Got my L1D CE! (long review, but no pics yet)

mchlwise

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As stated in a thread about the L2D CE - The wait is finally over!

I received my L1D CE from Fenix-Store today, as hopefully many others will. I've played with it as much as I can during the daylight.

My first impressions:

Impressively bright
Fit and finish are very good
User Interface is great
Disappointingly ringy
Slightly "Fenix green" tint
Overall well worth the money

:grin2:

More detailed impresssions:

(note: I make a LOT of comparisons to my JetBeam MkI, because 1. I have one, 2. the JetBeam is recognized as one of the best if not THE best led 1AA format lights, and 3. I think it's a fair comparison.)

Impressively bright - It really is quite amazing. I fired it up next to my JetBeam MkI, both on brand new Energizer E2 L91's. I used to think my JetBeam was pretty bright. I don't any more. :( The L1DCE just puts it to shame. I've got a 14500 that's probably at about 75-80% charge (sorry, no means of measuring), and the L1DCE on the L91 is brighter than the JetBeam on the 14500. :drool: The box says "90 lumens max". I've heard (again no means to measure) that the JetBeam on a 14500 puts out 80 lumens. I'd say the L1DCE on the L91 is easily 90, maybe more. Again, very impressive from this little thing. Of course, it's even brighter on the 14500.

Fit and finish are very good - Fenix seems to be maturing somewhat in their manufacturing processes. My first L1P had slightly mismatched anodizing, some parts being more grey than others. The L1DCE is an even very deep black that looks and feels really good. It's a matte finish, just slightly smoother than the JetBeam in texture. The threads feel clean and smooth. About 1/2 way unscrewed, there is only very slight play in the threads - very simmilar to the JetBeam. Testing the anodize durability on the inside of the body with an x-acto knife, it's stronger than my previous Fenixes, and again very simmilar to JetBeam's. There were two small points inside the tube that were unanodized, probably where the clips made contact during the anodizing process. It's bigger than the JetBeam, in both length and circumfrence. It's not noticeable in the hand, but next to each other the Fenix looks bigger and chunkier. It actually looks "tougher" too. The Fenix's walls are thicker, especially noticeable in the body when you put in the battery. There's a LOT of aluminum there, and I think "built like a tank" certainly applies to the L1DCE.

User interface is great - Reading about it just doesn't do justice to real-world experience with it. It's really well thought-out and excellently done in my opinion. I didn't know how I was going to like running around with the head "loose" in general mode, but I've found it's really not a big deal. With the head fully tightened, the light's in "turbo" mode, which is either maximum output, or strobe at maximum output. With the head slightly loosened, it's in what I call general mode. "Slightly loosened" means unscrewing the head approx 10 or 15 degrees at the most. In general mode, the light starts at it's lowest level, then with a half-press it moves up to medium, then high, then S.O.S. mode. Changing modes is much easier than it sounds like. It's even less than a half-press, just very little pressure needed to make the light go out, then instantly releasing and you're at the next mode. The reported 1.5 seconds timer wasn't a problem either. If you're using the light in Turbo, you turn it off, and decide to turn it back on within 1.5 seconds, it will go to the next mode. In real usage, 1.5 seconds is invisible. I was switching between the JetBeam and the Fenix to compare brightness, slightly pressing the tailcaps to darken one and then the other and back again. I was surprised to find that over the many times I did that, I changed modes on the Fenix only once or twice. I don't forsee "accidental" mode changes happening very often if ever, and and stepping up brightness is intuitive and VERY easy. I can't over-emphasize how little pressure is needed and how easy it is to change modes with a small tailcap press. I also really like that it starts off (in general mode) at low, and then steps up in brightness. I like this arrangement much more than I thought I would. EDIT: It's advertised to be current regulated, and I was unable to detect any PWM whatsoever at dimmer modes. This gets a big :rock: from me, because I'm sensitive to PWM dimming and find it annoying.

(the bad news)

Diappointingly ringy - I don't have a P1DCE, but I read just about every post about it, and feel like Fenix either wasn't listening, or had these manufactured by the time the P1DCE came out. The reflector is smooth, and there is no question about "optical illusion" or not. There's clearly a dark ring around the hotspot, just like I saw with the P1DCE shots, then a very slightly gold tinted border to the spill-beam, which has a well-defined outer edge. I had hoped that the reflector would be slightly textured eliminating this ring, but unfortunately it's not. I personally would have given up slight throw numbers to smooth it out. I looked around my darkened basement utility room with it, and it's noticeable to me during activities other than the oft-maligned "white wall hunting".

Slight "Fenix-green" tint - nearly every Fenix I've owned (3 L1P's and an L2P) have had a slight green tint to them. I think there was one that was less green and more towards purple, but most have been fairly greenly tinted. The L1DCE, despite the totally different emitter, seems to have the same "Fenix-green" tint to it. I don't know if it's their glass or the coating on it or what, but it's noticeably green to me, when compared with the JetBeam. I've heard this gives better color rendition outside, and have found that to be true, but I prefer a nice pure white. Without comparing it to anything, it's not majorly obvious, but against something very purely white like the JetBeam, the tint is noticeable.

Overall well worth the money - I'm very happy with it. I paid just under $50 for it, using the CPF discount at Fenix-Store, and feel it's worth every penny. Other lights like the Rexlight are rumored to be coming out around $30.00 and have simmilar performance. I'll believe it when I see it. The emitter, fit, finish, electronics, everything about the Fenix aren't cheapy cheapy. This is a well-made light, and not only do I not feel ripped off by it, I actually marvel at how they can offer a light of this quality with these features at this price.

Will I buy another one? I don't know. I jumped at the chance to get a Cree in a 1AA format, and am very pleased with this light. My wife is a budding flashaholic and I think this will be a great Valentine's present for her. I have been seriously considering getting another for me, but decided I'll probably wait a couple weeks. Rexlight is rumored to be coming out soon, as is JetBeams new 1AA offering. I'm not at all sorry about buying this one, but I think maybe I'll wait and see what comes down the line, see some other opinions on this and the other lights when they come out, and keep using my JetBeam for now before buying myself a Cree.

One thing I'm having a really hard time waiting for - is night. I can't wait to go outside and really test this thing. I want to see it throw, and test it's abilities in unconfined spaces. What I'd really like to do is a detailed review of it with pictures, as I've done with other lights in the past. The problem is, my wife's in Maui with the digital camera, so I'll have to either use my crappy cellphone camera, or wait till next week. :(

Stay tuned.
:rock:

UPDATE (6 Feb 07):

I had a hard time waiting for darkness last night, but it finally came! I wanted to see what this thing could really do. I took it outside, running on a freshly charged 2500mah NIMH, with my Jetbeam on the 14500, and just for kicks I brought along the Surefire G2Z with the P61 in it. :naughty: The G2Z is of course an incandescent throw monster in an entirely different class, but hey, lets see what this thing can really do, right?

:touche:


First impressions:

Again impressively bright
Even more ringy than I first thought
Incredible throw!


More detailed impressions:

Impressively bright: As expected, the L1DCE was amazing outside. Even the low was more than sufficient to navigate around the occasional doggie deposits in the grass. Medium was very useable, and high and turbo brightly lit a huge area.

Even more ringy: In the darkness, I noticed yet another component of the ringiness of the beam. I had mentioned yesterday that the spill beam had a well-defined outer edge. I found last night that it appears well-defined because it's really a dark ring between the bright primary spill beam and a thinner, much darker outer ring of light. Now that I know it's there, I can find it holding it about 4" from a wall and looking for it. Is it noticeable in real-world use? I was out playing in my backyard without even knowing it existed and I noticed it, so I'd say yes. Does it or any of the ringiness of the beam really affect useability of the light? I'd say absolutely not. It DOES exist, however, and would be something to keep in mind if a nice smooth even ringless bean is high on your priorities.

Incredible throw: The one thing I really wanted to see was how this thing throws at a distance. When I first got the JetBeam and ran it on 14500s, I was just in awe at how something so small and using an LED can put out that much light. Last night the JetBeam (again on a 14500) was absolutely humiliated by the L1DCE (which was using an NIMH!). There are several tall and mature trees in my neighborhood, and when checking out throw, I'll target various trees at various distances. I first "shot" the JetBeam at a tree 230 feet (70 meters) away from where I was standing. From previous experience the tree is just at the edge of the JetBeam's range - I can shine it on the tree, move it away from the tree and back again, and see a definite difference - the light's hitting the tree. Again last night, it lit up the tree but not much. Then, I "shot" it with the L1DCE. :faint: The light not only hit the tree but illuminated it well, bringing out detail and features. Where the JetBeam marginally reached the tree, leaving doubt whether it was actually hitting it until moved away and back, the L1DCE left no question whatsoever, and actually usefully illuminated it.

Just for kicks, I "shot" the G2Z, which as expected illuminated the tree much better than any LED to date can. What was surprising, though, was how little difference there was between it and the L1DCE. There was unquestionably a difference, but I was expecting the G2Z to blow away the L1DCE about as much as the L1DCE blew away the JetBeam... and it just didn't happen. It's really hard to describe and quantify without pictures, but if the tree in ambient light was at -0-, the JetBeam brought it up to about 1, the L1DCE brought it up to about 8, and the G2Z brough it up to about 10 - if that makes any sense. :shrug: Huge difference between the JetBeam and the L1DCE, not so much between the L1DCE and the G2Z.

After coming inside, I also found how useful and handy the low mode can be, when I had to sneak in the baby's room after he was asleep. On low, the spill was just enough to let me check on him, without him even noticing or being disturbed at all. I'm gonna like this light. :rock:

The bad news: I noticed something of a glitch, or a bug, or a... something I wish it didn't do. When in general mode, when the switch is first pressed and it comes on at the lowest level, there is an ever so brief flash first. It's far too brief to be able to quantify what level brightness it is (at least medium and probably high), but there's a definite flash as I believe the current regulation circuit "charges up" and then quickly drops the light down the the low level. I've got no idea looking at it if it's closer to a half a second or a millisecond, but I would say it's shorter than a camera flash, maybe half as long. What bothers me about it, is that if I'm in a darkened theater or some such dark public place and want to look at a program or whatever, I believe the flash will call attention more than just the light at low level would. In such situations, I will have to try to remember to place the bezel of the light against my leg or something covering it while I turn it on so that the brief flash is not visible.

Overall: I'm even more impressed with the light than I was yesterday when I first got it. Impressed enough that I'm seriously considering getting myself one, because I'm not sure that JetBeam and/or Rexlight can do a whole lot if any better. The new JetBeam is supposedly going to use PWM which is a negative in my book. Rexlight's quality is an unknown commodity and they're a new kid on the block.

The Fenix L1DCE is rock solid and excellent. JetBeam, Rexlight, or whoever are going to have to work REALLY hard to top it. I seriously question whether JetBeam can justify what will probably be a significantly higher price, and whether Rexlight can deliver the quality at what's reportedly going to be a significantly lower price.

Can't wait to see. :popcorn:
 
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9volt

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Re: Got my L1D CE! First impressions:

Thanks for the review, I found it just as the mail got here with mine :) Your mode explaination made alot of sense.

I like this light alot, it's a keeper. The beam is ringy, even worse than the P1D CE if I remember correctly, but I don't care. The interface is great. I'm curious, the button action on this seems alot nicer than on my old L1T, how does it compare to the L2P and the Jetbeam? I had and L1T and a Jetbeam Mk1 for a while and recall that the Jetbeam had a much nicer button action.
 

mchlwise

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Re: Got my L1D CE! First impressions:

greenstuffs said:
did it come with the sheath?

Yes.

It came in a nice looking box, about 135mm x 82mm x 27mm, with a plastic window showing the light. Inside the light was packed in a folded cardboard insert, and included was the new-style Fenix nylon sheath with slot for wearing on belt and d-ring on top. It also comes with an "introduction" sheet, wrist lanyard, two spare o-rings, and a spare tailcap boot rubber thingy (the part you push).

It all looks very professional.

:naughty:
 
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9volt

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Re: Got my L1D CE! First impressions:

Spare tailcap or spare tailcap button?
 

mchlwise

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Re: Got my L1D CE! First impressions:

dammitjim said:
I'm curious, the button action on this seems alot nicer than on my old L1T, how does it compare to the L2P and the Jetbeam? I had and L1T and a Jetbeam Mk1 for a while and recall that the Jetbeam had a much nicer button action.

That was one of the things I first noticed when I fired it up. I haven't used a Fenix light for a few months, but the switch seem much "crisper" than I remembered Fenix switches being. I won't have access to my L2P for a couple hours, and no longer have any of my L1Ps, so I can't compare directly at the moment, but just from recollection it jumped out at me as being a better switch than the older Fenixs.

Comparing it to the JetBeam, I'd say again that it's very comparable, maybe a little better. The JetBeam takes a slightly firmer press to click. The Fenix switch is slightly recessed into an endcap that's slightly larger, and feels a little better to my thumb.
 

adnj

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Re: Got my L1D CE! First impressions:

Thanks for the review. I've got the bug again.
 

greenstuffs

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Re: Got my L1D CE! First impressions:

Nice can't wait for the light, next time i'll upgrade shipping as first class mail takes forever to come through.
mchlwise said:
Yes.

It came in a nice looking box, about 135mm x 82mm x 27mm, with a plastic window showing the light. Inside the light was packed in a folded cardboard insert, and included was the new-style Fenix nylon sheath with slot for wearing on belt and d-ring on top. It also comes with an "introduction" sheet, wrist lanyard, two spare o-rings, and a spare tailcap boot rubber thingy (the part you push).

It all looks very professional.

:naughty:
 

mchlwise

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Re: Got my L1D CE! First impressions:

Best my crappy cellphonecam could do:

141450.jpg
 

zeeexsixare

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Re: Got my L1D CE! First impressions:

Got my L2D CE today. Excellent. Beats the pants off my 3AA MagLED but as expected, does get a little warm after a bit. Now I need to mod the 3AA MagLED with a SSC P4 and double-up on resistors for 1A...
 

Valpo Hawkeye

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Re: Got my L1D CE! First impressions:

I also received my L1D CE today. Your review is pretty much how I feel. I threw my 3.7v 14500 in there and, wow, that thing was bright. I agree that the tint sucks, too.

Additionally, one of the reasons I preordered was because 4sevens said that it would have a textured reflector. I'm VERY disappointed that it doesn't! :angry: Oh well, it just means that instead of being and EDC-type light, it's a beater light.
 

hburner

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Re: Got my L1D CE! First impressions:

thanks for the review, makes it worse on me as I just ordered mine saturday, now the ever dreaded wait>:rant:
 

TenPin

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Dec 22, 2005
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Re: Got my L1D CE! First impressions:

I just got mine too. The only thing I can fault is that turning the head from normal to turbo mode seems to be a bit rought but i guess it will smooth out in time.

I put an Energizer Lithium in it and its incredibly bright. I compared it to my L2P on 2 Energizer Lithiums and my friends P1D-CE on a fresh Duracell CR123.

The L2P was the same brightness as medium (~40 lumens) on my L1D but my L1D had a more focused hot spot.

For some reason my L1D on turbo was brighter than the P1D-CE on Max.:huh2:

Either I have a brighter than usual L1D or the P1D-CE is dimmer than usual.

I'm now debating whether to sell my L2P.
 

oBMTo

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Re: Got my L1D CE! First impressions:

What is the CPF discount?
 

hiredgun

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Re: Got my L1D CE! First impressions:

oBMTo said:
What is the CPF discount?

Type the code CPF5 at the checkout for a 5% discount. Last I checked that was the correct code.
 

SKYWLKR

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Re: Got my L1D CE! First impressions:

Is the body thick enough to Support boring for a pair of series AAA's? Maybe just at the peaks of the facets?
 

oBMTo

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Re: Got my L1D CE! First impressions:

hiredgun said:
Type the code CPF5 at the checkout for a 5% discount. Last I checked that was the correct code.
Thanks!
 

TORCH_BOY

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Re: Got my L1D CE! First impressions:

Mine is on its way, can't wait to try it

Got my LOD-CE the other day, Great little light, well worth the $$$
 
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