Nitecore LR12 Flashlight Review

Preface

Nitecore has released a new lantern “lipstick style” light.  This time it’s in the 18650 format.  It was the LA10 before, in AA format.  I never had that light so I went in with no preconceived notions.  This is essentially billed as a dual purpose light; EDC and Lantern.


Official Specs and Features

Versions

There’s only one version of this light.

Price

MSRP is $49.95, and the light is available at NitecoreStore.


Short Review

I said I went into this review with no preconceived notions… that’s not entirely true.  I didn’t expect to like this light, thinking it was a bit of a silly design.  In the end I actually quite like it.  It’s interesting and unusual, and I really like the extension tube diffuser (but for an unusual reason).  I like enough that I’d love to give the LA10 a go!

Long Review

What’s Included

  • Nitecore LR12
  • Lanyard
  • Spare o-ring
  • Manual and paperwork

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Package and Manual

Nitecore’s typical black and yellow package, with specs and a photo of the light.

Here’s a copy of the pdf manual.  Also included in my package was a little quick start guide.
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Build Quality and Disassembly

The LR12 is a nicely built light.  It’s a bit unusual in that the bulk of the body is used to house the retractable diffuser.  That’s all fine and good but it does force certain realities on the UI and usability of the light.  More on that later.
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Here’s the diffuser in the out position. Off, and On.

Of course the diffuser makes a huge difference in length.  It also makes a huge difference in two other things that might not be immediately obvious.  First, the light is noticeably thicker than many other 18650 lights.  Second, the mechanism of the diffuser means that the bezel essentially exposes the diffuser and inside of the tube to dust and dirt, with no real or good way to clean it.

There’s no way to cover these rings on the front, so they’re exposed to dirt and grime.
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The bezel is a retaining ring with divots on the inside which should allow access to the emitter.  The tailcap has a beefy spring and a strong magnet, and the head end is a small brass button.  The threads are thin triangle threads, with a lot of lube.

Size

Officially 106.2 mm x 26.9 mm, and weighing 78.5 g.

Most tube lights are around an inch in diameter.  That’s 25.4mm.  This one is 26.9.  That’s 1.5mm wider, and it’s noticeable.  Shorter than a Convoy S2+, though, which is good.

Retention

The main way to carry this light is with the lanyard.  Or just loose in the pocket, as I carry it.  But mainly, with the lanyard, which attaches through a hole in the tailcap.
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The second way this light can be retained is with the strong magnet in the tailcap.
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There is no pocket clip option for this light.

Power

The LR12 is powered by a single 18650, but also may be powered by two CR123a.  I didn’t find any difference in performance between the two.  Any type 18650 will work fine: protected, unprotected and flat top or button top.  I tested this light with a Nitecore cell, a high drain 3100mAh cell.
Here’s a runtime on Turbo.  The light shut off at 3.19V, which indicates LVP, something I confirmed with my bench power.  The decline from initial output (which is around 1150 lumens to the “30 second reading” (which is what should be published) at around 1100 lumens, to a much steeper decline at 1.5 minutes is fairly slow.  At 1.5 minutes, the light effectively steps down to high.
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User Interface and Operation

This is a twisty light, with no buttons at all.  It’s a little hard to twist, since the main body can’t be grabbed for operation – the main body twists for extending the diffuser.  There are two ~1″ sections at the bottom.  One has knurling, and one is hexagonal shaped.  Hold the hex shaped area, and turn the tailcap to operate the light.  If the light is twisted off and on within 2 seconds, the modes will advance.  If the light isn’t twisted off and on within 2 seconds, the next twist will turn back on to the lowest mode.
So it’s a very simple UI.  If you advance through all the modes, you’ll get Low > Mid > High > Turbo > Beacon.
To be sure, Nitecore’s manual does a good job of describing this.  Better than I did above, so I’ll just paste it here.

Turning the LR12 on within a 2-second interval after it is turned off will switch the light to the next available mode, repeat this process to cycle through “low-mid-high-turbo-beacon”. Note: The LR12 does not have memory function, it will always be turned on at the low output after it has been turned off for more than 2 seconds.

Of course I like that there’s no memory.  And the modes you’d wish to avoid are easy to avoid.  But this does mean there’s no shortcut to…. well anything except low.

Modes

Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime Mode Measured Lux Tailcap Amps
Turbo 1000 1h 968 2.73
High 230 6h 214 0.40
Mid 60 24h 56 0.09
Low 1 900h 6 0.00

LED and Beam

The emitter of choice in the LR12 is a Cree XP-L HD.  The reflector is small and fairly shallow, making a beam with a fair amount of spill.
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The light also has a diffuser, which actually achieves two things.  First of all (and intentionally) the diffuser makes the light into a lantern style light.  Second of all, and more to my preference, the diffuser removes all the spill from the beam profile.  This light has pointed out to me just how much I don’t like spill.  I love the beam profile when the diffuser is out.  This of course, doesn’t change the throw.
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Tint vs BLF-348

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Beamshots, Runtime, and Lux Measurements

Nitecore LR12
Emitter Cree XP-L HD
Emitter Notes V6
Cell 18650
Glamour Shots Beamshots [0.3″, f/8, ISO 100, 5000k]
Runtime Chargetime N/A
LVP? Yes
Claimed Lumens (lm) 1000
Lux (Measured) 247 lux @ 5.524 m
Candela (Calculated) in cd 7537.1
Throw (Calculated) (m) 173.6
Throw (Claimed) (m) 166

Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….

There’s really not anything that compares to this very niche flashlight/lantern combo!

Conclusion

What I like

  • Beam profile when the lantern portion is extended
  • Bests it’s throw rating
  • Nice utility as a lantern
  • Has LVP

What I don’t like

  • Girth
  • Lack of sufficient space to grip for twist action

Up Next

After this review, I think I’m about to break into my personal stash of lights for reviews…. anything you want to see, please let me know!  Sinner, Solarforce, McGizmo Haiku, BLF GT… those are just a few choices.

Notes

  • This light was provided by NitecoreStore for review. I was not paid to write this review.
  • This content originally appeared at zeroair.wordpress.com.  Please visit there for the best experience!
  • Whether or not I have a coupon for this light, I do have a bunch of coupons!!  Have a look at my spreadsheet for those coupons. It’s possible to subscribe and get notifications when the sheet is edited!!

Author: zeroair

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