Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: Fenix E12 [1xAA EDC Flashlight]

The Fenix E11 was one model I never got around to buying. Lots of folks have talked about how good it is, so when I saw there was a new model E12 that had the new Cree XP-E2 emitter in it, I jumped on it and purchased it from Amazon for about 27 bucks. For whatever reason the last couple orders have arrived a day late. I mentioned it to the missus who said "oooh poor baby is going to run out of flashlights before tomorrow." Ok, point taken.

Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Product Link


Product Description


This is a compact, three mode flashlight which runs on a single AA battery. It's also one of the few lights I've seen with the newer XP-E2 emitter in it. Most of the new ones are coming out with the XP-G2 or XM-L2 emitters. That coupled with the TIR optics make this an interesting model indeed. The rest is fairly typical such as black anodized finish, the low profile reverse switch, scalloped tail and agressive knurling on the body.

NOTE: The seller I bought this sample from includes two free AA alkaline batteries with the light.

Official Specs (From Amazon)

  • Uses Cree XP-E2 LED with a lifespan of 50,000 hours
  • Broad beam lens. Provides soft, even beam for close-up illumination
  • Output Modes:
  • High - 130 Lumens (1 hour 30 minutes)
  • Mid - 50 Lumens (6 hours 30 minutes)
  • Low - 8 Lumens (40 hours)
  • Uses one AA (Ni-MH, Alkaline) battery
  • Digitally-regulated output--maintains constant brightness
  • Reverse polarity protection guards against improper battery installation
  • Slightly recessed switch to prevent accidental activation
  • Able to tail stand
  • Tail tap switch for on/off and output selection
  • Made of durable aircraft grade aluminum
  • Premium Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
  • High-efficiency total reflection lens
  • Waterproof to IPX-8 waterproof rating (underwater 2 meters for 30 minutes)
Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight With Friends
Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Product Image 1

Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Product Image 2

Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Product Image 3

Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Product Image 4

Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Product Image 6

Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Product Image 7

Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Product Image 8

Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Product Image 9

Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Product Image 11

Initial Impressions


Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight View Of TIR OpticGrrr I hate the retail blister packaging. That's fine, you want to foil shoplifters, I get it. But Amazon has made great strides in their "frustration free packaging" and I guess I'm pretty spoiled on it lately. Inside the packaging it also comes with an alkaline battery, so that's 3 free batteries I got with it. 

The light itself is impressive. I've read reports about the TIR optics not being aligned and giving some units a wonky, inefficient beam pattern, but mine seems perfect. This is my first TIR light and the beam looks nice, but honestly I can't see the fuss. 

Putting a battery in it and clicking through the three modes, they seem well spaced and I like the feel of the switch. It's also a little more compact than I was expecting. One thing I immediately liked was that it starts on low. I know it's like arguing religion among flashlight enthusiasts, but I much prefer the ability not to blind myself or others by blasting their dark-adjusted eyes with ridiculous lumens. At least not for an EDC type light.

Build Quality


Fenix has a good reputation and it's well deserved. I'm not normally a huge fan of their products as they tend to use older, more conservative designs, but this model melds their build quality with the latest XP-E2 emitter. This is a well put together flashlight. I may even have to stop ranting that these companies are putting everything into their pricier models and ignoring the budget every day carry models. 

Fit and Finish


Overall, excellent. About the only thing I can find wrong is the Fenix logo hits the very bottom of the little machined logo area and the print is kind of dull. So all I can find wrong is the logo. Everything else seems flawless: centered emitter and optic, well machined and greased threads, and not a scratch, nick or scuff anywhere to be seen. The reverse tail switch looks and feels solid.

Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Button 1Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Button 2


Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Closeup of Reverse Polarity Protection
Reverse Polarity Protection
Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Closeup of Threads


Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Closeup of Centered Emitter

Clip


The E12 unfortunately does not come with a clip. I wasn't originally a huge fan of clips so I can live without them now, but it would've been nice. However, it does look like an aftermarket clip could be attached a couple of different ways: either via the lanyard holes or it looks like there's a beveled part of the tail for a snap on clip. I think the snap on kind might be the easiest to find, so I am on the lookout for one.

Modes

There are three modes accessible by half-pressing the tail switch to cycle between low, medium and high modes. The unit always starts on low. There are no so-called "disco modes" such strobe or beacon. I normally don't mind those extra modes as long as they are hidden, but it doesn't bother me not to have them.

Photo below taken at ISO 100 F/5.0 1/30
Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Animated Modes


PWM


I can detect no trace of PWM on any of the three modes using the cell phone camera technique. Not surprising since Fenix is well know for high quality constant current circuits. Normally constant current drivers suffer from poor tint, but this model certainly does not have that problem. Maybe it's the smaller die XP-E2. 

Beam


I've read reports about LEDs being off-center and the TIR optics piece not being fitted right, but mine has a perfect beam. It's not nearly as tight as I thought it would be, but that's OK.

Run Times

All tests performed with a 2nd generation Sanyo Eneloop AA NiMH battery hot off the charger.

High: 2 hours
  • Lost regulation at about an hour even and started coasting down
  • Hit sub-lumen output at about 1:45 mark
Medium: 6 1/2 hours+

  • Run time for medium right on spec
  • Took my eye off it and when I looked back at the 7 hour mark, it was flashing pulses about 1/2 seconds apart.


Usability


This model is compact, light and reasonably powerful, making it a good EDC light. It hits all the check boxes, like the ability to tail stand and start on low mode. It also has a smooth, floody beam you'd want for an EDC light. 

Conclusions


This and the Thrunite T10S are what I'm usually carrying. If it's going to get beat up, I take the stainless steel T10S along, and when I want the light weight, I take the E12. It's very compact for a 1xAA clicky and I think overall it's a great EDC type flashlight. The only thing it's missing is a good clip.

I'm also a big fan of constant current drivers like the E12 uses. Most people only use flashlights in an emergency, and when the sh*t hits the fan, you want an efficient circuit to give you every bit of run time possible. 

This may well be a model that gets gifted this year--we'll see. I ordered a couple SolarStorm SC01 models with the electronic switch too. The E12 is a well built light that's a bargain for the 27 bucks I paid for mine. Whether I gift them or not, I'll definitely be using mine, and it won't be going into the "bag of shame" which is soon to be the "roll of shame".

Gallery

Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Packaging 1

Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Packaging 3

Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Packaging 4

Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight Next To Ruler
It's compact for a 1xAA clicky flashlight

Fenix E12 1xAA EDC Flashlight On Scale
Shown with 2nd generation Sanyo Eneloop battery--it's decently light


5 comments:

  1. Very nice, useful and thorough review for the flashlight.
    I enjoyed reading it.

    thanks,
    RonnieBarkan[at]yahoo[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  2. If this had a pocket clip itd be the perfect edc light :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It could probably use some of the snap-on clips from other flashlights. I haven't tried any as my E12 lives in my disaster bag.

      Delete
  3. What a great light the E12 is! Well balanced, feels good in your hand, thoughtful L-M-H mode cycling. For about $25 its as near perfect as you can get for an affordable EDC light.

    I liked it so much I picked up a few more Fenix AA lights: The E25 - nice tight, throwy beam and the E41 - very wide, floody beam. While all 3 lights cover basically all my lighting needs, the E12 gets carried most because it is the smallest, most intuitive and 130 lumens is still fairly bright.

    ReplyDelete