LED Lenser Flashlights - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Light output, beam distance and run time are exceptional, and the build quality is a tribute to the high level of excellence in German engineering.

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LED Lenser Flashlights



Flashlights (torches) may appear to be fairly uncomplicated devices. Basically they consist of a tube that has a light source (bulb) mounted in a reflector (the cone shaped piece) at one end with a lens (usually glass) protecting the bulb and reflector. At the other end is a removable cover that provides access to the power source (one or more batteries). And somewhere on the tube is an on/off switch.

LED Lenser have incorporated several innovative features into their line of high-quality flashlights that make them particularly attractive. In North America the company offers 30 different models - 24 handheld units, and 6 headlamps. There are two general categories of handheld units - the M-series, which use computer-optimized microprocessors that enable you to run up to 8 different functions from a single switch, and the professional grade P-series, of which I tested two models, the P7 and P5R. LED Lenser also have models specifically designed for the consumer market, law enforcement and security personnel, and professional divers.


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Modular Design System       

The P-series flashlights have three notable features. The first is their Modular Design System. These flashlights are designed so that each component can be independently replaced or repaired as needed. You would never have to throw an LED Lenser flashlight out, which means less potential waste for the environment, and a better long-term return on investment for the consumer.


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Advanced Focus System      

The second, and most interesting feature, is the Advanced Focus System, an optics system that combines the light-focusing power of a reflector with the light-quality of a lens to produce an even, circular, homogenous light pattern with very little light degradation over the effective beam distance.


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Rapid Focus System 
        
The third noteworthy feature of LED Lenser flashlights is the Rapid Focus System (what LED Lenser also refers to as it's 'one-handed speed focus' function. This enables you to alternate between spot (narrow beam) and flood (wide beam) modes single handedly, by simply advancing or retracting the head of the flashlight. This is much quicker and more convenient than the traditional two-hand, twist-style focusing system.


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LED light
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Contacts are gold plated
There are a few other features worth mentioning. These flashlights use light emitting diodes (LEDs) rather than incandescent bulbs. LEDs use a lot less energy, and they use it more efficiently - which means longer battery life. As well, LEDs have a high resistance to shock and impact, and they last much longer - up to 100,000 hours. There are different qualities of LEDs, and LED Lenser uses top-of-the line Nichia™ or CREE™ LEDs.
 
The contacts on these flashlights are covered with 24-caret gold, which is a superior electrical conductor, minimizing energy loss at the contact points, and maximizing the energy that goes to light production.


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Dynamic power switch
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Rubber O-ring (tail cap opened in this photo)
A dynamic power switch provides three power output options. Press and hold the switch for the 'boost' mode - for a short time the lamp produces about 130% more light than in continuous mode (note: this feature is not available on the P5R). Press the switch for 'continuous' mode (you'll hear an audible click) - this is the normal mode of operation when you want full light output (100%). Press the switch a second time for 'low power' mode - you get reduced brightness (about 30%) but a much longer battery life.
 
Finally, the cases are made of lightweight, durable anodized aluminum and have a textured anti-slip grip. Rubber O-rings on the tail cap and lamp head provide a tight moisture and dust proof seal. The flashlights are rated water resistant (ANSI IPX4) - only the D14 model is rated waterproof (ANSI IPX8).
 
LED Lenser P7
 
The P7 is 5-1/4" long with a 1" diameter body and a 1-1/2" diameter head, and weighs in at only 6.8 ounces. It comes with a nice nylon case, lanyard, small carabineer and four AAA alkaline batteries. The case is very practical, with a hook-and-loop cover flap on the front, and a hook-and-loop/snap combination fastener on the back. Once attached to a belt it will never fall off. It's light enough to easily carry around all day on a belt or stuffed into a knapsack.
 
The P7 uses 4 AAA batteries, and a unique battery carriage makes battery change-over super quick and easy. The use of triple A-size batteries makes a lot of sense, as you can purchase them just about anywhere. Alkaline batteries can be had for around $1 each, or you can go with lithium versions for around $5. If you only use a flashlight intermittently they make a good choice, as they don't loose their charge when not in use.


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LED Lenser P7 with case and lanyard
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Battery carriage
In boost mode the P7 generates 175 lumens up to a distance of 689 feet (210 m). In continuous mode it generates 135 lumens up to 656 feet (200 m). In this mode you get up to 2 hours of run time. In the low power mode the P7 generates 30 lumens up to 295 feet (90 m), but gives you up to 13 hours of run time. While in either continuous or low power mode you can quickly jump back and forth to boost mode by simply depressing the power switch. Once you get the knack of it, switching between power modes, and auto focusing the beam is effortless.
 
The spring loaded power switch on the tail cap has excellent tactile feedback. The textured surface affords you a fairly secure grip on the P7, especially effective if your hands are wet.
 
Overall, I found the P7 to be a well balanced tool that is comfortable to grasp. More importantly, it has an exceptionally bright white beam that stays remarkably consistent over the full beam distance.

LED Lenser P5R
 
The P5R comes as a kit that includes a hard shell case, lithium-ion rechargeable battery, a 'floating charge' system that includes a standard wall plug and USB jack, charging holder that can be mounted on a wall, an 'intelligent' belt clip, and an instruction sheet.
 
At just over 4-1/2" long and with a 3/4" diameter body and 1" diameter head it qualifies as a small flashlight. And, at only 2.8 ounces, you can easily drop the P5R into pants pocket or purse and forget its there.


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Left to right: floating charge head and USB jack, standard wall plug, charging holder, intelligent belt clip, lanyard, P5R flashlight             

The P5R uses a single AA size lithium-ion battery. According to the company, only LED Lenser brand batteries can be used with this flashlight. A replacement battery costs $14. Since the battery can be recharged up to 1,000 times, this makes it exceptionally economical.
 
LED Lenser has designed a very clever charging system for the P5R, what they call a 'floating' charge system. Basically it's a magnetic charge socket that attaches to the metal power switch on the tail cap of the P5R. The battery can then be recharged using the wall plug, or from your computer by means of the USB jack - all without removing the battery from the flashlight. I really like the versatility of this system. A full recharge takes about 3-1/2 hours.
 
There is a charging holder that can be mounted on a wall, and a very nifty 'intelligent' belt clip, that can be rotated to eight positions. If you frequently use a flashlight but need to have both hands free to work with, then you'll love this belt clip. It holds the flashlight tightly, yet enables you to direct the beam exactly where it needs to go. My only complaint is that it takes two hands to remove the flashlight from the clip - or else you risk breaking the clip.


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Magnetic charge socket mating with the power switch on the tail cap
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The intelligent belt clip makes free-hand use easy
For such a small flashlight the P5R delivers a lot of light. In continuous mode it's rated at 225 lumens up to 633 feet (193 m) with a 3 hour battery life. In low power mode it delivers 20 lumens up to 180 feet (55 m) for up to 9 hours of run time. Unlike the P7 however, there is no 'boost' beam mode. But it does have a strobe feature that is activated by lightly depressing the power switch twice in rapid succession and then pressing the switch fully on (you'll hear an audible click). In strobe mode the flashlight emits high-frequency light flashes that are meant to prevent a person's eyes from focusing properly. Disorienting an attacker in this way helps give you time to run for safety.
 
The P5R has a twist lock feature that is not on the P7. Once you have adjusted the beam distance, you can turn the head of the P5R to the left to lock the focus position in place. You unlock the focus by turning the head to the right. And you can both adjust the beam distance and lock it in place with one hand. This is a very nice feature, and one that I would have liked to see on the P7.


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Charging with the wall plug
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Charging with the USB jack
Both of these flashlights are superb, and provide all the power that most users will need in a flashlight. Light output, beam distance and run time are exceptional, and the build quality on these flashlights is, yet again, a tribute to the high level of excellence in German engineering. The units themselves are manufactured in China.

KEY FEATURES:

P7
  • 30 to 175 lumens
  • 90m to 210m beam distance
  • 1 hr to 13 hr battery life
  • Water resistant
  • 5-1/4" long
  • 192 g (6.8 ounces) weight
  • Requires 4 AAA batteries

P5R
  • 20 to 225 lumens
  • 55m to 193m beam distance
  • 3 hr to 9 hr battery life
  • 3-1/2 hr battery re-charge time
  • Water resistant
  • 4-1/2" long
  • 80 g (2.8 ounces) weight
  • Requires 1 AA Li-ion battery
  • Includes unique floating charge system

Manufacturer:LED Lenser
Available From:Locate a dealer
Retail Price:P7 - $70.00
P5R - $150.00
Model #:P7, P5R
Made In:China (designed in Germany)
September 2012

Author: 
Carl Duguay
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