Olight SR90 Intimidator (Phlatlight SST-90) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES and more!

Originally posted: April 24, 2010
Last revised: July 21, 2010

Reviewer's Note: The Olight SR90 Intimidator was provided for review by MattK of BatteryJunction.com. Please see their website for more info.

Warning: This review is a LOT more pic heavy than usual.



Manufacturer's specifications, condensed from the SR90 manual and batteryjunction.com:The Olight SR90 Intimidator is the first light I’ve tested with the long-awaited Luminus “Phlatlight” SST-90 LED. What makes this LED so interesting is that it currently has the greatest output (lumens/watt) and the lowest thermal resistance of any LED on the market. Of course, this kind of power comes at a price – the SR90 has a built-in rechargeable battery base that is the equivalent of six 18650 batteries, and a hefty thermal mass to handle the current.

Is this the first LED to give HIDs a run for their money? Scroll on, gentle reader …





The SR90 comes in a presentation carrying case with metal hinges and closing flaps. Inside, in cut-out foam, you will find the light disassembled into its main components (head and battery case/handle) along with a charging power cord and transformer, shoulder carrying strap, spare o-rings and manual.






From left to right: ThruNite Catapult, Lumapower MVP P7 TurboForce, Olight SR90, Mag 3-D cell incan, Titanium Innovations L35 HID

SR90: Length 335mm x Width 97mm (bezel)

Ok, this is not a pocket light! The massive head and 6x18650 power pack bring a certain amount of heft. Although I don’t have a scale that can measure at this sensitivity, a little over 1.5 kg feels about right. Of course, that massive reflector should also translate into pretty decent throw …

Fit and finish are excellent on my sample – there are no chips or marks in the anodizing. The gold-colored rings used to anchor the shoulder straps have some wobble along their length (i.e. not perfectly flat), but seem to be held in place fairly securely (you can rotate them to adjust the exact positioning). The SR90 manual says they are stainless steel, but they look more like brass to me.

Lettering is sharp and clear, in bright white against the dark black gloss background. Labels have thoughtfully been kept to a minimum (I think we all know we shouldn’t look into this light when it is on).

Ridge detail is fairly high on the handle, so grip is good. This is important, given the weight of the light – you wouldn’t want to be dropping it.




The battery compartment/handle comes with a contact cover (for use when not screwed into the head). This is a good idea, as you wouldn’t want to short a six-pack of 18650s. Presumably, you could also purchase additional battery packs, as they can be charged independently (not sure if Olight is planning on making these available).



The charger attaches at the tail-end of the light (just under that rubber protective strip – similar to what you will find on a lot of camera ports).

Also on the tail is a battery read-out gauge. Press the bottom button, and up to 4 green LEDs light up to let you know the relative charge status of the battery. Along with the no light condition, that means five possible states - each of which is linearly distributed along charge capacity (i.e. 4 lights means 80%+ power remaining, 3 lights is 60-80%, 2 lights is 40-60%, 1 light is 20-40%, and no light means less than 20%).

Unlike some other lights that use a built-in battery charge indicator, the SR90 seems fairly accurate – as long as you only test when not running or charging the battery. If the light has been in use recently, you will need to wait at least a few seconds after turning off/disconnecting in order to get an accurate reading.



The tailcap is removable, which adds hope to me that separate battery packs may eventually be offered for sale. It would be great to be able to pick up a "spare" cell/handle to carry off with you ...

The light can tailstand with the tailcap installed.




The head is where the action is, of course. The bright blue button is used to activate the light and change modes. The switch is a reverse clicky, and doesn’t require much force to activate.

UPDATE: As HKJ points out, it is not really a reverse clicky - it is a momentary switch that is programmed to turn the light on/off when you release it. As such, there will a small standby current drain, but it is probably insignificant.

You can see extensive heatsink fins all along the head, which should help with heat exchange. You can also see the contact point for the battery compartment at the base of the head.




Hard to get a good pic without reflections, but the massive smooth reflector is gorgeous. Perfectly smooth, this should provide extensive throw with a wide spillbeam.

And of course, at the heart of this beast is the new Luminus SST-90 “Phlatlight” LED. I’m looking forward to running this emitter through its paces.

To begin, time for the requisite white wall hunting. Obviously, the SR90 was not meant to be used up-close on a wall. But I’ve taken a few different kinds of shots to show some general principles (e.g. beam dispersion, overall output comparison, tint differences, etc.).

UP-CLOSE BEAMSHOTS:

Since the closest comparator for the SR90 is a HID, below is close-up show showing a comparison between the SR90 on Hi and my Titanium Innovations L35. Distance is about 0.5 meters from a white wall.





Again, this is only to show the differing beam profiles – note for example that the L35 HID has a much wider field of illumination than the SR90 (or any other LED), and has an off-white warm color temperature (4200K).

To compare to the 2x18650 multi-emitter class, I have taken some shots of the SR90 on Lo. Distance is about 0.5 meters from a white wall. Note that these were taken at different times for different reviews, so are not necessarily exactly comparable (i.e. distance to wall varies, etc). They are only to help provide a general overview.





















As you can tell, the SR90 does not reach a focus at 0.5m. But I think you can tell that the spillbeam width is wider than just about any other high output LED light in my collection. Beam tint is also a pleasing premium cool white on my sample. And as remarkable as it seems, the SR90 on Low (i.e. ~30% output) is a pretty good comparable to many of my (previously) high power LED lights.

OUTDOOR BEAMSHOTS:

To better compare the throw and spill of the lights, here are some outdoor shots focused on a point ~ 10 meters from the lights. Again, these were taken at different times for different reviews, so they may look a little different (e.g. I planted a tree at the end of last summer ).

First, the SR90 on Hi, followed by the L35 HID and my cheapo SunForce “1M candplepower” incan (the latter or equivalent you can typically pick up at any automotive store for <$20):









Both the SR90 and L35 do an admirable job of lighting up my backyard. Again, the L35 HID has a noticeable warm tint (~4200K), and is a brighter overall. The cheapo “1M candlepower spotlight” has a warm and highly distorted beam (i.e. more tighly focused with less spill, but with a lot of artefacts and distortions).

And now to compare the SR90 on both Hi and Lo to the 2x18650 multi-emitter LED class:





















Again, the SR90 on Lo is pretty comparable to many of the 2x18650 multi-emitter lights on Hi.

LONG-DISTANCE BEAMSHOTS:

FYI, HKJ has included beamshots of the SR90 along with his other high-output LED and HID lights. I urge you to check out his excellent round-up comparison of these big guns.

UPDATE: Finally got around to doing some additional long-distance beamshots, to show you how the light compares to others in its class.

Please see my recent 100-yard Outdoor Beamshot review for more details (and additional lights).








User Interface

The SR90 has a very simple interface: press and release the blue button, the light turns on (and you get blinded if you are not careful). Press and release again to turn off (assuming you can still see what you are doing).

While on, press and hold the button for 1 sec to switch between the Lo and Hi output states. To activate the “hidden” full-power strobe mode, do a quick double-press while on. Repeat these steps to switch back to other modes.

The light has mode memory, and retains the last output setting for you turn it back on.



Full-power strobe was measured at a highly distracting 9.5 Hz.

I was unable to detect any sign of PWM with my setup. This means that either current-control is used for the Lo mode, or it uses PWM and the frequency is above my detection range. Either way, you won’t need to worry about it.

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 5 meters from the lens, using a light meter, and then extrapolated back to estimate values for 1 meter. This is my standard way to present throw on these types of high-output lights, as the beams don't really have a chance to fully converge until typically several meters out

Since some of the other lights take a couple of minutes to settle into their regulated output state, output and throw numbers are taken after 2 mins of continuous runtime.

I can’t provide direct lightbox values for SR90, as it won’t fit in my milk carton lightbox (same goes for the 1M CP spotlight and L35 HID). Instead, I have estimated lightbox output based on a comparison of ceiling bounce numbers to other lights where I can measure both. For runtimes, the larger lights are positioned an inch from the opening of my lightbox, and I adjust the recorded values to the estimated levels based ceiling bounce relative results. This is NOT meant to provide hyper-accurate estimates of output, but it does give you a reasonable good idea of relative performance over the runs.

Throw/Output Summary Chart:



First off, there is no denying that this is BY FAR the brightest LED light that I have ever seen. In fact, the SR90 Lo mode, which is rated at ~30% max power, is pretty close to many “high output” MC-E/P7 2x18650 lights I have tested. Indeed, throw of the SR90 on Lo pretty much beats all of the other MCE-E/P7 competition on Hi.

Of course, on Hi is where the SR90 really shines (pun intended!). Olight claims it can throw as far 1000m (i.e. 1 km!), and I believe it could at least approach close to this (note I haven't tested it myself). While it doesn’t seem to match the L35 HID in term of overall output or throw, it certainly is closer to an HID than the previous generation LEDs.

In terms of throw, the estimated 112,500 lux at 1m on Hi is very impressive (note that I measured at 5m to allow the beam to converge, and then worked back for the 1m estimate). But I do not believe the L35 HID really throws twice as far - there are isolated "hot spots" within the irregular center of the HID's beam which the lux meter picks up at 5m. Over longer distances, I suspect you will find the throw difference is not as great as that, but I haven't tested that directly.

Although my ceiling bounce method is not a perfect measure by any means, I think the relative lumen estimates for the SR90 are petty good as emitter/“bulb” lumens (as opposed to actually measured out-the-front lumens). The 700 lumen estimate for the SR90 on Lo is fairly consistent with earlier generation lights that claimed comparable 700+ “bulb lumen” outputs. And the 2200 lumen estimate for the SR90 on Hi seems proportionately about right, compared to the 3500 bulb lumen estimate for the L35 HID.

Bottom line, I think Olight’s lumen estimates are consistent with other makers who quote “bulb” lumens.

Output/Runtime Comparison:




I am always pleasantly surprised with when my runtimes meet or exceed manufacturer’s specs (at comparable output levels). In this case, runtime on Hi exceeded their estimate (i.e. my 93 mins vs 80 mins spec). Lo mode runtime was pretty much bang on (i.e. my 8 hours 51 mins vs their 9 hours spec).

Potential Issues

The SR90 is a large and heavy light – you may find it rather unwieldy to carry and use, depending on your hand size and arm strength (note the specs – it’s over 1.5 kg). I’d recommend use of the included should strap, which attaches to both ends of the light.

There is no DC car adapter included with the light, so you will need to have a source of AC power to recharge.

Recharge time for a depleted battery was about 4.5 hours in my testing (i.e. from the point when the protection circuit has been tripped, to when the green light comes on the charging transformer). This is not unreasonable, given the storage capacity of the cell.

Preliminary Observations

What can I say – the beamshots and runtime graphs speak for themselves. The SR90 fully lives up the specifications from the manufacturer.

The SST-90 is the first LED that can truly give HIDs a run for their money. Yes, the SR90 is not as bright as even an entry-level HID, and doesn’t have as wide a beam dispersion pattern. But it still has plenty of output and throw, and brings with it all the benefits of LED light.

Chief among those advantages are the potential ability to run at wider range of output levels (just two so far on the SR90, but they are well chosen – I don’t need a moon-mode here ). Other benefits include instant-on (without the slow ramp of HIDs over a couple of mins), excellent consistent cool white tint (without the considerable color tint-shift of HIDs during ramp-up), and a smooth and even beam (without the noticeable artifacts and distortions in output and color across a HID’s beam).

You also get to keep the more traditional flashlight shape here - HIDs require a ballast to act as step-up transformer, adding to bulk and dimensional thickness. Note also that a ballast typically adds a noticeable hum during the operation of a HID light. How noticeable this is can vary with the manufacturer’s choice of material (and the hearing sensitivity of the flashaholic), but it is pretty hard to completely eliminate. In contrast, my SR90 is whisper silent on all modes.

While the SR90 might look like it is easier to carry, note that the weight remains solidly in HID territory (i.e. just over 1.5 kg in this case). This is due to the heavy-duty power pack (6x18650) and massive heatsink/reflector. This is clearly not a pocket or belt pouch light - unless you enjoy having your pants fall down.

Aside from the weight and bulk of the light, I can’t think of anything that would be a negative – build quality is extremely high on my sample. The light does get warm in usage on Hi, but not uncomfortably so. And the ergonomic placement and feel of the button switch is good, as well as the hand grippiness (if that’s a word). Price is obviously more than a traditional LED, but relatively cheap by quality HID standards.

And I really like the fact that the Lo mode of the SR90 is comparable in output and throw to the Hi modes of earlier MC-E/P7/SST-50 lights. Thanks to efficiency gains of running the SST-90 at lower drive levels, along with triple the battery source (i.e. 6-cell 18650 instead of 2x18650), this translates into about 6-7 times the runtime of a traditional 2x18650 light on Hi!

As for the Hi output, I look forward to the comments of those with more experience of HIDs. I suspect the SR90, and other SST-90 based lights, will drastically eat into the market of lower wattage HIDs. Please feel free to discuss …

At the end of day, a very impressive first outing by Olight for a SST-90 Phlatlight-equipped light.

To follow the online discussions for this review, please see the full review thread at CPF.




Return to the master review list (at flashlightreviews.ca).

For a list of all my CPF flashlight reviews in chronological order by battery type (direct link to CPF), please see here:
Candlepowerforums Threads by Selfbuilt

If you are interested in sending a flashlight to me for review, please see my Terms and Conditions here:
Terms and Conditions

For more information on my testing methodology, please see my Methodology section here:
Testing Methodology

Unfortunately, my flashlights are expensive to feed with all the runtime tests I perform. I don't accept any payment for any of my flashlight reviews, but I will gratefully accept donations to my Paypal battery fund. Your contributions will go toward helping defray the costs of creating all my detailed reviews.

 border=

For cash donations, please use my personal Paypal account (note that ONLY cash transactions are possible on this account).

 border=

For all credit/debit card donations, please use my regular Paypal account.


Page last updated on May 14, 2011 - selfbuilt (at) sliderule (dot) ca (replace the "at" and "dot" labels with the appropriate symbol for e-mail)
All material © 1999, 2011 by Eric Marcotte.