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Olight Array 2S review: headlamp
Olight Array 2S specifications
|Brand/model||Olight Array 2S|
|Max. Lumens||1,000 lm|
|Max. Beam intensity / distance||5,000 cd|
|Battery config.||1*18650 (internal)|
|Review date||April 2022|
Headlamps… if you’re like me, at first they seemed a bit dorky. But if you’ve ever used one, you have likely realized how invaluable they are. My first headlamp experience came with an entry-level unit that I had been given about 10 years ago. I wore it during a hunting excursion and was relieved to have both of my hands free while carrying my gear in and out and processing my harvest in the field. Since then, I’ve amassed a pretty good selection of headlamps that I use all the time for things like after-dark yard tasks, working on cars, reading, and hobby stuff where I need good illumination and two free hands.
Olight, a maker of many quality-built lighting products for the past 15 years, has sent an interesting headlamp for review: the Array 2S. It has a few tricks up its sleeve that you don’t see in most headlamps. I’m curious to see if these tricks are helpful or mere gimmicks. Let’s find out!
Many manufacturers throw their lights in a generic cardboard box to cut costs. Not so with Olight! Every Olight I’ve had came in a customized, well designed package. So I wasn’t surprised when the Array 2 arrived in a nicely designed white box with a picture of the headlamp on front and description *& specs listed out on the back. Opening the box, the contents slide out in a form-fit plastic tray with a lid. Arranged in that tray was:
- Olight Array 2S
- Battery pack
- Head strap
- USB-C cable
- Extra clips
Headlamp in use
Every headlamp I’ve had before has been an all-in-one unit with the battery holder being a part of the LED arrangement. The Array 2S is different: it has a separate battery pack that is designed to sit toward the back of your head with just the LEDs around the front. This design has a distinct advantage: the front part with the LEDs is very light. The low mass allows you to move around without the light bouncing around. While I’m not a runner, for the sake of this review I jogged around a little bit with the Array 2S on. I was pleased with just how secure and stable the light was. If you use a headlamp for vigorous activities, this is definitely a setup to go with. Olight actually calls this headlamp out as “designed for runners.”
The battery pack is connected to the LED module with a sturdy cord. The cord has a section of coils that allows the length to flex. The cable is permanently connected; there is no separating the battery pack from the LED module. The cord is clipped to the strap in a couple of spots to hold it in place. There are two extra clips in the package in case you lose them somehow or just want the cable better secured I guess. The strap itself is very stretchy and has the Olight logo printed on either side using a reflective material.
The LED module is a rectangular affair with a pivot point on either side that allows some up-and-down adjustment. Sitting on top of the headlamp is a single e-switch for controlling the modes and LED selection.
Olight Hand Wave Control Sensor
In front of the headlamp, in addition to the LEDs, you’ll notice a strange black rectangle. That little window is one of the things that makes the Array 2S so unique – a “Hand Wave Control” sensor. When the light is on, that sensor allows for brightness adjustments by waving your hand up and down over the sensor. You can also turn the spotlight on and off by waving left and right. Pretty neat!
Build Quality, and Warranty
People argue for and against Olight pretty frequently. Some enthusiasts have different preferences for emitter choices, mode brightness, etc. But one thing I think most of us can agree on is Olight’s build quality and attention to detail. Love them or hate them, Olight lights tend to be solid.
The body of the Array 2S is made of anodized aluminum. This sample happens to be a limited edition colorway in “Midnight Blue”. It’s pretty handsome. Subtle, but good looking for sure. The back of the LED module has heatsink fins machined into it. The front is a plastic bezel that holds everything firmly in place. The module is permanently attached to the plastic headband bracket.
The battery pack is made of sturdy black plastic. It has a section of foam padding facing what would be the back of your head. The rear of the battery pack features the Olight logo set into it. The USB-C charging port is at the bottom. Between the Olight logo and the charging port looks like a little glossy strip. It isn’t until you plug the light in to charge that you can tell that there’s actually indicator LEDs under that strip that read out the charging progress. The battery pack isn’t made to be opened, meaning the built-in 18650 isn’t intended to be user replaceable. But there is a small seam that is visible – if you absolutely need to, you may be able to open the battery pack.
- Within 30 days of purchase, contact the original seller for repair or replacement
- Within 2 years of purchase, contact Olight for repair or replacement
- The battery pack is covered under warranty for 1 year
LED, Lens, Bezel, Beam, and Reflector
The Olight Array 2S features 3 different LEDs: a Spot LED, Flood LED, and Red LED. Olight does not disclose what LEDs were used. Though in typical Olight fashion, the two white LEDs are cool white and low CRI. The available LED combinations are Spot + Flood, Flood only, and Red only. The Spot LED cannot be used by itself. The Spot LED sits behind a large, smooth optic. The Flood LED is behind what appears to be an elliptical optic for a slightly wider-than-tall beam. The Red LED sits underneath a textured optic. These TIRs do a pretty good job of shaping the beam as intended. There is a little bit of unevenness in the white LEDs up close, but those smooth out after a reasonable distance.
Using my Opple Light Master, I got the following readings:
- Flood LED only:
- CCT: 6021 K
- CRI: 71.5 Ra
- DUV: +0.0034
- Spot + Flood LEDs:
- CCT: 5712 K
- CRI: 64.5 Ra
- DUV: +0.0115
Dimensions and size comparison
Length (of the headlamp):
- Length: 61 mm / 2.40 inches
- Head diameter: 31 mm / 1.22 inches
- Body diameter: 24.5 mm / 0.96 inches
- With battery pack: 131 grams / 4.62 oz.
Size compared to other Headlamps
- Left to right: Olight Array 2S, Convoy H1
- Left to right: Olight Array 2S, Wuben H1
- Left to right: Olight Array 2S, Wuben H5
Driver & User Interface:
The Olight Array 2S is operated by a single e-switch on the top of its LED module. Optionally, you can also control some functions with the neat “hand wave” sensor. The driver appears to be well-regulated using switch-mode (efficient, stable) circuitry.
Available modes: Low, Medium, High for each LED combination
- Press and Hold < 1 sec: Flood, Low mode
- Press and Hold > 1 sec: Lockout
- Single-click: On (last used mode)
- Double click: On (last used mode)
- 3 clicks: SOS
- Press and Hold: change brightness (Low > Med > High)
- 1 click: Off
- Double click: change LED mode (Flood > Spot + Flood > Red)
- 3 clicks: SOS
- Wave hand left: turn Spot off
- Wave hand right: turn Spot on
- Wave hand up: increase brightness
- Wave hand down: decrease brightness
- Yes, the Array 2S will remember both the brightness level and the LED selection
- To Flood, Low: hold < 1 from off
- To SOS: triple click
Low voltage warning:
- Around 8 minutes before it will shut off, the Array 2S will give 5 quick blinks, but then runs steady (no more blinks) until it shuts off
- There is an SOS mode activated from a triple-click
- Hold > 1 second from Off to activate Lockout
- Hold > 1 second again to unlock
- There is no PWM present
Additional info on the UI:
- The hand wave gestures are pretty neat. Honestly, I feel like the ability to turn on and off would be very beneficial, but I would have to think that ability would come at the cost of much higher standby drain as you’d have to poll the sensor even while the headlamp is off. You’d also be prone to accidental turn-ons. So while it would sometimes be handy, it’s probably for the best that On and Off aren’t handled through the hand wave gestures
Batteries & Charging
The Olight Array 2S has an attached battery pack with a built-in 2600 mAh 18650 battery. That means you don’t need to worry about compatibility or proprietary batteries. That also means that if your battery eventually wears out, you’ll either need to contact Olight for help or perhaps MacGyver it.
I’m a bit surprised that Olight didn’t go with a higher capacity battery. Generally there’s a trade off between high performance (discharge) vs capacity. If you want a higher amp drain capability, you sacrifice capacity. But with 1000 lumens, this light is probably drawing 3 amps or less. With that kind of amp draw, the higher capacity 18650’s, such as those with 3500 mAh, should have worked just fine and would have given 35% more runtime. Just my 2 cents worth.
Charging is handled through a USB-C connector at the bottom of the battery pack. It is compatible with USB Power Delivery (“PD”, USB-C to USB-C) and charges at a 1 amp rate. Olight says that it should take less than 4 ½ hours to charge, and indeed it took consistently 3 hours and 51 minutes in my testing.
Olight Array Performance test
Lux was measured by a UNI-T UT383 BT at 5 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. The built-in battery pack was used (of course!).
I don’t really have a great way to judge lumens for colored LEDs like the red one here. So I tracked my lux readings and have provided the output as a percent of my maximum observed level (which Olight says should be 200 lumens).
Lumen measurements (for each mode)
|Mode||Specs||Lumens @turn on||Lumens @30 sec||Lumens @10 minutes|
|Spot + Flood, Low||100||95||95||–|
|Spot + Flood, Med||500||574||567||364|
|Spot + Flood, High||1000 lm||1205||1186 lumens||406|
|Flood only, Low||30||36||36||–|
|Flood only, Med||250||298||297||–|
|Flood only, High||500 lm||631||620 lumens||314|
|Red, High||200 lm||100%||98%||56%|
- unable to test due to built-in battery
Runtime graph: battery life
Spot + Flood, High: the runtime started out at 1205 lumens. Just before the 4 minute mark, output began to ramp down. By 10 minutes it was nearly at its final output level, 357 lumens. The low battery warning happened at 3 hours and 28 minutes. The light shut off at 3 hours and 36 minutes. Maximum temperature was 50°C.
Spot + Flood, Medium: the runtime started out at 574 lumens. Around the 1 minute mark, output began to ramp down. By 20 minutes it was nearly at its final output level, 293 lumens. The low battery warning happened at 4 hours and 22 minutes. The light shut off at 4 hours and 30 minutes. Maximum temperature was 45°C.
Flood only, High: the runtime started out at 631 lumens. Around the 2 minute mark, output began to ramp down. By 20 minutes it was nearly at its final output level, 278 lumens. The low battery warning happened at 3 hours and 55 minutes. The light shut off at 4 hours and 4 minutes. Maximum temperature was 49°C.
Red LED, High: as stated earlier, I don’t have a great way to test the lumens of colored LEDs. Instead, I’ve stated my numbers in terms of the maximum observed output. Olight states that this should be around 200 lumens. My test started out at 100% and began ramping down at 2 minutes. It was pretty well settled in by 20 minutes, stabilizing at 51% of output. The low battery warning happened at 4 hours and 36 minutes. The light shut off at 4 hours and 56 minutes. Maximum temperature was 46°C.
Throw was measured at 5 meters after 30 seconds
|Spot + Flood, High||5,000 cd||6,500 cd||161 m||176 yd|
|Flood only, High||1,800 cd||85 m||93 yd|
Beam shots of the building are taken at 15 m (16 yd) using a Pixel 6 set to ISO 200 with 1/10 second exposure time.
- Olight Array 2S, Spot + Flood
- Olight Array 2S, Flood only
- Olight Perun 2
- ThruNite TH30 V2
- Wurkkos HD15, Spot + Flood
- Wurkkos HD15, Flood only
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by Olight. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- Very stable, good for movement
- Feels lightweight
- Hand wave gestures
- Nicely regulated output
- USB-C charging
- Flood, Spot + Flood, and Red choices
- Cool White, low-CRI only
- Non-replaceable battery
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: ★★★★⋆
Having a headlamp with a separate battery pack is a new one for me. And I’ve got to say, I really can see some advantages of this arrangement. If you’re involved in activities with a lot of motion (such as running) then this is definitely the route to go.
The hand wave gestures for changing the brightness level and turning the spot LED off and on are neat. For my use cases, I wouldn’t call that feature a game-changer, but it’s pretty neat nonetheless.
I would say my biggest gripe with the Olight Array 2S is the cool white LEDs, which is of course user preference. But especially when it comes to using a flood light for up-close tasks, I’d much rather have a warm (or even neutral) white LED with better color rendition.
Flood, Spot + Flood, and Red LED options: the Olight Array 2S has you covered. It’s perfect for vigorous activities like running. The hand wave gestures are an interesting addition. Now I just need to figure out what to do about those cool white LEDs…