Elinchrom ELB 400 Review

BTS Elinchrom ELB

A few weeks ago Elinchrom lend me the new ELB to try out. Let me start by saying, I don’t get paid to talk or review these products. Nor would I want too. I’m a photographer that simply uses the best tools that are available to him. Getting too this brand just like a camera or a lens took many hours behind the computer and many more of trying out everything before choosing the one that fitted me. One of the main reasons this became Elinchrom is the Price/quality. The price they cost and the quality of light and build you get is pretty awesome and their softbox line! Hmm so good! There is a reason you see many photographers with other flash brands use the elinchrom Rotalux and LiteMotiv softbox range.

Power

Let’s start with power. These babies pack 400 Watts. Well at least thats what they are saying on the box. In truth its ranges from 7 to 425 Ws. With this amount power one could blow out any sunlight, nightlight or neighbourhood for that matter. Im not a high wattage user. So this is more than enough for what I do. But regardless of the power I use normally if you want to fill a 190CM octa box you will need all the power you got! In this does it beautifully! The lower end is the part I like the most. 7 watts with a softbox and you’ll be shooting at very shallow depths of fields. Add the ability to keep shooting while its plugged in a power socket and you have an awesome studio  companion.

Now let’s talk about the more interesting stuff!

Small/Light Weight

 

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This thing is small and very light weight. The Elinchrom Quadra series has always been. Very easy to carry. It not only fits in my F-stop Kenti bag, it fitted next to my 2 bodies, lenses and I was still able to take 2 action flash heads and some extra battery packs as well!
I teach photography and shoot around the world, this brings me into different countries and places. Ive travelled with my Kenti bag packed like this, while holding a Deep Octabox with tripod in my hands! I don’t even have to check anything in. I’m in i’m out and have all the gear with me. When in my own city I use the bicycle. And you can guess why this is still handy then.

Elinchrom has always had the small light weight Flash heads in the Quadra line. Really happy they kept those. Seeing other brands going into the “everything in one unit” this makes the unit way way to heavy on a tripod. With the Quadra & ELB you wont have this. So it makes it easier to hold and handle on a tripod! Well I mean to have an assistant hold it pretty much all day without it being too much of a heavy strain. If the unit was heavy on top of the tripod and also have a softbox on it, I personally would be a bit more worried about the assistants and wind catching it while they hold it.

Weather seal

The thing I love (love) the most what i’m not really allowed to say but fuck it! Its the weather sealing. The Elinchrom battery powered line like the Ranger RX, Quadra have “some” weather sealing. but i’ve done something that isn’t allowed and i wouldn’t recommend anyone doing it! While I was shooting the model during a workshop in Spain, it started pouring rain. I kept shooting and the ELB kept firing! after 5 min of the crazy downpour I ran to a small umbrella to hide with the model and left the elb,powered on in the rain! Every now and then I would hit the test fire button on the trigger and see my little baby still going at it. When the rain stopped we ran back out and continued shooting. It didn’t flinch! I had to remove the outside diffuser of the Rotalux Octabox and water came streaming out. Like I said I don’t recommend doing this. But this is the reason why Elinchrom is the adventure/sport photographers go to brand. But not only them. As a fashion/fine art photographer im in the elements a lot!! And dont always have the time or possibility to stop shooting. Or when building and using a rain machine, i’m not grinding my teeth looking at my flash. I just keep going.

Battery

Unless you’re a cowboy run and gun type photographer you won’t be using these at full power the whole time. I brought the unites too every personal and commercial shoot i had, and it was only after shoot nr 3 that I had too recharge. Keep in mind i don’t shoot at full power, but usually at half that. Say 100 watt-200watt range. I was very impressed. Now the recharge! This takes around 90 min. That’s an hour and a half to charge it back up. this is really fast! This means you could basically charge one battery before you can drain another one. And for the ghetto users like me. I can wait 90min and be back at firing away. Perfect for a makeup/ dress change. Although i wouldn’t recommend it on client assignments. On those always have a backup.

Modifiers/Backwards Compatibility

The ELB is Elinchrom so off course every Rotalux or LiteMotiv Elinchrom modifier will fit on this, with a small additional bracket. They updated this bracket as well to be able to hold bigger softboxes. Which is funny because in my previous review of this i talked about hacking my way around it. And now they’ve changed it. Elinchrom also always makes sure things are backwards compatible. So still have some older Quadra batteries? They will work. With less charge off course.

OLED display

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They put the same OLED display they have in the ELC line. I wrote about that in the ELC blog.
To make you understand how intuitive this new OLED display and Menu system is. A workshop attendee that has never touched and Elinchrom device before asked me to adjust the idle timeout of the modelling light. I gave him the unit without any explanation and asked him to do it himself. He did. He didn’t even have to think about it. Took a few seconds! It’s so easy to go to flash setting, adjust light, change setting to 60″ and done. This is such an awesome feature every flash, speedlight or monoblock should have it! Normal menu names and easy navigation, instead of those weird “Custom Function: 12 set to 1” things!

Other Features

It has a lot more little features that are really handy, but I won’t go in depth to explain, but that doesnt make it handy non the less! 🙂 Maybe when Ive played around with them more ill revisit.
– USB socket – this is for future firmware updates
– It has the same Strobo, Delay, Sequence functions the ELC has as well.
– It has a strong modeling light, you could also use for video. I even used it at night once to find some cap I lost in the woods.
– It has the 2 heads. One Action for speed and freezing, it has a faster flash durations. And the other Pro head is more studio, portaits, fashion. But also has the ability to use Hyper-sync when using a Pocket Wizard Control TL.

Things I would still love

I can talk about how much I love this system all day. Its very easy to fall in love with it. It’s small, light weight, it packs power, weather sealing is amazing and being able to use it while its plugged in to a power outlet means its pretty much the only light you will need for studio or outdoor craziness. But!! There are a few things I wish they could change. Even though I know how hard it is and keeping the unit this light weight and sealed. But!

I wish I could adjust the power separately per port. Now port A and B have a 1:2 ratio. Which means. port B is half the power of port A. You cant adjust that separately. The quadra range has always has this. And for the price it costs I would go for a pack per head. So only using one head per power pack. But it would still be a nice feature to have.

Another thing, I hope they are planning to update the Elinchrom Skyport trigger. I love the build-in functionality in all the units. But the trigger it self is getting a bit outdated. There are new features in the unit you cant control with the trigger and you will still need to walk to the unit. Also would be nice to have a display to be able to set everything remotely. You can do this with the Skyport USB wifi device. But I would love to do it from the top of my camera.

Conclusion:
First time battery pack users:
No brainer. When starting out I had speedlights. I still use these to do some strobisting. But at some point I wanted a tad more power and battery capacity to be able to keep shooting on location. Not only this I needed better light modifiers. And where it sits Elinchrom was the perfect price to quality ratio. So if you’re looking into going in location portable lighting you should really check out and consider the ELB/ Quadra range.

Upgraders from the Hybrid Quadra:
ELB compared to the older Ranger Quadra.
– 20% faster recycling than the Quadra Hybrid
– OLED Display
– New flash modes; Strobo, Sequence and Delayed
– The backwards compatibility. Which means your batteries cables and heads will work on this system.
Then we have little things. Things you won’t even notice until you’ve been working with it a few weeks.
– The caps that seal the cable ports now have an easy access soft rubber cover. In the old quadra these are screw caps. So this wins a little time in setup.
– USB input for firmware upgrades.
– Improved battery capacity, 350 full power flashes from one charge
– Battery Rescue Feature, restore your discharged Lithium-ion batteries

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9 thoughts on “Elinchrom ELB 400 Review”

  1. I have to say I was a lucky eyewitness of these shootings… And I got shocked about it, amazing results and great resistance!!

  2. The 400 Ws power, the (proofed) weather seal, the (proofed) capacity of the battery & the friendly price-tag really impressed me…..
    Happy that i was an eyewitness and a small part of this review….
    The ELB400 simply R O C K S, and the images will go there…..

  3. Would be nice, if Eli would upgrade they Skyports and units, to allow TTL, as Profoto B1 does. Would be handy for wedding photographers – then it would be a real king 🙂

    1. hahaha thanks for your message! Yea i would love for them to upgrade it as well. Dunno if i really want TTL. Too me its like the automatic function on my camera. I never use it, because i cant troubleshoot whats going on. If the light will start geussing for me. I wouldnt know whats going on ether. So i rather be in complete manual control. But thats me 🙂

  4. For the love of all that is holy, why oh why does everyone continue to show that OLED panel as if that’s the way it looks in use; it does look like that…., in a DARKENED ROOM. Outside that thing is hardly readable, which wouldn’t be THAT big of an issue if people (elichrom?) were honest about it and stop with this misrepresentation. The unit is nicely built, like the light heads and it’s generally a nice unit, however hopes of a easy readable display fails the expectations that’s being promoted.

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