- Pricing & Availability
- What comes in the box?
- Design & Construction
- Size & Measurements
- User Interface
- Emitter & Beam
- Mode Chart
- Driver & Regulation
- Carry & Ergonomics
- Batteries & Charging
Pricing & Availability
Sofirn sent me this light in exchange for an honest review. Here is the official product page where you can see current pricing. It’s also available on Amazon if you need fast shipping.
What comes in the box?
The box is the same as most Sofirn products: basic thin cardboard with some foam and bubblewrap on the inside to protect the light. It’s not fancy but I’ve never received a damaged light from Sofirn. The following items are included in the box:
- The light itself
- Batteries (optional, inside the light)
- USB A-to-C charging cable
- Spare O-rings
Notably, a user manual was missing from my box but that’s probably because this was a first-production review sample. Sofirn will email you a copy of the manual if you ask.
Design & Construction
The design is an iteration on older Q8 designs. The stainless bezel has been replaced with aluminum and the fine knurling has been replaced with large, blocky milling.
Build quality is typical of Sofirn. It’s perfectly fine. There are no significant issues but the fit & finish don’t wow me either. Threading the body and head together feels a little gritty but I don’t know if that’s due to the threads or the batteries & brass ring. It’s worth noting that the tail springs are pre-bypassed on my sample but they appear to not be doing that anymore, which is a shame.
Size & Measurements
Lumintop FW3A | Wildtrail WT90 | Sofirn Q8 Plus | Sofirn BLF LT1 | Mini Maglite
|Maximum Head Diameter||63.0|
|Body Tube Diameter (maximum)||54.0|
|Body Tube Diameter (mode)||54.0|
|USB Port Width||12.3|
|USB Port Depth||2.9|
|USB Port Height||~9|
|Included Battery Length||72.8|
|Included Battery Diameter||21.3|
Weight without battery: 498g
Weight with included batteries: 704g
Q8 Plus comes with a firmware called Anduril (version 202202080614 to be specific). It’s a highly-configurable and feature-rich UI that’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s a joy to use if you know it well. I’m not remotely prepared to do a whole UI breakdown, so I’ll just direct you to the official Anduril 2 Manual which has a UI table at the bottom. With that said, here are a few of my favorite features. Most of these are highly configurable or optional, so if you don’t like one, you can probably disable or change it!
- Momentary Turbo
- Adjustable Stepped Modes
- Manual Mode Memory option
- Shortcuts to & from Moonlight, Turbo, and High
- Battery voltage readout
- The best LVP behavior in the industry
Emitter & Beam
Q8 Plus includes six Cree XHP50.2 3V emitters in either 6500K or 5000K. I have 6500K. These emitters are designed for efficiency and high output, not great color properties. The lens does not appear to have any anti-reflective coating.
The beam has wide, bright spill with six large flower petals on the edges. The hotspot is narrower than I expected and provides decent throw.
In the beamshots below, the trees are ~75m away.
Disclaimer: All of my measurements are taken at turn-on. Lumen measurements were taken on a Texas Ace 3.5″ Lumen Tube. A candela measurement was taken at 10 meters with an Opple Light Master III on the highest brightness, and other candela figures were calculated relative to that. CRI, CCT, & DUV data was taken for each mode from a few feet away at the center of the hotspot with the Opple Light Master and Waveform DUV Calculator. Runtime tests were performed with the Ceilingbounce app on my smartphone. All of these tests were performed with fully charged included batteries unless otherwise specified. I cannot measure moonlight directly, so moonlight readings are calculated based on the brightness relative to the next-lowest mode. None of this is professional equipment, so take all of these measurements with a grain of salt.
Above are the official specs, followed by my own measurements below.
|Mode (Level)||Lumens||Candela||Throw (Meters)|
|Moonlight (1)||not measured (<1lm)||not measured||not measured|
Why don’t my measurements match up with the advertised specs? Anduril 2 is highly customizable and I have no idea what settings Sofirn used when they generated the official specifications.
Why those modes? Anduril 2 has 150 levels, so doing measurements and tests for each mode is virtually impossible. I’ve got this light set up how I like it with 5 levels. Bottom of ramp is level 1 and top of ramp is level 100. I’ve set up the stepped ramp with 4 steps so, with turbo added, I get the 5 modes I like. After testing, I raised the ramp ceiling to level 120 to get the middle modes to be a little brighter.
Mode Spacing on the stepped ramp is good. Ramp speed on the smooth ramp is a little weird. There’s a spot in the middle where it slows down and then it speeds back up again. That’s not unusual for lights with FET+7135 drivers like this. You can slow down the ramp speed as much as you like in the light’s settings.
Note: Normally before testing Anduril lights, I have to calibrate the thermal sensor. Fortunately, this light comes pre-calibrated from the factory! All tests were run with the thermal ceiling at the default 45C. Usually I like the default 45C, but during my testing I found the light got warm but not hot, so you could increase the thermal limit a bit and still be able to hold the light if you want.
Performance: Turbo is very very bright for a few seconds after turn-on and it gets hot very very fast. High mode lasts a respectable 3 minutes at 4000 lumens before stepping down. Medium runtime is a very impressive 14+ hours. For the Turbo Cooled test I raised the thermal limit to 70C (the max allowed in the firmware) and directed a desk fan straight at the light on its highest setting.
Sustained output: was around 1000 lumens in my testing conditions, which are near worst-case-scenario. I test in an air-conditioned room with no other airflow. In real-world use you will likely be holding the light (which helps cool it and increase sustained output) or there will be a breeze (which helps cool it and increase sustained output). You can also raise the thermal limit as you see fit to increase sustained output.
Thermal regulation: works really well. Anduril 2 has some of the best thermal regulation available. It actively raises/lowers the brightness of the light in response to temperature fluctuations to ensure you get as much brightness as possible without overheating.
LVP: Anduril 2 has my favorite LVP behavior. When the cell voltage gets low, it will reduce brightness in big, obvious steps as a warning and to increase battery life. Eventually when the cell is virtually empty it will shut off, but you can still turn the light back on to further drain the cell if you need to in an emergency. I ended all runtime tests after the low voltage stepdown but before low voltage shutoff because this light will run for a very very long time before it completely shuts off.
Driver & Regulation
Q8 Plus uses a basic drive that’s held in by two screws. It’s got an Attiny1616 microcontroller which means you don’t have to calibrate the thermal sensor and that’s a big improvement.
It’s an odd driver design because I think it uses three FETs in parallel and three 7135’s in parallel. A single FET plus a single 7135 chip is very common but having three of each is unique.
The driver also has flashing pads, but they’re a weird layout (not the normal layout we’ve been seeing from Sofirn/Wurkkos on Attiny1616 lights so far). Sofirn, please stop changing your flashing pad layouts! It makes it a lot more complicated for enthusiasts to flash updated or modified firmware onto our lights. The Sofirn/Wurkkos factory has shipped lights with bugged firmware before so it’s important to be able to update!
Regulation on the settings I used was about what I expected. The higher modes are not regulated and the lower modes are. You just can’t get great regulation on mega flooders like this, regardless of the type of driver they use. They just pump out too many lumens from too few batteries to be able to well regulated.
It’s worth noting that I am not sure what the highest regulated level is for this light. The button LED switches from low to high mode when going from level 65 to 66, which usually indicates that’s where the highest regulated output is. However, my testing showed level 67 to be perfectly regulated so the highest regulated level must be 67 or higher.
Note: All regulation measurements are taken at turn-on so they do not reflect any thermal or low voltage stepdowns that may occur. A value of 0 indicates low voltage shutoff immediately upon activation.
PWM: No PWM is visible to my eyes nor audible to my ears, but my camera could see it on Medium and High modes.
Parasitic Drain: 80 microamps with the switch LED’s off and 320 micro amps with the switch LED’s on low. Either of those will take years to drain the included batteries. With the switch LED’s on high I measured 2.7 milliamps, which will take 8 months to drain the included batteries.
The switch is the same one used on most of Sofirn’s larger lights. It’s a partially translucent rubber boot held down by a retaining ring. It’s plenty clicky and works fine. If you’re going to put this light in a bag, I would loosen the body tube a bit to make sure it doesn’t turn on by accident. It can definitely catch dark materials on fire if it ends up in Turbo mode by accident.
Behind the switch are three sets of LED’s: blue, orange, and green. The green LED’s are controlled through the Anduril firmware and their brightness/behavior can be changed to suit your preferences. The blue and orange LED’s are controlled via the USB controller, which is completely separate from the Anduril firmware and cannot be controlled by the user at all. The blue LED’s indicate charging status (blinking blue is charging, constant blue is fully charged) and the orange indicate the powerbank function has been activated.
I have some gripes with the blue and orange LED’s. The orange will activate sometimes for no apparent reason while I’m using the light normally. This has been a bug since Q8 Plus so I know what’s going on, but it’s really confusing for new users. There have been several posts on r/flashlight from users asking how to control the orange and blue LED’s in their Sofirn products.
The blue charging indicators aren’t great either because they aren’t “glanceable”. To determine if my light is done charging I have to look at it for a full ~2 seconds to see whether the blue LED’s are blinking or not. It would be more user friendly if charging status were indicated by different colors rather than by blinking/not blinking. For example, if the LED’s glowed red when charging and turned blue when fully charged, I could glance at the light from the corner of my eye and know its status. That’s also generally easier to understand without having to read the manual.
Carry & Ergonomics
Ergonomics are fine. It’s a big light but it’s not unwieldy. My thumb lands comfortably on the button in a forward grip and I can even use a reverse grip comfortably. The milling on the body is a little bit sharper than other similar lights from Sofirn like Q8 Pro. There’s less texture than Q8 Plus but the milling is deeper and sharper so the overall grippyness is similar. The 3×21700 tube used on Q8 Plus is not interchangeable with the 4×18650 tube used on previous Q8 models.
No carry methods are included. You could put this in a belt holster but it’s a little big for that and I don’t know of any that would work well. If you need a lanyard, you’ll have to make one and tie it around the body tube in the milled slots. There’s no lanyard included nor are there any lanyard attachment points.
There is a standard tripod mounting hole opposite the switch though, so you can mount the light to a tripod or screw on a handle or lanyard attachment there.
Tailstanding works great. The tail is wide and perfectly flat. That combined with the long runtime makes this light an excellent choice for ceiling-bouncing to light a room for awhile. I do wish the tailcap included a milled cavity inside for the user to install a strong magnet if they wish. Unfortunately Sofirn made no such allowance.
Batteries & Charging
Three unprotected button-top 21700 batteries are required and optionally included. Flat top cells won’t work because they won’t contact the brass ring on the driver correctly (Molicel P42A’s are a notable exception and will work fine because they are a hybrid flat top / button top design). I don’t think protected cells will work either because they would be too long. Fortunately, the included cells are perfectly fine.
Charging is facilitated by a USB-C port on the side of the light. It’s covered by Sofirn’s excellent port cover they use on many of their lights. It’s the best rubber port cover design I’ve come across. USB C-to-C charging cables work fine and it can also function as a powerbank. Charging from empty took six hours from a 5V 3A source which is pretty slow, but supporting USB-PD charging protocol for faster speeds would increase the price so I can live with the slow charging. The light can’t be powered by the USB port alone. The batteries must be installed for it to work, but it can be used while charging which is nice.
Here are some lights in the same class and how they compare.
Sofirn Q8 Pro: predecessor to Q8 Plus, four LED’s instead of six, four 18650 batteries instead of three 21700 batteries, I measured about half the output of Q8 Plus from Q8 Pro, stainless steel bezel
Nightwatch NS59: more traditional long flashlight shape, tailswitch instead of side switch, sub-par user interface, no integrated charging
Astrolux MF01X: 18 small LED’s instead of 6 big LED’s, very different styling, comes with older Anduril 1 firmware, covered in slots for glow tubes or tritium vials, includes aux LED’s in the front
This section is not comprehensive. If I didn’t include a particular light here, it doesn’t mean it’s bad or doesn’t deserve to be here. I simply cannot list every possible competitor.
Q8 Plus brings a substantial performance upgrade over Q8 Pro and it’s a nice addition to Sofirn’s product lineup. It’s about as much brightness as you can get in the ~$100 price range right now and it comes with batteries, a great UI, and built in charging. If you’re looking for a (relatively) affordable mega-flooder with lots of bells and whistles, I highly recommend it. At the time of writing, it’s my personal mega flooder of choice.
Thanks to Sofirn for sending me this light for review!