Review Fenix FD30

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daninho
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Review Fenix FD30

 

 

Fenix GmbH send me a sample of the newly released FD30. I was keen to get my hands on it because the light feature an innovative reflector system. The FD30 is a 1x18650 tube shaped flashlight in the typical one inch class. It has a side switch for brightness selection and a tailcap clicky.

 

 

The light comes in a standard orange/grey cardboard package

 

 

In the package you find a lanyard, the light itself, a holster with Fenix patch, a spare rubber switch cover, a spare o-ring, the manual, warranty card, a Fenix flyer and two Duracell CR123 cells. A clip is already installed. The two CR123s are a nice addition and you can use the light directly, not everybody is a flashaholic with 20 18650s Smile

 

The holster is pretty standard but a nice addition

 

 

 

 

here is a little 360° animation of the light.

 

 

The machining is perfect, no flaws or silver parts in the knurling and laser engravings.

 

The light has a forward clicky for momentary on

 

 

 

The thread at the tail is anodized and square cut, the head seems to be glued in.

 

 

The head has a spring as well for better contact with the cell during vibrations and to give best compatibility for different battery lenghts.

 

 

The matte silver side switch for selecting one of the five brightness levels and thats all you can say about the UI, its really simple. There are no hidden modes except a strobe which is enabled with a long press from on. The FD30 feature mode memory and the mode sequence is from low to high. The light offers a temperature control to prevent the light from overheating once the light reaches 65°C.

 

The FD30 uses a XP-L HI emitter with a max. output of 900 lumens on turbo (2h), 350 lumens on high (4h30), 150 lumens on medium (11h) and 8 lumens on low/eco (170h). In the spot setting you get 10K cd, in the flood setting you get 1100cd. I can confirm those values and one thing i have to mention about the factory claims. The FD30 is the first flashlight i measured higher in my DIY sphere compared to the factory claims which i really appreciate. Honest lumen ratings are rare these days and companies like surefire, Fenix and Mag Lite are famous for their honest ratings. Many people used Fenix lights to calibrate their home made spheres or as ceiling bounce reference lights. I reviewed another light this week with a claimed output of 1100 lumens, i measured 850. So much for that.

 

 

 

 

I used a fan for the runtime test. Once the light reaches certain voltage points it will downshift to the next lower mode. There is a real low voltage warning in form of a blinking main LED (3 blinks every five minutes) but only when the light has downshifted to the lowest mode. That means you will most likely notice it anyway before that low voltage warning occurs. I had to stop the runtime test after several hours because it would have shined forever in a low mode. As you can see there is flat regulation after the light downshifted.

 

Here is a size comparison with other one inch tube lights. As you can see the light has the same lenght compared to other one inch lights with both tailcap clicky and side switch.

 

 

Now lets look at the rotating mechanism, i guess thats the part most people want to see here.

 

 

 

The reflector is kind of split in half and the upper part can be raised or lowered with the rotating wheel. The wheel has an infinite movement, you can twist it either to the right or left, it doesnt matter. There is no start / endpoint, once the head reaches its highest point it will go down again and that up/down movement is continuous as long as you twist the wheel. So you get a very deep reflector when the head is raised completely and a very shallow reflector when the head is lowered which will result in a more throwy beam characteristic with a tiny spot + spill, similar to a throwy reflector light or a very wide floody beam with almost no spot at all. Its not comparable to the typical zoom flashlight with an asperical lens.

 

Here is a little animation, when the head is lowered to its max. you get a wide 76° beam angle.

 

Lets look at some indoor white wall shots (head raised / throw)

 

As you can see that was the throw setting, the last picture was the turbo mode, thats why the beam is overexposed and you cant see the tiny spot anymore. There is a tiny amount of artifacts but you wont see them in a real life situation.

 

indoor white wall shot (head lowered / flood)

 

 

outdoor shots

 

 

As a GIF

 

 

 

same shot with optical zoom, the white table is about 95m away

 

 

As a GIF

 

 

 

 

As you can see the FD30 is not like the typical zoom light, its also not the best thrower on the market (one inch) which is probably the Nitecore P12GT. If it would outperform the best throw heavy "one inch" lights on the market it would make all other "normal" lights with a fixed head/reflector unneccessary. So in the end its always a compromise. Regular lights cant do the flood trick, you can use diffusors but they will reduce the output and the beam wouldnt be as wide. I was never a fan of aspherical zoom lights because i cant stand the tight "laser beam" without any spill of those lights. For me the FD30 is similar to a normal reflector light with relatively good throw (not the best) in the throw setting and a decent flood light with a lowered head. The Rofis TR20 XP-L HI for example has similar cd values in the one inch class, so i think Fenix did a good job with this light.

Edited by: daninho on 12/02/2016 - 19:05
casi29061965
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Thanks for this nice review with some awesome pictures !! Thumbs Up
Greets
Carsten

stephenk
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Thanks for the beam shots. Unusual for a zoomy that the zoom beam has spill, but that may help give it a niche market.

Phlogiston
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Thanks for the review – the beamshot comparisons are especially useful for this light! I don’t normally go for cool white lights, but the adjustable beam on this one is tempting. I didn’t realise how the continuously-rotating beam adjustment worked – another place your review was especially helpful – but now I understand it, I consider it a really nice bit of design work from Fenix.

I notice there’s no 5 minute stepdown in your runtime chart, unlike the UC35 I have, and you mention that the FD30 thermally regulates at 65°C. Would you be able to show us a runtime chart without fan cooling, to see what the thermal regulation does?

Enderman
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stephenk wrote:
Thanks for the beam shots. Unusual for a zoomy that the zoom beam has spill, but that may help give it a niche market.

Far from a zoomie.
It’s just a regular reflector light that can retract part of the reflector to provide only spill.

A zoomie will take the spill and focuses it forward.
This flashlight takes the regular hotspot and turns it completely into wide spill.

The opposite of a zoomie Silly

Tac Gunner
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Really like the looks of this, thanks for the review!

Phlogiston
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Of course, many zoomie designs lose a lot of lumens when zoomed to a spot, because the lack of a reflector means that any light which doesn’t hit the lens directly is wasted.

People tend not to notice that, though, because the sheer tightness of a zoomie’s focus means that the remaining light is so concentrated that it overcomes the losses and achieves higher lux in spite of them.

I think there’s a niche for the FD30, especially with Fenix quality backing it up. I suspect that the FD30 would be more comfortable to use in the medium-to-spot zone whilst walking around than a zoomie set to a corresponding focus would be, because the FD30’s spill would help you avoid tripping over things, but you’d still have a bit of throw to work with, too. There probably wouldn’t be much difference between the two in the floody-to-medium zone, though.

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Thank you for the review. I would not personally buy this light, but I know a couple of friends who would be very interested in a flood/zoomie type of light and based on your review, it seems to be a quality light that can do both, so will be a great recommendation.

Enderman
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Phlogiston wrote:
Of course, many zoomie designs lose a lot of lumens when zoomed to a spot, because the lack of a reflector means that any light which doesn’t hit the lens directly is wasted.

People tend not to notice that, though, because the sheer tightness of a zoomie’s focus means that the remaining light is so concentrated that it overcomes the losses and achieves higher lux in spite of them.

I think there’s a niche for the FD30, especially with Fenix quality backing it up. I suspect that the FD30 would be more comfortable to use in the medium-to-spot zone whilst walking around than a zoomie set to a corresponding focus would be, because the FD30’s spill would help you avoid tripping over things, but you’d still have a bit of throw to work with, too. There probably wouldn’t be much difference between the two in the floody-to-medium zone, though.


It’s not fair to compare an expensive flashlight like a fenix to a crappy $7 zoomie.
Obviously a cheap aspheric flashlight will have an ugly beam and loose many lumens when focused.

If you compare it to REAL quality flashlights in the same price range a TIR optic is far better than a reflector and does NOT lose lumens when focusing.

daninho
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Enderman wrote:
Phlogiston wrote:
Of course, many zoomie designs lose a lot of lumens when zoomed to a spot, because the lack of a reflector means that any light which doesn’t hit the lens directly is wasted.

People tend not to notice that, though, because the sheer tightness of a zoomie’s focus means that the remaining light is so concentrated that it overcomes the losses and achieves higher lux in spite of them.

I think there’s a niche for the FD30, especially with Fenix quality backing it up. I suspect that the FD30 would be more comfortable to use in the medium-to-spot zone whilst walking around than a zoomie set to a corresponding focus would be, because the FD30’s spill would help you avoid tripping over things, but you’d still have a bit of throw to work with, too. There probably wouldn’t be much difference between the two in the floody-to-medium zone, though.


It’s not fair to compare an expensive flashlight like a fenix to a crappy $7 zoomie.
Obviously a cheap aspheric flashlight will have an ugly beam and loose many lumens when focused.

If you compare it to REAL quality flashlights in the same price range a TIR optic is far better than a reflector and does NOT lose lumens when focusing.

!http://www.blx-optics.com/uploads/image/20141202/1417497190.jpg!


Well, which flashlight in the one inch class from LED Lenser can we use for a comparison?
Phlogiston
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Enderman wrote:
Phlogiston wrote:
Of course, many zoomie designs lose a lot of lumens when zoomed to a spot, because the lack of a reflector means that any light which doesn’t hit the lens directly is wasted.
It’s not fair to compare an expensive flashlight like a fenix to a crappy $7 zoomie. Obviously a cheap aspheric flashlight will have an ugly beam and loose many lumens when focused.

Nothing wrong with comparing designs, price notwithstanding.

Enderman wrote:
If you compare it to REAL quality flashlights in the same price range a TIR optic is far better than a reflector and does NOT lose lumens when focusing.

I’ll have to take your word for that one. I haven’t seen a TIR-based spot to flood tube light that takes 18650, and I walked away from the LED Lenser AA / AAA ones when they told people that using NiMH might damage the light. In this day and age, if your AA-based design can’t cope with NiMH, I consider it defective.

Has the TIR-based state of the art moved on from that? I’d be interested again if it has.

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daninho wrote:

Well, which flashlight in the one inch class from LED Lenser can we use for a comparison?

One inch head size?
Idk about their head sizes, I just have a P5r.2 which has only 270lm but 240m throw which is more than most 18650 reflector flashlights. And it uses a 14500 battery.
1/4 the lumens but more throw? Clearly it is not “losing” lumens, it is “focusing” them forward.

What’s great about this is that the battery lasts almost 4h on max, unlike reflector flashlights which only reach 200m+ when on turbo and only lasts an hour or so.

daninho
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Enderman wrote:
daninho wrote:
Well, which flashlight in the one inch class from LED Lenser can we use for a comparison?
One inch head size? Idk about their head sizes, I just have a P5r.2 which has only 270lm but 240m throw which is more than most 18650 reflector flashlights. And it uses a 14500 battery. 1/4 the lumens but more throw? Clearly it is not "losing" lumens, it is "focusing" them forward. What's great about this is that the battery lasts almost 4h on max, unlike reflector flashlights which only reach 200m+ when on turbo and only lasts an hour or so.

 

Its not that easy. You mean this model? Led Lenser test german

I like Zweibrüder because the company is german based (solingen) and they also give honest lumen ratings and i bought the F1R as you can see in my review but in my mind you cant compare those lights or better said both systems have its advantages. Your LED Lenser is pretty large for a 14500 light and those TIR zoom lenses give you artifacts and rings as you can see in the review. Yes the cd value of the LED Lenser is higher but the Fenix dont waste its lumens, the lumens are still there as spill which is important to many people. I like reflector lights with both spot and spill because you can realize and track objects much better compared to a tiny spot without any spill. Sure, the LED Lenser can do it for 4 hours but the Fenix can do 4h30 @ high which is 350 lumens. The other thing is the LED lenser is very dimm when zoomed out because it only has 270 Lumens and according to the review in my link the beam is not as wide as the Fenix in the flood setting. Overall i would prefer the Fenix because of the reasons i mentioned but its a matter of what you want and expect from a light. The Fenix has 10K cd and the LED Lenser has 11K, thats not that much of a difference.

 

It is important to compare lights with similar head sizes because a larger head will result in more throw. Imagine the Fenix FD30 system in a larger light and a bit more lumens.

Enderman
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So this looks like “artifacts and rings” to you??

daninho
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yes, the one on the right. I was refering to the pictures in the review (link).

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Danke - tolles Review

 

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Nice review and many thanks for the copious beamshots Thumbs Up I’ve been waiting to see someone post those.

Certainly not your typical zoomie but in a good way. I’m liking it and might even give it a try when the budget allows.

Phil

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Nice review and interesting beamshots.

In “spot” mode you get a narrow spill with spot. In “flood” mode you get a wide spill with almost no spot.

This beam pattern reminds me of recent Coast flashlights.

Many recent model Coast zoomies use a TIR optic and LED mounted on a post very similar to LED Lensers. The one-piece optic consists of two elements: an outer TIR reflector, and inner aspheric lens. On LED Lensers, the focal point of both elements is in roughly the same place, so that in spot mode you get near maximum possible throw with very little spill.

Coast chose to go a different route: They placed the focus of the inner aspheric lens at a different point than the focus of the outer TIR. The result is “spot” mode looks a lot like the FD30: some (but not much) throw, surrounded by narrow spill. “Flood” mode is a very wide completely uniform circle with no hotspot.

daninho
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Thanks for that information about the coast light. Yes in spot mode the light is similar to a normal “throwy” reflector light. In flood mode the whole beam gets wider, there are some artefacts but its not a big deal. However in the middle position you get a slight “ring”, i guess you cant avoid that but the middle position makes no sense to me. The TIR lens has the advantage of a very bright spot. Its a matter of what you need and prefer. If you want candela at any cost and a very bright spot without spill the Led Lenser TIR Zoom System is better.

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Very nice pics, I believe I just might have to get one of these. The concept is sound, your beamshots show that it does indeed work and work surprisingly well, the execution is done in a way that seems very easy to use in the field.

Fenix lights are expensive, but they do bring a lot to the table.

Well done! Smile

daninho
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Thank you very much Dale. I liked the FD30, the wheel is maybe a bit to stiff for one handed operation but its possible. I have to say that i gave my light away for a passaround (german forum) and there were mixed reactions to this light. Some noted that the spill size didnt increase by much but i disagree, my beamshots and the spill gif animation shows that there is a good increase in flood, at least in my mind. The lumen ratings are very conservative as well, i like that.