Dorcy Flashlight: Metal Gear XL-M (618 Lumen) Review

I recently received the Dorcy Metal Gear XL-M 618 lumen flashlight and since I've enjoyed shooting with the light over the last few weeks, I felt like it was time for a proper review.

Flashlight comes packaged with wrist strap

Features:

  • High (618 lumens) and low (173 lumens) output settings, powered by (6) alkaline AA batteries 
  • High setting run time = 5 hours, low setting run time = 25 hours
  • IPX-4 Water Resistant
  • Impact Resistance, up to 3 meters
  • Polycarbonate lens
  • Made of Aerospace Grade Anodized Aluminum
  • Comes with wrist strap

Construction:

The Metal Gear XL-M flashlight is large, but remarkably light for it's size, especially compared to some of my smaller, less bright lights. It feels good in your hand and the textured body really helps me feel like I have a good grip on the light while navigating and light painting. 

The on/off and brightness mode button is made of a neon yellow rubber material, which makes it easy to find in dimly lit or dark places since it's easy to feel around for.  

As I mentioned above, the light is large, so it won't fit in my tiny pant pockets, but recently I have been shooting with a lens pouch on my belt, and it fits perfectly inside there, or in an exterior pocket on my camera bag.

This light also has a great bezel, with an anti-roll feature, so I often place it face down or on it's side while resetting my composition. 

Polycarbonate lens

On/Off and brightness mode switch

Left to right: 4Sevens Quark AA tactical, Coast HP7, Nite Core MH25 Night Blade, Streamlight Stinger, Dorcy Metal Gear XL-M 

Left to right: 4Sevens Quark AA tactical, Coast HP7, Nite Core MH25 Night Blade, Streamlight Stinger, Dorcy Metal Gear XL-M 

Output/Beam:

Let's cut right to the chase, this flashlight is bright! It has 2 brightness modes, a high setting which is a 618 lumen output and a low setting which has a 173 lumen output. At the high setting it can throw up to 1,100 feet and run for approximately 5hrs. At the low setting, it still throws around 600 feet and can run to up to 25hrs! (In all my shooting over the last few weeks I have not had to replace the batteries yet.) 

I have used both brightness modes while navigating through dark spaces and shooting and each one has its own perk.  The low setting tends to work better for light painting because it's not too bright and the hot spot is less obvious. The high setting works better for trying to light up things in the distance or look for something to photograph.  

High output setting  (Same camera settings as the low output image)

High output setting 
(Same camera settings as the low output image)

Low output setting (Same camera setting as the high output image)

Low output setting
(Same camera setting as the high output image)

I am very fond of the color temperature of this light, because it's in between a cool LED and warm incandescent. (See image below comparing 3 lights) I tend to prefer my light painted images to be on the warmer side, but I also like the long run time and bulb sustainability of an LED, so I feel like this light accomplishes both of those things.  

Left to Right: NiteCore MH25 Night Blade, Dorcy Metal Gear XL-M, Streamlight Stinger (incandescent) 

Left to Right: NiteCore MH25 Night Blade, Dorcy Metal Gear XL-M, Streamlight Stinger (incandescent) 

 

Titan I Missile Base tunnel, pitch dark
13 seconds, f/9 @ ISO 1600 - Flashlight remained on, in a static position, for the duration of the exposure 

 

Recommended Uses:

  • Photography: This light works well for light painting, especially when using an f-stop of f/9 or f/11, which reduces the trails of the light's hot spot as you are painting. Because this light is so bright, it also works well if you cannot stand close to what you need to light. In addition, the high brightness setting also allows for cool beam effects in fog or dusty landscapes. (See sample images below)
     
  • Navigation: This light is fantastic for navigating through the dark, especially if there are no concerns of being "spotted." The high setting allows for long distance spotting of lurking wildlife, dangers ahead or for a great view of what's in front of you while you're hiking, navigating tunnels, etc.
      
  • Vehicle/Emergency: This light would be a great go-to light for an emergency (especially for your vehicle) as it has a long run time at the low setting, but it also bright enough to call attention, for example, if you had car trouble on the side of the road in a remote place. In addition, if the power goes out, bouncing this light off the ceiling will help illuminate your space until the power is restored. 
     

Sample Images:

Battery Godfrey, San Francisco
15 seconds, f/9 @ ISO 1000 - Flashlight remained on for the duration of the exposure. 

Battery Godfrey, San Francisco
118 seconds, f/9 @ ISO 200 - Flashlight was used to 'light paint' the foreground for the duration of the exposure

Battery Godfrey, San Francisco
120 second, f/10 @ ISO 250 - Flashlight was used to 'light paint' the scene for the duration of the exposure

Battery Godfrey, San Francisco
15 seconds, f/8 @ ISO 1600 - Flashlight remained on for the duration of the exposure

Sutro Bath Ruins, San Francisco
20 seconds, f/8 @ ISO 1600 - Flashlight remained on for the duration of the exposure

Titan I Missile Base tunnel, pitch dark
2 seconds, f/7.1 @ ISO 800 - Flashlight (in my hand) remained on during the exposure

 

Titan I Missile Base tunnel, pitch dark
55 seconds, f/11 @ ISO 200 - Flashlight was used to 'light paint' tunnel for approximately 45 seconds. 

 

If you're interested in purchasing this light, visit  - http://www.dorcy.com/p-438-41-0435-metal-gear-xl-m-extreme-618-lumen-led-flashlight.aspx

(Thank you to Dorcy for providing the flashlight.)

COAST Flashlight: TX10 Review

I recently received the COAST TX10, a medium output multi-color LED flashlight. Overall, this is a great light, perfect for light painters since there are 4 colors available within a single light. It's also light weight and small enough to fit in a pant or jacket pocket while out taking photos. 

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Features

- 73 lumen white LED

- (3) AAA batteries

- Impact and water resistant

- Battery Life: 8 hours

- Dimensions: 3.95" x 1"- Very lightweight (3.9oz) 

Construction

While holding the TX10 in my hand, it feels solid and smooth, but also very light. The body has a texturized surface, making the light less slippery and easier to hold. At the back of the flashlight there's a place to attach a small wrist strap (not included with the light). I attached a strap to try it out, but mostly used it to help dig the light out of a pocket or bag. 

The TX10 has 4 buttons that act as switches to turn each of the colors on and off. What I like about these switches is that you can turn one color on, or use all colors simultaneously. Unfortunately, when it's dark there's no way to distinguish between the buttons for the different colors; all the buttons are the same size and feel the same. (I wish there was a textured button for the white LED.) This definitely makes it more difficult to use a specific color of this light in the dark without mistakenly turning on and off a wrong color before finding the one you want to use. 

The flashlight runs on (3) AAA batteries and has a run time of about 5-6 hours in 40 degree weather. Battery life improves slightly in warmer temperatures. 

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Capsule that holds the (3) AAA batteries. 

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Left to right: Coast HP7, Coast TX10, Quark Single AA Tactical XP-G S2 and NiteCore EZ AA. 

Output/Beam

The front element of the flashlight contains 6 LED's and has 4 colors: white, red, green and blue. When using the white mode, 3 of the LEDs become lit (2 adjacent outer LEDs and the center LED). For each of the other colors (red, green and blue) only one LED is used. This makes the white light on the TX10 brighter than the other colors and gives the white a broader, smoother beam. You can also use more than one color at a time, for example, you can mix and match all the green and red to get orange or blue and red to get purple. The downside of this particular use is that because the colors have to come from different LEDs to blend, the colors do not blend very smoothly, unless the light is quickly painting a subject. 

The beam of the white LEDs is very smooth even at close distances. There's a slight hot spot in the center, but I find the hot spot helpful when navigating and using the light at night. For night photography, moving the light while painting seems to elimate the hot spot for the most part, especially when 5 or more feet from the subject. The blue LED has the narrowest and least smooth beam, while the green and red are very similar and more smooth. 

The white beam also seems to have a very blue/purple hot spot compared to my other lights.

TX10_Comparison.jpg
IMG_9945.jpg

Left to right: Coast TX10, Quark Single AA Tactical XP-G S2 and NiteCore EZ AA. 

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White LED beam focused on building from 20ft away. 

Recommended Uses

Photography: Fairly bright, best used for close-to-camera and/or detailed light painting. Multi-colors are also good for navigating and searching for items inside a camera bag. 

Night Navigation: Red LED is good for navigation at night (won't ruin your night vision) and isn't visible to the human eye over long distances. 

Tactical: Multi-color LED uses: Red won't ruin your night vision. Green is often used in covert operations as it's harder to detect unless looking right at the beam. 

- Hunting: Multi-color LED uses: Many animals aren't alerted or spooked by a green LED. Red won't ruin your night vision. Blue works for detecting blood. 

Sample Photos  

Night. 50 seconds. f/8. ISO 200. Cave walls lit using white LED on TX10. (Painted for approx 20 seconds.)

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Night. 50 seconds. f/8. ISO 200. Cave walls lit using blue LED on TX10. (Painted for approximately 45 seconds.)

IMG_9910.jpg

Dark space. 30 seconds. f/11. ISO 100. Lit at 3 angles, with white, blue and green LED on TX10. 

IMG_9837.jpg

Night. Full moon. 120 second exposure. f/9. ISO 200. Left face of structure lit with red LED on TX10 flashlight for about 20 seconds from 15ft away. 

COAST Flashlight: HP7 Review

I recently received the COAST HP7, a high output LED flashlight. It shipped in a custom box containing the flashlight, a pouch and strap.


Features

- High (251 lumen flood) & Low (58 lumen spot) Beam Output settings- Beam Focus and lock- Uses (4) AAA batteries
- Impact and water resistant
- Battery Life: 5-10 hours
- Dimensions: 5.54" x 1.24"
- Lightweight (7.2oz) 

 

Construction

The HP7 is lightweight and durable, made of aluminum, and has a slight texture around the barrel of the light making it grip well in your hand. It's bigger than most handhelds I own, but still small enough to fit comfortably in your hand, a deep pant or jacket pocket, though it's slightly too long to fit in a pocket of the women's jeans I own. It also is small enough for a camera bag, glovebox, backpack or toolbag. 

The push/pull feature of the beam focus is smooth. It works best when using your thumb (not forefinger as shown in the diagram), but it's still a bit stiff and not easy to do with one hand. I found the beam focus lock to be helpful, but it didn't always lock well and often it would slip when pulling the light out of a tight pocket. 

This light runs on just (4) AAA batteries and ran strong for about 4 hours at high power before beginning to dim.

 

(Left below) Front element; (Right below) Rear on/off button

 

 

 


 

 

 

 





Output/Beam

I found the two output settings to be very useful. The high output setting at 251 lumens was too bright for navigating the dark since it killed my night vision, but worked well for light painting subjects from 20ft or more. The low 58 lumen setting was better suited for navigating or light painting detail shots. 

The HP7 beam is impressive. When the beam is at the narrowest setting, it contains a hot spot, but at a distance of more than 10 feet, that hot spot has smooth edges. When the beam is set on the widest setting, there is almost no perceivable hot spot. It's smooth all the way through with a nice smooth, feathered edge. 

The HP7 has a fairly consistent cool color temperature, with a slight green-ish hue that's most noticeable around the edges when set to the wide beam setting (see below.)

 

(Left below) Showing high output beam, wide; (Right below) Showing high output beam, narrow


(Below) HP7 on high output setting against white wall showing green tones around the outer edges of the beam. 

 

Recommended Uses

- Photography: Bright light, good for light painting. Small enough to fit in a camera bag. 
- Night Navigation: Dual brightness modes are good for navigation. Dim mode isn't so bright it destroys night vision, but high output mode is good for seeing long distances. 
- Vehicle: This light's long run time and bright beam make it a good light for car emergencies. 
- Tactical: Lightweight and small for how bright it is.   



Sample Photos

Full moon night. 120 second exposure. f/9. ISO 200. Right face of structure lit with HP7 flashlight on high setting for approximately 15 seconds from 50+ feet away. 

Full moon night. 9 seconds. f/5. ISO800. Lit by HP7 on high setting, in left hand.


Night. 40 seconds. f/9. ISO 100. Lit from camera perspective using wide beam for foreground and narrow beam farther down tunnel.
 

Full moon night. 9 seconds. f/5.6. ISO 800. Lit via HP7 on high setting, held in right hand. 
 

Full moon night. 9 seconds. f/5.6 ISO 800. Lit with HP7 on high setting, off camera right. 



Before (left) and after (right) using the HP7 at high power setting.