but the form factor of the Tikka XP and the Spot seemed better, and I can’t find my EOS right now! Also the smaller lights may be a bit ligher. I think I’ll take the Apex and use the Spot for backup, Lithiums for all of them. Thanks.Jan 6, 2006 at 11:29 pm #1348038
For any who might still be interested:
I’ve updated the intial review with some qualitative observations on battery life. If interested just click here to be taken to the Reader Review. Once there, the “update” section is near the very bottom and clearly indicated by a bold “Update:” heading.
A short “Note:” on questions was also added.
Additionally, item #8 was updated with just a bit more info on the battery carrier and ease of battery removal from the carrier.Jan 7, 2006 at 12:06 am #1348040
AnonymousJan 13, 2006 at 6:35 pm #1348522
Sounds like folks here want lights with some kick.
The Speleo nova is real bright, with a 3watt luxeon.
One interesting light that’s affordable and still brighter than the EOS is the Nuwai. It takes 2 123 lithiums, but you can buy those from surefire and other vendors for only $1.50 or less. Pila also makes 123 rechargables.Jan 13, 2006 at 7:16 pm #1348526
Had considered the Nova 3 until the PT Apex was released. Was so pleased with it that i dropped the Nova 3 and the Stenlight S7 off my “to be acquired” list. Maybe they both should be back on?
Eric, can you compare the Nova 3 (a 4.5v system) with any of the following headlamps?
the PT Apex (~1/3 the price of the Nova3), or
the Silva L1, or
the Nighthawk ECO (either digital or analog versions)
any cp. info on light output or batt life would be helpful. also,please describe the Nova 3 beam pattern. many thanks.
all three that i mentioned for comparison are 6v systems; the first two, definitely, have up to 3W output. the Nighthawk is a Luxeon I LED (1W or 3W ??? i don’t know), but has the throw of 3W and a bit further even, but a very narrow beam. i have mixed feelings about it because of this. the Nighthawk was originally designed as a bicycle headlamp. so, i’m guessing here, “throw” might be more impt than beam width (there’s always a trade-off b/t the two) since you can move faster on the bike than trekking with a pack on your back.
BTW, the Nuwai headlamp is sold by others, e.g. eGear, and i’ve seen yet another brand name which i forget at this moment. Purchased mine at Campmor.com some time ago, but they don’t seem to be sold there anymore (i just checked; was going to provide a link). if you can find it, it’s a bit pricey at ~$50. it is a fine headlamp however. the Li CR123 batts can be purchased at BrighGuy.com – a dozen for a either $18.95 or $19.95 depending upon the brand. this actually makes it more cost effective than AAA Li batts, at least in qty of a dozen. also, if you’re using an AquaStar or AquaStarPlus UV-C water purifier, one set of spare batts work in both the headlamp and the water purifier, or don’t carry the spare set and still have two sets of batts with you on a trek. this is a good headlamp. nice throw and beam pattern. don’t know why i never mentioned it before; guess i was fixated on AAA headlamps (many thanks for mentionng it Eric). great for cold weather use due to the Li batts. medium beam sufficient for nighttime trekking. oh…it weighs ~5oz with batts, not bad for a 1W LED headlamp and it has excellent current regulation. good throw and beam pattern. comparable to an Eos in batt life according to my headlamp spreadsheet (although this is an Eos using alk. batts – although, generally, Li batts don’t provide much increase in overall batt life, but can provide a substantial increase in regulated output due to their linear, up to a point, discharge curve).
A headlamp somewhat similar to the Nuwai headlamp (not a clone of the Nuwai) is the Streamlight Argo HP (1W powered by 2 CR123 Lithium batts). This is different than the original Argo headlamp and is much improved.Jan 15, 2006 at 8:15 am #1348638
One nice feature the Tikka XP has is a diffuser lens. This makes it much nicer for reading and bumping around camp.
I have both. I used to carry my EOS and an Aurora. Used the Aurora around camp.Jan 15, 2006 at 11:51 am #1348643
right on. the TikkaXP is, IMHO, the current king of the AAA headlamps.Jan 15, 2006 at 2:11 pm #1348647
King? The XP has a lot going for it. But it deserves the title only if regulation is not considered important (circuitry that in effect keeps the LED brighter for longer at all levels vs. the long, slow dimming from the beginning one gets in the increasingly archaic non-regulated lights).
Why can’t Petzl and BD get their tech butts off the ground on this point?Jan 15, 2006 at 9:54 pm #1348656
Ian RaeBPL Member
@iancraeLocale: North Cascades
isnt regulated output less of a concern if you’re using lithium batteries?Jan 15, 2006 at 10:59 pm #1348660
yes. you are right. the near linear discharge curve of Li batts provides a somewhat reasonable substitute for current regulation. i’ve tried it in unregulated headlamps and really like how much longer the light stays bright. however, Li batts are a more expensive option.
using alkaline batts, with some unregulated headlamps employing 3xAAA and running on max output, light output can be down to 50% in 30min to 2hrs due to the non-linear discharge curve of alk. batts. allowing the batts to cool for 10-15min every 30min, like cavers do, but they carry a backup-“primary” (not really an oxymoron) light source and so can afford to do this, will extend the time the batts can power the headlamp to produce bright light output.
also, Li batts in regulated headlamp will provide, in some cases, up to 4x the regulated output time. so, either technology “wins” with Li batts (it’s the wallet that looses).
Info on Regulation for any who are interested:
i am a very big fan of current regulation.
however, there are some myths surrounding current regulation. any regulatory circuitry (whether voltage reg., curr. reg., or PWM [pulse width modulation] is parasitic in nature, drawing additional current from the power source in order to power itself – there is a lot of engineering effort put into making these parasitic losses as small as possible). while operating in the regulation band, the light will maintain near maximum output – a good regulation circuit can keep it w/i 90% or more of initial maximum regulated output. i’ve read of one curr. reg. chip that can keep it closer to 97%. some don’t do quite as well as the 90%, some only 85%, after a short initial max. output period. often higher % regulators draw more parasitic current for their operation. generally, you don’t get something for nothing.
IIRC, the Eos, using alk. batts, on max output (fortunately, IMHO, for most applications, medium output is all that is required) after far, far less than 30minutes continuous operation (within a few minutes continuous operation at max. current draw, IIRC) has dropped down to ~85% of max initial output (i believe/guess that much of this is due to the batteries heating up at hi-current draws – batts get hot => internal resistance of batts increases => drops voltage internal to the batt; smaller batts heat up faster). the human eye, under most circumstances the hiker is likely to encounter is probably unable to distinguish this 15% reduction in light output (25%-33% is a more reasonable value to notice a difference in light output under all but the most favorable conditions, IME). this 85% value might be a good trade-off, however. higher levels of regulation would undoubtedly employ greater parasitic losses to power the more sophisticated regulator, resulting in better regulation, but shorter regulated output times.
typically, current regulated headlamps behave in a small number of ways. as battery voltage drops and the regulatory period ends, one of the following typically occurs:
a) the light shuts off (allow the batts to cool down for 10-15 min and you will often get more light out)
b) the light flickers as an indication that the output needs to be lowered in order to maintain regulated output (Photon Fusion Freedom operates in this manner for instance)
c) the output is auto-magically “stepped” down to some lower regulated level, or very low regulated level output mode, so as to not leave the user in the dark (e.g. 1st gen. Photon Fusion).
d) the output is switched over to unregulated output (‘a la several PT headlamps, Eos being one of them, PT Corona and PT Apex being two others that i am familiar with)
now, if an unregulated headlamp were compared side-by-side with the regulated one (assume also that starting light output was similar), the reg. headlamp would be drawing a bit more current to power the regulator ciruitry = parasitic current. at the point that the regulated headlamp lost its ability to regulate light output and switched to an unregulated mode of operation, the unregulated headlamp would be “burning” brighter. the unregulated headlamp has not had to suffer the parasitic losses that the regulated headlamp was subjected to. from this point on the unregulated headlamp is more usable than the regulated headlamp. sometimes, this difference is quite marked – even for 3xAAA headlamps i’ve seen graphs where it can be sometimes measured in hours.
PT’s solution to the regulatory problem is a very fine solution. i really like it. reg output auto-magically switches over to unreg output. some older reg. headlamps just stopped working at that point, leaving the user in the dark, or switched over to a very dim, very lo output mode which was not real useful other than as a task light. the Eos switching over to unreg output still provides a fair amount of usable light for quite a while (measured in hours).
keep in mind, the PT documentation that comes with each reg. headlamp makes this quite clear, that while using Li batts will extend the reg. burn time b/f switching over to unreg output mode, it will not extend the TOTAL burn time. less power remains in the Li batts to run the headlamp in the unreg. mode of operation. with Li batts, the unreg time can be a small fraction of the unreg time that alk. batts produce since more of the batt’s stored energy is used in the regulatory mode, leaving less available for the unreg. mode. this is not a criticism, just an observation. so, if you use Li batts don’t count on as long a time of unreg. output as you prev. experienced if you used alk. batts – you could be in for a surprise!
so, let me clarify my earlier statement, if the TikkaXP is the KING of 3xAAA headlamps, then the Eos is the QUEEN of 3xAAA headlamps. …and…
as any married man will tell you, we all really know who rules the roost!!
ok…seriously, from my perspective, while i really like regulated output and am disappointed that the TikkaXP is not regulated (see my Posts in other Threads and my ReaderReviews which mention this fact), the light output (and occasional BOOST mode use) plus the diffuser, puts it over the top for me. given a choice, if it’s close, i’ll go for regulation. the TikkaXP just nudges out the Eos for its other features. oh…perhaps if the Eos had a better/larger beam pattern it would still, for me, edge out the TikkaXP. the beam pattern in my Eos is a much smaller diameter as cp. to my TikkaXP & so is just a tad less useful, i.e. more “chicken walking” (i.e. head bobbing and turning) is req’d to spot lo-contrast, faded blazes on trees & rocks. that is, in some situations, you can’t just move your eyes to “spot”/pick-out things/blazes; you must turn your head a bit (up-down, or left-right), to bring the small, very bright central spot of the Eos to bear upon tree trunks, rocks, etc. the TikkaXP bright central “spot” is quite a bit larger than the Eos & eliminates much of this “chicken walking”. psychologically, one gets a more comforting feeling that nothing is being “missed” with the larger illuminated area – probably because less effort is required to make sure that you don’t miss a trail blaze.
there certainly is very little to complain about with the Eos. it’s a fine headlamp. my ReaderReview indicates this, and despite its relatively minor shortcomings, i gave it a 5.Jan 16, 2006 at 9:05 am #1348679
Ian RaeBPL Member
@iancraeLocale: North Cascades
Thanks for the detailed reply, paul. Do you have any idea of the cost of running lithiums vs. alkalines? I always use lithiums because of the convenience of not having to worry about dead batteries and carrying lots of extras. I suspect I am paying more for these, but the lithiums seem to last about four times longer than the lithiums.Jan 16, 2006 at 9:31 am #1348683
well, overall batt life would not be 4x since the energy stored in both alk. & Li batts are about the same (good alk. store just a tad more energy), but certainly regulated output or unreg. “bright” output can be up to 4x.
cost…hmm…here’s some links:
and of course…
i’ve done business with all of these companies. they are all very fine companies and i can recommend them.
hope these links help you to make your decision. i mainly use alk. batts on shorter treks (b/c i’m so tight i squeak). Li batts are reserved for winter treks and longer warm weather treks.Jan 16, 2006 at 11:37 am #1348695
Rick DreherBPL Member
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
In lighting applications it’s hard to make a straight cost-benefit arguement for lithium cells, not when they’re as much as ten times the cost of alkalines. However, if you value or perhaps require some or all of their advantages–steady output, low-temp performance, lighter weight–then by all means, choose the lithiums. I take them on week-long hikes and in winter.
In my headlamp tests I’ve not achieved even twice the runtime from lithiums, so I’d be wary of expecting anything remotely close to four times. However, certain electronic devices, noteably digital cameras, will give that kind of performance advantage with lithiums, and there I would only turn to alkalines in an emergency (no other choice).Jan 21, 2006 at 5:03 pm #1349066
Sorry I can’t compare, not owning the lights you have mentioned.
The ultimate LED headlight probably can be purchased now; I think the best bet is getting it custom from folks on candlepower forums and the like. I have several single aaa luxeons, for instance.
For backpacking, I use the EOS. The lack of enough sidespill is my biggest complaint.
I do love the tikkaxp’s blast mode and its diffuser screen though.
Backpacker Jim wood has a rather nice diffusor mod for the EOS at http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/Diffuser/index.html
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