FAQ: Foursevens Quark MKIII LED Flashlight: The Legacy Continues
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You don't need bonkers lumens in an EDC flashlight:

Some special cases…sure…but not for 80% of everyday use. The venerable Maglite 2D (that we all know and love) only puts out 27 lumens and that got me through the better part of two decades. But times have changed. You can have 20x the power in 1/8 the size…and today this is a “reasonable” level of performance. Part of my personal mission in running a business is education: giving people the facts they need to make smart decisions and filter through the boat loads of garbage floating around on the internet. Here’s what you need to know about flashlight brightness.

Last updated: July 30, 2019 10:10

What is brightness (lumens and lux) ?

In the most basic sense perceived flashlight brightness is a combination of Lumens and Lux. Lumens are a measure of total light emitted from a source. You can direct those lumens into a small spot (like a flashlight) or you can flood them in every direction (like a light bulb). When you point a 250 lumen flashlight at a white wall from three feet you might feel blinded by the intensity. A typical 100W light bulb is around 1600 lumens. Place that 3 feet from a wall and the light bouncing off of it is not that blinding. The perceived intensity is Lux. So, if you want to know how far a light can “throw” a beam you need to look at Lux. In the flashlight world we just convert this to the “beam distance” number you see on the label. If you want to know the total light output, you need to look at Lumens…but as I mentioned, Lumens are only part of the story and more does not always equal brighter.

Last updated: July 30, 2019 10:10

Your eyes are really "good" at diminishing perceived brightness:

This is the most important thing to understand about flashlight brightness. Your eyes are always trying to maintain a specific level of light hitting your retina. If there is too much light, your pupils close down and allow less light to enter, exactly like a camera aperture. So, if you have a very bright flashlight and you are using it at close range, your eyes are going to block out the excess light anyway and you are just wasting your battery. Additionally, you are ruining your night vision with an overly bright light.

Last updated: July 30, 2019 10:10

Your eyes are really "bad" at perceiving changes in brightness:

Brightness is perceived on a logarithmic scale. Because of this, your eyes have a harder time distinguishing small changes in brightness the brighter a light gets. Typically you need at least a 20% increase in brightness to even be noticeable, and at at least a 60% increase in brightness to be considered a obvious increase or “step.” You need 400% increase in brightness to double the “perceived” brightness. The observant among you will notice the Quarks are spaced so that high is 4x brighter (“twice” as bright) as the medium mode, and high is 60% of max/burst mode…one step.

Last updated: July 30, 2019 10:10

How much is enough? The 1000 lumen wall:

Based on the above, a 700 lumen light (Quark QK16L) appears one “step” brighter than a 500 lumen light (Quark QK2A), which is noticeable but not drastically more. Equally, you’d need a 2800 lumen light to look twice as bright as 700 lumens. A 2800 lumen pocket light is possible (it’s been done) but it’s also unreasonable because when you drive a light hard enough to exceed 1000 lumens (let alone almost 3000) you start to pay a huge penalty in generated heat and battery drain. Foursevens does make a tiny 900 lumen light (with a small battery), but again, it’s not a practical “go to” light for extended use like the Quark is supposed to be.

Last updated: July 30, 2019 10:10

Use only as much light as you need:

Yeah, I’m a flashlight nerd. I like bright lights. But unless I’m showing off I use the minimum amount of light I need to accomplish the task at hand. (1) This preserves your battery in case you actually need it, or if you are out longer than expected. (2) Using minimal light helps preserve your night vision. It’s just taking advantage of how your body naturally works. (3) Using too much light means your eyes will adapt, but you’ll only be able to see what’s in your cone of light and lose peripheral awareness.

Last updated: July 30, 2019 10:10

Brightness is relative to ambient light:

If you are in total darkness you need very little light to see well. Ever been hiking under a full moon? No light needed. This is what the lowest “moonlight” mode is intended to replicate. It’s enough light to navigate at close range, but not enough to damage your night vision. If you are in a brighter environment (in an urban area or under your sink during the day) you do need more output because your eyes are already adjusted to the brightness around you.

Last updated: July 30, 2019 10:10

Brightness is relative to the size of your space (and distance to your target):

This is also a big one. If your primary use is indoors or closer than a couple hundred feet you don’t need a massively bright light. Even our modest Preon P1 (100 lumens) can reach out to 210 feet (40m). The Quark QK2A (the less powerful of the two Quarks) will reach over 400 feet (145m). The closer you are to an object, or the smaller your environment, the less light you need to illuminate it.

Last updated: July 30, 2019 10:10

Don't think about modes as brightness at all:

I suggest you think about modes as either how fast you are using your battery or the distance to your target. It’s that simple. Use less power to conserve your battery. Use more power to light up a big space or something at long range.

Last updated: July 30, 2019 10:10

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