Review: Fenix HM65R Rechargable- Dual Light Magnesium Headlamp
By trade, I am an Online Editor mainly for unscripted television shows and documentaries. One of the shows I work on is Life Below Zero on NatGeo and Disney Plus. Life Below Zero is based in Alaska and focuses on outsiders who carve their own paths in life, not relying heavily on infrastructure and in general other people like us city dwellers. It is very dark during the “Dark Winter” period, typically between November and January where the sun doesn’t completely rise. So having proper lighting is a crucial luxury and headlamps are used a lot. After being an Online Editor on Life Below Zero for many years, I finally realized how useful a high-quality headlamp can be.
I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of Fenix’s best headlamp products: the HM65R. The Fenix HM65R is a rechargable, dual-lamp magnesium headlamp. The HM65R retails for $99.95 from https://www.fenix-store.com/fenix-hm65r-rechargeable-headlamp-1400-lumens/ and includes the Fenix HM65R headlamp, one rechargeable 18650 battery, headband strap, extra grommet, manuals, and usb-c to usb-a charging cable.
Being a computer-nerd, I found myself using the HM65R when fixing computers. Flashlights are usually hard to hold by yourself when fixing a computer but the HM65R headlamp was perfect! Not only can it reach a brightness level of 1400 lumens, but it has a a 60° adjustable spotlight angle. Fenix can achieve such a high brightness level by combining 2 lamps: Spotlight and Floodlight. Each with multiple brightness levels:
Spotlight Mode (Brightness, Runtime, Distance, Intensity):
Low — 50 Lumens, 90 hours, 37 meters, 350 candela
Medium — 130 Lumens, 42 hours, 57 meters, 833 candela
High — 400 Lumens, 22 hours, 101 meters, 2600 candela
Turbo — 1000 Lumens, 4 hours, 163 meters, 6677 candela
Floodlight Mode (Brightness, Runtime, Distance, Intensity):
Low — 8 Lumens, 280 hours, 6 meters, 9 candela
Medium — 130 Lumens, 48 hours, 30 meters, 220 candela
High — 400 Lumens, 20 hours, 55 meters, 762 candela
The HM65R is dust and waterproof down to 6.5' for 30 minutes with the ability to withstand a 2-meter fall. It weights just over 3.4 oz and measures 3.17"x2.17"x1.57" when not mounted in the head strap. Obviously with the head strap it is the size of a fitted baseball hat but with the lamp on the front. In fact, when wearing a hat I put the Fenix HM65R right over the top of it and it stayed in place thanks to the anti-skid coating on the head strap.
Charging the Fenix HM65R took just under 3 hours with the supplied USB-C to USB-A cable and definitely lasted longer than I thought it would. I really like that it came with a USB-C charging port, a lot of my electronics are USB-C compatible so I don’t have to keep a bunch of old cables around. With general use around the house including under the hood of a car, fixing computers where good lighting was scarce, and my 4 year old running around the house with it on — I didn’t have to recharge for a few weeks. Everytime it worked I was shocked and happy I didn’t forget to charge it. A headlamp is one of those things I would forget to charge and when I need it would be flat, but the Fenix HM65R never went flat because there is an indicator light that flashes to remind me it needs to be re-charged.
The color fidelity of the light from the HM65R is great. Colors are shown true to form in what Fenix labels “Neutral White” or 4500K. For comparison, typical daylight is around 5000K. Going lower adds a warmer, more orange cast to it much like a sunset or “Golden Hour” around 3000K and going higher gets “cold” with a more blue-ish tint. 4500K is a great mid-point color that isn’t distractingly “cold” or “warm”. In fact, sometimes I shoot product photography for my wife’s business and found that I can use the Fenix HM65R headlamp as an extra light that I can control very easily if I am shooting in daylight. As an extra tip, if you are a photographer with a lower end camera or a phone — more light will help take the processing power off the camera and allow the camera to take in more natural light instead of compensating with higher noise.
Remarkably, I didn’t find many “problems” with the Fenix HM65R — and trust me, I look for faults. When testing max brightness, I let the headlamp stay on for a good 30 minutes and when I went to turn it off definitely felt some heat on the headlamp — but that is kind of unavoidable. Being an Online Editor, I am tasked with making footage look as good as possible before it goes on TV or the streaming service. One problem I find, is flickering headlamps. Typically, flickering lights are caused by low/bad batteries and/or refresh rates between the lights and the camera mis-matching. And when the flicker is prominent, thick, and rolling through the video — it can be almost impossible to remove without sacrificing pictured quality (it starts to smear and generally become like a water-color painting). When testing the HM65R, I filmed myself using it at night and with different shutter-speeds to see what I could do and I didn’t see any flicker that would need to be fixed. A really great sign for anyone working on a TV show that wants to avoid flicker on camera (serious nerd talk here).
In the end, the Fenix HM65R rechargable headlamp is a steal for $99: https://www.fenix-store.com/fenix-hm65r-rechargeable-headlamp-1400-lumens/. In my ultimate 4-year old child testing it was used on a water slide, dropped on bricks multiple times, and generally not used gently. Fenix has made an amazingly-solid and almost indestructible head lamp that can even pass a 4-year old’s testing! And if you think you will need multiple batteries, Fenix sells a 2-pack of the same batteries as the one included for $49.95: https://www.fenix-store.com/fenix-arb-l18-3500-high-capacity-18650-battery-2-pack/. But if you have 2 non-rechargable CR123 batteries, they can be used instead. The only thing I want from Fenix when purchasing the HM65R headlamp would be a matching flashlight, these things are awesome.