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Wuben F5 Review: camping light
Wuben F5 specifications
|Max. Lumens||500 Lumens (maximum)|
|Max. Beam intensity / distance||? cd|
|Battery config.||Built-in 5200 mAh Li-ion|
|Review date||February 2022|
I (and I’m sure a lot of folks) grew up with camp lanterns powered by fossil fuels for decades. Running on either propane, kerosene, or naphthalene aka Coleman Fuel, they were great, portable light sources. No batteries, cords, or chargers. However, the intense heat and dangerous fumes they produced relegated them to outdoor use only, so if you lost power at home, well, regular flashlights, kerosene lamps, or candles would have to suffice. In the early 2000’s, CFL-based lanterns were all the rage, followed by the introduction of bright and cheap COB LED-based lamps. In 2018 the camp lantern world was flipped upside down by the immensely popular BLF/Sofirn-produced LT1. Now everyone and their uncle makes camping lights, and it was only a matter of time before Wuben got involved. In 2021, they introduced the F5, a quasi-work light-fill light-camp light deal. It featured tint ramping of the LT1, with both stepped and smooth brightness ramping, built-in charging (and 5200 mAh battery), and power bank functionality. Wuben was nice enough to send one to test on, and I love camping and lanterns, so let’s see what we got.
I really like Wuben’s packaging. It’s elegantly simple. The F5 came in a Wuben-centric blue and white box with a lift-off lid. Inside, the F5 sits in a microcell foam recess with the accessories underneath. It’s very nice and appropriate for retail sales. The box has a picture of the F5 on the front, with mandatory feature blurbs and basic info. Inside, you get a nice selection of accessories:
- Wuben F5
- Warranty card
- USB type C charging cable
This is typical of Wuben, and an entirely appropriate selection of accessories for this type of light. It’s everything you need to start lighting up your campsite, tent, photo booth, or work area, including an S-hook hanger with capture clips to keep the light secure. The accessories are good quality, and I like the silicone rubber lanyard.
Flashlight in use
The F5 isn’t a flashlight per-se, but you can certainly use it like one. My experience with these types of lights has been limited to automotive-style drop lights and work lights, so handling the F5 was very…elegant.
It has a nice heft to it. It’s sized right for just about any hand size, and arranged in a rectangular form factor. Each side has a function, with the longer sides housing the charging port and switches, and the shorter sides sporting a ¼ inch threaded socket for a tripod shoe or camera mount, and the other side 4 blue LED indicators that show battery and charge state.
The business-end of the F5 is an opaque white diffuser that stretches nearly to the edges of the housing. The 3 function buttons are easy to reach, with the central ‘W’ button for on-off flanked by a + and – button for mode changes or ramping up-down. The switches are topped with grippy rubber covers and have a nice feel to them with nice feedback without being mushy. They aren’t illuminated, which is unfortunate because that would help with finding them since I did mistake them for the charging port more than once. They sort of get lost in the dark, but are easy to find with practice. There’s a hole in one side for threading the lanyard through, and out back there’s a very nice-looking hook mount/kickstand deal with a magnet embedded in the middle. The magnet is pretty strong and held the F5 up no problem. The circular kickstand folds outward and can lay flat, or be fixed at an angle so you can prop up the light for optimum light distribution. There’s sufficient resistance in the movement to easily hold the F5 at a variety of positions. Nice. The kickstand also doubles as a hanger that the included S-hook can attach for hanging. There’s no shortage of mounting and retention options for the F5, which makes it super-versatile as a tent, area, fill, or work light.
Build Quality, and Warranty
Wuben is no stranger to 1Lumen, and so far they have brought us some very nice, affordable lights. The F5 is no different. Priced around $40-$50 US, it’s competitive with the Olight Olantern, but a lot less than a loaded LT1.
Quality is overall very good. The F5 is constructed of tough ABS plastic finished in a very nice matte finish that doesn’t seem painted on (but probably is), and it didn’t feel cheap or plasticky.
The light comes in black or green, (the test light came in a very nice forest green). The two part case is ultrasonically welded or glued together with no exposed screws, so I have no doubt it would be really durable. The diffuser is made from tough HDPE plastic and seems sturdy and should hold up to rough handling and resist scratches and cracks. The fit and finish are great. All the seams are tight, the large charge port cover fits snugly. It has a recessed pull tab so it won’t snag on something and open unintentionally. It nearly passes the ‘creak test’, another highly scientific process consisting of me generally man-handling the light while listening for creaks. There were some, but minimal. Wuben gives the F5 an IP64 rating, indicating dust-tightness and resistance to splashing. While this excludes outright immersion, the F5 should hold up fine in the event you find yourself caught in a downpour.
Wuben’s warranty is up there with the best, and a bit unbecoming of a ‘budget’ brand: 30 days money back guarantee: Within 30 days from the date of purchase, if the product has quality problems, customers can request full refund. 30 days replacement: Within 30 days from the date of purchase, if the product has quality problems, customers can request free replacement. 1 year warranty: Within 1 year from the date of purchase, if the product has quality problems, WUBEN will offer free repair. Battery warranty: WUBEN offers a 1-year warranty for the rechargeable batteries but other included accessories are not covered by the warranty. 5 Years product warranty: Within 5 years from the date of purchase, if the product(for battery-removable flashlights, accessories excluded) has quality problems, WUBEN will offer free repair for WUBEN registered customers(Support-Product registration). Lifetime maintenance: From the date of purchase, if the product has a problem after 1 year, WUBEN will offer paid repair for WUBEN registered customers.
LED, Lens, Bezel, Beam, and Reflector
Wuben doesn’t say what manner of LEDs are hiding under the diffuser, but I got a hint of their configuration while the light was on Low since they’re slightly visible through the diffuser. They look to be SMD LEDs of some sort, arranged in a 6×5 grid for a total of 30 LEDs. I suspect they are a single LED with two different-tinted dies. The type, brand, and size aren’t specified either, but one is cool white and the other warm white. The F5 features variable tint, giving the user a choice between 3000K, 4500K, and 5700K. This tint-shifting is controlled through the UI by turning on or off the appropriately-tinted LED. The 4500K setting mixes the 3000K and 5700K LEDs, while the 5700K and 3000K are used individually. Wuben doesn’t specify the CRI values of the LEDs, but my eyeball photometer told me they sure looked high CRI in every tint.
I checked them with the Opple Lightmaster Pro and sure enough, they’re all between 96 and 100 CRI. The Opple isn’t a lab-grade instrument but does give a basic breakdown of chromometric performance. The 5700K CCT clocked 5500K and 100 CRI, the 4500K was a bit low at a bit over 4000K and 99.2 CRI, and the 3000K mode hit 3055K and 96.8 CRI.
Duv? Take these values with a grain of salt, but as I suspected, they’re all below the BBL, typical of domeless white SMD LEDs.
- 5700K: -0.0011
- 4500K: -0.0048
- 3000K: -0.0025
The 5700K value is interesting since I haven’t come across any LEDs that could generate 100 CRI, but this could be a 98 CRI LED with a margin of error, so I’ll take it. Very Impressive nonetheless.
The Wuben F5 is configured like a mule, so there’s no reflector or optic, just a piece of opaque plastic over the LEDs to provide diffusion and probably smooth out the beam a bit. It does a good job, and as you’d expect, there’s zero focusing or collimation like with an optic or reflector, so it’s just a wall of diffuse light. Depending on the tint, it’s very even with no hot spots, dark spots, or artifacts. The beam characteristics and high CRI makes for an excellent fill light for photography or videography, and as a worklight it’s awesome.
Dimensions and size comparison
- Length: 8.4 cm / 3.30 inches
- Width: 7.8 cm / 3.07 inches
- Thickness: 2.8 cm / 1.12 inches
- 203 grams / 7.16 oz.
I don’t have much to compare the F5 to, but I do have some other cheap work lights and my current tent lantern. None are as nice as the F5 though! I threw in a 1980’s vintage Coleman 288 liquid-fueled lantern that I’ve been using for 15 years for size comparison. It makes about 800-900 Lumens on the highest output (and lots of heat and deadly carbon monoxide).
Group 1 left to right: Adjustable work light, Wuben F5, COB LED pop-up camping lantern
Group 2 left to right: Coleman 288 lantern, Wuben F5
Group 3 left to right, with more transitional flashlights: Fireflies E07 2021 edition, Lumintop FWAA, Wuben F5, Thrunite TN50
Driver & User Interface:
Wuben doesn’t say what kind of driver is inside the F5, and I can’t get to the innards for a look without cracking (literally) it open. Since the F5 can double as a fill light for photography, I’d expect either no, or at the least, ultra-fast PWM with a constant-current driver of some kind for fully-regulated output.
The UI is simple and very easy to use. It’s 3 modes Low, Medium, and High for each tint, controlled by 3 buttons: One for on/off ( the ‘W’ button), one for increasing brightness (+ button), and one for decreasing brightness (- button). Mode memory is present, and you also get smooth ramping available with a press and hold of the + or – buttons. No blinkies this time! It’s easy to operate as well. The LED indicators are continuously lit by default, but can be turned off with a triple click from off.
Available modes (for each tint): Low, Medium, High
- Single click: Turns on in last mode
- Double click: N/A
- Triple click: Activates or deactivates the breathing switch indicator
- Quad click: Turn on (or off) breathing LED indicators
- Single click W button: Turns off
- Single click + or – buttons: Changes modes (+ up, – down)
- Press and hold + or – button:: Smooth ramping up (+ button) or down (- button)
- Double click: Changes tint
- Triple click:N/A
- Quad click: N/A
- Yes, recalls last used mode for all tints
Low voltage warning:
- No visual LVP is specified (I didn’t notice any during testing), but the 4 blue LEDs on the side show battery state for charging or discharging (for the power bank). In discharge (or operation): 4 LEDs lit 100% to 75%, 3 LEDs 75% to 50%, 2 LEDs 50% to 25%, 1 solid LED 25% to 3%, 1 flashing LED 3%>.
- Yes, but very fast PWM not visible with the naked eye. It is visible by camera, but only up close and was never visible in my photos.
Additional info on the UI:
- Wuben created the perfect UI for this type of light and use-case. It’s simple and straightforward enough for everyone to use (even Gomer Pyles could pick it up). The mode spacing is very good with a low-Low for night time reading (although it could be a bit lower), and perfectly adequate High. Although I crave ultra bright lights and a little more ‘oomph’ would have been nice on High, it’s good enough. Moreover, I like how they integrated stepless ramping as a function of the UI. I think infinitely variable brightness is an important feature for photography when you need the ‘right’ amount of light for your still shot or video that a stepped mode couldn’t provide. Being able to switch tints is also awesome, since sometimes you really need a warm light (like for at night-easy on the eyes) with high CRI when needed (c’mon, everyone loves high CRI, right?). The only thing that needs work is the ramping is unrefined. It behaves a bit like Sofirn’s smooth ramping in that it’s a bit slow to step up and down (about a 1-2 second delay before you see the light decrease or increase), and the ramp speed is pretty slow to me. On the other hand, it does help with controlling the brightness though, so it goes both ways.
Batteries & Charging
The F5 has a built-in battery pack. Wuben says it’s a 5200 mAh li-ion pack which should give nice, long runtimes even on high. However, in this case, built-in means sealed-in, so it’s not removable. To me, it’s a drag to have to chuck it when the battery goes kaput (and yes, it will go kaput eventually). Although I’m pretty adventurous with destructive tools, I’d write-off opening the F5 because it’s sealed up tight (glued or ultrasonically welded seams) and you’d cause too much damage getting it open to feasibly get it back together.
The charging interface is USB type C, which is awesome and pegged at 2 amps. On my USB tester, I saw around 1.94 to 1.96 amps, which should charge the battery in 3 hours. The F5 also incorporates a power bank function, also set for a maximum 2 amp output. This is an extremely useful feature and I’m glad Wuben included this. When you’re out in the boonies and need to charge your phone, GPS, flashlights, smartwatch, walkie-talkies, etc. the F5 can do that. The power bank output is a standard USB A socket, so any USB cable will work (mini, micro, or USB type C), but there’s no power delivery or quick charging. I used it to charge an Imalent MRB-217P40 USB rechargeable 21700, which is rated for 1.5-2 amps max charge current. I only saw about 1.15 amps. I tried a USB type C to C cable and charged the Wuben C2 and got 1.76 amps. My cell phone was charged at 1.38 amps. You should be able to top off a 3200 mAh cell phone easily with the F5. I tried charging my tablet and power bank and the charge speed was unimpressive at around 280 and 550 mA (respectively). Lastly, the F5 can be powered on while charging, and it seemed like Low and Medium were available. Nice!
Lumen measurements (for each mod
The F5 is an unconventional form-factor, flashlight-wise, so it didn’t fit in my integrating sphere, so I called up my home made 30 cm integrating tube. It’s made from a 4” to 3” closet elbow, two 3” street 90’s and an endcap. It’s been calibrated with several lights of known output including a Makkua-calibrated Convoy S2+. I use a Digi-Sense 20250-00 data logging luxmeter for measurements, and all measurements were taken off a fully charged battery. I tested each mode for each tint setting.
|Mode||Specs||Lumens @turn on||Lumens @30 sec||Lumens @ 10 min|
The F5 is sealed tight along with the current path, so no amp measurements this time. The Lumen readings are as close as I can get them in the tube, which favors higher output lights and throwers, but I’m still close to factory output at 30 seconds.
I tested the light in my integrating tube calibrated using several lights including a Makkua S2+ with the Digi-Sense 20250-00 data logging luxmeter with the included 3400 mAh battery. I tested High mode for each tint setting since even Medium is supposed to run for 20 hours.
High in the 5700K tint started around 500 Lumens, and held better than 400 Lumens for over 6 minutes, gradually stepping down to under 300 Lumens after 4 hours 7 minutes. It held 200+ Lumens for another 10 minutes before dipping below 100 Lumens by 4 hours 25 minutes. It settled at 92 Lumens for 4 hours 56 minutes before a hard shutdown. Total runtime was 10 hours 19 minutes. Heat? Yah, there’s some, but definitely not like I’m used to seeing when testing high output tube flashlights (and plastic is a terrible heat conductor anyways). The F5 never exceeded 35 C in the 5700K test.
4500K was a near mirror-image of 5700K, not surprising since there’s not much difference between the two tints at similar drive currents output-wise. It started at 498 Lumens, and held 400+ Lumens for 10 seconds longer than 5700K did, with a slight step down to 397 Lumens by 6 minutes 30 seconds in, and held 300 Lumens or better for the next 54 minutes. The output didn’t drop below 100 Lumens until the 4 hour 26 minute mark, and from there the output stayed around 86 Lumens for the next 5 hours and 19 minutes until the light shut down at 10 hours 45 minutes. Heat was never an issue with temps peaking at 34.6 C 2 hours in.
3000K was a bit different from the first two in that it’s obviously lower in output, but still posted an impressive runtime and consistent output profile. Starting a bit over 440 Lumens and holding better than 400 Lumens for 5 minutes 30 seconds, and 300 Lumens for 7 minutes 35 seconds, so quite a bit less than the other tints, but held better than 200 Lumens for very long time: 4 hours 7 minutes to be exact, and held 100 Lumens for the next 17 minutes before settling around 80 Lumens by 4 hours 27 minutes in. 80 Lumens stuck around for the next 7 hours 40 minutes until a familiar hard shutdown at 11 hours 1 minute. Heat? A paltry 27 C measured at 20 minutes in.
There’s obviously a constant-current, fully regulated driver chugging along inside the F5, evidenced by consistent output. That’s fantastic for laminar output that doesn’t noticeably dim as the battery drains. The 3000K mode’s figures were a bit surprising since I expected shorter runtimes due to the overall lower efficiency of warm white high CRI emitters. None of the CCTs are being driven particularly hard anyways even on High, and that 5200 mAh battery ensures long, uninterrupted runtimes. Even though these aren’t 1000 or 1500 Lumens for output, believe it or not, the F5 produces plenty of usable light for just about any task. If you need more output and/or throw, grab a tube light.
I measured the throw with the Uni-T UT383S luxmeter indoors at 2.5 meters. I decreased the distance because at 5 meters there was no reading on the luxmeter. I used the fully charged battery. Readings were recorded at 30 seconds.
|Medium||?||5700K: 62.5 cd|
4500K: 50 cd
3000K: 43.7 cd
|High||?||5700K: 268.7 cd|
4500K: 237.5 cd
3000K: 212.5 cd
No figures for the Low mode, even at 2 meters. Wuben doesn’t list specific throw figures for the F5’s modes, only a single “25 meter” beam distance (probably the High mode). The F5 isn’t designed or intended to ‘throw’ so I wasn’t expecting much out of it, but surprisingly, I got more than Wuben says I should, so I’ll take it! Honestly, this is more than enough distance for everyday tasks.
I took photos of the F5 in (what I feel) would be typical use-cases, like illuminating a room. I compared it to the cheap work light and lantern, and it’s no comparison!
I also compared it to the Fireflies PL47G2 2021 mule (4000K 95 CRI SST20’s), and ultra-floody Wuben D1. The F5 is more than bright enough to light up my roughly 25 meter by 15 meter living room and I really liked the great color rendering from the high CRI emitters. This would be a perfect emergency light or nightlight/reading light on the Low 3000K setting. It could also be used in a paint shop for color matching purposes, or in photography for setting the white balance.
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by Wuben. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- Solid build quality
- Compact and lightweight
- Simple UI
- Power bank function delivers nearly 2 amps
- Well-regulated driver
- High CRI in all tints
- Lots of mounting options
- Abrupt shut down for LVP
- Switch buttons need some kind of illumination
- Ramping needs refinement
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
5 stars: ★★★★★
Wrapping up, all I can say is color me impressed! For decades, if you were out in the boonies away from electricity, your illumination was provided by means of lanterns or campfires. Those are great, but what if your power goes out? We can’t build a campfire in the house, and using a propane or naphthalene-fueled lantern indoors presents its own hazards (namely, it can make you dead from carbon monoxide). The F5 (and other LED lanterns and work lights) are hugely versatile and portable. The Wuben F5 does a lot of things well, and it’s hard to really fault it on any one point. Wuben designed and delivered a highly versatile, easy to use, and solidly-built light. You get variable tint, high CRI, and a simple UI that’s perfectly suited to this application. It can double as a power bank and with 5200 mAh onboard, you can get decently long runtimes with nicely regulated output. Whether you’re using it as a camp light, work light, photo fill light, or emergency light, the F5 will work great.
I can’t really fault it much, but it could really benefit from illuminated buttons, and the ramping function needs some refining (yep, another enthusiast spoiled by Anduril), and I wish it had some kind of visual LVP warning before shut down. Otherwise, it’s great, and I will definitely be bringing the F5 with me on my next camping trip, and it will grace my tent for a long, long time. 5 stars for the F5.
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