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Nitecore P35i review: LEP + LED hybrid test
Nitecore P35i specifications
|Flashlight category||Long-range / LEP|
|LED + LEP||LEP + 6*CREE XPG3|
|Max. output||3,000 Lumens|
|Max. beam distance||1650 meters (LEP)|
|Max. beam intensity||678,000 cd|
|Battery config.||1*21700 (2*CR123)|
|Modes||3 groups: 5 + 5 + 3|
|Review date||September 2022|
NOTE: I received a second unit for testing, and updated the Lumen measurements in the performance section of this review.
Nitecore is one of those brands that have looked beyond just the flashlight world, into outdoor gear and other stuff. Ranging from bottle openers to portable air conditioners, chargers, bags, photography equipment and more. But they haven’t let go of their flashlight lineup. No, they even added a new type of flashlight, i.e. a hybrid LED + LEP flashlight, named the Nitecore P35i.
It’s a 2 in 1 flashlight, with 2 very different beams.. well.. actually 3 beams, because you can mix them as well.
There are 6 LEDs to produce a very wide beam, for close range stuff. And there is a LEP module for the extreme distance range. And if you like both, it has a specific MIX mode, where you have 3 different mode output using both light sources.
If you’re relatively new to flashlights, you probably wonder, what’s an LEP?
If you look at the beam, you will see a very narrow beam, which doesn’t look very different from a thrower flashlight, except for the lack of any spill. But instead of using an LED as its light source, it uses a laser. If you want to know more about this, head over to our list of the best laser flashlights, and scroll to the bottom of that page.
So, basically you get a very all-around flashlight with the 2 light sources.
Note: my second unite came with the original box and accessories… so I added them here.
Mine arrived before it was publicly announced, and therefore came without original packaging. I received a generic carton box with the following inside:
- The flashlight: Nitecore P35i
- 21700 battery (loaded inside the flashlight)
- CR123 battery magazine
- RSW2i Remote switch
- Battery adapter for 2*123A batteries
- Spare o-ring
Flashlight in use
Just like its older sibling, the P30i, it has a large head and a narrow body. Both are built to use for long-range applications like searching, search-and-rescue, etc. But with the P30i, you only had access to a narrow beam, while the P35i includes a very wide, flood beam. So the use cases increased drastically. You could basically use it for any around-the-house activity as well. So, if you’re working on a farm, you can use it for close-up work, but also spot coyotes or other animals far away.
That makes it a very versatile flashlight, and there great for many different use cases.
Since there are lots of things going on inside this flashlight, the head is actually very big, in comparison to the body. The battery tube looks thin, but it’s still a 21700 size.
That makes it a little awkward to carry in a tactical position (overhand grip), like you see in the images below.
To operate the light, you have to activate the power switch (on the rear) and use the side switch to change modes. To change between the 3 mode groups (Spot, Flood and Mix) you have to read the UI section of this review. But you don’t need to use the power switch when using the remote switch.
The battery tube and tail cap use diamond-shaped knurling, but are rather flat. So it doesn’t add much to its grip, but it’s not really slippery either. Nitecore will likely sell a holster that would fit the P35i, but there’s no way to attach a lanyard to carry it for a long time.. in case you wondered.
Nitecore also included the Remote Switch RSW2i, for tactical use, with an instant strobe feature. BTW. Strobe is only accessible with the remote switch, as far as I figured out.
Also, the most interesting part on this flashlight is probably the OLED display.
It shows the memorized mode, when you press the side switch when the light is turned off, but it also shows you the possible runtime left for that mode. It doesn’t just show the total runtime, but the calculated runtime. This is pretty cool! It reminds me of the Nitecore keychain lights like the Tini2, Tup, and T4K.
It also shows the voltage of the battery.
Build Quality, and Warranty
Nitecore products are built with great care, and the only thing I think could be improved is the shininess of the anodization. To me, it’s just a little too shiny. But your opinion may differ.
Another thing I wasn’t particularly happy about is the tailcap in combination with the battery.
I understand that to have a remote switch, and all the extra features, they needed to use a specific battery type, which they found in the 21700 NL2150HPi battery. But the thing I don’t like is that the metal plates connecting to the battery (these are not springs) are a bit sharp and damage the battery.
If you don’t remove the tailcap, that’s no problem. But I usually do this quite a few times during testing, and it left some aluminum scrap on top of the battery and in the tailcap. And it’s possible that by doing this, some dirt got in the thread lubrication and make it feel like you’re grinding something. I should mention that this is not very apparent, but if you pay attention, it’s noticeable. So my recommendation would be to leave the tailcap on at all times.
Warranty: (From the online manual)
All NITECORE® products are warranted for quality. Any DOA / defective product can be exchanged for a replacement through a local distributor/dealer within 15 days of purchase. After that, all defective / malfunctioning NITECORE® products can be repaired free of charge within 60 months from the date of purchase. Beyond 60 months, a limited warranty applies, covering the cost of labor and maintenance, but not the cost of accessories or replacement parts.
The warranty will be nullified if
- the product(s) is/are broken down, reconstructed and/or
modified by unauthorized parties;
- the product(s) is/are damaged due to improper use.
For the latest information on NITECORE® products and
services, please contact a local NITECORE® distributor or
send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
LED, Lens, Bezel, Beam, and Reflector
Nitecore chose 6* CREE XPG3 LEDs and 1 LEP module for its light sources. XPG3 aren’t very treasured in the flashlight community for several reasons. The primary reason is probably the less-than-ideal tint they produce.
As a non-native English speaker, it’s a bit difficult to explain how the 6 LEDs are positioned, in comparison to the LEP. So just look at the images below to get a better understanding.
And the LEP module is using the backlit (or shine-through) type setup for a better beam profile, and smaller dimensions. The mirror type LEP modules are much larger and would make this light even bigger. Although the head of the P35i seems extraordinary large for a shine through LEP module.
I used the Opple Light Master III to measure the LED characteristics, looking at the color temperature, as well as the CRI Ra rating. (CRI stands for Color Rendering Index, and is a way to measure the light ‘s ability to show colors faithfully, or not. A higher CRI score (Max 100) indicates better color rendering.
I measured Level 1 and Level 5 in Flood mode, as well as Level 1 in Spot mode. However, the measurements in Spot mode are very difficult, and the center of the beam can reach over 10000K, so it’s very difficult to get a proper measurement at close distance.
Therefore, below are just the LED measurements.
- CCT: 6376K
- CRI Ra: 72.7
- CCT: 7500K
- CRI Ra: 74.2
Dimensions and size comparison
|Length||118.5 mm||4.665 “|
|Head diameter||65mm||2.564 “|
|Tailcap diameter||28.74 mm||1.31 “|
|Weight in grams||Weight inOz.|
|Without battery:||297.8 grams||10.50 oz.|
|With battery||372.8 grams||13.15 oz.|
Nitecore P35i Flashlight comparison
Group 2 long range: Maxtoch X Pro, Nitecore P30i, Nitecore P35i, Noctigon K1, Astrolux FT03
Driver & User Interface:
The P35i has 3 different group modes, Spot, Flood, and Mix. And then there is the remote switch with unique features.
Available main modes:
- Spot mode: Level 1-Level 5
- Flood mode: Level 1-Level 5
- Mix mode: Level 1-Level 3 and a preset mode
Mix mode has 3 levels, and a preset mode.
Available special modes (blinkies):
- Strobe (only accessible with the remote switch)
- Rear switch: single click: flashlight turns on in memorized mode
- Side switch: single click: turns on OLED screen and shows active mode
- Side switch: press and hold 5 seconds: enters preset mode
- Rear switch: single click: turns off
- Side switch: single click: Level 1 to Level 5 and repeat
- Side switch: long press: Turbo mode (30 seconds)
- No real shortcuts, except for Turbo
- Strobe is directly accessible with the remote switch
Blinky modes menu:
- Strobe mode, only with remote switch
Low battery warning:
- Output drastically reduces
- There is a mechanical switch, so no need for an electronic lockout
- Not visible, but there is a very high flicker frequency measured with the Opple, but impossible to notice by eye
Firmware / UI Conclusion:
It’s great to know which
Remote Switch RSW2i
The included remote switch has 4 buttons.
- 1 switch for a constant on, as well as press-and-hold for Strobe
- 3 switches are identical: momentary on (when the light is switched off) and mode switching when the light is on
The remote switch operates independently of the rear power switch. So you don’t need to use the rear switch (for power) in order to use the remote switch. And that can only work with the included battery.
Batteries & Charging
Nitecore includes the Nitecore NL2150HPi battery, which is a 21700 type lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 5,000mAh.
It’s a proprietary battery, so you can’t replace it with a normal flat top, or even a button top 21700 battery, protected or unprotected. But it has a build in circuit that enable you using the remote switch without a dual/inner battery tube for sending the signal to the driver. Pretty cool.
So, if you buy this light, I recommend buying a spare battery.
As I mentioned earlier, it might not be a great idea of unscrewing the tailcap too often. The contact points in the switch grind on the battery and if you unscrew the tailcap multiple times, you’ll notice some metal/aluminum scraps. It’s better to use the built-in charger to charge the batteries. Or you could try to smoothen the edges a bit.
The built-in charger is a USB-C type, that works with either USB-A to USB-C as well as USB-C to USB-C, but that doesn’t have any charging time benefits. Both types only charge at 5Volts, but at a rather slow speed. It takes about 3+ hours to charge the battery, with an end voltage of 4.17V.
The OLED display show the voltage of the battery, and it’s pretty accurate. I measured a small difference of about 0.01 Volt.
During charging, there is a blue LED blinking in the tailcap, that turns solid when the charge cycle has finished. If you wait even longer, the solid blue light turns completely off.. so you know it is really finished charging.
The output measurements in this review are based on my homemade integrating spheres, each equipped with an Extech SDL400 Lux Meter. For consistency and accuracy, a calibration light (Convoy S2+ with 249lm and a Convoy S2+ with 261lm) is measured prior to each set of lumen measurements.
For high-output lights, one of the lux meters uses an ND camera filter to prevent the lux meter to max out. This is either the Kenko PRO1D ND16 up till about 80,000 lumens or Gobe ND32 for anything above.
All of my readings were taken from a fully-charged Nitecore battery. The 10 minutes measurements were taken from the runtime test. Except for flood 1, since I didn’t test that runtime.
I recently asked a company to test my calibration light, and it turns out to be about 2.3% lower than originally tested. So all the following measurements use the new correction factor.
First, the Flood modes (6*LED).
NOTE December 2022: we received a second unit (production unit this time) and were asked to re-measure Lumens. Theforefore I updated the following graph with just the measurements at turn on, and 30 seconds. I must say that these measurements were done at 16 degrees ambient temperature instead of 25+ degrees when initially tested!
|Mode||Specified||At turn on||30 seconds|
|Flood 1||10 lm||14||14|
|Flood 2||70 lm||86||86|
|Flood 3||300 lm||370||371|
|Flood 4||1000 lm||1200||1194|
|Flood 5||3000 lm||3714 lm||3528 lm|
My measurements were lower than advertised. 3% lower when compared to the highest measurements, but that’s not the column to look at if you care about the ANSI FL1 standards. Then you should look at the 30 seconds measurements, which is about 8% off.
Then I also tested the Spot mode group, with just the LEP light source.
NOTE December 2022: I tested the LEP a second time, and although the lowest output was 34 lumens instead of 24, the highest (spot 5) measured at 462 lumens at turn on, and 448 lumens.
|Mode||Specs||at turn on||@ 30 sec||@ 10 min|
|Spot 5||410 lm||475 lm||459 lm||418|
|Spot 4||200 lm||229||224||218|
|Spot 3||130 lm||142||139||135|
|Spot 2||65 lm||75||73||70|
|Spot 1||25 lm||24||23||22|
Then I also tested the 3 MIX modes. These are Spot + Flood.
NOTE December 2022: I retested these as well. And these numbers are again quite a bit higher than the initial measurements, except for the Mix 2 mode, which was very close.
|Mode||Specs||at turn on||30 seconds|
|Mix 1||130 lm||163 lm||161 lm|
|Mix 2||420 lm||445 lm||444 lm|
|Mix 3||3000 lm||3558 lm||3378 lm|
You can see that the SPOT modes outperformed the rest.
Nitecore P35i Battery life and runtime graphs
The runtime tests were done in the 50cm home made integrating sphere, combined with the Extech SDL400 data logging Lux Meter.
Here are all the 12 runtimes I did. (These are from the initial testing, in September)
I didn’t test Flood 1, because it’s supposed to run for almost 3 days straight.
|Mode||Specified runtime||Measured runtime (ANSI FL1)||Time till shut off|
|Flood 5||45 min||2h 00min||2h 55min|
|Flood 4||2h||2h 22min||3h 11min|
|Flood 3||6h 45min||7h 48min||8h 34min|
|Flood 2||28h||27h 58min||27h 58min|
Then also for the 5 Spot modes, of which I tested all.
|Mode||Specified runtime||Measured runtime (ANSI FL1)||Time till shut off|
|Spot 5||2h 15min||3h 14min||3h 26min|
|Spot 4||3h||3h 50min||4h 02min|
|Spot 3||4h 30min||5h 31min||5h 42min|
|Spot 2||8h||8h 35min||8h 35min|
|Spot 1||12h||12h 54min||12h 54min|
And then also for the 3 Mix modes (Flood and Spot)
|Mode||Specified runtime||Measured runtime (ANSI FL1)||Time till shut off|
|Mix 3||45 min||2h 10min||2h 15min|
|Mix 2||2h 45min||3h 18min||3h 18min|
|Mix 1||6h||6h 37min||6h 37min|
All modes ran longer than advertised!
ANSI FL1 standards: The runtime is measured until the light drops to 10% of its initial output (30 seconds after turn 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.
Nitecore P35i Peak beam intensity and beam distance measurements
Measurements were taken outdoors at 20 meters for the Spot measurements, and at 5 meters indoors for the Flood measurements. They were taken 30 seconds after turn on with a Hagner E4-X Lux Meter.
|Spot Level 5||678,000 cd||674,400 cd||1642||1796|
|Spot Level 4||370,000 cd||341,600 cd||1169||1278|
|Flood Level 5||10,000 cd||13,500 cd||232||254|
|Flood Level 4||3,600||4,475 cd||134||146|
It easily beats the Flood numbers, but I couldn’t reach as high numbers in the Spot modes.
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).
For the following beamshots I used a Canon EOS 5D Mk2 and a 100mm lens. manual settings: ISO1600, .5sec , F4, 5000K
The tower is about 450 meters / 492 yards away.
For the following beamshots I used a Canon EOS 5D Mk2 and a 50mm lens. manual settings: ISO1600, 1/4sec , F4, 5000K
The shed is about 65 meters / 71 yards away, and the reflective fence 200 meters.
Beamshots comparison with the following flashlights
- Nitecore P35i
- Lumintop Thor 1
- Lumintop Thor 2
- Lumintop Thor PRO
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by Nitecore. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- LD + LEP hybrid for great flood and throw
- Plenty bright
- Remote control included
- 21700 battery included, ready to go
- USB-C charging
- Battery runtimes far exceed specified runtimes
- OLED display to show current mode, even when light is turned off
- The tailcap seems to grind on the battery, so just charge it while loaded
- Proprietary battery system
- No short cuts to any modes, except Turbo and Strobe
- Purplish beam with CREE XPG3
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
4.5 stars: ★★★★⋆
The hybrid setup of the P35i makes it such an appealing flashlight, because you have a very floody beam with the LEDs, and a very far throwing beam with the single LEP source. At the time, there are only about 3 hybrid LEDPs (LED + LEP) on the market, of which the P35i is the smalles/most light weight.
Since there is basically no real competition, I can recommend the P35i, even with the purplish beam.