Fenix TA30 Flashlight Goes Camping and Fishing
In the interest of full disclosure, I received the TA30 from Fenix with the agreement that I would write a review based on my experience and use of the light.
I brought the TA30 with me on a 4-day camping and fishing trip with three other people. Of the three of them the first had a fluorescent lantern and a DeWalt 18v light from his tool set, the second thought he might have a light in the boat somewhere, and I don’t think the third had a flashlight.
Being a flashlight nerd I brought along eight other lights in addition to the TA30. I brought 3 headlamps (Zebralight H501, Princeton Tec EOS, Petzl Taktikka XP), three flashlights (Fenix E01, Malkoff MD2 (M60W), Fenix TK20), a lantern (Rayovac Sportsman Extreme), and a HID spotlight (Stanley HID). These other lights made for good comparisons with the TA30.
My review is based on my experience using the TA30 on this camping and fishing trip as well as some testing of the light at home.
Specs and Features (from manufacturer)
Cree Q5 7090 XR-E LED
Three Output Levels and Strobe controlled by Mechanical Ring Switch
Low - 9 lumens, 115 hours
Medium - 60 lumens, 25 hours
High - 225 lumens, 3.5 hours
Strobe - 230 lumens, 7 hours
Dimensions: 7.9”(Length) x 1”(Diameter) x 1.4”(Head) (200mm x 25.4mm x 35mm)
Weight: 7 Ounces (200g) without batteries / 8.875 Ounces (252g) with batteries
Powered by three 3V CR123A batteries (not included)
Constant current circuit to maintain constant brightness (regulated)
Type-III hard-anodized Aluminum
Waterproof to IPX-8 standards
Glass lens with anti-reflective coating
Clicky tailcap switch with momentary-on function (forward clicky)
Included in the Box
In the box with the TA30 there is also a lanyard, two spare o-rings, a replacement rubber switch boot, instructions, warranty card, and a Fenix advertisement. Noticeably absent are the batteries. While it is common for electronics to come “batteries not included” the packaging for the TA30 has a place molded for them in the plastic tray so it seems strange that those spaces are empty. The two spare o-rings are different sizes, but I’m not sure where the larger one goes since the head doesn’t seem to be removable.
The TA30 is turned ON and OFF using the forward clicky tail switch. From OFF, the tail switch can be pressed lightly for momentary ON, or fully clicked for constant ON. To prevent accidental activation of the TA30, you can lock out the tail switch by turning the tailcap slightly to the left (loosening it).
The brightness/mode selections are made by rotating the mechanical ring-switch on the head of the flashlight. There is an audible click and detent you can feel for each of the four positions. Rotating the ring-switch from left to right the positions are low (9 lumens), medium (60 lumens), high (225 lumens), and strobe (230 lumens). The light turns on at the level where the ring-switch was last set. The ring switch has a slight over travel of about ½ click after the lowest level, but will spring back when released
Each of the symbols for the three levels and strobe are clearly etched in white on the selector ring-switch. There is a stationary dimple machined in the head of the flashlight that the chosen level is aligned with. The dimple itself had no etching around it and is difficult to see in a dark environment, but you can easily feel it.
There is no noticeable flicker and the light does not turn off between levels when rotating the ring-switch – the light simply changes to the next level. The ring-switch is a little on the stiff side, but it may wear in over time. Because of the switch stiffness It is possible, but slightly difficult, to change modes one handed.
I generally don’t mind a strobe function on a flashlight, but with the TA30 I find myself turning on strobe by accident more often that I’d like. This has proven to be mildly annoying at times, but paying close attention when rotating the ring switch helps. Increasing the space between the high output level and the strobe would help alleviate this issue.
The strobe is very fast and when I pointed it at the top of some tall trees at our campsite it almost seemed like it was on solid. It reminded me of the fast faint flickering you see when watching an old movie or filmstrip. When used up close however, the strobe is very noticeable.
Three CR123A batteries are the same length as two AA batteries, but the TA30 is still about 1.7inches longer than the two-AA TK20. This added length is most likely because of the space required for the mechanical ring-switch and the associated electronics as well as the extra spring for impact resistance.
For people who use primary cells, three CR123A batteries could get expensive. However, if the runtime on high of 3.5 hours is accurate, that’s a slight improvement over one cell lights with 60 minutes of regulated runtime and two cell lights with 90 minutes of regulated runtime. Plus, with the TA30 you have the ability to use the medium and low settings to extend the runtime even further.
CR123A batteries are occasionally hard to find or expensive in local stores, especially in remote locations. Buying them in bulk through mail order often offers considerable savings. I generally pay about $1.20 per CR123A (US Made) compared to about 32 cents for an AA cell (US Made). The TA30 can use two AA batteries in an emergency, but the high level will be the same brightness as medium and runtime will probably be considerably less on all levels.
The bezel has five rather sharp crenulations. I generally prefer lights with smaller, duller, or preferably no crenulations; however in the case of the TA30 they add to the impact resistance by protecting the lens if the light is dropped. I suppose the crenulations could also be useful for fending off rabid squirrels or persistent carp.
The TA30 will tailstand when turned on, but is not very stable. With the lanyard attached it is even less stable. If the tail switch could be recessed an extra 1mm it would improve the stability a great deal.
The lanyard is a tight fit, but with a little patience it will fit through the hole. There is no clip (the light is too big for that anyway) or other anti-roll device on the light. Using a small split ring through the lanyard hole would both act as an anti-roll device and solve the issue of the tight fitting lanyard, but will prevent tailstanding. No holster is included like with the TK20.
Because of the lack of a holster or clip it was somewhat awkward to keep the light with me at night while hanging out at the campsite. I discovered that it fits nicely in my Nite-Ize Lite Holster Stretch that I use for my MD2 and Surefire lights. This holster also let me swivel the light into a comfortable position when sitting, which is important with such a long light.
The black Type III Hard Anodize finish