Light Review: NITECORE EA45S

NITECORE’s first die-cast unibody light was the revolutionary EC4 (check the index page for a review link). Developing the idea further, we now have a 4xAA thrower using a similar format die-cast ‘unibody’, the EA45S.

 photo 06 EC45S angle 2 P1150998.jpg

Taking a more detailed look:

NITECORE’s familiar cardboard packaging is used.
 photo 01 EC45S Boxed P1150979.jpg

Inside the box is the EA45S, a wrist lanyard, holster and instructions.
 photo 02 EC45S Box contents P1150985.jpg

Holsters are always appreciated and this is well made.
 photo 03 EC45S holstered 1 P1150988.jpg

You have the choice of a fixed belt loop, Velcro belt loop and a D-ring.
 photo 04 EC45S holstered 2 P1150991.jpg

A very distinct feature is the red tail-cap screw that the ‘S’ versions of the die-cast lights have.
 photo 07 EC45S rear angle P1160006.jpg

There is a dual side-switch for operating the EA45S.
 photo 08 EC45S switch detail P1160011.jpg

Heat sink fins are cast into the body. Thanks to the die-cast body there is an uninterrupted heat-path from these fins (and the rest of the body) to the LED board mount.
 photo 09 EC45S heat fins P1160012.jpg

At the base of a smooth reflector is the EA45S’s XP-L Hi V3 LED.
 photo 11 EC45S LED P1160016.jpg

Looking more closely at the XP-L Hi V3 LED.
 photo 12 EC45S LED close P1160026.jpg

NITECORE’s die-cast lights use an unusual tail-cap design. It has lugs to engage with the body, the contact board, and a thumbscrew.
 photo 13 EC45S tailcap contacts P1160030.jpg

Looking slightly left of centre in this photo, you can see the threads which are almost entirely hidden.
 photo 14 EC45S tailcap threads P1160032.jpg

Those threads engage with a small section of threading inside the body.
 photo 15 EC45S internal threads P1160035.jpg

Here you can see the EA45S next to the four AAs it holds.
 photo 16 EC45S with cells P1160042.jpg

The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and the wife won’t have one!

Designed for throw, the EA45S has a very defined and strong hotspot.
 photo 19 EC45S indoor beam P1170299.jpg

Giving it a bit more range to work with, you can clearly see the power of the beam which is very impressive considering its 4xAA power source.
 photo 20 EC45S outdoor beam P1170234.jpg

Modes and User Interface:

The EA45S has a total of five constant modes (Turbo, High, Medium, Low, Ultra-Low) and three flashing modes (Strobe, Beacon and SOS). Like many other NITECORE lights this is controlled by a dual button.

From OFF, to switch ON to the last used steady white output, briefly press the Power switch. When ON, press the Mode switch to cycle through Turbo -> Ultra-Low -> Low -> Mid -> High back to Turbo etc. To switch OFF briefly press the Power switch.

From OFF, for direct access to Ultra-Low, press and hold the Power switch for more than 1s.

From OFF, for direct access to Turbo, press and hold the Mode switch for more than 1s.

To access White flashing modes, from ON, press and hold the Mode switch for more than 1s. This will activate strobe. Press and hold the Mode switch for more than 1s again to switch to Beacon mode. Press and hold the Mode switch for more than 1s once more to activate SOS.
Once activated, pressing the mode switch briefly returns the EA45S to the previous steady mode, or a brief press of the Power switch will turn the EA45S OFF.

There is a ‘Standby’ mode which uses brief low power flashes of the blue switch indicator LED to act as a locator to allow you to find the EA45S in complete darkness. To activate Standby, from ON press and hold the power switch for over 1s until the blue switch light comes on. Although low power, the flashes are bright enough to disturb someone’s sleep. Exiting standby mode is achieved by switching on the EC4. When using Standby mode the drain is increased but the should still last a year in this mode. Turn ON and OFF again to exit standby.

There is a lockout mode included. With the EA45S ON, press and hold both buttons simultaneously for 1s to enter lockout. When entering Lockout, the EA45S will turn off and give a brief flash of the main beam as you release the buttons. Like this the buttons will not turn the EA45S on. Thanks to the button design this can be done easily with the thumb. To exit Lockout press and hold both buttons simultaneously for 1s and the EA45S will turn ON in the last used mode.

Lastly when first inserting cell/s into the EA45S or briefly pressing the mode switch when OFF, the blue switch light will flash to indicate the battery charge level. It flashes once, twice, or three times. Three flashes indicates full power.

Batteries and output:

The EA45S runs on 4xAA, Alkaline or NiMh. NiMh will give the best performance.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
NITECORE EA45S using Eneloop AA I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Turbo 912 0
High 476 0
Medium 238 0
Low 63 0
Ultra-Low 2 0

* Beacon and Strobe output measurements are only estimates as the brief flashes make it difficult to capture the actual output value.

Peak Beam intensity measured 43100 lx @1m giving a beam range of 415 m.

There is parasitic drain at 102.6uA (2.33 years to drain the cells).

The EA45S does indeed hit 1000lm at switch on, but this drops to a still impressive 912 ANSI lumens. The output gradually declines to around 800lm approximately 7 minutes after switch on, and then remains steady for the remainder of the runtime (just dropping to 750lm) before trailing off sharply once the cells are depleted.
 photo NITECORE EC45S runtime.jpg


This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

No issues were encountered during testing.

However, I did have a couple of issues with the tail-cap threads not engaging properly. It requires a very firm pressure during the entire fitting of the tail-cap to fit smoothly. The thumb wheel has a convenient smooth depression which allows you to press onto it firmly with your finger while turning the screw.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The EA45S in use

For those that have followed my reviews for a while, you will most likely know I have always loved the 2xAA format for being easy and comfortable to hold. I’ve tested other 4xAA lights which have had the four cells all together (making quite a handful) or 2×2 as in the EA45S. Thanks to the die-cast unibody and lack of cell holder, the EA45S takes this 4xAA format and fits it into a more compact body.

The EA45S has just pushed out the 2xAA as my favourite size/shape, and put itself firmly into pole position with its compact 2×2 4xAA cell layout. It is really comfortable to hold, stable, thanks to the rectangular cross section, and just the right size and weight.

 photo 18 EC45S in hand P1160052.jpg

This is a bigger light than I would EDC, but when I need a step up in performance and runtime without going to something really large, the EA45S fits the bill (and hand) nicely. It is also perfectly reasonable to just throw into a backpack even if you might not need it.

Of course with its throw biased beam, it can be a little fatiguing to use indoors. The Ultra-Low and Low modes are really all you will want to use when inside. Other than that the EA45S’s beam comes into its own. Peering into an engine bay, or deep into storage (loft, or other large space), the throw helps you to see clearly. Outside you can really appreciate the throw the XP-L Hi V3 LED gives you, and how comfortable it is to hold (I might have mentioned that before).

The surface finish on the EA45S is HAIII hard anodised, which can prove challenging on die-cast aluminium, but NITECORE have achieved an excellent quality finish. At first this surface might appear to be a powder-coat due to the graininess, but this is due to having to pre-treat (sand-blast) the die-cast surface before anodising.

A couple of other observations, there is a degree of cell rattle when you knock the EA45S or put it down, but this does not happen with normal handling. Also for use wearing gloves the switches can be a little tricky to hit just right.

Certainly in the sample I have, you have to be careful fitting the tail-cap. Removing it presents no issues, but due to the contact spring strength, it does need constant pressure on it to ensure the threads start and run properly all through the tightening. The thumb-wheel has a shallow smooth depression which makes it easy to apply pressure and turn the wheel to tighten it.

Thanks to the unibody design, heat transfer is managed with ease; nothing gets particularly hot with the entire body acting as a heat-sink.

There are other 4xAA lights with similar output, but NITECORE have delivered it with a superbly ergonomic design. I liked the EC4, but really love the EA45S.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Excellent ergonomics. Tail-cap can be cross-threaded easily.
Over 900lm from four AAs. Beam can be fatiguing at close range.
415m beam range. Parasitic drain could be lower (but is acceptable).
Stable when tail-standing.
Direct access to Ultra-Low and Turbo.

 photo 05 EC45S angle 1 P1150993.jpg


Discussing the Review:

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