Elinchrom meets a new dimension in lighting
Photographers play with light, but above all we play with time. Actually for me photography is freezing a unique moment that will never happen again in the exact that same way.
In the studio we basically have two ways to use light. The first one is continuous light, the second is with strobes. You can also use both at the same time or mix them. Supporters of continuous light talk about: What you see is what you get. The strobe supporters say: The power of strobes allows us to create stunning freezing action shots. I’m a supporter of the second group. Don’t get me wrong, I also often work with continuous light, but with continuous light I don’t have the possibility to do a day to night shot with the bright sun, freezing the moment and I cannot play with depth of field (especially creating a deep depth of field) when shooting my medium format camera.
One real disadvantage of strobes is that strobes often have to recharge after every flash, and that can sometimes can take the “flow” out of shoot.
Enter the ELC
Elinchrom strobes were already very fast in comparison with most other brands, but now they introduced one of the fastest strobe in the world. This is a new high end strobe and will catch a lot of attention, not only because of it’s performance, but it will also push photographers to the next level of creativity. It will help you to create pictures which weren’t possible before due to a load of features you will love and never saw in Elinchrom strobes before. Of course there is a lot of information in the manual and on the specsheets, but let me show you what I think are the biggest advantages of these strobes.
A few months ago Elinchrom send me the ELCs to test. It’s really exciting to test photography gadgets so long before their official release. But sometimes it’s also really really hard because, as you can understand, you canot tell anyone and trust me I’m REALLY enthusiastic about the ELCs. And to keep it a secret and only share my experiense with a very small group… believe me it was very very hard. I’m glad we can finally demonstrate the strobes in our workshops, on trade-shows and events.
What is so special about ELC?
Basically the design of the units is like an ordinary Elinchrom strobe. Only the 500 and 1000 watt are in the same housings now. This is easier for transport, and it just looks nicer in the studio when mixing strobes. The major difference however, which will make a lot of photographers very happy, is something that has actually nothing to do with the light itself
We all know this problem, you have to change something in your setup and…. Whoops where was that thingy again…. Is it this button in combination with that button? If you found it, than you have to search between codes like FB, FX, F1, F2 etc. and after that you have a lot more of menu options. To be honest, I love Elinchrom a lot and I work on a daily basis with it, but I need a cheat sheet when I have to change a setting that I don’t use weekly or monthly. Not a big deal of course, but sometimes in a stress full situation it can be…challenging.
Luckely this is a part of history. The new ELC units have a fantastic menu system. No cryptical desciptions, but a very clear display with full phrases and a great menu structure. In one word AMAZING!
In the menu you’ll find, of course the settings for the sky port, modelling lights, beeps etc…. but you’ll find way more than that. You can change the sound signals itself, the speed of recycling, set standby options, use the strobes in series, adjust the delays, adjust the…….. well let me put it this way……and much more.
I hear you think….. “Hey! I heard some settings that I haven’t seen before.” and yes… the ELC strobes can do a lot more than simple flash to freeze the movement. It will fill way too much space to explain everything, but I will show you some basics, which I use very often.
The modelling lamp
“Huh? I thought you are going to talk about the flash, right?” Don’t worry! I will talk about that later, but this part is very important. Nowadays a lot of photographers (including myself) are also filming with their cameras and for this you’ll need continuous light. You can use Ledpanels or Elinchroms scanlights, but that will all cost you extra money. That’s why a lot of photographers use the continuous light of their strobes, but mostly that light is very weak meaning more noise or in other words a bad image quality. The modelling lamps of the ELC strobes really strong, and that’s not only useful for a quick focus lock, but you can now also use it (continuous) for videos, this will mean I will be selling my Elinchrom Scanlights
Dedicated high priced panels would beat them of course, but this (the ELC) is the perfect solution for photographers. Now we don’t need extra budget. And to be able to use all Elinchrom modifiers is a big plus, because for the panels you will need a different set of modifiers, and often they don’t create the nice effects you can get from the Elinchrom accessories.
To freeze a jumping model you’ll need a very fast flash. For me that is a minimum off around 1/2000-2250 sec, but the faster the better. With the ELC you don’t need to worry about this, because they are faster then 1/5000 sec. So you can photograph any motion from the model with razor sharpness.
“How do we use that kind of speed?”
That’s question I hear a lot. With some strobes this is on full power, with other strobes on the lowest power setting. So this means there is variation in strobes. You can use this variation in different ways. For example you can shoot the face on the fastest freezing setting and the feet on a lower speed, and create a really dynamic photo. But how do you figure out where to set them for which speed….. well up until now that has been a matter of experience and luck.
Elinchrom has made it very easy with the ELC series. If you change the power of the strobe in the display you will see that the flash speed will also change. Literally you will now see how fast the strobe will freeze the movement.
High fps shooting
Sometimes it can be really hard to freeze the right moment. It isn’t that hard when shooting one jump…. “1,2,3 and JUMP!”, the difficulty starts to appear in continuous movements, someone who’s dancing, sporting, jumping or even when using a confetti or fog machine etc…
With the older strobes it was possible to time the action but you had to beware of the recycling, wouldn’t it be great to shoot on the full speed of you camera and just let it rip? With the ELCs it’s now possible to do this they recycle so fast that the buffer of a normal camera will probably be the limiting factor. My camera takes 7 pictures in one second. The ELCs on high speed can easily keep up with this. So practically it means that I can shoot a series of 7 photos in 1 second all with strobes. The limitation here is the camera saving data and not the strobe, and that my friends is awesome. This means you can make the perfect shot in 2-3 tries instead of 20-30, for the simple fact you shoot the whole sequence with 7fps and just choose the perfect one, it’s as easy as 1234567
I hear you say: “I want this on full power!”, and that’s the only limitation from the ELC, if you want that really fast speed it will work but not on full power, and although it’s not a real limitation I can imagine that sometimes you want this on full power. And of course the ELC series also have a solution for this.
Strobes in series
What happens if we use full power and want to shoot with a high frame rate?
Let’s say you want to shoot with a camera that can support 14fps and you want to shoot this on full power with the ELCs, sounds impossible right? however it is possible, and that’s another thing that is so incredibly cool about these strobes, you can place them in series in which they are actually firing after each other.
So this means for an example first unit 1 flashes, then unit 2, then 3 and then 1 again.
When you use your creativity, you can also use this for a skater (or another sporter) who moves over a long distance, with one strobe it’s impossible to capture the sporter in every location, so imagine setting up 3 strobes in different positions and let them fire in sequence…. but you will need something else right?
Every strobe (even when you use only one) can use a delay. You can tune this very precisely in the menu in 100 ms, 10ms, or even 1 ms. If you time this correctly you can photograph this accelerating sporter perfectly with several strobes firing in serie with a delay that will mimic the speed of the sporter.
But you can also work really creatively with one strobe to mimic for example the second curtain flash effect. Use for example a shutter speed of 1 sec, the modeling lamps on full power, and set the flash to 950ms. Now you’ll see a blur behind the jumping model. Use an eyecatching color and voila…. Instant art!
When you think: That’s cool, but can I also make 2 or more photo’s in one picture without editting? You can start thinking, because that’s also possible. The ELC units have the option to flash a couple times in a period. For example you can set the stobe to 10 flashes in a second. When you set your shutter speed to1 second and make a picture, you’ll have 10 moments in 1 picture.
In combination with small strobes:
Just like the other Elinchrom strobes you can use the “pre flash” from your system strobes (Like Canon, Nikon, Sony), and make a combination with ELC series.
With all these possibilities it can be tedious to set everything up every time you need it, especially when you want to change mid session, especially when you need to do things quickly. Even though the menu is easy to use, you often have to change a lot of settings, when trying to get the perfect result. You will probably need a notebook to remember all of the settings with the more complicated light setups, now imagine that you use 3-4 strobes…. pfff you will probably loose track very quickly if you’re concentrating on the shoot. Elinchrom knows this, so that’s why they added USER settings: memories of light settings, this way you can switch very quickly between any setup of your strobe.
You can make this very simple:
User 1 is a fast recycle with a beep (loud or not)
User 2 is a slow recycle without noise or a soft beep
but you can also save the most complicated combinations of course, the sky is the limit.
The ELC series is also positive for your electricity bill. You can put the unit in standby, which saves power. This is also handy for strobes hanging on the ceiling, or in other positions where you can’t reach the on/off button very easily.
The huge list of creative possibilities is immense and the combination of the quick handling and stability makes the ELC units really awesome. I think most photographers who want to do something different in their photography, will really like the ELC series.
With the ELC series Elinchrom delivers strobes which gave me a lot of new creative possibilities. These strobes will definitely be embraced by a lot of photographers. It’s a new era in the world of lighting for me.
More on the units on http://www.elinchrom.com/product/ELC-Pro-HD-500.html