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Thread: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

  1. #1

    Rolleye11 Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Warning: pic heavy, as usual.



    Specifications:
    • LED: Cree XP-G R5 LED
    • Deep-dish reflector
    • Premium Type III hard-anodized finish
    • Side dimmer button with 4 brightness levels:
    • Low: 5 lumens, 152 hours
    • Medium: 47 lumens, 23 hours
    • High: 143 lumens, 6 hours 25 minutes
    • Turbo: 337 lumens, 1 hour 50 minutes
    • Dimensions: 135mm (Length) x 25.4mm (Diameter) x 34mm (Head), 152-gram weight (excluding batteries)
    • Rapid strobe, momentary-on switch
    • Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating
    • Intelligent memory circuit memorizes the last mode used
    • Digitally regulated output - maintains constant brightness
    • Reverse polarity protection
    • Anti-roll, slip-resistant body design
    • Uses 2xCR123A or 1x18650 battery (does not use RCR123A lithium-ion)
    • Impact resistant spring design
    • Estimated price: ~$80

    The TK15 is new member to go with the Fenix TK11/12 family of XP-G R5 lights. So what’s different about this one? Scroll down and see.




    Packaging and extras are fairly typical for Fenix. Included with the light are a basic carrying pouch, basic wrist strap, spare o-rings and boot cover, manual, and warranty card. My sample came with the white and orange diffuser covers, but I don’t know if that is standard or not.


    From left to right: AW protected 18650, Fenix TK15, TK12, 4Sevens Maelstrom G5, Sunwayman T20C, Nitecore IFE2, Eagletac P20C2-II.

    TK15: Weight 131.1g (no battery), Length 147.1mm x Width 34.0mm (bezel max)
    TK12: Weight 123.3g (no battery), Length 138.0mm x Width 34.1mm (bezel max)

    The TK15 is about a centimeter taller than the TK12, but overall dimensions are otherwise similar.





    Fit and finish are very good on my sample. No flaws in the matte black type-III hard anodizing. Knurling on the body and tailcap is about average in aggressiveness. Identification labels are clear and bright.

    Screw threads are anodized for tailcap lock-out. Screw threads seem to be high quality, with a square-cut at both the head and tail regions. Note the tailcap is interchangeable with my TK12 sample.

    The grip ring is removable, but you have to take off the tail o-ring first. The clip is similar to other Fenix lights, but seems to lack the titanium coating send on my TK12 and recent LDx0/PDx0 series lights.

    Due to the protruding forward clicky, the light cannot tailstand in stock form. But given that the tailcap sides are built-up slightly, you should be able adjust to the switch to potentially allow tailstanding. (e.g. add a washer underneath).

    Note the body walls are fairly thick on the TK15, in keeping with its "Tank" family status. I imagine you could probably drive over this light with your car without much damage to the body.

    New from the TK12, there is a spring on the positive contact in the head of the TK15. Although you should be able to use high capacity flat-top 18650 cells, I found this variable on my sample (i.e. AW protected 2600mAh work, but not my Redilast 2600mAh or 2900mAh). This is different from my TK12 (with its slightly raised center contact disc in head) - it could take all my flat-top cells.

    Switch is a forward clicky, with a slightly longer than typical traverse. No change from the TK12.



    Like the TK12, the new TK15 also uses the Cree XP-G R5 Cool White emitter. The smooth reflector looks to be identical to the TK12 model.

    Unlike some of the competition, the heads of the TK12/TK15 appear to be sealed. This means that reflector, bezel, etc is not user swappable.

    Which brings us to the requisite white wall hunting . All lights are on Hi on 18650 (AW Protected where available), about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall). Automatic white balance on the camera, to minimize tint differences.













    The beam profile isn’t any different from the TK12, but the output has increased slightly (TK12 is not shown). Even with the Smooth reflector, the TK12 has a very even beam with no obvious rings. Like with many XP-G-based lights with deep reflectors, there is some evidence of a slightly dark centre to the hotspot (i.e. a faint donut pattern). This is only noticeable at a distance – and only if you are looking for it. It is not at all distracting in this case.

    Scroll down to my Summary Tables for more specifics on output and throw.

    User Interface

    Turn the light on by the tailcap switch. Half-press the tailcap for momentary-on, click for locked-on

    What’s new for the TK15 is that mode switching is controlled by secondary button near the head of the light. This button feels something like an electronic switch, but with a slight “click” when pressed.

    When on, press and release the front button to advance through the output modes, which are Lo > Med > Hi > Turbo, in repeating sequence. The light has mode memory, and will return to the last setting used when turning the light off-on.

    Strobe is “hidden” on the TK15. From on, activate it by pressing and holding the front button for at least 1 sec. Exit strobe by turning off the light off or pressing and holding the front button again for more than 1 sec. There is no memory for strobe – turning the light off and on returns you to the previously memorized constant output mode.

    No PWM

    As with all Fenix lights of this class, the TK15 appears to be current-controlled.

    Strobe



    This is new - strobe is an oscillating strobe on the TK15. You get ~2 secs of 6.5Hz, followed by ~2 secs of 15.0Hz, in a repeating loop. I presume the idea is that it would hard to steel yourself against a rotating strobe.

    Testing Method:

    All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's flashlightreviews.com method. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different reviews - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan, except for any extended run Lo/Min modes (i.e. >12 hours) which are done without cooling.

    I have recently devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lighbox values to Lumens thread for more info.

    Throw/Output Summary Chart:

    Effective November 2010, I have revised my summary tables to match with the current ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.sliderule.ca/FL1.htm for a description of the terms used in these tables.







    Max output has increased on TK15, relative to the TK12. Although the TK12 is consistent with most lights in this class, the TK15 not matches the most heavily driven XP-G R5 lights that I’ve seen (e.g. Armytek Predator and Lumintop TD-15).

    Output/Runtime Comparison:







    Note the specifications claim that RCR is not supported. However, I tested 2xRCR on the Hi and Turbo levels, without apparent ill effect. However, keep in mind the specs do not support this configuration.



    As always, Fenix efficiency remains top of class for its output levels. I note that the performance on Turbo on 1x18650 is almost an exact match for the first ArmyTek Predator on SEMI regulation.

    Potential Issues

    The front switch is fairly small and smooth, making it hard to find without looking for it. Using it with gloves on may be difficult.

    On my sample, there is a slight indication of the well-known XP-G dark-centre effect in the hotspot (i.e. a faint donut pattern to the hotspot). This is not uncommon on XP-G lights, especially those with smooth reflectors.

    Some flat-top high capacity cells may not activate in the light.

    The light can't tailstand in its default form.

    Preliminary Observations

    The TK15 is an update to the popular Fenix "Tank" line. Like the TK12 I reviewed last year, this it is a physically robust build, but with a revised new user interface.

    The main difference to the TK12 is the secondary front switch to control mode switching. I personally like this design, as it is popular with general users (i.e. it is a familiar means to control a flashlight). However, I find the TK15’s switch to be rather small and hard to access without looking for it. Although a bit ungainly looking, I would have preferred something like the Klarus of Zebralight front switches (i.e. larger, protruding, and with a textured rubber cover).

    The other main difference is the output – the TK15 is driven harder on Turbo than the TK12. In fact, the TK15 is one of the highest output XP-G R5 lights I’ve ever tested – in the same category as the Lumintop TD-15 and ArmyTek Predator.

    The TK15 also includes a "hidden" strobe mode. This strobe is unusual, as it is an oscillating med-hi frequency strobe. If you are into such things, trust me, it is quite nauseating.

    What hasn't changed is the overall build of the light – it is as robust as ever, and the reflector and tailcaps seem the same as the TK12. I would say the beam is pattern is quite reasonable for a light this size, although of course it doesn’t throw as far as the larger lights with deeper reflectors. Some evidence of the common XP-G dark centre is also possible with all lights with smooth reflectors.

    The other thing that hasn’t changed is that outstanding Fenix output/runtime efficiency. At whatever output level you choose to run the light, you will get the best possible battery performance.

    A nice upgrade to the line, the TK15 gives you an additional option above and beyond the TK11 or TK12. Whichever one you pick, you get a good, solid, sturdy light that should serve as a reliable companion.

    UPDATE: Although all my high capacity flat-top cells work in my TK12, my Redilast 2600mAh and 2900mAh cells won't activate the TK15 (but my AW 2600mAh do work). As always, YMMV ...

    ----

    TK15 was donated by a CPF member for review.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 06-01-2011 at 09:42 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Nice review, may need to add this one to my collection

  3. #3

    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    The main review post has been updated with the final review text.

    This review was posted shortly before the site crashed, and the search engine cache data showed no replies. Anyone who posted in this thread originally (not captured in the cache) is welcome to come back and try again!

    Please carry on!
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  4. #4
    Enlightened Rej's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Thanks for getting those all back up again Selfbuilt.....I missed my reviews

    But I don't see any of the older reviews, am I looking in the wrong spot?

    You wouldn't happen to still have your Zebralight SC51 review, that could be re-posted, I'm hoping to get mine any-day (Shipped Feb 13, from guess were), and that would be a great re-read!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by Rej View Post
    But I don't see any of the older reviews, am I looking in the wrong spot?
    You wouldn't happen to still have your Zebralight SC51 review, that could be re-posted, I'm hoping to get mine any-day (Shipped Feb 13, from guess were), and that would be a great re-read!
    The older reviews are all still here, they just don't show up on the Review forum front list. You need to do a search for them. Once someone posts in one of those older reviews, it will be brought back up to the top of the Reviews forum list.

    I have some cache data for the SC51 thread over Nov-Feb, and will post it to that review as I get to it. For the recovery of threads, I'm going alphabetically by thread title (starts with manufacturer name typically). Currently in the "O"s, and am working my way toward the "Z"s.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  6. #6
    Unenlightened
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    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Nice review. My first LED (TK15) arrived UPS tonight and I'm starting one more "hobby" at ground zero with this hello and post.
    Ah, the fun of something new and technical to get my mind around. I was inspired after reading this review (don't know why) to use a touch of compressed air and blew some micro Chinese factory grit off the threads of my new Fenix and wiped it down with a microfiber. Sadly, I have no batteries tonight. To the search engine for batteries and chargers!

  7. #7
    Unenlightened Markous's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Great review

    I might break down and get me one of these.

    I can see from my little time here that CPF is gonna cost me some money not that it's a bad thing

  8. #8
    Enlightened Rej's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    The older reviews are all still here, they just don't show up on the Review forum front list. You need to do a search for them. Once someone posts in one of those older reviews, it will be brought back up to the top of the Reviews forum list.
    Ahhh.....thank you for the explanation and I see now my beloved SC51 review is up.... your quick with the alphabet Selfbuilt!
    Rej...beginning my journey again...

  9. #9

    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    What was the tint like on this particular sample? Any green?

  10. #10

    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Tint was good on my sample, a premium white. But of course, YMMV. I have generally noticed that tint on Fenix lights seem a little more variable than some of the smaller makers (likely because of the much higher volumes Fenix does). But no issues with either my TK12 or TK15.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    selfbuilt your reviews couldn't be any more comprehensive, you don't miss anything! I've had my TK-15 about a week and love it, especially the white tint. I have my pocket clip aimed at the switch so it's easier to find in the dark or without looking at the light. Just locate the clip with your thumb and go straight up an inch. A textured switch would have been the way to go. I bought an Olight M20 Warrior M20S at the same time and the tint on the TK-15 is so much nicer, like you said "premium white."

  12. #12

    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by samm View Post
    I have my pocket clip aimed at the switch so it's easier to find in the dark or without looking at the light. Just locate the clip with your thumb and go straight up an inch. A textured switch would have been the way to go.
    That's good practical solution - well thought out.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    I think I posted this about 20 minutes before the site crashes but here were my thoughts/questions again.

    I've got the TK 15 and the original Maelstrom. I bought the TK15 at a flashaholics shop who also had just gotten in the Lumintop XP G's. I was trying to decide between the TK15 and the Lumintop and so we were comparing the three back and forth.
    The Lumintop to all 5 of us seemed much brighter than the TK15. It didin't even seem close when the Lumintop was on high not turbo. The Maelstom seemed noticeably brighter than the TK15 and the Lumintop brighter than the Maelstrom.
    He actually had about a dozen of each light and we tried several with different battery configurations. At no time did the TK15 seem close to the Lumintop or even the Maelstrom.

    Anyways I love your reviews but was certainly perplexed on the comparitive lumen #'s of those 3. You said the light was sent by a fellow CPFer... any chance he modded it?

    A thought to consider on the TK15 modes is its extremely difficult (for me at least) to switch modes in the dark. I didn't notice that while playing with it in the store in the light but that mode button is very smooth and hard to find. Don't picture doing any smooth one handed switches... you'll probably have to hold it up to your eyes, strike a match, squint and then push it. Once you find it,if you can leave your finger on it it's then easy.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by rickypanecatyl View Post
    The Lumintop to all 5 of us seemed much brighter than the TK15. It didin't even seem close when the Lumintop was on high not turbo. The Maelstom seemed noticeably brighter than the TK15 and the Lumintop brighter than the Maelstrom.
    One thought occurs to me - were you trying these in daylight? If so, the hotspot is what really defines our sense of relative brightness in bright ambient lighting. In that setup, the TK15 will seem a lot less bright than the G5 or TD15, which are both focused for throw. A ceiling bounce in a windowless room is a good way to try to gauge output during the day (or in a pinch, I try shining them under a corner desk at close range - the bounce back spill is usually fairly pronounced).

    A thought to consider on the TK15 modes is its extremely difficult (for me at least) to switch modes in the dark. I didn't notice that while playing with it in the store in the light but that mode button is very smooth and hard to find. Don't picture doing any smooth one handed switches... you'll probably have to hold it up to your eyes, strike a match, squint and then push it. Once you find it,if you can leave your finger on it it's then easy.
    I hear ya - that's got to be the biggest ergonomic issue with this light.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    One thought occurs to me - were you trying these in daylight? If so, the hotspot is what really defines our sense of relative brightness in bright ambient lighting. In that setup, the TK15 will seem a lot less bright than the G5 or TD15, which are both focused for throw. A ceiling bounce in a windowless room is a good way to try to gauge output during the day (or in a pinch, I try shining them under a corner desk at close range - the bounce back spill is usually fairly pronounced).

    I was thinking about that. 15 years ago it seemed that all the emphasis was on lux. Now it seems to mostly be about lumens... in comparing the Maelstrom on high (not turbo) with my wifes 4 sevens mini 123 on an RCR I know the lumens are aproximately the same in the 200 range. If I didn't know that they were putting out roughly the same lumens I'd say the mini was no where near as close to as much light as the Maelstrom... and I'm guessing that is because there being not much throw. I'm thinking of a test I did outside not in the pitch black but with some city lights... in those circumstances it's hard to see what the mini is doing where the Maelstrom is easy to see. I suppose they would appear more equal in a white room with the power completely out and alternating between them to light it up...

  16. #16

    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Thanks for the great review. This one is one i'm considering.

  17. #17
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Nice review, got mine a few weeks ago and I like it a lot...
    Fenix, Spark, Xeno, Zebralight, Sunwayman
    4Sevens, ThruNite, JETBeam, Klarus, Eagletac

  18. #18

    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Another superb and thorough review, always appreciated!
    I've had this light for a couple of months now and really like it! It is my go-to outdoor light due to its throw and useful modes. I just wanted to add that as mentioned earlier, using the clip as a marker for the mode switch is the trick for accessing the button by touch. I to use that method and have no problems accessing the switch in the overhand grip and using my pinkie to switch modes. I find it far easier (quicker) than loosening/tightening and or half clicks. In the very beginning of ownership I wasn't so sure about this light and new switch, but in a short amount of time I realized it is a winner! You will not be disappointed and lives up to the "tank" series of lights by Fenix.

    All the nuances of this light are exactly as 'selfbuilt' has reviewed, I am pleased.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Selfbuilt
    For use on an AR15 and general use, which do you think would be better? TK12 orTK15? I like both but will buying just one. What do you think?

  20. #20

    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by safety first View Post
    Selfbuilt
    For use on an AR15 and general use, which do you think would be better? TK12 orTK15? I like both but will buying just one. What do you think?
    I would think either are fine - it really comes down to the interface you want. The TK15 has slightly higher max output, but that could just because it is a newer sample (i.e. there may have been some circuit tweaks from the original version TK12).
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    I would think either are fine - it really comes down to the interface you want. The TK15 has slightly higher max output, but that could just because it is a newer sample (i.e. there may have been some circuit tweaks from the original version TK12).
    Selbuilt
    Thanks for your input and especially the thorough review of the TK15. I did purchase the TK15 and I think I will be happy with the light for its purposes. The only design weakness I have discovered even worthy of mention is the front switch. It is indeed difficult to locate, easy to use but yet difficult to locate. I think my next pocket light will be the PD30, as the quality of the TK15 has given me confidence in the Fenix brand. Thanks again for your input.

  22. #22
    Flashaholic* radu1976's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Or you could have gone with the TK21 which has just come up .
    I am very curious how its regulation will be : very flat like for the TK12 / TK11 R2 version with 18650 cells / TK10 with CR123s or good but not perfect like the TK15 runtime ?

  23. #23
    Flashaholic AEHaas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    My current favorite light. Point the clip at the front switch to make location instant.

    aehaas
    The most valuable machine guns in the world. Home Inspection, whole house approach, Sarasota Home Inspections, we are your investigators.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Fenix TK15 (1x18650/2xCR123A XP-G R5) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS and more!

    Does anyone have both the Fenix TK15 and Olight M20s?
    I'm looking at getting an EDC light but really can't make up my mind between the two and would like some advice from someone who has used both as I can't get my hands on them before buying them...

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