Tag Archives: XHP50.3

Sofirn C8L

The C8L is a budget tactical flashlight featuring fairly high output and very good throw, running on a single included 21700 battery. Also features both tactical and general user interface options.

  1. Introduction
  2. Manufacturer Specifications
  3. Package Details
  4. Build
  5. User Interface
  6. Circuit Measures
  7. Emitter Measures
  8. Beamshots
  9. Testing Results
  10. Runtimes
  11. Pros and Cons
  12. Overall Rating
  13. Preliminary Conclusions
  14. Acknowledgement

Introduction

My first Sofirn review was of their fairly basic 1×21700 IF25A model, which has been around for a couple of years now. While certainly solid and serviceable, it did have a fairly generic build and presentation. In contrast, the newer C8L has been recommended to me as more representative of what Sofirn is producing now.

The C8L is in the style of a “tactical” light, with a larger head (for better throw, and likely higher sustained output due to great thermal mass) and an actual forward clicky tailcap switch. The C8L comes with the XHP50.3 HI emitter, which should provide for excellent throw and decent output.

I thought this would be a good opportunity to expand beyond my initial focus on compact, EDC-style 1×21700 lights. Let’s see how the C8L performs in my testing.

Manufacturer Specifications

Note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results.

FeatureSpecs
MakerSofirn
ModelC8L
EmitterXHP50.3 HI
Tint6000 K
Max Output (Lumens)3,100
Min Output (Lumens)8
Max Runtime220 hrs
Max Beam Intensity (cd)70,500 cd
Max Beam Distance (m)531 m
Constant Levels5
FlashingStrobe, SOS, Beacon
Battery-
Weight (w/o battery)-
Weight (with battery)151 g
Length156 mm
Head Diameter46.5 mm
Body Diameter-
WaterproofIPX-8 2m

Package Details




The C8L comes in a modern-looking hard cardboard box with printed specs cover and cut-out foam interior. This design offers good protection for the light (e.g., although the outside corner of the box got dinged in the mail, everything inside as unaffected). Inside, I found:

  • Sofirn C8L flashlight
  • Sofirn-branded 5000mAh 21700 battery
  • Spacer to allow the use of 18650 batteries
  • Basic wrist lanyard
  • USB-C Charging cable
  • 2 Spare O-rings
  • Manual

It’s a decent package, consistent with other lights of this class. I would have liked to have seen a holster, since that is my preferred way to carry a light like this, but that is not typically included with budget lights.

Build


From left to right: Armytek 18650 (3500mAh), Sofirn 21700 (5000mAh), Acebeam 21700 USB-C (5100mAh), Acebeam E70, Acebeam P17, Armytek Doberman Pro, Convoy M21F, Lumintop D3, Nitecore MH12SE, Nitecore P20iX,  Sofirn C8L.









The C8L is a nice and solid build, with very good handfeel. It’s about what I would expect for a tactical-style light in overall dimensions and weight – substantial enough, but still pocket-able.

There is a physical forward clicky switch in the tailcap used for the turning the light on/off. I must say, it’s been awhile since I tested a light with an actual physical clicky switch – it is nice to see them again. Switch feel is good, and you can easily flash/momentary signal with the forward clicky.

There are two raised tailcap guards that allow the light to tailstand, and serve as the wrist lanyard attachment point. I note that some earlier reviews reported the light couldn’t tailstand stably, but my sample does fine. Tailcap threads are square-cut and anodized, with good feel. I always recommend you keep a light stored locked out when not in use. Thanks to the anodized tailcap threads, you can do this easily on the C8L by a simple twist of the tailcap.

There is a raised side-mounted electronic switch on the side of the head, with red and green LEDs underneath to show charge status. Feel and traverse of the electronic switch is decent, but could be a bit tighter/firmer (i.e., the cover has a bit too much play). The switch shines a bright red when charging the battery through the light’s USB-C charging port (green when fully charged). The port is located on the opposite side from the switch, with a thick rubber cover. Like the IF25A, I found the cover to fit rather tightly, making it hard to full depress. But I suppose that should help with waterproofness if you can press it down enough.

There is no actual knurling on the light, but concentric ring reeling around the body tube and a good number of deep cut-outs on the head and tailcap that provide good grip. The head fins have flat areas to help minimize rolling (but it can still roll with enough force). Anodizing looks to be good quality, with no damage on my sample. I would describe the finish as satin. Its a nice package, comfortable and well-balanced in the hand with decent grip – but nothing too sharp to rip through clothing or anything.

Inside, the light comes with a Sofirn-branded standard-sized 5000mAh 21700 battery, with a slightly raised flat-top. A battery sleeve is also included, in case you want to use older 18650 cells. There is a good size spring in the head, ensuring good contact.





The C8L uses the XHP50.3 HI, which is basically a low-profile emitter known for its excellent throw while still maintaining decent high output. Reflector has a light orange peel texture. Together, this should provide for decent throw while minimizing any chromatic aberrations.

The bezel is crenelated black aluminum – not too aggressive, so you can headstand stably. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of anti-reflective coating on the lens (which is surprising nowadays). You can see the reflections of my cell phone camera in the macro shots, for example. Still, at least its not contributing to any chromatic aberrations – the beam is pretty consistently cool white across its full range.

User Interface

Gone is the Anduril user interface – instead, we have a more common dual physical/electronic switch interface.

Personally, I find it great to see the classic forward clicky switch interface again: partially press for momentary on, clicked for locked-on. Easy-peasy. You change output levels by the secondary electronic switch in the head.

But there is some hidden sophistication here, as there are actually two different mode groups you can switch between. A press-and-hold of the electronic switch for 3 secs when the light is on will switch between the two modes. Let me describe them here in detail.

Mode 1 (default) available levels: Eco, Low, Medium, High, Turbo, Strobe, SOS, and Beacon

Mode 1, from OFF:

  • Tail switch, partial-press: Momentary On in last memorized mode
  • Tail switch, single-click: Turns On in last memorized mode
  • Tail switch, double-press: Turns On in last memorized mode and then jumps to Turbo (click to stay locked-on in Turbo). You have be pretty rapid on the double-press to jump to Turbo.
  • Side switch, press-and-hold: Nothing – but if you click the tail switch while holding down the side switch, the light will activate in Eco mode.
  • Side switch, single-click: Nothing

Mode 1, from ON:

  • Tail switch, partial-press: Nothing
  • Tail switch, single-click: Turns Off
  • Side switch, press-and-hold (3 secs): Switch to Mode 2 (see below)
  • Side switch, single-click: Steps up to the next non-Turbo constant output mode (in sequence, Eco > Lo > Med > High)
  • Side switch, double-click: Turbo
  • Side switch, triple-click: Strobe
    • Side switch, double-click when in Strobe: Cycle through in sequence Strobe > SOS > Beacon (with no mode memory)

Mode 1, Mode memory:

Yes, for non-Turbo constant output modes.

Mode 1 Shortcuts:

  • Eco mode: Press and hold the side switch while turning on at the tail switch.
  • Turbo mode: Double-click the side switch from On, or double-press the tail switch from Off.

Mode 2 available levels: Medium, Turbo, and Strobe.

Mode 2 functions basically as a stripped-down version of Mode 1. The main differences are:

  • Single-click of the side switch only selects between Medium and Turbo now.
  • Double-click of the the tail or side switch goes to Strobe instead of Turbo.

Otherwise, the two modes function the same way.

Low voltage warning:

Yes, the main light will step down as the battery is running low. It will then turn Off at ~2.95V

Lock-out mode:

Yes, but physically – you lock-out the light by a twist of the tailcap.

Battery indicator:

When first activating the light, the indicator on the side switch shows the battery voltage  (lasts for ~5 secs):

  • Solid green: ~70-100%
  • Flashing green: ~40-70%
  • Solid red: ~10-40%
  • Flashing red: 0-10%

Reviewer Comments:

The default Mode 1 set is very serviceable, and functions largely as you would expect. I particularly like the shortcut to jump to Eco mode, by holding down the side switch when activating at the tailcap. And shortcuts to Turbo are always appreciated. I also like the very intuitive battery read-out when activating the light.

I have to say though, I really don’t get the point of Mode 2. I could maybe see the value of a scaled down output set that excluded the blinky modes. Or, alternatively, a simple “tactical” interface of just Turbo and Strobe. But I don’t know how many people would want this half-way in-between option.

Circuit Measures

Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM):

Eco:
Eco

Low:
Lo

Turbo:
Turbo

There is no sign of PWM or noise on any level, the circuit appears to be fully current-controlled.

Strobes:

Strobe:


Strobe alternates between 7 Hz and 16 Hz every ~1.75 secs or so. Very distracting.

SOS:
SOS

Beacon:
Beacon

Beacon strobe is a slow 0.5 Hz (i.e., one full power flash every 2 seconds).

Charging:

The switch button shines solid red when the light is charging (switches to solid green when the charging is complete).

Resting voltage <3.0V

Resting voltage >3.0V

The C8L lacks the multi-stage charging feature seen on many lights (i.e., with a lower charging rate for when cells are heavily discharged). Charging rate is reasonably fast for a 21700 cell. Charging terminated at ~4.19V on my sample.

One oddity when charging – if you click the side switch while charging, the light will activate in Eco. I must say I was a bit surprised when I discovered that by accident. But I suppose it could be useful if you need an emergency light/night light while charging.

Standby / Parasitic Drain:

None. That is one of the nice things about a physical clicky switch, no standby current. 🙂 And you can always lock-out the light by a twist of the tailcap, to prevent accidental activation.

 Emitter Measures

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 ~5970K, and the slight positive tint shift (+0.0101 Duv) to yellow-green at this temperature.

For CRI (Ra), I measured a combined score of 71.

These values are very consistent with the XHP50.3 emitter, and match my visual experience of this light.

Beamshots

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.



As you can see above, the beam pattern for C8L is very much on the throwy side, with a nice and bright hotspot (as expected for this emitter).

Testing Results

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.

C8L Testing Results

ModeSpec LumensEstimated Lumens @0secEstimated Lumens @30 secsBeam Intensity @0secBeam Intensity @30secsBeam Distance @30secsPWM/Strobe FreqNoise FreqCharging Current <3VCharging Current >3VParasitic DrainWeight w/o BatteryWeight with BatteryCCT (K)DuvCRI
Eco82727---NoNo1.7 A1.8 ANo173 g242 g---
Low100125125---NoNo1.7 A1.8 ANo173 g242 g---
Med500450450---NoNo1.7 A1.8 ANo173 g242 g---
High1,3001,2001,200---NoNo1.7 A1.8 ANo173 g242 g5,9700.010171
Turbo3,1003,1503,10063,600 cd63,200 cd503 mNoNo1.7 A1.8 ANo173 g242 g---
Strobe------7-16 HzNo1.7 A1.8 ANo173 g242 g---
SOS------NoNo1.7 A1.8 ANo173 g242 g---
Beacon------0.5 HzNo1.7 A1.8 ANo173 g242 g---

The Eco mode is not as low in my testing as the specs report (i.e., more of a typical low). The higher outputs in my lightbox seem to correlate pretty well with the specs.

My beam distance measures are slightly lower than the specs, but are within a reasonable range to them (i.e., it is quite a strong thrower).

To see full testing results for all modern lights in my testing, check out my Database page.

Runtimes

As always, my runtimes are done under a small cooling fan, for safety and consistency. To learn more about how to interpret runtime graphs, see my runtimes methodology page.

Max

Hi

Med

The C8L seems to be very efficient, with overall output/runtime performance for the XHP50.3 coming in a little below the XHP70.2/SST-70 lights, but above the SST-40 lights, as you would expect. But max output rivals the higher output emitters, which is very impressive.

The regulation is very stable and flat on the Hi and Med levels, but showed an interesting step pattern on the Turbo run. I assumed this was due to thermal management and the effect of my standard cooling fan, so I did an additional Turbo run without the fan (red trace above). Based on earlier reviews, I expected the C8L to step down to the Hi level and stay there. Instead, without the fan, the C8L stepped down to a lower level than Hi, but still stepped back up to an intermediate level in an apparently thermally-regulated pattern.

I haven’t seen quite this pattern before, so I thought it would be good to compare the runs at a shorter timeframe (by default, all runs are under a cooling fan unless stated otherwise):

Max-extended

Interestingly, the light doesn’t actually step-down, but rather gradually ramps down to lower levels. After some variable period of time (presumably as the light cools), it then ramps back up to a higher level. But doesn’t level off at the defined Hi or Turbo levels, rather at a series of intermediate outputs. This is a fairly distinctive thermal management feature.

In any case, the light is certainly well regulated at every level, with very good efficiency for a XHP50.3 HI emitter.

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Light has excellent output/runtime efficiency, at all levelsTurbo ramps down to a reduced Hi level eventually, due to heat. However, light ramps back up to intermediate output levels as it cools.
Circuit shows very good regulation overall, with thermally-mediated ramp down/up on Turbo, and step-downs as the battery is almost drained.Lacks a true Moonlight/ultra-low level, but that is not surprising for a thrower.
Uses a dual switch design, with physical tailcap clicky for on/off.Electronic button feel could be improved.
Good build quality and hand feel.

Overall Rating

Preliminary Conclusions

The C8L is a very impressive light. The build quality and hand feel are top notch, on par with with more expensive lights (although I do find the electronic switch cover a bit loose in feel). I would also appreciate a few more package extras (like a belt holster), but this is a very good package for the price.

The beam pattern is what you would expect for the size reflector and emitter – a lot of throw, with decent spill. And there are no obvious chromatic abberations – a consistent (and accurately labelled) 6000K cool white beam.

I like the implementation of the dual switch user interface, with easy shortcuts to min or max output. The UI is very serviceable, although it could use a few tweaks (like a revised second mode set). Output levels are reasonable (note there is no Moonlight mode, but that is not surprising in a larger throw light like this).

Overall output/runtime efficiency seems very good for the emitter type. Regulation pattern is also very flat and stable, but with an interesting thermally-mediated ramp down (and ramp back up) on the Turbo level. It all seems very well thought out.

No surprises, this light works exactly as advertised – and is a great bargain to boot. After testing this model, I am definitely interested in reviewing additional Sofirn lights in the future.

Acknowledgement

The C8L was supplied by Sofirn for review. As always, all opinions are my own 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 ~$40 USD (~$55 CDN).