Here we have the Zanflare F1, which is GearBest’s first foray into actual flashlight manufacturing. GearBest is understandably proud of this light, and Kathy asked me to take a look. Let’s see how it fares!
|Lamp Beads||Cree XP-L V6|
|Color Temperature||6000-6500K / 4500-5000K|
|Feature||Lightweight, Overheating Protection, Pocket Clip, Power Indicator, Reverse Polarity Protection, Tail Stand|
|Function||Camping, EDC, Hiking, Household Use, Night Riding, Walking|
|Battery Quantity||1 x 18650 or 2 x CR123 batteries (not included)|
|Mode||7 (Turbo; High; Mid; Low; Moonlight; Strobe; SOS)|
|Waterproof Standard||IP-68 Standard Water-resistant|
|LED Lifespan||5000h or more|
|Flashlight Processing Technology||Aerospace Grade Aluminum Body with Anti Scratching Type III Hard Anodization|
|Available Light Color||Cool White, Neutral White|
|Mode||Output (lm)||Runtime (h)|
There are two tint variations, a 5000K and a 6500K. Both have black bodies. Note that the warmer version won’t be available til sometime in December.
This light packs a bunch of features, but not into a very small body. The dual switches seems little unnecessary and it’s overall mostly unremarkable, with the exception that the micro-USB cover is an interesting design.
- Zanflare F1
- Pocket clip
- Micro-USB cable
- Manual (updated manual via pdf)
- “Pencil Case” light pouch
Package and Manual
Zanflare is clearly going for a premium feel with this packaging.
It’s not unlike the unboxing
of an apple phone – white box, with the item front and center when the box is opened. Below the foam insert with the light is the other bits.
I found this foam to be difficult to remove and a bit fiddly. But it comes out and reveals the other items easy enough.
The manual that shipped with my light is out of date, and I was provided with a pdf manual, which I’ll link in image form. The manual is well written and descriptive of the light, and easy to use.
Build Quality, Disassembly, and Durability
Build quality on the F1 is good. The anodizing is fine and the fit and finish is also pretty solid.
However the light as a whole is missing a quality feel – it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong specifically, but something just feels a bit lacking. The threads on my tailcap
are off (or something) just enough to make it feel like this when unscrewing the tailcap. It works, and it’s anodized and well lubed, but something is just off about these threads. If I was forced to guess, I’d say they’re cut a bit thin and have gotten a touch out of spec (but not in the ‘cross threaded’ way).
A second thing (and the first thing you’ll notice) about the F1 is that it’s big. Unfortunately this is not a light you’ll want to carry in your pocket. I can comfortably carry a Convoy S2+, and often carry a Zebralight SC600, but there’s no way the F1 will be comfortable for carrying.
I quite like the … knurling pattern – sorry I have no idea what to call it. It feels fine in hand and provides plenty of grip for use.
The reflector is “smooth” but not perfectly so, and causes some nasty artifacts in the beam. It is nice and deep though!
The threaded ring that covers the micro-USB port is quite secured and one of the more novel ways to cover the port that I’ve seen. I don’t mind the typical rubber cover, but often I get those confused with the activation switch: not the case in the F1. This part is well made, and the micro-USB port seems firmly planted in the light (micro-USB ports are typical problem areas for me). This one feels snug.
And here’s a feature I really have no idea where to put. There’s a glass breaker on the tailcap. Yep. There it is.
13.60 x 2.80 x 2.80 cm is what GearBest states, and I find that to be as accurate as I can measure. For reference, the Eagle Eye X2R, which has a similar feature set, is 12.20 x 2.40 x 2.40 cm. Both shorter and narrower than the F1. I find this size to be just outside of my comfort level for pocket carry.
Here are a few comparison shots for size:
Out of the four “normal” options (clip, lanyard, pouch, magnet), this light has three (missing only the magnet). I doubt a magnet would work well in the F1, so this is a nice set. The lanyard has dual compression buttons for more solid wrist use. The clip
is not ‘the standard” clip but I like this one well enough. It connects on the tailcap or on the side of the body.
It won’t allow for deep carry but as I said elsewhere, this light isn’t really going to work well for pocket carry anyway.
The pouch that comes with the F1 is unusual – much more like a pencil case than a light pouch. I like it. It fits the light perfectly and is also lightly padded (more of a wetsuit thickness material). No wasted space in this pouch! I *really* like this one!
The F1 works (mainly) with a single 18650. It can work with cr123a x 2 as well, however. I would presume that’s how it hits its “1240 lumen” output, but I don’t believe that’s stated in the manual/listing.
This light also has built in charging, a nice touch. An even nicer touch is that the charging doesn’t require any special cell – it’ll charge regular 18650s just fine. In my tests, the Zanflare charged to well under optimal voltage (4.13V), and this took about 6 hours from empty (aka 2.64V).
During the runtime test, the Zanflare stopped producing light when the cell was at 2.64V. It’s hard to say exactly why this is: if that’s LVP then it’s a bit low. It wasn’t a thermal stop of course, and I don’t believe the cell protection tripped (I don’t think the cell voltage would read anything if protection tripped.). So I’m not sure what’s going on with the light stopping at 2.64V. Have a look at the runtime graph below and that’ll probably help clear things up.
User Interface and Operation
There are two buttons for interacting with the F1: a side clicky and a tail clicky.
The tail click is a nice big button and would be great if it had the action of, say, a Convoy S2+ metal button. But it doesn’t: it’s quite hard to mash (not press or click, but specifically “mash”). The side switch is much better as far as action goes, but it’s much too pronounced.
The big ring around the side switch look like they might be some kind of rotating control, but they’re not.
The mechanical tail click simply turns the light on or off. Form there, mode changes are done by the side switch.
|Off||Tail Click||On (Mode memory (no strobe memory))|
|On||Side Click||Mode cycle (L>M>H>Flare)|
|On||Side Hold||Strobe Group|
|Strobe Group||Side Click||Strobe Group Cycle (Fast>SOS)|
|Off||Side Click||No action|
LED and Beam
The Cree XP-L v6 sits under a deep reflector. The tint is cool, at 6500K. Of course I’d recommend the 5000K version, when it comes out in December.
The reflector is smooth, but it’s not perfectly smooth, or even smooth enough – so there are some unpleasant artifacts in the beam. That’s unfortunate since the deep reflector provides a nice hotspot.
Beamshots, Runtime, and Lux Measurements
I’m surprised to note here that the F1 looks to have a thermal sensor, which keeps the light no hotter than around 45 degrees. That’s a nice touch.
|Beamshots [0.3″, f/8, ISO 100, 5000k]||18650|
|Claimed Lumens (lm)||1240|
|Candela (Calculated) in cd||7305.4404|
|Throw (Calculated) (m)||170.9437381|
|Throw (Claimed) (m)||200-300|
Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….
There are quite a few compelling comparisons in this category. I’ll mention just one or two. For example, the NITEYE EC-R26. Has all the important features of the F1 but is much smaller (99mm x 22mm) and also adds a charge indicator. The NITEYE is a little more expensive, though, so the F1 wins there. A number of Thrunites fit this category too.
What I like
- micro-USB charging charges any cell
- nice big button on the tailcap
- cover for charge port is novel and works
What I don’t like
- beam profile
- tint is cool
There are a bunch of lights out there with this feature set, and I’d very likely buy one of those before I bought this one. I’m glad there’s another company in the flashlight business, and this is a fun interesting entry, but for me it’s not a winner, particularly with the competition that’s available.
- Thanks to Kathy at GearBest for sending me this light for review, even after I’d told her some initial thoughts about it. I’m glad companies are willing to send lights to people who won’t show bias, even if they might say less than stellar things about a light. Either way, this light or another, GearBest has plenty of excellent lights that would be great purchases.