Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fenix LD75C Flashlight Review

The Fenix LD75C Flashlight
CLICK ON ANY OF THE PHOTOS FOR A LARGER VIEW


INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

This light came shipped from Fenix in a brown box, wrapped in bubble wrap inside. I guess Fenix hadn't developed a retail package for it at he time of this review. Unfortunately, it also came with zero batteries and I live out in the sticks with no place that sells 18650 rechargeable batteries. Fortunately it arrived on a Friday and I was going to be driving the 1.5 hours into the "big city" the next day so I could get the needed batteries.


My initial impression of the light was that it was thick but not too thick to carry comfortably on the job. Personally, I think it's too big for a pouch on a law enforcement duty belt but I weave lanyards from 550 para-cord so it will be getting a custom job with a carabineer later on. The LD75C weighed in at just under 1 pound without batteries and hovered right around a pound with batteries. Oddly enough, the two different brands 18650's I bought the following day, had different weights (more on that later). Fenix rates the water resistance (not water proof) at 2 meters and submerged for 30 minutes. So you'll be fine in any inclement weather. 
Size compared to a Zero Tolerance 0560 knife. 

The build is from air-craft grade aluminum, typical Fenix; very solid with no question about the quality. The front bezel is a stainless steel ring that could be used for defensive purposes if need be but I think it's purpose built more to protect the non-reflective glass lens.


I had actually gone to a gun show the day after receiving this light and there was a vendor selling 18650's and had a table full of other flashlights. I purchased several 18650's from him and he asked what I was doing with so many. I told him about doing a review on the Fenix LD75C and he said, "Oh! do you have it on you? I'd love to see it" I told him I had in outside in my truck and he said, "If you go get it and let me see it, I'll give you one of my lights for half price."......Off to the truck I went :)


When I arrived back with the light, he developed a big smile, put some batteries in and said, "Man, I love how Fenix does their lights" and turned it on. The beam that this light put out had several people gathering around the table asking questions. A few of them wrote the name down and the vendor even offered to buy it from me. I politely declined. He still made good on his 50% deal and since I now had several 18650's, I went home with a new Nitecore P12, which uses the same batteries. He didn't sell Fenix lights so I bough the Nitecore P12 . It was a good day.


SIZE

I did some measurements with my caliper. The head of this light is 2.9 inches wide. The grip or body is about 2 inches wide and the length is 6.2 inches long.
As you can see, this is a very compact little light and not much thicker than an old D cell flashlight. The photo below shows the LD75C compared to some of my most commonly carried flashlights.



LED ARRANGEMENT

Click on the below photo for an explanation of the LED arrangement.





BATTERY OPTIONS

The desired option for this light is obviously, four (4) rechargeable 18650's. It will however accept eight (8) CR123A's. I put eight CR123A's in the light and they were very loose. I don't know if the production version comes with a cradle or not but if not, I definitely recommend 18650's. This flashlight's performance is better with them anyway. A side note on the 18650's; their quality can vary greatly depending on where you buy them. The Ultrafire 18650's claimed 4000 mAH sucked (for lack of a better term). It wasn't until I purchased a set of Panasonic flat top batteries seen in the photo below that I realized the difference. Do yourself a favor and invest in some good 18650's;  Japanese Panasonic 3400mAH are the best IMO but I've found Xtar 3400mAH and Keeppower 3400mAH to be great as well.
The battery compartment of the Fenix LD75C
I put my first set of 18650's in the light and played with it momentarily until my next day at work. Then my first night at work, worked an tracking operation that lasted 5 hours that night. During that time I used the LD75C on the Mid/600 lumen mode which is more than bright enough. It never showed any signs of dimming. Three more nights of on and off use at the "mid" power level and it when the brightness dropped, it dropped off quick. Very impressive in my opinion. This being the case, I could only see the need for carrying one extra set of four batteries. Short of a long expedition somewhere, I can't think of many scenarios where you'd need more. In my case, working, snake hunting, night hiking, hunting, night time photography, all would be covered with this light; usually with one set of batteries.




POWER SWITCHES

There are three power switches on the side of the Fenix LD75C . Each has it's own set of functions. These are the easier to press, electronic switches, not "clicky" switches commonly found on the tail end of most flashlights. These switches feel like they are made well and require very little pressure to activate. Rather than explain their functions, see the photo below for an explanation.
Explanation of the LD75C's power switches.
IN USE

So how does this light work for various applications? 
Law Enforcement:  This light would work well for some law enforcement purposes. It would work very nicely for searches (hidden people, alleyway searches, search and rescue ops, etc.), but it's width and side operating buttons would be a hindrance on traffic stops and building clearing. I tried holding it tactically with a weapon and I don't think one would want it for this purpose. Although it would work OK, I'd choose a thinner light with a switch on the tail cap.

Camping: This would make an EXCELLENT camping light. For night-time walks, and inside the tent light, or just having fun with the stobes and colored lights with the kids, I don't think you'll find a better light. My kids loved the beam that the higher powers setting created at night in the sky. 

Caving: Stick to headlamps and smaller handheld lights :)

Search and Rescue Operations: I have used this light in this capacity and it works GREAT. In it's brightest setting, I think it would replace my Q-Beam just because of it portability alone. Again, I think just a couple of sets of batteries will get you through all foreseeable situations. 

Hiking: VERY nice light for this purpose. It's compactness allows for it to be stored along with extra batteries in a back pack. Much like a camping scenario, this light can fill many needs.In the rare case of someone getting lost, this light would make a great signal light. 

Snake Hunting (herping): A personal interest of mine. I'll just say this, I always take my Fenix HP25 and usually some other handheld. Now, this light will ALWAYS be with me. This light will work GREAT for herping. The only thing I will change is adding a lanyard and carabiner. If you herp, YOU WANT THIS LIGHT. It has so many uses.

Home Use: This would make a great home use light for all types of scenarios. For an emergency power outage light, it would work great. Turn the power down to low or mid and you'd have a light that lasts a long time. It also stands very well on it's end so it would work great to light a room.


In short, this light's strengths are obviously its variable power options, rechargeable batteries and compactness. All of these fit perfectly for camping, hiking and home use. It also works well for Search and Rescue type work and some law enforcement situations. 

Lastly, while I think the uses of the colored led's are somewhat limited, they could entertain kids, work for some creative photography lighting and the "police" mode (flashing blue and red led's) could be used in a law enforcement capacity. The flashing red and blue led's are seriously bright at night and visible through a windshield. One thing that I hadn't thought of until the other night was when I drove upon an accident scene off duty. I had unfortunately not taken the LD75C with me but it immediately hit me, this light could very well be a life saver with it's flashing red and blue lights to warn oncoming traffic at an accident scene. I took it with me to work the next night and demonstrated this use and now lots of co-workers are looking to buy one. I could see this being useful for EMT's, Firefighters, Volunteer Firefighters, plain clothes operations, etc. Unfortunately, I could also see the potential for nefarious use as well. I'll leave it at that. 

BEAM SHOTS

No review is complete without beam shots so here are some shots I took at 25 yards. The camera and light were tripod mounted and shot at the same camera settings for consistency. 







As I said earlier, when I went to buy my 18650 batteries, I also picked up a Nitecore P12 which uses a single 18650 with a claimed lumen rating of 1000 lumens on high. So below is a comparison of the P12 on high and the LD75C on high (not turbo). One thing to consider; the LD75C claims a run time of 3 hours on the 1600 lumen high while the P12 claims 1 hour on the 1000 lumen high setting. You could even crank down the LD75C to the mid 600 lumen setting and get 11 hours of run time. At 600 lumens, it will get 99% of your needed jobs done. 11 hours of run time gets you through a whole night and then some. What an excellent light! On to the comparison. 
Comparing the Fenix LD75C to the Nitecore P12, both on the "high" setting.
COLORED LED's

To be honest, I think the colored LED's are somewhat limited in scope. That being said, they do have their uses like I said above. For photographers or even film makers, they could be invaluable for creative purposes. For those in the military or Law Enforcement, lower powered red lights are often used to retain night vision capabilities of the human eye. Working at night under available light requires time to adjust to ambient light and any bright white lights, instantly ruins this advantage. The red led could be used in these circumstances. That being said, the red led is still fairly bright as are the other colored led's. My kids and their friends love the different colored leds and I have to keep the light away from them at night.

Take a look at the below photos of just how bright various colored led's can be. The tree is a 50 foot pine tree. 

Fenix LD75C with the red led activated. 
Fenix LD75C with the blue led activated. 
Fenix LD75C with the green led activated. 
RED AND BLUE MAKE??
Fenix LD75C with the red and blue "police" leds activated. 
In the last photo above, the red and blue "police" led's were activated and under a longer exposure, they "mix", causing a pink hue. 

NOTE: I call them "police" led's because they look and flash just like the led stobes on most police vehicles. THEY SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR THIS PURPOSE IF YOU ARE NOT IN LAW ENFORCEMENT; doing so is illegal in most states and will probably get you thrown in jail. That being said, my son has pulled over his sister many times already on his scooter. He just need a siren now :) 

CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY

I can see lots of creativity options using these colored led's in photography. Unfortunately, I haven't had much time off yet to play but rest assured, they're going to used for this purpose extensively when I do. Just some examples...
A Glock 23 and Hinderer XM-18 using the LD75C's blue led as a sole lighting source.


A woman greeting an intruder at night...(green led for effect)
SPECS FROM FENIX

Batteries: Four 18650's or Eight CR123A's
Turbo: 4000 lm!! - 1.5 hours (will get hot)
High: 1800 lm - 3 hours
Mid: 600 lm - 11 hours
Low: 200 lm - 35 hours
Eco: 40 lm - 17 hours
Water Resistance: IPX-8 up to 2 meters 


CONCLUSION

Of all of the many hand held, battery powered lights that I own, this is BY FAR, the brightest. The amount of light this little light can put out at night has to be seen to be believed. My co-workers who have seen and used this light have bestowed the moniker "MOAL" (Mother of all Lights) on this flashlight. A few short years ago my brother and I had a conversation about LED flashlights. Both of us made the ignorant statement that led's will never replace incans. Man, were we wrong. Of course I also said many years ago that digital photography will never replace film. So I'm batting a thousand.

Not only is this light insanely bright, it has the different power settings to either blast away as a spot light, turn it down a bit to extend it's use all night or even way down to 200 lumens for continuous use for four nights! You can go even lower to "Eco" mode and your grand-kids will still have some lighting :) 

I still use and carry my 180 lm Fenix L2D on my duty belt so at 20 more lumens, I could use the LD75C in place of the L2D without the worry of running out of juice for four continuous nights of use. If you add a second set of 18650's, you're easily covered for a very long time. The only drawback I can see is that it's a bit thick for some limited scenarios. It's the perfect size to throw in a backpack, camelbak, ruck sack. tricky bag, et al. If you're a hunter, snake hunter (herper), camper, hiker, you'll want this light. If you're in law enforcement, military, SAR, ect. you will also find many uses for this light. The rechargeable batteries are just icing on the cake. Fenix continues to impress with their new lights...As a law enforcement officer and shade-tree photographer, I'll have LOTS of use for it. I'll be ordering a holster for it and making a home-made 550 paracord lanyard with a carabiner for easier carry. 

BATTERY CHARGER

I think it's worth mentioning here that if you own a flashlight that uses rechargeable batteries, you owe it to yourself to get a good charger. I've been through the cheap off brand chargers and all I will say is save yourself the headache. Get a good charger. There are several good ones made but the Fenix ARE-C2 Advanced Multi Charger is the best that I've owned. It can charge a whole slew of different types of Li-ion and Ni-MH rechargeable batteries. It also shows you their current state and most importantly, protects against overcharging. I highly recommend it. 
DO NOT get ultrafire batteries, they suck. Spend the money and get Panasonic.






7 comments:

  1. A good flash light has many unique feature. Fenix LD75C Flashlight has many this features. Thanks for a love review.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great review Jason. Thanks! So for what purpose would you need 1800 or 4000 lumens? Crazy bright.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, it is crazy bright and I've already used it several times for searches at night in "the job" where I used to use a Q-Beam. If I have two sets of batteries, I can run this dang thing all night searching at 1800 lumens. Plus, as you know personally, it makes a great spot light walking cuts :)

      Delete
  3. This is a very in depth review!! GREAT job. I’ve been looking at this one for a while and been researching it for the last few hours when I came across your review. It was a long one but informed me on a few things. I already own a Fenix LD60 (love it but don’t use it as much as I should) and a Fenix PD35 TAC (my EDC)… Always liked Fenix Quality and was looking for a bright Multi-Colored light. After hours of reading I just bought one… Now I just have to wait for it. I do really like how you tried covering everything about the light (Pros & Cons). I don’t think it’s that many Con’s except the PRICE. Thank goodness I have what I feel is a great charger (Xtar VC4) similar to the Fenix charger you mentioned. I own many chargers (came with flashlight package deals) but only use the one. I have the Fenix 3400 mAh coming with it. I hope these are good batteries {I thought I would only buy Orbtronic (Panasonic inside) 3600 mAh} but they have been sold out for so long and figure I’ll just get the batteries at the same time and same place to save time. Like I said… very good review!!...

    ReplyDelete