This last week in Albania has given me some downtime to do some reviews that I have been on my to-do list for a little while. Normally when I am here to teach, I have no free time but a group of German Paramedics have been here the last 4 days teaching so I have some time to get caught up.
Recently, I was given the opportunity to review a new flashlight from Fenix. The LD75C doesn’t fit in the category of lights I normally review but its somewhat unique features intrigued me so I requested and received permission to test one. Typically, I am interested in lights that fit into the EDC category, those that can be carried unobtrusively in a pocket so it is always there when it is needed. The LD75C is on the other end of the spectrum, no one is going to consider this an EDC flashlight but it isn’t ridiculously large as to make it impractical.
Initially, when I opened the package containing the Fenix LD75C it reminded me of something out of Star Trek. Especially in the Next Generation series and later often members of Star Fleet can be seen using various bright lights in form factors that differ from common flashlight design. Similarly, the LD75C is an extraordinarily bright light in a format that is a change from traditional flashlight design; this isn’t really something new for Fenix.
Before I go into the LD75C, I think I should explain my general outlook towards flashlight. The two most important questions I ask myself when deciding on a flashlight is: First, is the flashlight suitable for the purpose I intend to use it for and second, will it be durable enough to fulfill that purpose when I need it. It wasn’t all that long ago when looking for lights that fulfilled the second question there were only a few light manufactures to choose from. Today, more and more companies are producing durable lights in an ever-increasing selection of options.
When I first saw the capabilities of the Fenix LD75C my initial thought was that it would be a great “truck light”. The idea was that it would be a great light to be kept in the center console of my truck to be used when I need a high output spotlight that isn’t tethered to my truck by a power cord. As it turns out, the LD75C fulfills this role and some other perfectly. I actually found myself using it at work in place of the door-mounted spotlight on our engine. Not only was it brighter than ANY light on our engine, it was much easier to direct at what I wanted to illuminate.
How bright, Fenix advertises that the LD75C has a maximum output of 4000 lumens of white light when set to Turbo (disorientating strobe) or Strobe setting. Now, I was skeptical (as I always am) about the output in lumens advertised by flashlight manufactures and I was with the LD75C. So, the very first thing I did with the light after installing the 8 CR123 batteries it requires to run is to point the light at a wall about 5 feet away from me and activate TURBO mode. Five feet wasn’t far enough away, I would have no doubt that the LD75C would disorient an assailant at least for a few moments. I have no method to actually test the output of the LD75C, but I have no reason to doubt the outputs advertised by Fenix.
As I mentioned already, LD75C isn’t small but it is a reasonable size that makes it practical. The light is 16cm (6.3in) long with a body diameter 52cm (2in) and a bezel diameter of 74mm (2.9in). Too big for a pocket, and for most people a belt pouch would be cumbersome. However, it is perfect for a glove compartment or the center console of a vehicle and it any pocket that will hold a typical 500mL water bottle. Using CR123 batteries, the light weights 566 grams.
Users have the option of utilizing either 8 CR123 batteries or 4 rechargeable 18650 batteries. While reading through the literature that I was given with the LD75C I discovered that you can run the light at a reduced output with only 4 CR123 batteries or 2 18650 batteries… unfortunately I discovered this on the way to Albania, and the light is at home in Phoenix. I would highly recommend using the rechargeable 18650 batteries for cost efficacy.
Operating the LD75C is done using 3 rubber push switches. Thankfully, Fenix didn’t try to build a one button light for all the functions the LD75C has. The bottom center light is for maximum output settings only, if you quickly press and let go of the bottom button the TURBO mode is activated. A press and hold of the bottom button causes the maximum constant output mode to be activated. The top left button cycles through the secondary LEDs, starting off on which ever setting was last used. A double press of the top left button activates the battery level indicator which uses the green, blues and red LEDs to indicate battery level. The last button, the top right button activates the other primary White light functions starting at 40L and working to to maximum output and STROBE.
4000 Lumens is almost ridiculously bright, but in TURBO and STROBE modes it is effective for the given purpose of disorienting assailants (TURBO) and signaling (STROBE). The 1800 lumen maximum sustained output is a much more reasonable level of light. The beam shape of the LD75C has a solid bright focused center beam that makes it a good spotlight but it also as a significant amount of throw that easily can illuminate a large open area or very large room. At the maximum setting, the LD75C builds up some heat but has a safety feature built into it that causes the output to be reduced if the light over heats. In my experience this happened after approximately 15 minutes of constant use at 1800 lumens, once it reduces output you can hit the power button again to return to high power if needed (at lower output settings, I never ran it long enough for it to reduce output). At 1800 lumens, Fenix reports that the light will run from about 3 hours with increasing runtime at lower settings (the primary white lights can also be set to 800L for 11h, 200L for 35h or 40L for 175h). I used the LD75C quite a bit for over three weeks and the batteries were still good according to the lights built in battery level indicator (verified with a volt-meter).
The primary white LED of the LD75C alone makes it a very useful large format flashlight. But, to add function and some fun to the light Fenix added colored secondary LEDs to the light. The secondary LEDs are red, green, blue and another white LED. You can cycle through these LED in various functions using a separate switch from the primary switches. All four of the colors are available to use in constant on with the red LED available in a STROBE setting and a red/blue combined STROBE setting. The constant settings output varies for each color (140L for red, 190L for green, 45L for Blue and 200L for the secondary white LED). To be perfectly honest, I really didn’t use the secondary LEDs much at all except the green. At 190L the green LED was too bright to read a map, but it was bright enough to illuminate a room or a trail while still maintaining some night vision. I do like the fact that a red STOBE setting is available, in some settings an extremely bright white strobe may not be the best choice for signally. For example, 4000L of white light would be too much light when signaling an aircraft whose crew is using night vision equipment a lower output red light would be more appropriate (but even 140L in this situation is overkill). Most of the people I showed the light to were more enamored with the colored LEDs than I was, and I am sure I would find more uses for them as time goes on.
Since I only used this light for 3 weeks, I cannot really comment on it’s long term durability except to state that it seems well built and it did survive a number of falls to hard surfaces from 4–5’ without a flicker. Fenix reports the light is IPX–8 waterproof standard, meaning it should remain working in 6–8 feet of water for 30minutes. I wasn’t able to test this, but I did submerge the light in a 5-gallon bucket for an hour and no water got inside the light.
My conclusion is that the LD75C is probably not the right light for everybody, however if you are looking for a well built light, extremely bright light in a format that makes it easy to carry in a pack or vehicle the LD75C is a light you should consider. With a MSRP of $220 it is significantly less expensive than other in the same performance, size and quality category as the LD75C. You can find more information at the Fenix Website.
I apologize for the lack of images and videos demonstrating how bright the LD75C is, it seems I left the camera and video card with those images on them in the United States. When I return I will post the missing images.