Elinchrom has been releasing a number of new lights recently, introducing their line of battery Monolights. Battery mononlights are self-contained flashes, meaning no cables or separate battery pack, everything is in the head (or attached). Elinchrom has three versions..the One, Three and Five. The One has 131Ws power at 3.3 pounds, the Three has 261Ws power at 3.6 pounds, the finally the Five has 522Ws and weighs 6.6 pounds.
I’ve traveled the globe using my trusty ELB 500 pack and head system, it works great. But you do need an adapter to attach large softboxes, and sometimes the cables get in the way during a shoot. So I thought I would try one of the new Elinchrom lights, and since I photograph outdoors using big softboxes, I got the Elinchrom Five for the most power. The head is not as big as you might think, and has a simple menu system (especially if you have used other Elinchrom lights). There is a new lock mechanism that firmly attaches even large soft boxes that won’t accidentally release. I’ve used the Five in big winds, and the softbox stayed put. I’ve watched other system lights blow across the salt flats in Vegas!
Two things are really important about this light. First, the Elinchrom Five shoots in TTL mode. You can move the light around, or have your model move around, and the TTL just keeps getting the right exposure. This is really a big advantage for fast moving shoots, people and lights move around a lot. You can easily go into manual mode from TTL with a one button click if you prefer. Second, the Five works in High Speed Sync. This allows me to shoot at shutter speeds faster than 1/250 (sync speed of my Z9). Since I regularly use F1.2 and F1.8 lenses wide open, I generally need to shoot over 1/1000 in daytime conditions.
Here is a great example. Cree and I just returned from Monument Valley, where we were putting the final touches on a workshop we are doing next September. We had a chance to photograph a Navajo model one evening, a truly magical experience. I used an Elichrom Five with a 53 inch octabox. Shooting at F1.2 with a 50mm lens I needed to use 1/5000 of a second to darken the ambient light. Even with the softbox 7 feet away I had enough power at 522 watts to light the model. This was a big deal for me since I wasn’t sure if the Five had enough power in High Speed Sync to use big boxes with lots of daylight. No problems.
Another fantastic thing about this light is the quick recycle time of 1.6 seconds at full power. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for a flash to recycle while your model is putting on a beautiful performance, you don’t want to miss a thing. The Elinchrom Five gets 455 full power flashes. I found I used about 25 percent of the battery after a 1.5 hour shoot with my model.
I have to say I like the monolight style. On Route 66 recently I was using the Five in an indirect 73 inch octabox, it was great not to have any cable or outside battery pack to deal with. And since the wireless transmitter Skyport controls everything from the camera, no need to see the strobe inside the softbox.
The only downside, really more of a caution note, is since the Five is attached to the top of your lightstand, you need to make sure the stand is secure. You don’t want your flash blowing to the ground in big windstorms. This is something all monolights share in common…load up those sandbags. The Elinchrom Five costs $1850, and allows you to use the beautiful sofboxes Elinchrom produces. In my book, you can’t go wrong with Elinchrom flashes, and now that I have one Five, I am already thinking about getting a second one.