Talking Points – Fenix SD11
Ambassador Justin J.
Philosophy of Use
• The Fenix SD11 is designed to be used for underwater photography and videography. This particular light has built in features that will enhance your photos and videos either on land or under water. It does this by using a combination of a neutral white LED and also a red LED. Combining the two allow for more natural color rendering while in low light situations. I would also recommend the SD11 for an emergency kit light due to its build quality and light output.
• Without the battery, the light weighs roughly 4oz. The SD11 doesn’t take up much room on top of your camera either. I thought it was going to be a bigger light but once I had it in my hand, I knew it wasn’t going to add too much weight. When mounted on the hotshoe, it’s very easy to take on and off. The design element of the mount is very well thought out and doesn’t add any bulk. This is always tricky to get right because sometimes mounts are over engineered to the point of frustration. Not so with this mount. It’s ultra-easy to use and didn’t cause me any anxiety when having to take the light on and off.
• 1000 lumen max output. 400 lumens on low. 105 on red. At the time of this review, the SD11 has been out for a while. I’d like to see a future iteration take the lumens up to 3000 for more flexibility with depth of field as I’m having to shoot wide open most of the time at 1000 lumens. As it is, I’m able to shoot video at night with minimal noise at 1000 lumens. During the day, the light adds a nice catchlight to the eyes and helps fill in the shadows on faces.
• 148ft on high. For me, this works really good for interviews on location as the person isn’t too far away from the camera to begin with. Obviously, if you are using this for underwater diving, I believe 148ft will be more than enough for your picture taking needs. If you think you need something that reaches out further, Fenix also offers the SD20 at 564ft. However, the SD20 will have a slight hotspot in the center of the beam, compared to zero hotspot from the SD11.
• I tend to look at every element of the design aspect. One thing that really stood out to me is the camera mount. Fenix truly got this right. The mount can be slid in a hotshoe, or, mounted to a light stand/tripod. This makes it extremely handy when using it on the hotshoe, or on top of a light stand for side lighting. It’s quick to use and saves me time. I also have access to the battery compartment without having to take the light out of the mount.
• The light can use either an 18650, or two cr123A batteries. It comes with a flashlight clip and camera mount, diving lanyard, and spare 0-ring. Batteries not included. The only think I’d like to have seen included, even if the price was a tad higher, would have been a nice hard case. Something to house the light and the camera mount in for better portability.
• This is where this light really shines! I honestly do not think you can break this light, unless you drop it out of a plane but even then, I do believe it would make it. There is no question that the SD11 is engineered to take on extreme elements. When you hold it in your hands you can see and feel the quality and perfection that was poured into the design. Reliability wise, I have yet to have any hiccups. The selector ring works so smooth and has a nice audible click each time you rotate it to the next setting. The orange band that runs around the selector ring is made of some kind of rubber that is slightly tacky to ensure better grip in water.
• Tons, and I mean tons of value in this little package. The SD11 is one of those lights that you keep with you forever. I think the Fenix R&D department is made up of people who actually listen to their customers and make the changes needed to make the product exactly how it should be. I don’t know of too many companies that specialize in dive lights, but Fenix is most definitely at the top of their game with this one. While I’m no diver, I will be using this for many years in the majority of my outdoor video projects. That is saying something, coming from someone who makes part of their living with a camera.
• On a scale from 1-10, (1 being not recommended vs 10 being highly recommended) I give the SD11 a solid 10. I’ve been in photography going on 20 years, and just recently, a few years ago, I also began taking on small video projects. If you know much about photography or videography, then you know you need light to tell a story. With my video projects I was looking for something that is ultra-portable while still being bright enough to achieve the results I’m looking for. I decided to check out some of Fenix’ lights to see if there was anything that has a ton of flood (the more the better). They have some great options for flood but everything I came across that looked like it would work seemed to have just a slight hot spot in the center. For video, I need a very even, clean wash of light across the entire frame. And so, I dug a little deeper and saw they make diving lights and that the SD11 is geared toward photos and video. I’m so glad I decided to give it a try because it works great for my video needs indoor or outdoor. I’m able to shoot video in pitch black darkness and get great results within about 10-15 feet from the lens. Perfect for interviews when out in the woods or anywhere that requires minimal gear.
• The quality of light that is emitted is astonishing to say the least. I’ve never seen a beam pattern on a flashlight that is this clean and this beautiful. There are zero artifacts. I have no idea who designed this light, but they did their homework and put out a product that is out of this world. The beam is also wide enough that I’m able to use a 17mm lens on a full frame camera and not see any vignetting through the viewfinder.
• I also give props to Fenix for overbuilding the camera mount that holds the SD11 and attaches to the hotshoe. It is solid as a rock and feels like it will last forever. There is a mount on the very top where you can also mount a GoPro, which I did, and was able to shoot varying angles of footage at the same time! Major brownie points Fenix!
• Another aspect is the waterproofness. Since this is a dive light, there is no amount of rain/sleet/snow that will cause you to run indoors. The only thing holding you back is the waterproofness of your camera gear. Which also brings me to another purpose, I feel, this light would be great for and that is emergency use. The beefiness of the body, coupled with the type of light, and the bulletproof lanyard, make this a great option to keep in a vehicle. If you should ever find yourself stranded and having to walk in the rain or anything else extreme, this light will absolutely take the abuse and help you get to where you need to go.
• Finally, the SD11 is a light that probably not too many people think of when considering a flashlight for photos and video, especially when there are a gazillion options out there. However, I would challenge anyone to find a more robust, more useful light at this price point. This thing is bomb proof. Fenix continues to inspire people to get outside and enjoy nature. When I pick up my Fenix, I know I’m ready to go exploring the world! Where will your Fenix take you?