Flashlights are kind of a necessary tool or necessary evil depending on your perspective and uses. Today I saw a small "Atomic Lamp" flashlight that claimed 5000 Lux output. I had a Maglite that is supposed to be 156 Lumens. For comparison, I bought a Coleman flashlight claiming 250 Lumens. With current Shopko sales, coupons,etc, they were all about $15. Tonight after dark, I will see how these compare. Shining them on the side of a white kitchen cabinet this afternoon, the results suggest there is no good way to compare these flashlights. One Lux is supposed to be same light as 1 lumen lighting area of 1 square meter. There are sites which will make a comparison, but making any good use of them may not be so easy. My curiosity was aroused enough to buy these for my own direct comparison.
The Maglite puts out a light that can be focused from flood to spot. The "Atomic Lamp" (by as offered on TV) is also adjustable by sliding the head end out from the body. This adjustment is not obvious just looking at the light. The Coleman has two light levels but is not adjustable from spot to flood. Against the white cabinet with both putting about a 3 foot diameter spot, the "Atomic" seemed a bit brighter than the Coleman. But the Coleman has more of a spot than a flood kind of output.
I will have some photos tonight with a little luck. Right now, it appears your use or uses of these flashlights may be more important than the advertised light output. The "Atomic" light is smallest ..about 1 inch in diameter and about 6 inches long. It uses three AAA cells. It has two light levels and two flasher speeds. If you are a lady carrying these in your purse, and using it to walk from car to house or in house, this might be the best choice.
If you are often outdoors at night and indoors too, the Coleman might be a good option. It has two light levels...I assume the lower levels on both these flashlights save battery life. The MagLite may be best if you are mostly outdoors with it and needing to spotlight something several hundred feet away. It can be set to a flood position (and anything in between flood and spot). These can be purchsed in two sizes-- one using 3 C cells and the other using 2 C cells. The Maglight is a bit over one foot long and a bit over 1 inch in diameter. The head end which can be twisted to adjust beam width is perhaps nearly 2 inches in diameter. Below is a photo of these three flashlights and a fourth that may be free or two to five dollars.
Tonight at the farm, I tried these out after dark. All of them, including the freebie) were good enough for changing a tire with somebody holding the light or perhaps on ground proped up a bit. The number 4 light has a magnet, so it will stick to iron and steel. When shone on a red car about 100 feet away, all three of the flashlights were bright enough to get a good idea of color. The Maglite was best, the Coleman was next and the Atomic Light was least bright. When flashlights were shined on a building about 300 feet away, all three made the building visible. The Maglite could be adjusted for best light and would work with more distant objects. I was surprised that the Coleman with no adjustment to spot was as good or better than the Maglite. The Atomic Lamp was least bright when beam was narrowed all the way to spot, but building was still easily visible.
Obviously, your mileage will vary as they say. If getting only one good flashlight for use in a car or outdoors, the Coleman is the simplest and probably most useful for distances under 300 feet. The Maglite would be better for car and mostly longer distances. For use in a woman's purse and car and waking from car to house, etc. the Atomic lamp might be most convenient and useful. It has a cord so it could be hung on your wrist, etc. At shorter distances 5 to 10 feet or so, it might provide best uniform from side to side light in the full flood position. It also has the flasher options for emergencies If minimum expense and still functional for short distances, the Harbor Freight freebie might be the most economical yet good enough option. And while not shown in the image above, the pen size lights for a shirt pocket provide just enough light to be handy. They are also good for tight spaces and are usually available for $6 to $10.
I have seen flashlights claiming more output and other options, but many of them push into the $49 to $69 price area. If you have found any other real deals or for other special or ordinary purposes, share your experience in a comment.
***Stay tuned for just a little more light on the situation--- Doug Wiken