Review: Imalent SA04 (4AA, XML, RGB)

Imalent SA04 flashlight review

Short history of the Imalent SA04:

Imalent SA04 being part of Imalent`s Shark Series, is a flashlight that uses a touchscreen to control the settings and brightness. And it is the first of its kind that uses this in combination with 4 AA batteries, two XML leds and RGB colors leds. Imalent is a pretty new player on the flashlight market in 2014, and now have established a popular brand name in 2017. In 2014 they entered the flashlightmarket with settings and possibilities that no other maker had done before. Very innovating. In 2016 they updated the SA04 with new buttons, and new leds.

What you get:

  • SA04 flashlight
  • Holster
  • Spare O-rings
  • Documents, Warranty card, and User Manual

No lanyard is included, nor doe the light have any lanyard attachment point. The following 1lumen review is the pre-2016 model with XML leds instead of XPL hi

specs SA04
sa04 pack2
package imalent
sa04 manual

Handling and close ups

The SA04 is made out of 1 piece of Aluminum.
Bezel and Tail cap can be taken off, nothing more nothing less. It is difficult to get to the internals.

The SA04 has 2 large buttons to work with. The M-button (mode button/Strobe button) and the Power button. See pictures below.
The buttons themselves sit loose and can be rotated.

The buttons bigger and easier to use than the buttons on the Sunwayman D40A.
The M-button has no function when the light is turned off.

In complete darkness it can be difficult to find the correct button...

I would have preferred to have a distinguishing feature by touching.

sa04 buttons
sa04 after bath 2

Touch screen UI

One of the most exciting features of the SA04 is its touch screen. Its used to :

  • change modes,
  • adjust brightness ,
  • adjust tints
  • change led colors.

The screen feels more like a Resistive screen than a Capacitive one.

It`s not 100%  flawless. Changing the output can be difficult! It can take a few touches to get the desired output or tint. The screen gives 17 levels of brightness or 17 levels of Tints using the 2 builtin XML leds. (which were supposed to be XML2 )

See video above for my Touch screen sensitivity test.

Viewing angles are okay! In daylight (who uses a flashlight in daylight???) the screen is difficult to see.

The Screen will stay on for 30 seconds... before it automatically turns off.. Auto-turn-off is a must because you can accidentally change modes. I think 10-15 seconds would have been better

Navigating through all the flashlight settings can be very difficult without reading the manual. You really need to play with it for a few minutes in order to understand how the UI works

  • M-button doesnt change modes but is used to turn off the screen, and with a double click going to the different blink modes.

Using a Touch screen does have a few cons..
It let you change modes or settings by accident easily.
See THIS VIDEO of mine, to understand the problem.
Holding the SA04 in your hands just like any other flashlight, will let your index finger touch the screen.. whether you like it or not.. This will happen multiple times.

Solution?
Turn the display off

LEDS

According to the Manual, the SA04 comes with 2 XM-L2 leds..But mine came with 1 CW XM-L2, and with 1warm white XML1.

For the RGB colors, the SA04 uses 2*5mm leds.

Knurling and Anodizing

Knurling is done well without problems, but not very aggressive. And can be slippery.
The Sunwayman D40A is better in that respect, while the head of the Sunwayman and the SA40 are both without knurling. The Sunwayman F40A has less knurling as well, but the matte finish helps with the grip.

Anodizing

Anodizing seem to be done fine as well. Mine just came with a few blemishes next to the LED screen, on the right.
you can see some faint white spots... I don`t really have a close up.

Threads are squared, 1 O-ring in place and lubed.

Unfortunately the prints aren`t really clear and crisp. This is 1 of the things Imalent could improve on.
see the letters A and L.

sa04b-2_14722005831_o
sa04 threads 2
sa04b-1_14538517660_o

Lens and reflectors

The Manual:"ultra clear tempered glass resists scratches and impacts"
After some use, and play, its hard to see any scratches, but when you turn the light on, it will reveal some scratches or scuffs on the lens.

The manual states about the reflectors: "Optimized deep metal reflector maintains great throw and spread with an ideal beam pattern"
The reflector is NOT made of metal, but plastic, and the beam pattern is something I will draw your attention to later. It has quite an artistic beam pattern so to say..

Also, the lens is touching the reflector, so they receive some little marks.

Dimensions and weight:

Length:      120 mm
Dia head:      43 mm
Weight empty:      211 grams
With 4 AA cells:     314 grams

Compared to 2 other flashlight with 4AA batteries.

comparison chart 4aa flashlight

sa04 4AA lights
sa04a 4AA comparison

Settings, modes and the UI

This can be tricky to explain

ON:

  • click the Power button once ,for ON
  • Use the Touch Screen to select the desired output... up to 17 levels of brightness.

When you turn put a few batteries in the light, and screw the tailcap, you can see that the light is "Activated"

OFF:

  • In any mode, just simply click the Power button once

Blinkies:

  • When the light is ON, PRESS AND HOLD the M-button to enter
    • STROBE
    • Flash (beacon)
    • SOS

Switching between the different Blinky modes, is done by another PRESS and HOLD M-button.

The blinkies are Output-Adjustable , see the following vid, which is great! Most flashlight Can`t do that!!

RGB?

Red Blue and Green or red, blue and green HAVE YOU SEEN THE MISTAKE?

  • When the light is on, PRESS AND HOLD the MODE icon on the Touch Screen (not the M-button) to enter:
    1. RED
    2. GREEN
    3. BLUE
    4. DISCO
    5. Back to normal output

The output CAN NOT be changed for RGB

Tint switching

One of the very exciting features of this SA04 is the Tint mixing, using the 2 XML leds. 1 is CW and the other is WW. It will go from about 4000k to 6500k (can`t really tell the exact numbers)

how to enter?

  • When the light is ON.
    • Press and Hold the POWER-button.
      This will give you another 17 levels of tints. Mixing the CW and WW led in incremental steps.

Mode memory ?

  • YES: Main Output Modes will be memorized instantly.
  • NO: RGB modes will NOT be memorized
  • NO: Strobe modes will NOT be memorizedRGB and Blinkies will not be memorized after Turn OFF, the light will go back to last saved Main mode.

PWM

No.. I couldn`t detect any PWM, except in SOS

Lock OUT

The SA04 has a very easy way to enter the LOCK OUT position in which none of the buttons, nor the screen works.
Simply Press and Hold BOTH buttons, the Power and M-button for 1 second. You can enter the LOCK OUT from ON and OFF.
See my following 2 videos.

Performance:

The SA04 works on 4 AA batteries.. The same as with the SWM F40A, the light can not run on 2 batteries only! It has a built in STEP DOWN at 3 minutes. Unfortunately it doesn't have enough power to enter the Brightest Flaslight list currently available. Mainly because its a little dated by now.

Ceiling bounce:

  • Max max ceiling bounce at startup is 111 lux,

compared to:

  • SWM F40A (130lux)
  • SWM D40A (127lux)

These lux numbers can not be compared to somebody else`s LUX numbers, because they are using a different setup.

Run-time

I did the test for 2XMLs twice, but the first time I had to leave so when I came back, the light was at 4 lux.... please use mouse over to see the first one for comparison in little spikes in output.

The tests didn`t come out equally.. I have no idea why not. I`m not sure how they maintain the brightness, but there are many bumps in the output (not very noticeable by eye) it's a 2 hours runtime on full power.. down.
A 2 hours runtime is 30 minutes longer than the F40A, and if you use only 1 CW led, you will gain 50 minutes over the F40A.

The next graph is the test done with only 1 xml, the xm-l 2, CW.

Now the runtime is 140 minutes, which equals to 2 hours and 20 minutes.

When the light runs Low on batteries.. it will give a Low Voltage warning on the screen..
See the next vid.

 

Throw

My measurements:

The SA04 isn`t one of the best throwers out there, as I measured 284lux at 5m, which equals to 7125cd, using both leds. When using only 1 CW led, I came to 7150cd.
In comparison, my SWM F40A has a throw of 13375cd, and my D40A 23500cd.

Sunwayman F40A Sunwayman D40A Imalent SA04
Reflector diameter 25 mm 34 mm 2x21mm
Reflector depth 25 mm 34 mm 20mm
Throw (manufacturer) 13200 cd 24800 cd 14800 cd
Throw (my measurement) 13375 cd 23500 cd 7150 cd

The manufacturer however claims a 14800cd , with a beam distance of 280 meters. That is clearly not the case! Its about half!

Beamshots

The SA40 uses a dual reflector, probably to mix the CW and WW to different tints. The downside of this kind of reflector (just like in the SRK etc) is that the beam has some artifacts close up, and in White-Wall beam shots.

RGB first
as you can see, the RGB colors have some very funny artifacts. but this is to expect with the kind of 5mm leds it uses. I believe its 1x5mm led with all 3 colors in 1.. like a real RGB led.

Control Shot first:

Mixed:

Cold:

Warm:

Conclusion

The good:

  • Futuristic flashlight with many bells and whistles
  • Touch Screen: Ahead of competition
  • Variable tints..in 17 incremental steps for everyone his pick
  • Variable output in 17 incremental steps
  • Works on 4AA batteries
  • Bright
  • Great many choice of mixed output and tints
  • Red, Green and Blue light
  • Not very difficult to operate once you get used to it
  • Great for photography assistant light
  • Light returns to Main output modes after each turn off, be it from Strobe or RGB.
  • Buttons are very easy to use

 

The bad:

  • For the average joe these bells and whistles could be a bit over the top
  • Mfg claimed 2 XM-L2, but I only got 1 XML2 and 1 XML
  • Mfg claimed Waterproof till 2m, IPX8, and I had water in mine in less than 1 minute, and not even 30cm deep.
  • Mfg claimed Peak intensity of 14800cd, but I only got to 7150cd
  • My light arrived with 2 little blemishes next to the screen
  • No lanyard attachment
  • Output is not constant, look at the graphs.

Where to buy + alternatives/related products:

Imalent SA04, at Amazon.com

 

Imalent DX80, XHP70 at Amazon.com

Imalent_DX80

Imalent DT70, 16000lumens at Amazon.com

Imalent DT70