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Nightwatch Incredible NS73V1 review: High power flashlight test
Nightwatch NS73v1 specifications
|Brand/model||Nightwatch NS73V1 Incredible|
|Max. Lumens||14,500 lm|
|Max. Beam intensity / distance||N/A|
|Review date||June 2022|
Today’s review light is the Nightwatch Incredible NS73v1. Nightwatch is one of those sorta-obscure brands that I’ve seen around for a little while, but have never owned one of. To my knowledge, you can only get them through Nealsgadgets unless you’re familiar with navigating the vast marketplace of Taobao. From what I see on Neal’s website, Nightwatch only makes one thing: big, bold lights. The aptly-named Incredible is no different. This lumen monster claims to put out 14,500 lumens from 3 LEDs and a single battery. That almost sounds too good to be true – let’s find out if it is.
The Nightwatch Incredible arrived in a bubble-wrapped sleeve that was stuffed into a lightweight, battered, white carton. It reminded me a lot of what Convoy uses with some of their lights. I honestly don’t know if this is the actual packaging, or if this is a pre-production that just got stuffed into a random package. Inside the box was:
- Nightwatch Incredible NS73V1
Yup, that’s it. No manual, no o-rings… nothing.
Flashlight in use
When the packaged showed up, looking a bit smaller than what a C8 ships in, I thought something was wrong. Certainly a light with a claimed 14,500 lumen output had to be larger than that! Nope, it is legitimately a little bit smaller than your average C8. The 21700 tube makes it comfortable to grip. The Nightwatch Incredible is very round and will easily roll away if you lay it on its side. There are several deep heatsink fins that should help with heat dissipation – and let’s be honest… its going to need those.
The only included accessory was a pretty standard lanyard which works well enough. There’s no clip, nor is there an obvious spot for one. There are several rings cut into the body tube and the tail cap, so you may be able to figure something out if you really want to.
The Incredible is an incredible lumen-monster. Tons of floody lumens with very little throw. Due to its small size, I wouldn’t count on using this in Turbo for great lengths of time, but it would be great for things like taking walks / hikes with 1,000 lumens or less, but then being able to kick into Turbo when you need a few moments of blindingly bright light.
Build Quality, and Warranty
The Nightwatch Incredible NS73V1 is mostly aluminum. The anodizing is shiny black, and according to Neal’s website it’s supposed to be HA III hard-coating. I’ll be honest, the anodizing reminds me of cheaper lights. It seems thick enough to be fine, but the glossy sheen brings the appearance down a notch. On the plus side, the Incredible has a snazzy stainless steel bezel.
If you lose your grip on the Incredible, that’s not it’s fault. This thing is completely covered in knurling. Like, even the heatsink fins and the rest of the head are knurled. Most of the body tube and the tailcap are covered in knurling. It is well executed and clean looking, if not a bit utilitarian.
Nightwatch spent a lot of attention to make sure the path of electricity had very little resistance. The driver contact is a large, beefy brass stud. The tailcap utilizes a spring bypass setup that I’ve never seen before. Instead of soldering a wire to the top and bottom of the spring, there’s a wide metal arm that reaches up from the PCB in the tailcap and sits on top of the spring, sandwiching it in the middle. It’s a unique arrangement that looks quite effective.
Overall, I feel like the design of the Nightwatch Incredible portrays “function over form”, save for that nice touch of the stainless bezel.
Warranty: I don’t see anything about a warranty, neither on Neal’s website nor on the non-existent manual. So I guess if you run into issues, just reach out to Neal for assistance.
LED, Lens, Bezel, Beam, and Reflector
The Incredible uses not one, but three of the new-fangled Chinese LEDs. These ones happen to be the SFN55.2 model. They consist of nine dies each. From information on BudgetLightForum, they are 7070-footprint domeless 3V LEDs supposedly capable of 7800 lumens (each!).
The three LEDs are arranged in a shallow, clover-leaf shaped, orange-peel reflector. The reflector is covered in a sheet of AR-coated glass, which is held in place by the aforementioned stainless steel bezel. The bezel is nice and smooth, no crenulations.
As expected, the beam is extremely floody. The LEDs are on the cold-white end of the spectrum, but are actually below the BBL.
Measurements from Opple Light Master:
- CCT: 7089K
- CRI: 71.7 Ra
- DUV: -0.0030
Dimensions and size comparison
|Head diameter||41 mm||1.6|
|Body diameter||27 mm||1.1|
Flashlight size comparison with its competition
Mid-size 21700 lights, from left to right: Sofirn IF25A, Astrolux EC01, Nitecore P20iX, Nightwatch Incredible NS73V1
High-output Chinese LED lights, from left to right: Nightwatch Incredible NS73V1, NlightD T90 GT9090, NlightD T90 SFN43, Lumintop GT3 Pro
Driver & User Interface:
Without a manual, I looked to Neal’s website for any clues about the UI. Details were scant, merely saying “double clicks turbo, triple clickes strobe”. Thankfully, this is a clicky light and the UI is quite simple.
There are 5 brightness levels; Nealsgadgets just says “M-L1-L2-M-H”. For the sake of easy naming, I’ll call the lowest one Moon even though it’s definitely not worthy of the name “moonlight”.
Available modes: Moon, Low, Med, High, Turbo
- Single click: turn on (last used mode)
- Double click: Turbo
- 3 clicks: Strobe
- Single click: turn off
- Fast press: change mode (Moon > Low > Med > High)
- Double press: Turbo
- Triple press: Strobe
- Yes, it will memorize the four “normal” modes (not Turbo or Strobe)
- To Turbo: double press
- To Strobe: triple press
Low voltage warning:
- Every 6 seconds or so, the light gives a double blink.
- In some of the tests, the LVP blinks last for up to two hours
- Strobe mode, can be activated by a triple press
- I measured PWM at 19.8 kHz, which is fast enough to not be readily apparent by the naked eye
Additional info on the UI:
- This is a really straight-forward, typical clicky UI
- Neal’s website says there is “Temperature control, 52°C will step down”. There does indeed appear to be temperature control, though I’m not sure about the 52°C set point.
Batteries & Charging
The Nightwatch Incredible uses a single, flat-top, non-protected 21700 battery. It is recommended to use a battery capable of 40 amps or more. The strong battery I had available was a Samsung 40T. While that battery seems to be a good fit, if you want the absolutely highest output, you should opt for something with an even higher amp rating (like a 30T). These LEDs are hungry, and I really don’t think that there is a single 21700 in existence that is capable of giving the LEDs all the power that they could handle.
Lux was measured by a UNI-T UT383 BT at 10 meters. Lumens were measured in a homemade lumen tube using a TSL2591 sensor, calibrated with a Maukka calibration light. The temperature was monitored with a MLX90614 IR temperature sensor. A Samsung 40T was used.
Lumen measurements (for each mode)
|Mode||Amps at start||Specs||@turn on||@30 sec||@10 minutes|
|Low||2.1 A||1,050||989 lm||972 lm||932 lm|
|Med||5.2 A||2,500||2,291 lm||2,261 lm||1,022 lm|
|High||19 A||7,500||7,122 lm||6,663 lm||600 lm|
|Turbo||41 A||14,500||12,394 lm||10,219 lm||963 lm|
- N/A, it’s a clicky switch
My Turbo measurements are a bit below specs, but I’m sure that’s a limitation of the battery. I measured 41 amps when I first kicked it into Turbo on a freshly charged Samsung 40T, which is the top end of what can be done with a 40T. On Taobao, I see an output table that lists 14,500 being generated at 50 amps which sounds plausible. But asking 50 amps from a single 21700 is an awful lot. Regardless, 12,394 lumens is ton of light for something smaller than a C8.
|Mode||Specified runtime||Measured runtime (ANSI)||Time till shut off|
|Low||–||2 hr 7 min||4 hr 8 min|
|Med||–||1 hr 36 min||1 hr 50 min|
|High||–||6 min||3 hr 20 min|
|Turbo*||–||2 min||3 hr 40 min|
From what I can tell, Nightwatch has not provided runtime numbers. Due to the temperature control, the output dips considerably after the first few minutes in both High and Turbo. That technically ends the ANSI runtime, but the Incredible put out a usable amount of light for an 90 minutes or so.
ANSI FL1 standards: The runtime is measured until the light drops to 10% of its initial output (30 seconds after turning on). This does not mean that the flashlight is not usable anymore. The last column shows how long the light actually works till it shuts off. If there is a + symbol, it means that the test was stopped at that particular point, but the light was actually still running. This happens on certain occasions, with certain drivers, firmware, or batteries.
Throw numbers: Peak beam intensity
Measured at 10 meters
|Turbo @ 0 sec||33,400||366||400|
|Turbo @ 30 sec||N/A||36,900||384||420|
Extra info: Peak beam distance according to ANSI FL1 standards: The calculated value of distance in meters at which the flashlight produces a light intensity of 0.25 lux. (0.25 lux is about the brightness of a full moon shining on an object).
The farm shed in these beamshots is 100 meters (109 yards) away. Pictures were taken with my Pixel 6 using ƒ/1.9, ⅕ second exposure time, and ISO200.
- Nightwatch Incredible NS73V1
- NlightD T90 GT9090
- NlightD T90 SFN43
- Mateminco MT90 Mini
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by Nealsgadgets. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- Crazy amount of light for its size
- Simple clicky-switch UI
- Temperature control
- Output is limited by the battery
- Fairly fast ramp-down
- Glossy anodizing looks “meh”
Explanation on star ratings:
1: Avoid: my phone flashlight would be a better choice – 2: Poor: significant defect or issues; almost unusable – 3: Average: some defects or issues; but still usable 4: Good: recommended (minor issues) – 5: Great: highly recommended
4 stars: ★★★★
The Nightwatch Incredible NS73V1 is appropriately named. No, not the NS73v1 part – I have no idea where that came from. But it is incredible. It’s easy to use, compact, and has a nice looking stainless bezel. And while I couldn’t attain the lumen claim, I believe the claimed amount of lumens… for the first few seconds and with just the right battery. My Samsung 40T could only provide a little over 40 amps, whereas Nightwatch says you need 50 amps to hit that wild 14,500 lumen spec. I also think the asking price for this flashlight is pretty reasonable for what you’re getting. Interested in a blindingly bright, pocketabe lumen-monster that you can also use on your walks? The Nightwatch Incredible NS73V1 checks that box!