Fenix TK30 – The flashlight that can see as far as you can
Outdoor Ambassador Alex G.
The Fenix TK30 is an impressive device, to say the least. It’s a new kind of device beyond the LED modules we are used to. The TK30 uses a new technology called “LEP” which stand for Laser Excited Phosphor. This means that instead of an LED module that emits light directly out the front, it uses a blue laser that is first “bounced” off of a piece of phosphor and the the white light emitted is directed out the front via a series of lenses. This results is an incredibly tight spotlight with an extremely long throw much more than is possible with a comparably sized LED flashlight.
While the LEP market is fairly new, Fenix is not the first company to release one. However, I would argue that they are leading the pack with the build quality and overall package, bringing a whole new lighting technology to a much wider market.
I will start off my review to address the most common question I see when people look into the TK30: “Why is it so expensive when it’s only 500 lumens?” First and foremost is the fact that the parts and materials that go into an LEP flashlight are very different than a standard LED. You have a laser emitter, and phosphor element, precise optics and aligning of parts, and building practices that are all being figured out for the first time since LEP is a new technology. Some of it could be called a first adopter tax, but there are actually higher costs to the physical parts involved. Secondly, the 500 lumen rating goes a long way in this flashlight. It’s amazing to see how effectively 500 Lumens can be used when it is all focused into one point. So when you hear 500 Lumens, take it with a grain of salt knowing that in practice, it feels MUCH brighter than that.
I have quite a few flashlights of all sorts of shapes and sizes, and compared to my other flashlights the TK30 is a very good size. While it’s thick enough to feel good in the hand the head of the flight is not wide at all, and it is almost in line with the battery tube. This is very impressive considering the reach that this flashlight has since other flashlights can throw a long ways as well, but usually the head of the flashlight has to be very large to accommodate that. The head of this flashlight has a few intricate lenses as well as an obstruction in the middle of the lens which is involved in the process of bouncing the laser off of the phosphor. This obstruction seems like it would cause issues with the beam pattern, but in real world usage you don’t even know it’s there. Once you get past 6-12 inches, the spot in the beam disappears completely.
And speaking of beam pattern, this is the tightest flashlight beam I have ever owned – by far. The upside to this is that the distance it can throw is incredible. The downside is that up close the hot spot is so bright it’s almost unusable. On low settings, the flashlight can be used for close quarters, but on high it’s almost too much to look at. I would say you should consider this flashlight usable beyond 10 feet. But no one buys a LASER flashlight to use it up close anyways, do they?
In my outdoor beam tests, not only did the flashlight reach all the way to my tree line, and my neighbor’s tree line, but it even a crossed a river. I took it down to the river near my home and shown it across to a hotel about 2,200 feet away from me. The side of the building was illuminated perfectly in a way that even my TK35 could not do. The road signs on an interstate bridge over 3000 feet away lit up like it was my headlights driving right underneath them. There is no question that this flashlight on strobe could give anybody a heart attack within the 3000 to 4000 foot range of where you are.
The flashlight also does come with a 5000 MaH USB type C rechargeable battery cell. The light is not rechargeable externally, but it’s not hard to pull the cell out and plug in the USB cable. It’s handy that this comes included with the light, and the runtime on it is very good.
I spent some time with the TK30 strapped to a rifle. After many shots and test fires the flashlight held its own and was no worse for the wear. It illuminated my targets extremely well and had no problem reaching out even to long distance targets.
The search and rescue applications for this light cannot be overlooked either. Long distance, across lakes, even from the air, this flashlight would help pull something out from the dark at any distance your eyes could see at.
My final analysis is that this flashlight is an incredible tool, and I can’t wait to see where the LEP market goes from here. I don’t think you should buy this flashlight if it’s your only light as you will still need something softer for anything up close. But if this flashlight is in your tool kit for search and rescue or your glove box for when you’re searching the fields at night for wild animals, it is undoubtedly worth the price. So don’t let the lumen rating for you, this flashlight can see as far as you can.