Sofirn BLF LT1 Quick Review – Lantern Excellence

This content originally appeared on Reddit on July 10th, 2021.

The LT1 has been reviewed to death so I’m not going to be doing all my measuring and testing I usually do here. This is just going to be my thoughts on the light. In short, I really like it and it’s almost perfect.

Philosophy of Use

It’s a lantern. It’s for providing really wide spread and even light. Obviously it would be awesome for camping, but I’ve found a few other great uses for it. For one, it makes an awesome photo light. You can put it on a tripod as an area light. I’ve been using it as a nightstand light before bed. You can put it in candle mode on the 2700K color temp for some candle-like flickering. A few other users with newborns have said their wives like to use it on the dimmest mode for middle-of-the-night feedings. It’s great for power outages. The latest version can even be used as a power bank. It’s so much more versatile than just a “camping lantern”. Definitely too heavy for backpacking though.

Size & Dimensions

Convoy Z1, Convoy 4X18A, BLF LT1, Noctigon KR1, Emisar D4V2

It’s big and heavy, but increased size means more battery capacity, runtime, thermal mass, and a bigger diffuser. A bigger diffuser means less glare. I’m excited for the upcoming LT1 Mini because I think a smaller version would be great too, but I think they nailed the size here for the full size version.

What comes in the box?

The box is a basic thin brown cardboard box with a piece of foam inside. It’s fine but doesn’t really impress me like the boxes Convoy uses on their big lights do. In the box is the light wrapped in bubblewrap with the batteries inside it, a bag with some replacement rubber parts, a manual, and a USB A-to-A cable. There’s also a black paper disc that comes inside the lantern separating the batteries from the contact ring on the “head”, so it doesn’t turn on in transit.

On additional accessory I would like to see included is a thread-on magnetic base that matches the diameter of the tailcap. A nice piece of machined aluminum, around 5mm thick, with a tripod thread sticking out of one side and a few strong magnets set into it. Matching the style and diameter of the tailcap would make it unobtrusive to leave there all the time, but making it thread on means you could easily remove it and attach it to the side.

User Interface

I have a Revision 5 model which has Anduril 1 on it. The latest revision (Revision 6 I guess?) has Anduril 2 on it. Anduril 1 is great and Anduril 2 is perfect for this lantern. The awesome tint ramping and customization and special modes in Anduril is great. It also means this lantern has the same UI as some of my other favorite lights which means one less UI I have to memorize. Anduril 2 is a welcome upgrade too because it invalidates the “Anduril is too complicated and confusing” argument. It comes in simple mode, it’s easy to use, and you can’t get into any weird modes by accident. Everything with an e-switch should come with Anduril 2 on it now. Everything

The one critique I have of the UI is that if I use the stepped brightness ramp, I want a stepped tint ramp too, with the same number of steps that I have configured for brightness.

Modes & Outputs & Runtimes & Regulation and all that

The brightest mode is supposedly 600 lumens, independent reviewers have verified this, it’s great. The lowest mode is about 5 lumens which is fine. Dimmer would be neat but not actually more useful really. Regulation is good. This guy did runtime tests for the top 4 out of the 5 default modes.

Up through Rev 5, there have been some contact pads on the bottom of the driver board that you could solder together to get more brightness. There were also some reflashing pin contacts. In the latest Anduril 2 & PB version, the driver was changed and no longer has the contact pads for higher output. They also changed the layout of the reflashing pins. Neither of these changes really bug me, but it’s worth mentioning. I suspect hardly anyone soldered the contacts for higher brightness. I don’t care about the layout of the reflashing pins, I just want there to be a standard layout so I can use the same reflashing tool on all my lights.

Emitter & Beam

The LT1 uses eight 90CRI samsung LH351D’s, four in 2700K and four in 5000K. Excellent LED choice. A wider color range Comight be kind of cool, like 2000K to 6500K or something.

The beam is a big floody donut of even light. Couldn’t be better.

Design & Construction

The design is good. It’s simple and it works. I love the inclusion of tripod threads on the side and on the bottom. It lets me mount it to magnets or a tripod or whatever I want. Brilliant. I wish the top had a tripod thread too so I could magnet it to the ceiling and it not be upside down. That would also let you thread multiple LT1’s end to end for an incredibly heavy lantern bat. Construction is solid. Exactly what I expect from Sofirn.

If I had to choose something to criticize here it would be the bail. More on that in the carry & ergonomics section.

Switch

The switch is fine. It’s an electronic side switch with a translucent rubber boot. It’s nice and clicky. The backlighting controlled by Anduril is a fixed orange color and it can be set to 4 different modes: low, high, blinking, and off. Low is too dim and high is too bright so there needs to be a medium setting. This is the case on most Anduril lights with aux emitters though. I’d also prefer to have RGB emitters since that’s always better than single-color. In the latest revision, this might have been changed to green but I haven’t confirmed that for sure. If that is the case, that’s a terrible choice because the bright green will clash with the nice dim warm light and look terrible.

There are red/green LED’s that appear when charging or when the light is plugged in but the batteries aren’t connected.

Carry & Ergonomics

The LT1 isn’t really designed to be carried. It’s too heavy and there aren’t any great places to grip it. You can carry it by the body and hold it like a normal flashlight, but that feels weird with a lantern. The Bail isn’t all that helpful either. I can only fit one finger through it comfortably, and the notch in the middle of it combined with the weight of the LT1 makes it dig into my finger and it’s uncomfortable. A bigger bail that’s a larger bend diameter and also a larger wire diameter without the notch in the middle would be a great upgrade in a future version.

Batteries & Charging

The LT1 comes with four button top Sofirn branded 3000mah 18650’s. I would much rather pay an extra $5-10 for 3500mah cells instead.

The LT1 uses a USB-C port on the side of the light to charge. I think that’s the perfect charging solution. In my Rev 5, C-to-C cables are supported and it will charge from a PD charger (just not at PD speeds). There’s no power out functionality, but that was added in the next revision.

It uses a rubber flap to cover & seal the charging port. I’m not a huge fan of these but I can’t think of a solution I like better for a lantern so it doesn’t bug me much. I have short fingernails and it’s really hard to get the rubber flap open. I usually have to use my multitool. Fortunately, it’s extremely well sealed. Every time I open it there’s a nice “fpt” seal-breaking sound which is great.

Competition

There is nothing on the market that comes anywhere close to the LT1 at the time of writing.

Update: Sofirn has released LT1S, a shorter version of LT1. I reviewed it here and I actually like it better than the original.

Conclusion

This is the best battery powered lantern available, period. If you’re on the fence you should buy it. I had it on my wish list for months and finally impulse bought it when it was on sale and I absolutely love it. It’s virtually perfect and I cannot recommend it enough.

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