Inspired by a comment by Ted on Episode 23 of WW, I thought I might try and do a "mega review roundup" of all the torches I have in my possession so far. I'm a bit of a "flashlight fanatic" as they are called over in the US but I also find them a very useful tool in my line of work in the security industry, especially when trying to look for something in a dark corner!

Currently I have in my possession, from top to bottom in the overview picture, a LED Lenser M7, Fenix PD35, LED Lenser T2QC, Generic Cree LED Q5 Mini, LED Lenser P4, LED Lenser P3 and LED Lenser K1L. I have also taken pictures of their respective beams shining on the wall to give you an idea of what the light from them looks like when you are actually using them. Pricing will be given in each main review.

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LED Lenser M7
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The LED Lenser M7 is my main weapon of choice for illumination. It is 140 mm long and 35 mm in diameter and takes 4 AAA batteries. The light from this is pretty good and my example came supplied with a so-called "intelligent clip" rather than a holster that many of these types of torches come with. The clip allows you to attach the torch to a belt or pocket or other suitable place and rotate the torch to point it in a certain direction so you can use it hands free. The clip also stops the torch rolling about if you have to put it down. You can switch between several different strobe modes and brightnesses by half pressing the power switch on the end as well as cycle through different presets of modes by half-pressing the switch about 4 times before switching the torch on fully. Useful if you don't want to cycle through every single function on the torch. Half pressing and holding the switch also allows you to put the torch on only for as long as you hold the switch down. Useful for when you only need the light on for a few seconds or don't want to make any noise with the clicking of the switch. There is a focusing mechanism on the end that allows you to change the beam from wide angle to a focused spot. Overall it is a good, chunky piece of kit and has been battle tested a few times by me. Only concerns I have is the slight optical aberrations in the beam as seen below as well as the relative high price of the torch itself (Around £55 on Amazon for a newer version but do shop around). Note the vertical lines are not present when viewing the light in real life. This seems to be an artefact of the LED light on my phone's camera.

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Fenix PD35
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My second main torch is the Fenix PD35. 140 mm long, 25 mm diameter. Bought to replace an older model of Fenix I lost years ago. The PD35 can use either 2 CR123 batteries or a single rechargeable 18650 battery often used nowadays with e-cigarettes/vapourizers. Power switch is on the end and has a momentary tactical function that, like the LED Lenser M7, allows you to put the light on for a brief moment as long as you are holding the button without clicking the switch fully. There is a mode switch on the side that changes the brightness from really dim all the way up to painful to look at, even if not looking directly at the light it creates! I suspect this is due to the famous Cree LED that seems to adorn many torches. Holding down the brightness switch down triggers a defence strobe that will blind and confuse assailants. No focusing but it is more rugged than the LED Lenser M7 and I once used it to light up a large park for several metres at work. Comes with a holster for carrying. A bit more expensive then the M7 at £60 approx on Amazon but worth it if you need a much brighter light.

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LED Lenser T2QC
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Another LED Lenser model. The T2QC is 100 mm long, 30 mm in diameter and uses 3 AAA batteries. It doesn't have any fancy strobe or brightness controls of the M7 or PD32 but it does have one party trick. You can change the colour of the light when it is switched on. There is no button here. Instead the torch is switched on by twisting the front head where it will shine a bright white light. Twisting the head further will change the colour from white to red, green and blue in sequence depending on how far you turn it. Useful especially in my line of work if you need to use colour coding to signal to colleagues from a distance. Priced around £30 from Amazon.

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Generic "Cree Q5 Mini"
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The next torch is a generic part that seems to be churned out in bulk from various factories in China and the Far East. It calls itself a "Cree Q5", which actually refers to a brightness bin of the Cree LED presumably used in the torch. 90 mm long, 25 mm in diameter and powered by a single AA battery, it is one of the smaller torches in my collection. Some versions of this torch have various strobe modes but mine is just a simple on and off model. Due to the cheaper pricing of this model, it is a bit rough finish wise. There is a zoom focus but again the budget nature shows as the lenses has a lot of optical aberrations in the wide and focused beams with the focused beam's light showing the actual outline of the LED chip on the wall. Still, this torch is quite powerful and usable despite the cheaper price. Prices range from £2 to £5 on Amazon.

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LED Lenser P4
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The LED Lenser P4 is basically a penlight, albeit a pretty powerful one. It is slightly longer and thicker than an average retractable ball point pen. 145 mm long, 15 mm diameter and is powered by 2 AAA batteries. Although the beam throw isn't the longest, it is pretty bright. The compact size makes it ideal to keep in a shirt pocket. You can also pull the lens end back and forth to focus the light although the lens seems to be a bit off centre in my example. The lens on this model also has been designed so that any blue wavelengths of light are pushed to the outer edge of the focused spot, allegedly making the light in the middle whiter. I'm not sure this system has any practical effect as I've not noticed anything in day to day use but it looks good! You can get one for between £11 and £17 on Amazon.

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LED Lenser P3
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The LED Lenser P3 is the smaller cousin of the P4 and only carries 1 AAA battery. 90 mm long with a body diameter of 15 mm although the lens on the front end flares out to 18 mm. There is a key ring attachment on the P3 so you can attach it to a set of keys, which is what I've done and have it with you at all times. The light is good and the spot and wide angle illumination feels brighter compared to it's larger cousin, the P4. This may be due to the larger flared out lens. It also has the focusing system with the lens that pushes blue light towards the edge. P3's can be purchased for £14 on Amazon.

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LED Lenser K1L
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Finally, my LED Lenser K1L is the smallest torch I have. 50 mm long, 10 mm diameter. Like the P3, it's got a keyring attachment. Unlike most of the other torches, it is powered by 4 small button cells, code SR41 or LR41. The light throw isn't great but I don't expect it to be at this size. The small battery size means that in my experience it doesn't last as long but the K1L is a good light for emergency use. It is switched on by twisting the front until it lights up. One of the more interesting features is a ring that lights up along side the normal front light on the torch, providing some diffused ambient illumination as well. You can find this model for about £8.

Overall, all these torches do the job. How much you spend is dependent on your budget and needs. I know the Fenix PD35 and the Generic Q5 Mini both use Cree LEDs. I'm unsure as to what LED's the LED Lenser models use. Research suggests that they use a mixture of custom Cree and Nichia LEDs.
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12/12/2016
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