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Tested: From 10 Jan. 2011. This lamp is on loan (via Steve T., thanks!)
The Supernova E3 triple was introduced late 2008. At that time it was said to be 550 lumen. Later improvements by virtue of using newer LEDs (Possibly also a tuning circuit? Well, probably not due to size limitations in the housing Supernova uses) have resulted in claimed light ouput of 680 lumen (ca. Sept. 2009) and in late 2010, 800 lumen. As with all Supernova figures, these are datasheet values which don't take into account the losses in the lens, nor that LEDs often don't achieve the datasheet values. Esp. the Cree XP-G has been bad in this respect.
Even if one assumes no losses from the lens, and if one assumes that the LEDs deliver what the datasheets promise, the Supernova figures just don't add up. With the newest E3-StVZO for example the LED, a Cree XP-E, has to be driven at more than 1.15 A to reach 305 lumen. This is above the value Cree says the LED will work (long time) at with no problems. Do they really do this or is something else going on? (Read this as: "Is Supernova just fooling us?". The answer seems to be affirmative)
Note that with 4 LEDs you can easily get more light than with 3 LEDs, but with 4 LEDs you will need to switch off 1 core (or better yet 2 cores) at low speed, otherwise there's no light at low speed. As the E3-triple does something similar anyway with at first only 1 LED being on (which really isn't necessary with 3 LEDs, as the Ktronik lamp shows), and only at higher speed with all 3 LEDs powered, his reply isn't valid. I have made a picture of this one LED being on btw, which will be uploaded soon.> Regarding the E3-triple, would using a Cree MC-E (4 emitters in one > housing) not be a better idea? It could also be a perfect upgrade for > the E3, or not? 4 LEDs is perhaps a bit less useful as low speed light > output will not be as good as 3 LED without using a voltage doubler > circuit (I presume you're aware of this: We now have a truly ingenious lectronics for the triple-LED light and using 4 emitters jus wouldn't make it better. Even the three LEDs can only be powered with 600 mA max.
And in case you didn't realise it, the section title is "The fairy tale of the Supernova-lumen" because of supernova's nonsensical story about "the fairy tale of the lux" on their website, see here for more on why lux ratings matter (summary: High lux rating = long throw for StVZO headlamps).
Mass: ca. 148 g. including multimount and cables to dynamo and rear lamp.
This version I have on loan comes with the multimount which is quite nice. One problem though is that the black part of the multimount through which the bolt through the fork crown goes, is M6-threaded. This means you can't properly use it on a fork crown that is itself M6 threaded (and not just a hole through which an M6 bolt goes) which some of them are, e.g. as in my Koga World traveller.
The lamp itself is in the same housing as the E3/E3 pro which is solid and very well made. The button is fairly heavy going and in the cold it's not that easy to feel if you switched it or not, same as with the E3-pro-StVZO and Philips SLD. As I remarked with the Philips SLD, I would really like to see an automatic on/off, for any headlamp, that one can set the sensitivity of. That should dispense with button pushing... And to switch the lamp completely off a rotating switch such as in the Edelux would be nice.
Mounted on a bike where I usually have an Edelux or Philips SLD mounted, it seems very very dim. There's no way this lamp produces anywhere near 550 lumen (not surprising, as even the 2010 version with XP-Gs doesn't reach more than ca. 345 lumen in Olaf Schultz' measurements).
More to come...
For background information on making beamshots see: Camera settings, lamp settings and roads used to make the beamshots.
Note: it was freezing, road surface was slightly wet before that so a very thin layer of ice/ice crystals formed. Because of that I made comparison pictures of a few more lamps in the beamshot session (the main point was actually to make beamshots of the E3-pro-StVZO and the Philips SLD to compare them). Beamshots are not perfect, camera isn't perfectly aligned with the horizon as you can see, but hey, it was very cold and very windy :)
|0.75m E3 pro StVZO aimed fairly close
||0.75m E3 pro StVZO aimed for maximum throw
|0.75m Philips SLD (manuf. date 4010)
||0.75m Philips SLD (manuf. date 4610)
|0.75m E3-triple (summer 2009, advertised as 550 lumen), symmetric beam
||0.75m Fe Rei bike lamp with XP-G R5, symmetric beam
I set the camera to make 8 Mp pictures instead of 14Mp. The latter gives huge pictures but not much extra information as large pictures are somewhat blurry at the pixel level with my camera (as with almost all compact cameras).
The pictures don't show what I experience particularly well. For more analysis of the beamshots of the other lamps see the E3-pro-StVZO review page.
All pictures are quite dark compared to a dry/ice free road: compare the Philips pictures with earlier ones I made on a dry road 2 and you will see how much dimmer and how much reduced the throw is... So, I will probably remake the beamshots soon (hopefully there will be a few dry warmer days soon).
The E3-triple from 2009 is very very dim and there is no way it produces 550 lumen. But this was clear beforehand, just as with the inflated lumen claim of the E3-pro-StVZO.
Note: the road was wet, it was drizzling a little, later it rained harder. Beamshots made at 4s and at 8s exposure. The 8s duration was used because the road was wet which should give a dimmer view compared to my regular beamshots on dry roads, but also to better show the actual beam shape (for example, in my beamshot of the Cyo RT on a dry road 2, the beam shape is not at all clear and would need longer exposure). In future I will probably make beamshots at 4s and 8s for all beamshots.
|0.75m E3 pro StVZO, 4s
||0.75m E3 pro StVZO, 8s
|0.75m Philips SLD (production date 4610), 4s
||0.75m Philips SLD (production date 4610), 8s
|0.75m E3 triple (summer 2009, advertised as 550 lumen), symmetric beam, aimed close, 4s
||0.75m E3 triple (summer 2009, advertised as 550 lumen), symmetric beam, aimed close, 8s
|0.75m E3 triple (summer 2009, advertised as 550 lumen), symmetric beam, aimed far, 4s
||0.75m E3 triple (summer 2009, advertised as 550 lumen), symmetric beam, aimed far, 8s
|0.75m B&M Lumotec oval senso plus (halogen), 4s
||0.75m B&M Lumotec oval senso plus (halogen), 8s
Analysis of the 8s beamshots:
The E3-triple has a very dim illumination at longer distances (25m and more) whereas the Philips SLD illuminates up to more than 50 m on this road. The E3-pro-StVZO also doesn't light up the distances from 25-50 m on the road well, it's pretty dim there. The E3-triple-2009 is worse than both these lamps which is unsurprising considering my experiences with symmetric beam lamps which show a symmetric beam must have about 3 to 4 times the light output of a good asymmetric beam to light up the road just as well. And as you can expect the triple to perhaps produce 270 lumen (an estimate which is taking into account that the 2010 version with XP-Gs that's advertised as 800 lumen produces about 345 at best), it should be equal to a headlamp with cutoff of about 70-90 lumen, so less than half the amount of light of an Edelux. I think that's a fair estimate as the Edelux/E3 pro/Philips SLD are a lot better for use on the road. Also note that the Magicshine MJ808, which produces ca. 550 lumen (measured) is much much brighter than the E3 triple (brighter in the sense of both the maximum illumination (hotspot) but also the amount of light that goes to the sides of the road, where the Magicshine puts out a lot more light too). If you want more evidence that the E3-triple-2009 produces far less than 550 lumen, well, I can't make beamshots of the Magicshine as I don't have one on loan any more, but the Magicshine, just as the Ktronik Triple XP-G give a 'wow!' feeling (because you get the feeling of riding in daylight), the E3-triple-2009 gives a 'hmm, less bright than my standard dynamo lamp' feeling.
Again, for an analysis of the E3-pro-StVZO/Philips images and how they compare/differ to the earlier beamshots on road 2 with a thin ice layer, see the E3-pro-StVZO review page.
Nicely made, nice housing and I like the multimount.
For use on public roads, a regular headlamp with cutoff gives much more useful light and for MTB use the lamp seems to me far too dim. The 2010 version is undoubtedly better for MTB riding, but not much better considering the light measurements of Olaf Schultz (max. ca. 345 lumen). So, the E3-triple doesn't get anything near what's possible out of a dynamo setup. If you want a dynamo powered lamp with symmetric beam, getting a Ktronik triple XP-G (or triple XP-E for more throw and not much less light output) is a much better choice that will give a lot more light than this 2009 version of the E3-triple (I estimate the Ktronik triple XP-G at a real 550 lumen in a certain speed range, using the right tuning capacitors), and the Ktronik lamps are almost certainly also much brighter than the 2010 version of the Brown-dwarf E3-triple, eh, sorry, Supernova E3-triple.
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Last modified: Fri Dec 21 10:48:26 CET 2012