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Flashlight Review Convoy S9

Flashlight Review Convoy S9

Flashlight Review Convoy S9

Convoy is a small Chinese flashlight manufacturer which produces a range of budget flashlights that are very popular with flashlight enthusiasts in particular, the huge selling Convoy S2+. The Convoy S9 also has an 18650 tube profile, but with a side switch and USB charging. How does it compare with similar lights, and is it good for light painting photography?

Disclaimer

The Convoy S9 was sent to me for an honest review by FastTech. I receive no commission from links or sales. Product link. 5% off code: saving

Construction

The Convoy S9 arrived in a foam padded Convoy branded box, containing the flashlight, clip, and lanyard. No spare O-rings, USB cable, or battery were included.

The Convoy S9 is a 18650 tube profile light (head diameter 24.1mm), and thus fits in the LPB Universal Connector and Herramientas Cone. The S9 is slightly shorter than the S2+ at 114mm in length. The flashlight has three sections (head, tube, and tail) that can be unscrewed. An M6 screw hole is in the tail cap, a tripod thread would have been more useful.

Convoy S2+ and S9

Convoy S2+ (left and centre) next to Convoy S9 (right)

Both ends of the battery tube have springs, which allows for flat top, button top, and raised top li-ion 18650 batteries. The battery tube is also bored wider than the S2+, and appears to be slightly longer than the S2+. This allows obese protected batteries such as the Klarus 3600mAh battery (18.6 diameter x 69.5mm length) to fit.

The S9 has internal USB charging with a rubber plug to cover the micro USB port. As almost everyone should have a micro USB cable somewhere around the house, Convoy can be forgiven for not including a cable. The USB charging is claimed to be at 1A, so a charge from approx. 50% charge will take 1.5-2 hours, and this was reflected during testing. The charge terminated at 4.18V which is very good. The light has low voltage protection, and will turn off when the battery voltage is below 3V. This was also successfully tested. As the Convoy S9 terminates charge correctly, and has low voltage protection, then unprotected batteries are suitable – I would recommend the Panasonic/Sanyo 3500mAh NCR18650GA for maximum runtime.

The knurling on the tube is grippy enough, and the side switch with red and blue LEDs underneath is located near the head. The tail section threads are anodised, and thus the S9 can be safely locked out by slightly unscrewing the tail cap.

User interface

The Convoy S9 has a very basic user interface. This is very different to the older 3/5 mode or newer Biscotti user interfaces found on the Convoy S2+, M1, and M2 lights which have tail switches capable of half or full clicks. All control is using the backlit side switch. A single click from off enters the memorised mode. Each click after that goes in order Low(3%)>Med(30%)>High(100%)>Low(3%) and so on. A double click from on or off enters strobe mode, which is single frequency, and relatively slow at 7.5Hz. A long hold (1 sec) turns the light off. The S9 will memorise the previously used mode, including strobe. No instructions are provided, so I could see some users having difficulty in working out how to turn the light off, as the hold for off is not intuitive.

Convoy S9 Strobe

Blade Tunnel from Convoy S9 Strobe at 7.5Hz

Due to the location of the side switch, it is not accessible when the S9 is in commercial light painting connectors. This not a problem if you don’t need to turn the light on or off, or change modes within the cameras field of view during the photographic exposure. Unfortunately, for something like light drawing (where you need to do the above), then you are far better off with a tail switch based light such as the Convoy S2+, or even a momentary tail switch as per the Thorfire TK15S. For general illumination of a scene when the light is not in a connector, then the side switch is not an issue.

When the light is on, the side switch is usually backlit blue. If the battery voltage is below 3.3V, the backlight will be red to warn the user that they need to charge the battery. When the battery is charging, it is backlit red. When the light has terminated charging, it is backlit blue (until the USB cable is unplugged).

Beam and output

The Convoy S9 has an orange peel reflector, and genuine Cree XM-L2 LED. This results in a floody beam profile that it identical to Convoy S2+ with the same reflector and emitter combination (note that some S2+ models have a smooth reflector/Cree XP-L HI combination with a tighter hotspot). The floody beam is great for illuminating light painting tools such as light blades and fibre optics.

Convoy S9 Smoke

Convoy S9 with added Smoke Effect

The output is claimed to be 580 lumens, and ceiling bounce tests agreed with this at 30secs. The brightness at 100% output visually appears to be halfway between a 850lm (8*7135) Convoy S2+ on 100% and 40% output. Medium mode is at approximately 30% output, and low mode at approximately 3% output. Strobe is at 100% output.

Due to the lower output, and 1.4A current, the S9 takes much longer to heat up than a 8*7135 chip S2+. I found that after 10 minutes it was getting hot enough to consider stepping down, which needs to be done manually. Thus the S9 is much more suitable for a li-ion flashlight newbie than the S2+, but can still get too hot to hold if left unattended on high mode. The theoretical runtime is in excess of 2 hours on high mode with a 3000mAh+ battery.

The review sample was with a cool white emitter 6500k. Other tint options are neutral white 5000k, and warm neutral white 4200k. I like the choice of tints, something that most manufacturers do not offer. A 3000k warm white option is oddly missing for Convoy who usually offer this.

The Colour Rendering Index (CRI) of the reviewed cool white emitter version appears the the in the usual low 70s, which is good enough for most purposes. Whilst the S9 uses PWM, the PWM is so fast that it is not visible to the eye or during photography.

Convoy S9 Beamshot

Outdoor beamshot with Convoy S9. f5.6, 2.5secs, ISO400.

Conclusion

Things I liked:
– Low price
– Multiple tint options
– Internal USB charging
– Low voltage protection
– Memory for all modes including (single frequency) strobe
– Genuine Cree emitter (increasingly rare at this price point)
– Excellent 18650 battery compatibility
Things I didn’t like:
– Side switch is unusable when in commercial light painting connectors
– Relatively low output for modern 18650 tube lights (but better heat handling)
– No instructions

The Convoy S9 is a good value for money flashlight. With internal USB charging, and lower heat production than most 18650 tube lights, it is a good light for those new to li-ion battery lights (though a battery will need to be purchased separately, and instructions would be useful). It is a great floodlight for illuminating light painting scenes, especially with the neutral white tint options. However due to the side switch, it is not good for use in light painting connectors. For this use case, I would recommend tail switch based lights such as the Convoy S2+ instead.

About The Author

Stephen Knight

Photographer from Brisbane, Australia. I have been into light painting photography since 2014, and have a keen interest in the equipment side of light art (flashlights, batteries, chargers, and light painting tools).

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