Elinchrom Review | ELC 500 – ELC 1000

A review off the Elinchrom ELC 500 & 1000

A while ago I wrote a little intro review blogpost about these units. In it I showed the features and the things i liked and didn’t. Now i’ve owned and used these units over two years. So it was time to come back and write about the experience after really putting the units to the test.


The Design of the ELC 500 & 1000
It’s a lightweight studio compact mono light. Made from a kind of hard plastic with rubber elements in the grip. I’ve heard a couple off people be put off by this. They find the material used for the housing makes the unit feel cheap and breakable. I can honestly say after long real world tests that the material is solid. Ive dropped these ELC’s from tripods and stairs and believe me the housing isn’t the first to go. Even compared to other high-end brands it still comes up top in durability. Besides this I still think it looks like some 80s knight rider story haha sleek and futuristic.

The Dome

The units have a mini glass protection dome which sits over the flash tube. This protects the flash tube. It also keeps my lee filters from touching the flash tube or modeling light directly. A few years ago I asked and hoped that they would make a colored domes. Although they have another frost dome. I haven’t gotten a nice colored or CTO dome yet. What I do find after real world tests. These things break and fall off easily. Ive broken about 3 of these domes and stopped buying and replacing them all together.

OLED Display

OLED text display and menu scroll wheel. This thing has saved me so much time already! Off the bat it displays the power level, power output, channel and frequency your trigger is on AND the flash duration. We’ve metered this and the flash duration is a bit higher then they display on screen. But that’s just Elinchrom giving you that bit off extra they dont advocate in the specs. Being able to see these values right away saves me time in changing setting and finding flash power and the equivalent duration.

Features of the Elinchrom ELC 500 & 1000
There are a few new things Elinchrom put in these units that are pretty amazing and they’ve done this for all the new units after the ELC.

Low flash power
Before getting my first big wattage studio strobe I was shooting with speedlights. The thing ive liked most about these was the possibility to power them all the way down and shoot at f1.4 or f2.0. This creates a nice shallow depth of field you can start using creatively. With these unites, you can dial them all the way down to 8 watts. And thats pretty amazing for a 1000 watt compact flash.

Shot with ELC1000 on lowest power with a 175cm Octabox camera right

The recycle time is insane!
At full power I think they say it’s like 0,5s on the ELC 500watt unit and 1,2s on the 1000 watt unit. I haven’t held a clock too it, but I have clicked as fast as I could without going over my camera sync speed and it kept up!! This is also very awesome in a workshop or demo setting, where I hand out triggers so photographers can shoot alongside me. These unites know how to keep up! This also means you’re able to freeze moving and splashing water AND go for multiple shots fast, without having to wait on the recycle time/ready beep.
The Flash duration goes up to 1/5000 this is what they say in the tech specs. This means you can freeze exploding bottles or someone jumping in the air out of water.

The modeling light is a 300watt beast!
This gives you the ability to use it for video. I’ve noticed the 1000watt unit has a brighter modeling light then the 500 unit. Although the specs say they both have a 300watt bulb, I seriously have gotten more power in the modeling light from the 1000watt unit. Though I haven’t measured it. Maybe it’s a typo in the specs sheet maybe its my eyes.

Shot with ELC1000 with 100cm Deep Octa using only modelling light

Build-In SkyPort Receiver

All the new Elinchrom units have a build in skyport radio receiver. Which means you dont need an extra triggering system with a transmitter and receiver. All you need is a Elinchrom Skyport Trigger. With this you can also adjust the power from the transmitter and adjust de modelling light. The new Skyport have some extra features as well that are handy even if your not using the Elinchrom Flash system.
Besides these points ive mentioned that really changed the way I look at things.

They also added a few ‘creative features’. In the years of owning these units I’ve seen great things being created with these features. Personally besides using them once or twice to test something out or maybe play a little. They are not part of my normal workflow routine. Im talking about the:

The Sequence Option
This little feature lets you sequence up to 20 units one after the other with all the other featured enabled. So if you had, say, a snowboarder doing a big jump, you could add 3 ELC unites and let them fire in sequence one after the other in full power. So you would freeze the person 3 times in different areas.

The other creative features they added, I know from speedlighting. Being a speedlighter I’ve known the strobe effect and rear-curtain sync on my small flashes for a while. Now they added these in a studio 500watt & 1000watt flash. Well, not really rear curtain but a delayed function!

The Stroboscopic effect
This allows the flash unit to do bursts of flashes.
The value you set it at is duration and frequency. So for 1 second, I would like 10 flash pops. You could have a golf player stand ready for a big swing. Have him swing and the flash unit would fire 10 flashes in 1 second and you will get 10 different position of the golf club in perfect light in a single photo! Not only that! This unit unlike other brands with the same features does it at almost full capacity of the 1000watt light!

The Delay Function
This is kind of a rear curtain feature. You can tell the flash unit to wait x amount of time before the flash fires. So I could set it to 1second. I could then set my camera to 1.2seconds. A person could light paint for 1sec. then take position, the unit would flash the person in place, my shutter closes and you would have a single picture with light motion and a subject frozen by the flash. Now you can paint with light and create light trails right before the flash pops and your camera shutter closes.

These are the features I love and some of the things I don’t like. All in all. I still think this is one of the best unites when it comes to fast recycle times, color temperature consistency and power! Added bonus that its cheaper then other big brands. And you have the reason why its my goto set. Feel free to leave a comment or ask any question, and I will try and help out :). Here are some images taken with the Elinchrom ELC 1000