American COP Magazine May 2013 Digital Edition - Page 34

I Aimee Grant ally the brightest. The corona is less intense than the hotspot, but more intense than the side-spill. The side-spill is the remaining light from the corona to darkness. You might even call it sort of “ambient” light that bounces around from the bright bits. Lux is another term for measuring light, specifically how it lights up a surface. Lux is short for lumens-per-squaremeter. One lux is approximately the same amount of light produced by a full moon. While the lumens remain the same, the lux will change depending on the surface spread of the lighted area. The lux determines the lumens necessary to light up the space. Pay attention because it’ll all make sense. ’ve been carrying a “one-size-fits-all” Streamlight Stinger as my duty light for a long time. I’ve used it on people, homes, businesses, my garage and of course my favorite place — at the range. I’ve never had any problems with my Stinger. I was content, in basically ignorant bliss, until someone asked, “Doesn’t that thing only have like 200 lumens or something?” Suddenly I had a size complex. I wondered … should I join the lumens war and get a bigger one? And what did that really mean? Bigger lumens? Bigger batteries? What’s a lumen, anyway? With flashlights available ranging from 8 to 2,500 lumens, does one size really fit all? Can you have too much of a good thing? I set out to find what the hype over the lumen war was all about. I knew a little about lumens since it’s the go-to word in the flashlight world. But what does lumen really mean? Get ready to be de-mystified: They use lumens as the unit of measure of the total amount of visible light. So the lumen number you hear about is the total amount of light radiated by the bare lamp, LED or the flashlight. Easy enough, right? Not really. What about candela? Once again we have taken the Latin word and used it instead of everyday English. The word candela is derived from the base-word — get ready for it — candle. Candela is the amount of light the common candle would emit. One candela is equivalent to 12.57 lumens. But so what? Why do they use both measurements? How do they measure these lumens? In the ever-popular Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights, lumens are measured as all the light inside the beam. The beam is comprised of the hotspot (middle bright spot), corona (the “circle of light”) and side-spill. The hotspot is the center of the beam, and usu- Throwing Light? Lumen-Thingies How about throw? Throw is the flashlight’s ability to project useable light over distance. Useable by the normal person, not like the Batman night vision the nightshift cops get. Thankfully, the LED masters have figured out how to reflect all this precious light into a tightly defined beam if you need it. The throw can go upward of 560 meters (or more with very special lights); that’s superhero distance, we don’t care who you are. This projection is manipulated by the combination of reflectors and lenses. So basically the farther you can see down that dark alley is not just because of lumens or candela or lux, but because of throw. A 500-lumen light might only throw the light 100 yards due to the lenses and reflector make-up. Beginning to make sense now? New gadgets have also made the lights run cooler, which of course makes these lights run longer per charge, or per battery. They’re also more efficient, and today’s lights often deliver 200+ lumens using AA batteries, something that could never have happened even 5 years ago. Nowadays it’s common, which is a good thing. WWW.AMERICANCOPMAGAZINE.COM WWW.AMERICANCOPMAGAZINE.COM • MARCH • MAY 2013 34

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