[REVIEW] Imalent MS12 Mini - Awesome power... and a few issues

Finally completed the MS12 Mini review, and while it was a lot of fun, there are unfortunately some issues that prevent me from recommending this light.

It can be purchased here: IMALENT MS12 MINI Powerful Flashlight - IMALENT®
Imalent is charging a hefty $409 for this light, which is definitely too much for what you are getting.

TLDR - The MS12 Mini is the brightest flashlight that isn’t the MS18, with an absurd output on Turbo. Unfortunately, it has overheating issues, a questionable UI, is not properly serviceable, and is overpriced. For $400, you should get the Acebeam X75 instead.

The MS12 Mini is a sodacan style light with a sealed 4*21700 battery pack with an included barrel plug charger, which fills the pack in just 2 hours. I would have liked to see USB-C charging. We all love proprietary battery packs here, and Imalent did us some favors by sealing the pack and charging $130 for replacements! Awesome.

This pack is weirdly labeled 3.6v, but testing with a multi-meter confirmed it was a 16v series pack. The 12 Cree XHP70.2 LEDs are wired in parallel, and the light utilizes a pretty basic Linear+FET driver, which allows for crazy high output but is inefficient and gets extremely hot.

To deal with this heat, three small cooling fans are arrayed around the pill. They are loud and annoying, and run at a constant speed. They are also pretty weak and lose a lot of power when you shake the light around, but do a lot to keep the light from overheating. They are not easily replaceable, disassembly is required to access them and the head (at least on my unit) is sealed wih loctite.

Build quality overall is very good, the light is well-machined and solid. Even with the fans the light carries an IP68 rating, which seems a little optimistic to me but it does hold up well to rain and moisture.

Let’s start with output numbers - Turbo is full direct drive, and because of this output is very dependant on battery charge level, and voltage sag causes a rapid drop.

Nonetheless I found that the light easily met and exceeded Imalent’s 65,000 lumen rating, with 67,000 lumens being easy to hit, and a fresh charge producing 75,000+ at startup. In fact, immediately after a fresh charge, the instant Turbo was hit, I got an almost unbelievable 82,980 lumens - which makes this the second-brightest light you can buy (for a split second anyways)

Turbo - First 90 Seconds

The light holds 70,000+ for the first 24 seconds, then smoothly drops down to it’s sustained level of 13,000 lumens after 50 seconds - which is held flat for the remaning 44 minutes of the run!

Runtimes on the high modes are pretty short, as expected for such a powerful light. Stability is very impressive, with the top three modes sustaining a flat 10,000+ lumens each.

Runtime Graphs - All modes

Runtime Graphs - All modes (zoomed y-axis)

Output levels:

  • Turbo - 70k+ lumens

    ………13,000 Sustained
  • LV5 - 28,000 lumens

    ………11,500 sustained
  • LV4 - 11,900 lumens

    ………11,500 sustained
  • LV3 - 5,000 lumens
  • LV2 - 3,400 lumens
  • LV1 - 1,990 lumens

Everything is very bright, and the modes are well-spaced… except for the bottom two levels. Both are visually very similar to each other and are basically redundant, level 2 should be removed entirely.

Worse, the lowest level of 1,900 lumens is simply ridiculous, that’s way too bright to be considered a proper low mode, and it only runs for 4 hours and 40 minutes… which means this light is incapable of running for an entire night’s worth of usage - a serious problem for such a large, expensive light, especially one that claims to be practical. (Decent runtime though at that level)

The interface is pretty simple.

  • Press the button for on/off
  • press and hold while on to ramp up through the modes
  • Double-press for turbo
  • triple-press for low
  • While off, press and hold for three seconds to turn the fans on/off.
  • A quadruple-press locks/unlocks the light.

On level 3-Turbo, the fans will turn on automatically, and turn off with the light - there is no active temperature monitoring here. This is another serious issue, as the light gets extremely hot on Turbo and the fans are really needed to keep this under control - they SHOULD NOT be turning off with the light, and should instead be reacting to the internal temperature of the light itself to prevent overheating.

The fans can of course be turned on manually, which allows them to run constantly until turned back off. This is what I recommend for any extended usage, though again they run at a constant speed and are quite annoying.

Another issue is the press and hold required to activate the fans - since the button is metal it too will get very hot, and you can burn your thumb trying to turn the fans on. Not a good design, I definitely think the triple-click should be remapped to the fan control instead of low.

Another issue with the fans - during my runtime tests I found that the fans actually shut off before the light itself, allowing it to sit and cook under a 13,000 lumen load for a full 3 minutes… this is bad.

Finally, ANOTHER heat-related issue: the low mode likes to not work sometimes, it seems to be due to low battery levels, though I can’t figure why this would be the case. During usage one night, the battery ran out and it would not longer turn on to low. I plugged it in to charge, and apparently the light was still ‘on’ in low (it just didn’t light up) because when I came back almost an hour later, the light was on while connected to the charger and had gotten extremely hot. Of course, the fans did not activate and the light did not dim, so the MS12 Mini can be a potential fire hazard with it’s poorly implemented thermal control. Classic Imalent refinement!

Beam quality is pretty good, these are low-CRI emitters but are a nice ~5600K and look decent. Tint-shift isn’t too bad for XHP70s, and there aren’t any major artifacts in the beam.

I measured about 2.5 cd/l, for a theoretical maximum peak cd of 167,370 cd (at 83K lumens) - far short of the 268.6kcd Imalent advertises. However this isn’t an issue, the light is clearly a flooder anyways and does an excellent job at that. Distant objects are somewhat illuminated but will be mostly obscured by blindingly bright foreground objects and beam backscatter.

Overall I quite like the beam from this light, it’s an exellent high-power flooder that effectively lights up large areas.

Well that’s it for this review, I hope it was helpful, and I hope you maybe enjoyed the video :slight_smile: Imalent did send this light to me free of charge, and I really appreicate their patience as the video took a long time to put together.

They probably won’t send me anything else after this, so here’s my Patreon if you want to support me:

Great review. Hope that Imalent can improve their product based on your constructive feedback. Their lights really can burn skin easily, so it is not for everyone. They should make a handle for their lights, I got burnt last night with their MR90. But it also means the thermal path is excellent and really really a high power flashlight.

At least Imalent has been honest and doesn’t advertise it to be 80k lumens like Acebeam X75.

thanx for review and especially naming all the CONs as well as PROs

wow, cant believe my eyes, Imalent have claimed each new model to have stabilization for...i dont how many years. and finally that is done!

13000 for 44 minutes is great result.

what about button? i've begged Imalent to pay attention to it's design, i simply cannot blind find button at all ( last 4-5 models i reviewed). it literally require another flashlight to find this button. and. LED indicator moved to a side of flashlight (not in center of button) is no help at all with this

Ya, i don’t understand why Imalent has to change the button feature and not making use of the two small led indicator.

For MS18W, there is one led indicator at the button, can be enabled with a long press, user can find the button easier in the dark. And four clicks enable fans and one click stop the fan.
For MR90, the two led indicator at the button can’t be enabled manually, I believe MS12 mini has same limitation. They are for other purposes. And fan has to be enabled AND disabled via long press for 3-4 seconds.

Imalent UI is not improving based on MS18W, instead they are degrading from MS18W.

I own one Imalent flashlight (not the MS18 or MS12) and 3 Acebeam but to be fair, I have read about a few horror stories with Imalent flashlights catching on fire but no such stories about any Acebeam ones. I am under the impression that Imalent go for high output only while Acebeam make higher quality / safer drivers.

I think what the flashlight community needs is someone like Mooch, but that person would test lumens using an integrating sphere. DIY lumen tests are fine to give members ideas of lumen ratings and I would imagine that those DIY tests are probably 5-10% off because they don't account for lab conditions (pollution/dust/moisture/etc).

Cool beamshot scene! https://youtu.be/NmfVxff8Ysk?t=66

How did that happen? Is it due to accidental switch on in a bag? Imalent lights do have lock out feature.

Many flashlight manufacturers don’t have calibrated equipment and good test method. So I don’t think flashlight community test is any inferior than flashlight manufacturers.

But I think flashlight test community can and will do relative comparisons. It is very hard to get absolute measurements, but relative comparison measurements of similar form factor of flashlight is accurate test method to know performances of different flashlights.

Glad you guys liked the review!

A handle would definitely be good, in fact it seems more neccessary here than on the comparable Acebeam and Manker lights. I am happy to see that they’re been pretty honest in their specs, this is one of the few super flashlights that actually overperforms instead of barely/not hitting claimed specs (aside from that intensity rating that is way off…)

Stabilization here is really great, definitely something to commend Imalent for!
The button needs to be improved, putting the indicator in the center or at least having it always be on is a good idea. For me just making it larger and more prominent, as well as raising the switch area, would do a lot for ease of use.
The decision to use aluminum for the switch cover is possibly for heat reasons, maybe, to keep it from melting. It just ends up burning my fingers though :frowning:

I think a handle with a long stick switch that mechanically stay above existing button would be ideal. When user press on it, it will travel maybe 1.5mm to click on button. And this mechanical switch can be locked out.

Imalent makes the button so low could be for the purpose to avoid accidental switch on. But then it will be hard to find. Imalent should make use of the two indicator LEDs. My two indicator LEDs lit up evenly, but they are kind of useless except showing battery status and lockout.

friend, if investigate deeper, you`d see that Acebeam are pretty honest.

and their flashlight are not photoblitz, with one-time highest output from freshly charged batteries.

and their flashlight are convenient in hand and in use

and Acebeam offer HiCRI and other versions.

i`ve reviewed several hundreds of flashlights and i have highest opinion about Acebeam.

damn, i bought just 2 flashlights in last 5 years. They are L35 and L18. after i sold them, i bought them again. saw L18 in camo and couldnt resist. never turned them on both, just could`t resist because they both are so damn cool covering all the needs in 1km range.