Nitecore EC30 Preview/Review

Preface

Aesthetically-speaking, the Nitecore EC30 looks a lot like the Nitecore Concept 1 model.

Let’s check out the merits and demerits of this new Nitecore EC30 model.

Note: This is a preview/review sample as it is currently available by pre-order only (available very soon) and came without the usual retail packaging.

Packaging & First Impressions

This is what the light will come with as shown below.

  • The threads and o-rings were well lubricated. Threads were rather smooth and clean (no gritty feeling at all).
  • The side electronic switch require a fairly firm and deliberate press(es) to activate and helps in preventing any unwanted activation of the light.
  • Anodizing of the light is uniform without any missing specs.
  • The provided screwed-on clip is not reversible.
  • The clip has strong tension to ensure that the light will stay clipped to any material, to prevent the light from falling out.
  • Magnetic tail cap is able to bear the light’s weight when attached horizontally and vertically (upside down) to a flat ferrous metallic surface.
  • The provided lanyard is able to support the full weight of the light and should hold up to the test of time.
  • The lanyard can be attached to pocket clip only.
  • Holster is not included in this preview sample but will be included in the actual retail packaging.
  • Battery compartment is able to take a KeepPower 18650 3400mAh battery with barely much room to take a slightly thicker battery width. Fatter protected 18650 3500mAh batteries should be able to fit without issue as well. However, for this flashlight it is recommended to use a high capacity 18650 battery with a continuous discharge rate of at least 8A – such as the Nitecore NL1835HP.

Preview Sample Only (Note: the actual EC30 will come with the full Nitecore signature retail package):

Contents:

Quick Overview (Manufacturer Specifications)

  • Body Material: Black HAIII Aluminium
  • LED: XHP35 HD
  • Battery Format: 1 x 18650 (8A battery is recommended), 2 x CR123A or 2 x RCR123A ONLY
  • Output & Runtime (with 18650 3.6V 3500mAh battery such as the Nitecore NL1835HP):
    • Ultra-Low (1 lumen / 310h)
    • Low (80 lumens / 18h)
    • Mid (300 lumens / 5h 30min)
    • High (810 lumens / 1h 45min)
    • Turbo (1800 lumens / 30min) – there is a temperature-based output step down & 8A battery is required to access this mode.
    • Strobe (1800 lumens)
    • Beacon (1800 lumens)
    • SOS (1800 lumens)
  • Max Beam Distance: 220m
  • Beam intensity: 12,100cd
  • Waterproofness: IPX-8 (2m)
  • Impact Resistance: 1m
  • Dimension: 111.5mm (length) x 24.5mm (head diameter) x 23.8mm (tail diameter)
  • Weight: 65.5g (excluding batteries)
  • Battery reverse polarity protection
  • Accessories Included:
    • 1*Clip (screwed-on)
    • 1*Lanyard
    • 1*Holster
    • 2*Spare O-rings
  • MSRP: ~$60

UI (User Interface)

UI for this light is good for Every Day Carry (EDC) as it is fairly straightforward to use.

Switching ON and OFF is done by the side electronic switch on the flashlight, so momentary activation is possible.

Normal Operation

From OFF:

  • HOLD (~1 sec)  – Light will switch ON to last used mode (last mode memory).
  • HOLD (>~1 sec)  – Light will switch ON to last used mode (last mode memory) and then start ramping through modes (light cycles through ULTRA-LOW, LOW, MID, HIGH & TURBO -> ULTRA-LOW, LOW, MID, HIGH & TURBO)..
  • 2 Press – Direct access to ULTRA-LOW.
  • 3 Press – Direct access to TURBO if in DAILY mode OR direct access to STROBE if in TACTICAL mode.

From ON:

  • 1 Press – Light will switch OFF.
  • HOLD – Direct access to MOMENTARY TURBO.
  • 2 Press & HOLD – Light will switch OFF and then start ramping through modes (light cycles through ULTRA-LOW, LOW, MID, HIGH & TURBO -> ULTRA-LOW, LOW, MID, HIGH & TURBO).
  • 3 Press – Direct access to STROBE; HOLD (~1 sec) to activate SOS & HOLD (~1 sec) again to activate BEACON (cycles STROBE-BEACON-SOS -> STROBE-BEACON-SOS), 1 Press again to switch OFF.

Mode Selection (DAILY / TACTICAL)

There is 2 operating modes for this EC30 – DAILY and TACTICAL modes.

  1. DAILY mode – Direct access to TURBO from OFF (3 Presses).
  2. TACTICAL mode – Direct access to STROBE from OFF (3 Presses).

Switching between the 2 operating modes can be done with the following steps.

  1. From OFF: Loosen tailcap a HALF turn.
  2. HOLD side switch & tighten tailcap at the same time.
  3. LED will flash the following to indicate the mode selected.
    1. 1 Flash – DAILY mode
    2. 2 Flashes – TACTICAL mode
  4. Power Indicator on the side switch will flash to indicate current battery voltage.
  5. Repeat Steps 1 to 2 to change between DAILY and TACTICAL modes.

Power Indicator

There is only 1 type of Power Indicator for this flashlight.

  1. After disabling mechanical LOCKOUT mode or replacing the battery OR 1 Press from OFF, the Battery Capacity Indicator function will be activated (SIDE Switch LED will flash GREEN in the following sequence).
    • Each GREEN LED blink signifies 1V
    • After a ~1 sec pause, the next GREEN LED blink signifies 0.1V.
    • Hence, 4 GREEN LED blinks, followed by a ~1 sec pause and another 1 GREEN LED blink – signifies 4.1V.
      • If 2 x CR123A / RCR123A batteries are used, the battery reading will be the average voltage of the 2 batteries.

Form Factor

For flashlights that are intended to use on a daily basis (EDC) and for possibly a long period of time, form factor is extremely important.

This light feels well balanced and is relatively compact in a medium sized hand (not head/tail-heavy). Switching between overhand and underhand holding method is easy with its form factor. The knurling on the back half of the light enable the light to be sufficiently “grippy”, even with wet hands/gloves.

It is able to tail-stand perfectly and attaching the lanyard will not affect tail-standing capability.

Note: the above 18650 size comparison picture depicts a Nitecore 18650 3500mAh 8A battery (NL1835HP) next to the Nitecore EC30; it does not come with the flashlight.

Recommended Types of Battery

Nitecore recommends using an 18650 battery that is capable of sustaining a continuous drain of 8A.

As such, they do have a high capacity (3500mAh) 18650 that would suit this flashlight – Nitecore NL1835HP.

Here are some pictures of it.

Beam Style/Beamshots

For this light, the spill, corona and hotspot is somewhat predictable due to the relatively shallow Smooth Reflector. With the LED used, the beam is still “throwy” for recognising items in the near to mid-range distance.

The above beam profile is a rough interpretation of what is seen when white wall hunting.

The beam has a rather distinct hotspot with some slight corona and a fairly wide usable (almost circular) spill. It also helps that the XHP35 HD LED is perfectly centred in this sample. There are some rings in the beam when white wall hunting but not visible in real world usage.

All of the beamshots taken below are done so with the following camera settings (ULTRA-LOW: 2 sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB, LOW & MID: 1/2 sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB, HIGH: 1/5 sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB, and TURBO: 1/8 sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB).
Some pictures have been adjusted slightly to depict as close as to what is seen in real life. The distance of the light from the door is 4.6m.

Control shot:

ULTRA-LOW (1 lumen):

LOW (80 lumens):

MID (300 lumens):

HIGH (810 lumens):

TURBO (1800 lumens):

Mode (Output) Spacing

Mode spacing appears to be progressively brighter to the eye and the modes are well spaced enough to be able to know which mode one is currently in. With that in mind, TLR tend to view mode spacing as battery life indicators (amount of runtime left) rather than the specific output (lumens).

The ULTRA-LOW mode of 1 lumen which is what most would call a moonlight mode and is perfect for night-adjusted eyes and midnight snack runs.

On a side note, the MID mode (300 lumens) could use a slightly lower output of say 250 lumens, to ensure a longer runtime – as that difference in output is almost imperceptible to most human eyes.

Tint & CRI

Nitecore did not disclose the tint (color temperature) and/or the CRI (Color Rendering Index) for the LEDs used in their light. For this light, a guesstimate would be in the 6000K and 70CRI ballpark.

There are tint shifts throughout the beam profile. The hotspot is cool white whilst the corona possess a slight yellowish tint; and the spill having a slight purple tint.
This is however, not as noticeable in real life.

This could have been avoided if a “throwier” LED like the XHP35 HI was used instead and would have made full use of the smooth reflector.

Waterproofness

The light was subjected to warm water submersion, followed by cold water submersion and left under room temperature running water tap whilst running on TURBO.

No signs of water intrusion in the head, switch or body was seen.

Lockout Capability

No electronic lockout but mechanical lockout is possible when needed, like during transportation in a bag.

A quarter turn (anti-clockwise) of the tailcap will enable mechanical LOCKOUT.

Quick Comparison to Previous Generation

DescriptionNitecore EC30Nitecore Concept 1
Metal Side SwitchCircular ShapeRectangle Shape
Runtime on ULTR-LOW (1 Lumen) -
(3.7V 18650 3500mAh)
310 hours338 hours
Runtime on LOW (80 Lumens) -
(3.7V 18650 3500mAh)
18 hours15 hours
Runtime on MID (300 Lumens) -
(3.7V 18650 3500mAh)
5 hours 30 minutes4 hours 30 minutes

Scale Comparison (Ruler)

Summary

To sum up, we believe that the most important part of any review is if given the chance to purchase the same light for our own EDC/usage or to gift to our loved ones out from one’s pocket (wallet), would we still do it?
For this light, it is a YES, if the tint shift is not an issue for your usage.

The fairly straightforward UI, direct access to ULTRA-LOW & TURBO/STROBE from OFF, MOMENTARY TURBO & STROBE from ON, strong magnetic tailcap and improved efficiency on the LOW and MID modes from the Concept 1 are all plus points for this flashlight.

As mentioned earlier, we look forward to the day that Nitecore uses a “throwier” LED instead to make full use of the smooth reflector and would help get rid of most of the tint shifts. This would in turn, help this flashlight increase the beam distance when compared with its predecessor (Nitecore Concept 1), in the throw department.

Here is a bonus size comparison picture with other Nitecore flashlights.
From Left to Right:  Nitecore P12GTSNitecore MT21C, Nitecore EC30, Nitecore LR12, Nitecore Concept 2, Nitecore TM10K.

As with all gears, two is one and one is none.

Stay safe,
The Lite Review


Disclaimer: Light and 18650 battery was provided for by Nitecore (manufacturer) for this review. No other compensation was provided.


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Nitecore EC30

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