Review: Fenix LD12 (2017 edition) AA/14500 Flashlight

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WalkIntoTheLight
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Review: Fenix LD12 (2017 edition) AA/14500 Flashlight

This is a review of the Fenix LD12, 2017 edition flashlight. It is a simple, yet versatile, flashlight that uses a Cree XP-G2 neutral white LED. It takes a AA or 14500 battery, has a easy-to-use two button interface, with 4 output levels + a hidden strobe.

The light was provided by Banggood for review purposes. You can find the light on their site here:

https://goo.gl/pQd0×1

There is a 28% discount code for the light. Use code 808435.

There is also a video review of the light I put up on youtube, here:

Flashaholics can appreciate this light for its quality construction, nice neutral white tint, multiple modes, and a forward clicky on/off tailswitch. However, I quickly became aware that this is a flashlight that non-flashaholics will also really like, for its simple and intuitive interface. My wife quickly stole this light from me, when I showed it to her. She hates all my other flashlights, but immediately snapped up this one because of the easy interface and useful mode levels. Does liking one flashlight make someone a flashaholic? Perhaps not, but it’s a start.

Overview:

The Fenix LD12 (2017) is a well-made every-day-carry light, with a great user-interface that is both simple and versatile. It is constructed of anodized aluminum, and takes either a single AA battery (NiMH, alkaline, or lithium primary), or a lithium-ion 14500 battery. Using it with a 14500 battery gives you the benefit of brighter maximum output (the other modes are the same). A neutral-white XP-G2 emitter gives a very pleasing neutral tint, and reasonable throw for outdoor use.

This light is not outstanding in any individual characteristic (brightness, efficiency, size, etc.), however it does extremely well at combining those factors into a format and interface that is extremely usable.

The 1xAA format is my favorite type of flashlight, due to its compact size, ease of carrying, easily available batteries, and acceptable output and run time. This light fits nicely into that category, especially since it also accepts 14500 cells. There are definitely times when I need higher output and longer run times, and I’ll use a higher-capacity format for that, but most of the time a 1xAA light is more than sufficient.

My only complaint about most 1xAA lights is that they are too floody for outdoor use, especially when using the XM-L2 or XP-L emitter. The Fenix LD12 solves that by using an XP-G2 emitter, which gives better throw. It’s not going to blind anyone, but it throws further than a 1xAA Zebralight, despite having lower overall output. So, it’s a good EDC light both indoors and outdoors.

An overview of the specs follow. I give more details later in the review, as well as a comparison to other lights. My own measurements line up extremely close to Fenix’s specs (well within my margin of error). You can find the manufacturer’s specs in the site link above.

Pictures follow these specs.

Modes: 4 (low, medium, high, turbo, and strobe). The light has mode memory.

LED: Cree XP-G2, 4500K neutral white.

Lens: anti-reflection coated. Protected by bezel.

Size: 102mm long, 21mm diameter.

Weight: 56g without battery, 82g with an Eneloop installed.

Construction: Black anodized aluminum. Waterproof and drop-proof (1 meter). Good grip on body. Threads are very nicely square cut, and came lubricated. Space on tail for a lanyard (included). Feels solid and well built.

Warranty: 5 years.

Battery type: 1xAA NiMH, lithium primary, or alkaline. Or, 1×14500 lithium ion.

Output: Turbo, 150 lumens (AA) or 320 lumens (14500), high 70 lumens, medium 30 lumens, low 5 lumens. Graph included below. Output is flatly-regulated, except for a pre-programmed step-down from turbo if using a 14500 battery (no step-down for AA battery).

Run-time:
Turbo (AA) – 75 minutes on a 1900mAh Eneloop. 1.75 hours on a high capacity NiMH.
Turbo (14500) – A bit under 1 hour, continuous. Although, the light steps-down after 5 minutes, giving a run time closer to 3 hours.
High – 4.5 hours
Medium – 11 hours
Low – 2.5 days

Throw: 2500/5000 candela (AA/14500). This represents a throw of 100/140 meters, to 0.25 lux. This is a bit better range than comparable Zebralights, due to the more intense hot-spot.

Heat: No issue on AA battery. Light will get warm on 14500, but 5-minute step-down prevent overheating.

Tint: 4500K cool white. The tint is very nice for a Cree XP-G2. I think Cree has gotten better at producing nice white tints in the past year. Old Cree LEDs tended to be green, but this one is not.

Beam pattern: It has a bright hot-spot, a diffuse corona, and a dimmer spill. It’s about what you’d expect from an XP-G2 in this size light.

PWM: I could not detect any PWM either with my eyes or with a high shutter speed camera.

Tail-stands: yes, but needs a solid surface. Due to the forward clicky tail switch, there are only two flat surfaces surrounding the switch. This allows for tail standing on a hard surface, but not on a soft surface because it is too easy to tilt.

Operation:

In my opinion, this is where this light “shines”. Forward tail clicky to turn the light on and off (single press). Electronic side switch to switch modes (single press). The light has mode memory. To activate the hidden strobe, press and hold the side switch.

You can optionally lock out the light by slightly unscrewing the light (due to anodized threads).

Anyway, it’s really simple and easy to use. Guaranteed not to frustrate non-flashaholics!

My impressions:

Pros:

- The interface is simple and yet gives good functionality.

- Nice neutral white tint.

- Decent throw, for a light that doesn’t have high output.

- Well made. Waterproof, drop-proof. Dust proof, according to some specs.

- Flat regulation. This light won’t dim until the battery is depleted.

- Switch is easy to find and operate in the dark, but recessed and strong enough to not accidentally turn on.

- Modes have decent spacing, though I think this light could have done fine with just 3 modes, rather than 4.

- Supports a wide range of battery types.

Cons:

- Not very bright overall output on a AA. Needs a 14500 to get high output.

- The step-down on a 14500 probably should have been to the turbo AA level, not high.

- Non flashaholics might steal this light from you.

And now, for some pictures.

Contents:

Contains the usual extras, clip, lanyard, o-ring, manual, and an alkaline battery (which you should throw away and get some Eneloops for all your AA lights).

Various pictures of the Fenix LD12.

This is the beam shot, alone:

This is a output graph of running the light on turbo. Note that on a 14500, the light steps down to high, and continues running for a couple of hours longer than on a AA battery.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading.

desmondkun
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Thanks. Big Smile

Nothing new or attractive. Fenix seems to be too lazy.

Take care of your flashlight and your flashlight will take care of you.

Paul321
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Wow , that is an extensive review. Thanks. It is too expensive for me , even with the discount.

Paul-

Box
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I like how a Fenix feels in the hand but this light lacks output compared to other XPG2 AA lights. It’s too big for an AA lights. Might as well carry a 18650 light which is shorter or the same length.

Thorfire TG06S is an 14500 XPG2 light with more output and is shorter. Also 19 grams lighter.

I would buy a LD12 if it was a little cheaper cause of the NW tint, no PWM and forward click. I can live with the extra weight and low output. Just wish it was a touch shorter.

Thanks for the great review mate.

WalkIntoTheLight
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Box wrote:
I would buy a LD12 if it was a little cheaper cause of the NW tint, no PWM and forward click. I can live with the extra weight and low output. Just wish it was a touch shorter.

Yes, I think it would be tough to make it much shorter, given that it has a forward tail clicky. I suppose they could shave a couple mm off the bezel (kind of like a Zebralight), but that would expose the glass lens to drops.

Overall, I don’t find it too long. It still carries well in a pocket, if you don’t mind carrying AA-sized lights in a pocket. If I’m going somewhere that I don’t think I’ll need a light, I usually carry a small AAA light to minimize size.

SoCalTiger
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Below turbo, the output levels are the same for AA vs 14500?

WalkIntoTheLight
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SoCalTiger wrote:
Below turbo, the output levels are the same for AA vs 14500?

Yes, that is correct. A 14500 boosts only the turbo level (approximately double the turbo output).

firedome
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Thanks for this review, I wasn’t aware of this light edition. Thumbs Up

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light --- Plato

STREAMHAWAII
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What was the upgrades from the older version? Thinking of getting one so bad but don’t want to be fooled into an older version.

WalkIntoTheLight
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STREAMHAWAII wrote:
What was the upgrades from the older version? Thinking of getting one so bad but don’t want to be fooled into an older version.

I think the main improvements are support for 14500 cells, which allows for much higher output (it’s higher even with a AA cell), and a neutral white LED for better color rendition. Also, I think they’ve made some minor improvements, such as a metal mode switch, etc.

If you’ve already got the original version, and plan to stick with AA cells, then unless you want a neutral white tint it’s probably not worth the upgrade.

STREAMHAWAII
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WalkIntoTheLight wrote:
STREAMHAWAII wrote:
What was the upgrades from the older version? Thinking of getting one so bad but don’t want to be fooled into an older version.

I think the main improvements are support for 14500 cells, which allows for much higher output (it’s higher even with a AA cell), and a neutral white LED for better color rendition. Also, I think they’ve made some minor improvements, such as a metal mode switch, etc.

If you’ve already got the original version, and plan to stick with AA cells, then unless you want a neutral white tint it’s probably not worth the upgrade.

Thanks!