To cut a long story short I entered into a little bit of communication with James Meyer, the Executive Manager at Safe-Light, who kindly offered to send me a torch that was in development, upon its release. This he duly did a couple of weeks ago, so I thought I would post my thoughts on this new torch, compared with my other two.
I thought this was a great torch and still do, but having used it for a few years, it does have a couple of disadvantages. I always felt the method of securing the two halves of the torch together, a clipped together spring steel band, was a little vulnerable, having said that it never let me down.
Secondly, although the beam is very bright (for such a small torch and in its price range), it is very narrow (a pool of light 37cm in diameter at 4.4 metres which, if my trig’ is correct, gives beam angle of around 2˝°). Although this gives the torch impressive dark penetration (for such a small torch) it makes it less useful for what you use a small torch for – close up illumination and walking.
Finally, without something to reflect the light off, it isn’t much use for ambient lighting (although I did find the top of a Tesco’s mini insect bite aerosol was a push fit over the lens and converted the torch into a great diffuse ambient light source).
However, this is a lovely little torch, and my criticisms are a little unfair considering its size and cost.
The second torch I bought, https://www.safe-light.com/cartimages/ACF1DEF.jpg, seems to be the same light system and has the same performance and similar functionality (this model having a full OFF facility but looses the half power setting), the differences largely being its shell. It has a hard plastic case, as apposed to the rubberised case of the torch above. This also has a removable belt clip and magnetic mount. The fundamental difference is the translucent top of the torch which acts as a diffuser for the edge of the beam, making the torch usable as an ambient light source. It works well, but as the main output of the torch is still used in the beam it’s still not as good as it could be (and not as good as the Tesco’s modification!). Because this is essentially the same torch as my original, it suffers the same problems as a result of its narrow beam.
The new torch that was kindly given to me https://www.safe-light.com/cartimages/ACFB04B.jpg returns to the look of the original. It is very slightly larger and is much more solidly built altogether. It has lost the spring steel fastening belt, which is replaced with a base cap fastened with a screw. Because of this, I don’t think the torch looks as nice now (never happy!), but this modification does makes the torch water proof. It also now has a detachable belt clip and magnetic mount. The lighting modes have changed too. Off, very low output always on, half power, full power and Morse SOS signal. However, the most significant change is the beam angle (a pool of light 2.2 metre in diameter at 4.4 metres which gives beam angle of around 7°). Although there is still a central bright spot about the same size as the other two models, there is a very even spread of light that covers a large area. Obviously it doesn’t have the distance power of the other two models, but it does solve their major problems. It’s much easier to use close up and is great when walking. And because of this wider beam, it is more usable as an ambient source.
All in all a really good little torch and, at the price, very very difficult to beat, in my opinion. Of course it’s still not a patch on the perfect torch I imagined when I was a kid, but it’s getting pretty close.