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Old 11-04-08, 03:59 AM   #1
mechBgon
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Initial MC-E flashlight impressions *time-lapse video added*

Update: I added a time-lapse video showing the MC-E doing a rundown test

Update 2: animated GIFs comparing the MC-E to the Seca 700 have been added

I picked up a cheapie MC-E flashlight from DX to play around with. After taking it apart and tightening the pill down, I was actually able to get it to turn on and went for a quick road ride tonight to compare it to some other lights. Unfortunately, I left my camera at work, so beamshots will have to wait until later.

Beam pattern The beam pattern has a large hot spot with a bit of a dark artifact in the middle. The hot spot feathers into a medium-bright corona, and then into a dimmer spill beam.


the full beam pattern, underexposed a little so you can see the corona around the hotspot


the hotspot and corona. this is the part of the beam that's usable for seeing the road.

Build quality The quality of the flashlight is poor compared to any other light I own, especially the lens, which has really poor clarity and must be stopping a significant amount of light. I also had to sand down the end of the tailcap so the switch retaining ring could be fully tightened and still make electrical contact with the battery tube.


low quality rears its ugly head

Reliability I haven't gone for a proper shakedown cruise on rough pavement or off-road, so I don't have any remarks on reliability yet (like, does it randomly switch modes or turn itself off).

MC-E versus Light & Motion Seca 700 (~700 lumens) Aiming the lights out onto pavement and looking at the MC-E's hot spot on HIGH, it appears to be a little brighter than the Seca on half-power. The MC-E's spillbeam is quite a bit dimmer than its hotspot, whereas the Seca specializes in laying down an even sheet of light for a considerable distance. Yes, it's an unfair comparison... the Seca 700 is about 7 times the price of the MC-E flashlight plus batteries and charger

Update: Here are some off-road beamshots of the MC-E and Seca. They were shot with full manual camera settings. They're a bit underexposed, but I think they serve their purpose. The MC-E reminds me of my old NiteRider halogen 12-watt spot beam. Tangentially, this was my first use of the Seca as a helmet light, and it was a pleasure to use





Anyway, based on this test, I guestimate about 350 lumens of effective output from the MC-E on HIGH. When riding on unlighted roadway, I get more reaction time to road hazards with the Seca than the MC-E, partly because the Seca's light is so well distributed, and partly because it simply produces a lot more light and throws it farther.

MC-E versus Olight M20 R2 OP* (~220 lumens out the front**) The MC-E has a larger but much dimmer hotspot than the M20, with brighter spillbeam. As a direct result, the M20 has a major throw advantage, but the transition from the M20's hotspot to the spillbeam is quite abrupt (a characteristic of the M20's reflector design). So as a single bar-mounted light, the MC-E's beam pattern would be better than the M20. Where I find the M20 useful, is as a helmet light to sweep ahead on the sides of the highway for deer, and the M20's beam pattern works pretty well in that role.

MC-E versus Dereelight DBS R2 OP* (~240 lumens out the front**) The DBS is built for throw. Even using the OP reflector, it dominates the MC-E for seeing straight down the road. Riding fast on an unlit road, I was able to see surface details with about twice the reaction time when using the DBS, allowing what I'd consider "adequate" reaction time at speeds below 30mph in full darkness. Turning corners is where the narrow beam of the DBS has a problem, if it doesn't have help from a helmet light or a wider-beam base system, so the MC-E would work better if there were a lot of turning to do, like on a twisty MUP (yuck!). Both lights combined, the DBS and the MC-E, could be a good mix for street/highway riding.

As a standalone light, the DBS is in its element on a dark highway with mostly straight lines of sight, where its crazy-bright hotspot gets spread over hundreds of feet of roadway, while the spill beam covers the immediate foreground without "over-exposing" it. For those who can handle a 260-gram helmet light, the DBS also makes a decent long-range helmet light when mounted in a TwoFish BikeBlock.

MC-E runtime and regulation Here is a time-lapse YouTube video showing the MC-E on High. It begins to lose power after about 1hr 20min.

As a comparison, the M20 can run over 3 hours on high before it starts to give low-battery warning flashes; the Seca 700 runs for 3.5 hours on high with the Race battery, or 5 hours with the Ultra battery; and the DBS runs for about 1.5-1.7 hours.

MC-E levels: high versus "mid" The lower mode on the MC-E I picked is pretty dim. Aimed down enough to get the hotspot on the pavement, it might be a good setting for riding on an unlit MUP without blinding oncoming cyclists who have at least a small light of their own.


* What does "OP" mean? It means "orange peel" texture on the surface of the light's reflector, as opposed to a smooth reflector. OP reflectors don't concentrate the light as much as smooth reflectors, so they don't throw as far, but OP results in a smoother beam.

* What does "out the front" mean? It means the amount of useable light that actually gets out the lens, as opposed to the amount generated right at the emitter itself.

Last edited by mechBgon; 11-06-08 at 12:09 AM. Reason: beam shots added
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Old 11-04-08, 05:50 AM   #2
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You're going to be worse than me sooner than you think.
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Old 11-04-08, 07:28 AM   #3
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now we just have to wait for someone to do a comparison of the MC-E vs. P7

although from the sounds of it, they both suffer from not having a cycling specific reflector cone and secondary lens to make the light more usable.
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Old 11-04-08, 07:39 AM   #4
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The only MC-Es I'd buy (and compare to P7s) right now are the two 8-mode lights made by MTE. From what I've read, both compare favorably to P7s.

http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.16501
http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.16500
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Old 11-04-08, 10:02 AM   #5
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now we just have to wait for someone to do a comparison of the MC-E vs. P7
My DiNotte 600L is out on extended loan, or else I could approximate that comparison. Someone will get around to it, though

Quote:
although from the sounds of it, they both suffer from not having a cycling specific reflector cone and secondary lens to make the light more usable.
Yeah, basically the useable part of the beam on this light is the hotspot and corona, insofar as seeing the road surface goes.
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Old 11-04-08, 11:05 AM   #6
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not that I need another spot light since I got my JetBeam, but I'd be interested in the runtimes and beamshots.

lights are a nasty addiction, a buddy of mine blames me for all his DX purchases LOL
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Old 11-04-08, 12:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AEO View Post
now we just have to wait for someone to do a comparison of the MC-E vs. P7

although from the sounds of it, they both suffer from not having a cycling specific reflector cone and secondary lens to make the light more usable.

i ordered a MCE and P7. will post comparison when i get them.

two mode MCE
http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.16539

two mode P7
http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.15691
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Old 11-04-08, 03:08 PM   #8
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Thanks for the review! I'm in the market for a light with decent throw myself. Definitely keep us posted, especially with how sturdy it is when you beat it up offroad.

As far as I can tell, the lights you're comparing it to look to be at least 2x as expensive - for a $50 narrow-beam light, do you think it's worth it? You mention the build quality, particularly the lens; based on the light that does manage to get out, does it stack up favorably given its price point?

Thanks for the review!
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Old 11-04-08, 06:12 PM   #9
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Thanks for the review! I'm in the market for a light with decent throw myself. Definitely keep us posted, especially with how sturdy it is when you beat it up offroad.

As far as I can tell, the lights you're comparing it to look to be at least 2x as expensive - for a $50 narrow-beam light, do you think it's worth it?
Frankly, no I don't think it's worth it. I compared to more expensive lights because that's what I have, but for the money, a person could buy two of the five-mode TR-801s and still have money left over (not to mention twice the runtime at full power). If you're looking for more throw at a budget price, without going to an all-out dedicated thrower like this DealExtreme thrower, then you might want to consider the 5-mode TR-801 (disclaimer: I haven't tried it, just read user reviews at MTBR). With a reflector that size, it won't be all-spot, no-spill. If the specs are correct, it's also very lightweight.

Quote:
You mention the build quality, particularly the lens; based on the light that does manage to get out, does it stack up favorably given its price point?
Ignoring the short runtime of the MC-E, it looks like it would be about break-even in terms of light output compared to 2 of the aforementioned TR-801s, which are probably each ~150 lumens out the front. But the beam pattern would be the important thing; you may have noticed I'm most interested in the beam pattern and how well I see with it, I'm not a lumen-centered type of guy

The MC-E certainly does annihilate any $50 Cateye or Planet Bike plastic "bike headlight" for raw output, though

Here's a photo of the horrible lens. This is after determined efforts to clean it:



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What time do they serve breakfast at the asylum, by the way? I'm not looking forward to it if they expect me to be up by 8AM, I like to sleep in

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Old 11-04-08, 06:28 PM   #10
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thats a nasty lens.......
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Old 11-04-08, 06:30 PM   #11
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I've got a single mode TR-801 (sku 13095) on the way from DX for my helmet.
should be here this week or next.

hopefully it's as good as they say it is.

btw, both my MTE P7 lights have a very clear lens unlike what you got with your MC-E
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Old 11-04-08, 06:52 PM   #12
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I've got a single mode TR-801 (sku 13095) on the way from DX for my helmet.
should be here this week or next.

hopefully it's as good as they say it is.
The reason I suggest the 5-mode variant is that it reportedly runs brighter.

Quote:
Pros: Springs on both ends of battery compartment (prevents rattle and flicker).
Good runtime - almost 2 hrs on high before it can't hold regulation anymore and gradually dims to medium and then keeps on going.
Better build quality and finish than my single mode 801.
Great combination of spot and spill that makes a great mid-range light.


Cons: The lanyard is pretty cheap.
The strobe is really too fast to be used as a bike strobe.
Does every multimode light really have to include SOS?


Other Thoughts: Medium is about the same brightness as the single mode 801.
Protected batteries fit fine.
Low/Medium/High are pretty distinct modes, but are all usable.


Bottomline: This is the best bike light DX sells. Runtime on the P7s is just too short without changing a battery, but this provides adequate light and decent runtime.

Quote:
btw, both my MTE P7 lights have a very clear lens unlike what you got with your MC-E
Well that's good news! The lens on this one measures about 48mm, so I don't even have the option to buy it a decent UCL or Borafloat lens, they're not offered in that size. Caveat emptor...
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Old 11-04-08, 06:57 PM   #13
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ah, that's an interesting tidbit with the differences between the multi and single mode models.
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Old 11-04-08, 07:32 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by mechBgon View Post
What time do they serve breakfast at the asylum, by the way? I'm not looking forward to it if they expect me to be up by 8AM, I like to sleep in



BTW - Today we had waffles !

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Old 11-05-08, 06:31 AM   #15
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I've got a single mode TR-801 (sku 13095) on the way from DX for my helmet.
should be here this week or next.

hopefully it's as good as they say it is.

btw, both my MTE P7 lights have a very clear lens unlike what you got with your MC-E
That TR-801 looks good, I may get one as a dedicated helmet light and let my Fenix be my carry light. My MTEs (the 5-mode regulated ones) both have good lenses as well, looking about as clear as my Fenix L2D.
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Old 11-05-08, 02:36 PM   #16
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apparently the TR-801 single mode and 5 mode have around the same light on high according to mtbr.

just got mine in the mail which is pretty fast since it shipped on nov, 1.

mounted it to my helmet with a mount similar to a twofish block sku.12000
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Old 11-05-08, 02:43 PM   #17
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apparently the TR-801 single mode and 5 mode have around the same light on high according to mtbr.

just got mine in the mail which is pretty fast since it shipped on nov, 1.

mounted it to my helmet with a mount similar to a twofish block sku.12000
I'll be curious to hear your ride report on it!
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Old 11-05-08, 02:45 PM   #18
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I'm going out early tomorrow morning, you'll hear from me in the noon
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Old 11-05-08, 03:03 PM   #19
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I've got a single mode on the way too, looks like a great deal. This addiction is getting out of control...
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Old 11-05-08, 11:19 PM   #20
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I'm ordering some MC-E stars from Cutter Electronics for a work project with some 4 or 6 degree lenses. While these are for wired applications, I'll be sure to try them outside at night and snap some photos.
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Old 11-06-08, 05:43 AM   #21
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I've got a single mode on the way too, looks like a great deal. This addiction is getting out of control...
Amen! I think I might need intervention. When I take my bike out, I realize the light I already have is sufficient for my commute on city streets. HOWEVER, I read this forum and I can feel the credit card in my wallet getting warm!!!
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Old 11-06-08, 08:01 AM   #22
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it was pretty foggy in the morning, visability was around 100~200m and the 5-mode P7 came in handy with it's medium mode. high mode P7 was blinding and the TR-801, with only 1 mode was blinding at certain sections too.

TR-801 cree Q5 is perfect for a helmet light.
- has about the same throw as a P7
- plenty bright to see where you're going/peaking around corners
- light enough that having one on the helmet isn't too much of an hassle
- bright initially, but dims down very slightly at around 45min

light output, guesstimate.
P7 2mode low = Dinotte 200L hi
P7 5mode low < TR-801
P7 5mode mid = TR-801 (roughly the same, but with a wider centre spot for P7)
P7 5mode hi > TR-801
P7 2mode low < TR-801
P7 2mode hi > TR-801


the MTE P7 has a larger hot spot and more spill, but I wouldn't want it on my helmet.
one 5-mode P7 on the bars and either model of the TR-801 for the helmet should be fairly good for most riders. They both aren't super throwers, so instead of buying dual P7s, buy one P7, one smaller Q5 light and wait around for someone to make a super thrower P7 or MC-E.

as a side note, the TR-801 I got has a warmer yellowish tint compared to the P7s which have a bluer tint. I'm guessing my cree Q5 got a little too much phosphor in its coating.
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Old 11-06-08, 08:57 AM   #23
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Hey mech, you've got an L2d right? Any chance you can post a beamshot of the MC-E vs the L2D? The MCE looks like 300 lumens or so, a little weak.
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Old 11-06-08, 08:58 AM   #24
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AEO, how is the size of the 801? Can you post a pic of it beside one your P7s?
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Old 11-06-08, 09:06 AM   #25
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