Olight S10 Baton Review

Olight S10 Baton - Front

I’ve always had a bit of a thing for torches. In recent years, I’ve taken quite a liking to ‘tactical’ style torches, which tend to have great build quality and good design, and can be really bright for their size and weight. I’ve had a couple of really good ones from Fenix, and they make great torches. These tactical torches have one ‘feature’ that makes them a bit awkward for my use: the button.

In cop shows and films with FBI agents raiding buildings, they’re often rushing through dark places with guns and torches. Generally, they have the gun in one hand, resting on the hand that’s holding the torch. In this use, the best place for the button is on the back end of the torch, to operate with the thumb.

I’m not with the FBI. I don’t often find myself searching dark buildings with a gun and a torch.

I’m more likely to be heading to the toilet at night, and want to make sure I don’t step in anything the cat has deposited. Or I may be heading upstairs with bags of shopping, after dark. Operating a button on the back of the torch isn’t very convenient when holding it casually in one hand. A button in the side, in the usual place for a ‘normal’ torch, is much more convenient.

Olight S10 Baton - Button

The other important factor to me is because of the first use mentioned – when I just need to see my way at night, I don’t need (or want) much light. Too much light just damages your night vision, so you can’t see again when you turn the light off. I also find it wakes my brain up a bit further, making it harder to get back to sleep. A lot of torches have very bright modes, but relatively few have very dim modes.

I did quite a bit of reading on my favourite site for such things, Heinnie Haynes, and finally decided on the O-Light S10 Baton. Come to think of it, the title of this post may have spoiled the suspense a little.

Olight S10 Baton - Upright with Lanyard

The Good

The features I especially like:

  • The brightest mode is really bright (320 lumens), for such a small torch. I have one brighter torch, but it’s much bigger and heavier, and uses an awkward rechargeable battery.

Olight S10 Baton - Emitter

  • The dimmest mode is really dim (0.5 lumens). Again, I have one that can go dimmer, but it’s just about right. It’s enough to see where I’m going when my eyes are used to the dark, but not much brighter than it needs to be.
  • There are enough other modes to cope with most things, and they’re spread out quite nicely. Again, I have another torch with more modes, but using them all starts to get complicated. This is simple and quick to use.
  • Build quality seems really good. I’ve had it for around 8 months now, carried every day, and it’s only showing a few minor scratches.
  • Opinion seems varied on the pocket clip, but it works well for me, clipping to to my jeans pockets.
  • The control system is quite straightforward. If you haven’t used ‘tactical’ style torches before, that may sound like an odd thing to say, but when a torch has multiple light levels, and often SOS and/or strobe modes, it can get quite complicated to operate all the features with just one button. This uses a short ‘click’ to switch on and off, and a longer click to switch between three light levels when it’s on. A longer click when it’s off will switch it on at an even lower level. It’s very handy to always have the lowest level available directly from off. At night, you don’t want to have to switch a torch on at a bright level, then switch down; because by time you’ve switched it down again, the damage to your night vision is done, you’re blinded, and the low level is no good to you any more.
  • The tail cap is magnetic. This is a great feature that I’m surprised isn’t available on more torches. If it’s inconvenient for you because it keeps grabbing your keys, the magnet is removable. It can be quite useful, though, letting you attach it quite firmly to fridges, radiators, railings, cars, etc.

Olight S10 Baton - Tail and Lanyard Hole

  • Possibly the greatest feature of all, and one I now can’t see why all torches don’t have: two parts of the torch are made from glow-in-the-dark rubber. Need the torch in the dark? It’s the glowing dot beside you. It isn’t bright, but it’s enough to find it in the dark as long as you know roughly where you left it. Less fumbling around on the table by the bed. The two parts are:
    • The button – this is really quite a dim glow, but keeps glowing for quite a long time. It seems to last through the night.
    • A rubber ring around the front of the torch, set around the ‘glass’. This glows brighter, but doesn’t last for long. It’s perfect to see it again after you’ve just been using it, but doesn’t last long enough to find it hours later. It does get ‘recharged’ every time you use the torch, though.

Olight S10 Baton - The End

I gather there’s a newer version of this torch out now, which adds a couple of extra features that would be handy, but also changes the button from white to blue, which doesn’t look quite as good to me. I don’t think the new one glows either. Presumably theres a reason for the change, so maybe the glowy rubber tends to wear out – mind hasn’t yet, but maybe it will.

A Bit About Batteries

Olight S10 Baton - Open

The S10 uses one CR123 battery. That’s a feature I like, but might be a deal-breaker for other people. I’m happy to buy torch batteries online specially for it, while other people don’t want their torch to use batteries they can’t pick up at the supermarket. CR123s have some advantages:

  • They’re small and lightweight for the power they contain – shorter and fatter than an AA battery, but they weigh less and hold more power.
  • They have a long shelf life, so you can buy a few, and keep them in. I’ve never seen one leak, so they’re much safer to leave in things, or have in storage.
  • They aren’t the cheapest batteries around, but they’re quite reasonable if you buy online. They’re specialist enough that most physical shops either won’t have them or will charge a lot, though.

The Bad

I haven’t found much to dislike about the S10 Baton:

  • The clip isn’t perfect. There’s a kind of ‘step’ partway up, where it actually attaches to the torch. I haven’t found it too awkward, but some people have found it gets in the way and makes the clip unusable. It probably depends how thick the thing you’re clipping it to is, but it works ok on the pocket of my jeans. Moving the clip around, even just rotating it when using the torch, can mark the anodised surface, scratching through the black. I don’t mind my torches and tools looking a bit ‘used’, so it doesn’t bother me much, but the design of the clip could probably be better.

Olight S10 Baton - Clip

  • The CR123 battery will be too much trouble for some people. If it’s a problem for you, there’s the S15 Baton, which uses an AA battery instead.

Updated Version

There’s a newer version out now, called the S10-L2. It’s increased the light output to 400 lumens on the brightest setting. The side button is now blue, and I’m not sure if it still glows in the dark – it appears not to from this review on CandlePowerForums. The comments give some comparisons with the one I have, and some comments on the light colour – some people have found it a bit green-tinted, though I haven’t noticed.

  • If you’re in the UK, and you want one, I’d go to Heinnie – I’ve always found them good and reliable

Colour Results from Black and White Photos

This is about how I use my Sony NEX to shoot black and white photos, but can switch any photo to colour later.

There are long arguments about the relative merits of shooting RAW format or JPEG. Both have their good and bad points. While some people think shooting both together is a good idea, most see it as a waste of time and space. There can be at least one good reason, though, and an extra one that applies with the Sony NEX (Search for "Sony NEX" on: DuckDuckGo, Amazon UK, Amazon US) and probably some other cameras.

  • RAW files capture all the data the sensor could see, and can potentially be reprocessed later to give better results. You can recover highlights from shots you overexposed, to a limited extent, and you can recover from the camera’s JPEG algorithms that sometimes over-process things when trying to eliminate noise. They are quite a bit bigger than the equivalent JPEG files, though, so there’s a cost in storage space, and the camera will usually be slower.
  • JPEG files only store a final processed version of the sensor data. Most of the time, though, differences are pretty close to unnoticeable to most people (I can’t usually tell), and the files are much smaller.

I’ve changed over the years – when I first got a camera capable of saving RAW files, I used RAW all the time. My Nikon D90 was quite slow with RAW files though, and I couldn’t see the difference, so I started using JPEG files for everything. The camera was much faster, emptying photos from card to computer took much less time, the photos themselves took up less space. And I couldn’t see any difference in the results. It seemed like it was all win.

These days, I often like to shoot in black and white. Occasionally, though, a shot appears quickly that would look better in colour. Stop to change the camera settings, and the moment might be gone. Even if there’s time, it means more fiddling with controls, which I usually prefer to keep to a minimum.

Many people, even if they’re planning on producing black and white shots, shoot only in colour, then convert to black and white later. It can give better results, as you can do the equivalent of applying coloured filters when processing. I’m not so used to seeing in black and white, though, and I find it really helpful to see the black and white image in the viewfinder or screen when I’m shooting.

Shooting in RAW+JPEG offers an answer. I can still set the camera to shoot in black and white, and that’s how the JPEG files are written. The RAW files, though, are unprocessed, so they can’t be black and white. So the result is both a black and white and a colour image at once, saved at the same time. The camera display is black and white, so I see the scene in black and white as I’m taking the photos. When I import the photos from the camera into Aperture, I set it to import both files as a pair, using the JPEG file as the master.

I have all the files in Aperture, as usual, with any colour shots in colour, and any black and white shots in black and white. If I want a black and white shot turned into a colour shot, though, I just right-click the file, and choose ‘Use RAW as original’. That black and white photo becomes colour. Magic.

The other advantage is a bit more particular to the Sony NEX, when using manual focus – especially with old lenses. It has a feature called focus peaking. Wherever it detects high contrast in the image it’s looking at, it highlights the edge in yellow (or red, or white, depending on settings). Wherever the edges sparkle in the selected colour, you have good focus. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good, and it makes manual focussing quite quick and easy. Whichever colour you select for peaking, you sometimes find there’s too much of that colour in the scene, so the peaking isn’t easy to see. It’s not a huge problem, and I find bright yellow is best, but when the viewfinder or screen is showing you a black and white image, there isn’t a problem at all. The only colour in the viewfinder is yellow wherever there’s sharp focus.

It’s a convenient combination, and for me seems to be worth the extra space and time the RAW+JPEG pairs cost. And when making black and white images, I can either work from the JPEG the camera produced, or switch to the colour RAW file, and convert back to black and white from there, applying colour filters for different looks. I also process a lot of photos to a heavily desaturated look – colour, but only just colour – these are usually photos I took in black and white, and allowed a bit of colour back through in processing. It’s also useful for selective colour images – not something I do often, but it can be nice when done subtly.

In practice, I leave the camera in black and white most of the time, but I’ll switch to colour if I have time, for shots where the colour is important. I’m more likely to leave it on black and white when I’m using an old manual focus lens. Shooting with RAW+JPEG gives me the flexibility to have the camera working in whatever mode I want, but to always be able to restore the colour to any photo I take.

Asahi Takumar 50mm f/1.4 Lens

My Sony NEX-6 has a couple of features that make it practical to attach old lenses to it. I bought a few old lenses on eBay, but one of them is really standing out for me – an Asahi Takumar from around 1971. It’s heavy, the lens elements have gone a bit yellow with age, and mould has grown inside it, but I got it for a great price, and it’s producing some really nice images. Wide open, it tends to give things a warm, creamy look that reminds me of an oaky chardonnay. Stopped down a little, things quickly become sharper, and the colour cast is reduced.

The Experience

It’s a slightly different experience shooting with a manual lens. I learned photography with manual focus lenses, using a Canon AV-1, with a 70-210 zoom and 2x converter. Lenses at that time were all manual focus, and were designed for it. You twist a ring, and it stops at infinity (focussed on the far distance). Twist the other way, and it stops when it gets as close as it can.

Most modern lenses are autofocus, with a focussing ring to let you take over when you want to. The ring isn’t usually directly connected to the lens elements, though, and on many lenses, it doesn’t stop at the ends. It’s there for ‘emergency’ use more than as something they expect people to use often.

With a manual lens, the camera also can’t control the aperture – that’s set manually by another ring on the lens. Again, it stops at the widest and narrowest ends, and clicks between stops (well, most do). Set the camera in Aperture Priority or Program modes, and it works like Aperture Priority, you just can’t control the aperture where you normally would. Set it to Manual or Shutter Priority, and it’s all manual. I probably use Aperture Priority more than any other mode normally anyway, so it doesn’t feel like too big a jump. The aperture ring on the lens is a nicer way to change aperture than the control on the camera.

The camera doesn’t know what aperture was used, so you can’t check in the EXIF data when you’re looking at your shots later, which is a shame. It’s good for learning to be able to check what aperture was used for which shots. If you use old manual lenses, you might not even know what lens was used for a shot. I’ve taken to working around this by taking photos of the camera and lens with my iPhone, which then pops into Aperture alongside the photos I was taking. Make sure the camera’s time is set reasonably accurately, and the ‘notes’ should slot into the right places among the photos.

Live Preview

Because the aperture is actually being stopped down when you adjust the setting, not when you take the photo, you see the depth of field you’ll get live on screen. In that way, it’s even an improvement on the sort of SLR this lens was designed for.

Focussing

The camera can’t do it, so you have to handle focussing yourself. It’s easier than manually focussing with most modern lenses, but still takes a bit of getting used to. I haven’t had to focus manually for years, other than the occasional specialist shot, like when I took photos of star trails at night. Fortunately, the focus peaking feature of the NEX makes it relatively easy to see what’s in focus and what isn’t.

After using the Takumar a lot for a couple of weeks, going back to an autofocus lens actually felt a bit clumsy – less in control than I had been with manual.

The Results

You can see a lot of photos taken with this lens here on PigPog – they should all be tagged with Takumar50f14. A few of my favourites:

Civilian Labs Air Manila MacBook Air Sleeve Review

From a recent spending spree at Heinnie Haynes, the Civilian Labs Air Manila leather sleeve for my MacBook Air may be the only item that won’t get as much use as I’d hoped. And it isn’t the sleeve’s fault at all – it just doesn’t fit where I hoped it would.

When the first MacBook Air was unveiled, Steve Jobs produced it from inside a manila envelope, highlighting how amazingly thin it was. The Air Manila sleeve is a leather sleeve designed to look like a manila envelope.

Civilian Labs Air Manila (7)

It’s a bit brighter in colour, in an orange-yellow ‘mango’ colour. It’s quite a bit thicker than an envelope, too, as it’s made from leather, with a good layer of padding to protect your expensive computer. There’s velcro to keep it closed, but the twist-string closure is there too, completing the envelope look. There’s a really nice quality feel to the whole thing. It even smells nice – it seems like they’ve added a bit of mango scent to the leather. If the bright colour is too much for you, it’s also available in black. I usually go for everything in black, and really don’t like yellow and orange, but the bright cheery colour just seemed right for this.

Civilian Labs Air Manila (1)

It feels like it will provide good protection, and it looks great. The only reason I probably won’t get much use out of it is that it doesn’t quite fit into the bag I bought at the same time. The Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger is roomy enough for the MacBook Air, but not for the Air in the Air Manila sleeve. The sleeve adds a bit too much width.

Given the price, which makes it cheaper than most leather sleeves, and not much more expensive than many non-leather sleeves of much simpler design, it’s easy to recommend the Air Manila. As long as you have space in your bag.

More photos of the Air Manila:

Sony NEX with Legacy Lenses

I’ve already mentioned one unexpected side-effect of my recent acquisition of a Sony NEX-6 camera. It has set me off buying old lenses on eBay. Now, it’s time to introduce you to some of the needed parts, and to let you meet some of my new toys. Well – our new toys now, as Sam has now joined Club NEX with her own NEX-5R.

Adapters

Nikon

The first adapter I bought was for Nikon-mount lenses. I paid a bit extra to get one that can push the aperture lever on the back of the lens, so I can still have some sort of control of the aperture. It lets me use my Nikon lenses and my Nikon-mount Lensbaby kit.

The Nikon lenses probably won’t be used long term, as I gradually replace what they can do with other modern and legacy lenses. They’re worth too much to a modern Nikon user, so I’ll probably be selling them at some point. The Lensbaby kit will stay.

M42 Screw-Mount

I ordered one of these from eBay. It arrived, and worked with one lens and one 2x converter, but didn’t work with any of the lenses I most wanted it for. They’d fit on so far, but not far enough, and couldn’t focus on anything beyond around 3m away. I decided to hang on to it to use with a macro kit, as it had been cheap enough that I didn’t want to bother with returning it.

I ordered another one from Amazon. That arrived, and instead of an approximately 3cm thick adaptor, I received a tiny, approximately 5mm thick ring. It did look as though it might have the right connectors, but there’s no way it could work – the lens wouldn’t be far enough away from the sensor. Being in the wrong place by a couple of millimetres is a problem – being more than 2cm out really wouldn’t work. The picture was of a ‘real’ adaptor, so that one is going back.

I then ordered yet another from eBay, and this one works really well:

This one fits nicely at both ends, and looks good. I ordered another one of these for Sam to use too, and the second works just as well.

Lenses

Nikon

From my D90 kit, I had an 18-200 zoom and a 35mm f/1.8 prime. Both work ok on the Nikon adapter, but both make the camera really rather bigger than it ‘should’ be. The 35mm isn’t so bad, but the 18-200 and adaptor add up to a big heavy lens. It seemed a bit large on the Nikon D90, so it’s huge on the front of a NEX. It really makes it feel more like a lens with a camera hanging on the back than a camera with a lens attached.

Avoiding the size and weight was the main point of getting the NEX, so I won’t be using these a lot.

Lensbaby

I already have the Lensbaby Composer for Nikon, and it works well with the adaptor. Somehow, the addition of the adaptor doesn’t make the Lensbaby kit feel too big. The NEX can still auto-expose with the Lensbaby, which the D90 couldn’t, so it feels nicer to use too.

I haven’t really played with this kit much yet, but it works well, and will be easier (and so, probably, more fun) to use on the Sony than it ever was on the Nikon.

Carl Zeiss Tessar 50mm f/2.8

I got this one at a reasonable price on eBay. Possibly a bit cheaper than it would otherwise have been because it doesn’t say ‘Carl Zeiss’ on it – soon after the war, the Zeiss factory split when Germany was split up, and the original factory wasn’t able to sell lenses to some markets if they marked them as ‘Carl Zeiss’, so they’re marked as ‘Aus Jena’. Same lens, same original factory.

It works ok, though the focus ring is very stiff. Results are good – a bit of a ‘cold’ look, but nice and smooth in the out of focus areas (the almighty ‘bokeh’). I like it a lot, and it could see a lot more use if it wasn’t for…

Asahi Takumar 50mm f/1.4

It’s a Pentax from the days before ‘Pentax’ – back when they were the Asahi Optical Company. The coatings on the optics include radioactive materials. The same coatings go a bit yellow with time, and give all your images a slightly odd warm tint. It’s also gone a bit mouldy inside. Given the price I paid, though, I’m really very happy with it. It tends to do nice things with the photos I take.

At f/1.4, images aren’t perfect, but the depth of field is wonderfully tiny. I like tiny depth of field. Stopped down just a little, and the images become sharper, and can still have quite small depth of field. Either way, it gives a nice warm bokeh.

It’s still very early days of testing, but I think this one could be something of a favourite.

It cost me less than £20, including delivery – I got lucky with this one.

Others

Other lenses I’ve picked up on eBay, generally at very low prices:

  • Chinon 135mm f/2.8. Quite a wide maximum aperture for the focal length, and reputedly, almost all 135mm lenses are pretty decent. Not really tried it yet, but I’d expect decent results.
  • Hanimex 200mm f/4. Not a bad maximum aperture for the length, but I don’t expect good results from this one. Cheap 200mm lenses can be bad, and Hanimex were never renowned for their optical quality. Maybe it will surprise me when I get around to trying it properly, but a few quick test shots from outside our front door don’t make it very hopeful.
  • 2x Converters. I have two of them for m42 mount lenses. Both were very cheap. I’d expect really crappy results when adding them to pretty much any other lens, but they were so cheap I couldn’t resist the idea of stacking two 2x converters on the above Hanimex, to see how bad the results can get.
  • Cosinon 50mm f/1.7. Should be good, but I just got caught up in how good the Asahi was, and the interest of seeing how good a Zeiss lens really is, that this one got ignored.

So

Quite a bit of enjoyment so far, for relatively little money. Plenty more fun to be had trying out more of them. And not too much wasted if I end up only getting real use out of one or two. Cheaper than most modern lenses for the lot.