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Fenix PD35 compact LED torch / flashlight review --by Calvin Jones

Publish Time:2014-02-25

Pros: Outstanding 850 lumen performance from a 14cm (c. 5″) torch that fits in the palm of your hand. Great build quality. Insanely bright, clean beam with floody central spot and a large “spill” that illuminates the peripheral area. Excellent throw distance for a 20mm reflector. Great versatility with five brightness levels and mode memory. Handy “momentary” on/off with half-press of the tail switch. Can use recharchable 18650 lithium ion batteries or 2xCR123A disposable lithium batteries.

Cons: Eats batteries at brt settings (which is hardly surprising). Tail cap button protrudes slightly, so torch won’t “tail-stand” like some others will.

Price: €79.95 for the PD35 from Cork based LED Powerhouse. €7:50 for a rechargeable 18650 Lithium Ion Battery and €9.99 for an 18650 battery charger, also from LED Powerhouse.

Value: Excellent

Rating: Highly Recommended

The Fenix PD35 is small, light and superbly made. It’s not cheap, but will last a long time, and is so versatile it’s likely to be the only torch you will ever need. It is incredibly powerful, yet you can carry it around in your pocket, in your pack or on your belt all day without even noticing it’s there. A truly superb torch for anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors and needs a reliable, versatile portable light source they can count on.


Fenix PD35 Full Review


A good torch is an essential piece of kit for the keen wildlife watcher, and the new breed of compact, powerful LED lights can provide the ideal blend of convenience and performance.

The PD35 from Fenix is one of the latest generation of compact LED flashlights.  It fits comfortably in your pocket, but packs a huge amount of power into a small package.  This versatile torch is only 14cm (c. 5″) long, and weighs just 87 grammes (without batteries) yet delivers an unbelievable 850 lumens of light. That’s incredibly bright for such a small torch.

To put it into context, it feels like you’re waving a car headlight around in your hand.

Build quality, finish and ergonomics

Fenix is a Chinese company that’s set its sights firmly on the quality end of the LED flashlight market, challenging established market leaders like LED Lenser and Maglite. If the PD35 is anything to go by they’re heading in the right direction. It’s a superbly put together bit of kit.

The body is made from extremely strong aircraft grade aluminium, with a tough hard-anodised coating applied to all external surfaces (Type III hard anodising apparently — making the PD35 resilient and corrosion resistant). The sleek, modern design is very functional, and the finish is excellent. Machining on things like the knurled “grippy” midsection and the threads for the battery compartment is flawless.


I’ve used and owned quite a variety of torches over the years, and for the last few years a selection of Maglite models have been my staple portable light-sources. Their build quality has always impressed me — but the PD35 is a definite step up in terms of quality. It feels like you couldn’t break it if you tried (I didn’t — but that’s how it feels). It’s fully waterproof to IPX-8 standard too — which means it can be submerged in up to 2 metres of water without any ill effects. I held it underwater in a local stream to test it,  turned it on and off a few times and used the mode switch to cycle through brightness levels. It came through unscathed.


The lens is made of toughened ultra-clear glass that has special anti-reflective coatings applied to both sides to improve light transmission, ensuring as much light from the super-bright Cree XM-L2 (U2) LED is thrown out by the 20mm smooth aluminium reflector.

Power


he PD35 is powered by either 2 CR123A lithium batteries — which you’ll find in camera shops and pharmacies — or by a single 3.7V 18650 rechargeable lithium ion battery. LEDs are efficient, but the PD35 is a powerful, high-drain light, and sucks battery power quite quickly in Turbo and High modes (see quoted run times in the mode list below).

That could get quite expensive over time if you opt for single use CR123A cells at about €4.50 a pop, so I’d definitely recommend getting a couple of 18650 rechargeable cells and a charger to power the PD35.

Performance

The first time I took the PD35 outside at night I was absolutely blown away by just how bright it is. My brain had to do a double-take before it would accept all that light was coming from the tiny torch in my hand. It practically lit up the field in front of the house.

Of course you’re not going to need that much light all of the time — but the PD35 is a versatile beast, and offers five different light modes to choose from, so you can select just the right amount of light for whatever you’re doing:

  • Eco 10 Lumens /140h (battery life at this brightness)
  • Low 45 Lumens /29h
  • Mid 170 Lumens /7h45min
  • High 450 Lumens /2h30min
  • Turbo 850 Lumens /1h15min

There is also a strobe mode that operates at the full 850 lumens.

The PD35 features a versatile fixed focus beam that has a “floody” central spot of intense white light that illuminates a wide area, and a useful wide “spill” that lights up the peripheral area. It’s an ideal combination — allowing you to focus on what’s in the spotlight, but still see what’s going on around you too. The electronic driver controls the current and ensures constant brightness in each of the modes as the battery discharges, delivering optimum performance.

Controls

The light is turned on and off using the rubberised “clicky” switch in the tail. Half pressing the switch activates the momentary on feature, and depressing it all the way clicks the light on. Depressing it again turns the light off.

Mode selection is via a different switch conveniently situated just beneath the cooling fins high on the torch body. The mode switch toggles through the power settings from economy to turbo and back to economy again. Pressing and holding the mode switch activates the strobe, pressing it again returns to the last constant light mode the torch was in before entering strobe mode. A very handy mode-memory feature means the PD35 turns on in the same mode it was in when you last turned it off.


Heat Protection


Despite having cooling fins on the head, pumping so much light out of a high-performance LED generates a significant amount of heat, too much heat to be dissipated by such a small body. To protect the light, the battery and the user from heat damage the electronic driver has built in heat protection.

The PD35 operates for five minutes continuously in Turbo mode before automatically dropping to High mode, where it will operate for a further 30 minutes or so before dropping to Mid mode. You can manually override this step down, but the user manual warns that operating the LED continuously at high levels could damage the light or cause injury.

This is a sensible precaution in a small light that’s this powerful, and in practice I’ve never needed to use Turbo mode for more than a few minutes at a time, so it hasn’t been an issue.

Using the PD35

I’ve been carrying the PD35 everywhere with me for a few weeks now — using it for night-time wildlife watching, as well as for all those after dark jobs around the house and garden; in fact for all of the times when you need a bit more light for any reason. It has been superb in ever respect. Eco mode is brilliant for night-time walking across fields, through woodland or along country lanes. It’s bright enough to light the way, and let passing traffic see you, without messing up your night vision too much. You can gradually step up the power as needed to illuminate the scene — right up to turbo mode which floods

ery impressive on so many levels. It’s so small and light you can carry it around all day without even noticing it. Then when you need it, it’s there, ready to deliver as much light as you need in practically any situation. It’s an incredibly practical and versatile tool.

Accessories

The PD35 is supplied with 2xCR123A batteries, a handy belt holster, a metal pocket clip, a lanyard, 2 spare o-rings and a spare rubber cap for the tail switch.

Conclusion

The PD35 is an excellent torch that’s small, light and amazingly versatile. Its five constant-light modes allow you to select just the right amount of light output for any situation you’re likely to encounter, and it easily outperforms many torches several times its size and weight.

It makes an ideal torch for travel and every-day-carry, and would be excellent for any outdoor activity where you’re likely to need an additional source of light. If you need a versatile, robust, high-performance torch the PD35 certainly fits the bill. Check it out!


Technical details

Taken from www.fenixlight.com.

  • Cree XM-L 2 (U2) LED with a lifespan of 50,000 hours
  • Uses one 18650 rechargeable Li-ion battery or two 3V CR123A Lithium batteries
  • 139mm (Length) x 25.4mm (Diameter)
  • 87-gram weight (excluding the battery)
  • Digitally regulated output – maintains constant brightness
  • Low-voltage warning function to remind you to replace the battery
  • Reverse polarity protection guards against improper battery installation
  • over-heat protection to avoid high-temperature of the surface
  • Anti-roll, slip-resistant body design
  • Tactical tail switch with momentary-on function
  • Side switch on the head
  • Made of durable aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Premium Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
  • Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating

Acknowledgements

I’d like to thank the folks at Cork based torch specialist LED Powerhouse for submitting the Fenix PD35 for review on Ireland’s Wildlife.

NB. Ireland’s Wildlife has no specific affiliation to any optics or gear manufacturer and all reviews on the site are completely independent and objective. See our disclosure statement for more details. If you’re an optics or gear manufacturer and would like to submit your wildlife related product for review on the site please drop us a line using the contact form and we can take things from there.


The original text link: http://www.irelandswildlife.com/fenix-pd35-compact-led-torch-flashlight-review/

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