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  • Stephen Knight

Flashlight Review: Convoy S15

Updated: Apr 23

The Convoy S15 flashlight/torch is an evolution of the popular Convoy S2+, with a simpler user interface, impressive 1,500 lumens output, and US$16 price tag. Is this is a good budget flashlight for general purpose use and light painting photography?


Convoy S15 Flashlight.
Convoy S15 Flashlight.

Disclaimer


The Convoy S15 was purchased with my own funds. This review does not contain any affiliate links. This flashlight is reviewed from the perspective of a light painting photographer and flashlight enthusiast.


Construction and Design


The Convoy S15 is an evolution of the Convoy S2+, possibly one of the best selling flashlights of modern times. It has been available to the Asian market for a while, and only recently released on Convoy's global Aliexpress store. It is an 18650 battery tube format flashlight, with a rubber tail switch, head diameter of 24.5mm, length of 120mm, and weight of 86g. The light uses a powerful Luminus SST-40 LED, available in neutral white 5000k, or cool white 6500k. I tested the latter version as it better for use with light painting tools. The retail price at the time of writing was just US$16 without battery, and US$20 including a 18650 Li-ion battery.


The light comes with a side clip that is reversible in direction, with grooves on the tail cap and head end of the body/tube. The light also comes with a lanyard. There are no instructions, but the light isn't exactly difficult to use. The packaging was of the usual minimalist Convoy packaging, which in my opinion is too minimalist for when batteries are being shipped internally. I would rather pay a few $ more for better packaging.


A high quality unprotected 3500mAh 18650 Li-ion battery is optional, and I would highly recommend purchasing this as an option. As usual, the +ve end of the battery is at the head end of the flashlight. The flashlight has no internal charging, though basic Li-ion chargers are also available from Convoy from just US$3.


This flashlight is compatible with Light Painting Brushes (Universal Connector), Light Painting Paradise, and T8 tube based (Light Painting Tubes, Luminosify, Light Painting King, and LightTubePro) light painting systems. It fits U-shaped tripod mounts. It isn't compatible with Convoy 24.5mm diffusers.


The  Convoy S15 flashlight has a reversable clip.
The Convoy S15 flashlight has a reversable clip.

The Convoy S15 has a single mechanical tail switch.
The Convoy S15 has a single mechanical tail switch.

Convoy S15 head, body, tail, and 18650 battery.
Convoy S15 head, body, tail, and 18650 battery.

The Convoy S15 is compatible with most light painting systems.
The Convoy S15 is compatible with most light painting systems.


User Interface


The Convoy S15 is designed to be a very easy to use flashlight. It has a very basic user interface. There are 4 modes 1%, 10%, 40%, and 100% with last mode memory. A full click of the tail switch is on/off, and half press advances through the modes. Simple!


There is unfortunately no strobe mode, or other flashing modes. Thus for light painting photographers, this flashlight is only useful for continuous (non-strobe) light trails. There is currently a severe lack of budget flashlights with easily accessible (i.e. single click from off) constant frequency strobes for light painters. There is also no remote pressure switch available for this light.


Beam, Output, and Runtime


The Convoy S15 has a Luminus SST-40 LED (5000 or 6500k) in a smooth reflector, with green anti-reflective lens. The 6500k version was tested. The optics create a beam profile with a fairly well defined hotspot, and 80 degree spill beam. Measurements in this section used an Opple Light Master Pro 3.


Brightness:

  • 100% - 1,515 lumens / after step down 680 lumens.

  • 40% - 660 lumens

  • 10% - 90 lumens

  • 1% -10 lumens

Maximum brightness (100% mode) is pretty impressive for a $16 flashlight. The light starts off at 1,515 lumens, and gradually steps down to 680 lumens between 1 and 4 minutes. On 40% mode, the light starts at 660 lumens, and the brightness is sustained above 600 lumens throughout most of the runtime. This is an impressive sustained brightness for an 18650 tube format flashlight. Low voltage warning flashes started at 121 minutes. As with most Convoy lights where the thermal limiting is set to 55C, this light runs hot on 100% and 40% modes.


Peak beam intensity:

  • 100% - 20,520 cd or lux/1m.

Peak beam intensity is also fairly impressive for an 18650 tube format light, helped by the SST-40 LED and a smooth reflector. The light has a good general purpose beam, and is also highly suitable for use with longer light painting tools such as T8 tubes, rods, sabers, etc. When light painting with a Luminosify Twilight Choob, with the light on 40% brightness mode, I used a photographic exposure of f/11, ISO100. Thus on 100% mode, it is quite possible that this light is bright enough for blue hour light painting.


Hotspot correlated colour temperature CCT, colour rending CRI Ra, and tint / DUV:

  • 100% - CCT 5795k, CRI 65.5 Ra CRI, Tint +0.0093 DUV.

  • 40% - CCT 5680k, CRI 64.3 Ra CRI, Tint +0.0110 DUV.

  • 10% - CCT 5549k, CRI 63.1 Ra, Tint +0.0128 DUV.

  • 1% - CCT 5370k, CRI 61.5 Ra, Tint +0.0138 DUV.

The hotspot CCT is between 5300-5800k depending on the brightness, however due to tint shift, the spill beam is much cooler. Even by low CRI standards, the CRI is pretty poor in this light at 61-66 Ra. Whilst low CRI flashlights are fine for use with light painting tools (i.e. creating light trails), I do not generally recommend them for low to medium brightness night photography illumination (i.e. lighting things up). This is due to resulting photos looking "washed out" compared to using 95 CRI flashlights such as the excellent Convoy S21E 519A. Tint, as is expected for a SST-40 LED, is not great either. On 100% mode, there is a very slight green tint (+ve DUV), but the lower modes have an increasingly green tint. Of course, plenty more expensive lights from major flashlight manufacturers, also have the same tint issue. I doubt that any of the primary target audience for this flashlight would be concerned about the CRI and tint.


No Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) was detected visually, or by my phone camera.


The Convoy S15 has a SST-40 LED and smooth reflector.
The Convoy S15 has a SST-40 LED and smooth reflector.

Convoy S15 beam profile.
Convoy S15 beam profile.

Light painting photography using the Convoy S15 flashlight and Twilight Choob from Luminosify.
Light painting photography using the Convoy S15 flashlight and Twilight Choob from Luminosify.

Conclusion


Positives:

  • Very good value for money - just US$16, US$20 including battery, or from US$23 including battery and charger.

  • Good maximum brightness/size.

  • Good sustained brightness/size.

  • Easy to use.

  • Last mode memory.

  • Reversible side clip.

  • Compatible with most light painting systems.

  • No PWM.

Negatives:

  • No strobe mode.

  • No internal charging.

  • No momentary.

  • CRI is poor, even for a low CRI light.

  • Noticeable green tint on lower brightness modes.

  • Minimalist packaging.

  • No remote pressure switch.

For general purpose use, the Convoy S15 is a good value for money, and easy to use flashlight. However, I would recommend spending a little bit more for the far superior Convoy S21E 519A with 95 CRI and USB-C charging.


For light painting photography (creating light trails) the S15 is a very good budget choice if you can handle the lack of both strobe mode and internal charging. It should even be bright enough for blue hour light painting with T8 tubes.




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