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Thread: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

  1. #1

    Wink2 Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Warning: pic heavy, as usual.





    Nitecore has sent me their new compact 1x18650/2xCR123A model – the P12 (XM-L2). The P12 features a dual-switch interface, which has become popular in recent years with a lot of manufacturers. Let's see how the P12 model compares to the competition.

    For additional general comments on how several of the current dual-switch lights in this battery class compare, please see my post #2.

    Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
    (note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results).

    • LED: Cree XM-L2 T6
    • Max Lumen: 950
    • Uses one 18650 rechargeable battery or two CR123A batteries.
    • Output/Runtime (1x18650): Hi 950lumens / 1hr 15min – Med 210lumens / 6hr – Lo 50lumens / 28hr – Lower 1lumen / 520hr
    • Output/Runtime (2xCR123A): Hi 950lumens / 1hhr – Med 210lumens / 5hr 15min – Lo 50lumens / 20hr – Lower 1lumen / 300hr
    • Beam Intensity: 12,450cd
    • Beam Distance: 222m
    • Impact resistant to 1.5 meters
    • Waterproof in accordance with IPX-8 (two meters submersible)
    • Second generation ‘Crystal Coating Technology’ combined with ‘Precision Digital Optics Technology’ provide extreme reflector performance
    • High efficiency circuit board provides up to 520 hours runtime on low
    • Side switch interface provides one-handed operation and easy access to all functions
    • Side switch features an indicator light which displays remain ing battery power (patented)
    • Power indicator secondary function displays battery voltage (accurate to 0.1V)
    • Intelligent memory function stores preferred brightness setting
    • High-efficiency regulation circuit provides unwavering output
    • Toughened ultra-clear mineral glass with anti-reflective coating
    • Constructed from aero grade aluminium alloy with HAIII military grade hard-anodized finish
    • Stainless steel titanium-plated clip included
    • Tail stand capability
    • Dimensions: Length: 139mm (5.47”), Head Diameter: 25.4mm (1”), Tail Diameter: 25.4mm (1”)
    • Weight: 88grams (3.10oz)(without battery)
    • Accessories: Quality holster, clip, tactical ring, lanyard, spare tail cap, spare O-ring
    • MSRP: ~$60






    Packaging is Nirecore's current standard thin cardboard display box, with detailed specs and information printed right on the box. Inside, included with the light are spare O-rings, spare tailswitch boot cover, removable grip ring, pocket clip, basic wrist lanyard, holster with Velcro closing flap, product inserts, warranty card, and manual.




    From left to right: AW Protected 18650 2200mAh; Fenix PD35; Nitecore P12; Eagletac TX25C2; Sunwayman V25C; Olight S20 2014; Eagletac D25LC2; Sunwayman C21C; Foursevens Quark Q123-2.

    All dimensions directly measured, and given with no batteries installed:

    Nitecore P12: Weight: 89.7g, Length: 139.4mm, Width (bezel): 25.4mm
    Eagletac D25LC2: Weight: 50.0g, Length: 116.3mm, Width (bezel): 22.5mm
    Eagletac TX25C2: Weight 93.6g, Length: 120.4mm, Width (bezel): 31.6mm
    Fenix PD35: Weight: 82.7g, Length: 138.1mm, Width (bezel): 25.4mm
    Foursevens MMR-X: Weight 90.8g, Weight (with 18650): 138.5g, Length: 138.6mm, Width (bezel): 31.5mm
    Foursevens MMX Burst: Weight 145.8g, Length: 153.3mm, Width (bezel): 38.7mm
    Olight M20S-X: Weight: 124.1g, Length: 145.4mm, Width: 35.5mm (head)
    Thrunite TN12-2014: Weight: 80.0g, Length: 140.5mm, Width (bezel): 25.4mm
    Zebralight SC600 II: Weight 79.3g, Length: 101.8mm, Width (bezel) 29.7mm

    The P12 is certainly well in keeping with other recent dual-switch designs.







    The P12 is a compact, yet solid little light. Anodizing is a shiny black finish, hard anodized, with no chips or damage on my sample. Body labels are bright white and clear against the black background. Knurling is of moderate aggressiveness on the body tube and tailcap. But when combined all the other grip elements (e.g., side switch cover, fins in the head, pocket clip, etc.), I would describe overall grip as very good.

    The light has decent anti-roll indentations on the body, but the clip is even more helpful in that regard. Clip is supposedly titanium-plated stainless steel, and feels reasonably sturdy. There is also a bundled grip ring in the package, for cigar-grip style carry (also very effective for anti-roll).

    Tailcap screw threads are standard triangular cut and anodized for lock-out at either end of the body tube.

    The P12 uses a forward clicky switch, but with very good tailstanding ability due to the raised side edges (suitable for lanyard attachement). Switch access by finger or thumb is good.

    On/off is controlled by the physical tailcap clicky switch, but all mode switching is done by the electronic side switch in the head. The mode-changing switch in the head has pretty good feel for an electronic switch, with typical traverse. It is relatively easy to locate by feel (although could be grippier, with more visual distinctiveness).

    Note that like many other Nitecore models, there is a blue LED under the mode-changing side-switch that will glow blue when the batteries are running low. It also serves as a voltage read-out function. Please see my User Interface section for a discussion.

    There is a physical reverse polarity feature in the head. However, this has been updated from earlier Nitecore models and now allows "wide button top" cells to work in the light. True flat-tops (where the positive contact is below the wrapper) won't work, but all my cells with a slightly raised contact worked fine.

    The body tube is wide enough to accommodate all size 18650 cells, and there seems to be plenty of room of longer cells as well.




    The P12 comes with a flat black aluminum bezel. The overall head is typical for this class - not very large. Reflector is smooth, and fairly deep given this size head. Coupled with the XM-L2 cool white emitter (which was well centered on my sample), I would expect a fairly typical beam pattern, but with slightly greater throw than many in this class. Scroll down for beamshots.

    Nitecore also sent me one of their own-brand 18650 cells to test:









    As you can see, the rated capacity for this protected 18650 is 2300mAh. I will include additional runtimes comparing it to my standard AW protected 2200mAh cells.

    User Interface

    The P12 uses a dual-switch interface, similar to the Fenix PD35 or Thrunite TN12-2014.

    Turn the light on/off by the forward tailcap switch. Lightly press and hold for momentary, click (press and release) for constant on. Click again to turn off.

    To change modes, click the electronic switch in the head, while the light on. Mode sequence is Lower > Lo > Med > Hi, in repeating sequence. The light has mode memory, and returns the last level set after turning the tail switch off/on.

    Press and hold the electronic switch to access a tactical Strobe mode. Press and hold again to select the next blinking mode. Mode sequence is: Strobe > Locator Beacon > SOS, in a repeating loop. A single click exits you from the blinking modes and puts you back into constant output.

    Note that there is mode memory for the Strobe mode (but not the other two blinking modes). This is convenient if you are someone who likes immediate access to Strobe from Off.

    The P12 also has a blue LED under the side mode-changing switch to serve as a low voltage indicator when the flashlight is On. Once the cells are below 50% power (according to Nitecore), this indicator will flash blue every 2 seconds. It will flash faster as the power capacity drops down further.

    With the light turned Off, you can get a battery voltage readout by pressing and holding the side switch while simultaneously activating the tailcap switch. The blue LED will then read out the voltage in a series of flashes (e.g., Four flashes, followed by a short pause, with two more flashes would indicate a full charge of 4.2V). Note that if you click the tailswitch on (as opposed to press-hold), the light will actually turn itself on after the voltage read-out finishes.

    Video:

    For information on the light, including the build and user interface, please see my video overview:



    Video was recorded in 720p, but YouTube typically defaults to 360p. Once the video is running, you can click on the configuration settings icon and select the higher 480p to 720p options. You can also run full-screen.

    As with all my videos, I recommend you have annotations turned on. I commonly update the commentary with additional information or clarifications before publicly releasing the video.

    PWM/Strobe

    The P12 is fully current-controlled. There is no PWM, on any level.

    I did detect some circuit noise on my oscilloscope at the Lo and Med levels, but this was completely invisible in actual use.

    Med Noise (two separate timescales):




    Again, consistent with my standard review policy, I report on any oscilloscope signals that I can detect in the output of a light. But I can assure you that the above patterns produce no visible effect – even when shining on a fan. The P12 is fully "flicker-free" at all levels.

    Strobe


    The strobe was a very fast "tactical" strobe, of 16.3Hz frequency. Strobe duty cycle is a little unusual, as it is only "on" a portion of the total time of each strobe cycle (i.e., most strobes are an even 50:50 on/off). But it doesn't change how disorienting it is in general terms.

    Beacon


    Beacon was a quick high-output flash, once every 2.2 secs or so.

    SOS


    SOS was a fairly typical SOS mode.

    Beamshots:

    For white-wall beamshots below, all lights are on Max output on an AW protected 18650 battery. Lights are 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.













    Beam pattern is about what you would expect for a light this size. Spillbeam width is slightly narrower than some recent competitors, and the P12 has excellent throw for the class (both consistent with its somewhat deeper reflector). Scroll down for detailed output and throw measures.

    Testing Method:

    All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, as described on my flashlightreviews.ca website. 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 devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lightbox values to Lumens thread for more info.

    Throw/Output Summary Chart:

    My summary tables are reported in a manner consistent with the ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.flashlightreviews.ca/FL1.htm for a discussion, and a description of all the terms used in these tables. Effective July 2012, I have updated all my Peak Intensity/Beam Distance measures with a NIST-certified Extech EA31 lightmeter (orange highlights).







    The P12 is a heavily-driven light for this class. Max output is similar across all supported battery types. It also has a consistent <1 lumen "Lower" mode, which is appreciated.

    Throw is quite reasonable for the class, given the size of the head and reflector.

    Let's see how all the levels compare to the official specs, on 1x18650 in my lightbox:



    There is a generally good concordance between my estimated lumens and Nitecore's published specs. Note that the Hi mode of the P12 steps down to an intermediate Hi level (i.e., something between the defined Med and Hi modes). See my Runtimes below for more info. And as always, you have to consider my estimated lumens as a source of relative measures between lights (i.e., not to be taken as absolute values).

    I am glad to see the <1 lumen "Lower" mode on the P12, as I personally like having low-level options in a general purpose light. This is very helpful when you have dark adapted eyes. The mode spacing is pretty good, although most lights of this this class would typically have an additional Hi level between the current Med and Hi outputs.

    Output/Runtime Graphs:

    For all these comparisons, I will use the standard Nitecore terminology for the modes (i.e., "Hi" is in fact max output).

    To start, here is a comparison of four of my highest output recent lights in this class; the Zebralight SC600-II, Fenix PD35, Nitecore P12, and Thrunite TN12-2014:




    Given the incredibly high drive level of these lights on Max, it is not surprising that all of them either show a direct-drive-like pattern (i.e., the TN12-2014), or have a defined step-down (either timed or thermal-managed). It just isn't possible for these small lights to maintain that sort of output (and heat) on a single 18650 in a fully regulated fashion for long. The Fenix PD35 and Nitecore P12 have a very similar pattern of gradual step-downs from Max, with at least the first step timed.

    The P12 shows very good efficiency and regulation at all levels, although it is nudged out of the top efficiency spot for this class by the PD35 and SC600-II. As mentioned above, I would like to see the first step down from Max be used as an additional defined Med-Hi mode on the P12 (i.e., a five-level light, instead of a four-level one).

    Let's see how it does on 1x18650 against a wider range of lights (omitting the comparisons already shown above). For this comparison, I have added a Max mode runtime with the supplied Nitecore 2300mAh battery on the P12.



    The Nitecore 2300mAh battery gives a little bit of extra max runtime compared to my AW 2200mAh – but doesn't affect the timing of the first two step-downs (hard to see above, because the pink and light orange lines overlap until the just before end). This is as I would expect – higher capacity cells typically only affect runtime at the far right of the time scale.



    Overall efficiency of P12 remains very good for this class (e.g., similar to my Eagletac TX25C2 in the Med mode run)

    Here are a couple of comparisons on 2x battery sources:





    Thanks to the set of step-downs on Hi, you can safely run 2xCR123A or 2xRCR cells in this light.

    Potential Issues

    There are a series of step-downs from "Hi" (aka max) on the P12, on all batteries (i.e., rapid step-down initially from Hi, and then a subsequent step down to Med).

    The P12 lacks a typical "Hi" mode (i.e., the P12 "Hi" mode is basically Turbo, with no lower "Hi" mode, as on most lights). I would think adding the step-down Hi level into the regular sequence would be good idea (i.e. as a fifth selectable mode).

    Preliminary Observations

    The P12 is a nice addition to the Nitecore line-up. Although superficially similar to a number of other dual-switch 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR lights, there are some clear indications of Nitecore's "DNA" incorporated here.

    Build quality is very good, with good hand feel and overall design. I like the easy access to the tailswitch, while maintaining tailstanding – one of the best I've seen in this class. The user interface is very intuitive, with the dual physical tailcap switch and side mode-changing electronic switch. Switch feel is good on both. And the low-voltage and battery read-out features of side switch (using Nitecore's trademark blue LED) are nice additions to this class.

    In terms of output modes, the P12 has a good range of constant modes - although one extra intermediate Med-Hi mode would have been nice (i.e., something like the Hi step-down level). I particularly like the <1 lumen "lower" level here - helpful if you have dark-adapted eyes. Nitecore has provided additional blinking modes, compared to most of the competition in this class. I personally like the Beacon mode, but would still like to see a slow signaling strobe. And for those of you who demand such things, there is mode memory for the Tactical Strobe mode here (i.e., you can set the P12 to come on that way).

    Output/runtime efficiency was very good, demonstrating a good constant-current circuit. The step-down pattern on Turbo was remarkably similar to the Fenix PD35. The light is fully regulated at all levels.

    Beam pattern is good as well, with a nice balance between throw and spill. Given the fairly standard size head, there are lots of beam shaping accessories out there from a range of makers that will fit on the light.

    At the end of the day, there is a lot to here to commend the P12 for the price. More than just a "me-too" light, the P12 has some definite additions to this class (i.e., extra blinky modes, mode memory for tactical strobe, low-voltage indicator and battery read out). Definitely a strong contender in the class, and one well worth considering.

    P.S.: I know a lot people are wondering how the Fenix PD35, Nitecore P12 and Thrunite TN12-2014 directly compare to each other. In addition to all the objectives measures included in this review, I've added some general comparison comments in post #2.

    -----

    P12 provided by Nitecore for review.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 03-13-2014 at 06:46 AM.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. New: Selfbuilt's Summer Sale!
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    I have just posted detailed individual reviews of Fenix PD35, Nitecore P12 and Thrunite TN12-2014. Since the lights are all very similar, the decision most of you have will be which one to get.

    To help with that, here are direct comparisons of key features of the lights, to allow you to better choose the one that is right for you. Please see the table/figures in the review for more info.

    Overall Build Quality and "Feel": The PD35 has most solid build in my estimation, with the most "grippy" overall hand feel and the best built-in anti-roll feature. The P12 is a close second on most of these measures, whereas the TN12-2014 has the smoothest body (contributing to a lower hand "feel" on this model, compared to the others). The pocket clip works well on all three models (note that the PD35 has the stiffest clip retention).

    Switch "Feel" and Access: The P12 has significantly easier access to the tailswitch, relative to the PD35 and TN12-2014 (which are roughly equivalent to each other). This is odd, as it is only the P12 and TN12-2014 that allow tailstanding out of the box. That said, the PD35 has the best electronic side switch feel, with the most definite "click" - followed closely by the P12. The TN12-2014 has the "softest" side switch feel, but is the easiest to find by touch alone, as it is more raised than the other two. Note that only the P12 has a low-voltage and battery read-out LED located under the side switch.

    Constant Output Modes: The TN12-2014 has the widest range of outputs, from ~0.2 lumens to >1000 lumens, with five well-spaced levels. The PD35 has five good levels as well, but lacks a true moonlight mode (i.e., from ~11 to ~1000 lumens range). The P12 has a good range from ~0.8 lumens to ~900 lumens, but only four levels (i.e., could use an extra Med-Hi mode).

    Blinking modes: Only the P12 has additional modes beyond tactical strobe (i.e., SOS and Beacon). All three lights have the additional mode(s) "hidden" behind a press-hold of the side switch, but only the P12 allows you to memorize the tactical strobe mode (i.e., can return to strobe from Off).

    Beam Pattern: The TN12-2014 and PD35 have similar wide spill beams, with the P12 slightly narrower. The P12 and TN12-2014 have roughly equivalent peak center-beam throw, with the PD35 having a bit less. The PD35 also has the widest hotspot, with the smoothest transition (i.e., least defined hotspot edge, and could thus be consider the "floodiest" of the three). Beam quality is pretty good on all of them, although the PD35 probably the most consistently "clean" beam, due to its slightly shallower reflector (i.e., slightly less likely to have beam rings and artifacts).

    Circuit Efficiency and Regulation: All three lights are current-controlled, and highly efficient. The PD35 and P12 have more consistently flat regulation at all levels on all batteries – but have defined step-downs from their max levels. The PD35 is probably the most efficient pick, but performance is very close among all three. Note that I do not recommend you run the TN12-2014 on its max level on 2xCR123A/RCR for sustained periods, as there is no step down on this model. Please see the runtime graphs in this review for more info.

    Reverse-Polarity Detection: The PD35 and TN12-2014 have electronic reverse-polarity protection, and P12 has a physical one. However, the P12 positive terminal has been re-designed to allow all type of button-top cells to be used (i.e., wide button as well as small – it is just true flat-tops that won't work in the P12).

    Package and Accessories: Bundled extras are pretty similar across the three models (and fairly basic for the holsters and wrist lanyards). Note the P12 comes with an additional grip ring. The lights all share a common sized head, so standard beam shaping accessories from any one maker should fit pretty well on the others.

    Value: The TN12-2014 has the lowest manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP), the PD35 has the highest, with the P12 is right in the middle. This relative order matches my general "hand feel" experience, but you will have to make your own assessment as to perceived value depending on all the characteristics above.

    And there you have it - there is no clear knock-down winner is any category. All three lights are similar overall, with each one specialized in some areas over the others. I recommend you pick based on which constellation of characteristics above matters the most to you.

    P.S.: As an aside, I did a blind "taste preference" of the three models with Mrs Selfbuilt. This was based solely on her physical and visual assessment of the lights and their beams, as we didn't get into circuit testing or price. She was initially drawn to the PD35 for its grippier hand feel, higher perceived build quality, and smoothest beam pattern. However, lack of a true low mode and inability to tailstand (despite reduced tailswitch access) led her to ultimately choose the P12 as the best overall candidate. She was similarly able to accurately rank the lights by estimated price, but felt that the difference between the three models was not as great as the prices would suggest (based solely on a bulid assessment). She felt that a regular person would be amazed by what any of these lights can do, and would be happy with any of them.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 03-04-2014 at 10:50 AM.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. New: Selfbuilt's Summer Sale!
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  3. #3
    Flashaholic* Ryp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Thanks for the review!

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* KITROBASKIN's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Nothing of substance to add for this excellent review. For me, the number of light levels is fine; easier to go through the choices you could say (one less click) and the tailstanding capability is sufficient but less than half of the circumference is used.

    For my sample, the tint is very pleasing, looking cool only when compared with a warm light. Some others would probably disagree.

    The ability to quickly check state-of-charge is a real advantage in terms of taking good care of batteries and knowing how much running time one has, before going out into the night.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Quote Originally Posted by KITROBASKIN View Post
    The ability to quickly check state-of-charge is a real advantage in terms of taking good care of batteries and knowing how much running time one has, before going out into the night.
    Yes, this is a real practical advantage to the P12. I have often wished other lights would provide an easy way to check voltage (rather than having to pull the cell out, and head upstairs to fetch a DMM).
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. New: Selfbuilt's Summer Sale!
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Thanks for all 3 reviews!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Quote Originally Posted by Labrador72 View Post
    Thanks for all 3 reviews!
    My pleasure - it certainly was a high volume day!
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. New: Selfbuilt's Summer Sale!
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Wonderful review as usual. Not only do flat-top 18650s not work in my Nitecore P12, but none of the four EagleTac protected 3400 mAh 18650s I tried are compatible. The small button-top on the EagleTac 18650s is apparently too short for the P12. Button-top protected and unprotected 18650s by Panasonic, Sanyo, and LG work fine.
    Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. — William Pitt, 18 November 1783

  9. #9

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Quote Originally Posted by AbnInfantry View Post
    Wonderful review as usual. Not only do flat-top 18650s not work in my Nitecore P12, but none of the four EagleTac protected 3400 mAh 18650s I tried are compatible. The small button-top on the EagleTac 18650s is apparently too short for the P12. Button-top protected and unprotected 18650s by Panasonic, Sanyo, and LG work fine.
    I have had the same results of not running using my EagleTac 3400mAh 18650s. However, my EagleTac 3100mAh batteries worked fine on my P12.
    The Orbtronic 3400s worked fine also.

    I totally agree on the assesments above.
    I seem to gravitate to the P12 with low level, the battery testing function and the memory strobe availability. If I need more flood, I grab the Fenix.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Interesting - I've tried two EagleTac 3400s in my P12 and they both work fine. The EagleTac cells have just a small button but clearly it protrudes enough to make contact on the samples that I have. I wonder if there's maybe a little variability between units (either the cells or the light) ?

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* KITROBASKIN's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    The one EagTac 3400 I have works fine as well.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    I just tried my EagleTac 3400s in a different Nitecore P12 and none of them work. Every other type of button-top 18650 I've tried works fine in both P12s. The short, tiny button on the EagleTac 3400s simply doesn't protrude far enough to make contact. Two of my EagleTac 3400s were brand new and had never even been inserted into a flashlight before. Since different people report different results, I can only assume there's some manufacturing tolerance variation between P12s and/or EagleTac 3400s.

    Comparing selfbuilt's reviews of the Nitecore SRT7, P12, and Thrunite TN12, I was surprised to see the P12 was brighter (from 20 to 120 lumens depending on battery type) than the SRT7. Despite being less expensive, the TN12 is from 110 to 170 lumens brighter than the P12. Since Nitecore uses an XML2 T6 in the P12 instead of the XML2 U2 Thrunite uses in their TN12, I assume this is one of the reasons why the TN12 puts out more lumens.
    Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. — William Pitt, 18 November 1783

  13. #13

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Quote Originally Posted by AbnInfantry View Post
    Since different people report different results, I can only assume there's some manufacturing tolerance variation between P12s and/or EagleTac 3400s.
    Indeed. Like KITROBASKIN and Moonshadow, both of my Eagltac 3400mAh cells (with the small button) worked fine in my P12.

    For AbnInfantry and Waymed, does your P12 look the same as mine does in this review? Both my P12 and Eagletac 3400mA samples came directly from the manufacturer, shortly after they were released.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. New: Selfbuilt's Summer Sale!
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    For AbnInfantry and Waymed, does your P12 look the same as mine does in this review?
    My two P12s appear to be identical to the one in your review. I received both P12s in the mail last Friday from a Nitecore distributor (Moteng). I purchased my EagleTac 3400s from GoingGear. I've never seen a button-top 18650 with a button as short and small as those on EagleTac 3400s. I hadn't intended to use these batteries in a P12 so this isn't a problem for me. I merely wanted to let folks know that 18650s with very short buttons don't necessarily work in all P12s.

    I just checked and my EagleTac 3400s work fine in a Nitecore SRT7, SRT6, and P16.
    Last edited by AbnInfantry; 03-05-2014 at 07:29 AM.
    Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. — William Pitt, 18 November 1783

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Out of interest, here is a comparison of my EagleTac and Nitecore 18650s:



    Close up of button end:



    There seems to be very little to choose between the cells. Both buttons are short, but they seem to poke out by about the same amount. The main difference I can see is that the EagleTac seems to have a wider metal surround to the button, so perhaps this is enough to catch the reverse-polarity ring in some cases.

    Since those of us who have more than one EagleTac to test seem to be finding that either they all work or none of them work, I wonder if it's a matter of the exact depth of the centre contact post in the light head. I suspect it's going to be a matter of fractions of a millimetre whether they work in a particular light or not.
    Last edited by Moonshadow; 03-05-2014 at 09:31 AM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Moonshadow, the button-top on your EagleTac 3400 protrudes noticeably more than on any of my four EagleTac 3400s. Viewed from the side, the tip of the button is barely visible on each of mine. I can only assume our batteries are from different production runs. I'm surprised my EagleTac 3400s work OK in the Nitecore SRT7, SRT6, and P16.
    Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. — William Pitt, 18 November 1783

  17. #17

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Quote Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
    Since those of us who have more than one EagleTac to test seem to be finding that either they all work or none of them work, I wonder if it's a matter of the exact depth of the centre contact post in the light head. I suspect it's going to be a matter of fractions of a millimetre whether they work in a particular light or not.
    I tend to agree, seeing as how it seems to be all or none for the members who weighed in so far (myself included). FYI, the buttons on my Eagletac 3400mAhs do not seem to project as much as yours - and yet still work fine in my P12.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. New: Selfbuilt's Summer Sale!
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  18. #18

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Quote Originally Posted by AbnInfantry View Post
    My two P12s appear to be identical to the one in your review. I received both P12s in the mail last Friday from a Nitecore distributor (Moteng). I purchased my EagleTac 3400s from GoingGear. I've never seen a button-top 18650 with a button as short and small as those on EagleTac 3400s. I hadn't intended to use these batteries in a P12 so this isn't a problem for me. I merely wanted to let folks know that 18650s with very short buttons don't necessarily work in all P12s.

    I just checked and my EagleTac 3400s work fine in a Nitecore SRT7, SRT6, and P16.

    THE REVERSE POLARITY PROTECTION/FLAT TOP ISSUE CAN BE FIXED EASILY!!!

    The physical polarity protection is just a thin black plastic disk. You can see the plastic "fingers" that snap around the center post on the top head. I took a sharp knife (just to get a "bite" on it) and was able to "pop" the disk off the center post in about 10 seconds. After that flat tops/any 18650 will work just fine! Been running some salvaged sanyo 2600 flat tops for weeks no problems....

    So if you like this light except you are worried about the battery issue, it can be easily fixed with just a few seconds (and is totally reversible, just snap the black plastic piece back on). Obviously be careful and gentle while doing it... and dont blame me if you mess up your P12.... but trust me it really is a piece of cake

  19. #19

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Quote Originally Posted by jabara572 View Post
    You can see the plastic "fingers" that snap around the center post on the top head. I took a sharp knife (just to get a "bite" on it) and was able to "pop" the disk off the center post in about 10 seconds.
    Thanks for the contribution. It looks like it would come off easily. But as you say, one would need to be careful if one wanted to be able to put it back on. But it does raise the question if it were also "adjustable" in some way.

    And
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. New: Selfbuilt's Summer Sale!
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  20. #20

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    For AbnInfantry and Waymed, does your P12 look the same as mine does in this review? Both my P12 and Eagletac 3400mA samples came directly from the manufacturer, shortly after they were released.
    My P12 looks same as yours.

    I had one (Eagletac 3400) in my pd35 and another in Zebra sc600 MkII when the pd12 arrived at my home. Both of the lights were working fine and both batteries were recently charged.
    Neither one work in the Nitecore. I then brought out a pair of Eagletac 3100's...they both worked in the P12.
    As I had indicated, my Orbtronic 3400s work fine in the P12 also.

    As I like the P12 and my other batteries work in the light......no issue for me.

    side note....It seems to me that the geometry of the EagleTac battery button (angled sides) could be more easier distorted under load than a button with a straight vertical side. Mine have seemed to be some what depressed after used in the Fenix and Zebralight.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    Thanks for the contribution. It looks like it would come off easily. But as you say, one would need to be careful if one wanted to be able to put it back on. But it does raise the question if it were also "adjustable" in some way.

    And
    Thanks selfbuilt! It does seem like there might be some variability in how high the disk sits depending on the flexible fingers. No doubt some of the black disks are sitting a little bit taller and preventing some batteries from working. IF anyone wants, I can take a picture of the head with the reverse protection removed

  22. #22
    Flashaholic* KITROBASKIN's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    ZebraLight 3400 flat top did not work, obviously. Since I would like to be able to use all 18650 batteries in all 18650 flashlights I pried it out. If you lever it on the side of the barrel, protect the anodizing. That plastic compression ring is more fragile (brittle) than the 'cigar ring' as it did indeed crack an inner piece off. I used super glue after sanding down the bottom portion of the plastic (the part near the electronics) and sanded the elevated ring facing the battery. Checked for fit three times. Finally got it right. I felt like keeping the electronics somewhat separated from the battery inside. Most of my flashlights do not have reverse polarity protection so... That one no longer has it either.

    UPDATE: March 8, 2014. Ended up completely removing plastic reverse polarity tab. After modifying, it seemed to interfere with operation, preventing activation.
    Last edited by KITROBASKIN; 03-08-2014 at 09:56 AM.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    @selfbuilt

    In the end I will probably buy both the Nitecore P12 and the Fenix PD35, but I really wish that the PD35 included tailstanding, voltage readout, and beacon mode. Then it would be perfect!

    Regarding the voltage readout, could you or someone else compare the readout to a DMM to determine the accuracy of the readout? I'm not suggesting it would completely replace a DMM for Li-ion use, but does the light give a reliable reading? If it does, to me that seems a huge advantage compared to the PD35.

    In regards to this light, would you recommend Nitecore's protected cells or AW's?

    And by "built quality", you suggest that the PD35 has a slight edge here. However, according to Fenix and Nitecore's specs, the PD35 is rated to 1m drops and the P12 is rated to 1.5m drops. Mainly I'm interested which would hold up better to abuse (ie, being dropped on concrete).

    And, not to put you on the spot, but if you could only own one of these lights for EDC and it be your only EDC, P12 or PD35?
    Last edited by CZ9mm; 03-07-2014 at 12:29 PM.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Just tried a couple of cells here:


    EagleTac 3400:
    P12: 4 flashes + 1 flash. DVM: 4.08 V

    AW IMR
    P12: 4 flashes. DVM: 4.01 V

    So on that basis, it certainly agrees with the DVM to within 0.1 V.

    I tend to keep my cells pretty well topped off, but will run couple of them down a bit and see how they fare at the 3.7 - 3.6V sort of level.

    Agree, this is a brilliant feature - hadn't tried it before but seems well worth having, and certainly sets the P12 apart.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    After reading selfbuilt reviews on the pd35 and the p12 ,I was aiming for the PD35 but I j got the p12...

    I LOVE IT.it came with the eagletac 3400 but thats still charging. Right now I'm useing the cr123a's
    Thank you

  26. #26
    Flashaholic* KITROBASKIN's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    For my own self edification, probably 10 times I have compared a middling quality digital multi-meter with the button flashing P12. I would go so far as to say that it is within .05V accurate, that is, + or minus .05V. After all, the P12 only measures to the nearest tenth volt.

    Only a few times have I compared the digital readout on my Nitecore TM26 with a DMM but it was as close as my needs dictate. The TM26 reads out to the nearest hundredth volt.

    This is in stark contrast with the 1 to 4 LED flashes to indicate state of charge that another flashlight I had exhibited. I did not trust it.

    It should be remembered that if you check voltage right after significant light use, it will read lower than after the battery rests. I only tested rested batteries. (And I don't know by how much it will be affected as my experience is with golf cart sized batteries in my home photo-voltaic system. These take a much longer time equalizing throughout the cells)

  27. #27

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    From my testing, the voltage read out is consistent with a basic DMM.

    As for build quality, it is just the apparent sturdiness that seems higher (marginally) on the PD35. In practical terms, I have no data as to which would survive drops or abuse better. But I would not rely on manufacturer ratings for impact and waterproofness - the ANSI FL1 tests are not very rigorous.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. New: Selfbuilt's Summer Sale!
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  28. #28

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Thanks for the review! Now I REALLY have to get one.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Turns out, a SolarForce L2P tailcap will function on the P12. A member (Croquette) reported a SolarForce tailcap working on a different Nitecore and that it may work with the P12. Interestingly, it does.

  30. #30

    Default Re: Nitecore P12 (XM-L2, 1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR) Review: BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIME, VIDEO+

    Great review. I was leaning toward the pd35, but I really like that battery level checker.

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