Review: LED LENSER M7R

BruceWillEs

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*I hope this review is helpful to somebody, even though it does not contain lumen/lux/current readings, since I don't have the equipment for that. It's my first review, and I hope my English is ok, since I am from Germany. :wave: Feel free to move it to the reviews section.*









REVIEW LED LENSER M7R







1) Introduction



2) Overview/ Construction/ Build Quality/ Waterproofness



3) User Interface/ Modes/ Brightness/ Runtime



4) Focus System



5) Charging System



6) Pros and Cons in Short








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1) Introduction



The company Zweibrüder Optoelectronics GmbH (http://www.zweibrueder.com) is the most important German LED flashlight manufacturer, and present in the LED flashlight market since the year 2000. Their flashlights are more commonly known under the name LED LENSER, which is the companys official trademark. It became quite common to use the name LED LENSER as if its the companys name itself.



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In the last years, LED LENSER flashlights became well-known for two features, that differentiated them from the rest of the market: First, a unique focus system, and second, no electronic regulation. According to many posts by different users here, the unique focus system has always been a very attractive feature, though the majority did not like LED LENSER flashlights too much, first and foremost because of the lack of electronic regulation. Today, LED LENSER is trying to eliminate this main drawback with the M-Series, combining electronic regulation with a further improved focus system.

While the M7R comes with an integrated charging system for one 18650 lithium-ion cell, the other M-Series models are made for the use with more conventional batteries. Those might be alternatives for you, if the M7R is the wrong size for your application. (M1: 1x CR123, M5: 1x AA, M7/MT7: 4x AAA, M14: 4x AA)











2) Overview/ Construction/ Build Quality/ Waterproofness



The M7R comes in a plastic case together with a magnetic charging station for USB, a power supply for 110/220V, a protected 18650 li-ion cell, a belt clip and a lanyard.



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including the 18650 cell, the M7R weights 206g and its length varies between 156 mm and 166 mm, depending on the current focus position. The body is 30 mm in diameter and the head 37 mm. With those dimensions and the simple and ergonomic LED LENSER-typical design, the M7R lies very well in the hand.



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The simple design has the disadvantage, that the flashlight may roll away if you put it on a smooth surface. To prevent your flashlight from doing so, you might attach the included lanyard. This solution works, but you still have to be careful.



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The flashlight is made of a type-II anodized aluminum alloy, and it's only available in black. The anodizing is very smooth and looks in reality rather matt than glossy, which I personally like very much. The knurling has a very nice look too, although it doesn't provide the same grip that some other flashlights have. However, this is no problem, because the knurling here is more a design element than an essential feature, like in those flashlights which are turned on and off by twisting the head.



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On one side of the flashlight there is a very precise laser engraved label LED LENSER M7Rand the serial number. Very nice as close-up!



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The flashlight can be easily disassembled. Without tools you'll get the separate parts shown in the next picture. With tools (torx T6 and cross-head) you can disassemble it even more, which might be interesting for modifications.



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The lens has a very special form that encloses the emitter almost entirely, thus a classical reflector is not needed.



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LED LENSER calls this a reflector-lens, although there is definitely no classical reflector in the flashlight. The term reflector-lens just shall express, that it combines the advantages of both worlds. The main advantage of the lens is obvious: Due to the fact, that it encloses the emitter almost entirely, you can collect almost 100% of the light, and focus all the light exactly how you want. With a classical reflector, youre only able to collect a certain amount of the light. Its not possible to collect the light, that is emitted directly to the front of the emitter.



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There seems to be a crack in the lens, but actually this crack is no defect. It's generated during the manufacturing process, and most LED LENSER flashlights have it. The only problem that I have with the crack is, that every time when you give your flashlight to somebody else, it doesn't take long till you get the kind advice, that there's something wrong with the lens... :)



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The battery isnt inserted directly into the body, instead you have a separate battery holder that takes the 18650 cells. Of course this assembly is more complex, and it doubles the amount of electrical contacts, what can be seen as disadvantage. So why did LED LENSER choose this solution? I dont know what the engineers had in mind, but I found out that the design is more flexible to different battery sizes. Theoretically all 18650 cells should be exactly the same size, but in practice the cells on the market vary slightly in length and diameter. This battery holder takes them all, although the LED LENSER manual advises you only to use original LED LENSER batteries... Ive tested some cheap Trustfire cells from dealextreme.com (which absolutely didnt fit in my Solarforce L2!) and they worked very fine in the M7R. There was absolutely no rattling of the cell or of the battery holder itself, no matter what 18650 cells I used.



12.JPG




The included cell is a flat top, but the battery holder takes the conventional design as well. With its gold plated contacts and springs, the battery holder gives a very premium impression of the whole flashlight.



13.JPG




The switch at the tail of the flashlight is easy to reach, because of its slightly exposed position. Compared to other flashlights, which hide the switch in order not to be pressed accidently, this switch is more comfortable to use. When fully pressed, the switch has moved a distance of app. 4 to 5 mm, which is rather much. This prevents you from pressing the switch accidently fully, when you only want to press it lightly to use the momentary-on function. From all of the flashlights that I've owned, I like the feel of this switch most.



The comfortable switch design has a disadvantage: The M7R can't do a tail stand. I personally consider this to be a HUGE disadvantage, because this is one of the features that I need so often when using a flashlight indoors. Perhaps LED LENSER had in mind, that for those the M7R is intended for (police, security etc.), the tail stand feature is just not important, and therefore LED LENSER concentrated on a good switch functionality. I would have liked it more, to see a compromise between tail stand ability and switch functionality, and I know that other manufacturers found nice solutions.



14.JPG
You might wonder about the unconventional look of the switch, which seems to be assembled out of two separate parts. Those both metal parts are mechanically connected with each other, but electrically isolated, and serve as electrical contact for the charging system, which is described later.

When I had a close look at the disassembled components, I noticed that everything is designed waterproof and all mechanical contacts are sealed properly. Wondering why LED LENSER doesn't officially rate the flashlight as waterproof (actually they don't make any statement on waterproofness at all), I put it to the test. It was no big surprise, but the flashlight worked fine under water.



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As long as the focus system isn't used, water does not penetrate. But if you move the head of the flashlight forward, in order to focus the light, then the volume inside the flashlight is increased. This leads to the build-up of a vacuum inside the flashlight, and the o-rings are not strong enough to withstand the resulting pressure difference, thus water gets sucked in. But even filled with water, the flashlight worked properly in my test. However, I wouldn't recommend using the M7R for diving and things like that, but wet conditions like heavy rainfall or laying in the snow definitely won't harm it in any way.



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Compared to several other very good flashlights that I own (some Fenix, 4Sevens, etc.), Id rate the overall build quality of the M7R as excellent, but I have to admit, that I cant say anything on long term behavior. I just can describe and rate what I see right know, and from that point of view, the M7R makes me very confident that it will do a great job for a long time.



Concerning the LED LENSER quality, some users said that LED LENSER is producing in China. This is true, and I would like it more, if they produced in Germany or elsewhere. But when I consider that the product was developed in Germany, the engineers that are controlling the manufacturing are from Germany, the machines they are using are (most probably) from Germany, then I really doubt, that producing in China has anything to do with the product quality at all.



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Picture above: The LED LENSER production facility in Yang Jiang, China.











3) User Interface/ Modes/ Brightness/ Runtime



The M7R has the most complex user interface I've seen so far. It features not only different light modes with different functions (high, low, special functions, continuously variable dimming function), but also different energy management modes, controlling the brightness automatically. Thus, it's not so easy to describe the whole functionality.



Some good news first: The M7R offers the same simple functionality, that most conventional flashlights have: Pressing the switch lightly will turn the flashlight momentary on (100% brightness), and pressing the switch fully will turn it constantly on (100% brightness). This will work ALWAYS, no matter in what light mode or energy mode you're currently in. I like this feature very much, because it's so intuitive, and you don't have to explain anything if you lend your flashlight to somebody.



You may have read something about a mysterious boost mode, that gives you up to 130% brightness when in momentary-on. This boost mode may exist in theory, but in practice it is absolutely not noticeable. There are a lot of German customers, who confirmed this on their website.



100% brightness refers to LED LENSERs official rating of 220 lumens. I have no possibility to make measurements to prove this, but I have several other flashlights to compare, thus I would say the M7R actually reaches 220 OTF (out the front) lumens. Let me add a tolerance of +/- 20% to this, since I know how difficult it is to rate lumens with the naked eye.



18.JPG




Picture above: Room is illuminated only by the flashlight. (Exposure time is adapted, so that the picture looks like reality.)

There are three light modes available:



1) Professional Mode (100% 15% blink SOS strobe)

2) Easy Mode (100% 15%)

3) Tactical Defense Mode (100% strobe)



You can cycle through the modes in the given order, by doing the following procedure within 5 seconds: When the flashlight is turned off, press the switch lightly four times in a row and then press it fully once. After that the flashlight will blink 1 to 3 times, depending on the mode you've just changed to.

When the flashlight is turned on, you can cycle through the different light functions (the order is given in the brackets), by pressing the switch lightly.



Besides those light functions, the Professional Mode and the Easy Mode offer a continuously variable dimming function. To use it, you have to be in 100%. Now you COULD press the switch lightly to change to 15%. But if you don't do so, and instead press the switch lightly AND HOLD IT, the brightness will ramp up and down till you release it. This feature is very nice, but since it doesn't memorize the last chosen setting, I don't use it.



Besides of these three light modes, there are two energy management modes, that can be changed independently from the light modes:



1) Constant Current Mode

2) Energy Saving Mode



You can change the modes, by pressing the switch lightly 8 times in a row and then pressing it fully once within 5 seconds.

On the LED LENSER website you find those two charts:



19.JPG




Those charts explain the basic idea behind the two energy management modes, but they are just simplifications and do not describe exactly the real behavior of the M7R, so let me describe it:



In the Constant Current Mode the brightness remains at 100% for approximately 2 minutes, and then drops in the following 5 minutes to approximately 60%.



In the Energy Saving Mode the brightness will drop to 50% after 2 minutes, and to 15% after 25 minutes. This 15% brightness remains, until the battery is empty.



In both modes, you can return to 100%, by turning the flashlight off and on again.



In my humble opinion, it's sad that LED LENSER didn't realize the behavior shown in the 2 charts above. I can't understand, why it is called a CONSTANT current mode, if the brightness drops after 2 minutes. It's not that I don't like this automatic dimming feature, in fact I really like it very much, because I find it very useful. But I would like it more to have the possibility to disable it. However, most probably most users won't even notice anything of the dimming process, but they definitely will benefit from the increased runtime!



In the Constant Current Mode I've achieved a runtime of 2:55 hours (on high), and in the Energy Saving Mode approximately 18 hours (on low). Because of the automatic dimming, it is difficult to compare the runtimes to other flashlights.



Approximately 5 minutes before the battery is empty, you will be warned repeatedly by a short blinking signal.











4) Focus System



In 2007, LED LENSER came up with the HOCUS FOCUS, the world's first focusable LED flashlight. Since then, LED LENSER specialized in focus systems. Compared to the HOCUS FOCUS (which I own too), the focus system of the M7R has made some HUGE improvements:



- While the old system was focused by twisting the head (like conventional Mag Lites), the M7R offers a so called Speed Focus. Now you can move the head directly back and forth, which is very fast, and easily possible with one hand. It is such a pleasure to do so, because the feel of it is just great. The fit couldnt be any better, theres absolutely no noticeable play between the head and the body! By twisting the head to the left, the head can be locked in the current position. This works extremely well too, but for me this feature is useless. I just dont know for what I could need it, but since it has no disadvantage for me, I dont mind having it.



- The light beam is now much wider in the defocused position, and much smaller in the focused position: The angle ranges from approximately 6 degrees (focused hot spot) to 65 degress (defocused), which is really enough for all applications.



20.JPG




- With conventional Mag Lites, the defocused beam always looked like a donut: A bright ring, but the center of the beam was dark, which was absolutely annoying. Even the first LED LENSER focusable lights still suffered a little bit from this effect. But as you already can see in the picture above, LED LENSER managed to eliminate it almost completely. When fully defocused (65 degrees), you'll get absolutely no donut hole in the center of the beam, just one very small ring, but in practical use this ring REALLY isn't annoying. In intermediate positions (app. between 20 and 60 degrees, see next picture) you'll still get a SLIGHTLY darker area in the center of the beam. I personally don't consider this to be a huge disadvantage, because I only need either full throw or full flood (pictures above), and those beams are almost perfect.



21.JPG






Some users here said, that they don't want a focus system in their flashlight, because that's just one more part that can fail. I always agreed, and accepted this to be the one and only real disadvantage of a focus system. But when I disassembled the M7R, and saw how simple the focus system is build, I really asked myself what part of the focus system can fail at all! There's no complex mechanism, it's just the head that can be moved back on forth along the body. And since these parts look so robust, and well-manufactured without any noticeable play, I don't see a disadvantage here anymore.



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Even when heavily soiled, the focus system still works. Not very smooth, but it works. In my test it stayed clean inside, but even if it doesn't, you can easily disassemble it to clean it, which is very easy too.











5) Charging System



The M7R features a unique charging system, which can be used at home, in the car, or with any USB port. Of course youre free to change and charge the 18650 cells manually, if you want to do that for any reason. LED LENSER claims, that only original LED LENSER batteries can be used, but I have tried several other cells and (of course) they worked fine. Sadly its not possible to use two CR123 cells, but the versatile charging system compensates this in my opinion.



23.JPG




The basic part of the charging system is the magnetic socket, which attracts and holds the flashlight. This socket can be used either stand-alone or integrated with the wall-mount. It has a 1.5 meter long cable with a USB plug, which can be used with any USB port or with the included power supply (110/220V). There are also 12V-to-USB adapters for the car available, and other German users stated, that this adapter comes with the flashlight. However, I didn't get one. But since those adapters cost less than 5 Euro, I don't mind. Besides I see this as a chance to get a new car audio with an integrated USB port. :)



24.JPG




The magnetic charge socket is equipped with a light, that indicates if the flashlight is charging (red) or fully charged (green). It takes 5 hours to fully charge the battery, which is slow, but guarantees a long battery life.



Now, what do I think of the charging system? I just love it! It's such a pleasure to put the flashlight in or take it out! I really could do this all day long, and very often when I don't need the flashlight, I just take it out and put it in again for fun. It's so nice to feel the strong magnet attracting and centering the flashlight, and always when friends are here, they try it of course, and then make compliments. :)











6) Pros and Cons in Short



Pros:



- Useful, robust and unique focus system



- Comfortable, versatile and practical charging system (the best of any electronic product I've seen so far)



- Excellent overall build quality



- The user interface is very intuitive (pressing the switch lightly turns the flashlight momentary on, pressing it fully turns it constantly on), but it still offers a huge variety of light functions.



- Different energy management modes



- Continuously variable dimming function



- Ergonomic design



- Disassembly is easy



- Very good feel of the switch



- Absolutely no rattling of the battery or the battery holder



- Protected 18650 cell included (rated 2200 mAh are true)



- Tolerant to different 18650 cells sizes (which vary slightly in length or diameter)



- Absolutely no hearable high frequency noise in any mode



- Very practical belt clip for users who need their light very often. If you need your light only once or twice in a night, I'd recommend a conventional holster. Although the included belt clip holds your flashlight strong enough that you won't lose it accidently, a conventional holster just protects your flashlight better.



25.JPG






Cons:



- Limited waterproofness. The flashlight is sealed properly, and at least splash water proof. When used under water, water does not penetrate as long as the focus system is not used. I wouldn't recommend using the M7R for diving and things like that, but wet conditions like heavy rainfall or laying in the snow won't harm it in any way.



- No tail stand possible without the belt clip!



26.JPG




- The emitter could be driven harder in a flashlight of this size, somewhere in the region of 300 - 350 lumens. Anyway, 220 lumens are certainly MORE than enough for most applications, especially in combination with the focus system.



- No anti-roll protection.



- The focus system produces no perfect beam in positions between the two end positions. The system is optimized for 100% throw and for 100% flood, and in intermediate positions you'll get SLIGHTLY darker areas in the center of the beam. I personally don't consider this to be a huge disadvantage, because I only need either full throw or full flood, and those beams are almost perfect.



- Pricey (app. 140 EUR).















Thank you very much for reading!

Feel free to post questions and comments, or to correct my English. :)

 

sp3000

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Great review! thank you.

Can you please explain why 2 x cr123 cannot be used?
 

sp3000

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Well, my M7R arrived today, it's sitting on charge at the moment so I haven't played with it yet, but I do notice that the slide focus is not as smooth as on my old P7, this may be just the o-ring but I have not taken it apart to see. Has anyone also felt this? Also I am still wanting to know if I can use 2 x CR123's, it says very specifically in the manual that only the 18650 should be used?
 

Stephen Wallace

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I have no specific knowledge of this, but it could be that the circuitry isn't designed to handle 6v. If the manual specifically says only to use the 18650, probably best not to chance it.

Then again, that warning could just be to discourage people from putting in two primary CR123s and then trying to re-charge them.

I have to say that while I can understand the general reluctance by some people to accept the LED-Lenser flashlights due to lack of regulation, and electronics in general, and the reliance on primary alkaline cells (though several people including myself use NiMH cells without issues), I have always been impressed by the throw, and the focus adjustment of these lights. Hopefully the M series will gain more acceptance in terms of electronic features, and the P5R and M7R will answer the critics who want re-chargeable batteries.

Would be nice to maintain maximum brightness for longer though.
 
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sp3000

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Thanks Stephen, I used the light last night and it is superior to the P7 I used to have. The flood is flawless and broader and brighter than the P7, the throw is fantastic. And Yes, now with the ability to control dimming etc it really does pack a lot of features. For me one of the best things is to be able to charge it via USB. Great for traveling when you can either use a computer or iPhone charger etc.
 

Art

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If it had like a XM-L or even a R5 and close to 300lumens... this would be my next light.
But I love the focus system... I still use my P7 some times... I have to stay away from this , 140€ its too much money :p
 

mvyrmnd

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Very nice review, thanks.

I really would like to try a focusable light one day... this one's nearly right, but not quite. The big killer is the auto-dimming. I hate that. That alone will stop me from buying it. Secondly, even being focusable, the beam is pretty ringy.

If it were an XP-G (who cares which bin, really?) to smooth out the beam, and they let it run at full belt until the battery died (you can always carry more batteries) I'd jump on it.

I like the look of it, the focus system intrigues me, and I like the charging setup. It's a shame that it's let down by the programming.
 

utlgoa

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If it had like a XM-L or even a R5 and close to 300lumens... this would be my next light.
But I love the focus system... I still use my P7 some times... I have to stay away from this , 140€ its too much money :p

Led Lenser will be coming out with new lights on June 1st 2011.....I have my fingers crossed, and hope the company has been paying attention and will incorporate the Cree XM-L into some of the new lights. Time will tell.
 

dunna

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Led Lenser will be coming out with new lights on June 1st 2011.....I have my fingers crossed, and hope the company has been paying attention and will incorporate the Cree XM-L into some of the new lights. Time will tell.
it is 22nd of june 2011 already and led lenser hasn't come out with any thing new yet.
 

Stephen Wallace

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Admittedly, the plastic optic can be scratched quite easily, but unless you are removing it from the light, that shouldn't happen readily.

As long as you don't adjust the focus under water, the light should be watertight - as demonstrated in the review, where there is a picture of the light turned on with the head submerged in a jug of water. To what depth would the light work? I couldn't say, but as far as just having the light under the surface of water is concerned, it shouldn't be a problem.

Considering that the light has a fully adjustable beam, from very wide (with only one obvious artefact in the beam) to very narrow, I think beam quality is actually very good. Not to mention that when set to tight beam, the light throws very well. I think that adjustable beams will always lead to some compromise, as you see here. The worst part of the beam pattern is that tight beam setting becomes rather 'ringy' but that is pretty common with CREE XR-E lights - more an issue with the LED that with the light. Yes, steps could be taken to clean the beam up, but I think it would impact on the focus adjustment.

As for advertising? Does that really count against the light itself?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the LED Lenser lights are perfect, particularly considering the relatively high cost, but with digital control and re-chargeable lithium battery, this particular light is a big step forward for LL, and answers a number of criticisms that have been directed towards LL products. There is still more to do - I would like this light to stay on high for longer for instance - but things are moving in the right direction. Again, not perfect, but I think things have improved to the point where this can be considered at least worth a look by people who want a light with adjustable focus, good throw, and some modes to play with.
 
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yliu

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I own the M7, and I think it's a great torch for indoor, or repairing/looking for stuff at home or a car. For hinking and other outdoor activities I find the beam not very useful. I like the "traditional" beam of my TK12 with nice wide flood and a tiht hotspot
 

Lighteous

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Great review! Thank you! I have an old T7 which I really like for a 4-AAA light and for the focused beam, although it is a little bulky compared to most of the other lights that I have. The M7R looks nice, but there are too many cons to entice enough interest in me to obtain one. I'm looking forward to the next models LED Lenser introduces. A few improvements and I would be more than tempted.
 
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quad088

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it is 22nd of june 2011 already and led lenser hasn't come out with any thing new yet.

Over here our LL agent said new model ( 700 lumens ) and others will be out around october tentaively :)
 

Cea

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Hello,
First post here :)
Thank you very much for your review. It is exactly what I was needing and it was clearer than the instructions in the box which in some parts were only available in German (which unfortunately I don't fully understand)
I am not an expert in flashlights and I really needed a thorough explanation so again, thank you.

I have bought a Led Lenser M7R for work recently and so far it did a good job. Unfortunately I am having a problem with the charger. When I connect it often starts to flash red that means that there is an issue and it doesn't charge properly if not pressed and it doesn't charge with my computer either. I tried several positions and the holder but nothing really helped. It sometimes works sometimes not.

The only solution I found was to hold it down with a little bit of tape during charging, but still, I want this to be just a temporary solution and Im afraid I might damage it in doing so.

Anybody else had the same issue?
Am I doing someting wrong?
Is there something that I can do to solve this problem or the only solution is to send it back?

Any suggestion is really appreciated!

Cea
 

Robin24k

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The first thing to try would be to unscrew the battery carrier and check the spring and tailcap button. If everything looks OK and the springs aren't bent, put it back together and screw it tightly. If that doesn't help, ask for an exchange from the retailer you purchased it from.
 

Cea

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Thank you for your suggestion.
I tried to do that and plug it in again. No change unfortunately.

I also tried to plug it in to the electricity before connecting it to the flashlight to see if that would do any difference and I noticed it starts flashing red already at that moment. Is it normal?

Cea
 

Kilted

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Well I picked one of these up by accident at Fry's Electronics I thought it was a P5R. I was initially put off by it's size, for an 18650 it's a big light. After using it the convenience features like the focus zoom and charger are nice. The UI is strange I'm use to the Sunwayman magnetic rings and clickies feel real different. The low is not very low this is NOT the light I would reach for rolling out of bed at night it is to bright.

I have not made my mind up yet if I'm going to keep it. Observations; on mine with the battery carrier attached to tail button the charger works with battery carrier out of the flashlight, the initial press the light has a turbo mode. Turbo mode is very evident when doing ceiling bounce test - point light at ceiling while looking at floor, this keeps the eyes from being over whelmed and remain more sensitive to light levels.

Comment: 11 Feb 2012;
Additional comments about dimming to be found in P5R thread: http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb...=3873299&highlight=led+lenser+m7r#post3873299

=D~~ Kilted

Update 27-Jan-2012;

I found Led Lenser's home and came across these pages; Technology and Design - http://www.zweibrueder.com/ENG/technologie/technologie_index.php?id=tec_design Select the individual pages on the right. The flashlight does go thru environmental testing.

The light programs explained; http://www.zweibrueder.com/ENG/technologie/smart.php?id=smart

And a Demo page for M7R - http://www.zweibrueder.com/ENG/technologie/technologie_index.php?id=tec_design I was actually able to get into all the modes.

I now understand the reason behind why there is a battery carrier, there is more to designing that lens than you think.

Got one for you the battery charger contacts are exposed to the outside world and I checked with a DVM there's no voltage there and no chance of a short yet the charger works. This is better than a very nice expensive Chinese made light that has expose battery charger terminals.

After lubing the threads and O-rings the light feels much better when going inside to check something. Yes I know most people would put the battery in and never think about it again. But squeaky dry threads sets my nerves on edge, my lite has no squeaks.

I was able to get Fry's electronics to price match so that brought the price down into a more reasonable range, that helped.

I will agree with some others comments the variable setting should be in memory, low could be lower, the led should be brighter for the price.
 
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