Saturday, November 26, 2011

LED Lenser M1 M14 H7 Light Review

LED Lenser M1, M14, and H7 Light Review

I am admittedly a LED light bigot with my favorite brands which everyone has heard of.  When I first saw LED Lenser brand, I thought ohh great yet another premium LED light, but I am the curious type and took the plunge first with one and was so impressed that I bought another, then another LED Lenser light. The LED Lenser lights I picked up were the full sized 4 x AA powered M14, 3 X AAA powered H7 headlamp & single 123A powered M1 micro tac light.


How could a hard core tactical light guy fall for a new “none tactical” brand?  The German Engineered LED Lenser lights deliver unique features including one of the most brilliant bright white lights, focus-able beams, higher then average light output, and long-run times.
LED Lenser’s has several advantages over other lights including AFS (Advanced Focus System), SLT (Smart Light Technology), super premium LEDs, gold plated circuits, aerospace grade aluminum and
anodizing, and perfectly machined bezel.

AFS - Advanced Focus System combines both a lens and reflector into the patented LED Lenser lights.  The LED Lenser AFS provides both the advantages of the reflector’s broad flood light and a lens’ ability to provide a tight focused spot light and everything in between with just the slip of the thumb forward or backward on the bezel. The result is a much tighter and brighter spot light and a more consistent edge to edge flood light. As you can see in the photos below of me lighting the ground about 5 feet in front of me, the same light can provides complete control and functionality of both a very wide flood and narrow beam spot light just by moving the thumb forward.

SLT - Smart Light Technology adds intelligence to some of the LED Lenser lights with choices of operational modes and energy modes accessed by various momentary and full clicks of the tail switch.  The Basic SLT operational modes on the M1 provide additional 15% power and defensive strobe settings, while the Advanced SLT lights provide sets of operational programs grouped into Defense, Basic and Professional modes with different operational intents.  The Advanced SLT Energy Saver and Constant Current modes allow a choice between best battery life or highest light output.
Every manufacturer is working to optimize light efficiency all while maximizing light output, however a great reflector and LED which most companies are focused on will only get you so far.  Operational efficiency on the LED Lenser is increased not only because of top end reflectors, but due to smarter gold plated circuitry and higher grade LEDs which enable LED Lenser to deliver higher output and longer run times than many

The LED Lenser line is solidly build from aircraft aluminum with water resistant o-rings. The M14 and M1 are both build on the same chassis design but scaled to different sizes and of course the H7 is for head mounted lighting duties.

At 6.4” and 12.9oz is The M14 is a belt or home sized flashlight.  The LED Lenser M14’s body is about the diameter of your standard Mag-lite and provides room for the quad-AA battery core. This does make for a larger sized flashlight with some heft; however the function and 210-Lumen output greatly outweigh the size disadvantage if you are not concerned about weight. The M14 comes with a belt clip and lanyard.
Only requiring a single 123A battery the M1 is tiny at only 3.8” and 2.8oz which in additional to its140 lumen focus-able beam makes for one of the most powerful tiny lights available.  One of the things I have grown to love about this little light is that it is a size convenient to carry all the time.

The H7 Headlamp’s compact 1” head adjusts easily for fit regardless of whether your head is bare or capped.  The H7 is a very light weight 4.2oz that you can easily forget about while you are wearing from a comfort and weight perspective. When not in use the H7 can be stored in the neoprene type belt case. 

The most unique features of all the LED Lenser lights are the AFS ability to manually focus the beams from a long reaching spot to very broad flood.  Some of the LED Lenser lights, such as the M14, have a lot of other programming functionality, however it was the focus functionality which sold me on the LED Lenser brand because it adds a huge amount of utility to the lights with a much brighter overall beam. Now when I let my old half-blind dog out for the night I can have a nice big consistently lit yard flooding light, but if I need to see the buck grunting 100+ yards away all I have to do is slip the focus ring forward on any of the LED Lenser lights for a powerful focused spot.
The LED Lenser M1’s features are impressive starting with the ability to manually focus the beam and standard click on/off/momentary tail switch, however the little M1 is also equipped with Basic SLT which also provides a 15% power and defensive strobe. The big appeal to the LED Lenser M1 is that tiny size that could even mount on a keychain, super light weight, and 140 lumen output.  More impressive is that the M1 does
all this running on a single 123A lithium battery with 5 hours low power and 3 hours high power run time.  This 140 Lumen output exceeds many top end tactical lights all with run-times about the same as a light powered by two 123A batteries. From a practicality and survival perspective, I like the fact that this little light is more efficient and provides the same amount of light but only eats batteries at half the rate.  The M1 is a tiny size and has found a daily home slipped into my back pocket next to my wallet.

The H7 Headlamp features the focus-able beam and also has a simple beam intensity/power adjustment on the 3-AAA power box to allow for tuning just enough light and allowing you to extend run-time.  Operation
of the H7 is both fast and convenient with the simple touch of switch right on the headlamp. The H7 headlamp tilts to put the light right where you need it without having to readjust the placement of the headlamp on the head which is handy if you have a mixed lighting need that requires working near the ground, straight forward and overhead. Pair the tilting headlamp function with the ability to adjust output intensity and beam width from a broad flood to narrow spot light and you has a truly versatile head lamp. The power of the H7 is impressive with the ability to range from 2.5-150 Lumens and paired with its hands-free use can really prove  extraordinarily handy versus the other option of mouth mounting your flashlight.  On the lowest power setting of 2.5 Lumens the H7 can run for 63 hours and even on high setting you still end up with 4.5 hours of runtime.
The 210 lumen LED Lenser M14 is the programmable feature loaded light like nothing I have ever owned with a variety of capabilities and modes. The M14 offers three different Defense, Easy, Professional modes to choose from which limit or extend access to the light, dimmer, blink, strobe, and SOS features and increase or decrease the run-times and light outputs.  Honestly it took me a few minutes to figure out all the programming features of the M14 and in the end I selected the straight forward Defense mode.  Where the other modes provide other additional features such as SOS and dimming, the Defensive mode allows a momentary, double click constant on, and defensive strobe feature.  This is the first flashlight I have owned that was programmable. The programmable capabilities are great; however the very bright 200 lumen light output is the most significant feature. The light output is the equivalent to holding a headlight in your hand which can be tuned from a massive flood light to a spot in an instant. From a convenience and survival perspective the ability to run on AA batteries which are available everywhere was another key selling point and the M14 will even run on rechargeable batteries as well.  If the end of the world comes or you are simply on the edge of civilization, chances are 123A batteries will be rare, but you will still be able to find or recharge AA batteries and can still use your M14.
Most tactical high output lights scream military and frankly lack the style or size most urbanites would carry on a daily basis.  The LED Lenser M1 and M14 on the other hand have a cool modern look to them.  If you are looking for a gift-able light, then I would highly recommend the M1 and M14 lights.  The M1 should be on everyone’s gift list and would be just at home in a suit jacket as a purse. With the exception of the headlamps their hand-held lights all come in a very unisex stylish black box that makes a high end statement and will definitely be the gift that gets used.
The LED Lenser lights have surprised me in a very good way with exceptional and surprising run-times and light output both brighter and whiter than most premium flashlights. The light output is very bright and very white when compared to other high end tactical lights.  Cycling through modes can be a little confusing and until I wrote this article I did not even realize the M1 had defensive strobe functionality. LED Lenser has attempted to make the using the SLT technology as easy as possible however unless you consistently use the different modes, you will be consistently asking yourself was that two clicks or three.  LED Lenser has packed significant technology into these quality built lights all while still offering them at a price competitive to other premium tactical lights.   I have noted more than a few times, everyone needs a tactical light with them at all times, for convenience, for security, and for potential survival and I believe LED Lenser are some of the best lights I have owned yet.


LED Lenser

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