Friday, February 26, 2016

Thorfire PF03 & PF04 Penlights / 1(2)xAAA / XP-G2 LED REVIEW


Thorfire has added two new EDC flashlights in their product line. Two penlights with less aggressive design compared to the previous models the PF01 and PF02.
The new flashlights are the PF03 and PF04,powered by one or two AAA batteries respectively.
I have very good impressions after testing a few flashlights from Thorfire,so I took the opportunity to test the PF03/04 without much hesitation.
Despite the not so"magnetic"name,this manufacturer was always producing high quality products,on a reasonable price,with a smart design complying in most points with user's requirements.

Here is a link to the Thorfire's Amazon store- http://amzn.to/1JXxsRP
You can check out the actual price.
Thorfire is offering a discount code for the model PF04. A great option to get this great flashlight on even better price.
Discount code for my readers 3EVDVCLQ

Size comparison with other AAA flashlights-
Left to right- Thorfire PF04,ThorfirePF03,Thorfire PF01,Thorfire PF02,Thrunite Ti and cheap MXDL flashlight.
Thanks to the reverse clicky switches and removed crenelated front,the new models are much more compact.The driver board is probably in conventional position,too(unlike the PF01/02).



Pictures from the actual User Guide.

Specifications of the PF03.





Specifications of the PF04.


I like how Thorfire is listening to the user's opinion and is trying to make the user interface of their flashlight as close to the people's liking,as possible.
The reviewed PF03 and PF04 flashlights are definite EDC flashlights and their UI should not be very complex and to allow quick operation.Well spaced modes is also very important.

The models PF03/04 have just three modes- Low,High,Mid(in this sequence). No flashing modes-mostly not needed in low brightness flashlights.
Reverse clicky switch. Fully pressing the switch activates/deactivates the light.
Half press will change the mode.
Both models star always on Low mode,which is really low brightness. No mode memory,but you have to wait 2 or 3 sec after deactivating the light,for clearing the lasting electricity in the driver.
If you activate it again sooner,it will start on the next mode-changing the modes is possible by half pressing the switch,fully pressing the switch Off/On and restarting the light will act in the same way as the half press.



In my thin hand.
The PF04 has almost the same size as a regular pen.


The PF03 is very compact.






This is the packaging.Sturdy cardboard boxes.Impact insulating foam.In the box-Single spare O-ring,User Guide,Warranty card.



Significant difference in the front design.
PF01 left,PF03 right.





Different LEDs.
XP-E2 left, XP-G2 right.


Thorfire PF03 and PF04 on the picture below.
Well centered LEDs.
The glass lens on both flashlights has slight bluish reflection,which means it has some anti-reflective coating.
A nice touch that improves a little the light transition efficiency.



Thorfire PF03 disassembled. I can unscrew only the head. I am trying to take off also the tailcap,with no success so far.
I doubt it is glued,maybe just need good tools...I can't do it with hands.




As you can see on all pictures,the flashlight are perfectly anodized.There is no scratches,dents.Excellent finish.


Good thickness of the battery tube.Every part of the flashlight is precisely made.
This is one of the things I like in all Thorfire flashlights.They never disappoint in terms of machine work quality and anodizing.Good care to detail.


The PF04(picture below).
The pocket clip on both flashlights fit well on its place and seems securely attached.There is what more to ask for in terms of hardness.
The material used for the clip is relatively soft.Many people will find the clip too soft to keep the flashlight securely attached to clothes or bags.


This is how the switch cap does look. It protrudes enough for comfortable pressing. Overall,it is easy accessible and does not take much effort to press the switch.
Maybe it is a little harder on the PF03,because of its size.
This is one of the imperfections of these flashlights.The battery is pressing the switch directly,which results in tightening the switch on its place.
If you press the switch while the flashlight is empty,the switch is easy to press.But when the battery is inserted,the switch becomes stiff and requires a lot of force to press it.
In combination with the short body of the PF03 and lack of knurling,this may cause problems with pressing the switch.You need a really good grip.
I found this a problem only in the PF03. The PF04 is easier to hold stably.





Below is a run/time graph showing the performance of the PF03/04 tested on High mode.
There were two step downs in the PF03(1xAAA) test.Probably activated at certain voltage,with the purpose to extend the run time.
I was pleased to see that the flashlights have low voltage warning-start to blink when the voltage is critical.
Both models reduced the brightness in the end of discharge
,to save the battery and give you some time to find fresh batteries for replacement.



Relative brightness measured by me:

PF03 High mode~100 lumens
PF03 Mid mode~
PF04 High mode ~208 lumens initial, 194 lumens after 30sec
PF04 Mid mode~ 80 lumens

I am happy to report that the PF03 and PF04 do not use PWM on any of the modes.
I can not detect any flickering when testing with a soundcard oscilloscope or camera.
Really appreciated progress in quality from Thorfire!



BeamShots

Thorfire PF03 and 04 are equipped with a Cree XP-G2 LED. The previous PF01 and PF02 were using Cree XP-E2 LED.
The bigger emitting area of the XP-G2 ensures bigger hotspot and brighter spill.

Check out the comparison shots below,to see the significant difference in the beams.
In my opinion the new beams are much more convenient for EDC flashlights.

The light from my PF03/04 samples is cool white.No visible bluish or greenish tint.
The PF04 with two AAA batteries is about two times brighter than the PF03 with a single AAA battery.
I am testing only with rechargeable,NiMH batteries.


The PF04 close to the wall.

I don't have any critique about the beam shape.I found the transition from hotspot to spill quite pleasant.
There are some hardly visible artifacts-can be found only if you watch for them on a white wall.
The color is also good-clean white.
Mode spacing is different on both flashlights,as I am pleased with the choice for Mid mode brightness,but the very dim Low mode is way lower than I would like.
This of course depends on personal preferences.In my testing I found the Low mode quite dim and hardly usable for anything different than checking my hand watch.
I even have trouble to see,if I actually activated the light. It's interesting that the Low mode on the more powerful PF04 is about twice less bright than the PF03's Low mode.

1 meter, 1/20sec







5 meters, 1/6sec




Good points-Very compact for flashlights with a tail switch; Good max brightness; Good beam for EDC use;
Good mode spacing and mode sequence(this will vary for different people);Good choice for LED,reflector,glass;
Excellent machining,anodizing; Good design; No PWM; Look and are high quality products;

What could be improved? - Switch stiffness should be independent of battery pressure; A harder pocket clip is a good idea; The Low mode is way too low for what I could use it;

Here is a link to the Thorfire's Amazon store- http://amzn.to/1JXxsRP
You can check out the actual price.
Thorfire is offering a discount code for the model PF04. A great option to get this great flashlight on even better price.
Discount code for my readers 3EVDVCLQ

Thanks for reading!
Thanks to Thorfire for providing the PF03 and PF04 for test and review!