I have been trying to upgrade the flashlight wiki lately by getting some of the latest LED’s and taking pictures of them for the site. The problem is that LED’s are very small. My old camera took great macro pictures, but I lost it. It’s replacement wasn’t quite as good. And even my latest camera still has pretty lousy macro. My iPod has a camera on it, but it isn’t really made for macro. But they make some really cheap lenses you can clip onto a phone or tablet that can help out. Some of them will turn your phone into a microscope or telescope, but they have some very inexpensive sets of lenses ($4 direct from China, $10 or so at Amazon) which include a macro lens, wide angle lens, and a fish-eye lens. I really just wanted the macro lens, but for $4 I will take the other two.
I won’t bore you with LED photos and my newest LED’s haven’t arrived yet anyway, but the higher security currency of the last few years has incorporated microprinting in various parts of the bill that make it harder to counterfeit money. You would have a hard time finding the printing by just looking, but it is there. On a $20 bill there is some writing just to the left of Andrew Jackson, close to the bottom border. Here is a small version of a picture I took with the iPod without using any kind of special lens. I can get within a couple of inches of the bill before the camera can’t focus.
$20 bill microprinting without lens
I have gotten off of my flashlight kick for the most part, but I still check in every now and then at Budget Light Forum to see what is going on and see if there are any major developments. That forum has really thrived. One of the things they have done is work with flashlight makers in China to come up with customized flashlights more like what flashlight geeks like. That includes things like very low firefly modes that barely put off any light at all. Or neutral and warm tinted lights instead of the bluish cool white tints that are usually used. The results have been kind of mixed, but some reasonably good lights have been produced, sometimes not very different from production models.
Meanwhile other BLF members developed customized software that controls the user interface of the light, not just the number of modes and levels of each mode, but hiding less desirable modes like strobe (but still available in case you need them). Or having the light remember the mode it was in the last time you used it (this works well walking the dogs because medium usually works best but I only turn it on sometimes so it isn’t good if it starts in low every time). A lot of the budget lights seem to have 5 modes which are typically low, medium, high, strobe, and SOS. Using morse code to spell out S-O-S, they don’t even always get that right. I have lights that were O-S-O or S-O-S-O. Honestly, who has ever been saved by a flashlight with an SOS mode? So these guys started reprogramming the computer on their lights to get only the modes they wanted and the levels they wanted. Everyone has slightly different preferences on modes, so this was a way to really customize a light.