Thorfire BLF Q8 flashlight review:
Review updated: October 2020
The BLF Q8 flashlight was another project put together by members of Budgetlightforum. Ever since the infamous SkyRay King became available the budget sodacan-sized lights have been very popular. Manufacturer Thorfire helped to get the super bright light into production. This resulted in a budget and yet very powerful quatro LED flashlight. Amazing output and quality for the price!
What you get:
- Carton box
- Flashlight BLF Q8
- Spare O-rings
- Spare rubber boot
- Manual (operations reference and product details)
- UI cheatsheet
|Brand / Model
|XPL HD v6 3D
Handling of the light
While the flashilght body is not very “thin”, the BLF Q8 is however easy to operate with 1 hand. The knurling is well done and helps a lot with grip. I think this diameter is about the max of comfortable for my hands. There is no lanyard hole and no lanyard was included. The flat surfaces on the light also help as an anti-roll when placed on a flat surface like a table.
Build Quality and Anodizing
The build quality is definitely much higher than you would expect for a flashlight in this price range. All parts match well and are machined very nicely. The knurling is aggressive enough to comfortably hold for a longer period of time. No blemishes are to be found.
Across the flashlight, the anodizing is done well. Not much more needs to be said.
The threads are square and lubricated. The tailcap can also been taken off.
Tip: you can fold up the included little “UI cheatsheet” and put it in the tailcap so you can alway revert to your preferred UI if you ever make a mistake by programming the UI!
LED, Lens Bezel and Reflector
4* Cree XPL HD LEDs provide a beautiful neutral white beam. According to the specs that means its CCT temperature is between 4750K-5000K.
The quatro reflector (on the BLF Q8 4x LED) is smooth as silk, and made of plastic. This is rather normal, and you don’t need to worry. It does get really hot though.
It has a glass lens and is 54.9 mm wide and 2.8 mm thick according to my own measurements.
The stainless steel bezel will make it a little more impact resistant.
Dimensions and weight:
The dimensions of the light are almost the same as the original SkyRay King, and the also very popular Supfire M6 among budget-minded flashoholics. The tail cap is flat so it tail-stand very stable. You can add a diffuser to use it as a camping light. Most of the 18650 flashlight reviews I did are multi-cell flashlights.
- Length: 135mm
- Width head: 59mm
- Width body: 50mm
- Width tailcap: 52mm
- Flashlight empty: 407 gr / 14 oz
- Head only: 264 gr / 9 oz
Below the following image, you can see a comparison shot with other high power flashlights.
Ramping or modes? The Q8 gives you both!
The standard UI for the Thorfire Q8 is ramping. This means that when you press-and-hold the electronic switch, the light will smoothly ramp up the output to the max, and stop when ramping when it reaches the full output. Release the button and press-and-hold again for ramping to the minimum output.
When reaching the Max and Minimum brightness level the light will flicker shortly to indicate you reached the end.
Release the switch when at your desired brightness. This output will be automatically saved as the “mode memory”.
Note! If you ramp the Q8 and you keep pressing the button even when it is in full output, you will enter the programming mode, which you may not want to enter. So be careful to release the button when at full max or min!!!
For ease of use, I would recommend using the standard ramping mode only, unless you are familiar with the driver’s NarsilM firmware, and how to change mode sets.
Please check out the complete explanation of BLF Q8 driver’s firmware here. I have to admit that it is no fun to have to figure these settings out when you have no access to the manual. Although it is one of the greatest pieces of firmware out there, it is also something you can break your head over, as I did. The explanations are helpful, but are still too complicated for the average Joe!
See the explanation of CPF/ BLF member Walkintothelight how to change mode sets. This makes more sense than just reading the info.
- Press and Hold: start ramping up from Low to High
- Single click: last memorized output
- Double click: Max output (another double click in Max will enter Strobe mode)
- Triple click: Battery check mode. (read explanation below)
- 4x click: Lock-out mode
The firwmare is used so you can have the lowest output possible. If you start ramping and release the button the light will either flash 1 or 2 times. 1 time indicates the use of only the 7135 and 2 times is FET + 7135.
Behind the translucent switch cover is a mini LED built-in. It is lit when the light is turned off, this is a default setting.
If you want to turn this backlight off (temporarily) simply press-and-hold the button so it starts ramping and quickly release and click again. This will turn the backlight off, but it’s only temporary. Next time you use the flashlight, it will be back on again.
In programming mode, you would be able to turn it off completely, but you have to follow the directions to do so.
- It`s a useful locator!
Battery Check mode: The battery check can be entered by a triple-click from Off. The light will start blinking. The first blinks before the pause will indicate the Voltage. and after the short pause will indicate the decimal Voltage.
So if the light blinks: 4 times (pause) 1 time. It means 4.1 Volts
And if the light blinks: 3 times (pause) 7 times. It means 3.7 Volts.
You can enter Strobe mode (when enabled) by double-clicking when in Max output.
You can enter this mode by clicking 4 times when the light is off. And again 4 times to go return to normal operation. My advice is to lockout by twisting the body from the head to break the electric contact if you store the light for a longer period of time. Using the backlight will run down the batteries in about 30 days.
Enter by holding the switch 8 seconds when in ramping mode. Or 3 seconds when in a mode group.
Once you are in programming mode, you will have 2 sets of blinkies every time you can enter a setting. It’s a very fast 2-flashes, preceded by a number of slower flashes. Please look at the manual for all the options. Please note that they differ if you are in Ramping mode or in Group mode!
I couldn’t detect any!
Looking for a 5000lm professional flashlight for a budget price? You better take notice then.
You need some 18650 lithium-ion batteries, and although flat top batteries work, button top batteries are recommended! In case you don’t have a good battery charger yet, this is the time to get one!
Please don’t buy one on eBay because they are cheap! Just don’t. Especially if you are going to expand your flashlight collection and batteries, you better look for a good charger.
I tested mine with the Samsung 18650 30Q (pink) and got the following numbers:
Below’s numbers are tested by Tom E, the maker of the NarsilM firmware. If you want to have the max output go with the Sony VTC6 batteries. But I assure you that you won’t be able to notice the difference between 6000 lumens for the Sony and 5500 lumens with the Sanyo GA flat top batteries. You can do a spring bypass and get another extra 300 lumens, worth it? You decide. It is a super bright led flashlight for close to $50.
The BLF Q8 has been mentioned in a few lists:
Updated October 2020
I tested the runtime in October 2020, 2 years after this review was originally written. For this test I used 4 pieces of Samsung 18650 30Q button top batteries. The output and runtime depend on the type of battery you will use, but these Samsung 30Qs are kind of my calibration batteries.
At the end of the runtime, the light started flickering, so I stopped the test. I wasn’t sure if I was damaging the batteries or how deep they were discharged. When I took them out, they were measuring between 3.1 and 3.2 Volts each. So that was still not too bad.
During the runtime test, the flashlight got extremely hot. I could smell it (heat from the metal/aluminum) and I could hear the flashlight ticking. You can actually hear that in the following video. And I don’t recommend copying me, because batteries don’t really like this, and got me wondering why it doesn’t have a thermal step down (safety feature).
Below you can see the original runtimes, but mine doesn’t look the same. I don’t know where they got these numbers from, or mine is just outperforming. I can’t believe it lasts only 40 minutes. Mine lasted much longer and at a really good output.
More details can be found on the website of the manufacturer: Thorfire
Runtime graph comparison
User your mouse to read all the data in the graph! You can also click on 1 of the flashlight names below the graph to highlight that 1 runtime only.
Measured at 5 meters (16.4ft), I measured 183lx (x10) , which equals to 46000 cd / 46kcd
I tested it with Samsung 30Q flat-top batteries. In Tom E’s overview, you can see that would equal about 400 meters ( 1312 ft / 0.248 miles).
Overall conclusion BLF Q8
- Extremely long runtime on low with 4 batteries
- Size, in relation to throw and power
- Bright, 5000+ lumens for around $50-$60
- Ramping mode is very easy to use
- Premium materials, like copper mcpcb for heat dissipation from the LEDs
- Can run off 1, 2, 3 and 4 batteries (great for emergencies)
- Backlight (locator light) (also a con)
- Firmware/Changing UI
- Too easy to enter the programming mode
- Backlight, this can be a con as it will draw some extra battery juice.
- I really have to think hard about other cons It can’t run off eneloops.. just joking
5 stars: Excellent
One of the best budget flashlights that pump out 5000+ lumens with the right batteries. I would give it 4.5 stars because of the UI. I had it a few times into programming mode accidentally. Other than that? Not much can beat this around $50!!!!
For more information visit the long BLF Q8 budgetlightforum thread: