[Review] FENIX PD12 (XM-L2 T6 NW, 1x CR123A)

Battery: 1x CR123
Modes: 4 ( Low, Med , High + momentary Burst)
Switch: Electronic on the head
Date: February 2014
Links :
Banggood / FenixLight / FenixLinternas / RdL / Thread in ForoLinternas

Fenix, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high performance LED flashlights , has extended its PD range, versatile and for everyday use flashlights, with a new high performance compact flashlight for CR123a primary batteries . Although the use of these cells is not widespread in Europe, the flashlight is interesting for those seeking simplicity, power and strength of a Fenix with no need to complicate life looking for rechargeable batteries or chargers.

The Fenix PD12 comes in a small cardboard box, similar in design and color to which we have recently seen in the Fenix TK22 Grey Edition. Printed in full color, the box has some main features printed on its surface. Inside the flahslight comes with a small clear plastic bag containing a lanyard and a replacement o-ring. The documentation includes user manual in two languages ( English and Chinese ) as well as the warranty card and an advertising brochure with some new ( and not so new ) brand models . Fenix omitted in this case the traditional flashlight holster.

The new PD12 looks different to the PD range we are accustomed in previous proposals. A slightly oversized head, followed by a hex neck with an integrated electronic switch and a body entirely covered by knurling are its main identity signal.

Its size is neither too big nor tiny, so it feels good in hand and is comfortable to use.
Anodizing is typical that Fenix has accustomed us with a uniform in all its parts with a very nice tone black matte finish. The engravings are well defined thanks to the high contrast between the black background are easy to read .

The flashlight is fitted with a relatively wide and deep smooth reflector for this size and, with a surface free from irregularities and properly centered on the XM -L2 . The lens has AR coating with the characteristic purple halo.

The bezel of the flashlight is smooth and flat , occupying almost half of the surface of the flashlight head . Under this bevel there is the hex area that works as anti- roll mechanism preventing the flashlight roll when placed horizontally on a smooth surface , in which the electronic switch is placed, under a button with a metallic appearance in light gray.

This button is placed so it does not protrude from the profile, so its location in the dark or with gloves is somewhat difficult. On both sides of the switch we found discrete machined cooling fins.

Inside the neck of the flashlight we found the driver, which incorporates a mechanical reverse polarity protection as two blocks that surround and protect the positive contact of the driver.
The threads are anodized and square-cut , lightly greased as it is the o-ring, from factory.

The tube has a spring inside for the negative battery contact, and outside is entirely covered with a striped diamond knurling in a way that brings very good grip. The tail of the flashlight shows a flat base, surrounded by two crenellations allowing the light to tailstand solidly.

The alignment between the two parts, as curiosity, is perfect being the button right in the center of the vertical plane on the two tailcap crenellations when the thread is completely closed.

In general, the PD12 has an exterior finish that exudes constructive Fenix quality line with what we are used on all models to date have analyzed.

Instead of the classical system of 4 plus hidden strobe and SOS modes that we are used in many of their Fenix flashlights, the PD12 has a simplified user interface with only three main modes, memory, and momentary Burst (Turbo) mode .

  • Activation and Off: A simple press on the electronic head switch will turn on the flashlight. Keeping the button pressed for more than a second turns off the flashlight
  • Changing modes: Successive clicks on the button head alternate between the flashlight 3 main modes, in ascending order: Low - > Mid - > High
  • Memory: The PD12 remembers the mode in which we turn it off , and return to this in the next power activation.
  • Momentary Burst / Turbo Mode: With the flashlight off , a sustained press on the electronic switch will activate the Burst mode, a momentary maximum performance mode which is limited to the time we maintain the pressure on the switch. With the flashlight on, we can also access this mode with a maintained press although the lantern now need about 2 seconds to enter this mode , making a momentary off tenths of a second before activating the Burst mode. Releasing the switch, the light will returns to the previous mode.
  • Mechanical block-out: With its anodized threads, the Fenix PD12 can be blocked by partially unscrewing the threads . This will avoid an accidental or inadvertent activation and parasitic consumption always present in flashlights lacking a mechanical switch. The current required to maintain flashlight latent when off is about 29uA ( 0.029mA , which would drain completely a CR123a of 1300mAh in over five years, so consider this totally negligible parasitic drain)

( All measurements are taken following the ANSI NEMA FL1 procedure using highest value of the reading of between 30 and 120 seconds after activation. More details here)
Again, as we have seen recently in the TK22 Grey Edition, homemade integrating sphere calibrated to reproduce readings of Fenix commercial sphere used in his laboratory provides an absolutely chilling concordance. All modes , except for the lowest mode obtained ANSI measurements within the range of 10% deviation with that counted in the complicated photodiode calibration process. The distribution of modes is very balanced , ideal for everyday use on a pocket light.

The Fenix PD12 flashlight is designed for use with primary CR123 batteries, so the power and especially the regulation are not comparable to those that support RCR/16340 batteries . Still, the PD12 is the most powerful flashlight on primary of which I had occasion to try to date:

The High mode offers an excellent compromise between runtime and power very close to the 200LM for approximately 100 minutes. The curve shows a two-phase regulation, perfectly flat for these first 100 minutes, and passed this mark the regulation enters a second phase , which initially drops suddenly to be giving progressively less and less light, but without turning completely off for the more than 3 hours of test.
As recently seen in the review published by Trevilux, the PD12 is capable of operating with rechargeable lithium batteries , with some important notes. The higher voltage of the RCR makes the flashlight lose modes, being usable only two modes , Low and Burst (although the sequence of modes remains the same , with the Burst mode repeated on the Med and High mode places). Moreover, the Burst mode becomes a direct drive which makes this small flashlight a real pocket flamethrower:

NOTE : Fenix clearly indicated in the user manual of the PD12 that using rechargeable lithium batteries is not allowed and that its use can damage the flashlight.

You can see that with rechargeable IMR this small light is able to start on a value of 800LM. With normal RCR, the output is inferior, with still amazing amount of 650LM at startup.

Again, as in the TK22 Grey Edition , Fenix chose to use a neutral tint LED for this PD12. The XM-L2 T6 equipped with a smooth and relatively deep reflector produces a floody beam though with a fairly definite hotspot, resulting in a more than decent throw (120 meters maximum according manufacturer specifications ) for a flashlight like this .

Compared with other similar lights, the PD12 offers a good compromise in its projection , which is useful in many everyday applications.

Although the format of primary lithium is not a European benchmark, the U.S. market appears to be well used to this kind of batteries and Fenix knows how to please its users with a flashlight limited to these primary batteries.

CR123 • EC1 • S10 Baton • EX11.2 • RRT01 • PD12 • V11R • MT1C
Negatives: I note with some concern as world reference brand as Fenix seems to be forgetting the rechargeable lithium RCR123 or 14500 formats, much more versatile than their primary sisters, especially when the competition offered by brands like Zebralight is doing wonders with its hybrid regulations offering not only support to both batteries but also providing them with excellent regulation in its two variants of power supply. This is something that I’ve complained when we saw the LD12 G2 and its inability to function in a regulated way with 14500, and it seems Fenix does not intend to change it any time soon.

Positives: The build quality of Fenix is its greatest asset . A small flashlight , with some really excellent finishes and consistent with the intended use user interface of the flashlight is going to be allocated are the unmistakable sign that this is a piece designed and produced by one of the best and most acclaimed global brands within sector . I especially like this trend towards neutral tints in LEDs that are taking much interesting talks recently due the high tolerance the manufacturer CREE is having on their cold tints. Access to momentary Burst mode also seems a wise move, since these modes are typically designed to specific situations when we may need that extra light, and forcing us to hold thebutton by the time we need will result in use more energy efficient usage. In general, PD12 is a flashlight that although it is intended for minority use with primary batteries offers outstanding performance in a compact size with the Fenix warranty.

nice review as always UPz
too bad this light only accept CR123 :frowning:

Yes, nice review UPz - thanks, but not being able to take rechargeable 16340’s is a shame.

Very helpful, excellent photos, comparison with other lights, easy to follow graphs and your negative comments section I wish all reviews would follow to show the products traits which are most useful for a potential owner of the flashlight. As in here, the lack of rechargeable lithium support.

Thank you.

Not being able to use 16340’s again keeps me from purchasing a Fenix light. My Olight S10 L2 is in my books a better light because of that, and the S10 has a Moonlight mode, hat-clip, etc.

So nice little flashlight but I did not buy it when it was $30, it is step back with only CR123 batteries, unfortunately…

Thank you for the excellent review! Pity it does not take 16340. Maybe Nitecore EC1 is better.

Nice review as always UPz!