Could this be the end for incandescent bulbs? You be
the judge, but it looks to me like the incandescent
bulb has been engaged in battle by the Luxeon Star LED
and the L4 Lumamax serves them another heavy blow. Based
on the E2e body form, Surefire has stuck the hottest,
brightest LED available on the market today into a custom
reflector and head assembly. The result is an overall
lumen output equivalent to their P60 lamp assembly used
in their larger lights, squarely beating their smaller
E series lights upon which the L4 is designed. Add to
this their custom regulator circuit which maintains
constant, unwavering light output for 1 full hour and
you have a real winner with the L4 Lumamax.
The body of the L4 Digital Lumamax is machined aluminum
with a Type III hard anodize coating. The Type III anodize
is much harder and more durable than the standard anodize
found on most aluminum flashlights. The center of the
body tube is textured with knurling that is not overly
aggressive, but provides excellent grip. There are 3
flat, unknurled panels machined around the body. The
spring steel pocket clip attaches above the center panel
and rests upon it so that abrasion of the users pocket
is reduced. The clip is detachable by removing the head
and sliding the clip up and off. The clip also has a
raised loop for attachment of a lanyard. The inside
of the body is treated for corrosion resistance, as
evidenced by a gold-tone coating throughout. O-rings
provide water resistance at both ends.
The bezel is also made of Type III hard anodized aluminum
and has flutes around the center for grip when removing
the bezel to change out the batteries. The batteries
cannot be removed through the tail end of the light.
The very top of the bezel is scalloped so that if the
light is placed down head first, light can leak through
the scalloped edge warning the user that the unit is
still on. At the very front of the bezel is a Pyrex
glass lens that is sealed for water resistance. The
Luxeon V element sits in a textured reflector which
produces a good spot of light. The color temperature
of the light is what I would call "sunlight white"
and provides absolutely fantastic color rendition. Deeper
inside the head is the regulator circuitry for providing
constant current to the LED, and therefore providing
constant light output for about 1 hour. Although this
may seem short, the L4 Lumamax produces a lot of light
for that hour and then provides diminishing light output
thereafter. Frankly, nearly all other pocket lights
this size, and many larger ones for that matter, seem
like a practical joke when compared to the L4 Lumamax.
The bezel is labeled "KL4" demonstrating
an extension of the KL series of LED bezels by Surefire.
Since the body of the L4 is essentially the same as
the E2e, presumably the KL4 bezel may become available
in the future as an upgrade for those who already have
Light output is very good. The light is white, provides
excellent color rendition, and has a good spill beam
to light a large area. One thing that is slightly noticeable
is that the beam is a little like a doughnut. The center
of the main beam is slightly dimmer than the outer edge.
Lux readings confirm that the edge of the main beam
is about 600 Lux while the center is about 580 Lux.
In practical use this really isn't noticeable and has
no real impact on its serviceability.
Runtime Plot: Regulation is very good, and in this
runtime test it actually maintained regulation for about
1 hour 13 minutes.
completed with Surefire batteries. More information
on runtime plots is available HERE.
At the other end of the light you will find the new
Surefire Z57 waterproof clickie tailcap. This tailcap
is set to be the standard on all future E series lights.
It has a rubber cover which is textured for grip. Pressing
in gently turns the light on, releasing turns it off.
Pressing in harder causes the switch to click into place,
leaving it on until it is clicked again. Unscrewing
the tailcap ½ turn causes the switch to become
nonfunctional (locked-out) for packing and travel.
The L4 Digital Lumimax runs on two 123A lithium batteries
which have a 10 year shelf life and excellent cold resistance.
They are available from Surefire at a good price.
Overall, the L4 Digital Lumimax could very well signal
the start of a downhill slippery slope for most incandescent
lights. As the price and availability of the Luxeon
V LED elements improves, I expect that we'll see these
lighting elements adopted by the lighting industry at
large as incandescent replacements.
The L4 Lumamax is very well designed, has a bulb that
should never fail, has regulated output, is extremely
bright, and is small enough to fit in your pocket. When
thinking of the best way to describe the L4, the phrase
"kicks butt" comes to mind. Highly recommended
for anyone who wants a high output and durable pocket
light, especially if you want your friend's Mini-light
to look like it's on the receiving end of a comedy routine.
+ + + Pluses: Water resistant,
Tough, Regulated, Bright, Easy battery change, Lightweight
- - - Minuses: None