Author Topic: Imalent MS18: An unconventional review on its ergonomics and adaptation  (Read 2877 times)

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Offline whiteheat

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There is no doubt about it this torch (flashlight for those who practice US English) delivers a ferocious amount of illumination – at least for short while.  I will not focus on the illuminatory abilities or light functions here as many other reviews have covered that area a plenty.  What I will look at here will be the rationale for the torch and its useability.

Just at the end of last week, I became the fortuitous owner of an Imalent MS18 torch.  I say fortuitous because I got an example that had been claimed to have been used just once to test it its abilities, off of eBay.  I only paid $380 AU dollars for what is virtually a brand new item.  I had wanted this torch to be able to use it on a high lumen mode, 10K lumens for example.  I could get this level of brightness from other less costly torches, but I would not get the same length of time at that brightness level from other torches.  Of course, having the supposed ability to go to 100K lumens is the universally propagated selling point of this torch and I was not immune to pull of that particular feature.  Let’s face it, 100K lumens is an incredibly intense amount of light, which other reviews have shown and covered well enough.  So, I thought I could use this torch in the same way anybody would use any other stock standard torch.  Oh how wrong I was.

I tested the torch the day after I received it.  I didn’t use it at full intensity.  For the purpose at that time, I found 5K lumens plenty – I took it on a monster hunt with (and for) my 2 year old daughter.  It just illuminated the garden and walkways around the outside of the house and the immediate street vicinity, just to reassure said 2 year old that there were no monsters lurking to menace her in the night.

Well, I couldn’t have used the torch for more than 3 or 4 minutes and by the end of that time my hand and wrist were aching.  The problem is that this torch is a dimensional leviathan.  I believe I have hands that are slightly on the smaller side of average.  The torch haft is rather girthy and the torch weighs nigh on 2Kg!  2Kg may not sound a lot but the torch is not that well balanced.  The best place to hold it would require your hand to be touching the base of the reflector, something you do not want to do – that reflector will get seriously hot in no time at all.  The result is that unless your hands are on the larger size and your wrist and hand muscles are rather well developed (think Hulk hands), the torch will most likely cause hand and wrist strain.  Indeed after just 3 minutes of wielding the torch free hand gave me hand and wrist strain.  I was so disappointed.  I immediately thought that I would have to sell it because its size and weight made it unusable for me.  Sure, the torch comes with a shoulder strap but having then tested the torch with the shoulder strap, I found that the torch rests against your hip or waist.  As the torch head will get hot after a reasonable amount of use time at any lumen level except the lowest settings, having that head rest against your clothes/body will give you problems in short order.  So the shoulder strap is there for not much more than to carry the torch around rather than use it whilst the torch is on unless for a short time at a lowish lumen level.

This then left me with a problem, the solution to which I could only see as having to re-sell it.  So, I slept on the problem for a day or two.  Then eureka, like St. Paul on his march around the Middle East, I had an epiphany.  It occurred to me that if I can’t use this torch in a handheld way, then perhaps I need to see if it could be used on a tripod.  Well, the short answer is yes, it can be.  I would have thought that a torch of these dimensions should have come with a tripod mounting socket or mounting collar.  Shock, horror, no tripod mounting socket nor a tripod mounting collar!  Ok thinks I, time to go all Macgyver over this torch.

Luckily, having a little photography equipment allowed me to undertake this operation, so if you don’t have the following photography related equipment, then you’ll need to invest in these items which can be had used for a modest outlay:

Tripod head.
Lens tripod collar.
Leather belt or strap.

The cost of the tripod and tripod head can vary greatly from a few tens of dollars to many hundreds of dollars.  In my case, I used a cheap Chinese “professional” tripod which quality wise isn’t bad at all.  I bought it $30 some 10 years ago.  For this application, the cheap tripods will serve just as well as expensive ones, unless saving weight is a critical issue for you, in which case expensive carbon fibre tripods will fit your need best.  In any case, I suggest getting a tripod that allows for a minimum operating height of 120cm or thereabouts.  The higher you can get it off of the ground, the better the spread of light.  I used a Fancier FT-6662A tripod which fully extended got the torch up to 170cm off the ground.  Even without the centre column raised, it still reaches some 140cm above the ground.

The tripod head was a bit more costly being a genuine Manfrotto tilt head, but any tilt or ball head would also do and can be had for small dollars.  Usual Google or ebay searching will dig up shed loads of them.

The tripod collar was the Sigma tripod lens collar used on Sigma’s 70-200mm F2.8 lens or the Sigma 100-300mm F4 lens – they are the same.  Again, this can be had for smallish dollars but most other lens collars would do the job as long as they are wider than the torch haft.

Lastly, a leather belt or strap.  Using the Sigma lens tripod mounting collar, I found the best length of leather strapping (cut from an old leather belt) was in the order or 36-40cm.  The photo of the belt leather shows a slightly lesser amount, which also worked well, but I felt the mating it offered twixt collar and haft could be a little more tight and stronger.  In any case, if you try this yourself, you may have to start longer (44 to 46 cm for example) and gradually trim a small amount off the length of leather until you get the length you feel to be just peachy for the mating.  Simply wrap the leather around the torch haft as near to the torch head as you dare (not covering the operating button though) and wrap it as tightly as you can.  Whilst holding it tightly wrapped, position the mounting collar on the leather on the underside of the haft.  Then clamp the top of mounting collar down so that the leather is now tightly held by the collar.  You may need to twist the torch slightly so that the operating button is exactly at the top, the twelve o’clock position.

You can then screw the tripod head quick release plate to the bottom of the mounting collar.  Then simply drop the torch on to the tripod head and voila, you now have the torch mounted on a tripod.  From there it is easy to swivel, tilt or raise the torch however you want it.  That’s it – take a look at the following photos to see how this all turned out.

In sum, the Imalent MS18 is a large and unwieldy torch to use in hand.  Being so big and heavy, it will give you hand and wrist strain even in just a few minutes.  I cannot recommend this torch for simple hand held applications.  It is simply too big and heavy for such a purpose unless you have hands The Hulk would be proud of.  However, this torch can be tripod mounted and would excel in this capacity.  If you want a walk around easily used by hand torch, I would go for something a lot smaller – less girthy at any rate and something a lot lighter, typically in the 500g-700g range.  Of course, you will sacrifice that 100K lumen facility, but what good is that feature if you really can’t manipulate and operate the torch by hand without risking injury.  Good torch but no cigar.  :(

« Last Edit: November 29, 2019, 07:58:50 AM by whiteheat »