I've reviewed a large number of 3xXM-L2 lights over the last few years – and the LD60 is the second one I've tested from Fenix, after the TK75.
There are some noticeable differences between the LD60 and other recent high-output lights from Fenix. Most immediately obvious is the single switch for off/on and mode control now, and the lack of a battery carrier. Let's see how the LD60 compares to other lights in this class … :wave:
Note: as always, these are only what the manufacturer reports. To see my actual testing results, scroll down the review.
- LED: Utilizes three Cree XM-L2 (U2) LEDs
- Powered by three 18650 rechargeable Li-ion batteries or six 3V CR123ALithium batteries
- Output mode / Runtime: Turbo: 2800 lumens / 1h 30min, High: 1500 lumens / 3h, Mid: 500 lumens / 9h, Low: 160 lumens / 29h, Eco: 30 lumens / 150h
- Beam Intensity: 53,000cd
- Beam Distance: 460m
- IPX-8, underwater 2m
- Impact resistance 1m
- Dimensions and Weight: Length: 6.10" / 155mm, Body Diameter: 1.81" / 46mm, Head Diameter: 2.48" / 63mm
- Weight:12.8oz / 364gm (excluding batteries)
- Triple LEDs with separate circuit design
- Intuitive one-button operation
- Intelligent thermal control to protect the flashlight against over heating
- Camera tripod mountable
- Digitally regulated output - maintains constant brightness
- Reverse polarity protection guards against improper battery installation
- Over-heat protection to avoid high-temperature of the surface
- Made of durable aircraft-grade alluminum
- Premium Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
- Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating and quality PC lens
- MSRP: ~$150
Packaging is fairly standard for Fenix. The cardboard box has key performance and specifications printed right on the outside. Inside, in a thin plastic tray, you will find the light, extra o-rings, basic wrist strap, basic holster (with closing flap), manual, warranty card and product insert.
From left to right: Keeppower Protected 3100mAh 18650; Fenix LD60; Sunwayman T60CS; Nitecore TM15; Olight SR52; REV Captor.
All dimensions are directly measured, and given with no batteries installed:
Fenix LD60: Weight: 334.6g (~476g with 3x18650), Length: 154.9mm, Width (bezel): 63.1mm
Fenix TK75: Weight: 516.0g (~704g with 4x18650), Length: 184mm, Width (bezel): 87.5mm
Foursevens MMU-X3: Weight: 172.0g (264.2g with 26650), Length: 135.8mm, Width (bezel): 46.0mm
L3 Illumination (Supbeam) X40: Weight: 517.2g (~658g with 3x18650), Length: 182mm, Width (bezel): 68.0mm
Nitecore TM15: Weight: 450.6g (~638g with 4x18650). Length: 158mm, Width (bezel): 59.5mm
Nitecore TM11: Weight: 342.6g (~526g with 8xCR123A), Length 135.3mm, Width (bezel): 59.5mm
REV Captor: Weight: 498.3g (~640g with 3x18650), Length: 182mm, Width (bezel): 68.0mm
Sunwayman T60CS: Weight: 338.9g (~480g with 3x18650), Length: 145.0mm, Width (bezel): 60.0mm
Thrunite TN30: Weight: 468.2g (~623g with 3x18650), Length: 179mm, Width (bezel): 64.3mm, Width (tailcap): 49.0mm
The LD60 has a distinctive shape for Fenix, and is fairly compact for this 3xXM-L2/3x18650 class. Anodizing is a flat black, and is in excellent shape on my sample. Body labels are minimal, and clear.
Unlike the recent TK-series lights, there is actual knurling on the body (of mild aggressiveness). Combined with the ridge detail in the head, and the grippy button cover, I find overall grip to be good.
Tailcap hreads are square-cut, and anodized for lock-out. :thumbsup:.
The light can tailstand, and there are raised cut-outs for attachment of the wrist lanyard.
The LD60 uses a novel (for Fenix) single electronic switch to control on/off and mode switching. Switch feel is about typical, and there is a definite "click" when making full contact. Scroll down for a discussion of the user interface.
There is a tripod mount attachment on the head of the light (on the other side, across from the switch).
Unlike recent TK-series lights, there is no battery carrier on the LD60 – instead, batteries are held inside the handle/body of the light. There are springs at both ends, so flat-top batteries will work fine. All my various size cells worked without issue.
Circuit design is also novel, as the light can run on 1x, 2x or 3x18650 (with a corresponding number of emitters activated). This implies a parallel arrangement of for the cells, and independent circuit control for each emitter. Scroll down to my testing results for more info.
The LD60's reflector has relatively deep emitter wells, overlapping a significant amount in the middle. Although there is no such thing as a "typical" tri-head structure, this seems pretty close to what I commonly observe. The reflector appears to be in excellent shape on my sample, very smooth. Centering of the emitters was a bit variable though, with all of them being at least slightly off-center (although this didn't appreciably affect the beam). Scroll down for beamshots.
Turn the light Off/On by a press-and-hold of the electronic switch for at least ~0.5 secs.
From On, change output modes by clicking (i.e., rapid press and release) the switch. The light will cycle between constant output modes in the following order: Eco > Lo > Med > Hi > Turbo, in repeating order. Note the manual incorrectly lists the reverse order.
Light has mode memory, and will retain the last constant output used when turning Off and On.
There is a "hidden" strobe accessible from either On or Off by pressing and holding the switch for longer than it takes to turn the light On or Off. It takes ~1.2 secs of sustained press to activate the strobe mode. This means you will pass through the previously memorized On mode (if activating from Off), or pass through Off (if activating from On), en route to Strobe. Note as well that the Strobe is constant output if activated from On, and momentary only if activated from Off.
For more information on the light, including the build and user interface, please see my video overview:
Note: there is prominent signal in the beam on the non-max output modes, which the video camera is heavily accentuating (i.e., showing as an interference pattern). It is not as noticeable in real life as the video appears. See my Oscilloscope section for more details.
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.
There have been concerns raised here that Fenix is using Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) on the LD60. The only way to clarify this question is with proper oscilloscope traces. :wave:
Below is a comparison of each of the five output modes on my sample – all shown on the same time and amplitude scale (i.e., to allow direct relative comparisons).
LD60 Eco mode:
LD60 Lo mode:
LD60 Med mode:
LD60 Hi mode:
LD60 Turbo mode:
I will explain what is going on in more detail below, but the take-home message is that the LD60 is NOT using PWM for its lower modes, and appears to be current-controlled as always. However, it does have a reoccurring signal present in all non-Turbo modes that may be perceptible as "flicker" for ultra-sensitive individuals.
Check out this post from my LD12 review (which had a similar signal pattern on some levels) for a detailed discussion of what PWM is and isn't - and what to look for in oscilloscope traces. But to summarize, PWM is a means of lowering perceived output for sub-max modes. It has a constant frequency and amplitude across all levels, with a square wave pattern, and is only variable for pulse width. In contrast, my LD60's reoccurring signal has variable frequency and amplitude, which moves to a full sinusoidal wave pattern by the Hi mode. Moreover, the duration of the signal width across levels does not correlate with perceived output.
While this LD60 pattern is definitely not PWM, the visual oscillations are still a potential problem for perceptual flicker – although far less so than PWM proper. To understand that comment, let me break down the types of things that cause flicker.
On PWM lights, flicker is dependent on the frequency (i.e., how many cycles per second) and the pulse width (i.e., how long the light is "on" during each cycle). PWM needs to be very high frequency (i.e., >3 kHz), or run at a very high relative pulse widths (e.g., "on" 90% of the time) for you not to notice it. A lower PWM frequency can be acceptable, but will more likely be noticeable at lower output levels (i.e., when the light is "on" only a small fraction of the time – which is the whole point of lower levels). Note that the square-wave pattern of PWM (i.e., the jump from 100% to 0% output, and back again) is presumably a major feature as to why PWM "flicker" is so noticeable.
With lights that have variable or sinusoidal signals (like the LD60), the ability to perceive flicker is dependent on the signal frequency and relative amplitude. By amplitude, I mean how "strong" the signal is (i.e., to what degree it dims the output). Keep in mind that PWM is by definition 100% (i.e., light is on or off). Circuit signals like this run the whole gamut in between 0-100% relative intensity drops. As you would expect, you are more likely to see flicker if the amplitude of the signal is high. Also, I find actual PWM to be FAR more noticeable than even the strongest sinusoidal-like signal, when running at the same frequency. Again, I suspect the square-wave pattern of PWM (i.e., sudden jump to off/on) – as opposed to the more gradual sine-wave rise and fall - is a strong contributor to the visual flicker perception effect.
For the LD60, the frequency is unfortunately rather low – it ranges from ~154 Hz through to ~266 Hz (from Eco to Hi). It is a little hard to interpret relative amplitude from the oscillope traces above, but these seem fairly high on the LD60 (based on a comparison to other lights where I've observed this effect). However, the signal pattern here shows an increasing trend of moving toward a full sinusoidal pattern by Hi (which is definitely less visually noticeable than the full PWM square-wave effect).
So, the ultimate question is: can you see this non-PWM reoccurring signal as "flicker" on any of the LD60 output modes? This can be tough to answer, as it depends on how sensitive you are to flicker (personally, I find I am very sensitive). Speaking for myself (and this one sample), it is really only on Eco mode that I find the flicker to be potentially distracting. For Lo and Med, it is much harder to notice (i.e., harder to notice than actual PWM at these same frequencies). I cannot really see it on the Hi level, and it is of course not present on Turbo. These subjective results are not surprising to me, now that I have the oscilloscope traces above to observe the actual waveforms. I expect most people wouldn't notice any flicker at all, except perhaps on Eco.
You might also be wondering if these signals affect the output/runtime efficiency of the light (i.e., like PWM does). In my experience they generally do not, but scroll down to my runtimes section for a comparison in this specific case.
Before I move on, I also observed a higher frequency pattern to the signal noise on the LD60. Shown below is a "zoomed out" version (i.e., longer timescale) for each of the modes above where a signal was detected. These higher-order patterns are not anything you will be able to see by eye.
LD60 Eco mode:
LD60 Lo mode:
LD60 Med mode:
LD60 Hi mode:
Again, these are not an issue – I only provide them here for testing completeness.
The LD60 has "tactical" strobe:
The light switches between two strobe frequencies – 7.2 Hz and 13.9 Hz - every 2 secs. Here's a blow up of the individual frequencies:
Due to the electronic switch, the LD60 will always be drawing a small current when connected. I measured this current for a single 18650 (in any well) as 1.8uA. Assuming that remains constant as you insert extra cells, this would be completely negligible (i.e., would take centuries to drain your cells).
You can easily lock out the switch to prevent accidental activation (and break the standby current), by turning the tailcap a quarter turn.
And now, what you have all been waiting for. All lights are on their respective max rechargeable battery sources (i.e., 18650s), 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 LD60 definitely has an impressive output level on max. Beam pattern is about "typical" for a tri-head (overlapping well) reflector design – you get reasonable throw, with a lot of spill. There are of course artifacts in the spillbeam. The LD60 is perhaps a bit more focused for throw than some in this class, but not as much as the earlier Fenix TK75.
Here are some indoor shots in my basement. For your reference, the back of the couch is about 7 feet away (~2.3m) from the opening of the light, and the far wall is about 18 feet away (~5.9m). Below I am showing a couple of exposures, to allow you to better compare hotspot and spill.
Sorry, my centering was a little off for the TK75. At this distance, the LD60 seems have to a larger (and more even) hotspot than the X40. I find the LD60 to be a good overall balanced thrower.
UPDATE OCTOBER 31, 2014: For outdoor shots, these are done in the style of my earlier 100-yard round-up review. Please see that thread for a discussion of the topography. In order to compare the various tints of different lights, I have locked the camera to Daylight (~5200K) white balance.
As you can see, the LD60 is less of thrower than the TK75 (as expected), but does throw better than a single MT-G2-equipped light like the SX25L3 (again as expected).
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).
Initial max output (on 3x18650) is quite bright on the LD60 – slightly brighter than my TK75 in fact. Of course, it cannot throw as far as the TK75 – but overall throw is still quite respectable.
Another interesting feature is the ability of the LD60 to run on a lower number of 18650 cells (by activating a lower number of emitters). As you can tell from the simple summary table, this seems to proportionately lower the output. Let's see if that holds true at all levels:
And indeed it does – the reduced number of emitters (and 18650 batteries) produces exactly the expected reduction in output. Note that all the values above are direct measures in my testing setup. You will also note how well my standard calibration method for high-output lights matches the official Fenix specs.
Up until now, all my standard 18650 runtimes have been done using AW protected 2200mAh. Here is how the LD60 compares using those batteries. Since there are a lot of lights in this 3x/4x18650 class, I've broken the comparisons down into two groups, starting with multiple-emitter lights, followed by single-emitter lights:
As with many high powered lights, the LD60 steps down from Turbo to Hi after 3 mins runtime.
As you can see above, the LD60 has excellent efficiency at all levels for the class and number of cells. It also has very flat regulation at the Hi and lower modes, for a good length of time. The output trails off as the batteries near exhaustion, giving you plenty of advance warning. :thumbsup:
I have been testing a variety of brands of protected NCR18650A cells lately (3100mAh capacity), to see if I can provide runtime comparisons that are more relevant to today's cells. This is not as easy as it may sound, since not all brands will fit in all lights (unlike the 2200mAh AW cells). But I have found a range of brands that show good correlations and internal consistency. As such, here are some additional graphs showing performance on 3100mAh cells.
I will start providing both sets of 18650 runtime comparisons from now on with these lights, and plan to eventually switch to 3100mAh runtimes exclusively (once I have a large enough sample set). :wave:
One question that always gets asked is how does the light perform with multiple re-starts after the Turbo/Hi step down? For this, I let the light cool for a couple of mins once step-down occurred, and then re-started the light on max. I've removed the off periods from the graph below, for a better visual comparison.
The light is able to maintain a fairly consistent Turbo output for ~20 mins or so (on fresh cells). After that, Turbo output slowly drops off until it approaches the defined Hi level.
As mentioned, another interesting feature is the ability of the LD60 to run on a lower number of 18650 cells (by activating a lower number of emitters). Since output is proportionately decreased (see my earlier Lumen estimate table), this should produce roughly equivalent runtimes.
And so it does. You can thus safely run reduced cells, and still predict total runtime at all levels.
My LD60 sample shows a reoccurring signal in the potentially visible "flicker" range of ~155-265 Hz, on Eco through Hi. This is NOT pulse width modulation (PWM), but it could still be potentially visible. I am personally sensitive to flicker, but was only able to notice it visually in use on the Eco mode (although I could spot it on Lo/Med if I went looking for it). In any case, I found the subjective flicker effect was not as visually noticeable as actual PWM at those same frequencies would be. The pattern is there no matter how many emitters you are running. Just guessing here, but I presume this signal has something to with synchronizing the three independent circuit controls for each emitter. :shrug: See my detailed comments in the Oscilloscope section of this review for a greater discussion of the flicker effect.
User interface requires you to press-hold the single switch to turn the light on/off, and to click to cycle through modes.
Strobe mode is "hidden" through an extended press-hold. This means you need to move through Off or the last memorized mode, en route to strobe.
Due to the overlapping reflector design, there are some artifacts in the periphery of the spillbeam. The LD60 is about "typical" for this class, although these spill effects may be a bit disproportionate if you don't have all the emitters activated.
The LD60 is an interesting departure for Fenix - a compact 3xXM-L2/3x18650 light that can run on a reduced number of batteries (and corresponding emitters). oo: This actually gives you a lot of potential output levels to choose from.
Build-wise, I like the new compact design with integrated battery wells (i.e. no carrier any more). All my various sized cells fit and worked in the light - thanks to the dual head and tail springs. This is a much more portable size than the TK75.
I also like the new single switch to control both on/off and mode changing. To be honest, I never found the dual switch design of the TK-series lights particularly intuitive (especially when switching hands – the curse of being somewhat ambidextrous). The new user interface worked well, although with single switch designs I personally prefer click for on/off and press-hold for mode-changing. I do like that both momentary-on and constant-on strobe are "hidden" behind an extended press-hold.
Output/runtime performance was excellent at all levels on the LD60, consistent with other current-controlled Fenix lights. I particularly like the way each emitter is independently controlled by one battery well. This means that you will see a directly proportional decrease in output on reduced cells, with unchanged overall runtimes.
One circuit feature that merits discussion is the reoccurring signal pattern on the Eco through Hi modes. Despite the concern expressed here, this is definitely not pulse width modulation (PWM). It is however potentially still visible as a form of "flicker" - but a less noticeable one than the equivalent frequency PWM would produce. With PWM, it is basically a numbers game – if you know the specific frequency, you can predict how visible it will be for you, for a given pulse width. But characterizing the visual impact of the sort of variable amplitude signal seen here (especially as it approaches a true sine wave) is not straightforward. I am personally sensitive to PWM flicker, and don't find my LD60 sample to be an issue on any mode from Lo on up (i.e., it is only on Eco where I notice it). Please see my detailed comments in the Oscilloscope section of this review for more info.
The beam is about what you would expect for a 3xXM-L2 light with this size reflector - good throw, with a certain number of artifacts in the spillbeam. An interesting aspect is what happens when you reduce the number of emitters/batteries – the main spill effect from the other emitters are still there somewhat (due to light flooding into the open wells), but the overall hotspot is greatly reduced. See the video for an example of what this looks like.
The LD60 is a well-built, compact 3xXM-L2 light, with an innovative independent emitter/battery well control feature. The only real issue I note with this model is the potential flicker effect of the detectable circuit signal - but this is not as noticeable as PWM would have been (and overall efficiency is still typical of Fenix current-control lights). Personally, I like the move to a single button control user interface. As always, I welcome the feedback from members here on their preferences. :wave:
LD60 was provided by Fenix for review.