Headlamp Review: Sofirn D25LR
Updated: Jun 1
I've been waiting for a headlamp with a both bright red and white high-CRI LED emitter options for many years, and Sofirn have finally brought this configuration to the market.
The Sofirn D25LR was purchased with my own funds. Links from this review are non-affiliate - I do not make any money from links or sales.
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Construction and Design
The Sofirn D25LR is a headlamp with dual emitters - a bright red and high-CRI white light LED emitters. The Sofirn D25LR, which also has "77 Outdoor" branding, has a similar body to other Sofirn, Boruit, and Xanes D25 based headlamps, so the body is probably produced by another OEM, but with electronics and emitter differences. Other D25 options from Sofirn are the dual SST-40 D25S, and dual high-CRI D25L. All retail in the US$20 to $30 range, sometimes even cheaper. The D25LR arrived in a branded cardboard box, with the headlamp, USB charging cable, and instructions.
The D25LR has a tube for the 18650 Li-ion battery, with 2 centrally located LEDs and reflectors (which I prefer over L/angle light formats). The tail cap unscrews for battery access. The switch cap, has a single button and can be unscrewed to allow access to the micro USB charging point. The light is supplied with a single head-strap that goes around the head, which I prefer over the 2 band designs which go around and over the head. The tube can be rotated in its holder to angle it 90 degrees upwards or downwards if required. The dimensions of the battery tube are 86mm x 25mm, and weight is 80g excluding the battery. The IPX6 rating means that it should be able to survive use in rain and a short dunking, and the light survived a 10 second test dunk in water.
The light can be purchased with an optional Sofirn re-wrapped 3000mAh Li-ion 18650 unprotected battery (the same as the one in the excellent Light Painting Paradise LightPainter torch) for only $2 extra, which I would recommend purchasing due to the current worldwide shortage of Li-ion batteries. The OEM manufacturer is presumed to be DLG. Personally I would prefer a protected 18650 battery in a headlamp, but at least modern Li-ion cells are far less volatile than in the past! Instructions, and a USB-A to micro USB cable are included.
Construction quality is good for the price point, with the casing made out of aluminium. It doesn't feel as solid as my trusty Nitecore HC65, and I wouldn't trust it for rough use such as caving. However, for most uses, build quality is good enough.
The user interface is nice and simple.
Single click from off - turns on, into white light (last mode memory).
Hold (1.5s) from off - turns on, into red light (last mode memory).
Single click from on - turns off.
Hold from on, advanced through modes moonlight > low > medium > high. The speed of this mode change is perfect.
I really like the last mode memory for both white and red LEDs!
When using the internal charging, there is a red indicator light, which turns green once the battery is fully charged. The charging terminated correctly at 4.2V. There is thankfully (due to the optional battery being unprotected) low voltage cut off at 2.95V. The light can also be mechanically locked out for safety by slightly unscrewing the tail cap.
There are no strobe, SOS, beacon, or other flashy modes, which is no great loss in a headlamp.
Beam and Output
The Sofirn D25LR has two shallow identical orange peel reflectors. Once contains a white 90CRI 5000k Samsung LH351D LED emitter. The other contains a deep red Luminus SST-20 LED emitter. This is an excellent combination, as both high-CRI white light and deep red are very useful in a headlamp.
High CRI and neutral white light renders colours much better than typical 70CRI LEDs. This can this be important to tell tell the difference between a stick or a snake on the ground, or checking that meat is well cooked on a BBQ when camping. The 90CRI LH351D emitter renders colours far better than 70CRI emitters that are found on most headlamps, though it isn't the best high CRI emitter type for rendering red. The CCT appeared to be slightly warmer than the claimed 5000k, and has a slight green tint - not as good as the tint bin on my LH351D equipped Emisar DT8, but nowhere near as green tinted as SST-20 5000k emitters. There is a large hotspot, with a typical floody beam profile.
The red light is estimated at 150 red lumens is much brighter than in most headlamps which only have a 5 lumen red light. This is quite useful for night and light painting photographers . Unlike most red headlamps, flashlights, and torches, the emitter is deep red 660nm instead of the usual 620nm "orange-red". This is much better at preserving night vision, and creates more of a "blood red" when being used for illumination. Due to the small LED, there is a well defined hotspot.
The lumen output for the white light is claimed to be:
I measured actual brightness to be within +/- 10% of these claims at 30 seconds. The modes are well spaced, and the moonlight mode is very useful for multiple purposes. On High Mode, the light started at 550lm before (presumably timed) brightness step down to 320lm between 1 and 3 minutes. The unregulated output then gradually declined with decreasing battery voltage throughout the runtime. A low voltage warning flash started at 3hr 50mins, 80lm, and 3.0V. Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) was not detected on any mode - yay! There appears to be no thermal control, so in warm conditions with no air flow, the light can get very hot (>60C) on high mode, requiring responsible use. On 230lm medium mode, the light became hot, but not too hot. The sustained brightness of <320lm is mediocre, but not terrible. The Olight Array 2S and Nitecore HC65 can manage 500lm for the first 90 minutes of runtime.
The % output (more likely to be % current) for the red light is claimed to be:
Red lumen output is difficult to estimate, as my light meter appears to be less sensitive to 660nm than 620nm found on comparison lights. Visually I would estimate 75% of the lumen output of the 200lm red Olight Array 2S, which results in 150lm. This is x30 brighter than the 5lm red on most headlamps!
I would prefer a slightly wider spill beam, and will probably apply some D-C-Fix diffusion film to the lens to diffuse the light more.
Things I liked:
Both high-CRI neutral white, and red emitters.
Very bright deep red brightness (x30 brighter than most headlamps).
Good white light output.
Excellent value for money.
Easy to use.
Last mode memory for both white and red emitters.
Moonlight mode (1lm).
Internal charging, and optional 18650 battery.
Low voltage protection and mechanical lock out for safety.
Things I didn't like:
Mediocre sustained brightness - 320 lumens.
Slight green tint on LH351D emitter.
Included Li-ion battery is unprotected.
Beam could be a little bit wider.
Doesn't appear to have any thermal control - can reach >60C in unfavourable conditions.
The Sofirn D25LR is by far the best value for money headlamp I've tested. The combination of 500 lumen high-CRI white light, 150 lumen deep red light, moonlight mode, internal USB charging, easy to use user interface, and budget price, ticks all the right boxes. Due to lack of thermal control, and unprotected Li-ion battery I would only recommend it to more responsible users. Users who require a consumer-grade headlamp with a bright red light should maybe consider the more expensive Olight Array 2S instead, though that sadly lacks high-CRI and moonlight modes.
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