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Thread: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Fenix are about to release a new headlamp powered by 2AA batteries, which is to supplement the existing range which currently only offers 4xAA or 1xAA lights.

    All comments in this review are limited to the pre-production sample I have. The final HL30 may differ slightly from this pre-production sample.


    Initial Impressions:

    Initially it looks similar to a common type of headlamp using 3xAAA batteries, but seems much more solidly made.

    The HL30 uses a full three-way headband, with straps going around the head and a top strap to keep it securely in place.

    Quality feels very good as the straps are wide and a good weight of elastic and the unit itself comprising metal and plastic elements well.



    What is in the box:

    Being a prototype, there was no packaging or spares provided, so this section is not applicable here.

    HL30 - as supplied







    Looking inside:

    Looking straight onto the front shows the metal lens retaining ring bearing the model number and serial number. This holds a plastic TIR lens to the again metal LED housing. Also visible is the red LED secondary light source.



    Viewed from above the HL30 has two buttons, the main power switch and a mode changing switch



    The HL30 lamp unit is held in a cradle that allows it to be set an various angles. Moving the lamp unit all the way forward shows the battery cover and release latch button.



    Taking off the back shows the battery compartment, shown here with Eneloops



    And here with the batteries removed



    You can see the metal ring that surrounds the LED goes all the way through to the battery compartment.

    The HL30 is specified as IPX-6.



    Modes and User Interface:

    The HL30 has two soft click buttons. Power and mode changing.

    And two LED emitters, White: Cree XP-E LED and Red: Nichia red LED

    Pressing the power button turns the light onto the constant white output level previously selected. Once on, using the mode selector, cycles through Low (4 Lumens - 160H) -> Med (45 Lumens - 11H) -> High (100 Lumens - 5H) -> Turbo (180 Lumens - 2H).

    Pressing the power switch turns off the white LED. It will turn on in the last constant white output mode that was used.

    With the light on, press the mode switch and hold it for 0.8 second, and it will turn on the red light. Hold it for 3 seconds, it will enter a SOS mode.

    With the light off, press the mode switch button once to turn on the red light.



    Batteries and output:

    Supporting only standard AA battery types the HL30 is likely to be optimised for ni-mh as most Fenix lights are. As there are no specifications or instructions it is not clear if Lithium AAs (1.7V) will be supported, but it is likely they will be. Testing has been carried out with Eneloops.

    An early draft of the instruction manual states output levels of:
    4 Lumens -160H
    45 Lumens -11H
    100 Lumens -5H
    180 Lumens -2H

    The modes are regulated and do not use PWM. When the batteries can no longer provide maximum output, the high mode simply dims gradually. As there is no sudden cut off so you will not be left in the dark and have plenty of warning.



    In The Lab

    In an attempt to quantify the actual beam profile I developed the following test. There are probably many flaws in my method, but it is simple and easy to carry out and seems to provide a good enough comparison.

    The method used was to put the light on the edge of a table 1m from a wall, with a tape measure on the wall. The zero of the scale is placed in the centre of the hotspot and a lux meter is then positioned at points along the scale, with the measurements recorded. Beam shots are often taken with the light shining on a flat white wall, so this method is simply measuring the actual intensity across the beam on a flat surface, not the spherical light emission.

    The results are then plotted on a graph.

    For the best throw you want to see a sharp peak with less of the distracting spill. For the best flood light the trace should be pretty flat.


    Here I have compared the HL30 to the HP11 with its diffuser. The HL30 has a fantastically smooth beam profile with very floody beam.



    Taking this a little further, I calculated an approximate factor to apply to the lux measurements, as each measurement gets further from the centre of the beam, it corresponds to a larger area onto which the light is falling. It seems to me that this should also be taken into consideration, so I applied these area corrections and came up with this odd looking graph.

    The key quantity here is the area under the graph line. This should correspond to the total light output.


    The HL30puts more light into the spill area than the HP11 with diffuser does, making for a really great beam for near distances. Despite the HP11ís far greater total output without diffuser, the HL30 compares very well to the HP11 with diffuser having a smoother beam and outputting plenty of light.





    The beam of the HL30 pre-production

    The HL30 provides a beam that is neither full flood, nor with a strong hotspot. The central area is slightly brighter, but fades out into the spill smoothly. The resulting beam is excellent for walking or general work and does not require you to point your head at whatever you are looking at which some headlamps can.

    Fenix specify it as an 80 degree beam angle.





    Using the HL30

    The HL30 is very comfortable to wear with the top strap making the distribution of pressure from the strap even. The weight of 2xAA is not noticeable.



    Angled a long way down the spill starts to hit the userís face, but this is further down that you would ever normally use it.



    Looking from the side you can see how the unit adjusts angle in the cradle. The angle adjustment is positive and has not moved at any point during use so far.



    The red LED is a very useful addition. I have used this while driving for extra cab illumination without reducing visibility outside the car.



    The HL30 takes the type of unit typically powered by 3xAAA and makes it a 2xAA light. Doing so increases the power capacity available and the high output and lovely smooth floody beam make the HL30 a really useful light.

    Even though this is only a pre-production version, it has become my go-to headlamp and is kept in a drawer by the front door.


    Test sample provided for review by The Photon Shop.

    Iíll update post 2 of this thread once I have some more comments to add....
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  2. #2
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    reserved for further comments...

    Weight without batteries is 78g and with two eneloops 141g

    Parasitic drain is 0.39mA (which means you would loose half the capacity of 2000mAh batteries in 107 days with it just sitting in a drawer)
    Last edited by subwoofer; 04-10-2012 at 01:26 AM.
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    Flashaholic* Bolster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Thanks for the review. Looks like Fenix has FINALLY realized the utility of flood/spill in a headlamp. 80 degrees is very respectable. This may be the first Fenix headlamp I'm actually interested in trying.

    - Too bad there's no sublumen mode but maybe the red is?
    - What's the tint like? Neutral/warm? Greenish?
    - Is that a removable bezel I see?
    Last edited by Bolster; 04-08-2012 at 04:21 PM.

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Bolster View Post
    Thanks for the review. Looks like Fenix has FINALLY realized the utility of flood/spill in a headlamp. 80 degrees is very respectable. This may be the first Fenix headlamp I'm actually interested in trying.

    - Too bad there's no sublumen mode but maybe the red is?
    - What's the tint like? Neutral/warm? Greenish?
    - Is that a removable bezel I see?
    Agreed, I wish Fenix would add a 0.2lm level to all their lights.

    The red is indeed a low level. Unfortunately I can't quantify it as my integrating sphere only measures down to about 3lm.

    The tint is on the neutral side of cool. Sorry to be a bit vague, but commenting on tint is not easy. It is neither cool white nor neutral, but somewhere in between.

    On the sample I have, the bezel can be removed, but this only allows the lens to be removed and exposes the LED. There is evidence of glue that has been forced open, so I don't think the intention is to have a removable bezel.
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  5. #5
    Flashaholic* Bolster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    The tint is on the neutral side of cool. Sorry to be a bit vague, but commenting on tint is not easy. It is neither cool white nor neutral, but somewhere in between.
    Understood. In the "styrofoam head on the table" shots, the tint looks to be a strong puke green. Whereas the wallshot makes the beam look more coolish-neutralish. I assume the tint would be cool (being Fenix), but can you comment on what appears to be a green tint?

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Bolster View Post
    Understood. In the "styrofoam head on the table" shots, the tint looks to be a strong puke green. Whereas the wallshot makes the beam look more coolish-neutralish. I assume the tint would be cool (being Fenix), but can you comment on what appears to be a green tint?
    Ah, good point, that is a result of the light hitting an 'oiled smoked oak floor' resulting in an odd colour, and I agree in that photo the colour of the beam is not represented well (but that was not the intention of that shot). Representing tint in photos on the internet is not possible due to so many variances including the colour set-up of people's screens which won't have been calibrated.

    As I said before. in this sample it is neither cool white nor neutral, but somewhere in between.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Awesome review! Any idea when this might be for sale? How much does this weigh with and without batteries?

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by d1337 View Post
    Awesome review! Any idea when this might be for sale? How much does this weigh with and without batteries?
    I'll try to find out the official release date and post soon.

    Weight without batteries is 78g and with two eneloops 141g

    I also measured the parasitic drain which is 0.39mA (which means you would loose half the capacity of 2000mAh batteries in 107 days with it just sitting in a drawer). If used regularly, this is not important, but if you store one as backup, keep the batteries out of it.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Looks very interesting. Don't you think it looks like a small camera? (!)

    Still like the specification though.
    Lighten up!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Why a XP-E LED, and not a XP-G or even a XM-L?
    A R5 bin would really get the job done with more effiency.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Mathiashogevold View Post
    Why a XP-E LED, and not a XP-G or even a XM-L?
    A R5 bin would really get the job done with more effiency.
    Could be because the XP-E is cheaper and efficiency difference is minimal when drive current is below 1A. And it produces a better looking beam with an optic. The larger the die, the more color variation you tend to get from the center of the hotspot to the edge of the hotspot and out to the spill.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie View Post
    Looks very interesting. Don't you think it looks like a small camera? (!)

    Still like the specification though.
    From the look of it, the form factor does seem a bit "weird" (i.e. there are two buttons you'd have to deal with; and I'm not sure if there's a practical use for it being shaped the way it is). I'd be curious to find out what people think after they use it, though.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    reserved for further comments...

    Weight without batteries is 78g and with two eneloops 141g

    Parasitic drain is 0.39mA (which means you would loose half the capacity of 2000mAh batteries in 107 days with it just sitting in a drawer)
    That would mean in about 6 months of non use you would need to recharge the batteries. How sturdy is the battery hatch cover as to me that can be a weak point if you use a headlamp a lot. I await to see what price they put on it... probably $49.
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  14. #14
    Flashaholic fishndad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    just what i need for tying lures on at night.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by fishndad View Post
    just what i need for tying lures on at night.
    would be cool if you could replace the red LED with a UV one to see your fishing line.
    Fenix Split rings 1400+ sent, SWIVELS now available also!
    Psalm 112:4 Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.

  16. #16
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Arc View Post
    That would mean in about 6 months of non use you would need to recharge the batteries. How sturdy is the battery hatch cover as to me that can be a weak point if you use a headlamp a lot. I await to see what price they put on it... probably $49.
    The hatch seems ok, but when this pre-production sample arrived there was a crack in one corner. Not know its history, I don't know if this crack was caused by the unit being dropped or someone forcing the battery cover off in the wrong direction (as you have to rotate the light fully in its mount to reveal the cover release button and someone might have missed this).
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  17. #17

    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Thx for the review! Is the top strap removable (can't really tell from the pics). If so, would you mind testing if it feels secure enough when used with just the headband?

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by turboBB View Post
    Thx for the review! Is the top strap removable (can't really tell from the pics). If so, would you mind testing if it feels secure enough when used with just the headband?
    Yes the top strap is removable. If you are happy to have quite a tight headband, it is secure enough without the top strap, but I find that with it, it is very secure, even with the straps only gently holding your head. I much prefer it with the top strap.
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    Yes the top strap is removable. If you are happy to have quite a tight headband, it is secure enough without the top strap, but I find that with it, it is very secure, even with the straps only gently holding your head. I much prefer it with the top strap.
    I am guessing the strap attach points are the common split loop type such that if a strap wears out you can swap a new one in easily.
    Fenix Split rings 1400+ sent, SWIVELS now available also!
    Psalm 112:4 Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Thx sub! I've been looking for something to replace my Pixa3 as it's just a wee bit bulky. This looks to be an ideal candidate.

    Cheers,
    Tim

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    whats IPX-6 rated too? submersible for 30 minutes at 1m?
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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    The version on sale now is using a XP-G.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by dealgrabber2002 View Post
    The version on sale now is using a XP-G.
    you mean on preorder, you can't get one yet
    Fenix Split rings 1400+ sent, SWIVELS now available also!
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  24. #24
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Arc View Post
    you mean on preorder, you can't get one yet
    I saw it in the marketplace and read the spec. I didn't click on the link so I don't know if it's preorder or not.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by dealgrabber2002 View Post
    I saw it in the marketplace and read the spec. I didn't click on the link so I don't know if it's preorder or not.
    It is preorder on the marketplace and you can try google shopping and amazon.com and ebay.com and you won't find any listing of it at all for sale. I am considering waiting for it to come on amazon.com as I was sent a gift card that would pay for it if the price was $50 or less but I am awaiting a few reviews of the final product.
    Fenix Split rings 1400+ sent, SWIVELS now available also!
    Psalm 112:4 Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by dealgrabber2002 View Post
    The version on sale now is using a XP-G.

    So is the one reviewed here.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by RedForest UK View Post
    So is the one reviewed here.
    The one being review is a XP-E.

  28. #28
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by dealgrabber2002 View Post
    The one being review is a XP-E.
    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    It's hard to tell for sure, but it does look like there is an XP-G in there.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    It does look like a XP-G, but the reviewer said it was a XP-E...

  30. #30

    Default Re: Fenix HL30 pre-production Review

    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    If used regularly, this is not important, but if you store one as backup, keep the batteries out of it.
    Hmmm, that is not as easy as untwisting the tail cap half a turn. A master switch could be useful maybe?

    A similar styled head lamp in the TIKKA XP2 is 88g but AAA are around 15g I think so the total is around 133g say, so close to the 141g of this and 2xAA. Looks pretty big on that styrofoam head you have there though. Not a normal size head is it?

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