Review: Fenix HM50R

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kaybi
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Location: Canary islands
Review: Fenix HM50R

Disclaimer: I received this flashlight for free, with the understanding that I would make a full review of it. I have tried to be as informative and impartial during this review as I possibly can.

 

The Fenix HM50R was provided by BestLight.

 

Also, this is the first time I create a thread here. So if I make any mistakes in etiquette, please be sure to tell me. Thanks.

 

Imgur album with all the pictures.

 

Long story, short:

 

A great lightweight headlamp with integrated usb charging. Very comfortable to wear. It’s only real problem is the timed output decrease, designed to stretch runtime. If you can get over that (Or actually like the idea, since this is not the first light that takes advantage of the user's eyes adapting slowly adapting to night vision), it is an awesome little headlamp.

 

 

Manufacturer specifications:

 

You can read them all at the link provided at the top. The back of the box also includes a very complete description of the light, including some fairly honest runtime graphs. I have never seen runtime graphs from manufacturers before. Good on Fenix, even if I disagree with the practice of diminishing output to increase runtime, at least they are honest about it.

 

Unboxing and Contents:

 

The HM50R comes in a transparent plastic box, that allows the buyer to see the light directly while protecting it on a molded plastic tray, with the headband and a 16340 battery already installed.

 

After opening the box and removing the tray with the HM50R, we can access a small cardboard box that includes a USB charging cable, a replacement silicon headband, an extra oring, an extra USB silicone cover, a user manual and a warranty card.

 

The user manual is clear and well translated. It includes all of the ANSI information, as well as the different kinds of batteries the HM50R can use (Spoiler alert, if you can fit it inside the battery tube, it almost certainly works)

 

The warranty card claims that Fenix will replace the light if any manufacturing defects shows up within 15 days, and will repair it free of charge for 5 years after that, which seems fair to me.

 

Build quality and durability:

 

Fenix seems to be hell-bent on proving my assumptions wrong. On my previous review of the FD30, I said that: “Another common problem on zooming flashlights is the worsened waterproofing, caused by the mechanism that allows the flashlight to focus.” 

 

And a common problem in USB charging light is, of course worsened waterproofing. Having another probable point of ingress for water increases chances of water seeping into the light, specially when only covered by a dust cover.

 

However the HM50R lived up to it’s IP68 rating. Also, the fish wanted to be on the shot today.

 

As usual for Fenix, the build quality is great. The anodization is great, with no defects that I can see, and threads on the tailcap are square cut. The E-switch as a big rubber cover, easy to press even when wearing gloves, and a well-defined click.

 

The headband is retro-reflective, adjustable, and has a silicone strip on the inside to avoid slipping. The silicone holder feels strong and secure.

 

The only negative I can bring up is the lack of dual springs, but that is pretty minor on a headlamp, specially one this small.

 

UI and switch:

 

From OFF, short press: Battery check.

 

From OFF, long press: Turns on last used mode

 

From ON, short press: Cycles modes.

 

From ON, long press: Turns off the light.

 

The achilles talon of this light, in my opinion, is the UI. While certainly usable, the lack of a direct access to low, and the forced memory, makes it annoying to use, at least for me, since I can never remember what mode I used last.

 

Otherwise, the modes are well spaced, and while the 4 lumen low could be lower, it is low enough that is not a dealbreaker for me.

 

The battery gauge, while it works great, should not be what is shown with a short click from off.

 

Extra points for not including strobes. Good work on that.

 

Runtimes:

 

I took only uncooled runtimes of the HM50R, given it’s fairly low output, and the fact that it decreases in output from the start to increase battery life, means that it never really reaches it’s 65c. On my testing, it stayed close to 45c, and never got so hot that it hurt to the touch.

 

Runtime on Turbo

 

Runtime on High.

 

 

I mentioned above that the HM50R decreases output to increase runtime, and it certainly is not shy about it.

 

I would generally call such a practice dishonest, but they do include a runtime graph on the back of the box, so I really don’t know how to feel about it. They did “tweak” the facts a little by using a logarithmic scale on the graph, though.

 

For what is worth, I would prefer stable outputs. Let the users chose how many lumens they need.

 

Charging and included battery.

 

The included battery is a Fenix ARB-L16-700mah battery. It comes pre-installed on the light, but protected by a small plastic disc, to avoid self-discharge.

 

While it is labelled as 700mah, it actually tests out at 760mah on my Opus BT-C100.

 

The battery is protected, and cuts current at 3v. A fairly conservative number. I’m sure the HM50R could squeeze the battery quite a bit more on the low output.

 

The charging rate of the light is 700mah, so 1c. Pretty good. Charges the battery in 76 minutes, in my testing, from 3v to 4.175, which is a pretty good termination voltage, and at the advertised current.

 

The USB port and cable feel high quality, with very little wiggle.

 

When charging the light, it is possible to turn it on and access medium mode. A nice feature, but I wish they would also allow the user to access low mode.

 

Lux and Lumen measurements:

 

I take my lumen measurements using a homemade integrating pipe. The results should be taken with a grain of salt, but they are as follows:

 

Low: My setup is not precise enough to measure outputs under 5 lumens. It does look about right.

 

Medium: 34 lumens, 18 meters of throw.

 

High: 142 lumens, 38 meters of throw.

 

Turbo: 575 lumens, 80 meters of throw.

 

If you saw the runtime graphs, you know that the output greatly decreases to save battery. Turbo output starts at 575 lumens, and stabilizes at 140 lumens. This decrease was not caused by either heat or low battery voltage. This effectively means that the effective brightness was halved.

 

You can cycle the modes to go back to full brightness.

 

The throw measurements coincide with Fenix’s. The beam has a very wide hotspot and a nice, bright spill, thanks to the small reflector and XM-L2 led used. It feels comfortable to use, and does not have a severe “tunnel-vision” effect.

 

While we are at it, the led is around 5700k, I’d say. The glass’s AR coat is noticeable in the beam, specially in the spill, and causes a purple tint-shift.

 

Personal opinion and recommendations to the manufacturer:

 

The Fenix HM50R is a great light. Durable, easy to use, lightweight and comfortable. If you want a small headlamp for uses like running at night, camping, or a dedicated car-light, it will work great.

 

The included 16340, ability to USB charge, and to use cr123 batteries on a pinch make it a great addition, whether you plan to use it everyday, or keep it as an emergency light (Remember to lock light by unscrewing the tailcap, though).

 

But, as it always happens, no light is perfect. What would I change on this light?

 

Poor UI: Long click to turn on is generally considered annoying. I would have used short click to go to memory, long click direct access to moonlight, and maybe access the battery check by keeping the long press an extra second after turning moonlight on.

 

Poor tint: CRI is important, and so is color temperature. XM-L2 leds also tend to have more color shift than newer XP-L leds. A 5000k temperature would have been appreciated.

 

Diminishing output: Let the users choose how many lumens they need. This might be a positive if you plan to hand the light to kids or people with less experience with high quality lights.

Pavlo
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Location: Canada

Great review.

Does high of 140 lumens really step down to 25% of it’s initial output to about 35 lumens? That’s an epic failure!

Turbo I understand, but 140 lumen high needing to step down is just ridiculous.

kaybi
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Location: Canary islands

I agree that the stepdown it’s unnecessary. I believe the idea is to increase the runtime. As you say, I could understand if they stepped down on turbo mode, but stepping down on high is, if that’s their reasoning, almost patronizing to the final user.

Even turbo mode has no real reason to stepdown, since the light doesn’t get that hot.

SKV89
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Location: US

Thanks for the great review. Nice water proof test!

I think Fenix lights are great quality but I just can’t stand their UI. I hate any lights that require click and hold to turn on/off.