Trustfire Z8 (2012-07-11)

Review: TrustFire Z8 – XM-L Flood-to-Throw

Specifications (from manufacturer)

Brand TrustFire
Model Z8
Emitter Type CREE T6
Lumens 1200 Lumens
Power 10W
Bulb Quantity 1
Light Color White
Lightbulb / LED Lifespan 100000 hours
Modes 3
Mode Arrangement Hi > Lo > SOS
Lighting Distance 200 m
Battery Configuration 1 x 14500 batteries (not included)
Input Voltage 3.7 – 4.2V
Runtime 1 hour
Switch Type Clicky / Clickie
Switch Location Tail – cap
Lens Convex Lens
Reflector Aluminum Smooth / SMO Reflector
Material Aerospace aluminum alloy
Color Silver and Black
Dimensions 4.06″ x 0.98″ x 0.79″ / (10.3 x 2.5 x 2) cm (L x Head Dia.x Body Dia.)
Weight 102g / 3.6oz
Waterproof Yes
Landyard Yes
Focusing Yes

My Specs:

Purchased From: Tmart
Purchase Price: $17 USD
Make/Model: TrustFire/Z8
Type: Flood-To-Throw
Main Materials: Stainless Steel and Aluminum
Stainless Steel parts: Body and Bezel
Anodizing: TypeII
Tailcap: GITD
Emitter: Cree XM-L T6 CW
Driver Modes: 3 – High/Low/Strobe
Mode Memory: Yes (must be off for @ 3 minutes)
Tailstands: Yes
O-rings: Yes-4 (bezel, lens, head & tail)
Waterproof: Yes
Included Accessories: Lanyard
Battery Type: 1 x 14500
Total Length in Flood mode: 100.19mm
Total Length in Zoom mode: 110.55mm
Head/Bezel Diameter: 26.00mm
Body Diameter: 22.03mm
Tail Diameter: 20.73
Switch Boot Diameter: 14mm
Lens Diameter/Height 18mm/8.42mm
Driver Diameter: 17mm
LED PCB Diameter: 16mm
Pill Diameter/Height 19.85mm/13.49mm
OTF Lumens: 490(high)/103(low) lumens
Lux @ 3m 695 after 1 minute
ANSI Throw (in meters) 160 meters after 1 minute
Tailcap Draw High: 1.83A
Tailcap Draw Low: 0.368A
Waterproof:  Yes

PROS:

  • Gorgeous (you have to admit it), a feast for the eyes.
  • Insane build quality.  Honestly right up there with the best torches I own.
  • Square threads…EVERYWHERE!! Everything fits and turns like butter.
  • Arrived in flawless condition.  No scratches, dings or blemishes.
  • Arrived with light lube on all body threads.
  • Compact size but very heavy and solid
  • All O-rings seal very well.  Bezel, lens and base of head sealed tight with proper sized O-rings.  Is it waterproof?  It sure is!
  • Head twists to zoom, not push/pull.  Nice resistance due to O-ring at base of head that grips the polished stainless steel body.  No water entry.
  • Thick, black, satin finished typeII ano on all external aluminum parts.
  • Design on all parts is insanely well done with one slight exception (see cons).
  • Throws very well in spite of the small lens diameter thanks to ingeniously simple design.
  • Firm switch boot and switching feel.  Not mushy like some lights.

CONS:

  • Deep bezel keeps flood area from being as large as possible.  In spite of this it still manages to be only 6″ smaller in flood diameter at 7-8ft than my Romisen RC-29.
  • Satin finish on inside of the deep bezel creates a brighter center spot at full flood.  If you zoom out just a little it all smooths out nicely.
  • Slightly rough twist action when zooming in or out.  The threads in the aluminum head rub slightly if even pressure is not applied on the head when turning it.  Could be a matter of break-in or use of a different lubrication.  I cleaned and relubed the head with silicon gel and it didn’t help as much as I hoped. Perhaps some light machine oil is in order later.  It’s really not that big a deal but compared to the butter smooth action of all the other threads on the torch it is a tad annoying.
  • Thumb cut-outs on the tail cap for switch access means a level surface is needed for tail standing.  Tail standing is nowhere as stable as I’d prefer it to be but on a level surface it works.  Would have been better for Trustfire to leave the cap fully ringed since with it’s small size, cutouts aren’t necessary to work the switch.
  • As you would guess from it’s design, the only place heat from the LED has nowhere to go but into the body.  Being a stainless steel body it heats up quick and causes quite a bit of loss in output after initial cold start.

PERFORMANCE

When I first tested and calculated ANSI throw from a cold start it manged a surprising 306 meters.  After being on for a minute I found that number to drop almost by half to just 160 meters.  All this is due to thermal sag.  Is it a huge problem?  Could be depending on your intended use.  As I see it, it still throws better than most other 14500 sized lights.  For a light you can toss in your pocket as an EDC, throw is pretty decent and you get a huge die image making it not seem as “tunnel vision” like as the other FTT lights in it’s size.  Compared to a Balder SE-1 or a Xeno E03 I think it would hold it’s own or better them in throw.  If I owned one of those I would compare but unfortunately I don’t at this time.

Flood is wonderful with this light.  My Integrated Sphere testing shows it pumps out around 490 lumen on high (quite a bit more than that when cold but it drops quickly) and 103 lumen on low.  Light output is in about 3 phases, each blending smoothly into the next and finally fading out nicely on the edges with zero rings or the annoying artifacts that all my other FTT lights exhibit.  Very bright center spot fading into a second zone and that into a third before quickly and smoothly fading into black at the edges of the spill.

It is a Trustfire, after all, so there is PWM in low mode.  However, it’s not too slow and to me it appears pretty fast against the ceiling fan and I don’t notice it at all in use.  The tint is a creamy white on my example.  While the driver does appear to have memory, I originally thought it didn’t since it’s the type where the light has to be off for @ 3 minutes otherwise it just goes to the next mode.

Is it waterproof?  Heck yeah.  I put it into a container of water for 20 minutes while on high mode.  It was completely unaffected by moisture and after opening it up and checking the internals I found it to be a dry as it was before putting it underwater.  I wouldn’t try that with my SK68 at all and would hesitate to try it with the RC-29.  Take it in the rain, forget it in your pocket while swimming or falling out of a boat and never worry about it getting wet or not functioning afterwards.

CONSTRUCTION

I will let the light speak for itself through the pics I took.  Pictures really do say 1000 words.  Enjoy!  Click any photo to view it on it’s own page.  My summary follows after the pics.

Ain’t she purty?

Note the nice even printing on the logo and the heavy satin finished anodization on the head.

Nice machining on the head and fins.

Smooth, well machined ribbing on the body makes for easy gripping and many faceted edges to sparkle and catch the light.

Tail is well machined and heavily ano’d as well.  Note the unusual knurling…it’s square cut and provides a nice amount of grip – more than it looks like it might. It’s also a sign that this may not be your ordinary budget light…

A quick look at the business end.  Looks great but that deep bezel and small lens had me question when I first saw the Z8 listed on line how well it would flood.

Another look at the tail cap.  This time you can see the thumb cutouts and how much they reduce tail standing stability on uneven surfaces.  Once you remove the lanyard it’s pretty stable on smooth surfaces.

Here is the beginning of what amazed me most about the Z8 – the threads!  Unscrew the tail cap and what do we find? Some amazing threading!

Clean, well cut square threads in the tailcap as well (of course).

Switch insert threads into the tailcap.  A nylon insert holds the spring into place.

How about another peak at those threads?  Mmmm…yummy

So the tail is pretty nice so far, what about the business end?  A few twists and we have the stainless steel bezel out for show.  Rather deep but it does work.  Very good machining plus a proper fitting O-ring at the top of the threads.

Yup, square cut threads here too.  Look how beautiful they are!

A look at what going on in the head.  Clean cut anodized threads here, too.  They work very well.

Here I’ve pulled the lens so we can get a better look at it.  Only 18mm across, what it lacks in diameter it makes up for in that it appears TrustFire took a larger lens and removed the less useful outer diameter, keeping only the center and more useful part.  This way we get nice throw from the XM-L while still keeping the light compact and pocketable.  The O-ring hugs the lens tight while the bezel and inside lens retaining ring sandwich the O-ring tightly, providing for the most waterproof FTT head design I’ve ever seen.

Here is a better look at just the lens and O-ring.  No scratches or visible imperfections with the lens.

Here we get our first look at the emitter and pill.  To get to them we must first remove the lens/head retaining ring.

Here is the retaining ring from the head.  Really?  Look at this thing…it’s beautiful!

With the retaining ring removed from the inside of the head, the head slides off of the rear of the body.  The first thing you will notice is how well the O-ring at the base of the head grips the body of the light.  The second thing is the heavy, square cut threads for the zooming mechanism.

Here you can see the fully anodized inside of the head and the thick, perfectly sized O-ring seated in it’s groove at the base of the head.  Note the missing anodization from the threads in the head.  This is a confirmation of the slight roughness that can be felt when twisting the head to zoom in or out.  I think I will put the stainless threads of the body to a buffing wheel to see if polishing them a little smoother makes the zooming smoother as well.

Now we are down to the pill.  Pretty basic so far…nylon space/insulator keeping the emitter well centered.  Lets unthread it to see what is below the surface…

Is it out yet?  Nope, still a couple more threads to go.  Speaking of threads, you guessed it…square cut even here, too.  I’ve never seen a light with square threads everywhere.

Finally it’s out.  Over 1/2″ deep (13.49mm) and nicely machined.

No clue what driver is in here.  I haven’t done any DMM testing on it yet but that is coming in the next day or two.  Lack of anode spring means that button topped cells are a must.  Speaking of cells, this takes either protected or unprotected cells just fine.

A little prying with a pick has the insulator removed.  The emitter is held in place with thermal epoxy and not too much or too little.  Whomever assembled this light knew what they were doing.  You can see it peeking out from just under the edges but not gooped on and spilling out all over from under the star.  Pill is solid under the star and soldering is fine.  The pill itself is very light.  The extra depth of the pill and the square threads certainly are an appreciated addition when you see how well it transfers heat to the rest of the light.

Only 6.3 grams.  Pretty light.

With this next shot you can see how nicely machined the inside body threads are.  The pill seats firmly on the inner lip at the base of the clean threads.

The body alone weighs 51.8 grams, more than half of the Z8’s 95.2 total grams of weight.

The only thing we haven’t torn into yet is the switch assembly.  Well, here you go.  Would you look at that? I’m not even going to say it this time.  Everything is pretty much self contained inside the switch pill as just one component compared to most budget lights where it comes apart in 5 or 6 pieces all held together by pressure.

A look at the pretty red button on the switch.  The shiny, candy-like button…

Here I tried to see what was going on inside the switch assembly.  While trying to pop off the nylon retaining cap, the spring worked it’s way out from under it’s lip.  Since it was out I figured I’d try to get under the ring with a pick, a screw driver…no go.  That sucker is tight!  After chewing up the edges of the nylon I gave up and, with much difficulty, managed to get the spring back into it’s place.

Here is an exploded view of all the individual components as far as I was willing to go in the tear down.

Now for the measurements.  I’m not going to bother with descriptions for these shots.  They are pretty much self-explanatory.

Surprisingly enough, the light is very free from annoying artifacts that plague most FTT lights.  The white nylon insert works very well.  Beamshots are forth-coming, so please be patient as I update this review.

A shot to show the relative small size of the Z8

Because I simply can’t resist, here are a few glamour shots of the threaded components of the Z8.  A little flashlight porn, if you will.  Click a pic to see the full sized pic.

   

 

Waterproof?  You betcha!  I left it submerged for @ 20 minutes while running on high and it stayed dry and unaffected.  Try that with your Sipik SK68 or other FTT light.  There aren’t many that can claim waterproofing and back it up.

BEAMSHOTS

Here are the promised beamshots compared with the Sipik SK68 and Romisen RC-29, all running on fresh 14500 cells.  Distance to ceiling is about 6ft.

First up is the Z8 and the SK68 on high flood.  Note that not only is the throw on the Z8 wider, but also the complete lack of artifact rings or color tint shift at the edges.  The light is clean and pure white.

Next up is the Z8 against the RC-29.  This time the Romisen appears to cast a wider flood…or does it?  While the RC-29 has a defined edge where the light abruptly stops, the Z8 fades nicely without the harsh cutoff of light.  Also note the color tint shift on the edges of the RC-29’s beam along with the artifact rings orbiting it’s flood.  None of that on the Z8.

Here I give you a shot of all three lights together in throw mode.  Take note of the complete lack of artifact rings on the Z8 compared to the other lights.  Also note the smooth fading of spill.  It means that there is not the complete tunnel vision effect when using the Z8 in throw mode.  Combined with the larger die image it has, this makes, IMO, the throw of the Z8 more useful and pleasant in real life usage.

SUMMARY

As you can gather, I think this light is fantastic and it gets a solid “Johnny Mac Approved” label.  For $17 you won’t find a light with this kind of machining and build quality.  Could heat management be better?  Sure, but it’s stainless steel so what would you expect?  Output is great, it’s waterproof, it’s solidly constructed and well machined with every thread on it a square thread.  Not the sudo square threading you see on some lights, folks, the real deal found only on lights costing a LOT more.  It’s a great all around light I highly doubt you would regret purchasing and, more likely than not, you will find yourself just looking at it and admiring it more than you might actually use it.  When you do get around to using it you will appreciate it even more.

Johnny

One thought on “Trustfire Z8 (2012-07-11)

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