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Review: Rupes LL 150 Swirl Finder Pen Light and Comparison

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Hi everyone, 

So I decided to quickly throw together a review of the Rupes pen that was previously talked about. I will admit I have been eyeing it on Amazon for a bit but was put off by the price and a bit of skepticism.  


The Rupes light is a very nice piece of equipment and is delivered that way.  When I opened the box I was impressed at the nice package. It absolutely feels premium like a nice solid pen.  Even without the batteries you can feel the solid weight.  I'll present the comparison at the very end.






You cut the seal at the bottom, push down and out slides the bottom that holds the pen.



There is even a nice piece of paper that blocks the batteries from contacting the terminal in case for some odd reason the button was pressed.




Comes with two Raymax AAA batteries




What's great about the Rupes pen is that it's adjustable to almost infinite settings given the focal constraints that is built around.  This is not like a low, medium, high selectable light.  You push and pull the head of the pen to adjust the focus of the light.  The amount of light output remains the same but focal point will go from wide to narrow. 


The head fully compressed to the body:



Pulled all the way out for a narrow focus:




More on this to come when inspecting paint.......


Pain points:

Here is a picture of the glass lens.  Now from inspection it is a very nice clear piece of glass.  However, feels VERY thin.  I do not think it would survive if you were to drop this from chest height.




If you look closely, the head of the pen does not line up perfectly with the body. It's off just by a little but for $50 this thing needs to be spot on.  When you run your finger over it you can definitely tell it doesn't line up and is flush.  Personally, this is a huge deal with me especially for $50






This is a very solid no compromise in quality of a product that you can expect from Italian manufacturing and Rupes.  The fact that the adjustment is almost infinite within the restraints of the extension movement will allow a user to find that sweet spot depending on angle, lighting and color of paint.  No two paints are the same so this pen will allow you to adjust as needed. The weight is good and makes you feel like your $50 was well worth it just based on manufacturing quality alone. Rupes chose to go with the 2x AAA setup for a pen light but I wonder if it could've been reduced to to a smaller form factor using a single AAA to make it about half the size.  The two AAA batteries will offer up a ridiculous amount of runtime though as opposed to a single AAA setup.  However what gets me is the head of the pen does not sit flush with the body of the pen as pictured above.  Maybe it's just mine but for $50 this thing needs to be flawless.  The LED produces a bright yet soft white beam that is easy and not blinding to the eye. The power button is a little mushy rather than a solid sharp click. Most likely to allow the user to just quickly fire up the light and if need be push the button all the way in in to lock it in place allowing for constant power. 


In terms of identifying swirls it works as advertised and upon testing this on a few different colors, the ability to adjust the focus of the light sets this apart from just the standard 3 setting light.  The ability of this thing to be adjustable sets it apart.  Now, do not expect to just light this thing up and point it at paint and the swirls appear... each situation is unique and it may take a minute or two to find that sweet spot so that the swirls do clearly appear.  In some cases you'll get an instant result just based on the fact you're using a light but when adjusted properly you are able to really see them. Of course the opposite may occur. 


The big question.... Is it worth $50?? - Hard to say really.  I would consider this a 'professional' tool that hobbyist can afford and easily use. The more patience you have with it the better it works.  To me the build quality is absolutely top notch.  Aside from the head of the pen not lining up with the body (on mine at least) it is flawless.  


Do I feel guilty about spending $50 on this thing? Hell yes I do. Do I regret it? NOPE.  (maybe when the next mystery box comes up or I run out of wheel cleaner).


Should you purchase this? If you have the spare $50 and do a lot of paint correction, just curious about how bad other people's paint is or you detail professionally and would like to use this to point out paint flaws during a consultation - then yes, you should.  If you do paint correction once a year or hardly ever, then no - it's hard to justify spending this kind of money on a pen light.  



Now let's compare it to a low cost alternative......


Lets get started and meet the two contenders - 


Brand: Rupes

Model: LL150

Weight 4oz

Light Source: LED

Battery: 2 x AAA

Focus: Adjustable 

Lumens: 140

Material: Aluminum alloy

Lens: Glass

Origin: Italy

Price: $50


Brand: Nestling

Model: Black Shadow EVA 130

Light Source: LED
Battery:1/ AAA 
Focus:High, one brightness mode 

Material:Aluminum alloy
Lens:dense plastic

Origin: China

Price: $10





As you can see the Nestling light is half the size of the Rupes.  Both are made out of the same hardened aluminium. The Nestling light is 130 lumen LED with a very clear plastic lens and the Rupes is a 140 lumen LED with a glass lens. 


I chose the Nestling Black Shadow EVA based on price ($10), form factor, and intentionally a lower 130 lumen for a price to performance ratio comparison. 


The Rupes adjustable focus make the light come out at sort of a square beam with a very bright center.  The Nestling is just a round non adjustable focus with constant high power.  While I just thought about this, my back was facing the background light source so the pictures appear to be taken in black room... this is not the case.  Sorry... my photography lighting knowledge and skills are poor. lol


The test subject is a VW Beetle with some very light blue paint.  Almost exactly as pictured below but due to years of neglect, lacks a great shine. But this is for reference:



Both lights were held off the paint from about 8-12 inches. 


Initial focus of the Rupes light:

Notice how wide the light is.




Initial focus of the Nestling:

Same distance as the Rupes but round and a little more dispersed. Still very bright despite being 10 lumens less than the Rupes. 




Narrow focus of the Rupes:

Notice that the focus is sharp compared to the Nestling which is more dispersed but both appear to be equally as bright. 




There pretty much is no narrow focus for the Nestling

However, being that the Nestling is a sharp white light compared to the soft white of the Rupes, it appears to be about the same brightness and even when holding both lights just inches from the paint, the Nestling will look brighter. 


Here are some examples on dark paint: (just to show light color)

Car: BMW 428i Grand Coupe (2016)

Paint: Black Sapphire Metallic

Location: Hood


The specs are not dirt but are the 'metallic' flakes that BMW uses.  I previously corrected and polished the paint this am, however it may be a little dirty from a short drive.  Sidebar - this paint is extremely hard and despite it only having 3k miles and the paint being in great condition... I had to use the microfiber pad to correct.  The standard orange just wasn't cutting it. I felt like I was fighting it the whole time.  








As you can see, there are some huge differences such as the width of the light and then some that are minor such as the actual brightness.  The Neslting's sharp white light, despite it being 10lumens less, is very bright.  The Rupes' soft white light and 10 lumen advantage allows it to negate the soft white and produce an equally bright light.  


Comparison Conclusion:

The Nestling puts up a solid fight and is as far as price:performance ratio.... is great. It'll fit nicely on your keychain or in your pocket.  However, expect to be frustrated with it at times on various colors.  I used it to check my paint (Sakhir Orange as pictured in my sig) and it couldn't make anything appear.  I even tapped of an area that I knew had some swirl marks and compared it directly with the Rupes and the Nestling couldn't do it.  I switched to the Rupes and after about 5 min of adjusting the focus and angles I was able to see some small swirl marks.   So it really depends on your paint and atmospheric lighting.  The Nestling is a great value for a light to just keep around your kit for just $10 and is a very good alternative to the Rupes.  However, there is no comparison when it comes to the Rupes ability to be adjusted in almost any way possible.



I hope this helps anyone considering buying the Rupes pen light or any light to help identify swirls.   :banana:

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