Originally posted: January 6, 2010
Last revised: January 7, 2010
Warning: pic heavy, as usual.
Manufacturer's specifications, condensed from Battery Junction’s website:
The IlluminaTi is a new light offered exclusively by Battery Junction under their own Titanium Innovations line. As you will see, it is basically an upgraded customized version of the now classic ITP/Maratac 1xAAA.
- Machined Titanium Body (Grade 2), polished finish
- Cree XP-G R5 1B LED
- OP reflector
- 3 Output Levels; Reliable Twist Switch with Simple UI: no strobe, sos or memory - predictable operation!
- Output (emitter spec) / Runtime (L92): 3 Lumens, 24+ hours / 30 Lumens, 4+ hours / 115 Lumens, 1+ hours
- Power cycle is Low > Medium > High to preserve night vision.
- Ergonomic design, Extensively knurled for maximum grip
- Pocket clip can be reversed for bezel up OR down per user preference (user installed)
- Rounded ends limit 'pocket wear'
- Can tail-stand
- Dimensions: Length: 67.6mm / 2.66” - Diameter: 13.7mm / .54” - Weight: 14g / .49oz
- Includes Keychain & Keyring
- Packaged in wooden presentation gift box
- Uses any common AAA battery (Lithium primary, NiMh, Alkaline,)
- Includes Energizer L92 AAA battery (recommended for optimum performance)
- MSRP $55
Although the genesis of the IlluminaTi is the budget-friendly ITP A3 EOS, the Titanium-based IlluminaTi is more of a premium offering in this1xAAA battery class. Included in the presentation-style case with foam insert (similar to the early Fenix cases) is the light with attached keychain ring, pocket clip, spare-orings, Energizer L92 battery, and manual.
First thing to notice about the body design is the titanium construction, in a polished finish. It also has more significant texture/ridge detail than the ITP A3 EOS, and comes with a better keychain attachment clip.
(from left to right: L92 energizer lithium AAA, IlluminaTi, Maratac AAA (Nat), VersaTi, LiteFlux LF2XT, Lumapower Avenger GX.
IlluminaTi: Weight 23.5g (with keychain clip), Length 68.8mm x Width 14.0mm (bezel)
ITP EOS A3 Upgraded: Weight: 11.6g (no clip), Length: 69.7, Width: 14.1mm (bezel)
VersaTi: Weight: 23.2g (no clip), Length: 67.1mm, Width: 14.6mm
Overall weight is consistent with its size and titanium construction – noticeably heavier than the standard ITP/Maratac light, but not quite as beefy as the VersaTi (once you take the keychain ring into account).
Fit and finish are excellent on my sample, no flaws in the glossy polished finish. Grip is decent – and better than the standard ITP A3 EOS – but not quite as good as the Maratac or VersaTi (the latter is quite aggressive). Identification labels are sharp and clear against the polished background. Quite stylish, frankly.
Screw threads are acceptable for a titanium-based light. Titanium results in a certain amount of “galling” when screwing down (i.e. produces stiffness and grinding sensation). While not as smooth as the anodized aluminium on the standard ITP/Maratac lights, the IlluminaTi was better than average in my experience of titanium-based lights.
Otherwise, the innards of the IlluminaTi look very similar to the ITP/Maratac offerings.
Unlike the ITP A3 EOS – but like the Maratac – the IllumnaTi can tailstand. I note there is some concern about the long-term stability of the keychain split-ring attachment point in the tail of this light. While it is very thin, there is no sign of “bulging” on mine yet. But I would have preferred something more robust looking (e.g. VersaTi).
Superficially, the business end of the IlluminaTi looks a lot like the ITP/Maratac lights. But the IlluminaTi is distinguished by its Cree XP-G emitter, with a R5 output bin. This should produce significantly greater luminous flux than the Q5 XP-Es used on other lights. Tint bin is specified as 1B, which if true would be a fairly premium “cool white” tint bin for XP-G, using the ANSI C78.377A nomenclature (scroll down for beamshots and a discussion). For those of you not familiar with tint bins, please see my Colour tint comparison and the summary LED tint charts found here.
Note that my sample IlluminaTi has a perfectly centered emitter. Titanium Innovations supposedly uses a mechanism to insure this during assembly. The budget ITP A3/Maratac lights could be variable in their centering (although this didn't usually affect the beam too badly).
The texturing of the orange peel reflector is fairly high, and looks identical to the ITP/Maractac lights. Should provide an identical looking beam pattern.
And now for the requisite white wall wanting hunting … all lights are on Max with OP reflector on a Sanyo Eneloop AAA, about 0.5 meters from a white wall.
As you can see, the beam profile is pretty comparable to the ITP offerings – but a bit brighter, as expected. But tint is warmer than I expected for a reported premium 1B ANSI cool white tint bin - closer to a 2B, I would think. To put that in terms of the old “cool white” Cree bin code, a 2B would be part of the better subset of WG tint bins. The newer Cree XP- emitters tend to go by the more detailed ANSI C78.377A bin naming structure (you can see the Cree binning and labelling document here).
Basically the same as the ITP/Maratac lights, with one exception – mode sequence is now Lo > Med > Hi instead of the more common Med > Lo > Hi.
Operation is controlled by twisting the head tight against the body to activate the light, loosen to turn off. Do a rapid twist off-on and the light advances to its next mode sequence. Wait a few seconds before re-activating the light after turning off, and it returns to default Lo (i.e. no memory mode).
This cycle continues indefinitely - keep doing off-on twists to run through all the sequences in order again. There is no strobe or SOS mode to worry about.
FYI, the original ITP/Maratac lights could be a bit sensitive to the switching speed – if you twisted off-on too rapidly, they sometimes wouldn’t advance the mode sequence. Either they’ve fixed that timing bug for the IlluminaTi, or the titanium threads are slowing me down, because I was not able to elicit the same on this light,
Like its predecessors, the IlluminaTi also uses pulse-width-modulation (PWM) for its Lo/Med modes. However, the PWM frequency has been increased from a common 200 Hz on the earlier lights to 990 Hz (Lo) and 885 Hz (Med) on my IlluminaTi.
Although an improvement, these revised frequencies are still detectable by eye.
Testing Method: All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's flashlightreviews.com method. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different reviews - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan, except for the extended run Lo/Min modes (i.e. >12 hours) which are done without cooling.
Throw values are the square-root of lux measurements taken at 1 meter from the lens, using a light meter.
Throw/Output Summary Chart:
As expected, the Max overall output of the R5-equipped IlluminaTi is higher than its Q5-equipped predecessors, with similar throw. One area to note is that is the Min output level is also increased.
Note that I do not intend to do 10440 Li-ion runtimes in the IlluminaTi, since not officially supported. As always, I discourage use of this battery source in all lights that lack a protection cut-off circuit. And based on the ridiculously bright Max output on 10440 shown above, I strenuously recommend that you do NOT attempt to run this light on Hi on 10440.
The heat alone could potentially be sufficient to trigger a thermal runaway that would destroy the emitter. More importantly, my experience with other direct-drive lights on 10440 leads me to expect you would be vastly exceeding the safe discharge rate of the battery, risking damage to the cells. Trust me, not something you want to do with rechargeable Li-ions!
The output of the IlluminaTi is typically noticeably higher than the earlier ITP A3/Maratac lights at all levels, although the magnitude varies a bit depending on battery.
There also seems to be a bit less runtime than the earlier lights, again depending on battery. This is likely due to the Vf of the emitter, and so is hard to generalize without additional samples of XP-Gs to compare.
Performance is certainly quite good across the board, on all batteries. Like the manufacturer, I also recommend Energizer L92 lithiums, or good quality NiMH rechargeables.
Due to the titanium construction, stiffness of screw threads is increased (i.e. galling). Also anodization is not possible, so you are left with native titanium (polished to a high gloss in this case).
PWM is still visible, but improved over earlier generations (freq now in the 900-1000 Hz range).
Despite the reported premium 1B tint bin, mine seems a little on the warm yellow-green edge of cool white (i.e. more like a "good" WG - maybe a 2B tint bin?).
I think most people will find the IlluminaTi a measurable improvement over the original ITP A3 EOS in pretty much every way.
The titanium construction means that this light is somewhat heavier and certainly more substantial that its aluminum predecessors. As a result, it should be a lot more durable (the thin-walled construction of the A3/Maratac meant that accidental crushing was possible). Of course, titanium also brings with it a few limitations – most notably lack of anodizing and increased thread stickiness/galling. Up to you if it that’s an acceptable trade-off.
Definite body improvements over the A3 are increased gripability and tailstanding (although the Maractac and VersaTi have still more aggressive knurling) and an improved keychain ring. Mode sequence now runs Lo > Med > Hi, which I personally prefer. Note that makers frequently change these things, and the alternate Med > Lo > Hi could become available – check around for current options and status.
The higher output R5 XP-G bin definitely translates into greater output – highest I’ve seen in a 1xAAA light to date. Runtimes on Eneloop seem a little lower on my sample, but that could just be due to Vf variability – I will need to test further XP-G lights to see if that’s a trend or not. Same goes for tint – hard to say from one sample. Note that the Lo mode is definitely not quite as dim as the ealier ITP/Maratac lights (although still quite low, relatively speaking).
Presentation-wise, it comes in a nice package with a good collection of extras. In keeping with their budget status, the A3 offerings are a little skimpy (to put it kindly), and the Maratac comes simply in a sealed bag! Nice touch to include an Energizer L92 lithium, as this is my preferred energy source for these little 1xAAA lights. Most people I know in the "real world" still don’t use NiMH rechargeables, so I invariably include a L92 with any 1xAAA light I give away to family and friends.
I’m glad to see the ITP/Maratac line updated in this Titanium offering. I haven’t tested the A3 Titanium, but I imagine its performance is identical to the original A3. The IlluminaTi definitely has some across-the-board upgrades. I also much prefer this control mechanism over some of the more cumbersome alternatives – the IlluminaTi switching worked reliably in my testing (even better than the original A3/Maratac in fact).
All in all, a nice upgrade to the ITP/Maratac 1xAAA lights, especially for fans of titanium.
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