Friday, January 13, 2017

Nitecore P30 Compact Thrower (XP-L Hi,18650) Review +Outdoor Beamshots(updated)

Nitecore P30 is a new flashlight from Nitecore's Precise series lights.It is designed for maximum distance of illumination and compact size for easy carrying.
The P30 features Cree XP-L Hi LED,large smooth reflector and dual switch operation.
Protruded tail switch allows comfortable On/Off operating,while modes can be selected by the electronic side switch.

Size comparison with other flashlights with tight focused beam-
Olight SR52UT- Olight M2XUT- Nitecore P30-Nitecore MH27-Olight M23- Niwalker C26

Reflector diameter comparison. Nitecore P30 with 45mm reflector.

Here is anther comparing picture with Nitecore MH27 and Nitecore EC4.
I added also maybe the most popular and well known budget flashlight-the classic UltraFire C8.
It is hard to not think about the C8 design while looking at the P30,as the designers idea is the same-maximum compact 18650 sized flashlight with wide and deep reflector for high beam intensity(high distance of throw).

In my medium size,very thin hand. People with very big hands may find the body a little shorter than the optimal for best grip.The P30 fits well in my hand and I found it sufficiently comfortable,especially with the grip ring. I was extremely happy to see a C8 style flashlight coming with a grip ring-however my happiness was shortly cut by a fact which I will write about later in the review.
The P30's tail cap is specially designed for quick and easy access to the switch.
It is very well rounded,without any sharp edges. The switch can be easily pressed even when wearing gloves.

Below are pictures of the official instruction sheet coming with Nitecore P30.

This is the package and the accessories.
Two spare O-rings,spare tail switch cap,lanyard,battery magazine for two CR123A.
Good holster and pocket clip are also included in the set.

Nitecore P30 supports one 18650,two CR123A and even two RCR123A for stable output.

My lumen measurements show:
Turbo mode 864Lm initial, 824Lm after 30sec. (about 900Lm with IMR battery)
High mode 470Lm
Mid mode 240Lm
Low mode 62Lm
UltraLow mode 1Lm
Batteries used for the test Keeppower 3400/3100 mAh.

Peak beam intensity:
(measured at 5 meters)
Nitecore P30 Turbo mode 88,750cd 95,000cd 30sec after activation (retested with a second sample of the P30 with much better centered LED)

For comparison:
Nitecore MH27 = 43,750cd (XP-L Hi)
Olight M2X UT = 171,000cd (XM-L2 de-domed)
Olight M23 = 37,500cd (XM-L2 de-domed)
Olight SR52 UT = 191,250cd (XP-L Hi)
Niwalker C26 = 52,500cd (XP-L Hi)

Watch my quick video demo below.

Nitecore P30 disassembled on its three main parts.
In terms of build quality and machining the P30 is on the expected for Nitecore high level.
There are no sharp edges,dents or scratches on my sample.
Perfectly done anodizing,as well.

Beautiful looking front of the flashlight exposing the large reflector,secured with a relatively thin bezel which makes the reflector looks even bigger.
The bezel is not designed with aggressive shape and is crenelated just enough for some light to pass when the flashlight is left on a flat surface.

Cree XP-L Hi LED,aluminum reflector with smooth reflective surface.
As you can see on the picture,the reflector is not absolutely smooth.It has some circular texture probably for better mixing of the beam.

Purple color anti-reflective coating.

Well machined front threads-anodized,rounded rectangular-cut type.
No spring or physical reverse polarity protection on the positive contact this time.
Button top and flat top batteries can be used. All batteries that I have fit well in the battery tube.

Well made rounded triangular-cut threads at the tail end of the battery tube.
You can take also a closer look at the often controversial grip ring.
A little unexpected,the grip ring is made of plastic,which material many times was proved to broke easily.
In the case of my SRT6,the ring broke just from the different expansion of the different materials-metal and plastic while the ambient temperature is changing..
I have no information about the actual reason for choosing again the old type plastic ring in this flashlight after the metal ring for the MH27 and hope it will be replaced with a metal version in the next batch.
The grip ring is being locked when the tail cap is tightened and does not spin freely.
It provides the only lanyard whole,as well.

Full user manual from Nitecore's website-

Runtime Performance

As most of the latest flashlights coming from Nitecore,the P30 features ATR technology.
This is advanced temperature regulation which has the purpose to adjust the brightness according to the current temperature of the LED board.
In my tests so far the different models performed in different ways-some of them keeping the flashlight output high despite the high temperature,others decreasing the brightness with a step down reminiscent of programmed timed step down.
In the P30 the ATR technology clearly shows its work.
I tested the flashlight 3 times on Turbo mode and once on High mode.
First run was on Turbo mode with a small cooling fan which helps to keep the P30 optimal cool to track its maximal performance(high initial output as long as possible).
I found the fan accidentally stopped before the 10th minute after the start.
I don't know how long it was off,but I turned the fan again on to track the rest of the runtime.
This is the Orange curve in the graphs below.
The second run(Green curve) is again Turbo mode,this time with the fan constantly working.
As can be seen from the curves,the P30's ATR does decrease the brightness down to the 470 lumen High mode.
If the temperature is still low after the first minutes,the driver decreases its output to about 630 lumens and keeps this output as long as the battery can keep its voltage stable.
If the temperature is high,the output will be decreased to 470Lm level until lowering the temperature.
When the temperature is again on the threshold level,the output is unlocked to the maximal possible according to the battery's voltage.

Third test(Red Curve) was done without additional cooling. The ambient temperature was about 18 degree Celsius. According to the higher LED temperature the P30's electronics decreased the output to High mode and did not recover it anymore.
As expected with a high output between 800 and 700 lumens the P30 runs hot.However at not so high ambient temperature,I would like a little higher threshold temperature for the step down.
Yet,I can't test every possible scenario but my experience with other flashlights tells me that is possible to allow a little more time on Turbo mode without activation of the ATR.
Overall I am pleased with the presence of ATR in many of the latest flashlights as this is the right way to more efficient lighting. The ATR unlocks the potential of the flashlight allowing optimal brightness in the cold nights outdoors,when the flashlight is less likely to overheat. On the other side in the warm summer nights,the ATR will effectively protect the flashlight from excessive heating.
These are only the first 50 minutes of each run time curve,for easier comparison.
This graph compares Turbo mode with the High mode.
We can see that Turbo mode step down is exactly to the output of High mode.
High mode(Green Curve) was done without external cooling. Brightness is almost constant for 130 minutes when tested with a Keeppower(Panasonic)3400mAh battery.

Nitecore P30 features back-lit side switch which supports Low voltage warning and battery voltage reading.
The switch is flashing in blue color when the voltage is too low and the battery  has to be replaced.
Low voltage protection is not available.The output is very low at the end of the discharge and give us some time to find another battery. It is recommended though to use protected batteries as in case of leaving the flashlight activated for a long period,the battery will not be critically discharged.

I don't detect PWM regulation in my tests.The output should be constant current controlled.


Beam comparison with a few other good throwers-
Nitecore MH27 (Cree XP-L Hi)
Olight SR52UT (Cree XP-L Hi)
Niwalker C26 (Cree XP-L Hi)
Olight M23 (de-domed XP-L version)
Olight M2XUT (de-domed XM-L2 version)

The beam from Nitecore P30 is well focused cool white light with very bright hotspot and corona.
There is also not so bright but usable spill.
Thanks to the factory flat LED the light is clean white without any greenish or bluish tint.

3 meters
1/6sec Nitecore P30 all modes+ beam comparison with other popular flashlights

Thanks to the form of the reflector and its micro textures,beam of the P30 is well controlled in all zones.
High intensity hotspot,smooth transition with the corona and no noticeable artifacts or circular patterns.
The light from the X-PL Hi is Cool white,but as you can see from the test pictures,it is not on the extreme high end of the Kelvin temp and appears slightly warmer white than the other lights with Cree XP-L Hi Leds-the MH27,C26 and SR52UT.

3 meters

3 meters
Notice how the larger reflectors of Olight SR52UT and Olight M2XUT result in brighter hotspot with thinner corona. The M2XUT on its side with a de-domed XM-L2 Led shows much less corona than the SR52UT with XP-L Hi Led,though sacrificing its beam color temperature.
Yet,the Cree XP-L Hi packs clean white light with higher overall lumen output. 

3 meters
The M2X and SR52 beat the P30 thanks to their larger reflectors.
The MH27 has a little higher output but its reflector is smaller diameter and provides less hotspot intensity.

Outdoor Beamshots

Distance to the trees 85 meters.

Beam intensity and profile comparison.
Nitecore P30 - Olight M23 - Niwalker C26 - Nitecore MH27 - Olight SR52 UT - Olight M2X

As can be seen on the comparison pictures Nitecore P30 serves pretty well outdoor,delivering useful light on quite long distance. If longer throw is needed,a flashlight with larger reflector should be selected.
The strength of the P30 is its compact size and very well focused beam thanks to its large diameter reflector and the latest flat dome Cree XP-L Hi LED.
The flashlight can be easily defined as pocket-able(yes,it is not a small EDC light,but if you need good throw for some reason,Nitecore P30 is one of the best choices).
What could be improved? As already mentioned,the grip ring is made of plastic,which is known to not be reliable material for this part.
The clip is again nothing special in terms of design and way of mounting.However some people may like that it is press,pull removable and probably easier to find a spare one than if it was more special.
The side switch takes more effort than needed to find it in the dark. If you like to change the light mode regularly,with the P30 this may happen slowly,as the main ON/Off switch is on the tail and you have to use two hands or to change the grip with following finding the side switch by touch.
The good is that as a high positioned flashlight the P30 remembers the last mode without any delay.
It is pleasure to use it as a single mode thrower flashlight. The tail switch allows momentary On,useful for signalling purposes.
I am glad to see the thermal regulation operating well too.

Feel free to post a question or comment below.

Nitecore P30 was provided by Nitecore for test and review.