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  1. #1
    Senior Member yeamac's Avatar
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    My (COMPREHESIVE!) Ultrafire C3 Cree Q5 vs. Fenix L2D Premium Q5 Flashlight Review

    Goal: Lighting for my bike for an occasional ride an hour before sunup and/or to go several hours in the night. I do not plan on using these that often. Desire -- something (1) bright, (2) simple [cables/battery packs = yuck], (3) easy to remove and transport in bag, and (4) as low cost as possible. After reading the forums, I decided to go with AA flashlights mounted on TwoFish Lockblocks on the bike and a TwoFish Bikeblock on the helmet. So, "Which light?" I narrowed it down to the Ultrafire C3 Cree Q5 at dealextreme.com for about $20 shipped (bought 3 at slight discount) or the Fenix L2D Premium Q5 for under $60 (w/coupon). This review will be as comprehensive as possible, hopefully covering everything you would ask and also that which you wouldn't even think to ask. Note: I have no prior experience with flashlights/bike lighting so this will be an amateur review in every sense of the word.



    The Fenix comes in a prettier box. The Ultrafire comes in a small white box with hand-written Chinese on the end (presumably to identify the contents). Fenix wins the first impressions award. Also, Fenix orders arrive in 3-4 days. Dealextreme ships from Hong Kong, which is always a crap-shoot, and my 3 Ultrafires took a whopping 18 days to arrive.



    The size, weight, and material the lights are made from is virtually identical. Looking straight at the head (light off, of course!) the head of the Fenix has a very, very slightly larger diameter (no photo, sorry). Each light body has different points of thicknesses and relief. The Ultrafire has a thicker, textured surface about 1/3 the way from the tail. This is where I (originally) mounted the light on my Lockblock, so (at the time) I liked the Ultrafire better in this regard. However, on a test ride during the day I rode with the lights mounted off-balance and sure enough, after continuously going over bumps the "heavy end" of the light ended up pointing the light farther down toward the ground, so I found it better to keep the flashlight balanced by mounting in the middle of the light. The Minoura bar is very smooth, so with constant jarring and an uneven load, it appears slipping does occur (if mounting to handlebar tape or another non-smooth surface it probably wouldn't move at all).

    Screwing/unscrewing the different parts of the light together, the Fenix feels better constructed, with a finer fit of the threads and a tighter O-ring fit. The finer threads actually makes the Fenix more difficult to put back together, like when changing batteries. It might take me 5-7 seconds to get the threads started on the Fenix while the Ultrafires went together first try every time. However, if you have seen the YouTube video of the Fenix running underwater, I would not be as confident to try that with the Ultrafire as the O-rings do not cause as much resistance as the Fenix ones do.

    As for the tail-clicky, the Ultrafire is a 5-mode and the Fenix is a 6-mode. The lights turn on and off and changes modes in a different fashion from each other. With the Ultrafire, you click the tail switch and it goes from Mid > Lo > Hi > Strobe > SOS and then starts over. If you turn the Ultrafire light off and turn it on "soon" it will remember where you left it last and go to the next mode. So if you shut it off at Hi, if you turn it back on 1 minute later it will start in Strobe mode and then you have to cycle through to get back to Hi. Inconvenient!

    The Fenix has two modes accessible by turning the bezel. Turned for general mode you get Lo > Med > Hi > SOS. If you turn the light off on any mode and then turn it back on in General mode, it always starts at Lo. Turned to Turbo mode you get Turbo > Strobe. If one primarily uses the the Turbo and/or strobe mode, the Fenix is much nicer because you do not need to cycle through all the other modes to get to it. The Ultrafire has to cycle through Mid > Lo > Hi to get the brightest setting, or, if turning on soon after shutting off from hi, you have to go through all 5 modes. Overall, its not THAT big of a deal, but still a little nag and the Fenix is easier to operate.

    Both lights come with a hand strap, and with the Ultrafire it comes already attached to the light. For use on the bike I removed the hand strap from the Ultrafire. The Fenix has the addition of a snazzy holder for your flashlight. I could see storing the light in here and then placing it in a bike bag when not in use. I have not messed around with the content of the box (nor instructions) but have read the Fenix light also comes with 2 additional O-rings, a nice touch.

    Below are photos of how I mounted the lights. I tried different positions, including mounting the lights on the outside tops of my wing bar with the Lockblocks (no photos showing this), but doing that makes my hands somewhat cramped if I want to be on the tops, so mounting there is not ideal. (You'll notice I cannot mount directly in the middle of my handlebar due to a handlebar bag.) I chose to install a Minoura SwingGrip ($17 from LBS) to attach the lights to. I want to mention I also tried the ViewPoint Spacebar that Performance sells shown on varuscelli's page, but that bar did not have the reach to position the lights under my handlebar bag -- the Minoura bar is longer and more adjustable.



    Now, on to performance:

    With the photos below, the Ultrafire light is on the left, the Fenix on the right. I did not doctor the photos except to change the photo resolution. I am no photographer, and the point-and-shoot Canon SD800 did not capture the spill very well, but the hot spot is a good representation of how the lights compare. Each light was at its maximum brightness for the tests, the Fenix in Turbo mode, and the Ultrafire in High mode. The first photos are from about 15 feet, the latter ones from about 25 feet. The photos from farther back capture the spill better. Also, note the Fenix light has a more yellow tint, while the Ultrafire is more bluish-white. This was visible with the naked eye as well.



    I shot these photos on my detached garage that is behind my house with a small amount of light pollution from the streetlights, which even the spill of the lights seemed to wash out. The Fenix was brighter in the hotspot, and, as to be expected, the spill of the Fenix was also brighter.

    Running for a period of time in a stationary location, the Fenix lights got very HOT. I am talking too-hot-to-hold hot. It makes sense that higher output produces a hotter light. The airflow from a moving bike should keep the Fenix light cool enough to handle, but note that if you stop for a time and leave it on Turbo, it will heat up. The Ultrafire also got very warm when stationary in high mode, but it was not too warm for me to hold indefinitely.

    In later testing I took the lights out for a ride in as dark of conditions as living in the city limits of Houston will allow (on the Braes Path between Chimney Rock and Rice Ave). In dark conditions is where the lights really shine! (pun intended) I started with one Ultrafire on the helmet and 2 Ultrafires mounted to the bike (all bike mounting was on the Minoura bar positioned under the bike bag). On high the lighting was very good, and I would feel comfortable riding up to 20mph on familiar roads/paths. I then switched to the Fenix lights on Turbo and WOW! what a difference. Much brighter, and I could see farther up the path. I also put the two Fenix lights in High mode on the bike and compared them to the Ultrafire lights on high. The pair of Fenix lights on High were brighter than the Ultrafire lights on High. Also, I prefer the yellow beam of the Fenix lights to the blueish-white beam of the Ultrafires.



    Guess which light is which? The above photo was taken during one of my indoor run-time tests. The Fenix is on the left this time.

    Lastly, run time. My batteries are new, high capacity 2600mAh Tenergy AA rechargeable batteries. I tested the lights several times and used different sets of batteries (fully charged). I could not babysit the run-time so only have generalities. The Ultrafire does not list a run time on the DX website. I found that they lasted well over 2 hours on high mode. I checked them at 2hr:20min and it was still running on high. Came back at 2:50 and the Ultrafire had reduced brightness but was still running. I got similar results when repeated.

    The Fenix L2D states a run time of 2.4 hours at the 180 lumen (turbo) setting. Hmmm, guess they don't say what batteries they are using. At 1:10 the Fenix was going strong. I went back at 1:45 and the light was already shut off! I thought that maybe it overheated. I tried to turn it on and nothing. I put in new batteries and it ran just fine. I tested again, and this time the Fenix was greatly reduced at 1:30. I don't know exactly when it was lowered in power. I thought maybe it was the battery brand, so I put in a pair of 2500mAh Lenmar batteries charged a couple weeks ago. This set barely lasted an hour before I noticed it had dimmed.

    After some forum discussion, I re-ran the run times with a stopwatch and fresh batteries. I got about 1:15 useable runtime out of the Fenix light, and about 2:20 out of the Ultrafire. See my post below for more details. This was with freshly charged 1.2v 2600mAh Tenergy NiMH AA rechargeable batteries. By 1:30 the Fenix had no useable output and the bulb was glowing like a little ember with these batteries. The Ultrafire finally quit shining sometime after 4 hours, and it gradually got dimmer and dimmer, while the Fenix lights seemed to use all of the available battery power, and then died out rather rapidly.

    One thing I came to realize is that I had been testing these flashlights on the highest setting -- Turbo for the Fenix and High for the Ultrafire -- to compare run times, and expected them to be the same. But in reality, the Fenix light adds the Turbo mode while the Ultrafire is lacking that high of a power all together, so it was really a better comparison to put both lights in their high modes and then compare, especially since their outputs are closest this way. Comparing high mode to high mode, with the one test I have been able to run so far, the Fenix was going strong on high power at 2hr30min, while the Ultrafire was already in reduced lighting mode at this time. I had to leave the house, so don't know how long the Fenix actually lasted in High mode, but it certainly was longer than the Ultrafire. So battery run time for the Fenix is better than the Ultrafire in similar mode setting.

    CONCLUSION: To justify the higher cost of the Fenix light, it would have to be significantly brighter, run longer, and/or offer other advantages. Here's how they stack up in my book:

    Fenix Pros:
    • better build quality
    • brighter than the Ultrafire (both on high mode), and Turbo mode outshines them all
    • longer runtime than the Ultrafire (both on high mode)
    • better on/off/mode management

    Ultrafire Pros:
    • 3 times less expensive (can buy 3 Ultrafires for the price of 1 Fenix)
    • umm... more eco-friendly packaging? (trying to give it at least 2 pros)


    After my initial testing I was very impressed with the Ultrafire lights and thought I would keep them and resell the Fenix lights. However, I mistakenly thought the Ultrafires ran longer, but I was comparing Apples (high mode) to Oranges (turbo mode). Once I realized to run the Fenix lights in high mode I came to see the Fenix lights actually run longer in High mode with the advantage of being brighter than the Ultrafire lights in that same mode. Plus, high mode is more than adequate for me for night riding. In turbo mode I am only getting 1:15 run time, but according to others, if I try a better quality battery I could see up to a 2-hour run time in turbo mode.

    The Ultrafires would work OK for me, but after seeing the Fenix lights in action, I am willing to spend the extra money and go with the Fenix lights because I feel they are worth the increase in cost. If you are on a super-tight budget and want to spend less than $100 on front lighting, I think the Ultrafire lights would work fine, especially if you mainly ride on city streets with streetlights.
    Last edited by yeamac; 07-28-08 at 02:04 PM. Reason: Update info with new findings (thanks to comments from other members)

  2. #2
    Zoom zoom zoom zoom bonk znomit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yeamac View Post
    Fenix light has a more yellow tint, while the Ultrafire is more white. This was visible with the naked eye as well.

    How do you find the colour difference to ride with?
    The definition is supposedly better with the yellower lights, but the blue ones look brighter.

  3. #3
    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    Nice review - how's the view when you've got the two on the bars and the one on the helmet lit up? Must be really nice as long as you're not looking right into the beams.

  4. #4
    Senior Member sharkey00's Avatar
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    Can you give total costs for each setup? I know you said the cost of the light but I was wondering about the total cost for each setup factoring:
    -light cost
    -bike mount cost
    -shipping for all items
    -batteries/ chargers
    -Misc- running to home depot for electrical tape ect.

    Thanks!

  5. #5
    Hills! speedlever's Avatar
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    Excellent review!

    Thanks for taking the time to review these lights.

  6. #6
    Senior Member yeamac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by znomit View Post
    How do you find the colour difference to ride with?
    The definition is supposedly better with the yellower lights, but the blue ones look brighter.
    I have done only a few minutes of riding with these things around the block -- streetlights scattered throughout with stretches of semi-dark thanks to the large shade trees -- but my initial reaction is I prefer the yellow light to the blueish-white light. Maybe I'm just old school. I had one Fenix and one Ultrafire mounted on the Minoura bar and just alternated which one was on at a time.

    Quote Originally Posted by no motor? View Post
    how's the view when you've got the two on the bars and the one on the helmet lit up?
    I have not tried 3 lights together as I have not received the bikeblocks yet (LOL - mailman just brought them).

    When I bought the Fenix lights in addition to the Ultrafires, plan A was to put the two Fenixs on the bike and one Ultrafire on my helmet, and give the other two Ultrafires as Christmas gifts to relatives. Plan B was to resell the Fenix lights and use all 3 Ultrafires. Since it seems the Fenix lights won't go longer than 1:30 on Turbo mode, I am going with plan B. I am re-running the battery test a 3rd time with a fan blowing air-conditioned air over the lights to see if I can get a longer run time with the Fenix. I really want to keep the Fenix lights since they are brighter, but due to battery life and cost will probably keep the Ultrafires.

    UPDATE: I just glanced over at the Fenix light at 1:12 and noticed it has already dropped down to a lower output. I confirmed this by firing up the second Fenix and yep, lower output (at 1:10 the light was still at Turbo). The Ultrafire is still going strong. This is on a fresh set of batteries for both lights I just charged yesterday. Decision is made -- I am going with 3 Ultrafires.

    UPDATE 2: At 1:23 the output of the Fenix light is so poor that there is no way one could ride at this level. I am giving the Fenix about a 1:15 usable run time. Anyone that owns Fenix L2D 180 lumen lights care to chime in? What kind of runtime do you get? I am using 1.2v NiMH 2600mAh rechargeable batteries. In previous tests these same batteries give almost 2x (100%) the useable runtime in the Ultrafires. -- Now at 1:30 the Fenix looks dead. I can stare right into the light and the bulb is barely glowing. These are more accurate times than yesterday as today I am using a stopwatch and yesterday just used the time on the clock and estimated. I'll keep timing the Ultrafire and report back here.

    UPDATE 3: At 2:15 is the first I noticed a reduced output from the Ultrafire. Compares best with the output from another Ultrafire on Med mode (still useable for riding at night.)

    UPDATE 4: At 2:28 the output from the Ultrafire has dropped comparable to low output mode. In my estimation (it is daytime now) this is not suitable for riding. I give the Ultrafires about 2:20 useable runtime on the bike. Compare that to about 1:15 usable runtime in the Fenix.

    Quote Originally Posted by sharkey00 View Post
    Can you give total costs for each setup?
    Here is the cost of each component - mix and match what you want/need:

    Ultrafire light = $20.87 shipped, or $19.17 for 3+, shipping insurance made it $60.80 for 3 shipped.

    Fenix light = $62.50 - 8% coupon (code: cpf8) = $57.50 ea. shipped x 2 = $115

    TwoFish Lockblock = $7.49 ea. shipped or $15.99 for a 3 pack

    TwoFish Bikeblocks - $7.99 ea. shipped or $16.49 for a 3 pack (coupon use requires $20+ purchase, so I couldn't use it as I bought the 3 packs separately)

    Minoura SwingGrip bar - $16.99 + tax from LBS ($18.39 for me)

    My total for 3 lockblocks plus 3 Ultrafire lights plus the Minoura bar = $95

    If I substitute 2 Fenix lights for 2 of the Ultrafires my total becomes $170

    So it would cost me about $75 more if I chose to use 2 Fenix lights on the bike. Many riders may not need the spacebar and can mount directly on the handlebars (I could do this if I had to, but chose to use a spacebar because of my handlebar bag). That would save $18 or only cost about $78 total for 3 Ultrafires and 3 Lockblocks. Nice price for some pretty powerful lights with over 2 hour run time.

    Ooops, I forgot the AA rechargeable battery cost. I got my batteries for about 90 cents each shipped (Qty 24 + 12 AAA) -- I already have an AA charger and already had AA rechargeables but used these flashlights as an excuse to buy more. One can never have enough AA rechargeables laying around, especially when one has 3 kids and all their toys take AA's.
    Last edited by yeamac; 07-26-08 at 01:32 PM. Reason: update run times

  7. #7
    Hills! speedlever's Avatar
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    I would be curious to know how long your test lights will operate in strobe mode. Also, how would you compare the strobe effect between the two lights?

  8. #8
    Senior Member yeamac's Avatar
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    ^^^ Strobe mode was not a consideration for me, so I didn't test run time with that (although I still could for the Ultrafires). The strobe effect of both lights seemed identical to me -- hard to tell, but maybe 8-10 flashes per second -- it is pretty fast. The strobe mode would be sure to get the attention of anything no matter what time of day you ran it.

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    I don't know what is going on here. Other reviewers and I have consistently experienced 2 hour+ run times using 2650 capacity batteries in high 20/low 30 Fahrenheit temperatures using turbo mode.

    Are you using the same exact set of batteries in both flashlights? Do you have a charger that has a discharges/recharge cycle and that measures the individual capacity of each battery being used? A set of two or more batteries will only last as long as the battery with the lowest capacity. Please verify what the situation is here. Unless you have all these variables properly accounted for I would submit that there is a high probability that at least one or possbily both batteries being used in the Fenix are not charging to their listed capacity.

    See previous Fenix reviews to gain a better understanding of the equipment and methodology to do a proper test and contrast that with your equipment and methodology so we can understand the exact circumstances of your test and determine if their is a discrepancy.

    I suppose it is possible that the newest manufactured Fenix flashlights are not performing as well as previously manufacturred flashlights. Let's make sure because your results/findings contradict many previous tests that I am aware of.

    Key questions:
    What brand and capacity battery? How many cycles? I use Duracell 2650's with enough cycles to achieve maximum capacity.
    How many sets?
    Verified actual capacity of each battery?
    What brand and model charger? Maha and LaCrosse chargers with the above mentioned capabilities, with some exceptions, have been the two predominately used chargers by most testers on this forum.

    Let's get more details and see where it leads us.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  10. #10
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    Great review. I'm a diehard Fenix user myself for the last year, but your review is convincing enough for me that I'd recommend for others to give the Ultrafires a try - if they can put up with a 18-21 day shipping wait. I'm also surprised that your Fenix is "dying" after 1:15 (mine go for about 1:50-2:00), but if the Ultrafires are going strong on the same batteries, they're definitely doing better.

    I wonder if a wise bike-vendor on a national scale will realize that they can buy the Ultrafires for uber-cheap and sell them for half the price of the Fenix and still make a killing (50% profit!), or if import restrictions due to our economy make this not a good thing to do now.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member yeamac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dekindy View Post
    Other reviewers and I have consistently experienced 2 hour+ run times using 2650 capacity batteries in high 20/low 30 Fahrenheit temperatures using turbo mode.
    Regardless of battery brand, capacity, outside temperature, etc, the point of my testing is that my results were consistent and repeatable, with the Fenix always dying out way before the Ultrafire. To say in all four trials the Fenix got a "bad battery" in the pair and the Ultrafire always had a good pair would be quite a stretch. But based on the info in the post below this one, perhaps I should be comparing the Fenix in high mode instead of Turbo to really get "apples to apples." It just makes sense that the Turbo mode has a shorter run time with more light output. The Ultrafire doesn't have a "Turbo" mode.

    Seems like I need to pick up a pair of these 2650 Duracells and see if I can't get a longer run time out of Turbo. A couple family members may be getting Ultrafires for Christmas after all!
    Last edited by yeamac; 07-27-08 at 05:55 AM.

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    Based on the few opinions I could find here, I deceided to order two (one for myself, another to give as a gift) of the Ultrafire lights. I liked the idea that it can run on one AA, as an added bonus. I already have a Fenix L2D Premium Q5.

    While I like the Ultrafire, it'll mostly be used as a backup. It isn't nearly as bright as the Fenix. When I compare both, outside, with fresh batteries, in the dark, the Fenix turbo (180 lumens) and high (107 lumens) modes are definitely brighter than the Ultrafire. The Fenix medium mode (53 lumens) is not as bright as the Ultrafire on high. I would rough guess the Ultrafire to be around 90 lumens on high (this may not seem like very much, but this is roughly 2x the lumens of a 2xAA MAG LED), so it's bright enough to ride with in a emergency.

    Is it worth it? I'd say yes. However, keep in mind: 1- it's not nearly as bright as the Fenix, so for regular night riding the Ultrafire isn't a replacement for a Fenix; 2- I ordered two Ultrafires, and each of them would not fit AA batteries - the body was too tight. I had to carefully sand both of them out using a Dremel tool in order to fit the AA batteries.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member yeamac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hopperja View Post
    Based on the few opinions I could find here, I deceided to order two (one for myself, another to give as a gift) of the Ultrafire lights. I liked the idea that it can run on one AA, as an added bonus. I already have a Fenix L2D Premium Q5.

    While I like the Ultrafire, it'll mostly be used as a backup. It isn't nearly as bright as the Fenix. When I compare both, outside, with fresh batteries, in the dark, the Fenix turbo (180 lumens) and high (107 lumens) modes are definitely brighter than the Ultrafire. The Fenix medium mode (53 lumens) is not as bright as the Ultrafire on high. I would rough guess the Ultrafire to be around 90 lumens on high (this may not seem like very much, but this is roughly 2x the lumens of a 2xAA MAG LED), so it's bright enough to ride with in a emergency.

    Is it worth it? I'd say yes. However, keep in mind: 1- it's not nearly as bright as the Fenix, so for regular night riding the Ultrafire isn't a replacement for a Fenix; 2- I ordered two Ultrafires, and each of them would not fit AA batteries - the body was too tight. I had to carefully sand both of them out using a Dremel tool in order to fit the AA batteries.
    Thanks for the feedback. I just tried the Fenix on high mode and Ultrafire on its highest setting, and they are virtually identical here in the room to a wall 20ft away. Ultrafire appears brighter but as mentioned above, that might be the appearance of blue light vs. yellow. I will go back and remove my comments about the Ultrafire lumen rating in my initial review.

    What I really need to do is go back outside on a dark path and set up the lights like I would use them to ride. I may end up keeping the Fenix after all, especially if their high mode is as bright as the Ultrafires on its highest setting and I can get a much longer run time out of the Fenix on high, and have a brighter setting available (turbo) if I feel I need it.

    Battery installation in my Ultrafires is the same as in my Fenix -- no problems. My Ultrafires shipped in early July. Just curious when you bought yours, as based on the comments on DX it seems the early lights were different from what is shipping now.

    hopperja - just curious what kind of run time you get in Turbo mode before your batteries drop in brightness? Also, my Fenix lights produce a high pitched squealing noise when in Turbo. It is not very loud -- I have to be within 3 feet of the light to hear it. But the Ultrafire doesn't have such a noise at all.
    Last edited by yeamac; 07-27-08 at 05:51 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yeamac View Post
    Regardless of battery brand, capacity, outside temperature, etc, the point of my testing is that my results were consistent and repeatable, with the Fenix always dying out way before the Ultrafire. To say in all four trials the Fenix got a "bad battery" in the pair and the Ultrafire always had a good pair would be quite a stretch. But based on the info in the post below this one, perhaps I should be comparing the Fenix in high mode instead of Turbo to really get "apples to apples." It just makes sense that the Turbo mode has a shorter run time with more light output. The Ultrafire doesn't have a "Turbo" mode.

    Seems like I need to pick up a pair of these 2650 Duracells and see if I can't get a longer run time out of Turbo. A couple family members may be getting Ultrafires for Christmas after all!
    Since you did not answer my basic questions, I have no way of knowing if your testing was accurate or repeatable. The fact that you are dismissing the issue of battery capacities can only lead me to conclude that you do not have a charger that measures this. It also speaks volumes about the validity of your tests since you seem to have no concept of the significance of what I am referring to. Unless I have answers to my original questions, I give your supposed repeatable tests no validity. Especially since I have consistently experienced real world turbo mode times of 2 hours using 2650 Duracell batteries and others have experienced the same thing and given detailed accounts of their testing.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  15. #15
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    http://www.light-reviews.com/uf_c3_5mode/
    Is this the same light? How does this review compare to yours?

    http://www.light-reviews.com/fenix_l2d_ce_q5/
    This review shows a 2-hour runtime on turbo.

    Doesn't the Fenix has circuitry that keeps the light at full power until very near the time the batteries run out and the Deal Extreme light is providing less illumination but providing some light for a longer period? You have to have the same criteria for the brightness of the light over the entire run time or comparisions are meaningless. Which is better would depend on your objective. For cycling I prefer constant output over extended run time at greatly diminished output.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by hopperja View Post
    Based on the few opinions I could find here, I deceided to order two (one for myself, another to give as a gift) of the Ultrafire lights. I liked the idea that it can run on one AA, as an added bonus. I already have a Fenix L2D Premium Q5.

    While I like the Ultrafire, it'll mostly be used as a backup. It isn't nearly as bright as the Fenix. When I compare both, outside, with fresh batteries, in the dark, the Fenix turbo (180 lumens) and high (107 lumens) modes are definitely brighter than the Ultrafire. The Fenix medium mode (53 lumens) is not as bright as the Ultrafire on high. I would rough guess the Ultrafire to be around 90 lumens on high (this may not seem like very much, but this is roughly 2x the lumens of a 2xAA MAG LED), so it's bright enough to ride with in a emergency.

    Is it worth it? I'd say yes. However, keep in mind: 1- it's not nearly as bright as the Fenix, so for regular night riding the Ultrafire isn't a replacement for a Fenix; 2- I ordered two Ultrafires, and each of them would not fit AA batteries - the body was too tight. I had to carefully sand both of them out using a Dremel tool in order to fit the AA batteries.
    http://www.light-reviews.com/uf_c3_5mode/
    This review confirms the AA fit issue.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  17. #17
    Senior Member yeamac's Avatar
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    I do not have any equipment to measure battery capacity. If I did I would have stated all that in the article. My point was not to show how long it runs with 2600mAh batteries that really only had a 2487mAh charge vs. ones that really only had a 2538mAh charge but rather just to grab some new, freshly charged batteries off the shelf. It may be a little sloppy for some readers, but each person can take my runtime figures for what it is worth to them.

    Quote Originally Posted by dekindy View Post
    http://www.light-reviews.com/uf_c3_5mode/
    Is this the same light? How does this review compare to yours?
    Physically the light looks the same, but that review is from January 22, 2007. The Ultrafire light I purchased is stated to have a Cree Q5 LED emitter, and the light in the review you reference does not state that, so it appears to not be the same light and all that test data would not apply.

    Quote Originally Posted by dekindy View Post
    Doesn't the Fenix has circuitry that keeps the light at full power until very near the time the batteries run out and the Deal Extreme light is providing less illumination but providing some light for a longer period?
    I don't know.

    Quote Originally Posted by dekindy View Post
    http://www.light-reviews.com/uf_c3_5mode/
    This review confirms the AA fit issue.
    Again, that does not seem to be the same light. If you look at the dealextreme website you will find a review dated 6-18-2008 where the reviewer states: "Depending on the batteries you use they can rattle a little bit inside." That person seems to have the opposite problem. My batteries fit perfectly in the 3 Ultrafire lights I purchased, not too loose (no rattle), not too tight. My Fenix lights are the same way.

    If I can answer any other questions let me know. Tonight is looking like a good night to take my bike out on a dark section of the trail and try all this out. Thanks for all the comments as it has made me once again reconsider the dual Fenix setup on the bike with an Ultrafire on the helmet (instead of running all Ultrafire). My next step is to see now long my Fenix lights run at the high (non-Turbo) setting, since that really is what compares most directly to the Ultrafires.

  18. #18
    World's Most Modest Man beowulf7's Avatar
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    Great review, thanks for the write-up! It looks like Ultrafires have the better pros/cons trade-off than the Fenix.
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  19. #19
    The Fenix Shillboy varuscelli's Avatar
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    Good review, yeamac. You've pointed out a lot of things that are worth a close, hard look for those considering similar flashlights as headlights.

    Even though I think a few of the evaluation comments you've made need to be examined a bit more carefully from a few more angles, you did a nice job in terms of a quick review.

    In terms of bang for the buck, the Ultrafires seem to offer a lot at a great price.

    I'm tempted to buy at least one of the Ultrafires just to have it. I love the fact that you can run it with a 1xAA body or a 2xAA body (did yours come with both tubes?).

    If I were you I'd pick up one more 3-pack of lockblocks, strap them all (Fenixes and Ultrafires alike) to bike and helmet and cut loose, bike ablaze. That'd throw a little light to see by.

    Depending on your ultimate decisions on what to keep, you might experiment with some combinations in the mean time. For instance, try strapping two Fenixes to the handlebar and one Ultrafire to the helmet. If the handlebar lights run low, the helmet will get you home. Playing around with both in real night-riding use might actually be fun, at least as an experiment.

    On the rechargeable batteries and capacities, not all seem to be equal, even if rated with the same mAh capacities. I think the general consensus is that the less well known (and less well evaluated) the battery, the less consistent or reliable the rating might be. I've got the sneaking suspicion that the batteries you bought in bulk might not be up to the same level as some others (like the Duracells that were mentioned). I say this mostly based on the limited run time you are getting with the Fenix lights with those batteries, which seems to be an awfully short run time. If you buy some of those Duracells for testing, watch out for pricing. They seem to go at regular price for a whopping $15-$16 for a set of four. A while back, I saw the same 4-packs on sale at a local grocery store for about $8, so watch for them and you might run across some on sale. I think it would be worthwhile for you to test some, and the money would not be wasted since you essentially just investing in a few more good rechargeable batteries you'll be able to use for a long time.

    On the battery fit comments, it's true that you'll run across that now and again. Not all batteries from all makers are the same diameter, and some have too large a diameter to fit inside certain tubes. I can't remember which ones they were, but some time ago I put some AA batteries into one of my L2Ds and had a heck of a time removing them because of the diameter.

    On light tint, you do have to watch out for the perception associated with tint. We tend to perceive those lights that seemingly project with a whiter or more bluish tint to be brighter, and I'm pretty sure that's more to do with our own mind's preconceived notions about what is bright and what is dim. Anything that tends to run to a warmer or more yellowish tint seems to be deemed by the brain as not being as bright, even when that's not really the case. And we all seem to have our preferred tints. I've heard comments from others who seem to like the more yellow tints as seemingly easier for them to see with at night. I tend to prefer the whiter seeming lights, though.

    On light output and lumens, etc., I'd probably never try to guess at lumens by just using what my eyes tell me. For actuals on that sort of thing, I think it needs to be measured a bit more scientifically (that is, with equipment made to take such measurements). Anyone seen any test test results showing actual output for this particular incarnation of the Ultrafire C3 Q5? On the CandlePower Forums, perhaps?

    Overall, I'm pretty impressed by what I've seen of the Ultrafires. Too bad that whoever makes them doesn't have more of a visible presence. I'd guess they kind of have to be looked at as a "generic" or something. I've done a little bit of reading to try and find out more about them (who makes them, where they come from) and I have to admit they seem to be what I'd call a knockoff style of light (I think that would be accurate). Lower cost, very effective, but you get what you get. Good performance, but I'd have to guess lacking in certain quality and quality control categories on levels that might not be visible just by looking at them but that could be important in terms of longer-term performance and durability. Probably a bit sketchy if you need customer support or replacement (perhaps). I see the name "Ultrafire" as a pretty blatant attempt at tapping into people's name brand recognition for "Surefire." Just my take on that.

    Again, yeamac, I think you're doing a good job with your initial evaluation. You're obviously catching a slight bit of flack, but you're adjusting to the criticism and responding reasonably. Keep up the study and keep posting thoughts and results. You're obviously giving it a conscientious effort and this discussion should benefit all interested parties, I think.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Nachoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by varuscelli View Post
    Good review, yeamac. . . . .

    Again, yeamac, I think you're doing a good job with your initial evaluation. You're obviously catching a slight bit of flack, but you're adjusting to the criticism and responding reasonably. Keep up the study and keep posting thoughts and results. You're obviously giving it a conscientious effort and this discussion should benefit all interested parties, I think.
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    I don't have a way to measure the lumens of my UF flashlight. However, the light I bought is the same as mentioned earlier in this thread reviewed here. This reviewer puts the output on high at 1523 lux, compared to the Fenix on Turbo at 3030 lux. As I said in my previous post, my Ultrafire is putting out about half the max output of the Fenix.
    Fenix: turbo=3030 lux, high=1780 lux, medium=892 lux
    UF: high=1523 lux

    As I said before, the UF high mode is not quite as bright as the Fenix on high mode (107 lumens), but definitely brighter than the medium mode (53 lumens). From this I guessed the output to be around 90 lumens. Yes, the measurements I gave in my previous post were by my naked eye, but it looks like I was pretty close. The information from light-reviews.com confirms what I perceived.

    In spite of it being only half as bright as the Fenix, and in spite of the battery fit issues, it's a good buy at $21. It's not the [cheap] replacement I hoped it would be, however.
    Last edited by hopperja; 07-27-08 at 06:19 PM.
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  22. #22
    The Fenix Shillboy varuscelli's Avatar
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    Although some of the initial comments are a bit dated in this thread, it's worth a read. Part of what I seem to be seeing (not just in the thread linked below) hints at some inconsistencies in what people are getting when they buy the Ultrafire lights. A couple of the issues that have been addressed on the CandlePower Forums bug me a bit. There seems to be quite a bit of give and take with these lights...and some hit or miss with purchasing. Perhaps some re-branding or multiple entities producing the same light and branding them under the same name (on occasion or occasionally in the recent past). I'm not meaning this to dissuade anyone from buying...just pointing out some previous reviews and opinions. And I do think I'm going to order one of these just to have it...maybe I'll keep it, maybe give it away...but I think I'll order one so I can evaluate for myself.

    Ultrafire C3 Multi-stage vs Single-stage (14500/3AA ADDED): RUNTIMES, pics!

    Another thread of interest from the CandlePower Forums:

    Ultrafire C3 Cree Q5 LED Flashlight (DX sku.10727)

  23. #23
    Hills! speedlever's Avatar
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    One thing that concerns me about the Fenix L2DQ5 is the heat related issue when running in Turbo mode. I wonder if that will also affect the strobe mode. I recently came across some posts/info that say the Fenix becomes too hot to hand hold when in Turbo mode.

  24. #24
    The Fenix Shillboy varuscelli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by speedlever View Post
    One thing that concerns me about the Fenix L2DQ5 is the heat related issue when running in Turbo mode. I wonder if that will also affect the strobe mode. I recently came across some posts/info that say the Fenix becomes too hot to hand hold when in Turbo mode.
    If using it as a bike light, the heat in the L2D turbo mode shouldn't be much of an issue (if at all) unless you're sitting still. While riding, you've got very good air cooling working for you. I don't think that strobe mode would tend to overheat it at all...but I don't ever use strobe mode for any length, so I'm just guessing. But hey, in strobe, the light is only on something like half the time, so I don't think that cumulatively it could build up a lot of heat -- especially if used on a ridden bike (I admit that my logic could be wrong, though).

    Taking that a bit farther, my understanding is that even if the light is used in a situation in which is heats up significantly, unless you're in a place that has a high ambient temperature, the heat shouldn't be harmful to the light. An obvious example might be something like using the flashlight up in an attic during the day in summer time.

    At night, outside with cooler air, especially if used while riding a bike, I don't think there's any real heat or overheating concern (at least, not to the degree that it would be harmful to the flashlight).

  25. #25
    Hills! speedlever's Avatar
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    Thanks Al.

    However, in my anticipated usage, I expect to use strobe mode quite a bit in waning daylight hours... and heat is typically upper 80s to low 90s F even at that time. So high ambient temp is a relative term.

    Guess we'll see how it shakes out.

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