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Fenix LD22 v2 review: penlight flashlight test
Fenix LD22 v2 specifications
|Brand/model||Fenix LD22 v2|
|Max. Lumens||800 lm|
|Max. Beam intensity / distance||11,500 cd|
|Battery config.||2*AA or Li-Ion battery pack|
|Review date||June 2022|
Way back in 2015, Fenix introduced a new AA-compatible pocket flashlight. It was pretty bright, rugged, and versatile with an e-switch and a rear clicky. Output was 215 Lumens from the Cree XP-G2 LED with high-quality NiMH batteries. Not bad for a small light. Well, it’s 2022, and folks, Lumens sell. As a very forward-thinking company, Fenix knows this, and like many of their lights, now there’s an updated LD22, the V2. The V2 gets a significant performance boost, a new LED, li-ion battery, while retaining the AA compatibility. It’s a Fenix, so it’s a solid light with a great warranty (just like every other Fenix I’ve reviewed), and it’s up against some nice competitors like the Rovyvon H3 Pro, Thrunite Archer 2A V3.
The LD22 V2 comes in a package designed for retail sales, with a hang tag and bright, flamboyant graphics, and the usual pleasantries like a lot of feature blurbs and specs. It’s all very nice and tidy for a light like this. Inside, you get a full complement of accessories:
- Fenix LD22 V2
- Fenix ARB-L14-11U li-ion battery pack (loaded in the light)
- 2 Alkaline AA batteries
- Warranty card
- Spare o-rings
- USB type A to C charging cable
Overall, this is expected in a flashlight of this type and price. It’s ready to go out of the box and even some no-name Alkaline AAs. The lithium-ion battery was charged to 4.1 volts, so you get full output and runtime out of the box as well. The accessories are nice and seem to be of great quality. I especially like the lanyard with adjustable cinch.
Flashlight in use
The LD22 V2 is part of Fenix’s small, utility, and general-purpose lights. These are ideal for inspecting, general purpose tasks, or as a backup light. Fenix also makes accessories like a diffuser cone, red filter, bike mount, and traffic wand. It’s not really an EDC due to the length, but I was able to pocket carry it with ease, and it disappeared in my pocket nicely for a long light. The balance is neutral, and the slim body is easy to grasp like a syringe or cigarette. It’s pretty light as well and easy to maneuver. However, it’s tough to use both switches one-handed. You could with practice, but it’s better to click it on with the tail switch and switch grip to change modes. This would be more at home in a shirt pocket I think, or riding in the hoster on your belt. The included hoster is basic, but functional and allows bezel up or down carry. The removable pocket clip has a somewhat deep profile, but it’s not a deep carry clip by any stretch. There’s two lanyard holes on two ears on the tailcap, but tail standing is way too unstable.
For grip, we have the Fenix-centric fine pitch reeding on the body and a bit coarser reeding on the tailcap, but the rest of the light is smooth. Although I like reeding, it’s not as effective or grippy as knurling in this case due to the fine pitch on the body, but there’s plenty of grip for removing the tailcap. Like the previous LD22s, the V2 retains the dual switch layout: an e-switch at the head for mode changes and a forward clicky tail switch for on/off. I like this design, and it’s a staple on other tactical-type or working lights from Fenix. The front switch is pretty basic and feels a bit soft with muted tactile and audible feedback, but it works. The rear is very nice with snappy clicks and a nice feel with just the right amount of effort.
Build Quality, and Warranty
The build quality is typical of what I expect from Fenix: Perfect, and it should be since this is an expensive light. The LD22 V2 retails for about $65.00, and that’s a lot for what it is, especially when there are cheaper options. You can somewhat justify it though since you get a great warranty and fantastic build quality. Although it’s still a tough sell when the Sorifn SP10v3 sells for around $23 with battery (and charger).
The light is milled from 6061-T6 aluminum, and the machining is super-tidy, with no machine or tool marks, no blemishes, and every edge has been knocked down and chamfered. This makes it easier to draw or re-holster the flashlight since there’s no abrupt edges to catch on to things. The engraving and silk screen text is super sharp as well, and all the parts fit together perfectly. The batteries, whether the li-ion or AAs fit in the tube perfectly: loose enough to easily extract, but not rattle around at all. The finish is a semi-gloss type III HA anodizing and it’s very high quality and durable. It is a bit slick though with the fine pitch reeding. A more matte finish would be better here, and it would make the light feel better in the hand.
The only removable part is the tailcap, which has fully anodized (for mechanical lockout) and precisely machined rectangular threads. They’re a bit fine, but generously lubed and smooth. There’s a single gold plated spring at the tailcap, and a contact button flanked with interference bars on the back of the driver. With no external charging port and o-rings at the tail, bezel, and probably the (glued) head joint, it’s rated for a proper IP68, so dustproof and good for up to 2 meter immersion of up to 30 minutes. Very impressive and great attention to detail!
Warranty? One of the best out there with support in the US and abroad:
Fenix Lighting US, guarantees all Fenix products purchased from retailers to be made of first-class materials and therefore provides a lifetime warranty against any defects in material and workmanship. Excluded from warranty coverage is any damage to the exterior deemed reasonable wear and tear such as scratches and/or fading of color. In addition, the warranty does not apply to damage caused by abnormal or unreasonable use of any of the components. This includes use of unapproved batteries in Fenix products.
This warranty is in place of all other warranties, including warranty of fitness for a particular purpose and warranty of merchantability and excludes any liability for incidental or consequential damages. If your Fenix product has a manufacturer’s defect covered by our warranty, we will either repair or replace it, at our option, without charge. Most damaged Fenix products not covered by the warranty can still be repaired. If repair costs and handling charges apply, you will be notified prior to any service. All warranty repairs or replacements are at the sole discretion of the Fenix Lighting US Authorized Repair Center and we reserve the right to refuse a request.
LED, Lens, Bezel, Beam, and Reflector
The LED at work here is the old standby for small lights: the venerable Luminus SST20. This LED has been around since about 2018, and is installed in a bazillion other lights from tiny AAA keyring lights to huge multi emitter soda can lights. It’s a 3535 size footprint (like the Cree XP-G3), and runs on 3 volts. The LES is about 2×2 mm, and uses the bond wire design. While It’s not the most efficient LED, it has a relatively low Vf and can be driven pretty hard for some really decent output, comparable to XP-G2 and G3 (with a much nicer beam). It’s also available in WW and NW high CRI versions, but the LD22 V2 comes with any tint you want as long as it’s CW.
The bezel is what looks like a finely-machined aluminum unit that’s not crenulated. The reflector is a deep SMO unit, topped by an AR coated mineral glass lens which is set back from the edge of the bezel a good 4.5 mm, so it’s well-protected from drops. The beam is nicely tuned for a tactical-use/general purpose light like this, so there’s some generous spill with a bright hotspot. It’s very clean with only a modicum of corona, and although it’s a bit green at low current (like every SST I’ve tested), it turns white at high output. The throw is very good as well, more than enough for most tasks.
Dimensions and size comparison
- Length: 148 mm / 5.83 inches
- Head diameter: 21.5 mm / 0.85 inches
- Body diameter: 18 mm / 0.71 inches
- With ARB-L14-1100U battery: 94 grams / 3.31 oz
- With 2 Ikea Ladda 2450 NiMH: 120 grams / 4.2 oz
- Without battery:59.7 grams / 2.10 oz
Flashlight size comparison with its competition
Group 2 left to right: Sofirn SP10v3, Thorfire PF01, Fenix LD22 V2, Rovyvon H3 Pro, Fenix PD32v2, Thrunite TC15v3, Fenix E09R
Driver & User Interface:
The Fenix LD22 V2 driver is a bit of a mystery, but the SST20 is a 3 volt LED, and two AA’s is about 3-something volts, whereas a li-ion is 4.2 volts, so there has to be a buck driver. I’m hoping so because it makes more sense in a light this expensive.
The UI is what I’ve come to expect from Fenix. The original LD22 had four modes. The V2 adds three more (an Eco mode and two blinkies) for a total of five regular and two blinkies. There’s all the usual features I’ve come to expect in a higher-end light like mode memory, LVP, and thermal regulation.
- Eco, Low, Medium, High, Turbo
- Strobe, S.O.S
- Fully click rear clicky: Turns on in last mode
- Half press rear clicky: Momentary on in last mode
- Single click side switch: N/A
- Fully click rear clicky: Turns off
- Single click side switch: Changes modes E-L-M-H-T-E
- Press and hold side switch: Activates Strobe. Click again for S.O.S. Press and hold to revert back to the last used (non-blinky) mode
- Yes, remembers the last used mode (doesn’t memorize blinkies)
- Pressing and holding the side switch activates Strobe
Low voltage warning:
- When the battery drops to 3 volts, the light drops to a lower brightness level until Eco mode is reached. In Eco mode, the flashlight blinks 3 times every 5 minutes. Note: There is no LVP shut down with NiMH or Alkaline batteries, but should work with lithium ion batteries (I’ll test this of course).
- Strobe, S.O.S
- None, but the light can be locked out by unscrewing the tailcap 1/8 turn
- PWM in Eco and Low, but not visible by eye
Additional info on the UI:
There’s a constant current buck driver at work here, and that’s awesome, and sort of justifies the high price tag. It’s good for constant brightness that doesn’t dim with the battery voltage drop over the runtime. Turbo was the only mode with thermal regulation. The li-ion battery does have LVP built-in. When I measured the voltage after the runtime tests, the protection circuit had tripped so the multimeter was only reading the quiescent current from the protection circuit. I suspect there’s no LVP for the NiMH or Alkaline batteries (not really needed anyway).
Batteries & Charging
The battery department is where the LD22 V2 shows its versatility since it can run off a variety of AA-size batteries. You can run AA Alkalines and NiMH, NiCad. Lithium-ion compatibility is handled nicely thanks to the included ARB-L14-1100U rechargeable li-ion battery pack. It’s made from two 14500s with a total capacity of 1100 mAh and 3.96 Wh.
Note: don’t replace the li-ion battery pack with 2*14500’s, because it will likely kill the light. The ARB-L14-1100U battery pack looks like it is connecting the 14500 underneath the wrapper in series, but they’re not. They’re connected in parallel, and therefore only 4.2V. Adding 2 lithium-ion 14500 cells in series would make 8.4V and likely kill the flashlight
It’s also rechargeable via a USB type C socket at the top and features a protection circuit (probably where the LVP comes from). Fenix doesn’t specify the charge current, but I’m getting around 320-330 mA on the USB tester, so you’re looking at about 3-4 hours to charge the battery. I noticed the charging terminated with a slight trickle charge, with the cell coming off at 4.18 volts. There’s a tiny hole in the positive pole of the battery with an LED indicator underneath. It’s red when charging, and turns blue (thanks Fenix!) when charged. I like the fact the battery is rechargeable since you don’t need a standalone lithium-ion charger. Just plug the battery into any 1 amp charger and you’re good to go. You are limited to button-top batteries, and both the Alkaline and NiMH Ikea LADDAs I tested fit just fine.
Lumens are measured using my home made 30 cm integrating sphere, and I use a Digi-Sense 20250-00 datalogging luxmeter. The sphere has been calibrated using many lights of known output, including a Makkua calibrated Convoy S2+. All measurements taken at 30 seconds with the fully charged ARB-L14-1100U 1100 mAh battery pack. Current was measured using my Radio Shack T-RMS multimeter and FY219 clamp meter with a loop of 16 gauge wire. The Alkaline and NiMH specs are identical across the board except for Turbo, which is only available on the li-ion battery.
|Mode||Amps at start||Specs||@turn||@30 sec||@10 minutes|
|Turbo||2.5 A||800 (Li-ion)||813||780 lm||465|
- 2.2 µA
I tested the runtimes in the 30 cm integrating sphere using the Digi-Sense 20250-00 datalogging luxmeter. I tested Medium, High, and Turbo modes utilizing the fully charged ARB-L14-1100U battery..
Turbo started around 800 Lumens, as advertised, and for about the first 4 minutes the output is better than 700 Lumens, with a gradual drop over the next 6 minutes until the ATR kicks in and starts regulating the output. The changes are subtle and I doubt you’d notice them in real world use. There’s no wild swings in output like I see in some lights, so this is nice. Heat is never an issue and the head never got over 50 C. The output is very stable, with a few step downs until the 46 minute mark with a deep drop and shut down happening 2 minutes later. Total runtime is 48 minutes 25 seconds. Fenix advertises 54 minutes.
High was another very stable runtime, with laminar output for nearly the entirety of the run. The output didn’t drop below 300 Lumens until the 1 hour 28 minute mark, with a big drop in output to 99 Lumens, then another drop to 8 Lumens 2 minutes later. It ran like this for the next 29 minutes, with shut down happening at 2 hours 9 minutes. Fenix specs 1 hour 40 minutes, so I suspect their runtime is based on the last step down, which happened at 1 hour 31 minutes.
Medium was another very linear run, with constant brightness at a little over 100 Lumens for 6 hours and 14 minutes when the output drops to 58 Lumens, then down to 30, then to near Eco mode 30 seconds later. Shut down happened at 6 hours 15 minutes. Fenix says it should run for 7 hours.
There’s a constant current buck driver at work here, and that’s awesome, and sort of justifies the high price tag. It’s good for constant brightness that doesn’t dim with the battery voltage drop over the runtime. Turbo was the only mode with thermal regulation.
Throw Measurement: Peak beam intensity and beam distance
The throw was measured using the Uni-T 383S luxmeter at 5 meters indoors. Readings were taken at 30 seconds using the included Fenix ARB-L14-1100U battery. Eco was too low to measure at 5 meters.
|Low||460 cd||325 cd||36||39.37|
|Medium||1440 cd||1425 cd||74.4||81.36|
|High||5000 cd||5400 cd||145.9||159.55|
|Turbo||11,500 cd||11,550 cd||214.9||239.93|
Extra info: Peak beam distance according to ANSI FL1 standards: The calculated value of distance in meters at which the flashlight produces a light intensity of 0.25 lux. (0.25 lux is about the brightness of a full moon shining on an object).
I tested the Fenix LD22 V2 against some other AA and li-ion compatible lights.
You can see the differences in beam profiles and throw distance pretty well.
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by Fenixlighting. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- Great quality, fit and finish
- Complete kit with battery
- Meets performance specs
- Nicely regulated driver
- Simple dual-switch UI
- Can use Alkaline and NiMH AAs
- Slick finish
- Pretty expensive
Explanation on star ratings:
1: Avoid: my phone flashlight would be a better choice – 2: Poor: significant defect or issues; almost unusable – 3: Average: some defects or issues; but still usable 4: Good: recommended (minor issues) – 5: Great: highly recommended
4.5 stars: ★★★★⋆
Although I might sound like a broken record, I’m going to say it anyway: Fenix makes nice lights, and once again I’m coming away impressed with the upgraded LD22. Every Fenix light I’ve reviewed as a 2nd or 3rd edition has been significantly better than the first with meaningful and effective upgrades in specs and design. The LD22 V2 is one such light. The output is dramatically increased without sacrificing versatility with multi-chemistry AA battery compatibility. The fit and finish is excellent, and the performance is very good with the fully regulated driver. You also get a complete kit with zero extra purchases required to get going. If I had to nitpick the LD22 V2, it would be the finish: Too slick and the lack of traction can make handling with wet or slick hands tricky. It’s also mighty expensive for what it is, even coming in at a higher price than the equally nice Rovyvon H3 Pro, not to mention the $20 Sofirn SP10v3 and Pro. It begs the question; unless you really need a 2 AA light, why not buy a 18650 light? Those aside, this is nonetheless a premium, solid 2 AA multi-chemistry light and would be a great addition to any loadout, glove box, or tool box. 4.5 stars for the Fenix LD22 V2.