Nitecore EC23 Flashlight Review

Preface

This Nitecore is new enough that I hadn’t heard of it yet, but NitecoreStore.com sent it over for a review.  It’s a neat little light!


Official Specs and Features

Versions

There is only one version of this light.

Price

MSRP for this light is $54.95.  As new as it is, that’s probably going to be the street price for a while, too.


Short Review

This is a nice [very bright] light, and nice to have a side switch only option on a light like this.  A little surprising that there’s no clip included, but the lanyard is included.

Long Review

What’s Included

  • Nitecore EC23
  • Lanyard
  • Spare o-rings (2)
  • Manual

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Package and Manual

The EC23 comes in a display ready, non-windowed black and yellow cardboard box.  The light and goods are in a plastic tray.  Just like all current Nitecore edc sized lights.

The manual is good, as are most Nitecore manuals.  Here’s a manual pdf.

Build Quality and Disassembly

I’m very satisfied with the build quality of this light.  It’s sturdy, and feels like it’d be a great workhorse light.  The threads are anodized and square on both ends.  The tailcap has a beefy, large spring, and the head end has an unsprung brass button.

Here you can see the parts – I wasn’t able to separate the head any further than you see – I am not sure how easily the emitter could be swapped.

I have to compliment the knurling – this is my favorite kind, and this is a fantastic example of it.  Diamond, but flat.

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I will say that this light has a lot doing on.  In hand it just feels busy.  Lots of ridges, lots of angles, lots of … just stuff happening.

Size

Officially 128.7mm x 25.4mm, and 78g without battery.

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This light is quite a bit longer than the venerable Convoy S2+.

Retention

There’s only one included method for carrying this light, and that is a lanyard.  The lanyard connects at the tailcap, where there are two loops for connection.

There is no pocket clip.  There are slots for a pocket clip on the body, but one is not included.

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Power

The EC23 is powered by a single 18650.  Protected and unprotected work, as do flat top and button top.  Below is a runtime on Turbo.  The runtime was stopped when (per manual’s description) the indicating side switch indicated the cell voltage was low.  When I stopped the test at this time, the cell voltage was 3.15V – fairly high for a warning, I think.

Runtime.png

Also note that turbo isn’t maintained long, and the stepdown is to a steady 45% output.  Temp is also stable when cooled, and not very hot at all.

One more thing about the indicating switch.  When a cell is inserted, the switch will tell the cell voltage. It’ll blink out the ones digit (four blinks for 4V), then pause and blink out the tenths digit (four blinks pause one blink = 4.1V).  This even works when 2-up cells are used.  The manual only discusses RCR123’s, however (not 18350s).  When voltage is reported for these cells, it’s average voltage.

When the light is on, the blue indicator will blink once every 2 seconds when power levels reach 50%, and blink quickly when levels are “low” (~3.15V).

The performance with 2-up 18350’s seems to actually be a little worse than with an 18650.  I can’t explain that but I will say the voltage indicator read “4.2V” – maybe 2×18350 confuses the light (overvoltage), and it’s really better (if you’re going to use 2x cells), to use RCR123’s like the manual states.  I don’t have two of those to test with, unfortunately.

User Interface and Operation

There’s a single side -switch on this light.  It’s an indicating switch.  The indication is a bright blue, and easily visible.  There’s no tailswitch, which seems surprising.  I don’t mind – I like side switches.

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I’ll be honest, I find the UI to be a little confusing.  It seems like lately Nitecore is trying out some new things with UI’s (like with the Concept 1).  And I like that.  This UI isn’t bad by any means, but I did have some trouble getting used to it.

Particularly, the issue is hitting Turbo too easily.  Seems like any time I want to do anything, the next mode is going to be Turbo.  Here’s a UI table.

State Action Result
Off Short Hold Ultralow
Off Click Mode Memory (Any mode)
Off Long Hold Turbo
Off Really long hold Momentary Turbo
On Click Off
On Hold Momentary Turbo
Momentary Turbo Release switch Return to previous mode
Within 3s of On Hold Mode cycle
Any Triple click Strobe
Strobe Hold Next strobe (Fast strobe>SOS>Beacon)

I might have missed something.  There’s a lot going on in the UI.  But it’s fairly simple once you realize the ways to get to Turbo, and how to avoid them.

Modes

Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime Mode Measured Lux
Turbo 1800 30m 35200
High 980 1h15m 17190
Mid 300 4h15m 1289
Low 55 20h 37
Ultralow 1 300h 5

LED and Beam

Nitecore has opted to use a Cree XHP35 HD in this light.  This is coupled with a smooth reflector.  I generally like these XHP emitters, but in a light like this, with the smooth reflector and probable intention for a bit of throw, I think a HI might be a better choice.  But then I’m bias; I almost always like HI emitters.

The beam is ok but there’s a gigantic yellow donut right in the center.  At about 5m, the donut is around a foot across.

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Tint vs BLF-348

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Beamshots, Runtime, and Lux Measurements

Nitecore EC23
Emitter Cree XHP35 HD
Emitter Notes E2
Cell 18350×2 18650.0
Glamour Shots Beamshots [0.3″, f/8, ISO 100, 5000k]
Runtime 18650
LVP? Warning
Claimed Lumens (lm) 1800.0
Lux (Measured) 310.0 482.0
At (m) 5.5 5.0
Candela (Calculated) in cd 9289.0 12156.3
Throw (Calculated) (m) 192.759431 220.5109819
Throw (Claimed) (m) 255

 

Conclusion

What I like

  • Indicating side switch
  • Output is great (I didn’t measure total output, but it’s very bright
  • Build quality is solid

What I don’t like

  • Donut hole in the beam
  • UI is a bit confusing

Up Next

I have a keyboard and some knives and chargers upcoming but, amazingly, not a single flashlight in the wings!!  I don’t know what to do with all this free time….

Notes

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