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Nitecore EDC33 review
Nitecore EDC33 specs
|Brand & Model
|NiteLab UHi 20 MAX (custom)
|Max. beam distance
|Max. beam intensity
|1x 18650 (built-in)
|Review publication date
Nitecore is no stranger to the flashlight market. They’ve been producing robust, high quality lights since 2007, so going on 17 years. They have a very wide portfolio that they segment into different series: MH (Multi-task Hybrid), P (Precise), TM (Tiny Monster), T (products like the Tube, Tip, Tini, and Tiki), and so forth. My first ever high-output flashlight was Nitecore’s P12GT: a 1000 lumen throwy tube light. This first impression with Nitecore certainly didn’t disappoint. I’ve had a chance to review many Nitecore lights over the years, and have come away pretty impressed with their overall quality. They don’t necessarily focus on boutique emitters or high-complexity UI’s, but what they do, they tend to do well.
What we have on hand today is one of Nitecore’s newest everyday carry lights: the EDC33. This compact flashlight has several cool features baked in. Are these ingredients a recipe for success?
When the Nitecore EDC33 arrives, it should be locked out. To get up and going, just slide that lockout switch to the unlocked position.
What’s in the package
The Nitecore EDC33 arrived in a fairly standard black paperboard carton with a bit of branding and feature call-outs on the outside. Slide the plastic tray out from the carton to reveal all of the contents:
- Nitecore EDC33
- Clip (pre-installed)
- Lanyard (with helper string)
- USB-C charging cable
Flashlight in use, Build Quality, and Warranty
There’s quite a bit going on with the Nitecore EDC33. With regards to overall form factor, it looks like a fairly standard tail-switch 18650-based tube light. But this clearly isn’t your average 18650 tube light. First up, there’s not only a stainless steel bezel, but a stainless steel ring around the tail switch for a nice level of ding protection if you were to drop the light. The tail’s ring has 3 nubs that stick up, allowing the light to tail stand while providing maximum exposure to the switch for easy activation. Speaking of the switch, this isn’t an ordinary clicky switch. It’s actually a 2-stage e-switch, akin to what you would find on an Olight Warrior, albeit with a rubber button cover instead of metal.
As far as using the EDC33 goes, it’s pretty straight-forward. The rear switch allows for easy on-off actions (full click) and mode switching (half click). Unlike a typical clicky switch, there are two distinct positions for the switch and each of them provide very distinct tactile feedback. The only other switch on the Nitecore EDC33 is the physical lock/unlock switch, and using it is just as easy as you’d think: slide it to the Locked position to lock the flashlight. Oh, but there’s an additional trick. If you hold down the tail switch while locking it out, you gain momentary activation abilities while the EDC33 is locked – pretty cool.
From an aesthetics standpoint, the Nitecore EDC33 is a bit busy looking. There are deep groove rings with a spiral pattern around the battery area, nearly identical to what you’d find on an Olight Perun 2. The head and tail feature different machining patterns, and around the base of the head is a raised ring with flat areas that could provide anti-roll functionality if you take the clip off – otherwise, the clip will make sure it doesn’t go anywhere. Speaking of the clip, it’s the only glossy piece of the flashlight. And it’s quite large and stiff. Your flashlight isn’t going anywhere while being held in place by that clip.
Physical construction is a place where I expect a Nitecore to stand out, and the EDC33 does not disappoint. It is made of 7075-T6 aluminum alloy, which is tougher than the 6061 stuff that we usually see (Nitecore says an 88% increase in hardness). I already mentioned the stainless steel at both ends – a nice touch. Of course there’s the Type III Hard-Anodized finish, which I trust to be true with Nitecore (unlike some other brands that claim to use HA III).
So just what can you use the Nitecore EDC33 for? I’d say a lot, as long as you’re not a tint snob. The beam is a bit too cold and concentrated to do low-level nighttime reading with, though the Ultralow mode is a reasonably low level. A dog walk or around town would be a decent fit. If you could pardon the pun, I’d say where the EDC33 really shines is a defensive or tactical-ish situation. With the tail providing instant access to both the Search (focused) and LUMIN SHIELD™ modes, you can very quickly put light where you want it. This trademarked mode activates all 9 LED cores, giving you a combination of throw and flood that is supposed to be good for personal defense. I am not a security expert, so I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about the effectiveness of a flashlight in self-defense situations. That said, having instant access to 4,000 lumens certainly can’t hurt.
- Within 15 days of purchase, a defective product can be exchanged with your local dealer/distributor
- After that, defective products can be repaired free of charge for 24 months from the date of purchase
- Beyond 24 months, a limited warranty applies and covers the cost of labor and maintenance but not the cost of accessories or replacement parts.
What else can be said about the Nitecore EDC33? Well, Nitecore would like to share this information:
Introduction of EDC33’s LUMIN SHIELD™
The EDC33 boasts rapid light pattern adjustment, enabling seamless switching between spot and flood illumination modes with just one click. A light press triggers the tactical search mode (akin to ‘Light Spear’), while a firm press activates the LUMIN SHIELD™ mode, offering users comprehensive high-intensity light defense. The LUMIN SHIELD™ Mode forms a robust light ‘wall’ in front of the user, providing extensive coverage akin to a protective shield. It effectively suppresses enemy sightlines, offering excellent visual protection for users, And resolved the issue of visual fatigue and discomfort for users caused by previous methods of using Strobe to suppress enemies.
LUMIN SHIELD™ Tactical Functions:
1, Extensive illumination coverage for users: a wide area covered by the LUMIN SHIELD™ negates the need for precise targeting of enemies using hotspot, making user’s tactical application more efficient.
2, Stability and Comfort for users: The LUMIN SHIELD™ avoids producing flickering effects, preventing adverse reactions or discomfort for users and team members, thereby enhancing tactical efficiency.
3, Sustained Blinding Effect to the enemy : Continual and steady intense light continually stimulates the enemy’s retina, intensifying the blinding effect, and making it harder for adversaries to adapt to the light.
LED, Lens, Bezel, Beam, and Reflector
The Nitecore EDC33’s stainless steel bezel has a matte finish and is completely flat. It holds a piece of anti-reflective coated glass in place, which sits over top of an orange peel reflector. At first blush the reflector may look like it has a small defect in it – but don’t worry, that little hole is actually a sensor which will, when in High mode, detect nearby objects and will decrease the output to 300 lumens to prevent overheating and/or damage. If you’d like to temporarily bypass the sensor, you can just half-click the switch once.
The emitter array being used in the EDC33 is unique. There is a central round emitter that is used for throw. Nitecore calls this the Ultra Mini Main Core (UHi 20). It is surrounded by 8 small square emitters that are used for flood. Together, Nitecore refers to this package as the NiteLab UHi 20 Max. That’s quite the name. And it is neat, having those 9 cores packaged so close together Nitecore also says this features Supreme White Color Consistency™ (1-step color tolerance) for a purer and softer white light. That sounds like an oxymoron to me, as I think “purer” in Nitecore’s book is definitely not what I have in mind when I think of “soft.” When I see the EDC33’s beam, it is clean and useful, but also cold as ice.
I used an Opple Light Master to measure the flashlight at 5 meters distance.
|Search (spot light)
|Lumin Shield (spot+flood)
Dimensions and its competition
Dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter and the nearest tenth of an Inch.
|Weight in grams
|Weight in oz
Weight is rounded to the nearest gram and tenth of an Oz.
Flashlight size comparison with its competition:
Group 1: Fenix LD30R, Nitecore EDC33, Olight Baton 3 Pro Max
Group 2: Acebeam E75, Nitecore EDC33, Nitecore P20iX
Nitecore EDC33 UI: User Interface and Driver
The Nitecore EDC33 is a simple, rear tail switch flashlight. Just kidding. That tail switch isn’t ordinary. It’s a two-stage e-switch with tactile feedback at both the midpoint and full throw. How you use it, though, is a lot like a normal e-switch. Full click of on/off, and half clicks for mode changing. But since it’s an e-switch, you also get some nice momentary actions.
- Ultralow, Low, Mid, High, Search (spotlight), Lumin Shield™ (spot+flood)
Available blinky modes:
- Full press and hold: Lumin Shield™ (spot+flood)
- Half press and hold: Search (spotlight)
- Single click: turn on
- Full press and hold: Lumin Shield™ (spot+flood)
- Half press and hold: Search (spotlight)
- Single click: turn off
- Half click: change modes
- Yes, the four “normal” modes can be memorized when you turn off the flashlight
- To Lumin Shield™ (spot+flood): full press and hold (from Off or On)
- To Search (spotlight): half press and hold (from Off or On)
Low voltage warning/protection:
- Near the tail of the flashlight there are 4 green LEDs embedded in the side of the light for showing the battery status:
- 4 lights: 75-100%
- 3 lights: 50-75%
- 2 lights: 25-50%
- 1 light: 0-25%
- There is the physical lockout switch, which is really handy
- There are two lockout modes, Half Lockout and Full Lockout
- To access Half Lockout mode, half/full press the button while sliding the lockout switch to the locked position. This allows for momentary access to Search and Lumin Shield™ modes
- To access Full Lockout mode, just slide the lockout switch to the locked position while not doing anything else. No actions are available in Full Lockout.
- No PWM was detected
Additional/summary info on the UI:
- The two-stage e-switch can take a little getting used to, but overall, it is a pretty neat setup
Nitecore EDC33 Charging and batteries
The Nitecore EDC33 comes with an impressively high-capacity 18650 battery that clocks in at 4000 mAh. That’s the most that I’ve seen in a 18650. But what might not impress some of you is that the battery is built-in. It’s not my favorite thing in the world. However, if your intention is to buy the EDC33, use it and abuse it every day for years on end, then yes – you will possibly wear out its battery and either need to look into sending it in for warranty or finding a new flashlight. At the risk of sounding insensitive, if you’ve done that for years, haven’t you gotten the value out of your purchase? And what kind of flashlight improvements will we see in the coming years that you might want to upgrade to? (ok, I’ll step off my soapbox now)
This flashlight has built-in USB-C charging, and it’s a different implementation than I’ve seen before. The port isn’t hiding behind some rubber dust cover or buried in the threads. Rather, there is a rotating ring at the tail that, when twisted, exposes the USB-C port. It seems really sturdy and like it will do an excellent job of keeping dust out. I’m not sure how well it will do against water infiltration, but I’m going to guess it will hold up pretty well (perhaps it’s a sealed port?) because Nitecore explicitly calls this flashlight both Waterproof and Submersible to 2M. That’s good enough for me.
The charging spec is 5V/2A, with a 2 hour charge time. That’s very close to what I measured at 1.92A @ 5.05V for 9.72W.
|Flashlight with onboard USB-C
Lumen measurementsHow Lumens are Measured: Understanding ANSI FL1 Standards How Lumens are Measured: Understanding ANSI FL1 Standards: The ANSI FL1 standards specify that output in lumens should be measured 30 seconds after turning on, as this is the standardized time for measuring brightness according to the industry standard. This is why we focus on this part in our measurements.
Lux was measured by a UNI-T UT383 BT at 5 meters. Lumens were measured in a homemade lumen tube using a VEML7700 sensor, calibrated with a calibration light provided by 1Lumen. The built-in battery was used in the tests (duh).
Ambient temperature during testing:
- N/A – couldn’t test due to built-in battery
First up, the Search and Lumin Shield™ modes are true Turbo-style modes. They’re only available while you’re holding the button down. And even then, they only run for 20 seconds before dropping down. You can reactivate them, but be careful about heat: 4000 lumens in a little tube light is an awful lot, even at short intervals.
Aside from that clarification, there’s not much to talk about here. The Nitecore specs seem to be very realistic, and overall there doesn’t seem to be any surprises.
Nitecore EDC33 Battery Life: Runtime graphsHow Runtimes are Measured: Understanding ANSI FL1 Standards About ANSI FL1 runtime 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.
|Runtime (ANSI FL1)
|Time till shut off
Since the two highest modes are momentary only, they don’t really have runtime specs. The high mode was perfectly inline with spec. The Mid mode fell considerably shy; though the lumens also exceeded spec so perhaps that explains it. Ultralow and Low were not tested because of the extended runtimes.
Peak beam intensity and beam distance measurementsAbout Peak beam intensity: Understanding ANSI FL1 Standards About peak beam intensity 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). This means that the intensity has decreased so much, it becomes difficult to see darker objects, or objects that don’t reflect light. The columns ‘Meters’ and ‘Yards’ use rounded numbers.
Intensity was measured at 5 meters after being turned on for 30 seconds. A UNI-T UT383 BT lux meter was used.
|Lumin Shield™ (turn-on)
|Lumin Shield™ (30s)
- 20 °C
Again, the highest output modes are momentary-only. So as such, I’ve shown both turn-on and 30 second values. Aside from that, these measurements line up with Nitecore’s claims really well. It does look a bit weird to see lumens go up and candela go down, but that’s what happens when you divert a lot of the power from the spot LED to the flood LEDs.
Camera settings and distance:
Beam shots of the building are taken at 30 m (33 yd) using a Pixel 7 set to ISO 800 with 1/10 second exposure time
Beamshots of the following flashlights compared:
- Nitecore EDC33
- Fenix PD36R V2.0
- Maratac / Acebeam Defender P16
- Olight Baton 3 Pro Max
Please note that the following beamshots are mainly intended to showcase the beam pattern and beam quality, rather than overall performance. These images are typically taken directly after activation, and in different seasons or weather conditions, and therefore do not fully represent its overall performance. For accurate performance metrics, such as output, beam distance, and runtimes, you need to look at the performance section of this review.
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to us for review at no cost by Nitecore. We have not been paid to review, nor have we been holding back on problems or defects.
- Great build quality
- Clean, strong beam
- Good regulation
- USB-C charging, nicely hidden
- Shortcuts to highest modes (for self defense)
- Physical lockout switch
- Very cold beam
- No shortcut to Ultralow mode
- Built-in battery
Explanation on star ratings:
1: Avoid: a match 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
4.5 stars: ★★★★⋆
While our star rating provides a reliable indicator, we encourage you to read the full review to make an informed decision based on your own needs and preferences.
Depending on what you’re looking for, the Nitecore EDC33 may be for you. Do you need an around-the-house flashlight, or something to take camping? There are probably some better options out there. However, if you’re in an environment where you feel like you might need to blind an attacker at a moment’s notice – that’s where the Nitecore EDC33 steps in with its Lumin Shield™ mode, delivering instant access to 4,000 lumens. Let’s just say that if I found myself on the streets of Chicago without any more impactful means of protecting myself, I would be glad to have the EDC33 in my pocket.