Aug 15, 2020

Flashlight collection & review of Sofirn SP36 BLF Anduril flashlight

Things are pretty crazy these days. Like everyone else, I'm trying to make it through while keeping my sanity. In times like these, we all need to escape--to find something positive and fun to focus on. What better way to cope than to start a new hobby. Well, allow me introduce my new obsession: high performance flashlight. 

A bit of history

I own my fair share of D-battery Maglites. You know, the long baton flashlights you can use as a bat to fight off intruders? Yeah, those.
They're decent and pretty well built. But in terms of brightness and efficiency, they're nothing compared to new, LED-powered flashlights that are less than 2 fingers thick and can output a ton of light (700+ lumens).
For reference, the brightness of 1 candle is roughly 13 lumens so, 700 lumens is about 54 candles.

Actually, I've been loving the new generation of LED-based flashlights for a while. However, being the cheapskate that I am, I've only purchased flashlights that are good deals. That means nothing over $12. 

My first, real good LED flashlight is the 2-cell Anker Bolder LC90. It was on sale for $17... A bit over my budget, but I figured I'd splurge. 

Man, that thing is bright! At 900 lumens, it will blind you if you look into it. At less than one third the size of my 3 D-cell Maglite (45 lumens), this thing is 20 times brighter! What's more? It's rechargeable via micro USB and has two 18650 batteries (high capacity, high drain, rechargeable batteries that make up the most popular battery type out there). It lasts quite a long time and runs pretty cool. Perfect for replacing the Maglites.

Current collection

Between Maglites and the LC90, I went through quite a few flashlights. Some are great, most are crap, but a few stood out. Here's the short list (they all use 18650 battery):

Convoy S2+ - $13 (battery not included) - 1000 lumens - Cree XM-L2 U2 LED.
Compact, understated, very well built and powerful for its size. This grey flashlight was my daily carry for a long time.

Thorfire VG10 - $10 (battery not included) - 847 lumens - Cree XM-L2 LED.
This is similar to the Convoy S2+ but a bit less bright. Similar size but more rugged (tactical light). Comes with a nice case and a very nice lanyard.

Anker Bolder LC90 2-cell - $17 - 900 lumens - Cree XM-L2 LED.
This is my current flashlight for the house. It's like the others but a bit longer. 2 cells mean double the run time. It also has a zoomable front so you can focus the light for throw (focused light), or pull it back for flood (wide beam). USB rechargeable means you don't need to remove and swap batteries. You can't do it on this light anyway.

Note: prices above are what I paid during "good deals". Current prices are usually higher.

Introducing a new family member: Sofirn SP36 BLF Anduril


Since the spread of Covid-19, I've been looking to get into a new hobby to keep me busy. By chance, I came across a deal on the Wowtac A5, a 3.6k lumen flashlight running off of one large battery. So, I started reading reviews and dove deep into various forums (/r/flashlight on Reddit and Who knew that there's a whole world of light enthusiasts out there. 
Anyway, my top choices came down to the following:
  1. Emisar D4V2 ($45 without battery)
  2. Wowtac A5 ($50)
  3. Sofirn SP36 ($70). Current deal: You can get this flashlight (includes 3 batteries) for $49.69 by clicking the 10% off discount and applying a special, 1-time coupon. You have to request it from the manufacturer but I was able to find a few so I'm sharing here: 

At $50+ each, these aren't exactly "budget" lights, but they are all worth it. However, I promised myself I'd only buy one. I chose the Sofirn because I think it's a great value at $50 (including batteries. They usually go for $8 each). I also wanted something much brighter than my previous lights. Go big or go home right? 😁
The A5 isn't as big of a jump and D4V2 doesn't have as much runtime. Although I'll probably end up getting a D4V2 sometime in the future. It's a lot more pocketable. 

Sofirn SP36 BLF Anduril - Impression & review

I've been using this light for the past 2 days and my oh my, this thing is a beast! It's the size of a short (and thin) soda can. It takes three 18650 batteries and puts out 5,600 lumens! 🤯 This ridiculous amount of light is possible through the use of 4 Samsung LH351D emitters (LEDs). 

BLF means it was designed in collaboration with flashlight enthusiasts at As such, its UI (User Interface) is an open source interface designed by a light enthusiast named ToyKeeper
This UI is called Anduril and offers a ton of functions. And yes, in 2020, you can update your flashlight's software!
Here's a graphic explaining how to use an Anduril flashlight:

I tested the flashlight outside and the throw (how far the light reaches) is amazing. It lights up objects over 500ft away. At night, you can clearly see a fat beam coming from this monster. This light is actually NOT designed to be a throw light but it does pretty decent. The flood (how much the light fills the surrounding) is its main focus, and it does that job admirally.
In my house, turning it on lights up the entire living room. Coincidentally, power just went out today so I put it to good use. I went into the restroom, put it on a flat surface (pointing to the ceiling) and turned it on medium (1.2k lm). That was enough to comfortably light up the whole restroom for over 20 minutes.

Here are a few pictures:

Line up of my current favorites.
Left to right: Japanese Coke can (for size), Braun 380lm (COB LED) light bar, 2-cell Anker LC90 (900lm), Sofirn SP36 BLF (5,600lm), ThruNite Ti3 V2 (120lm), and Olight I1R2 EOS (130lm).
The last 2 are keychain lights. I love the Olight. I'm getting a 2nd one soon (free +$5 shipping). 

Here's a collage that shows this ligh's power. Top left is with nothing on. Then with my undercounter RGB LED strip vs with the Sofirn light on. Actually, I turned on the Braun light bar to show how the SP36's horizontal flood completely overwhelms it. 

2 halves of the light: battery tube and the head.
Cool tip: you can plug the head into a USB power source and run it indefinitely, no need for batteries. This is great for many applications. You can also hook it up to a phone battery pack. 
The 3 batteries run in parallel so you can actually operate the light with just 1 or 2.

Another shot of all current flashlights I have in the house. This time, with the Olight on my keychain.
Notice the auxiliary green led on the Sofirn. That's to help you find it at night.
Also, I don't have a Jag. I got that keychain thing as a gift.

Beam and tint comparison.
You can see the Sofirn's beam is warmer (5000k temperature). This tint is ideal because it doesn't have any blue and is high CRI, which means it accurately renders colors of objects it lights up. Most daylight color (6000k+) flashlights look brighter, and tend to have tints of blue or green, but they wash out things you need to see. What good is light if you can't accurately see what's being lit? 
For more on CRI, here's a great video explaining the difference between low CRI and high CRI. 
CRI depends on the light emitters used. The ones in this light are Samsung LH351D. They are rated at 90 CRI and are one of the most liked emitters currently on the market. 

Comparison shot of all the emitters (actual LEDs in each light). 

Charging view. The Braun work light was used for painting recently so it's a bit dirty. I tried to clean it but gave up after 10 mins. Getting paint out of those knurling gaps is pretty tough.

ZEROSVN Tech Enthusiast

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