A brief opening note about the "Real World Reviews"

At this point many fellow "flashaholics" have developed very sophisticated and detailed methods for measuring nearly every conceivable technical aspect of the illumination products on the market. The "Real World Reviews" acknowledge the existence of the detailed technical reviews (and I'll link to them below if I can) but will not re-hash all of that tech data. Instead the focus of the "Real World Reviews" is to take that "laboratory" information out into real world conditions to give the reader an idea of how the numbers translate into actual use.


Technical Review (done by someone else):

As far as I can tell, nobody has done an actual in-depth technical review of runtimes et-al yet.


Intended Use: Keychain/Every Day Carry (EDC

Power Source: 1xAA Alkaline, Lithium Primary, or NiMH (NOT 14500 compatible)

Average Cost: $30.00 (USD)

What you get:

  • Nicely laid out Packaging
  • Fenix E12
  • Loop type lanyard
  • Spare “O” ring
  • Some documentation

Initial Impression(s):

This light

Like everything Fenix that I’ve ever handled the E12 is a solid little tank of a light with absolutely perfect machining and anodizing. The lanyard holes are on the side of two fins at the tail that allow it to tail stand even with the lanyard installed and also provide some protection against accidental activation. There is no pocket clip and some folks were rather upset at the omission but it is not a big deal to me personally.

The interface is a single tail cap reverse clicky that handles both on/off and allows you to change between the three brightness modes. The light always starts in the lowest mode and then can be cycled up. There are no strobe or signal modes.

The beam is controlled by a TIR optic that does an excellent job of balancing the available photons into an extremely useful and even beam pattern. I am actually extremely impressed at how this arrangement makes a modest (by current standards) amount of lumens do a heck of a good job at illuminating your surroundings. Beam color has a slight tint to it but nothing troublesome.

Output (Per manufacturer):

Mode 1 (8 Lumens/40hr*): suitable for most “immediate area” tasks.

Mode 2 (50 Lumens/6.5hr*): suitable for indoor and walking around outdoors under most conditions.

Mode 3 (130 Lumens/1.5hr*): suitable for most mid-distance outdoors tasks.

*Note: Using a NiMH rechargeable battery

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The “Standard evening walk” begins with illuminating 3” circular reflectors and then seeing if I can make out the trees to which they are attached (neutral brown bark). Part Two then takes place over either a 1.5 or a 2.5 mile loop on an unlit and mostly open grassy area with a few trees, and then ends going through a short, steep, uphill/downhill gravel trail surrounded by trees and heavy undergrowth which I call the "confidence course".

Target Test

Target 1: 30ft [10yd/09M].......... Illuminated in mode 1+

Target 2: 60ft [20yd/18M].......... Illuminated in mode 1+

Target 3: 120ft [40yd/36M].......... Illuminated in mode 2+

Target 4: 180ft [60yd/54M].......... Illuminated in mode 3+

Target 5: 300ft [100yd/91M]........ Beyond design capabilities

Target 6: 450ft [150yd/137M]...... Beyond design capabilities

Target 7: 600ft [200yd/182M]...... Beyond design capabilities

Target 8: 750ft [250yd/228M]...... Beyond design capabilities

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The Walk

Conditions were somewhat moonlit but overcast and in the low 40 degree F range. The TIR controlled beam from the E12 created a nice, fairly wide, hotspot and a decently bright and extremely even spill with the light making very efficient use of the lumens it could project. Walking was really very simple, I put the light in Mode 2 (50 Lumens/6.5hr) and left it there. This light is a perfect example of how 50 tightly controlled lumens can easily do as well as 90 (or more) badly focused ones. At no point in the walk did I feel any tunnel vision or “follow the bouncing ball” effect and I had a very high degree of comfort walking the “confidence course” section of the hike.

The controlled beam did a nice job of penetrating the shrubs and evergreens in the thickly grown area though bumping up to Mode 3 (130 Lumens/1.5hr*) did provide quite a bit more “punch”. Again the beam just seemed a lot more powerful than 130 lumens.

Because it was relatively warm I was not wearing gloves for this walk. However the switch button is large enough and the control precise enough that I don’t think one would have issues.

As usual, after the walk I went into my garage and opened the hood of my car and just “looked around” doing the sort of normal checks common to maintaining a vehicle. The light was just fine for the purpose and also was more than good (if not quite amazing) for the “heat duct” check inside the house (a test that just requires a ton of lumens with no way to fake it).

The lowest setting Mode 1 (8 Lumens/40hr*) is a little too bright for the nightstand, midnight bathroom run, a function where experience has shown that anything over 3-4 lumens tends to disturb my spouse and/or dog. However it is nearly perfect as a LONG runtime emergency light for power outages, or use inside a tent or in campsite when hiking/camping/backpacking.


  • I always want a crenelated bezel. It’s just a thing with me.


  • Extremely Solid construction.
  • Battery capacity is well balanced with the light modes to give you light AND runtime.
  • Easy/intuitive interface.
  • Excellent range of light levels for the intended use and beyond.
  • Very well balanced TIR optics make the use of every last photon emitted by the LED.


I’ve become very used to higher power 14500 based lights I wasn’t expecting to be very impressed by a 1xAA light. I was wrong. This light may not be a super-powerhouse but it makes extremely efficient use of the light it creates and is a very accurate fit for the EDC niche. I am also very certain that this light would make an excellent car glovebox light. Stick an energizer Lithium Primary battery in this light, toss it in the glovebox, and forget about it until you need it. I’m confident that if you do it’ll be there, it’ll work, and it’ll do the job you need it to do regardless of conditions.

In the current world of 300+ lumen keychain lights and 600+ lumen EDC the Fenix E12 –should- be completely outclassed, but by some magic combination it not only holds its own, it actually impresses.

Final conclusion:


Hrrm. Can’t seem to post images.
Do I have to hit a number of posts or some other limit before I can link images?

No, no limit at all, just use the “insert image” icon above the editing area (also specify a “relative width” so that images are not displayed too big)

It seems to work with the insert-picture button of the simple post editor.

Here's a guide:

Okay, apparently the markup I use to create the reviews doesn’t want to play nice with images on this page.
Well that’s new
Always a curve when starting on a new forum (LOL)

I like this light because of its affordable price. It is hard to find a quality flashlight under $30. But yeah, 130 lumens is too low. Here is another depth review of the Fenix E12 Is the Fenix E12 flashlight better than the Fenix E11? (Specs and review).

Is the E12 still one of the best regulated single AA lights?