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Fenix LD12 Review

6 Januar 2012
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Fenix have just updated one of their best-selling lights with a complete revamp of its user interface, and have created the new LD12.

Not intended as a comparison review, being the successor to such a popular light (the LD10), I will be showing some of the differences implemented with the LD12.


Initial Impressions:

As with all Fenix lights, when you pick up the LD12 it feels precisely built and solid. Very familiar if you have the LD10, but with a second switch near the front.

For a single AA powered light, the LD12 is neither too small to feel comfortable in the hand, nor too large to make it impractical for EDC.

The new interface allows you to preselect the mode it comes on in, and the change to a forward clicky, makes momentary and silent operation possible.

Turn on seems to have a quick soft-start in all output levels. This is quick enough that you can use the light for signalling, but makes the switching on seem softer and more refined.



What is in the box:

The LD12’s box is just like the older model’s and is the typically well-presented Fenix style.

01fenixld12boxed.jpg


The plastic carrier tray removed with the LD12, holster, lanyard, spare o-rings, instructions and warranty card

02fenixld12unboxed.jpg


The LD12 comes with the clip fitted. This photo also shows with the new mode switch.

03fenixld12unboxed2.jpg


04fenixld12unboxed3.jpg


Looking straight into the lens showing the Cree XP-G R5 emitter.

05fenixld12led.jpg




Looking inside:

With the tail-cap removed, the circlip holding the switch parts in place is visible. The circlip itself acts as the contact with the battery tube, protecting the circuit board from wear.

09fenixld12tailcap.jpg


The battery tube threads are trapezoid and fully anodised both features giving a longer life.

10fenixld12threads.jpg


Removing the battery tube from the head reveals the contacts. Reverse polarity protection contacts and the circular battery tube contact. In the LD12, this battery tube contact is not used for switching modes, as there is no head tightened or loosened mode selection.

11fenixld12headcontact.jpg




Modes and User Interface:

This is where the LD12 really shines.

Altogether there are four constant modes (Low – 3lm, Mid - 27lm, High - 60lm, Turbo – 115lm) and two flashing modes (Strobe – 115lm constantly rotating between slow and fast flashing, SOS – 60lm).

The user interface of the LD12 is now like the TK21, TK15 etc with a forward clicky tail-cap switch and a mode selection button.

The LD12 remembers the last constant output mode you selected and comes on in this mode when the tail-cap switch is pressed. With the tail-cap switch on, pressing the mode selection switch cycles through the output levels going from Low -> Turbo and back to Low again.

The flashing modes are hidden, requiring you to press and hold the mode switch for 2s to access the strobe, and 3s to access SOS. Switching the light off, or a single press of the mode switch sets it back to constant output mode.

Gaining the excellent interface of its bigger TK brothers the LD12 is transformed compared to its predecessor.



Batteries and output:

Supporting all standard AA battery types (this does not include 14500 li-ions) but optimised for Ni-Mh, the LD12 is easy to feed.

Output modes are regulated so battery choice is not critical and the LD12’s performance is different only in runtimes. There is no hint of PMW in any of the constant modes.

I’ve noticed some discrepancy in the specification of the LD12 compared to the LD10. The LD10 is specified as having 100 ANSI lm maximum output and the LD12 as having 115 ANSI lm. However the peak intensity of the LD10 (1902cd) is higher than the LD12 (1612cd), and the LD12 has a longer runtime on Turbo than the LD10. All of this fits apart from the higher quoted ANSI output of the LD12 as the LD12 having a slightly lower peak intensity and therefore longer runtime is logical.

The lab test results suggest the ANSI figure may not be as stated.


In The Lab

In an attempt to quantify the actual beam profile I developed the following test. There are probably many flaws in my method, but it is simple and easy to carry out and seems to provide a good enough comparison.

The method used was to put the light on the edge of a table 1m from a wall, with a tape measure on the wall. The zero of the scale is placed in the centre of the hotspot and a lux meter is then positioned at points along the scale, with the measurements recorded. Beam shots are often taken with the light shining on a flat white wall, so this method is simply measuring the actual intensity across the beam on a flat surface, not the spherical light emission.

The results are then plotted on a graph.

For the best throw you want to see a sharp peak with less of the distracting spill. For the best flood light the trace should be pretty flat.


Comparing the sample LD12 to the LD10 I already have, the LD10 does have a higher peak intensity and overall higher output at all points across the beam profile.

fenixld12beamprofile.jpg


Taking this a little further, I calculated an approximate factor to apply to the lux measurements, as each measurement gets further from the centre of the beam, it corresponds to a larger area onto which the light is falling. It seems to me that this should also be taken into consideration, so I applied these area corrections and came up with this odd looking graph.

The key quantity here is the area under the graph line. This should correspond to the total light output.


fenixld12areaadjustedbe.jpg


Confirming the results of the standard beam profile, the area adjusted graph shows the LD12 is outputting less light across the entire beam than the LD10.



The beam

The previous graphs show how that the LD12 appears to have a slightly lower output than the LD10. This is only noticeable when using them side by side. Used on its own the LD12 does not seem lacking at all. The slightly flatter beam profile also makes for a more usable beam. The LD10’s bright hotspot makes it less suitable for use at closer distances, but the LD12’s beam works well at all distances, still having some throw, but a softer beam for closer range.


Further comparisons to the LD10

The LD12 is slightly longer than the LD10, courtesy of the new forward clicky tail-cap switch and mode switch. The difference is only about 5mm, so not much, and the length makes it comfortable to hold.

06fenixld12ld10.jpg


Another difference is the new style of holster. Personally I prefer the LD10 version, but the LD12 holster is well made and functional.

In the following photos the LD12 holster is at the top.

12fenixld12holster1.jpg


13fenixld12holster2.jpg


The new holster no longer has the Velcro belt loop, requiring you to undo your belt to slide the holster onto it.

14fenixld12holster3.jpg




Using the LD12

The most striking feature of theLD12 is its user interface. Compared to the LD10, the LD12 is so much more intuitive to use. The tail-cap switch’s forward clicky action makes it more immediate and allows easy momentary use without having to click on and off.

Despite the slightly lower output when compared to an LD10, the LD12 has plenty of power. I’ve been using the LD12 mounted to my cycling helmet to add extra light near the front tyre and onto the cycle computer. Turbo was too bright, and even High was too much in the darkest parts of the trail.

15fenixld12helmet.jpg


For all other indoor uses the output levels provide useful variation. The Low of 3lm is good for general use, bit not low enough for middle of the night use. If I could make one change to the LD12 it would be to add a moonlight mode of 0.2lm as then it would be a true all-rounder.

The pocket clip (though I am not a fan of clips myself) fits firmly, but it also easy to remove without marring the finish of the LD12. The clip is very well finished being particularly pocket friendly as there is not a sharp edge to be found.

07fenixld12ld12.jpg


With the LD12 having the separate mode switch, using a forward clicky tail-cap switch makes it far more practical. Access to the light is immediate and more controllable. If you have no need for the easily accessible flashing modes, then you can completely avoid them.

Don’t think the slightly lower maximum output compared to the LD10 makes the LD12 inferior as the LD12 has plenty of output and is a far more usable light than the LD10 it replaces. A worthwhile upgrade in usability and a great single AA EDC light, the LD12 should be very popular.

08fenixld12ld12.jpg


Review sample courtesy of Fenix and supplied by The Photon Shop.

I’ll update post 2 of this thread once I have some more comments to add....




The following beamshot was taken with the white balance set to daylight to try to set a benchmark for the relative tint.

16fenixld12beam.jpg


The LD12 is cool white and appears well represented in tint by this photo. (Note the walls are a light sandy colour but the woodwork is slightly dull neutral off-white)
 
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