The original plan for this article was to outline how to set up a...
When it comes to flashlights, versatility is the name of the game.
If you're carrying a button-cell keychain light, you can easily use it to search through your glovebox, but you can't illuminate far-away objects. On the other hand, a heavy-duty spotlight excels at long range, but good luck trying to use it to read a map without blinding yourself. There are handheld lights that occupy various positions along this spectrum, but all are compromises — a concentrated spot beam for long-distance throw, a wide floodlight for up-close uses, or a blend of the two for intermediate ranges.
This dilemma led to the development of beam-focusing flashlights, which feature a lens or reflector that moves independently from the light source to adjust the beam pattern. By pushing or twisting the bezel, these lights can transition smoothly between floodlight and spotlight beams, and can be used effectively at almost any distance.
We've come a long way from the big D-cell incandescent flashlights with rotating bezels that mostly scattered light rather than focusing it. Modern lenses and reflector arrays make the most of the light output, limiting the drawbacks compared to a fixed-bezel design.
Follow along as we shed some light on the pros and cons of these beam-focusing flashlights.