I have been a faithful user of the PD35 TAC for quite a few years now. Looking for a smaller option I decided to give the LD30 a shot. My review will compare the two lights and weigh the advantages of each.
First, let me speak to something not commonly reviewed under the customer reviews. Both flashlights utilize the 18650 battery, which I have started to stock as my go to battery size. Much like power tools leading you to keep with certain brands, due to battery compatibility, I have chosen to stock the 18650 for its capacity and versatility across the Fenix product line. With that said, please be warned that not all batteries are created equal. At a time when I did not value the price of the Fenix battery line, I purchased off brand batteries with comparable specification at a much lower cost. I could get 2-4 for the price of one Fenix and thought they were working great for me over time. Come to find out, the ARB-L18-3500U battery that Fenix recommends with the LD30 has made stronger flashlights of what I already have. My off-brand batteries have the same specifications as the Fenix battery, but they perform at a much lower level. My pictures show two fully charged batteries in two Fenix lights, one battery being Fenix and the other a well-reviewed off brand battery with the exact same specs. The PD35 TAC at a maximum 1000 lumens shines brighter with the Fenix battery than the LD30 light does at 1600 lumens with an off-brand battery. All batteries are not created equal and I would strongly encourage you to choose Fenix for the output and easy built in micro USB charging port. After switching the batteries between the two, you can clearly see that the LD30 is far brighter than the PD35 TAC when it has the Fenix battery and truly shines with its 1600 lumen ability. In summary the LD30 stands true to its lumen ratings and outperforms the output of the PD35 TAC by a longshot. Neither would meet their full potential if it was not for the name brand Fenix ARB-L18-3500U battery.
Moving on to the side by side comparison, the size of the LD30 is a good deal shorter and narrower. The end cap of the PD35 TAC can fit over the end cap of the LD30. The LD30 has a big advantage of indicating the battery level range, when using a compatible 18650 battery. This is something that is a huge advantage when using the lights intermittently, since you have no good sense of battery level on the PD35 TAC. At settings of 1000 lumens on the PD35 TAC and 800 on the LD30, the heat dissipation is very comparable. At these levels you can comfortably touch most all of the flashlight without fear of a burn. However, when the LD30 is cranking out its maximum 1600 lumens you will need to be careful where you place your hands. The LD30 at max output gets very hot near the end of the light when used for extended periods. There is still room enough to comfortably hold the light, but you would not be able to hold it much beyond the LD30 text near the front. If you want something with this level of output, in a small package, it is inevitable that there will be some hot spots near the light source. Most often I find myself on lower power settings so that I do not blind myself in tight quarters, but appreciate the ability to bump up the power as I need a further throw. The one downside I see has been mentioned before in reviews and it has to do with the tail switch. The PD35 TAC has a much lower profile on the tail switch than the LD30 has in comparison. I do not carry it in my pocket but I can see how there may be accidental turn-ons given its tall profile. It is not an issue in my applications, but I do feel that it is the one item keeping it from the perfect EDC light. This could be a result of the minimization in size, which is an acceptable result in my opinion.
All in all, I feel the LD30 is the hands down winner if you are in this price point and considering it against the PD35 TAC. Both great lights, but the LD30 stands tall in a small package!
PD35 Tac on left, LD30 on right – tail switch.
LD30 on left with off brand battery, PD35 Tac on right with Fenix battery.
LD30 on left with off Fenix battery, PD35 Tac on right with off-brand battery