Starry Light SA-22 4*AA/XM-L2

 Starry Light SA-22 4*AA/XM-L2

*SA-22 provided for review courtesy of illuminationsupply.com

“STARRY LIGHT” is a new brand produced by Black Shadow in order to enter the more mainstream flashlight market where Joe Average buys his lights while giving a bit more performance than the usual store brands at an equal or better price.  The SA-22 is their first model and runs on readily available AA alkaline or NiMH cells, gives performance rivalling many Li-Ion lights, is waterproof, and does all this for roughly $22.

PROS & CONS

Pros

  • Cheap, bright, and sturdy!
  • Very little drop in output during first 30 seconds.  Much better than most lights.
  • 262m of ANSI throw
  • Runs on AA cells
  • Waterproof
  • Comfortable in the hand
  • Good finish on the head
  • Reversed polarity protection
  • Decent holster

Cons

  • About 200 lumens shy of the rated maximum output
  • Mild PWm in low and medium modes
  • Flashy modes (SOS & Strobe)
  • No A/R coating on lens (not really expected at this price though)

PERFORMANCE

The Starry Light SA-22 runs on 4 AA cells and makes a very respectable 668 OTF lumens in its highest mode.  In spite of the plastic body, the very well designed aluminum head seems to manage the heat produced by the XM-L2 emitter very well.  Output at turn on was 673.8 OTF lumens.  After 30 seconds it only dropped 5 lumens to 668 lumens.  This is probably the best I’ve seen from any light I’ve tested to date.  My output results on high fall short of the claimed 880 lumens, in fact they are 76% of the claimed output but it could be accounted for (for the most part) if their output was emitter lumens.  My measurements are OTF lumens and reflector and lens loss could account for most of the difference between my measurements and Starry Light’s.

The beam profile is very nice with a smooth, artifact free spill and a fairly tight hotspot especially considering the small reflector and compact size of the light.  Throw is a very respectable 262 meters and it suits the light’s modes well as it is more of an outdoor light with it’s lowest mode being over 100 lumens.  With not a whole lot of difference between medium and high output modes, the jump from low to medium is very pronounced.  Unfortunately, low and medium modes fall victim to PWM.  Not the worst I’ve seen but it is noticeable in both and definitely more-so in low than in medium.  High mode has zero PWM and looks great.  Tagging along for the ride, unfortunately, are strobe and SOS modes.  They work but they’re still there.

The tail switch has good feel and works well.  While being light and slim it’s very comfortable to hold and still feels very durable and tough.  This would make a great light for storing in the car, being carried by a mechanic or construction worker for his/her day-to-day tasks, or for a camper or boater.  Everything seals tight and the design of the head and tail make for a very watertight flashlight I wouldn’t hesitate to take swimming, fishing, or boating.

MODE MANUFACTURER’S CLAIMS MY TESTING RESULTS
High @ 0s n/a 673.8 OTF
High @ 30s 880 668.1 OTF
Medium n/a 417 OTF
Low n/a 101.6 OTF
Lux @ 1m 22,000cd 17,250cd
Throw in Meters 260 262.67
Spill Beam Angle n/a 54 degrees
Center Beam Angle n/a 10 degrees

 

 

PACKAGING and CONSTRUCTION

The SA-22 came in a retail hanging package designed for retail brick & mortar display which is the role Black Shadow created the Starry Light brand to fill.  While not a bad package it has a feel of cheapness about it.  I think it must be the colors and general design of the box that makes it seem that way to me.  In reality it’s not really any different than what other pricier brands use but it somehow feels/looks cheaper.  Brief instructions are on one side and performance specs on the other.

 

Inside the box is a vacuum formed holder that the flashlight snaps into.  The back of the holder contains the accessories and holster.

 

Accessories consist of a spare O-ring, a lanyard, an instruction sheet, and the holster.

Here is the “User Manual” sheet.  It’s pretty basic but is in English and, while not very professional looking, it provides the needed information.

The holster is actually very nice and fits the light very well.  It has a sturdy belt loop setup and a sturdy plastic “D” ring if you wanted to clip the holster to a bag or something.

 

Here you can see the printing on either of the flat sides and the narrow profile very similar to a TK35 or ZY-T08

Removing the bezel reveals why the SA-22 would make such a great boat light or shallow dive/swimming light.
The reflector is separated from the O-ring, lens, and bezel by a lip in the head.  The reflector is mounted from the back while the lens O-ring seats on a machined lip, followed by the lens, and finally it is all tightened and sealed by the threaded bezel.  This makes for a flawlessly sealed lens with no need for a separate bezel O-ring.  This design makes for a single O-ring and zero way for water to get past unless the light is submerged in deep water.  The light itself may be rated for 2m but I am sure the lens setup would be good for at least 30.  If water is going to get into this light it won’t be at the lens.

The only problem with the implementation (and it’s not truly a problem per say) is the O-ring chosen for the lens is far to large in O.D. as you can clearly see in the pictures below.  It’s more an inconvenience than a real problem since it can still be pressed into place for a perfect seal using the lens.

 

 

 

The back of the pill and reflector is doubly protected from reversed polarity with a physical lip surrounding the positive battery contact and by grooves in the outside of the driver pill ensuring that it can be installed only one way to the battery tube/body.

With the pill and reflector removed you can see how the inner assembly drops into the head from the back and seats against the lip in the front.  A this, hard plastic bushing/ring sits on the rim of the reflector to keep it from contacting the front lip of the head directly.

 

The reflector is a very nice SMO with a perfectly centered LED.  The reflector and base thread together to make a single unit.

 

 

Here you can see the two pieces unthreaded and the use of thermal grease (of some sort) to help the reflector be used to wick some heat from the pill.
The emitter sits on a 16mm mcpcb with a layer of thermal grease under it.  You could replace this with up to a 20mm star easily.

 

The entire pill with the retaining ring weighs in at 40.3 grams

The reflector/pill assembly needs to spin freely when threading the body onto the head.  This is probably why there is a lip between the reflector and lens assemblies.  Even with the pill retaining ring fully tightened you will notice a touch of looseness that allows the inner guts to spin inside the head.  It’s also why they used a hard plastic ring between the reflector lip and the head lip it sits on.  Metal on metal would wear and to use a silicon O-ring would be too grabby and get chewed up.

Here you can see two ridges inside the front of the body/battery tube, one wide and one narrow.  These slide into matching grooves in the base of the pill ensuring that the battery poles and driver mate up only one way.  They also grab the pill and turn the whole inner head assembly as you thread on the body tube.

Ample square threading ensures against cross threading and makes for a strong connection.  Lots of silicon thread grease and a thick O-ring at the base ensure smooth threading and waterproofing.  The O-ring really does seal tightly against the head and should easily provide the 2m depth at which it’s rated.

Inside the battery tube there are marking to show which way to insert the cells.  4 cells go in, two in each direction, connecting them in series to provide between 4.8v-6v depending on what type of cells you use.  Eneloops would be your best choice.

 

 

The back of the body tube contains the switch section.  A plastic decal with “Function Switch” printed on it covers the two screws that hold the switch to the tail like a beauty trim ring.  A thin knife blade inserted under it popped it right off to expose the screws underneath.

 

With the screws removed the entireswitch plate and springs comes right out.

 

 

The reverse clickie switch is mounted directly to the spring PCB.  This switch assembly sits inside a one-piece silicone switch boot/gasket combo which, in turn, sits snug inside the plastic outer housing.

CONCLUSION

That’s about it, folks  For $22 you get a bright, durable, waterproof light that runs on easily available AA cells.  It’s the perfect gift for mom & dad or the grandparents when you want to share your love for bright flashlights but not the responsibility of running it on Li-Ion cells.  Rumored issues of threading problems are totally unwarranted IMO and my experience.  I can’t see how you could mess it up or create problems with this one.  The guys at Illumination-Supply were sure it was user error that raised the question of threading and wanted me to offer my unbiased opinion of the light and the threads.  Now you have it.  I see no issues and can’t really see how they could be a problem.

It’s a great light for the glove box, a bug out bag, or camping pack or as a gift for your favorite non-flashaholic.  Perfect? Not at all.  Lose the flashy modes and the PWM and it would come close, especially at this price.  For the aforementioned purposes I have to call this one Mac approved!

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