• Stephen Knight

Best Flashlights for Light Painting Photography 2022

Updated: May 9

This is the 2022 edition of the flashlight/torch buying guide for light painting and night photographers. Flashlight/torch ratings are based on feedback from light painters, flashlight enthusiast reviews, and my own testing. Now in its 6th year, this buying guide is the most trusted source of information on flashlights for light painters, and the only buying guide that covers a wide range of light painting systems. This buying guide is updated when suitable new lights are released and reviewed, so bookmark or check back at any time during the year if you are interested in purchasing new lights.

Each light’s description includes the maximum brightness in lumens (lm), battery type, and typical retail price in US$ (excluding tax and and shipping). Lumens for multi-colour/colour fading lights have not been quoted as colour lumen ratings are not directly comparable to white light lumens. Please be aware that most flashlights step-down from their maximum brightness after a few minutes, or in some cases, in 30 seconds or less!

This article contains some affiliate (marked as such) and non-affiliate product links. Commission made through purchases via affiliate links allows me to test more flashlights for the benefit of the light painting community. Affiliate links have no influence on product ratings. I do not make any commission through non-affiliate links.

1. Best Flashlights for Light Painting Systems

This section is for flashlights/torches that are suitable for use with various light painting systems to create light trails and light drawings. Each light is described in one of four categories, followed by a matrix showing which featured lights are compatible with each of the following light painting systems:

  • Light Painting Brushes (Universal Connector).

  • Light Painting Paradise.

  • Light Painting Tubes.

  • Luminosify.

  • Light Painting King.

  • T8 Tubes (generic North American sized).

  • Liteblades KYO.

  • Lumenman.

I've also added flashlight head diameter information to the matrix for light painters who like to make their own tools or connectors, or for any other light painting systems I'm not aware of. Light painting systems that are only compatible with one light source, or vice-versa, are out of scope of this article as they don't need a buying guide! LED Pixel Sticks, Scanners, Light Pens, and Calligraphy Lights are also out of scope of this article.

Commercial grade flashlight designs are continuing to progress away from being useful for light painting. However, there are still a handful of commercial flashlights that have good features for light painting, and an increasing number of lights designed specifically for light painters. Lights recommended in this section have one or more of the following useful features:

  • Accessible on/off switches whilst in connectors/adapters.

  • Constant frequency strobe - some lights even have adjustable strobe frequency and brightness.

  • Last mode memory - so that the light turns on in the last used mode.

  • Momentary switch - more fine control of on/off.

  • Well spaced brightness levels.

See each flashlight description for more detail. Most of these lights use 18650 or 21700 Li-ion instead of AA/AAA batteries, as Li-ion powered flashlights are more powerful and better value for money. All use cool white <70CRI LED emitters, unless otherwise specified.

Best Flashlight for Strobes >> Light Painting Paradise LightPainter – Ryu’s Lightworks (1,200lm, 18650, $125)

This versatile light was designed specifically for light painters, with very positive feedback from users, and is my personal favourite flashlight for creating light trails. Tail switch for on/off/momentary. Side switch for changing and saving settings. Four strobe modes - Strobe with 50% on/off (adjustable 4.5Hz-50Hz), Flash with "motion freezing" 5ms on time (adjustable 9-66Hz), Ribbon Flash (adjustable 6Hz-66Hz), and Trigger Mode with one 5ms flashlight per side switch press. Adjustable strobe brightness from 50lm to 1200lm, mode memory, momentary switch, and no brightness step-down. Battery and charger included.  (Disclaimer: I am a product ambassador for Light Painting Paradise, however I purchased the prototype Ryuslightworks V2 before I had any involvement with the company). Product link (affiliate) - 10% off with code "Stephen Knight".

Also consider:

  • Noctigon KR1 (2,200lm, 18650, $50) - the SST-40 or SFT-40 6500k versions are excellent for getting lots of light into light painting tools, outclassing the Klarus XT11GT and XT2CR. Tail switch light with the complex Anduril user interface. Multiple effects modes include the super bright (1,900lm) tactical strobe with 33% on-time (adjustable 2.3Hz-80Hz), and not so bright "motion freezing" party strobe with 1.3ms on time (adjustable 3.5Hz-90Hz). There is no mode memory for strobes, but you can adjust strobe settings, enter momentary mode, and then hold the switch down when you need to use strobe. Slight unscrew/re-screw of the tail cap is required to exit momentary mode. Can produce very bright "fairy dust" on slowest party mode setting. Excellent heat handling. Too large for T8 tubes. Best used with a high current unprotected 18650 battery. Product link.

  • Lumintop (TLF/BLF) FW1A (1,200lm, 18650, $60) – the XP-L HI 6500k version is the most optimal of Lumintop's extensive FW series of flashlights for light painting due to having a tail switch, single emitter, and fits most light painting systems. Sadly, the latest version has declined in quality with a sub-optimal reflector and driver. Tail switch with the complex Anduril user interface. Multiple effects modes include the bright tactical strobe (750lm) with 33% on-time (adjustable 2.5Hz-110Hz), and not so bright "motion freezing" party strobe with 1.3ms on time (adjustable 3.5Hz-90Hz) which I use to create "fairy dust" effects. There is no mode memory for strobes, but you can adjust strobe settings, enter momentary mode, and then hold the switch down when you need to use strobe. Full unscrew/re-screw of the head is required to exit momentary mode. Heat handling is poor, so it steps down after just 25 seconds on Turbo. Best used with an unprotected 3500mAh 18650 battery.

  • Lumintop FW1A Pro (3,500lm, 18650, $50) - Similar to the FW1A above, but with a larger XHP50.2 LED that produces more maximum lumens for about 25 seconds until step-down. Strobe brightness is similar to the FW1A. Best used with a high current unprotected 18650 battery.

  • Light Excursion Strobe Master (1,200lm, 18650, $220) – designed by Light Excursion for light painters. Two strobe modes (5m or 15ms on time). Adjustable strobe frequency and strobe brightness. Momentary switch. Excellent heat handling, internal charging, plus an auxiliary jack. Best used with an unprotected 3500mAh 18650 battery. Product link.

The Lumintop FW1A, Noctigon KR1, and LIght Painting Paradise LightPainter - Ryu's LIghtworks all have adjustable strobe frequency

Light painting with the Light Painting Paradise LightPainter - Ryu's Lightworks, Noctigon KR1, and Lumintop FW1A flashlights
Light painting with the Light Painting Paradise LightPainter - Ryu's Lightworks, Noctigon KR1, and Lumintop FW1A flashlights

Best RGB Colour Changing Flashlight >> Ants on a melon RGB Critter (18650, $120) – Commercial grade, colour changing light with an impressive selection of colours, effects, and adjustable strobe frequency, controlled by 3 on-board buttons. Can save custom settings. Native tool attachments available (including the Sol Saber, BitWhip, Jupiter Rope, and Plexiglass Blades). 18650 battery included, with micro USB charging, which can also allow for firmware updates. Basic use is fairly easy, but the user interface could be better for more complex light painting. Product link.

Also consider:

  • Ignis Shop Color LED Torch (internal, $149) - Colour fade, pulse, and flash modes controlled by an RF remote. Simple on/off switch and no momentary. Internal battery and charging. Product link.

  • Light Excursion Deluxe (18650/21700, $220) - Very popular handmade colour changing light. Colour fade, pulse, and flash modes controlled by an RF remote. On-board momentary switch. 3 rotary dimmers for RGB channels. Very pretty beam patterns with the LE version, though the LP version is slightly brighter. Best used with an unprotected 3500mAh 18650 battery, or included 21700 (North America only). Internal charging. Product link.

  • Threeworlds Concentrate C5 (AAA, $30) - fantastic programmable effects modes and pretty cheap. Unfortunately it only uses a single AAA battery and is thus not very bright. Has a tricky single button user interface. Needs DIY padding to fit in light painting connectors, though can be purchased with a compatible Fusion glow staff. Product link.

The Antsonamelon RGB Critter is likely to make an impact in 2022
The Antsonamelon RGB Critter is expected to revolutionize the light painting scene in 2022

Light painting with the Ants On A Melon RGB Critter
Light painting with the Ants On A Melon RGB Critter

Best Commercial Grade Flashlight >> Nitecore P10v2 (1,100lm, 18650, $55)

This is my favourite "consumer grade" light for light painting. This dual tail switch light that makes it easy to switch between turbo and 19Hz strobe modes on the fly in "Tactical" mode. "Daily" mode has last mode memory and momentary functionality for all 3 brightness settings. Can be used with the Nitecore RSW2 remote pressure switch. 3 minutes until brightness step-down. Noticeable Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). Requires button top protected 18650 batteries if not included. Product Link (USA) (affiliate).

Also consider:

  • Klarus XT11S (1,100lm, 18650, $70) / XT11GT (2,000lm, 18650, $85) / XT11GT Pro (2,200lm, 18650, $95) / XT11GT Pro V2 (3,300lm, 18650, $90) – there are now four iterations of the Klarus XT11 series compatible with the Liteblades KYO system. Each generation gets more maximum lumens, but shorter time until the brightness falls of a cliff. The 6 year old XT11S is my favourite as it doesn't have PWM and has better sustained brightness. Dual tail switches for instant access to Turbo or Strobe. No side switches on the Pro versions. Optional Klarus TRC1 remote pressure switch. Strobes are alternating frequency unless the strobe switch is held down, and there is no direct access to Mid or High Modes. Battery included. USB charging.

  • Klarus XT2CR Pro (2,200lm, 18650, $75) – one of the best flashlights for (briefly) getting lots of light into a light painting tool. It is basically the XT11GT Pro (above) with a smaller head. Battery included. USB-C charging.

  • Olight Warrior 3 (2,300lm, 21700, $120) - two stage tail switch allows for momentary control of turbo and 10Hz strobe, or turbo and medium modes. There is a side switch too. Optional remote pressure switch. 60 seconds until brightness step-down to 800lm. Uses an Olight proprietary 18650 battery. Magnetic charging. Avoid the newer 3S version, as Olight have brought back the annoying proximity sensor. Olight USA (affiliate). Olight AU (affiliate).

  • Ledlenser P6R Signature (1,400lm, 18650, $170) - contrary to light painting folklore, zoom lights are far from essential. However, if you really need a zoom light, this is the best option available. 20Hz strobe. Very expensive, but with a 7 year warranty. Battery included. Magnetic charging.

Best Budget Flashlight >> Sofirn SP31 V2.0 (1,200lm, 18650, $25) – I generally no longer recommend flashlights for use with light painting tools if you cannot directly access strobe from off (which sadly seems to be 98% of new flashlights produced in the last few years). However, this budget light is fantastic for creating continuous (non-strobe) light trails. Five well spaced brightness levels. Mode memory and momentary on all continuous modes. Unfortunately the strobe is alternating frequency and not memorised. XP-L HI version is most recommended. Battery and charger are optional, or use an unprotected 3500mAh 18650 battery. Product Link.

Also consider:

  • Convoy S2+ (700-1,000lm, 18650, $13-$20) – very popular budget light, with a confusing range of options - which is why I've provided lots of links to the product pages. The Clear S2+ XP-L HI (V2 1A, 8*7135) includes a side clip for T8 tubes, has a 10Hz strobe, but the last mode memory will only memorise the setting if the light is on for more than 3 seconds. The CSLNM1 emitter options, with 12 Group user interface are a great choice for lightsaber like tools, have last mode memory, but the strobe is alternating frequency. These are available with White, Red, Green, Blue, and Orange-Yellow emitters, optionally with battery. Best used with unprotected 3500mAh 18650 batteries. No internal charging.

  • Folomov 18650S (900lm, 18650, $28) – quirky budget light that includes a micro USB rechargeable battery, and can move between 7Hz strobe and continuous "on the fly", or momentary operation using the tail switch. Gets hot very quickly.

  • On The Road M9 (1,100lm, 18650, $28) - there are quite a few flashlights available with constant frequency strobe, but with no direct access to the strobe from off (including the Wowtac A1S, Soonfire MX66, and Magicshine MTL30). The On The Road M9 is the best and cheapest of this bunch, with an accessible tail switch user interface, and mode memory for all constant modes. Strobe is accessed by a double click from on, and it is possible to switch between strobe and memorised mode "on the fly". Battery included, with USB-C charging. Product link.

  • Convoy T4 (420lm with 2xAA, $21) - the best budget AA/AAA flashlight I've tested (can also be used with 2x14500 Li-ion batteries). 420lm with no step-down with SST-20 6500k emitter option. Default mode has 4 brightness levels with mode memory. 12 other mode options, but strobe is alternating frequency. Side clip expected to be available in the future. Product link.

Light Painting System Compatibility Matrix

Matrix showing which torches / flashlights are compatible with each commercial light painting system.
Light Painting Compatibility Matrix

2. Best Light Sources for Illumination

This section recommends the best light sources for illuminating scenes instead of being connected to light painting tools. This is also relevant to urbex, long exposure night landscapes, astro, and low level landscape lighting genres of photography. With RGB LED Panel lights becoming increasingly versatile for very floody illumination, I've replaced "flashlights"with "light sources" in the title of this section. There has never been a better time for lighting for illumination purposes, with trends towards higher CRI, higher sustained lumens, and more flood/throw combination lights expected in 2022. These "best in class" lights have one or more useful features including:

  • Different colour temperature options e.g. cool 6500k, neutral 4500k, or warm white 2700k (Correlated Colour Temperature = CCT).

  • High colour rendering (>90CRI) white LED emitters - better colour rendering, but less lumens/watt.

  • Colour LED emitter options.

  • Compatible diffusers - turns flashlights into an omni-directional "lantern" light source

  • Tripod mounting options.

  • Decent sustained brightness - tested brightness after 10 minutes of continuous use.

  • Included/optional batteries and/or internal USB charging.

Beam profiles can be split up into:

  • Pencil beam - pencil beam of light with no spill beam, for fine or long distance illumination.

  • Throwy beam - pencil beam of light/intense hotspot with dim spill beam.

  • Floody beam - less intense hotspot with bright spill beam.

  • Very floody - 180 degree beam with no hotspot (e.g. LED Panel Lights, Cube Lights).

  • Omni-directional - light emitted in all directions like a light bulb (e.g. Flashlights with Diffusers or Camping Lanterns).

Lights have been categorized by size or type.

Scene illumimated with 2700k and 5700k Convoy S2+ flashlights
Scene illumimated with 2700k and 5700k Convoy S2+ flashlights

Best Compact Flashlight for Illumination >> Acebeam E70-AL (4,600lm max/1,200lm sustained XHP70.2, 21700, $75) - the best commercial grade flashlight in this category. With the 70CRI XHP70.2 versions (choice of 5000k and 6500k CCT), max output can be managed for 50 seconds before step-down to high mode. "Best in class" sustained brightness at 1,200lm on high mode. With a floody beam, it is excellent for general illumination, backlighting, and for use with backlight scanners. The 95CRI (GT-FC40) 4500k emitter version with 2700lm max/900lm sustained is one of my favourite flashlights for high-CRI illumination! Best purchased with the optional $20 Acebeam 21700 battery with USB-C charging input. Compatible with D35 diffusers, and U-shaped tripod mounts. Product link (affiliate).

If you need more options, then also consider:

  • Convoy S2+ (1,000lm max/500lm sustained LH351D, 18650, $13-$20) - best budget flashlight in this category, with an amazing range of LED emitter options including high CRI, colours, UV, and even IR! Most versions use the 12 group user interface with 5 brightness settings between 0.1% and 100% and last mode memory. My pick for floody beam illumination is currently the 90CRI LH351D range, optionally with battery. These are bright enough to illuminate most scenes, and are available in 5 CCTs between 2700k to 5700k. If you want colour, then the throwy beam CSLNM1 red, green, blue, and orange-yellow options are a good choice, optionally with battery. Compatible 24.5mm diffuser, and fits U-shaped tripod mounts. Best used with an unprotected 3500mAh 18650 battery. No internal charging. All Convoy S series options incl. with batteries.

  • Wurkkos FC11 (1,300lm max/300lm sustained, 18650, $28) - this budget flashlight has a lot going for it - choice of 90CRI LH351D emitters at 2700k, 4000k, and 5000k, USB-C charging, optional 18650 battery, choice of ramped or stepped brightness levels, optional compatible FC11 diffuser, magnetic tail cap, fits U-shaped tripod mounts, and is available from a large company beginning with A. Sustained brightness isn't as good as the other lights in this category, managing 1,300lm for 60secs, and 700lm for 5min, then a slow decline from 350lm after step-down - but still far better than any hardware store flashlight at this price point.

  • Emisar DT8, D4SV2, and D4V2, Noctigon KR1, KR4, and DM11 - these compact "pocket rocket" or "hotrod" flashlights from Intl Outdoor/Hank Wang are aimed at flashlight enthusiasts and offer amazing max lumens, reasonable sustained brightness, a "candy store" of LED emitter options, including occasional special editions and off-menu items. There are even dual channel versions for switching between different CCTs, colours, or flood/throw. All use the complex Anduril user interface, and do not include internal charging or Li-ion batteries. There is no way I could write a best flashlight article without mentioning these lights. Whilst they won't need explaining to flashlight enthusiasts, for "muggles" it is probably best to look elsewhere.

  • Other lights worth a look in this category are the Convoy S21D (2,000lm max/790lm sustained, 21700, $39) with the 95CRI 4500k 519A emitter is excellent for backlight scanners and very floody illumination Product Link, Olight Seeker 3 Pro (4,200lm max/1,200lm sustained, 21700, $160) good for backlighting and bright <70CRI illumination, internal charging. Olight USA (aff). Olight AU (aff). , and Convoy T4 (420lm max with 2xAA, $21) which is one of very few AA/AAA flashlights to have a choice of CCTs and high-CRI options Product Link.

The Acebeam E70-AL has excellent brightness for its size
The Acebeam E70-AL has excellent brightness for its size

Convoy S2+ are excellent budget flashlights for illumination
Convoy S2+ are popular budget flashlights for illumination

Best Medium Sized Flashlight for Illumination >> Convoy M3-C (4,400lm max/1440lm sustained, 26650, $46-$52) - Convoy make many excellent flashlight models for illumination, of which the M3-C hits the sweet spot in the medium sized category. This solid budget flashlight with a floody beam, can manage max output for 90secs before gradually decreasing to sustained 1,440lm lumens. This makes it useful for super bright illumination, backlighting, and for use with backlight scanners. 70 degree spill beam could be wider though. The powerful 70CRI XHP70.2 emitter is available in 4 CCTs from 3000k to 6500k. 95CRI GT-FC40 emitter versions are available in 4 CCTs from 1800k to 5000k. Stepped or ramped brightness levels. Compatible diffuser. Requires a clamp (such as a SmallRig Super Clamp) for tripod mounting. USB-C charging. Can also be used as a powerbank. Product link with battery. High-CRI product link with battery.

Also consider:

  • Thrunite TC20 V2 (4,000lm max/1,700lm sustained, 26650, $90) - commercial grade flashlight, shorter than the Convoy M3-C, but limited to 70CRI 5000k and 6500k options. Can sustain more than 3000lm for 3 mins on Turbo, or more than 1,600lm for 30mins on High before brightness step-down. Requires a clamp for tripod mounting. Battery included. USB-C charging.

The Convoy M3-C is the best medium sized flashlight for illumination
The Convoy M3-C is the best medium sized flashlight for illumination

Best Lumen Monster Flashlight for Illumination >> Acebeam X50 2.0 / X50 (45,000lm max/5,600lm sustained XHP70.2, internal, $379) - Whilst there are a couple of brighter flashlights, this is the highest quality flashlight in the >30,000lm category. The new X50 2.0 70CRI version (choice of 5000k or 6500k CCTs) can sustain an amazing 5,600lm in Mid2 mode, and can be used as a PD 60W powerbank. The X50 High CRI (GT-FC40) 4500k version is 21,000lm max, 2,200lm sustained, and has powerbank functionality. Floody beam profile. Includes a tripod mount hole, and carrying handle! Internal battery pack and USB-C charging. Product link (affiliate). High-CRI Product link (affiliate).

Also consider:

  • Olight Marauder 2 (14,000lm max/3,500lm sustained, internal, $330) - impressive consumer grade flashlight that can switch between a floody beam or throwy "spot" beam. Can sustain an impressive 3,500lm on L5 flood mode, or throw light 800m in L7 spot light mode. Cool white 70CRI only, and lacks a tripod mount. The 30 second lockout can be annoying. Internal battery, and USB-C charging. Can also be used as a powerbank. Olight USA (affiliate). Olight AU (affiliate).

  • Lumintop Thor PRO (16,000lm max/1,700lm sustained, 4x18650, $435) - the first flashlight to combine a high brightness floody LED beam, and Laser Excited Phosphor (LEP) emitter pencil beam that can throw light 1300m. Can sustain 1,700lm. Cool white 70CRI only. Can be mounted on a tripod. Purchase with the optional 4x18650 batteries. USB-C charging. Can be used as a powerbank.

The Acebeam X50 has amazing maximum and sustained brightness
The Acebeam X50 2.0 and X50 High CRI have amazing maximum and sustained brightness

Best Cube Light >> LumeCube 2.0 (est. 650lm max/sustained, internal, $90) - a compact 95CRI 5600k floody light, great for drone attachment (or attaching to pretty much anything), waterproof, can be remotely controlled via Bluetooth, and lots of low brightness modes for astro photography. Large range of accessories. Advertised lumens is over-exaggerated (I tested 650lm), but can sustain max brightness until the battery runs out. Internal battery and USB-C charging. If you don't need the mounting options or waterproofing, you will be better off with a RGB LED Panel Light.

Best Portable RGB LED Panel Light >> Weeylite RB9 (1,200lux/0.5m, internal, $85) - RGB LED Panel lights are amazingly flexible for very floody, low to medium brightness illumination. The RB9, made by Viltrox, is one of the brightest portable panels at 1000lm max/sustained (x3 brighter than the Aputure MC), and excellent value for money. Note that lowest 1% output level may be verging on too bright for some astro-photography/low level landscape lighting scenes. >95CRI. Adjustable CCT between 2500k and 8500k (which as with all panel lights can result in a slight magenta tint), RGB colour mixing, brightness and saturation adjustment, lots of effects modes (including rainbow colour fade), on-board or app control. Includes a diffuser, mini-tripod, and cold-shoe mount. No magnets. Internal battery and USB-C charging.

Also consider:

  • Weeylite S05 (500lux/0.5m, internal, $36) - Mini RGB light for when you don't need high brightness, such as for astro-photography/low level landscape lighting, or miniature scenes. Adjustable CCT between 2800k and 6800k, RGB colour mixing, brightness and saturation adjustment, 26 effects modes, app or on-board control. No magnets. Internal battery and USB-C charging.

  • Nanlite Pavotube T8-7X (350lux/0.5m, internal, $95) - a budget LED light wand aimed at creators, and already popular with light painters. Not the brightest LED wand for illumination, but otherwise ticks all the boxes. The T8-7X comes into it's own with its range of effects for creating light trails. Also consider the brighter and more expensive Sirui Duken T60 extendable tube light, and the budget classic (but saturation adjustment lacking) Yongnuo YN360iii. There are better alternatives for studio work, but that isn't the scope of this article.

LED Panel Lights are very useful for floody illumination
LED Panel Lights such as the Weeylite RB9 are very useful for very floody illumination

Specialist lights that don't fit in the above categories:

  • Best Pen Light for Miniature Scenes >> Wuben E19 (200lm max, 2xAAA, $25) - pen lights are useful for illuminating miniature scenes - flowers, fruit bowls, etc. The Wuben E19 uses a 4000k high-CRI emitter, and has 4 brightness levels with last mode memory. Requires 2xAAA batteries.

  • Best Professional Colour Mixing Light >> Protomachines LED8 (2×18650, $559) – very expensive professional colour mixing RGB light with advanced features including exposure timers. Used by Troy Paiva for his amazing junkyard photos. Batteries not included, and no internal charging.

  • Best LEP/Pencil Beam Flashlight >> Natfire SF2 (Internal, $80) - at last a decent and affordable Laser Excited Phosphor (LEP) flashlight, with a pencil beam of light for long distance illumination up to 1200m. It makes expensive zoom lights look rather pathetic! Internal battery and USB-C charging.

  • Best RGBW Zoom Light >> Ledlenser P6R Core QC (270lm max, 18650, $100) - Successor to the non-zoom P7QC. Some spill beam when on full zoom (not a pencil beam). Expensive, but with a very good warranty. Battery included. Magnetic charging. The Walther Pro PL75mc is an alternative, but is only available in limited markets. There are plenty of "cheap'n'nasty" RGBW zoom alternatives on Amazon and Aliexpress, but they are all untested.

  • Best Camping Lantern >> Sofirn LT1S (500lm max, 21700, $45) - whilst I prefer to use flashlights with diffusers, some photographers prefer to use camping lanterns for omni-directional light. The LT1S has >90CRI, can change CCTs between 2600k and 5700k, has 4 brightness levels, steerable beam, and also has red LEDs. Optional 21700 battery, and includes USB-C charging. Product link.

3. Best Headlamps

Headlamps are an underrated piece of equipment for when out at night. 200lm or more will help with focusing lenses in the dark.

Best Ultralight Headlamp >> Nitecore NU25 (360lm max, internal, $37) – despite being an old model, I still think this is the best multi-purpose lightweight headlamp. Compact and rechargeable. Excellent for short outings and running. Brighter than usual Red (13lm), and high CRI auxiliary lights. Internal battery and micro USB charging. Product Link (USA) (aff).

Also consider:

  • Knog Bandicoot 250 (250lm max, internal, $45) - Knog make some very ergonomic and lightweight silicone headlamps, of which the Bandicoot 250 is the mid-range model. Good for short outings and running. The ModeMaker app allows you to add/remove modes, and adjust brightness levels for added flexibility. Unfortunately there is noticeable PWM, and mediocre red output. Internal battery and USB-A charging.

Best Very Bright Headlamp >> Nitecore HC65 V2 (1,750lm max, 18650, $85) – updated version of the excellent Nitecore HC65. 5 well spaced brightness levels from 1,750lm to 1lm. Brighter than usual Red (11lm), and high CRI (35lm) auxiliary lights. Battery included. USB-C charging. The brand new Nitecore HC68 (2,000lm) with focusable beam also looks impressive. HC65 V2 (USA) (aff). HC68 (USA) (aff).

Also consider:

  • Olight Perun 2 (2,500lm max, 18650, $85) – very efficient headlamp, with high brightness - 2,500lm max, (steps down to 800lm at 2 minutes) or long runtime (66h at 30lm). No red light. Battery included. Magnetic charging. Olight USA (affiliate). Olight AU (affiliate).

Best Headlamp for Red Light >> Olight Array 2S (1,000lm max, internal*, $80) - Centrally located spot and flood white emitters (1000lm), plus a super bright red (200lm) emitter. Last mode memory. No moonlight mode, and the hand gesture sensor can be more of an annoyance than being helpful. Internal battery and USB-C charging. Olight USA (affiliate). Olight AU (affiliate).

Also consider:

  • Sofirn D25LR (500lm max, 18650, $25) - Excellent value for money budget headlamp with 90CRI neutral white (500lm) emitter, and super bright (150lm) SST-20 660nm Deep Red emitter. Moonlight modes, last mode memory for both Red and White,and easy user interface. Can get very hot on the highest modes, so not the best consumer option! Optional battery and micro USB charging. Product Link.

The Olight Array 2S and Sofirn D25LR have very bright red LED emitters.
The Olight Array 2S and Sofirn D25LR have very bright red LED emitters.

A good headlamp can be useful for light painting scenes
A good headlamp can be useful for light painting scenes

4. Conclusion

This article has listed many flashlights or torches that will make light painting much easier. Your light painting techniques will determine which lights are most suitable, and I would advise building up a collection of lights that meet your requirements. I often use 3 to 4 different flashlights per light painting photo!

I usually state which flashlights are used for Light Painting photos on my Instagram account, so check that out if you are interested to know which light was used to create a specific effect.

If you need more information about batteries and chargers, please have a look at my Battery and Charger Buying Guide.

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