Flashlight Review: Convoy S2+
The Convoy S2+ flashlight / torch has been around for over half a decade,and is a massively popular with flashlight enthusiasts, and “in the know” consumers. Is this light useful for light painting?
I have purchased all Convoy S2+ I own with my own funds.
Convoy Flashlight Store Link.
Convoy is a very popular Chinese budget flashlight manufacturer, run by flashlight guru Simon Mao. The Convoy S2+ has been around for half a decade, and the original S2 has been around for even longer. Despite it’s age, it is still a very popular flashlight, mainly due to keeping pace with new LED emitter options, whilst keeping the core basics the same. It is also very cheap, at around US$14 to $20 more most models, and sometimes available from third party retailers for just $10.
The S2+ is an 18650 tube light, with a head and body diameter of 24.1mm, and length of approx. 118mm. It is compatible with both Light Painting Brushes and Light Painting Paradise systems, and also Light Painting Tubes if a side clip is included (Clear S2+ model) or purchased as an optional extra.
The LED and reflector (smooth or orange peel) depends on the chosen model. The tail switch is also either metallic or rubber, depending on the model. The light has 3 sections that can be unscrewed – the head, tube, and tail cap. Unscrewing either will mechanically lock out the light. Whilst the light is easy to modify, you can’t remove or change the lens without removing the driver and LED board.
The battery tube has springs at both ends, accepts rechargeable li-ion 18650 batteries, either flat or button top. However, I have found the tube to occasionally be too narrow for some protected batteries. Thus I can only be confident that unprotected 18650 batteries will fit – I use Sanyo/Panasonic NCR18650GA 3500mAh. I also find that if you shake the light heavily, the battery shuffling inside can cause the mode to advance – so best not used with fiber optic brushes! There is no internal charging, but that is expected at this price point.
For the very low price, the Convoy S2+ is impressively well built, with reported failure rates in line with flashlights from big name manufacturers such as Klarus, Nitecore, and Fenix. However, warranties from Chinese retailers can be a hit and miss affair, and getting replacements may depend on your negotiation skills. Its waterproof-ness is also debatable, but my S2+s have survived multiple accidental drops (or rolls) into water, so I would rate it as IPX4. There are no instructions included, however they are available on the product pages on Convoy’s web store.
The Convoy S2+ is available in 22 different items from Convoy’s own AliExpress store (as at October 2020), and there are also various other versions available from many Chinese electronics retailers. When you add in all of the possible combinations for each item, there are hundreds of possible S2+ configurations. This is the list of custom models and options available (as of October 2020).
Models (as per items at Convoy Flashlight Store):
– Grey S2+, SST-40, 4 or 12 Mode Groups (5A).
– Grey/Black/Orange/Blue/Violet/Red/Green/Cyan, XM-L2, x7135, 3/5 Mode Groups.
– Grey S2+, SST-20, x7135, Biscotti.
– Black S2+, Nichia UV, 1.05A 1 Mode.
– Grey S2+, LH315D, 4 or 12 Mode Groups (5A).
– Cyan/Violet/Orange/Desert Tan, XP-L HI, x7135, Biscotti.
– Grey S2+, LG UV, 1.05A 1 Mode.
– Grey S2+, Nichia 219C, x7135, Biscotti.
– Clear S2+, XP-L HI, x7135, 3/5 Mode Groups, includes side clip.
– Copper S2+, custom order.
– S2+, KP CSLNM1.TG Green, 4 or 12 Mode Groups (5A).
– 18350/16340 battery version, Grey S2+, XM-L2, x7135, 3/5 Mode Groups.
It is also possible to request custom options during ordering.
– Cree XM-L2 – floody and bright (up to 1,000lm at 2.8A). 5 colour temperature options – 7A 3000k, 5B 4000k, 4C 4300k, 3B 5000k, 1A 6500k.
– Cree XP-L HI – throwy and bright (up to 950lm at 2.8A). 4 colour temperature options – 7A 3000k, 4C 4200k, 3A 5000k, 1A 6500k.
– Nichia 219C – high CRI, floody (up to 750lm at 2.8A). 2 colour temperature options – 4000k, 5700k. 4000k can have a green/yellow tint. 5700k is almost pure white “midday daylight” like tint.
– Luminous SST-20 – high CRI (2700k, 4000k only), throwy, but less efficient (up to 650lm for high CRI, or otherwise up to 950lm at 2.8A). 4 colour temperature options – 2700k, 4000k, 5000k, 6500k. Can have a green tint, particularly at 5000k. 2700k is a lovely “sunset” like colour temperature.
– Luminous SST-40 – bright (up to 1,000lm at 2.8A). 2 colour temperature options – 5000k, 6500k.
– Samsung LH351D – high CRI, floody, and reasonably efficient (800lm at 2.8A). 4000k, 5000k, 5700k. Can have a green tint, particularly at 5000k.
– Osram KW CSLNM1.TG – Green emitter (presumably for hunting).
– LG UV 365nm
– Nichia UV 365nm
– 8×7135 – this has 2.8A max current and will get excessively hot within a few minutes on 100% output. Best used on 35-50% for longer periods of time. Good option for handheld illumination, or for use with LP tools.
– 6×7135 – 2.1A max current. Takes a few minutes longer to get very hot.
– 4×7135 – 1.4A max current can be used on 100% output without getting excessively hot in most conditions. Provides approx. 60% of the output of 8×7135 due to higher efficiency. Good option for static illumination.
– 3×7135 – 1.05A max current. No heat issues at all.
– 5A drivers – much higher max output, with temperature controlled step-down from 100%. Should run at 30-35% without further step-down in most conditions.
– Biscotti (x7135) / 12 Mode (5A) – programmable user interface, with 12 mode group options, and memory can be turned on or off. Alternating frequency strobe. Full press on/off, half press advances mode. PWM is not visible. 12 Mode (5A) has temperature controlled step-down.
– 3/5 Mode (x7135) – 10/40/100%, SOS, and 10Hz strobe. 3 second mode memory timer. Full press on/off (will advance mode if on time was less than 3 seconds), half press advances modes. PWM may be visible.
– 4 Mode (5A) – simple mode groups 0.1/3/30/100% and no strobe. The 12 Mode option is better for 5A driver S2+. PWM is not visible. Temperature controlled step-down.
The Convoy S2+ just comes with a lanyard, though some models offer more accessories included. Optional accessories from Convoy include side clips, diffuser, and tailcap magnet. A U-shaped tripod mount for 18650 tube lights is also available from Kaidomain.
Things I liked:
– Very good value for money.
– Amazing range of emitter, colour temperature/tint, and high-CRI options.
– Good range of other options and accessories.
– Compatible diffuser.
– Low voltage protection/warning.
Things I didn’t like:
– 3 second mode memory timer in 3/5 mode user interface is annoying.
– Alternating frequency strobe for Biscotti/12 Mode user interface. No strobe for 4 mode user interface.
– Shaking the light can change the mode.
– Protected batteries may not fit.
– No momentary functionality.
The Convoy S2+ has a bewildering range of configuration options. However, if you’ve read this review, know exactly which specification you want, and you get sent what you ordered, then you are unlikely to be disappointed.
For using with light painting tools, there are much better flashlight options available, though also much more expensive. If you need a constant frequency strobe then 3/5 mode versions are better for use with light painting tools, but don’t shake it too much, or turn it on for less than 3 seconds (as this will advance the mode next time you turn it on)! If you don’t need strobe, then Biscotti or 12 Mode user interface versions may be a better choice.
For low to medium brightness illumination purposes, the Convoy S2+ is one of the best value for money lights available. The range of LED emitters, colour temperatures, and high-CRI options is seconds to none. For example you can buy approximately 4 Convoy 2+ with diffusers and 18650 batteries for the cost of a single LumeCube! For budget illumination purposes, the larger Convoy S11, S12, 4X18A, and M3 are also worth a look.
As usual, check out my instagram to see listings of flashlights / torches used for each photo. There will be some photos using the Convoy s2+ with 2700k SST-20 and 5700k 219C high-CRI emitters coming soon. All of my previous photos using Convoy S2+ were taken using 3000k, 4500k, and 6500k Cree XM-L2 emitter versions.