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3 White LED lights Review

Oct 3, 1998
The 3 lights I have are a Crane 3-LED light, a Rigel switchable
2-white or 2-blue-green light, and a Photon white LED light.

Photon: The Photon is by far the smallest and lightest of the
group. The white light has an eerie blue tint to it. The
beam is reasonably smooth, with much of the beam being a slightly
darker inner circle surrounded by a thin brighter corona.

Crane: This is the 3-LED light from Crane powered by a single
Lithium AA battery. It's 3.5" long and 1.125" wide at its widest
spot. You can actually see 3 separate bright spots in the beam,
with each one being well-focussed. At the same distance, the
Crane's beam is about half the width of the Photon's. The light
itself uses the same kind of head-turning switch as found on the
UKE lights, and should be waterproof. http://www.ccrane.com/ $29.95

Rigel: This is the Mil-Skylite, switchable between 2 white or
2 blue-green LEDs. It's powered by 2 AA batteries. Shaped like
a rectangle 4.25"x 1.25" x 1", this is easily the biggest and
heaviest of the bunch. A most useful feature is a dimmer switch.
The beam is slightly redder than the Photon's with about the same
spread. It's probably 50% brighter on its brightest setting.
On the blue-green setting, it projects a blotchy but much brighter
blue-green beam. http://pw2.netcom.com/~rigelsys/Rigelsys.html $29.95

Overall, the Photon retains the title for size/performance ratio.
It's less bright than the other two, but at 1/10 the size of the
Crane and 1/18th the size of the Rigel.

The Crane, having the tightest beam, has the most functional
brightness. And the lithium battery should give it plenty of
shelf time. I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do with it --
it's too big for a keychain light, doesn't have a dimmer so it's
not useful for reading, and isn't quite bright enough to replace
my 2 AA maglite. It will probably be my briefcase light, or I'll
leave it in the kitchen for miscellaneous usage. I've been thinking
about putting together a little carry sheath with a small light,
pepper spray, and multitool in it -- this small light might fit
the bill.

The Rigel is the biggest of the group, and really isn't targetted
towards the general-use market. However, the presence of the
dimmer has made it really useful for reading and the like.

None of these lights approaches the brightness of my 2-AA mini-mag.
However, they all have advantages, either in size (Photon & Crane),
run time (Photon but especially the Crane and Rigel), or other
features (e.g., Rigel's dimmer).

Hi Joe!

Nice comparison there.
Admittedly, Photon wins hands down in terms of portability. I haven't seen the CCrane lights in action yet, just the picture from their website. I have the Rigel white/red Skylite, and the two-bulb system is okay, with the dimmer switch. I use it as a backup light during brownouts.

I can't find that certain website that sells this flashlight that looks like a Mini-Maglite, uses the same 2-AA batteries, but has 6 LED white bulbs!! Costs around $60 I think. Was thinking of getting one, but like I said, I lost the web URL..

Question: Have your photon been put to some sort of "test" in terms of durability? Mine did.. It fell out of my pocket while I was wrestling with the car door that jammed, and when I backed up the car afterwards, felt a bump, and went down to check, saw that I ran over my photonlight.. aghh!! Except for the scratches, it's still fully functional.
I don't think my Skylite would survive the same, heheheh... I wonder if both Rigel's and Photon's bulbs are interchangeable... hmm...

Oh yeah.. speaking of the Mini-Maglite, I was thinking about experimenting with it and an LED bulb. Since the bulb socket is two-pinned, I think the LED bulb will fit that (with a little sandpapering). The reflector hole would have to be widened a bit to accomodate the LED's size. Since the Photon white LED uses 3V, do you think it'll work the same as using two AA-sized batteries? I think the amperage is different...

Dan --

I may be the only person ever to say anything bad about the Photons. Don't get me wrong, I'm sold on them, and love the size/performance ratio. But I have had some problems. My first one arrived dead. I called the dealer and had him send some new batteries, and it worked again. Later on I learned why the thing arrived dead -- leads were too close, and it was going on by itself. Ended up with a dead photon when I needed it. Then -- my fault completely -- I had the thing open and lost the LED (long story). Though it was my fault I lost the LED, I wouldn't have had to open it up at all if the thing was made competently the first time.

Then I had to change the batteries on another one. It's very very difficult to find the phillips screwdriver that fits those screws, so I use the closest thing I can find, a tiny eyeglass screwdriver. One screw is pinned down so hard it won't budge, though, and I ended up stripping it out. Luckily, I still had the body from the above LED.

Photon should make available to their dealers a small supply of screwdrivers that fit those things, so we can have them on hand for changing the screws.

Minor problems, but I feel like I got bit twice, out of 4 lights. That's not a great record so far.

As far as putting LEDs in the 2-AA maglite, everyone who I've seen done that has put a resister in series with the diode...


[This message has been edited by Joe Talmadge (edited 04 April 1999).]

What size resistor and why? That would limit voltage, but not current, I believe. In parallel it would limit current, but not voltage, I think.


I saved some posts on how to do it, but can't seem to find them. If I can dig 'em up, I'll post 'em here

In series a resistor would lessen both current and voltage seen by the diode.

(if my limited knowledge isn't dulled by the chocolate egg glut)