Since I began my somewhat recent venture into studio photography two years ago, I’ve basically been using a starter kit: the Elinchrom D-Lite 4 IT. While these strobes worked wonders for me and I could easily continuing using them for years to come, I felt I come to a point where an upgrade was needed. I had reached the limit in what the D-Lite kit could offer me and they were holding me back… they are afterall a starter kit. Once I began researching, I was instantly overwhelmed with my options; I could leave Elinchrom behind and start investing into a new pro line series (Profoto, Bowens, Bronocolor, etc. etc.) or stay with Elinchrom.
I opted to stay with Elinchrom for the following reasons:
1. They are ‘reasonably’ priced
2. The modifiers they sell are fantastic, top of the line and un-beatable
3. I know the brand and I’ve never had a problem with them
4. They’ve been around long enough that they aren’t going anywhere
5. I’ve already invested in a variety of their modifiers and while I know adapters are available… I’m somewhat of a purest and I’ve only ever found that problems start to arise when introducing 3rd party adapters
The caveat for my decision was the fact that Elinchrom had recently introduced a pro line series: the ELC HD PRO. These heavy duty lights pack a pretty wonderful punch and come with some really great features… some which obviously loose appeal after the ‘test shoot’ and could be likened to the wonderful ‘selective color’ feature that was rampant in the early 2000’s point and shoots… other features however, that bring these strobes into a category completely of their own (for now), making them a dreamy item for any studio photographer.
First up: regular shooting and overall system
Not much to say about this, it works great, just like you would expect. The range is phenomenal, over eight stops of range, and with modifiers and grids, I can get the light down to a 1.4 f-stop in studio OR pop it up to 16 in a matter of seconds… without having to screw on an ND filter and re-doing my white balance (or boost my modeling light).
The OELD screen display and menu system is out of this world, and a huge step forward for the studio strobe. It’s the first of it’s kind and while I know it’s not the last…. (or the best in the not so distant future), I’m blown away at how user friendly these strobes are.
The recycle times are actually insane… no…. seriously, they are insane, even in default mode the strobes recycle lighting quick…. In sequence mode… it’s mind boggling… but that will come later.
Here are a few test images with a 70cm Maxisoft White Beauty Dish and the best model in the world. My wife.
Next up: Strobo Mode
A very cool feature, but could easily go the way of the ‘selective color option’ referenced earlier… if it’s over used or abused. How it works: in one single exposure, the light flashes numerous times, giving a multiple exposure and ‘strobe effect’ to the image. *Best to have a tripod on hand for this one.
The mode itself is very adaptable; you can choose the amount of strobes and the length of the shutter to sync to.
As you will see in the following images, you can choose up to 20 frames in once single exposure or as little as one. The first few images have around 5, then I went up to 20 for the arms dropping and finally 3-4 for the hair dropping shot at the end.
Next up: Delayed Mode
We stayed in the theme of hair dropping for this mode. This is pretty much a glorified second/rear curtain mode. For these shots, I opted to use a Lowel D-Pro (continuous light) for the rear highlight. This way the front stays crisp, while the back/outline/anything that moves… has a much more dreamy quality.
Next up: Strobo Mode on Black background
A black background, and side lighting does wonders for the ‘Strobo Effect’. Pop it into monochrome and you’re in for a treat…
Last up: Sequence Mode
I think this may be the feature I will find most useful and it’s the mode that sold me on these lights. In sequence mode, you can shoot high-speed frames continuously for a rapid-fire effect. The ELC-PRO’s recycle at lighting speed so in motion you can capture 20 consecutive frames… which is a rare quality to find in a studio strobe AND highly useful when capturing movement or hard to time moments of explosion…. AND you can make really awesome GIF’s like this.
In conclusion… these strobes are fantastic. They have fun features to keep your creativity flowing and they deliver solid results when combatting with other pro-line strobes. They are the most user friendly strobes I’ve come in contact with, they’re so easy to use you won’t bat an eyelash busting through all these modes in a single shoot. These strobes will keep you from dropping into the user manual so you can focus on the creation of your images.
This is coming from a photographer in the beginning stages of his career; I don’t consider myself a ‘pro’… I’m continually striving to learn more every day, and the skill’s that I have, come from a ‘try and fail then try again’ system. I read and research at nauseam and I shoot in my DIY studio whenever I can. These lights are purchased and in no way am I affiliated with Elinchrom.