21 December 2014

Review: Cluson ML8 Pro Spotter torch

With an advertised beam range of 350 m, a white CREE LED light and a good run time on high beam, the Cluson ML8 Pro Spotter torch looks ideal for night-birding. I could find no information on the luminous flux of the ML8, but being around half the price of many other LED torches on the market with a similar specification I decided to try it out and see how it compared to the LED Lenser M7R reviewed back in March?

Clockwise from top: the Cluson ML8 Pro Spotter; mains charger; vehicle charger

The build quality of the ML8 is just as good - constructed from aircraft grade aluminium with a black anodised finish, and sealed against the elements with rubber "O" rings. The torch is compact, at 160 mm in length and with a maximum diameter of 55 mm, and easily fits into a pocket, and at just 236 g is also light. Power comes from a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and the two modes (high or low beam) are controlled by a single large button on the end of the barrel that also functions as the power switch.

The ML8 comes supplied with a lithium-ion battery, a mains charger, a vehicle charger and wrist strap. A filter set (including red, amber and yellow filters) are also available - useful for some wildlife observation. For recharging, the battery must be removed from the torch by unscrewing the tail cap, and charging takes about four hours from empty. Surprisingly, there is no charge indicator light on the charger (the red light is displayed simply when the battery is inserted), but charging stops automatically when the battery is fully charged.

Cluson ML8 Pro Spotter key technical details

Lumens Unknown
Run time 3.5 hrs high beam/20 hrs low beam
Beam range 250 m
Focus Fixed spot
Weight 236 g
Battery Lithium-ion
Body material Aluminium

For more technical details see the Cluson website.

On delivery I found the packaging stated a beam range of 250 m - 100 m less than advertised on the Cluson website. Cluson claim the maximum beam range is actually 350 m and that the 250 m beam range relates to maximum shooting distance achievable with ML8 when used with a rifle scope (although they are changing the packing to state a 300 m beam range for shooting). In the field, I estimated the maximum usable range to be around 200-250 m - comparable to the LED Lenser MR7 and was a little disappointed.

The single CREE LED produced a bright and fairly neutral white light, with very little of the blue hue traditionally associated with older LED torches. The beam range is similar to the LED Lenser MR7, however, the focus is fixed as a spot light, and although much more homogeneous than the light produced by a Maglite, the beam is not as uniform as the LED Lenser MR7 with some slightly darker circles noticeable. The light weight and compact size made it easy to use for long periods, and even allowed use of binoculars while scanning.

To conclude, the Cluson ML8 Pro Spotter is a good torch for looking for birds, mammals, insects and other animals at night. A beam range between 300-400 m as well as the ability to focus from spot to flood would make this an excellent torch, but at £66 it is very good value for money for the specification and so highly recommended.

2 comments:

  1. Why is 'aircraft grade' aluminum a good thing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I as understand it 'aircraft grade' doesn't actually refer to any specific grade of aluminium alloy, but is simply a marketing term indicating the use of any alloy certified for use in aircraft. These alloys have a chemical composition producing high strength, low weight and good fatigue resistance - all good properties for a torch as well.

      Delete