Monday, October 26, 2015

Nitecore HC30 1x18650 battery,Cree XM-L2 LED, REVIEW

Nitecore released many new models this year and is not yet finished with the good news.
 Two new headlamps are coming to diversify the choice in this segment,which was started with the HC50 and HC90. The new models are HC30 powered by single 18650 battery and HA20 powered by two AA batteries.
As a Li-Ion battery fan,I am reviewing for you the HC30.I like more versatile flashlights,which can be used in different ways-as a headlamp,or a pocket flashlight.
The HC30 is powered by single 18650 battery,or two CR123A. The switch is on the top end of the body,above the reflector. The reflector is in right angle position to the battery tube.  
 Nitecore HC30.
Cree XM-L2 LED-Cool white(on my sample)
1x18650 or 2xCR123A batteries
98mm (3.86") Length
Weight 86gr. with a 18650 battery

Technical data from the manual.

 



The switch does not protrude over its retaining ring,but is still accessible without problems.
Impressive deep cooling fins.The LED seems mounted directly to the base of the fins. Great heat transfer design!

Electronic head switch. Not protruding. Good feel,audible click sound.
Great user interface with direct access to Highest mode. Normally starts on the lowest mode.
Modes:
Ultralow=1 lumen
Low=75 Lumens
Mid=210 lumens
High=400 lumens
Turbo=1000 lumens
Peak beam intensity=6600cd

 The switch is an electronically working,which means it has short move with no locked/unlocked position.
The headlamp does have minimum dimensions and weight.
The battery tube is thin and lightweight. The HC30 is impressing with its compactness and low weight from the first time you get it.

 The switch is quite big for comfortable pressing it and locating it,too.It produces easy to hear click sound.Not too stiff,not too loose for pressing.
If you afraid of accidental activation of the light,locking out the tail cap is recommended when carrying the headlamp in a backpack,or a pocket.
Of course,you don't want a very stiff hard to press switch when wearing the headlamp on your head,as this will cause troubles when trying to operate the user interface.
My first impressions were: Lightweight,Compact,Comfortable switch,Beam cooler white than expected(also compared to the HC50),Long throw profile of the beam, I like the user interface.
First measurements:
~ 49µA Standby current draw. Tailcap lock out is possible,thanks to the anodized tail threads.

 Nitecore HC30 comes also with a pocket clip.A great option for pocket carrying the headlamp as a regular EDC flashlight,without the headband.

 Perfectly anodized aluminum alloy body.Relatively matte black finish.Excellent knurling,as usual for Nitecore.
Overall great care to detail.

 Tailcap removed. No strong magnet,as seen in other similar flashlights with a similar cap design.
Rectangular cut threads.Anodized-allow physical lock out.
Protected batteries fit with no problems.
Physical reverse polarity protection for improper battery installation.
Even the RP protection I am able to use flat top Keeppower batteries in my HC30 sample. 

This is the HC30's pocket clip(left) compared to the Skilhunt DS10 pocket clip. Very similar form. The loop for strap attaching is not on the proper place and limits the space where a thick belt should fit.

User Interface
Short press starts the light always on UltraLow mode.
Press and hold for a second to activate the last used mode.
Press and hold for more than 1 second to activate Turbo,directly from Off.

Press and hold while On to turn it Off.
Short press will change the mode.

The UI is really well though out,without "exotic" features.
It does not require much to get used to and is easy to operate.
I don't like the difference in switching the light On/Off as this require some more effort(thinking) when doing one of them. I like it more simple-just the same briefly press to turn On/Off.

For one cycling through the modes will be more important,for others turning the light Off quicky with one brief press. Different prefferences.

 I found the UI logic and meeting the requirements for using the HC30 as a headlamp.


The headband seems quite sturdy.Good thickness and probably enough length for every head size. The holder part is similar to the HC50's relatively soft silicone holder.Maybe not so good in terms of stability,but quite comfortable for the forehead.
The elastic holder eliminates the need of a mechanical components for adjusting the angle of the beam. The two loops do this job well. The "flashlight" stays tight enough in the holder.Accidentally rotating it is hardly possible.

Headband connectors are made of plastic.
Soft rubber headlamp holder.

The headlamp can be inserted in the holder in two directions,allowing operation with the more comfortable hand. 


The HC30 stays quite well on my head,even wearing a winter hat.

Cool white Cree XM-L2 LED.Deep,aluminum reflector with smooth reflective coating.
Very clean glass lens with anti-reflective coating for high light transmittance.

The beam shape is on the throwy side.Some will appreciate that,other not at all. The difference with the wide angle beam of the HC50 is significant.
Personally,I would like to have a diffuser cap for the HC30 for more floody beam. This depend on the way the headlamp will be used.At what distance and environment.
Deep aluminum reflector with smooth reflective surface.

The light from the Cree XM-L2 mounted in the HC30 is cool white. No greenish,or bluish tint in regular use. Clearly defined hotspot. There are artifacts and different tint zones in the hotspot,but should not be visible in regular use.



5 meters, 1/6sec



5 meters, 1/50sec


Run time graph showing the performance on Turbo and High mode.
High mode as expected pretty well regulated.
Turbo mode typical for a single Li-Ion battery flashlight at this output.
The output should be more constant,if using two CR123A batteries.I can't test it,as I don't use CR123A batteries,at all and prefer using just one battery in small flashlights. 
The output is very low at the end,of course easily noticeable that the battery is empty,but if we leave the flashlight unattended,then damaging an unprotected battery is quite possible.

The HC30 shows over 1000 lumens on Turbo mode,at the start in my test.
I can't guarantee full accuracy of my measurements.
Most important is the graph form,showing the performance in the time.
There was no thermal regulation activated in my test,as seen in the Nitecore HC50 review.
The HC30 gets hot after few minutes on Turbo mode. There should be a thermal regulating to adjust the output keeping the temperature in optimal range,but as I already noted,I did not manage to activate it.

According to Nitecore,the HC30 does not feature Low voltage protection,but I still tested it.
To test the driver for low voltage protection,I left the HC30 turned on,as long as possible.To be honest,I really was hoping for a LV protection in this headlamp.There was no such.
The HC30 stayed for some time on a very low output until the battery protection triggered.
I would not recommend to leave the HC30 unattended when using with an unprotected battery.
It is best to use a quality protected battery from Nitecore,or other trusted brand.




 Nitecore HC30 performed quite well in my usage,so far. Good performance as a headlamp.Good performance as a pocket-able flashlight. Well designed. I don't find anything more to want in terms of build quality. What I would change,if it depended on me-a shallower reflector for even wider beam with a less pronounced hotspot(I am a fan of the HC50's beam). This is of course my personal preference,which will differ from the preferences on other people with different requirements
I would like also a warmer light from the LED,which will improve color rendition,making close up work much more pleasant.I am sure many people will agree with me on this point.

In terms of output and regulation,the HC30 also does a good job.The max output is quite enough for almost any situation requiring quality illumination. Good amount of brightness modes,well spaced.The presence of a nice UltraLow mode is a big plus. The UI is great.Direct access to UltraLow and Turbo is really an option nice to have. As in most late Nitecore flashlights,the Stanby current draw is on the high side. It's not that high to bother you,but is definitely something to keep in mind,when leaving the headlamp unused for long periods of time,especially with already used battery.  Using protected 18650 batteries is highly recommended and will add also a low voltage protection for the every day use of the flashlight.
Nitecore recommends using its protected batteries in the HC30 for maximum compatibility-in size and protection.
I like the form factor-versatile and functional.
The headlamp is comfortable on the head,thanks to its lightweight body.
I enjoyed using it in the test period. The switch and user interface work flawless,quickly and without any skipping,or wrong activations.
The HC30 is a good offer in the multi-purpose head lights class.

Thanks to Nitecore for providing the HC30 for test and review!

Thanks for reading!
I hope my review was helpful for you.
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2 comments:

  1. I bought this a couple of days ago, really pleased with it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Enjoy it!
      The right angle lights could be very useful. I use my HC30 quite often lately.

      Delete

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