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

Trying: Using Striiv iOS App to Encourage More Walking

2013 08 25 14 15 01I’ve written at some length about using Fitbit to track my activity, and encourage me to do a bit more. It was somewhat effective, and I liked the device a lot. It was only moderately effective at getting me to actually move about more, though.

After an unfortunate accident killed Sam’s Fitbit, I gave her mine to use, which left me with no tracking. I remembered seeing an iPhone app called Striiv for tracking, which had seemed like a bad idea at the time. Now I had no alternative, I thought it might be worth trying. When I say it seemed like a bad idea, I mean that I didn’t expect it to actually count steps with any accuracy at all, and I expected it to run the battery down far too quickly to be usable.

Well, after a couple of weeks or so at trying it out, I can say I was partially wrong on both counts:

  • It works far more reliably than I expected. I think the step counting is a bit less reliable than Fitbit, but it’s very close. I usually find it’s around 10% or so out, sometimes 20% or so. Considering that’s just using the accelerometer in the iPhone, though, I think it’s pretty good. I don’t need accuracy, I just need a good idea of how I’m doing relative to other days.
  • It does drain the battery, but not enough to be too much of a problem for me. I still get a full day of use most of the time, but it’s a bit more of a problem if we’re out and about for the day. Veho Pebble (Search for "Veho Pebble" on: DuckDuckGo, Amazon UK, Amazon US) portable chargers look like a good way around the problem, so I may well get one, but it would still be a bit less convenient than the Fitbit was.

What it does do that the Fitbit didn’t really do very well for me is encouraging more activity. It pushes me gently during the day to do more. It keeps setting goals for me, with a little graph showing how close I am to walking the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, or how much more I need to do to burn off a can of soda. It also offers little challenges. If I walk, say, 50 steps in a minute, I get a reward of some extra energy points. If I do 10 more minutes of activity in the next 20 minutes, I can have 7,500 energy points, but it will cost me 750 points to take the challenge.

But why would I want energy points? Well, that’s all part of the ‘MyLand’ game. You have a little world, and you can add plants and buildings to your world, to try to attract creatures back to the land. The game isn’t great, and it’s fairly similar to many other ‘world-building’ games out there, but it still works on me. There are gold coins, which you use to buy a building. But that just gives you a pile of stone and parts. You then need to use energy points to actually put the building together. You can spend gold to upgrade your building, but again, you need to use energy points to make the upgrade actually happen. Walking around is the only way to get your energy points, and it’s much more efficient to get them by doing challenges too. Well, you can get more by inviting friends and weighing yourself, but you can’t buy your way around doing stuff.

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The result is that I walk more than I otherwise would, in order to build a rather crappy little virtual hut, in a game that I probably wouldn’t be playing if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s helping to motivate me to do more. It turns out I’m surprisingly easily tricked into being a bit more active.

It’s a free app, so if it sounds interesting, give it a try. You can add me as a friend too – I’m on there as michael@pigpog.com – you’ll get some extra points for inviting me, and there are extra bonuses to be had for activities your friends do. You can even take part in a Walkathon, to donate a day of clean water to a child in South America.

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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:

Zoom – a New Lens for my NEX-6: the Sony SEL55210

I finally decided what my first lens purchase was going to be for my Sony NEX-6, after the standard kit zoom it arrived with. I chose the SEL55210 – a 55-210 zoom from Sony. There are larger zoom ranges available, but they’re much bigger. First, the standard kit zoom at 24mm:

Now the new zoom at 210mm:

First Impressions

First impressions are good. It’s quite small and light, so it can slip into a coat pocket, while the camera is in another pocket. I can still go out without a bag or backpack to carry. The focussing can use PDAF (Phase Detect – the type of focussing used by DSLR cameras), so it should be quicker. That can only work in good light, though, which it hasn’t seen much of yet. A quick test with some birds outside today certainly doesn’t suggest it will match my Nikon D90 for such shots, but they’re very much an occasional thing for me.

It seems like it should do 90% of what I might want it to do, and it fits in a pocket. Seems like a win.

What Next?

The main thing I’m still lacking is anything that can get to a wide aperture. There are several f1.8 lenses, but I haven’t settled on which to go for yet.

  • The Sony 16mm f2.8 pancake lens looks good, but f2.8 isn’t enough. I’ll probably go for one of these at some point anyway, mainly for the sake of adding the fisheye adaptor. That gives really wide angles, for relatively little money, and the results I’ve seen are pretty good.
  • The Sony/Zeiss 24mm f1.8 is nice. The images I’ve seen from it do look better than those from other lenses. It’s a lot of money, though. A lot.
  • The Sony 35mm f1.8 looks like it will be good, though it’s a bit unknown until a few more people actually get them to try. The advantage is it’s the same focal length I’ve liked a lot when using the Nikon 35mm f1.8 lens. The disadvantage is it’s the same focal length I’ve used before, rather than something different.
  • The Sony 50mm f1.8 looks nice, and gives some fantastic results. It’s a bit of a long focal length for ‘normal’ use, but a great portrait lens. Might be fun anyway, and prices are quite reasonable.

A Brief Sony NEX-6 Update

Following on from my earlier posts about the NEX-6, I’ve had it a couple of weeks now. So, how is it?

Pretty good.

The only shots that haven’t gone entirely well with it were some fairly close-up product shots I tried for work, which I didn’t quite get the focussing right with. I often struggled to get good shots of that type with my Nikon D90 too, though, and the little kit zoom is probably a very unsuited lens for the job.

It’s really nice to have a decent camera in my coat pocket. It means I take shots I wouldn’t have bothered with before, which was a lot of what I wanted from the NEX. The picture effects are quite fun to play with, and I’m using the monochrome modes a lot. I’m especially keen on the Rich-tone Mono setting, which combines three shots into one.

It’s just as quick for me now to grab the NEX when I see a potential photo as it is to grab my iPhone. Things might be different with a newer iPhone – the 4S and 5 have faster camera apps – my iPhone 4 still takes a bit of time to be ready to shoot. Even then, though, the difference in time wouldn’t be much, and I’d be pretty sure to get a better photo.