Olight S1 CW in Aluminum Flashlight Review

Preface

The second light I’ve been given for review from Gearbest is the Olight S1 Baton. To say I was excited about this light is an understatement. I opted for the Olight S1 for a few reasons:

  • It’s been a long time since I’ve had a cr123 light
  • I have never had a TIR light (or an Olight!)
  • The form factor is perfect for me
  • I just bought a Nitecore MH20, and tested the Sunwayman G20C, and it is nice to get back to my comfort zone. 🙂
  • Freaking magnet.

To be honest I have not traditionally been interested (or followed) Olight. There’s always been a slight tactical edge to their whole line that doesn’t interest me at all. Even though there are other similar lights in their line now, the entry of the S1 changed all that. It’s perfect for my normal use scenario, just like the small knife I carry (Spyderco Manbug).

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Here’s the GearBest link for the Olight S1 Baton. As I said above, GearBest provided this light to me for free. That fact will not influence the review. Furthermore, since GearBest does not even manufacturer these lights, what bears the most importance for GearBest from this review, is the service I received from them. So as before, let’s address this first.


GearBest review

Shipping

Emily and I agreed about me getting the S1 for review on Sept 24. There was apparently a national holiday and the light did not ship until October 5 or 6. I received the light on October 30. It would seem that I was extremely lucky with my first review light – it took just 9 days. This light took 24-25 days of shipping time, and according to most, this seems relatively common. The 9 day shipping was not any kind of special or “step up” shipping, so shipping times can really vary quite greatly if you opt for the free shipping option (and all orders from GearBest ship free, so remember that!) In any case, same story as before: I doubt any huge advances in LED technology will be happening in those 25 days, so it’s ok. There was a customs form attached to the bubble mailer and on it, the value of the light. I believe the value is posted as the GearBest cost, not the purchase cost. I feel like that is probably because this was a free sample light; I expect a light you purchase will have the purchase price displayed on the customs form.

Customer Service

All of my interactions with Emily were great, and she was mostly prompt and clear.

Website

I found the website to be fairly easy to navigate, but is decidedly non-American. That’s not a complaint, but it’s slightly more “in-your-face” than a site like Amazon for example. But much less so than other Chinese sites like Rakuten or dealextreme.

Product listing accuracy

No major errors in the listing, but…. Since I got my S1, Olight has added two Titanium models which GearBest carries, both of which are NW (Neutral White). The S1 (aluminum) I have is a CW. That’s something that could be cleared up on the site. Best I can tell, there are no Aluminum NW versions (they’re all CW). This could be much clearer on their listing.

Legitimacy

It is reasonable to have concerns about the legitimacy of a Chinese site such as GearBest. It is not unheard of for fake or counterfeit items to come out of China. I do not have a US-purchased Olight S1 in front of me to compare, but this is clearly an authentic Olight S1. I am not sure GearBest is an authorized dealer, so I’m not sure how warranty claims would go. I would have no concerns buying name brand flashlights from GearBest in the future. In fact, I intend to do that, as I liked the S1 so much I’m going to buy the S1 in Titanium! That said, I would probably steer clear of the very very cheap $3 lights they sell, but that is reflection of the low quality of those lights, not a reflection on GearBest.

This is also very clearly a brand new item.

Final [Gearbest] Thoughts

Positive. I am satisfied with GearBest, and in the future I would not hesitate to consider them if they have a light (or some other name-brand item) I want.


Olight S1 Baton Official Specs:

This section contains the manufacturer’s descriptions and claims, not my impressions or results.

This product has the following specifications (ANSI/NEMA FL1-2009 Standards):

Max Output (lumens) 500
Low (lumens) 0.5 Max Run Time (hours)
units) 3,000 cd Water Resistance
2.4 in. Battery Type RCR123A/CR123A Weight (oz)

Key Features

  • Thumb sized form factor. diameter: 21mm length: 61mm
  • Stainless steel flashlight head and switch binder ring processed by PVD technology
  • Recessed silicon switch to prevent accidental operation
  • TIR lens to create a balanced beam
  • Positive polarity on the battery faces the tail of the flashlight for enhanced reliability and a more compact size
  • Built-in timer: 3 minutes or 9 minutes
  • Flat tail cap design contains a strong magnet providing the ability to place it upside down and use it as a hands-free work light
  • Thermal management safety program with overheat protection by dropping high output by 50% within 1 minute of constant on. Turbo mode has a limit of 1.5 minutes.
  • The S1 features a wide range current circuit and can be powered by 1 x CR123A (built-in protected board)
  • Reverse polarity protection to prevent improper battery installation

Included Accessories

  • Lanyard
  • User manual

Stock photos.

Here are five.

 

 

 

 

Olight S1 Baton Review:

Look, here’s the thing. At this point you’ve all already read 20 great reviews with awesome graphs and runtimes and beamshots and all that. You probably already know what you think about this light. Be that as it may, I’m still going to throw my thoughts out there. More useful for you will be the photos I include.

My normal light is a Zebralight SC5w. I love it. I love the UI. I’m used to the UI. I love the size. I even love using AA’s (though, that sc5 does eat them by breakfast….) So this Olight S1 is really the ideal type light for me. I have had CR123 lights before (as you can see from the album), and I have always liked the form factor. [Editor’s note: in the album, the other cr123 light is a Zebralight H31 – the original kind.] I only just recently bought an 18650 and an 18650 light (Nitecore MH20), and while I was at it, bought a 16340 (rechargeable CR123) for this Olight S1.

Here’s a bunch of group shots.

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I thought I would include beamshots in this review; a first for me. I quickly realized I’d need loads of practice before I made passable beamshots. Please see any other review for beamshots. 🙂

Pictures:

Let’s be real, pictures are where it’s at. Here are some (hopefully informative) glamor shots first. That’s all of them: any that are below are reused from that album. Also, there are pictures in the album that I didn’t find a place for in the review. So flip through that just for the heck of it. I don’t get paid by how much traffic I cause imgur, though; do whatever you want.

🙂

Comes with:

I still don’t love unpackaging/unboxing photos and videos. I am not using the box for flashlighting, so whatever. The box protected the item in transit; that is all I care about. It is extremely noteworthy however that part of the unboxing for this light must be done very carefully. The single spare o-ring (which is not mentioned as an official “included” item!!) is part of the packaging material! You must be extra careful not to break this o-ring as you remove the light from the packaging! That said, I have never once used any spare o-ring in any light I have ever had. Maybe you’re as lucky. 🙂

Package Contents:

  • Olight S1 Baton
  • Spare O-ring
  • Lanyard
  • Pocket Clip
  • Manual
  • Magnet you can use to do other fun stuff with later.

Package and contents pics:

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You must provide your own single CR123 or 16340! I went with a 3.7V Keepower 16340 from Illumn.

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The light is received with the above items, the pocket clip comes installed, and the whole kit is in a clear non-recyclable plastic hard-to-open box.

Quality

First impressions are that this is a high quality light; decent quality for the $50 MSRP range, but an incredible value for the street price. It’s made of A6061-T6 aluminum with class-III anodizing. The blue bits are PVD coated stainless steel (copper in the titanium version and … something else in the copper version). PVD should be great for this application. The threads are square cut, well lubed, and were some of the cleanest threads I’ve screwed in in quite a while.

Manual

One thing that really got under my skin about the Sunwayman G20C is that I had a lot of trouble finding a manual for it. The Olight S1 does in fact come with a [13-language] manual. I like a manual. Even if the UI is simple, I like a manual. This manual is satisfactory, and the UI workings of the light are pretty simple, so this works. The manual is also accurate, though clearly not written by a native-English speaker (though it’s passable).

Power

This light requires a single CR123A or one RCR123A battery. RCR123A is also known as 16340, which is what the [protected] Keepower I bought is. Gearbest sells a ton of 16340 items (batteries and chargers and the like).

like CR123 batteries, and lights. I stopped using them because I never wanted to have to buy a special charger and batteries (the 16340). I finally made that jump because I bought a charger for the 18650, and went ahead and bought a 16340 too. I am extremely happy I did that. As a dad, I have exactly one million eneloops in my house, but they just do not last at all in my Zebralight SC5w. So that was very annoying and tiring. This 16340 has lasted very well.

This 16340 fits very nicely in the tube. It should, since it only holds batteries of this size.

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A small thing that I love about the S1 is that the battery direction is printed on the side. I’d like if it was slightly more subtle (same with all the branding, really), but it’s extremely handy to be able to always know I’m putting the battery in correctly. That said, the light itself does in fact have reverse polarity protection.

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Note about the 3.7V 16340 and the High mode of the S1.

overheat protection by dropping high output by 50% within 1 minute of constant on.

That’s quite true – when this drop happened with my light, it didn’t actually step down, it shut off. And the only way to get it back on was to reinstall the battery. It was quite frustrating.

UI and Operation.

Writing out the UI is pretty simple, but I like flow charts. Well I like well done flow charts. I tried to do one, and here it is. I’m not sure it’s well done, but at the very least I spent a ridiculous amount of time on it, especially since this is the old UI.

Printed manual Much less wordy than the flow chart below (in a manner of speaking, and certainly gets the job done.

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Flow Chart (which I’m very proud of, fwiw).

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Notes

  • Moonlight can not be reached directly from the ON state, and Strobe can not be reached directly from the OFF state.
  • Changing out of the timer modes to anything else cancels the current timer. Changing from the 3 to the 9, cancels the 3.
  • Triple clicking from strobe does the same thing as double clicking from strobe.
  • I found the 3 minute timer to be very accurate. I started my testing timer after the single blink confirmation that the light was in the 3 minute mode. As accurate as my ability to test it. Same with the 9m timer.
  • The timer also tries to work with strobe, but my light shut off every single time while testing timed strobe. Other users noted this as well.

Amazingly, Olight does not seem to include the UI in the product listing on their webpage.

As I’ve stated, my go-to light is Zebralight. I carry an SC5w currently, and love the UI. It’s well known that the Zebralight UI is a complicated … er… “feature rich” UI. Even so I have to be honest and tell you: It took me a while to get the UI of this Olight S1 down. The above code may make it look complicated, but that’s just lack of a better way to display it. It’s really quite simple and straightforward. Still, I could never hit the mode I wanted from off, and sometimes even after fiddling, I still never found what I wanted. After carrying this light for 2 weeks, I still miss. It’s not that big a deal, but I want these things to be obvious, and automatic.

I also felt that the button is a bit spongy, and quite small. I would strongly prefer a flat metal button of the same size. It is a disgrace that Olight chose to put the silicon button on those beautiful titanium and copper versions. I also believe a flat metal button would help prevent the accidental activation I had with this light at least once. There is no lockout except the manual one (loosen the tailcap). I don’t find that to be an acceptable lockout. I prefer: 1) no chance of accidental activation, 2) software lockout keeping my light readily usable, 3) disconnect lockout (which incidentally is the only way to lock out Zebralights). I did find an interesting lockout method: The clip can be rotated to cover the switch! It might be possible to do this with one hand, in-pocket, and could become a preferred method of lockout.

Memory ON is neat, but I believe that’s part of what confused me. It’s like I never knew what to expect – I don’t remember what the last mode I used was, nor should I have to. If I have to always cycle up from Low, then that’s fine – I’ll know to expect that. If I turn on the light and it hits High, and I wanted anything else, I’ll have to figure that out and cycle from there. This is worse than knowing how many cycles I’ll have to hold for before turning on the light. Especially so if memory was on moonlight…. So I do not really care for the memory feature. The new UI greatly improves on this issue.

Some say that the 2 second “long” click is too long. I tend to agree – Zebralight manages to make their “long” click something like 0.6 seconds I believe. This is much better – even 1 second would be an improvement. 2 seconds has you wondering what’s going on…. It’s like that LED light bulb I got before they were refined at all. I’m halfway across the room before the light is on….

NOTE: The new units have officially been given an updated UI. My unit has the old UI. Here are the details. The new Cu and Ti versions will all have the new UI. This will address one of the complaints I had, mentioned above. Memory will not even include moonlight. Memory will only last for 10 minutes, and will default back to Low (this is a great addition). In fact that UI change is so great for me that, I would not keep this version– I’d buy the Ti or Cu (or even a new Al) just for this very fact alone.

Note 2 This makes the second update to this light/package. The first update was to remove one of the extra o-rings and replace it with a magnet in the base of the package.

LED and Beam

The LED is a Cree XM-L2 CW. The CW means “Cool White” and the color temperature is from 5000-8300. I am no LED Scientician. I like warmer High CRI leds, and I find this one satisfactory. Compared to my High CRI Beta QR, this one is not bad. Less accurate rendering than the Beta QR, but nowhere near as cool as the MH20. It’s cool, but it’s not so cool that I hate it.

The TIR is something new for me. TIR stands for Total Internal Reflection and is a pretty neat thing to read up on. This article is better than the wiki, fwiw. Essentially the LED is covered in such a way that photons that would normally scatter uselessly (spill), are reflected back into the system where they bounce around until they are at an appropriate angle in the dome to get out. And if they can get out of the dome, they’ll be reflected in the direction we want – toward usability. The result is less spill. This does not mean the light is made for throw, but it does mean there’s a nice specific beam in the usable area. There are different types of TIR lenses, and the S1 has an “RS” variety – aka “Real Spot.”

Real Spot lenses are the tightest spot optics in the lens family. The main purpose for these lenses is to create high cd/lm peak and the design excludes elements that would have color mixing capabilities. This might lead to minor problems in the light distribution. Real Spot lens can be easily identified as it has fully polished surfaces and some lenses are hollow in the middle. source

In any case, regarding this light – it does not have a lens. That’s unusual, and in hand I can’t help but say it brings to mind those very cheap coin cell lights like the Photon II. It also concerns me that the reflector could get easily scratched with no lens. Mine still looks fine (essentially pristine) after 2 weeks of use.

Based on the “RS” designation of the light, the claim by Olight that it reaches 110 meters does not seem completely outlandish. Indeed /u/mcfarlie6996 found in his testing that the claim was substantiated! For such a small light, 110M is remarkable.

I am a huge fan of moonlight modes. The S1 has a moonlight mode (only accessible from “off” which makes great sense). The moonlight mode is pretty good – actually low enough to be really considered “moonlight mode.” Not as low as the lowest low Zebralight offers, and much lower than the “moonlight” of the Nitecore MH20. Here area all those lights (and a Zebralight H31 as a bonus) set on moonlight.

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Retention

The pocket clip is pretty nice, though it’s really more of a “belt” clip. It holds the light vertically and very securely, though unless you stand all day every day, I can’t imagine wanting to carry your light this way. The clip is “easily” removable, and the light is quite svelte without the clip. As the clip rotates fully around the light, it would be possible to cover the switch with the clip. This would not happen accidentally. It would be a great way to manually lock out the light.

like these new common style clips. I really wish Zebralight would copy them across their whole line of lights. It’s easy to modify the little tab, which makes actual deep carry much simpler. These clips can be stiff, but are steel and “steel is real” – they can be modified and are friendly toward going back to how they were. Also ubiquitous and cheap to replace.

There is a lanyard included, and it can be attached on the tailcap. There is a handy and convenient metal “needle” included on the lanyard (hard to see, but it’s there), making installing the lanyard easy. The lanyard hole is nicely recessed and very easy to over look. A very nice looking lanyard hole, if there is such.

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Special section in this one! THIS LIGHT HAS A FREAKING MAGNET. It’s super cool, super convenient, and strong enough to be extremely useful. Look you maybe had a magnet before, but did you have one in your light? No you didn’t, and it’s awesome. Every light should have a magnet probably. I believe the spring holding in the magnet is not soldered in, and if you wanted the magnet gone it would be trivial to remove.

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Should tailstanding go in the “retention” section? This light tailstands like a champ. And with the magnet, it does so in ways you’ve never thought possible, needed, or considered. It works very well.

Without the clip, the light will roll freely. With the clip, it will not. In fact, the clip is flat enough that the light can be rested on the clip.

Disassembly.

Not much to disassemble here. The clip comes off.

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The tail cap unscrews and comes off. That’s basically it.

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I found it interesting and fun that the tailcap, being magnetic, pulls the battery out magnetically. Inside is a nice brass spring on the tailcap, and a nice brass spring on the head end. The tube is very clean, and fits a Keepower 16340 perfectly. No room to spare, but not the least bit tight. Maybe 0.5mm space around it.

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If you ever needed to use the spare o-ring, you’d use it on the body of the light under the tailcap. Coincidentally, the spare o-ring is store on the light which is a first for me to see. It’s left on the light near the head, and is nicely stored there.

The blue bezel is press fit in, and is thus not removable.

I found the threads to be clean and smooth, and also very well oiled.

Size

I have seen exactly one million shots of the S1. I still didn’t grasp how tiny it is until I had one in front of me. I wanted to see it with some things I know the size of. Things I’m familiar with. Below are some of those shots. $20 bill, chapstick, a Keyport Slide, a Spyderco Manbug, and a 1941 Silver Quarter (which is the same size as today’s quarters of course).

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13 - unL3mze.jpgThe above shot- the light is sitting on top of the quarter. The light’s diameter is smaller than the quarters by just over 3 mm.

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15 - MbtEi6B.jpgThe light is hiding behind the quarter. The silicon switch is just barely visible (but that was just bad placement on my part).

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Don’t forget this thing is magnetic!!!

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Conundrums

In my other review I included this section, but with the Olight S1, there really aren’t any things to wonder about. This is a great little light, and especially with the new UI, will be a super great light. It can be had for a reasonable price and uses batteries you can buy most places. If I had to pick one thing, I’d be the High mode stepping down after just one minute. That can be kind of frustrating. Even so, this light is a no-brainer!

I did wonder why this light is called a “Baton.”

Baton:

a short stick or staff or something resembling one, in particular.

There’s a reason, and I’m sure someone knows it. I’m sure that someone is not me. That this light (and all the baton series really) resembles a short stick does not satisfy me.

Summary

Pros

  • Magnet (is awesome)
  • Battery direction printed on side
  • Size
  • UI has been updated and is better
  • Available in specialty metals * Blue accents are functionless but awesome.

Cons

  • UI (old one is grossly inferior; new one is good)
  • I don’t care for press fit bezels
  • Button is small
  • One accidental activation
  • There were a number of times the light turned off on it’s own, and would not come back on until I removed the battery.

Final Thoughts

Nothing to think about. Amazing little light. Slightly cool tint for me. I’ll be replacing this one with the titanium NW version, and [while this one is great] I can’t wait. Very tough decision between the bead blasted and polished titanium version, though. The new UI will be such an improvement. Both Ti models are also NW, which is another great reason to buy those! There is also a Going Gear special Copper version (also NW, I believe). Buy yours today!

Shots [official] of the titanium versions, below.


I am sure I have not covered everything, but I’ve certainly said enough. Glad to answer any questions, and edit this if it’s needed. Thank you all for your time!

Two parting shots – I always love to see what the LED looks like in moonlight at close range like this.

38 - Lf7u3yR.jpgI don’t think it really means anything though. And there’s always one shot in an album that you just like – this time it’s this one.

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