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Thread: 2013 MTBR Lights Shootout

  1. #1

    2013 MTBR Lights Shootout

    Here's the video review from this years MTBR shootout. Thanks again to Francis for giving the "little guy" some air time.

    There was a little confusion when he was changing power levels on the headlight. He was thinking that it was a "circular" transition between low-med-high, but with the headlight in "Three-mode," the clicking functionality allows a simple toggling between medium and high, and if you want to get back to low, you have to press and hold.

    Similar confusion getting into flashing mode on the taillight. The light must be turned OFF first before it can be turned back on into flashing mode. Also note that I had disabled the "Superlock" safety turn-on sequence on these demo lights. Consult the user's manual for full operation description.

  2. #2
    A little more info from the shootout, and some personal experience with headlights in general...

    It is becoming more and more difficult to get a realistic impression of a headlight from the current crop of beamshots. With the introduction of the ultra-high-power (3600+ lumen) lights, the photographer has to considerably shorten the exposure time to keep the shot from being overexposed. Taking all of the beamshots with the camera fixed at the proper exposure setting for the high output lights tends to under expose the lower power lights. It does form the basis for making some basic comparisons, but in practice, our eyes are not at all like the fixed exposure camera with a constant aperture. In reality, our eyes will "compensate" for a bright beam of light by closing the aperture (iris) and letting in less light. In practice I've found that you can ride with 2000 lumens for 20 minutes or you can ride with 1000 lumens for 20 minutes (assuming the same beam pattern), and after a short period of eye adjustment, your brain has a very hard time telling the difference.

    If I could distill it down to it's essence, I would say that rather than seeking out a headlight with more and more lumens, the smart move is to identify a light with the optimum beam pattern and use the minimum amount of light necessary for the coverage (width) and throw that is required for your riding conditions. If you find that you can't "out-ride" the light, then there's really no need to go any brighter (with a single light). If you do, then you'll only be further degrading your night vision and creating more of the "riding-in-a-tunnel-of-light" syndrome. For any lights that are in that 1500 to 3000 lumen bracket producing a uniformly wide and round beam, you can be sure that you'll have an excessive amount of light in your near field vision that will effectively hinder your ability to see out at the distances that CAN be seen by the camera when taking beam shots.

    Adding multiple light sources (i.e. helmet+bar, or 2 bar) is a more effective way of adding additional lumens due to the fact that the two beams can be aimed differently and afford a greater coverage area, rather than simply a more intense single area of coverage.

    Keeping all that in mind, I would refer you to "beamshots" from the MTBR shootouts (2012 and 2013), where you can see the great diversity of beam types and/or intensities.

    I'm pretty proud of how well the DS-1300 stacked up in the mix, with regard to the shape and uniformity of the beam that it produces. It was only one of just a few lights that were able to produced a nice uniform intensity over the full usable range of the light. In the image below, you can see the DS-1300 (right side) compared to a very similar lumen light that has been quite popular (Gloworm X2). Although there was a bit of left/right aiming discrepancy between the two shots, you can see in the circled regions that the DS-1300 had a slight advantage, in addition to having an overall slightly warmer temperature color.
    Name:  GlowormX2_vs_DS1300_annotated.jpg
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