The Wizard C2 Pro Nichia is a solidly-built compact headlamp with excellent colour rendition, running on a single included 18650 battery. Features a sophisticated user interface and innovative magnetic charging dock.
- Manufacturer Specifications
- Package Details
- User Interface
- Circuit Measures
- Emitter Measures
- Testing Results
- Pros and Cons
- Overall Rating
- Preliminary Conclusions
I had tested a good number of Armytek lights in my previous reviewing career, and they had always performed well. Known for very robust builds, I was curious to see what their new models were like. Interestingly, the lights they sent me were both angle lights (i.e., the emitter is on the side of the head). This design is very helpful when carrying the light clipped on you, or as a headlamp.
Although I am generally focusing on the newer 1×21700 class for these first new reviews, I thought I would start with Armytek’s 1×18650 Wizard C2 Pro Nichia. It features a single Nichia 144AR Hi CRI neutral white tint emitter, which is a new one for me. Let’s see how it compares.
Note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results.
|Model||Wizard C2 Pro Nichia|
|Tint||4500K >90 CRI|
|Max Output (Lumens)||1,600|
|Min Output (Lumens)||0.1|
|Max Runtime||200 days|
|Max Beam Intensity (cd)||3,200 cd|
|Max Beam Distance (m)||113 m|
|Flashing||Strobe1, Strobe2, Strobe3|
|Weight (w/o battery)||65 g|
|Weight (with battery)||115 g|
|Head Diameter||33 mm|
|Body Diameter||20.4 mm|
Armytek considers this a “warm light” in its specs and printed material, but I would characterize the 4500K CCT as neutral white.
The Wizard C2 Pro Nichia ships in a cardboard display box with an extensive number of labels and descriptions. Inside, you will find the following:
- Armytek Wizard C2 Pro Nichia flashlight
- Stainless steel pocket clip
- Magnetic USB charging dock
- 18650 battery (3500mAh)
- Headband and rubber headlamp mount
- Bicycle mount
- 2 spare O-rings
- Adhesive tape strip (3M)
It’s a good package of accessories, identical to its larger sibling. Note that the multi-lingual manual is really more of a quick-start guide, and there is a slightly more detailed full manual that you can download from the Armytek website (direct PDF link here). I recommend you download the longer manual in order to take full advantage of all the features and better understand the user interface.
From left to right: ArmyTek 18650 (3500mAh), Acebeam 18650 (3100mAh), Armytek Wizard Pro Nichia (18650), Acebeam E70 Mini (18650), Armytek Wizard C2 Pro Max (21700), Acebeam E70 (21700), Fenix E35 v3 (21700), Convoy S21E (21700).
This physical build is reminiscent of the early bomb-proof Armyteks – it feels very solid in the hand. That said, is also quite compact, about the same length as my Acebeam E70 Mini.
The anodizing looks exactly like the old matte finish of early Armyteks, very grippy (almost feels rubberized in a way). It appears to be thick and durable – although I find it also marks up easily (i.e., not scratched down to the bare aluminum, but shows handling marks on the surface). I guess its fair to say Armytek sees their lights as work-horses, not show-horses.
The light lacks traditional knurling, but the ridge details cut-outs and grippy finish help produce good hand grip in my view. The pocket clip attaches very firmly (likely to mark upon removal) and helps further with grip (and clip-on carry of course).
The main distinctive feature is the angle-head light source. As mentioned above, this is very helpful as a headlamp, bicycle light or when clipping onto you. It’s also reasonable to carry this way by hand, especially given the large button on the size of the head (i.e., can easily use your thumb to activate the switch). Switch feel is good, with a definite click upon press.
There is a green/red LED under the switch cover that can signal the status of the light. By default, it flashes red once when the switch is clicked (or glows red when doing a press-and-hold). You can configure it to flag a green locator beacon once every four secs if you wish (see UI section below). It also serves as a low battery and heat warning, as also described in the UI section.
The light lacks a USB-C charging port on the body, but there is a USB-based magnetic charging dock that charges the light through the tailcap (scroll down to my Circuit section for more details on how it works). The light uses a standard flat-top 18650 cell (Armytek-branded 3500mAh in this case), so can easily be swapped out and charged in a stand-alone charger.
Note that this means that there are exposed contact points on the tailcap. However, the center contact is sufficiently recessed (and small enough) to avoid any likely problems.
The magnet is located in the tailcap (and is not user-removable). It is also very strong, and so may attract metal objects. Of course that means you can also attach it to metal surfaces to stand it as a worklight.
The light uses a neutral white Nichia 144AR emitter (4500K, Hi CRI >90), under a textured TIR optic. The specs claim a 70 degree hotspot and a 120 degree spill, but there is no sharp demarcation between them – this produces a very even flood light. Scroll down to the Emitter measures section for a tint/CRI discussion.
The head has a flat stainless steel bezel ring.
The user interface (UI) of this light is a bit complex – and somewhat reminiscent to me of the second generation of the inaugural model of Armytek, the Predator.
Just like that light, you will need to download the full manual from Armytek to learn how to use it fully (i.e., the bundled manual is more just to get you started). The detailed manual is available from the website’s product page (downloadable as PDF here). You can also follow the link from the QR code on the box, which takes you to main product page. I don’t understand why they don’t provide this better manual with the light itself, as you are likely going to find it frustrating trying to figure it out all the features from the incomplete quick-start guide alone.
That said, even the full manual doesn’t do a great job of fully explaining the implementation of the UI (although if you follow the instructions, you will likely figure it out for yourself). But to help you out, let me try to break it all down for you.
Note that if you are more of a visual learner, you can skip to the end of this section for a video overview describing how the UI works.
To start, you can switch between two types of operation mode sets (with different mode groups available) – the General UI and the Advanced UI. To do this, unscrew the tailcap by a quarter turn with the flashlight off. Then press-and-hold the button while you tighten the tailcap. The light is set by default at the factory to General UI.
General UI Operation
The General UI gives you access to the two Firefly modes (Firefly1 and Firefly2), all three Main modes (Main1, Main2, Main3), and only one Turbo mode (Turbo2 by default – although you can change this to Turbo1 by going through the Advanced UI, as I’ll explain later). Note the strobe modes are not available in the General UI.
General UI, from OFF:
- Press-and-hold: Turns On in Firefly1 and cycles through the two Firefly modes followed by the three Main modes, and then continues to loop through the Main modes (you select by releasing the switch). So, sequence is: Firefly1 > Firefly2 > Main1 > Main2 > Main3 > Main1 > Main2 > Main3 > Main 1 > etc.
- Single-click: Turns On in the last used mode (the specific six constant modes described in the opening paragraph are all available to be memorized, including Turbo).
- Double-click: Nothing (i.e., just turns On and then Off again – but scroll down to see what happens when already On).
- Multiple clicks (3 or more): Nothing, the light simply turns Off and back On with successive clicks.
General UI, from ON:
- Press-and-hold: If you are currently in a Firefly mode, it will cycle through the Firefly modes and then through all the Main modes, with in a repeating loop of Main modes (i.e., the same as press-and-hold from Off). If you are in the Main mode or Turbo mode, press-and-hold will cause it to cycle through the Main modes only.
- Single-click: Turns the light Off.
- Double-click: Jumps to Turbo (assuming you are not already in Turbo – in which case, it jumps back to last mode used before entering Turbo).
- Multiple clicks (3 or more): Nothing, the light will just turn Off and back On.
This is an unusual arrangement, but it’s not that hard to get used to for the most part. I recommend you think of this General UI as fundamentally a press-and-hold interface, with single- and double-click offering access to the last memorized level and toggling to/from the Turbo level, respectively. The main tweak that I would have liked to see is a more consistent implementation of press-and-hold when On (i.e., I would like to have it always cycle through Firefly, not just when starting in Firefly) – but that’s just personal preference.
Note that General UI lacks the Strobe modes and Turbo 1 (although you can switch the default Turbo level by programming in Advanced UI if you want). General UI should work well for most users right out of the box.
Advanced UI Operation
This is not well explained in the manual, although the information is technically all there. Simply put, Advanced UI gives you access to 4 defined Mode Group sets that you can choose between, as well as the ability to cycle through a larger subset (but not all) of the constant output modes.
Available to you in the defined Mode Group sets are all three Firefly levels in the Firefly Mode Group (Firefly1, Firefly2, Firefly3), all three Main levels in Main Mode Group (Main1, Main2, Main3), both Turbo levels in Turbo Mode Group (Turbo1, Turbo2), and all three strobes in the Strobe Mode Group (Strobe1, Strobe2, Strobe3). The various Mode Groups are typically accessed by multiple clicks from either On or Off as described below (except for Firefly modes which are accessed by a press-and-hold, with additional modes).
In addition, when you activate the light in Advanced UI by a press-and-hold it will run through the first seven constant output modes from Firefly1 up to Turbo1 (not sure why only those, but it’s two more than the General UI). Again, this is the only way to access Firefly modes (basically, think of this ramp as Firefly plus Main and some Turbo).
Advanced UI, from OFF:
- Press-and-hold: Turns the light On, and runs through the first 7 constant output modes in sequence from Firefly1 to Turbo1, on a repeating loop (i.e., no more excluding Firefly modes after the first round, as General UI does). All modes except Turbo2 and the three Strobe modes are on this repeating sequence. When you release the switch on any level, you are now in that Mode Group set if you press-and-hold again (i.e., the light will only cycle through the levels of that Mode Group set now). So, for example, if you release the switch on Turbo1, a subsequent press-and-hold of the switch will cycle between the two Turbo modes in this Mode Group.
- Single-click: Turns On in last used mode (note that mode memory now applies to Strobe as well as all constant output modes).
- Double-click: Turns On in the Main Mode Group
- Triple-click: Turns On in the Turbo Mode Group
- 4 clicks: Turns On in the Strobe Mode Group
- Multiple clicks (5+): Nothing (i.e., light will just activate in the Strobe Mode Group)
Advanced UI, from ON:
- Press-and-hold: Light will cycle through the levels in the current Mode Group only.
- Single-click: Turns the light Off.
- Double-click: Jumps to the Main Mode Group (or jumps down to Firefly1 if already in Main Mode Group).
- Triple-click: Jumps to the Turbo Mode Group (or does nothing if light is already in Turbo Mode Group).
- 4 clicks: Jumps to the Strobe Mode Group (or does nothing if light is already in Strobe Mode Group). Note this means that you have to double-click or triple-click to exit Strobe modes when On (or turn Off and then press-and-hold when turning back On).
- Multiple clicks (5+): Nothing, it just jumps Strobe mode and stays there (i.e., acts as 4 clicks).
Note that the light will memorize the last Turbo mode you used (i.e., Turbo1 or Turbo2). If you revert back to General UI, it will continue to use that memorized Turbo mode. So this is how you can program the lower Turbo1 in the General UI if you wish.
I personally prefer Advanced UI over General UI, for the more consistent implementation of press-and-hold from Off (i.e., repeatedly cycles a wider set of modes, including Firefly levels). However, you have to remember to triple-click for Turbo now. Also, when On, you are limited to only cycling through your current Mode Group with a subsequent press-and-hold. But it’s easy enough to remember to turn Off and start a press-and-hold again to access the other modes.
What I don’t like in Advanced UI is the inconsistent effect of multiple clicks when On. The first time I activated Strobe mode for example, it took me a while to figure out how to get out (i.e., only double- or triple-click will exit, unless you turn off and reset by a press-and-hold). This is not intuitive, and at a minimum I would have liked for the same number of clicks to enter a Mode Group also be used to consistently exit it. But on the plus side, Strobes are reasonably well hidden if you don’t want to bother with them at all in Advanced UI. And you can always stick with General UI if you really don’t like it.
In terms of the strobes, I do like the slow signaling strobes here, with both high and low power (especially as a bike light).
As mentioned in the build section, you can toggle on a standby indicator that briefly flashes the green LED under the switch cover once every four seconds. You do this in a similar way to how you switch between General UI and Advanced UI, but with an extra step: loosen the tailcap a quarter turn, hold down the button, tighten the tailcap AND then immediately loosen the tailcap a quarter turn. I haven’t measured the standby drain in this mode, but I suspect its pretty minimal.
Rather then go through it all again, please see above for how all the clicks and press-and-holds work in the two UI. In simple terms, press-and-hold from Off is necessary to first access Firefly modes, and multiple clicks are necessary to access Turbo from either On or Off.
Yes. The light remembers the last mode used and returns to it (constant output modes only in General UI, all modes including Strobes in Advanced UI). Memory mode persists, even with a battery change.
Yes. Simply unscrew the tailcap a quarter turn. Even though the tailcap has non-anodized threads, it does turn Off while unscrewing from fully tight.
Low battery warning:
Yes. The switch indicator will signal the battery status once the cell is <25% (at which point, it will flash orange every 2 seconds). Once the battery is <10%, it will flash red every second.
High temperature warning:
The switch indicator will also signal a high temperature warning, with 3 orange flashes every 2 secs. If heat is critical, it will flash red 3 times every second, and the brightness level will automatically step down.
According to the manual, the brightness decreases once the light approaches 58 degrees Celsius.
This is a sophisticated interface, with a lot of extra bells-and-whistles (in terms of mode groupings, standby and battery/heat indicators, etc.). It is a bit confusing to configure, and there are some inconsistencies in how features are implemented across UI Mode Group sets (i.e., which modes are included in a ramp, exact number of clicks to access or exit a given Mode set, etc.). And since this is not completely clear in the manual (even the extended manual online), you are likely need to refer the UI instructions here to reprogram.
But that’s really more of a quibble – any sophisticated UI is going to have complexities and inconsistencies that won’t please everyone. Once you decide which interface you want – the default General UI or the Advanced UI, you should be able to get used to things fairly quickly. And again, I like to think of this light as fundamentally a press-and-hold style light for selecting modes, with the clicks really about shortcuts or group selections.
To help you see how all that works in practice, I’ve posted a video to my YouTube channel (@cpfselfbuilt) demonstrating the UI in practice:
Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM):
There is no sign of PWM or circuit noise at any level. The light appears to be fully constant-current controlled. 🙂
Strobe3 frequency is a fast 9.6 Hz, at full power (Turbo2). Fairly disorienting.
Strobes1 and 2 are slow signaling strobes, both at 1 Hz. Strobe 2 is full power (Turbo2), whereas Strobe 1 is reduced to the Main2 level.
Charging this light is a little unusual. The magnetic charging base will snap on the tailcap snugly, and initiate the charge. The power LED glows red when charging, and the battery LED glows green when done (or when the dock is disconnected). The green LED will flash for a few second when first connecting, as it evaluates the charge status of the battery. Note that it will not initiate a charge if the cell is >4.0V resting (i.e., the charging status stays green).
There is also an orange blinking error feature apparently, but I haven’t seen it – it occurs if the charging source is incapable of providing enough power. Solid orange means it is charging at a reduced current.
Note: You need to unscrew the tailcap a quarter-turn, to lock out the light first, in order to charge it. If you try to charge with the tailcap fully connected, you will get a flashing red error light on the charging base. This is a very unusual design.
Resting voltage <3.0V
Resting voltage >3.0V
The Armytek Wizard C2 Pro Nichia shows an initial low initial charging current of 0.13A when the cell is heavily depleted (<3.0V resting), which jumps up to 1.0A once the cell is >3.0V resting. This two-current charging is a good design, and indicates a safe integrated charging circuit. The max charging rate is also very reasonable for a 186500 battery.
In my testing, once charging begins it will fully charge the cell up ~4.19V resting at termination. However, as mentioned earlier, it will not initiate a charge above ~4.0V resting. You will need to use a stand-alone charger if you wish to top-up you cells within the ~4.0-4.2V range.
Standby / Parasitic Drain:
I measured the standby current as 6.6 uA.
This is negligible, and not a concern (i.e., it would take many years to drain the cell). Nevertheless, I always recommend you store the light locked out at the tailcap when not in use, to prevent accidental activation and cut the standby drain. A quarter turn twist of the tail will lock out this light, despite the lack of anodized screw threads. Note the charger feature still works when the light is locked out (indeed, it only works when the light is locked out, which is pretty unique).
This section is a new feature of my reviews, where I directly measure key emitter characteristics in terms of colour temperature, tint, and colour rendition. Please see my Emitter Measures page to learn more about what these terms mean, and how I am measuring them.
As explained on that page, since I am using an inexpensive uncalibrated device, you can only make relative comparisons across my reviews (i.e., don’t take these numbers as absolutely accurate values, but as relatively consistent across lights in my testing).
The key measures above are the colour temperature of ~4170K, and the slight negative tint shift (-0.0036 Duv) to orange-rose at this temperature.
For CRI (Ra), I measured a combined score of 94.
These values seem reasonable for a Nichia 144AR emitter, and match my visual experience of this light.
As you go down in output from Turbo through to Firefly modes, the CCT consistently drops. To get an idea of the dynamic range, I measured the Turbo2 mode as ~4500K. settling down to ~4000K in Firefly1. The Duv is a consistent negative value across all levels, and ranges from -0.0030 through -0.0055 depending on the level (I don’t see an obvious trend across outputs, but it is always within that slight negative range).
So, a very pleasant warmer-end of neutral white tint (most prefer the negative Duv, myself included). It also seems fairly accurate to the specs.
All outdoor beamshots are taken on my Canon PowerShot S5 IS at f/2.7, 0.5 secs exposure, ISO 400, daylight white balance. The bend in the road is approximately 40 meters (~45 yards) from the camera. Learn more about my outdoor beamshots here (scroll down for the floody light position used in this review).
Click on any thumbnail image below to open a full size image in a new window. You can then easily compare beams by switching between tabs.
It is an interesting beam pattern for these Armytek lights; a very even flood beam, with no demarcation from spot to spill. I think it could make a good bicycle light, for general illumination in the immediate foreground.
My summary tables are generally reported in a manner consistent with the ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. In addition to the links above, please see my output measures page for more background.
All my output numbers are based on my home-made lightbox setup. As explained on that methodology page, I have devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values to estimated lumens. My Peak Intensity/Beam Distance are directly measured with a NIST-certified Extech EA31 lightmeter.
Wizard C2 Pro Nichia Testing Results
|Mode||Spec Lumens||Estimated Lumens @0sec||Estimated Lumens @30 secs||Beam Intensity @0sec||Beam Intensity @30secs||Beam Distance @30secs||PWM/Strobe Freq||Noise Freq||Charging Current <3V||Charging Current >3V||Parasitic Drain||Weight w/o Battery||Weight with Battery|
|Firefly1||0.1||0.04||0.04||-||-||-||No||No||0.13 A||1.0 A||6.6 uA||64 g||113 g|
|Firefly2||1.0||0.9||0.9||-||-||-||No||No||0.13 A||1.0 A||6.6 uA||64 g||113 g|
|Firefly3||4.6||5.3||5.3||-||-||-||No||No||0.13 A||1.0 A||6.6 uA||64 g||113 g|
|Main1||34||41||41||-||-||-||No||No||0.13 A||1.0 A||6.6 uA||64 g||113 g|
|Main2||90||120||120||-||-||-||No||No||0.13 A||1.0 A||6.6 uA||64 g||113 g|
|Main3||250||310||300||-||-||-||No||No||0.13 A||1.0 A||6.6 uA||64 g||113 g|
|Turbo1||750-440||900||900||-||-||-||No||No||0.13 A||1.0 A||6.6 uA||64 g||113 g|
|Turbo2||1,600-440||1,900||1,900||4,490 cd||4,110 cd||128 m||No||No||0.13 A||1.0 A||6.6 uA||64 g||113 g|
|Strobe1||90||-||-||-||-||-||1.0 Hz||No||0.13 A||1.0 A||6.6 uA||64 g||113 g|
|Strobe2||1,600||-||-||-||-||-||1.0 Hz||No||0.13 A||1.0 A||6.6 uA||64 g||113 g|
|Strobe3||1,600||-||-||-||-||-||9.6 Hz||No||0.13 A||1.0 A||6.6 uA||64 g||113 g|
It’s great to see the multiple Moonlight/Firefly modes here, especially the ultra-low Firefly1 at <0.1 lumens. Spacing of modes is very good, with a great range of levels across the whole dynamic range.
At 64g/113g (without/with battery), the Wizard C2 Pro Nichia is noticeably lighter and smaller than other lights in my testing.
To see full testing results for all modern lights in my testing, check out my Database page.
And here’s a blow-up of the first few mins of the Wizard C2 Pro Nichia on Turbo/Hi, so you can see the initial Turbo step-down better.
The Wizard C2 Pro Nichia shows excellent efficiency and regulation at all levels tested, consistent with its larger sibling and other good current-controlled lights. It shows a very controlled step-down pattern as the battery nears exhaustion.
This is my first Nichia 144AR emitter, but it seems to be remarkably efficient. It seems to beat out the 519A emitter competition in terms of runtimes, but that’s hard to say for certain given the differing battery capacities in those other lights.
Note that the Turbo2 level steps down over 1-1.5mins to ~440 lumen level, compared to the ~800 lumen Turbo1 level. Unless you really need the super high output of Turbo2 for that short length of time, you may find Turbo1 more generally useful.
|Excellent current-controlled efficiency, with stable regulation in all modes.||User interface is a little unusual, with two distinct UIs with differing mode group sets (with some shortcut inconsistencies between).|
|Textured optic provides an extremely floody beam, with no real hotspot.||Charging dock requires tailcap to be loosened, and won't initiate a charge when cell is >4.0V resting.|
|Great overall range of output levels, with several true Moonlight modes.||Need to keep tailcap and screw threads very clean, or you can get some flickering on the highest level.|
|Compact and easy to activate with a single large button, and a number of warning/notification modes available.|
|Included high-capacity battery with custom USB charging dock (magnetic).|
A neutral comment is that the Wizard C2 Pro Nichia is an angle-head light – which is beneficial when using as a headlamp or clip-on light, but is different from most other lights.
I am really impressed with this light. It has a great tint and beam, with my preferred neutral white tint and all the benefits of Hi CRI. The full flood is also very useful in a lot of situations. Armytek obviously considers this a headlamp and a bike light, and I would agree with both assessments. I would also throw in dog-walking. Like for biking at night, I’ve always found the involuntary “follow the bouncing ball” perceptual effect of a hotspot distracting, and prefer full flood. So the pocket/belt clip is also appreciated.
The performance of the circuit was great – excellent regulation and output/runtime efficiency at all levels tested. Given the small thermal mass however, it needs to step down fairly quickly on max (Turbo2) – so I suspect you will find constantly-regulated Turbo1 to be more generally useful.
The build feels sufficiently solid and rugged, with Armytek’s classic grippy finish (although I’ve noticed previously that their lights can mark up easily). Switch action is good, and the status LEDs under the switch serve multiple uses. The charging dock is a little unusual in that it needs the tailcap loosened (and won’t initiate a charge >4.0V resting). But the charging circuit works well, with very reasonable charging rates.
Mode level spacing is good, and I really like seeing all the Firefly (aka Moonlight) modes.
The main issue is the complex and somewhat inconsistent user interface. I had initially knocked off half a star for this complexity, but I have since reconsidered. It’s always hard to have a sophisticated interface on a single switch without some compromises. It certainly has a lot of good features, and you can easily get used to it with a bit of practice. Note they could also improve the length and clarity of the manual in this regard, but the UI section above should you maximize your use of the light.
If you are in the market for a floody light with great tint and colour rendition, and a great range of levels, the Wizard C2 Pro Nichia has a lot to offer. Certainly a top pick.
The Wizard C2 Pro Nichia was provided for review by Armytek. All opinions are my own however, and the light received the same rigourous and objective testing as all other lights that I have reviewed. At the time of review, this light retails for ~$95 USD (~$125 CDN).
Armytek is offering a 15% discount code to readers of my website, please use code flashlightreviews15 when checking out of the Armytek.com website.