Fenix Torches or Flashlights, Because Photographers Sometimes Need One

Most of us have a torch or flashlight of some sort in our camera bag, or if we don’t, then we should. Torches have changed a lot recently.
For many years I carried a small 2AA Maglite torch or flashlight in my camera bag. It served me well but had some major limitations. If I dropped it the globe almost always broke. It wasn’t as bright as I might have liked and the light field was not even. The batteries often went flat if I didn’t use the torch for some time.

Torches have gone through a major change in recent years. While ones using incandescent globes are still around and have become brighter and better, all the action has been in torches using light emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs have become amazingly bright, are low power (relatively), are shock resistant and new designs using Lithium batteries offer long storage lives, which is great for emergency and infrequent use.

Many traditional torch makers also make LED torches, but there are also many new manufacturers producing torches now, and even some who only do LED torches. Fenix is a Chinese company who produce solid product and have since 2005. They are a company that has specialised in the potential that LEDs offered to torches.

For the last three months or so we have been using three of their torches: the P3D CE Premium Q5, L1D CE Premium Q5 and the P2D CE Premium Q5.

Fenix L1D Flashlight

Fenix P2D Flashlight

Fenix P3D Flashlight

The two P-series models use the lithium 123A battery. The beauty of the 123A lithium is that they have such a long storage life. This is ideal for infrequent torch users and for putting torches away for emergency use. The downside of 123A battery models for heavy users is the cost of the batteries. So as an alternative we have also been using an AA powered model, the L1D.

The brightest of these torches is the P3D. All of them are seriously bright enough to dazzle you if you shine it in your eyes, but the P3D especially so.  But the others are no slouch either.

The first thing you notice with any of these torches, after the brightness, is how even the light is. I was used to hotspots and darker spots with my old torches. With these the light is even with a nice bright central zone that projects an amazing distance, surrounded by an even less bright region for great peripheral vision. The light is also very white compared to an incandescent torch.

With use the excellent battery life of LED torches becomes very noticeable. These torches have had a lot of use and are the battery life is amazing. See the specifications below for the details. You also get to choose how long you want the batteries to last by changing the brightness.

These batteries use electronic circuits to give you a choice of brightness and mode. Turn the front bezel and the torch is in turbo mode and offers maximum brightness. Press the rubber button on the back to turn it on. A light tap on the button then can turn on flashing mode, which is great for emergency signalling. With the front bezel turned to normal mode you still turn the light on and off with the rear button but successive taps on the button run you through three brightness levels and an emergency flashing mode. So in total you have four levels of brightness and two level of flashing brightness.

This is a fantastic capability. Often you do need the brightest setting but at other times, especially when you are using the optional red filter to preserve your night adapted eyesight when doing astro-photography say, you will want the lower brightness or the longer battery life.

Construction is outstanding. The heavy-duty aluminium is water sealed with O-rings, so the torches can be used underwater. The aluminium is well anodised. They come with two spare O-rings and a spare rubber button cover. The rear button is recessed very slightly so you can stand the torch on its end and use it as a candle.

Note that these torches are not ‘tactical’ torches in the true sense of the word. Tactical torches have a normal momentary on mode, they only light when you touch the button, and work thus for police and military use. To get continuous light you must do something else, such as turn part of the body. These do not work this way, when you press the button they turn on. Momentary touching the button then cycles through brightness levels or modes. For photographers this is unlikely to matter and I found these torches much better to use than some US-made tactical torches I have used and presently have for review.

Also in comparison to many US-made torches, these ones are amazingly cheap and so full of features. I’ve dropped them and they have kept working (one of the benefits of LED globes), have held them underwater for various purposes and had them banging around with tools in the car and toolbox. The amazingly bright light makes them very useful even during the day when you need more light on something. And yes, they can be used for photographic lighting (more in a later article). The emergency signalling mode is reassuring when out in remote locations and the torches are so bright as to be useful for defence (dazzle an assailant).

I am so impressed with Fenix torches that I will have to buy several when I have to give these back. The 123A lithium models are fantastic for low use or emergency use and the AA models are great for heavy use because of the cheapness of the batteries. If you need the ultimate in brightness the 123A P3D model can certainly deliver.

Do yourself a favor, buy one or several.

P3D Premium Q5 Features
* Utilizes a Premium (Q5) Cree 7090 XR-E LED with a life of 50,000 hours
* Two modes (6 types) of output, generation/turbo selected by turning the bezel (patented)
* General Mode: 12 lumens (65hrs) -> 53 lumens (13hrs) -> 120 lumens (4.8hrs) -> SOS
* Turbo Mode: 215 lumens (1.8hrs) -> Strobe
* Digitally Regulated for Constant Brightness
* Low Battery Indication
* Uses two 3V CR123A batteries (Lithium)
* 11.4cm (Length) x 2.1cm (Diameter)
* Made of aircraft grade aluminum
* Durable Type III hard anodized finish
* 49-gram weight (excluding batteries)
* Waterproof to IPX-8 Standard
* Toughened ultra clear glass lens with AR coating
* Push-button tail cap switch
* Capable of standing up securely on a flat surface to serve as a candle
* Includes a holster, lanyard, two spare o-rings, and a rubber switch boot

P2D Premium Q5 Features
* Utilizes a Premium (Q5) Cree 7090 XR-E LED with a life of 50,000 hours
* Two modes (6 types) of output, generation/turbo selected by turning the bezel (patented)
* General Mode: 12 lumens (30hrs) -> 55 lumens (5.5hrs) -> 107 lumens (2hrs) -> SOS
* Turbo Mode: 180 lumens (1hrs) -> Strobe
* Digitally Regulated for Constant Brightness
* Uses one 3V CR123A battery (Lithium)
* 8cm (Length) x 2.1cm (Diameter)
* Made of aircraft grade aluminum
* Durable Type III hard anodized finish
* 38-gram weight (excluding batteries)
* Waterproof to IPX-8 Standard
* Toughened ultra clear glass lens with AR coating
* Push-button tail cap switch
* Capable of standing up securely on a flat surface to serve as a candle
* Includes a holster, lanyard, two spare o-rings, and a rubber switch boot

L1D CE Premium Q5
* Utilizes a Premium (Q5) Cree 7090 XR-E LED with a life of 5
0,000 hours
* Two modes (6 types) of output, generation/turbo selected by turning the bezel (patented)
* General Mode: 12 lumens (25hrs) -> 53 lumens (5hrs) -> 107 lumens (2hrs) -&gt
; SOS
* Turbo Mode: 120 lumens (1.5hrs) -> Strobe
* Digitally Regulated for Constant Brightness
* Uses one 1.5V AA ( Alkaline, Ni-MH, Lithium ) battery, inexpensive and widely available
* 9.7cm (Length) x 2.1cm (Diameter)
* Made of aircraft grade aluminum
* Durable Type III hard anodized finish
* 46-gram weight (excluding batteries)
* Waterproof to IPX-8 Standard
* Toughened ultra clear glass lens with AR coating
* Push-button tail cap switch
* Capable of standing up securely on a flat surface to serve as a candle
* Includes a holster, lanyard, two spare o-rings, and a rubber switch boot

http://www.fenixlight.com/

In Australia you can buy from http://www.torchworld.com.au/

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