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Fenix FD40( XP-L HI,1x18650 or 1x26650) Review——Candle Lamp, CPF

Publish Time:2015-11-19

Fenix recently released a new series of flashlights, the FD Series. The pioneer of this historic beginning is the FD40 - a carefully engineered flashlights that picks up on the short-comings of other available zoom lights on the market.

The FD40 is poised to give the flashlight world a new perspective on zoomies, and lead the path for future models of this type of light. As revolutionary as it may sound, I am NOT talking about this light. I repeat – I am NOT talking about this type of zoomie:

This is the real FD40

Here are the real FD40 specs:
·Utilizes Cree XP-L HI LED, with a lifespan of 50,000 hours
·Powered by one 26650 or 18650 rechargeable Li-ion battery
·130mm length × 32mm tube diameter × 45mm head diameter (5.1×1.3×1.8 in.)
·159 grams (5.6 oz.) excluding battery
·Adjustable focus, stainless steel side switch
·Digitally regulated output maintains constant brightness
·Over-heat protection to avoid high-temperature of the surface
·Intelligent memory circuit, automatically enters previously used brightness level when turned on again
·Reverse polarity protection, to protect form improper battery installation
·Made of durable aircraft-grade aluminum
·Premium type Ⅲ hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
·High efficient lens with total reflective coating
Fenix provides us with the basic set of accessories you can expect, a holster, o rings, lanyard – as well as a host of documents, namely the standard warranty card, FD40 manual, and ads.

First Impressions
When I first held the FD40 in my hand, it felt pretty solid, as if it was molded from my hand. It feels solid in the sense that it;s similar to what you feel when you use a pool ladder, that smooth, grippy grasp.

The knurling is minimalistic and the bezel has long, wide teeth, reminds me of a castle. The tailcap has anti-roll faces, but I think it could be better improved by having anti-roll faces on the head as well. The fact it can tailstand is a subtle, but highly useful plus, and is highly stable I might add, which I’ll discuss later on along with its integrated tripod mountable feature.

Taking the FD40 apart, we find a gold spring for the negative end (tailcap), and something peculiar inside the battery tube. Can you spot it?

If you haven’t found it this should give you a clue:

Yep, it’s the battery adapter for the 18650. If you recall, Fenix states in their specs that the FD40 can use both 26650 AND 18650 batteries. And that’s basically what this adapter is for. If you plan on using mainly a 26650 power source, make sure not to lose this adapter in case you may want or need to run 18650s in the future.

For the record, you CAN use 18650s without the adapter, as one could have suspected and have now verified. However, I still recommend not losing the adapter, as I don’t think a loose battery will be 100% reliable when you most need it.

Threads came a tad dry, be sure to keep that o-ring lubed for water protection:

Of course, after that I went straight for the lens. I’ve been wondering how Fenix designed their optic, they must have put in a lot of hours developing it.
Max Throw Position:

Max Flood Position:

The lens is like an enigma, it’s not like other lights where you can stare right into its heart through a clear lens and have a feel of the beam pattern by looking at the type of reflector and LED. No, with the FD40, there’s none of this, you gotta fire her up. And that’s exactly what I did.
Check this out:
Flood mode:

Throw mode:

Notice how the lens becomes more thoroughly illuminated in throw mode.
Here’s another run, with really low exposure:
Flood mode:

Throw mode:

White-Chair Beamshots
Here are some appetizers for the real beamshots well be taking a look at later. I want to show you the difference in flood, spot and the hybrid beam.

Orange Wall Beamshots
Now before you guys grab your torch and pitchforks for not doing this on a white-wall, I think I got a pretty good excuse. It’s obviously not because all the white-walls in my house are permanently marked with tire treads and handlebar tape from all the bikes in my room.
Nah… the truth is fellas, orange is scientifically proven to increase contrast and CPF-critical beamshots perception. I read that somewhere online. That and it’s the only clean wall in my house right now…




Now, if you look closely at the beamshots so far, you may have noticed why I call the in between mode hybrid mode. It’s because it has the beam characteristics of a throw-oriented flashlight with a really heavy orange peel reflector. It’s like spot and flood into one, or depending on how you see it, the “the-normal–flashlight–mode”.

Size Comparisons:

As previously mentioned, the FD40 is made to run off 26650, which dictates that it will naturally be wider than 18650-based flashlights, but not necessarily longer. The Fenix TA21 and ArmyTek Predator are both full-sized 18650 workhorses that are thinner than the FD40, yet longer.
The FD40 by itself isn’t particularly large, but the 26650 sized battery tube can make it feel a bit more robust than 18650 lights.

Outdoor Beamshots
The beamshots we’ve been waiting for!
















Armytek Predator:

FD40 Left – Armytek Predator Right

Fenix TA21

Armytek Predator:

Fenix FD40:

Water Proofing Test:

Fenix has let me know that while the FD40 is water resistant to IPX-8, they recommend not twisting the head while submerged. Aside from that, the FD40’s zoom mechanism may have initially worried consumers as far as water resistance, as water resistance is something zoomies aren’t particularly known for, an inherent caveat of its design.

I have full trust in Fenix specs as far as construction goes, so if they say the FD40 is IPX-8 water resistant, I’ll throw my light in the baddest, meanest sink I know without batting an eye. I’m submerging mine and running it through modes and shaking it around without any worry about water intrusion, and, hopefully this will quell any doubts of the FD40’s water resistance.

Real Life Usage

Right now I work at a general aviation airport as a mechanic, and I can say with great certainty, the FD40 is extremely useful. For me at least, the trouble is keeping it out of sight, because if it’s just laying on top of my tool box it tends to grow legs and jump on another fellow mechanic’s tool box.

Regardless that I provided each of my coworkers with my own quality flashlights, they still reach for my FD40. And I can see why.
The FD40 is just so practical. You can engulf your work area in a cramped, dark cockpit with a blanket of photons with flood and happily chug away effortlessly, and the next five minutes you can use spot mode to look inside a long fuselage through an access panel just as easy. It raises efficiency, rather than getting another light or putting on a diffuser, you got it all in the palm of your hand.

The beam pattern on the FD40 is smooth and clean, but admittedly the rings when in spot mode is not the most perfect aesthetic feature. One thing I am glad Fenix did is not focus the LED to max throw, they made it throwy but not to the point where it projects the LED image. This may not give the absolute maximum throw, but at least the hotspot is left looking soft and fluffy with no rough edges. I do suspect though maybe Fenix did focus it to max throw but made the center portion of the optic a tad translucent.

The tailstand and tripod features were a blessing, I have at work a small mini tripod and let me tell you, setting the FD40 up in a work area is painless. I imagine for photographers and the like will love this feature as well, even if it’s on a normal reflector-based light.
As far as heating goes, the FD40 tends to heat roughly the same as a light of similar output. At work I have 4 or 5 18650 lights between me and the ones I lend to my coworkers. After prolonged use they can get hot, keeping them one mode below their max helps tremendously in cutting the heat down, and there is still a lot of lumens pumping out.

The times I do leave it on Turbo, I don’t notice the stepdown Fenix says occurs at the 3 minute mark, at least not while working. I have noticed it when playing around with it at night though. To reach turbo mode again Fenix says we have to wait 1 minute until the FD40 allows us to fire it up to turbo again.

The FD40 has 5 main modes, the highest being 1000 lumens and the lowest 8 lumens. I know many people like to have firefly/moonlight modes on their lights, which is convenient, for instance, those trips to the bathroom at night. 8 lumens is kind of bright for these applications, even though it’s not high enough to destroy your night vision, but keeping it in flood mode helps disperse the light and lets you see a much larger area when you’re all sleepy and drowsy. Well, at least for me, so I don’t step on tools and bike parts strewn all over my room…

In regards to mode spacing, Fenix got it just right. Each mode feels like an equal step up from the previous one.
The advantage to using a 26650 is added runtime. And take a look at this: at 8 lumens with a 26650, the FD40 will theoretically run for 308 hours straight. Wow. That’s almost 13 days.

The 26650 won’t give you double the runtime, but it will give you a good bump. For instance, on high, the 26650 lasts 5 hr. 5 min. while the 18650 will give 3.5 hrs.

That means at this rate, the 26650 gives a rough estimate of 45% more runtime.
To get to strobe, you just have to press and hold the power button for 1.2 seconds. Doing this for 3 seconds will activate the lockout feature.

The holster is pretty nice, it’s similar to most Fenix holsters in this size class, and it fits snug.

The FD40 is a decent thrower, when compared to the Armytek Predator, a dedicated thrower hunting light, can throw a hotspot almost just as intense. The Predator has a very, very slight edge, but the FD40 compensates with a larger usable hotspot. Said that, I would love to see Fenix try and release a dedicated aspheric light. Any thoughts?

Possible Improvements

While Fenix appears to have tried to refine this new type of flashlight as much as they could (they put a lot of focus on getting smooth beam patterns and focus mechanism) there are a few things Fenix can improve the FD40 on.
1. The switch, while a highly visible stainless steel switch, is sometimes hard to find in the dark as well as feel because it is recessed, almost feels flush against the surface.
2. Anti-roll could be better done, it tends to roll a bit too easy.
3. I know the FD40 doesn’t have all the gimmicks of the many other lights coming out, and Fenix is trying to test the waters for a focus series, but for the future having USB capabilities would be nice.
The Fenix FD40 could pave the way for a new generation of highly adaptable, multipurpose lights. It is incredibly useful, fun to play with, I may dare say it would be a good gun light were it remotely focusable.

The focus is heavy action, you’re gonna need some finger muscle to power through the focus. The good side is that it won’t be rattling out of focus or anything.

It has all the hallmarks of a reliable light, it’s a workhorse, durable, water resistant. The FD40 head is built like a tank, and the optic seems robust. I’d be surprised if it cracks in a fall, like one of my aspherics did. If it does, then a reflector based light would’ve probably cracked as well in the same fall.

As one fellow member carl wrote, “This light is either going to be one of the most versatile lights out there or a gimmicky wannabe.”.

Well, Carl, I think it has a shot at being the former.

Thanks for reading, if you guys have any questions or comments be sure to discuss,


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