Reviewer's Name: Charles Lindsey
Photon II Stated Weight: 5 1/2 grams.
Photon II Actual Tested Weight: 7 grams (includes battery). 9 grams with key ring & 10 grams with lanyard & clip.
Battery: Photon I Yellow and Photon II Red, Green & Orange use one coin-shaped CR2032 Eveready 3-Volt Lithium cell and the Photon II White, Blue, and Turquoise use two coin-shaped CR2016 Eveready 3-Volt Lithium cells.
Battery Life: Unused, the batteries have a reported 10-year shelf life. The Blue, White, and Turquoise Photons get about 10 to 12 hours continuous use and possibly up to twice that with normal use (based on my tests). The literature indicates that Red and Orange will provide continuous light for 5 days and the Green, 7 days (untested).
Dimensions: (1 1/2 inches long x 7/8 inches wide x 3/8 inches thick).
LED: Life of the LED is unlimited – guaranteed for life of light.
Other Facts:Price: Ranges from $10 - $24 depending on color, model, and style.
On/off switch: The Photon II has an on/off switch. The Photon I does not – it has a momentary switch which requires constant pressure to keep the light on. The Photon II also has the momentary switch in addition to its persistent on/off switch.
Case: The new case is made of glass-filled polyurethane making the Photon II very durable - I dropped them a number of times with no noticeable effects.
Screws: The Photon II uses four "0" (Aught) screws to hold the case together. This makes it much easier to replace the battery on the Photon II (but you still have to find a screwdriver to fit the tiny screws).
Brighter Light: The red and yellow use new, brighter LED's (The older Photon I now uses these brighter LED's also). The blue is three times brighter than the previous blue. The green is a hot narrow beam. The white is the first solid-state white in the world.
Key Ring or Lanyard: The lights come with a key ring, or for an extra $2.00, a 2 1/4 inch long nylon lanyard with a clip on the end.
GUARANTEE:If your Photon Micro-Light® fails for any reason other than abuse or battery expiration, return it for a replacement to:
Blachly, OR 97412-0034
Analysis:The light is quite remarkable. For it’s size, it generates a great deal of intensive light. In fact, I have not seen a light this small & this powerful. This is a serious tool and should be considered the prime candidate for backup light for lightweight packers. I successfully used the lights in virtually every situation that I could think of and they did the job – tent chores, reading, even illuminating the path at night. The Photon II Turquoise, White, and Blue easily projected out 20 feet or more. Here is my analysis of each light color that I tested.
Red: Very bright wide beam, pattern is solid, hardly noticeable rings. Very nice for maintaining night vision. I think this one has the best straight-on penetrating power, especially with a narrow-focused view up to about 20 feet (I noticed this especially true inside). The tightness of the beam projects forward intact for quite a ways.
Yellow: Older Photon 1, no on/off switch, small tight beam with thin rings resembling a dart board to include the bulls eye. I like this one for in-tent-at-night because it doesn't hurt night vision but is bright enough to do anything you need to do including reading (although no on/off switch makes it impractical for prolonged use (your fingers get tired of pressing on it). The yellow casts a tighter beam than the red and the orange and is better than both for reading, in my opinion.
Turquoise: Photon II, bright wide beam, pattern has noticeable rings like a dart board including the bulls eye. I think this one might be the brightest and actually used it outside to find my way in the dark. In a pinch, this one could help keep you on the trail after the sun goes down. I also found this color to work the best for reading because of its wide beam, brightness, lack of harshness on the eyes, and "always-on" switch.
Blue: Similar to the Turquoise but not quite as bright. I turned this one on and left it hanging three feet above a magazine, in a dark closet. At first I could read the magazine just fine. After about 10 hours the intensity began to wane. After 12 hours it was difficult to read the magazine from that distance, but it continues to be useful, just not as intense. I couldn’t resist testing the light’s water proofness. I put the blue light under water for about an hour. Afterward, it wouldn’t shut off entirely. When switched off, the LED seemed to shut off on the outside but I could still see the light inside of the case. The next morning, it worked properly again after drying overnight.
White: Also a very bright, wide beam with a tight pattern. I noticed one ring (a bluish-colored ring, I might add) -- and continuing with the dart board analogy, the ring is located about where the ring next to the outer edge of the board would be. It has a very tight inner beam without the "bulls eye" effect. I liked the white for general, all-around use because it displays a full range of color. In other words, when it shines on something you see the color schemes that you would ordinarily see in the daylight. This is not the case with the other Photon lights. The white is not as intense or wide as the Turquoise or as tight and penetrating as the Red, but it very pleasant and displays true color.
Orange: I turned this one on to see how long it would burn -- 7 days later (approximately 170 hours give or take) it was dead. Of course, it lost its intensity, its projection power long before that, but persisted to burn.
Green: Has a tightly focused beam with the dart board circles and bulls eye. This was the weakest of the bunch. Its beam was even weaker than the Yellow Photon I. I don’t know if the battery was bad or what, but I was very disappointed with this color.
My Recommendations:White - best general purpose, all-around light, provides true color.
Turquoise - "brightest" - best for around camp & emergency trail light. Also, best for reading.
Yellow - adequate for in-tent miscellaneous fumbling around type activities. It is "the best" for in-tent use, if cost and long battery life are an issue (lowest cost – longest battery life).
Red - map reading, emergency signaling, any activity where brightness and projection is required without losing night vision.
UPDATE:We experienced a storm last week with 70 to 80 mile an hour wind gusts (I could hear timber falling behind my property) and our power went out (along with 300,000 other folks -- you Pacific Northwesterners can relate, can't you). Fortunately, I had my little White Photon next to the bed. The little light sure did the job -- not once did I even consider looking for my larger lights or my headlamp. I just clicked on the switch and left it on. I held it between my teeth while I started a fire in the wood stove and while doing other morning chores. I, basically, went about the house (almost) as I normally would. I tried the Turquoise and Red during this time and my original recommendations were upheld. That is, I like the White for general around-the-house use primarily because everything illuminated appears in its correct color.
Normally, my wife isn't too interested in all my "gear toys" but she sure is pestering me to get her some of these lights :-)
I'll provide an additional update as soon as I test the other, remaining colors. I might also do a second round of tests with fresh batteries (I'd like to give the Green Photon a second chance and collect better metrics on the Orange and Blue).
Bottom Line:For backpacking, I’ve decided to carry one Turquoise and one Red with one change of battery for each. For other times, I’ll carry a White one. An important point here is that the screws on the case need to be removed in order to change batteries and they are so very tiny (#0 Phillips) that you will need to carry a special tool for the chore.
Lightweight Backpackers of the world, this light is a "gotta have".
If tiny & ultralight are attributes important to you, this highly functional little light is a "no-brainer". The Photons cost more than your ordinary run-of-the-mill micro light but you'll be getting a much more powerful product with longer battery life, as a bonus.