MY TOP 10 LIGHT PAINTING FLASHLIGHTS
Admittedly, the title is a bit sensational. This article is not about any technical parameters, the favourable price or the coolness factor. I have not compared all possible torches and put them through their paces. I simply took the pictures from the last two years and looked at which torches I have used. I can’t say for sure whether the order of my top 10 is actually correct, but it will be about right. I will briefly describe why and what I use each torch for. I will also include the important technical parameters and the price. Some torches are not or no longer available.
The following torches can be seen in the cover picture:
In front, from left to right: Emisar D18, Noctigon DM11, Emisar D4K, Lumintop FW3A, Lumintop Tool AA, Fenix TK35 White Laser
Rear, from left to right: Convoy S2+ green, red, blue, Lightpainter Ryus Lightworks
10 – FENIX TK35 WHITE LASER
The Fenix TK35 is no ordinary torch. This LEP lamp uses a laser to excite a phosphor layer to glow and emit it through the lamp head via mirrors and lenses. The beam angle is very small. The light range is correspondingly large. With the specified 600 lumens, the TK35 shines over 1000 metres. When using it, you should be very careful and never look into the beam of light and make sure that no other people or animals are hit by the beam of light.
I use the TK35 to illuminate inaccessible things at a great distance. In addition, it is possible to clearly delineate silhouettes. However, this requires a large distance between the lamp and the model. The very narrow light cone of the TK35 is clearly visible in the example image.
The price for the TK35 and comparable LEP lamps is quite high, you have to transfer 250 to 300€ to the online dealer to call such a lamp your own. The TK35 is powered by a 21700 rechargeable battery. This can be charged via a USB C charging socket integrated in the lamp.
In the next picture, I shone the TK35 into the sky behind the bell tower.
9 – NOCTIGON DM11
The Noctigon DM11 has a narrow beam angle thanks to a special lens, a thrower for your trouser pocket. I use this torch to illuminate areas at a greater distance. It is fitted with a SFT-40 LED with 5000K. Colours are reproduced naturally. It is powered by a 21700 rechargeable battery. This is not included in the scope of delivery. The DM11 currently costs $37. It is available in the manufacturer’s online shop.
The DM11 can be fitted with various LEDs, like almost all torches from Emisar and Noctigon. The SFT-40 emits a maximum luminous flux of 1800 lumens. The torch is controlled using the Anduril UI. In addition to infinitely variable brightness control (ramping), other operating modes are also possible. Operation in momentary mode is also possible.
8 – LUMINTOP FW3A
Three LEDs are installed in the small housing of the FW3A, in my example Nichia 219C. Alternatively, the torch is available with Cree XP-L or Luminus SST-20. The FW3A produces the highest luminous flux with the Cree LED, 2800 lumens. However, the light is much more attractive with the Nichia and Luminus LEDs due to the higher colour rendering index. The FW3A is also controlled via the Anduril UI (see above). The small torch, priced at around €50, can be used both for light painting tools and for illumination. The light cone is quite wide and very homogeneous.
The required 18650 battery is usually not included in the scope of delivery. The battery must be able to deliver a continuous current of at least 10 amps. Otherwise the FW3A will not light up at full brightness. In the worst case, the battery will be damaged. A few last units are still available on Amazon. The FW3A is apparently no longer in production.
7 – LUMINTOP TOOL AA
The small Tool AA is powered either by an AA battery or a 14500 LiIon rechargeable battery. With the latter, the stated maximum luminous flux is 650 lumens. In reality, the torch is brighter. I measured around 900 lumens. Very impressive for the size and the low price of €20 for the aluminium version.
I use the Tool AA to illuminate small objects and on smaller light painting tools. Link
6 – EMISAR D18
I use the Emisar D18 to illuminate larger areas. The 18 SST 20 LEDs installed provide an incredible 10,000 lumens at the brightest level. If the flashlight is fitted with other LEDs, the luminous flux is even higher, but with a less pleasant color temperature and lower color rendering index. The D18 is about the size of a 0.33 l beverage can and weighs 480 g including the three 18650 batteries required. The D18 is available directly from the manufacturer’s online store at a current price of €88. The D18 is a flooder with a wide, very homogeneous light cone. With the “floody opitcs” option, the light becomes even softer and more homogeneous.
5 – DIY LIGHT SCANNER
I mainly use the self-made scanner to illuminate people. As only a narrow strip is illuminated at a time, it is much easier for the model to keep still. Once the face has been scanned, it is no longer visible in the picture if the model then moves her head slightly. The scanner can also be used to illuminate objects. The housing comes from the 3D printer. I used two pieces of COB LED strip with 4000K and 95 CRI. The potentiometer is used to switch the scanner on and off and to adjust the brightness continuously. At full brightness, it emits over 1200 lumens, which is actually far too bright to shine in a model’s face. The scanner only lights up for as long as the button is held down. I can easily attach color filters with the attached Velcro tape.
If you don’t have the possibility to build your own, you can fall back on a work lamp. Here is a link to such a lamp on Amazon.
4 – CONVOY S2+ WITH COLOUR LEDs
Admittedly, we’re not talking about a single flashlight, but a number of different ones. The Convoy S2+ is a robust flashlight that is available in many variants for a fair price. I use S2+ with colored LEDs from Osram, Cree and Luxeon as well as an Osram UV flashlight. The Convoy are suitable for both light painting tools and illumination. The advantage is that the colors are then equally bright with the LEDs from the same manufacturer. This is not the case when working with color filters. The S2+ with colored LEDs are available in the Convoy store on AliExpress.
3 – LIGHTPAINTER RYUS LIGHTWORKS
Unfortunately, this particular torch has not been available for some time. It is to be hoped that the torch will be produced again in the near future. The special thing about this torch are the modes suitable for the Lightpainter. The torch has 10 brightness levels. Once the brightness has been selected, you can choose from various strobe modes with this brightness. The frequency can be changed in each case. The programmed mode can be saved. The button on the lamp head can be used as a momentary switch. This makes the torch perfect for painting light trails. This torch is only suitable for illumination to a limited extent. It is powered by an 18650 rechargeable battery. The Light Painting Paradise shop offers suitable adapters for connecting the torch to a wide range of light painting tools, including colour filters.
2 – EMISAR D4K
I have used the Emisar D4K and some Emisar D4V2s most frequently in recent years. The rather small torches with the four LEDs are very bright and have a very homogeneous light cone. With a small pack, the Emisar D4K or D4V2 can easily illuminate larger locations. The D4K is powered by a 21700 battery, the D4V2 by an 18650. The D4K and D4V2 are equipped with a wide range of LEDs, including coloured and UV. I use variants with Nichia 219C, SST 20 with 3000 or 4000K. All have a high colour rendering index. The torches can only be used to a limited extent with light painting tools. They do fit into the standard adapters from Light Painting Paradise and the Universal Connector, but then you can no longer access the switch. I have printed special adapters on the 3D printer where the switch is accessible.
When choosing the right rechargeable battery, it is essential to pay attention to high-current capability. The D4K and D4V2 are controlled with the Anduril UI mentioned above. The torches are available in the manufacturer’s online shop.
1 – HEADLAMP
Well, none of the string lights can be seen in the light painting pictures, but without the light on my head I would hardly have got a picture on the sensor. The headlamp saved me from many falls and accidents. Adjusting and aligning the camera is almost impossible without a headlamp. You always have both hands free and can see what you are doing and where you are going. But you can also use the headlamp for illumination in an emergency. The two models in the pictures provide luminous fluxes of 1000 and over 2000 lumens respectively. The Fenix HM65R has two LEDs with different reflectors, one as a flooder to illuminate a larger area and one as a smaller spotlight. Both have their own switch. The Wurkos Strin lamp also has two LEDs, one white and one red. Switching is done by clicking the switch several times. The last mode is memorised. The red light is invisible to mosquitoes and other annoying insects. This is very useful in summer when painting with light at night.
I have now accumulated a total of over 200 torches in my warehouse. Some I no longer use at all, others only very rarely. I almost always have the torches mentioned above with me. If I could only take three torches with me, they would be the Lightpainter torch, the Emisar D4k and one of the two headlamps. This combination makes it easy and convenient to draw light trails and illuminate larger areas.
I wish you good light at all times.