Nitecore P12 [XM-L2 T6, 1x18650, 2x(R)CR123A] Review

Wurkkos

candle lamp

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Reviewer's note : Nitecore P12 was provided by Nitecore for review.

The P12 is the lastest model of the Nitecore's Precise Series, featuring XM-L2 emitter, dual switch, power indicator which displays battery voltage and low voltage warning.

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The light comes in basic packaging, and it comes with a user manual, warranty card, spare o-rings, tailcap rubber switch boot, pocket clip, grip ring, wrist lanyard, and holster with closing flap.
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Manufacturer Specifications from user manual :
• Premium CREE XM-L2 (T6) LED
• Maximum output of 950 lumens
• Second generation "Crystal Coating Technology" combined with "Precision Digital Optics Technology" provide extreme reflector performance
• Boasts a peak beam intensity of 12,450cd and a throw distance of up to 222 meters
• 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 ’s 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
• Waterproof in accordance with IPX-8 (two meters submersible)
• Impact resistant to 1.5 meters
• Stainless steel titanium-plated clip included
• Tail stand capability
• Length: 139mm (5.47”)
• Head Diameter: 25.4mm (1”)
• Tail Diameter: 25.4mm (1”)
• Weight: 88grams (3.10oz) (without battery)

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Notice : The above data has been measured in accordance with the international flashlight testing standards ANSI-NEMA FL1 using 1x3.7V 2600mAh Nitecore 18650 battery and 2x3V 1550mAh Nitecore CR123 batteries under laboratory conditions. The data may be vary slightly during real-world use due to battery type, individual usage habits and environmental factors.

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The hard (type III) anodizing is a glossy black and consistent throughout with no chips of other faults to be found on my review sample. Anodizing is excellent on my sample. There are identification labels on the head and body. All labels are sharp, clear. Actually labels are not as very bright white as some other lights, but that actually helps to make them less obtrusive. The typical diamond-shape knurling is present over battery tube and tailcap.
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The light has 3 parts (i.e. head, battery tube, and tailcap).
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The head has pure cylindrical design with heptangular shape at the neck (i.e., right under the side switch) which provides good grip and anti-roll feature. The head tip is the flat bezel shape. There are five deep cooling fins for heat dissipation on the head. There is a positive contact plate in the head which is surrounded by a slightly protruded black plastic ring. This ring is the physical reverse polarity protection feature of the light, so flat-top batteries will not work.

The distinctive aspects of the light is the dual-switch control in the head and tailcap of the light, and the power indicator. The mode-changing side switch is electronic switch, with audible click. It has a good amount of tension which produces a quiet clicking sound when pressed.
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The P12 has the blue power indicator under the side switch. It will flash during operation to let you know when the battery power is dropping. The manual says the power indicator will blink once every two seconds when power levels reach 50%.
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According to the manual, when the power indicator blinks rapidly, this indicates the batteries need to be replaced (i.e., nearly drained).
Note that there is a battery voltage read-out on the P12, but it is hidden. When you are in Off, do a press and release both tailcap switch and side switch in the head simultaneously to have it read out the voltage.
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The light uses AR coating lens and the purple hue is reflected on it. The aluminum reflector has a smooth pattern. Surface finish on the reflector was perfect from visual inspection, with very fine radial machining lines running down the reflector cup, and well-centered XM-L2 T6 LED sits at the bottom of the reflector cup.
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The body has two flat faces where manufacturer & model name are printed on.
The battery tube has a plain cylindrical tube design and accommodates both 2x(R)CR123A's and 18650 cells. Button-tops of 18650's just work fine. Note the user manual does mention 3.7V 2xRCR123A's can be used. However, the manual describes 3V 2xCR123A or 3.7V 1x18650 is recommended.
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The entire light's small & clean cylindrical design makes it feel very comfortable when held in hand. The battery tube has a notch on the end where the removable clip can be attached.
The clip-on stainless steel clip looks and feels reasonably sturdy. It holds onto the light tightly. The clip works as a good anti-roll device. There is a small gap, just below the notch, for inserting the grip ring (i.e., this grip ring is removable and is on the end of the body. It acts as an anti-roll feature so the light doesn't accidentally roll off and it helps when holding the light in a cigar-style grip. It can be removed without removing the o-ring on the body.
The clip is head-facing, and it is a titanium-plated stainless steel.
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Most of the battery tube is covered by diamond-textured knurling which provide good grip. Knurling is a bit aggressive. The wall thickness of the battery tube is 3.26mm, and the light feel very solid.
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Threads on both ends are well machined, with the those on the both end being anodized which allows the light to be locked-out when the tailcap is slightly loosened.
Threads on either ends on the battery tube mate well with the head and tailcap with no issues of cross-threading or grinding. The screws threads on the head and the tail section are square-cut & triangular-cut respectively.
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The tailcap switch is a forward clicky which allows for momentary activation. The rubber switch cap is recessed within the tail end. The light can tailstand in its default stock form. The switch has nice stiff tension with average travel. There is a band of knurling on the tailcap. There are a couple of wide loops for wrist lanyard attachments.
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User Interface

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

There are two modes (i.e., general mode & flashing mode).
Output mode switching is controlled by the side switch in the head.

1) General mode
To change modes, click the side switch in the head while on. Mode sequence is Lower -> Low -> Med. -> High, in repeating sequence. The light has mode memory, and remembers the last output level used when you turn the light off and back on, even after a battery change.
Note that you cannot set the output level while the light is off. The electronic side switch only works when the light is powered on by the tailcap switch first. As such, there is no standby current on the P12.

2) Flashing mode
There are “hidden” Strobe, SOS and Location Beacon in the flashing mode.
Press and hold the side switch to access Strobe. Press and hold again to switch to SOS.
Press and hold again to switch to Location Beacon. A single click exits you from the flashing mode back into constant output of the general mode. Note that Strobe is the only flashing mode which has a mode memory and is the default flashing mode (i.e., if the light is turned off while in Strobe, Strobe will resume when the light is turned on again).
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From left to right, VicLite 18650(2600mAh) protected, Olight S20 Baton, Xeno S3A, Eagletac D25LC2, Spark SL6S-740NW, Rofis PR21, Crelant 7G3CS, Fenix PD32 UE, Nitecore P12, Rofis JR20.
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The head size & body weight excluding battery of four lights are as follows :
PD32 UE - 24.0mm / 77g, PR21 - 27.4mm / 90g, P12 - 25.4mm / 89g, S20 - 23.0mm / 52g.
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The NDF25 diffuser came with the light is good, and soften output of the light. It gives a nicely even beam, and dose the intended job well. Scroll down and look at the beamshot.
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The light comes with a nylon holster with a velcro strap on the head. The light fits in the holster either head-up or head-down with both clip and grip ring installed. But it fits in the holster just head-down with both installed, and the light doesn't go all the way into the holster due to the grip ring. Thanks to enough velcro, you will close the flap on the head without any problems, though.
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It is good size to hold and can be used as an EDC light. Overall grip is fine. Overall build quality is excellent.
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Measured Dimensions & Weight
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PWM
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No sign of PWM at any levels of the light, leading me to conclude the light is actually current-controlled as claimed. I notice there is no buzzing sound in my sample.
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Runtime

1. 1x18650 or 2xCR123A
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2. Runtime graph enlarged from the above 1
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The P12 steps down on High to lower high output (i.e., not Med. output) after 2.5 mins of continuous runtime, and the step-down is gradual, taking 2 mins (i.e., after 4.5 mins) to level off at the lower high level. This means you are unlikely to notice the step-down on this series. This seems to be a timed drop-down considering the overheat protection, not a thermal sensor feature. Also at 42 mins, another abrupt step-down occurs. The light steps down in double steps (i.e., timed step-down) except by the battery depletion at the end of run.

Note that the green line refers to the included Nitecore-branded 18650 (2300mAh) and the red line is my standard testing VicLite 18650 (2600mAh).
As you can see, overall runtime is longer with the greater capacity cells, as expected.
The regulation pattern and runtime efficiency of the light seem excellent.
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3. 1x18650 on Max.
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4. Runtime graph enlarged from the above 3
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The P12 is not the brightest light on 1x18650 source on Max. output level among the other lights in this class. The initial output (i.e., prior to step-down) of the light is rather bright. The light is well regulated, and there is almost the same multiple step-down pattern on Max. on all battery sources as the PD32 UE.
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Beamshot

1. White door beamshot (about 50cm from the white door on Max. output, AWB)
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The light has a smaller sized bright hot spot than others. A soft corona surrounds the hotspot which is slightly yellow. The spill beam region is clean with slightly bluish purple on the perimeter of the spill. The overall beam has a cool side in my sample.
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2. Indoor beamshot (about 1.9m from the target on High & Med. output)
- ISO100, F/2.8, 1/4sec, Auto white balance

1) High output
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2) Med. output
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3. Indoor beamshot (about 3.5m from the target on High & Med. output)
- ISO100, F/2.8, 1/15sec, Auto white balance

1) High output
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2) Med. output
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4. Indoor beamshot (about 7.0m from the target on Max. output)
- ISO100, F/2.8, 1/2sec, Auto white balance
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5. 55m Outdoor Beamshot on Max. output
- ISO100, F/2.8, 1sec, Auto white balance
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6. 60~65m Outdoor Beamshot on Max. output
- ISO100, F/2.8, 1sec, Auto white balance
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The P12 shows the decent throw.
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[New 14.01.16]
7. Min. output
- ISO100, F/2.8, 1/1250sec, Auto white balance
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Like Olight S20 XM-L2, the P12 has good lower output level (i.e., closer to a moonlight on the Olight S20 XM-L2).
It seems that the S20 XM-L2 is slightly brighter than the P12, in my view.
[New 14.01.16]
 
Last edited:

geraldL

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Aug 4, 2013
Messages
78
Finally a proper and well written review of the P12 in English! Great job thank you so much! My p12 is only a day away. Can't wait hehe
 

ven

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Fantastic review candle lamp as always:twothumbs thank you,really does look an excellent edc,time for a new one i think over next month or 2.
 

TCY

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Oct 15, 2013
Messages
801
Thank you for the fantastic review. I've been looking for a thread like this for over 2 weeks as my P12 will arrive next month and I need something to soothe my waiting anxiety:thumbsup:
 

TSD

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Feb 6, 2007
Messages
74
Great review! I think if I had seen this prior to purchasing the light I may have passed on it as I'm not impressed with the sequence of step downs on max. It is a good light, but I think I may sell this one. Is the S20 in your review the L2 version?
 

Ryp

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Great review! I think if I had seen this prior to purchasing the light I may have passed on it as I'm not impressed with the sequence of step downs on max. It is a good light, but I think I may sell this one. Is the S20 in your review the L2 version?

It's not bad, you should try it out before selling it. And judging by the black switch on the S20, it is indeed th L2 version.
 

TSD

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Feb 6, 2007
Messages
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I have had mine for about a month, and while I do like it, I find myself using the S20 L2 more often. I like the P12's mode spacing, and the throw is nice for a light of this format. I just find it a bit larger than I prefer for pocket carry, and the two switch UI is awkward to me. Just personal preference. In spite of my issues with it, I still think this light is a good value. Good call on the switch, somehow I missed that.
 

Ryp

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Oh my bad, for some reason I thought you haven't received it yet. I agree the S20 is a better EDC light, I would use it over the P12 if I had one. Smaller, floodier, moonlight.
 

candle lamp

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Thanks for your interest and support, All of you! :)

Is the S20 in your review the L2 version?

Yes, my S20 is the XM-L2 version.


[New 14.01.16]
7. Min. output
- ISO100, F/2.8, 1/1250sec, Auto white balance
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Like Olight S20 XM-L2, the P12 has good lower output level (i.e., closer to a moonlight on the Olight S20 XM-L2).
It seems that the S20 XM-L2 is slightly brighter than the P12, in my view.
[New 14.01.16]
 
Last edited:

TSD

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Feb 6, 2007
Messages
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Why no PD35 in your review? I noticed you had one in your S20 review. Did you trade it for a PD32 UE at some point? Seems like it would have been a good one to add to the comparisons.
 

TCY

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Wait..if P12 uses a timed dropdown to prevent overheating, turn it off then back on gives 950 lumens again? Wouldn't that damage the LED?
 

candle lamp

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Messages
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Why no PD35 in your review? I noticed you had one in your S20 review. Did you trade it for a PD32 UE at some point? Seems like it would have been a good one to add to the comparisons.

At first, I tried to include my PD35 in my review, but it suffered a circuit issue (i.e., flickering continuously when the light dropped down to the lower output level). I will have to send it back to the local dealer for repairs or for replacement.

Wait..if P12 uses a timed dropdown to prevent overheating, turn it off then back on gives 950 lumens again? Wouldn't that damage the LED?

Yes, If you want to use high ouput continuously, just reset it again. However, prolong use of the high output in a bad environment (i.e., hot and closed space without air flow, ETC.) may reduce the life span of the P12 or even cause permanent damage to the light.
 

TCY

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Oct 15, 2013
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Yes, If you want to use high ouput continuously, just reset it again. However, prolong use of the high output in a bad environment (i.e., hot and closed space without air flow, ETC.) may reduce the life span of the P12 or even cause permanent damage to the light.

Does Fenix PD35 have a thermal sensor for its step down process? If it does then P12 looks less appealing to me.:eek:oo:
 

derfyled

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What a great and in-depth review ! Fantastic job candle lamp !:thumbsup:

Too bad this light is not offered in neutral tint yet...
 

KITROBASKIN

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What a great and in-depth review ! Fantastic job candle lamp !:thumbsup:

Too bad this light is not offered in neutral tint yet...

To my eyes it most definitely is as close to a neutral tint (white is white) as an XML2 can be. Now if you are talking about what Cree calls their ''Neutral" then, no it does not have a yellow cast to it like the 5000K and lower emitters; and if you are comparing a warm tint with it on a white wall, it will indeed appear slightly cool. My opinion.
 

guerita32699

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Jan 9, 2014
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I'm exited, I ordered one. I wanted to get the nitecore i2 and an eagletac 18650 3400mha, but I read on another forum that the charger wouldn't charge that battery properly. Anyone know about that?
 
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