Elinchrom Review | ELB 400

Behind The Scenes Shoot

Elinchrom lend me the new ELB to try out. I took it out for a crazy spin and bought one right after!

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 wants the best tools that is available to do the job. Getting too this brand was just like finding a camera or a lens it took many hours behind the computer doing research.

Power
These units pack 400 Watts! When metered, the wattage ranged from 7 watts to max around 425Ws. With this amount power one could over power pretty much any sunlight, nightlight or neighborhood for that matter. Personally I am not a high wattage user. So this is more then enough for me. All you need to know, when you need to fill a 190 cm Octabox, this unit has enough power to do it! and it does this beautifully! The thing that I like the most is the lower end off the watts. 7 watts with a softbox and you’ll be shooting at very shallow depths of fields in de studio. Not only that but Add the ability to keep shooting while its plugged in a power socket!!? and now you have an awesome studio companion!

Small/Light Weight

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!

Because 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 awesome 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 top heavy tripod. So it makes it easier to hold and handle! Well I mean to have an assistant hold and handle it. So you can pretty much man handle this all day without it being too much of a heavy strain. If the unit was top heavy like other brand then add a softbox on top of that weight, I would personally be a bit more worried about the assistants or wind catching it.

I made a video where I show how I Use the ELB as an extra weight on my light stand as well:

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

They put the same OLED display they have in the ELC line. I wrote about that in the ELC blog post. 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 1/3 ratio. Which means. port B is 1/3 the power of port A. I have heard they made the ports push out the same amount of power with the new ELB1200. But for the price the ELB costs I would go for a pack per head.

So I would have a pack per head. But it would still be a nice thing 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.

*UPDATE: They have since updated the skyport and introduced 2 new skyports. The PLUS HS and the Transmitter PLUS. The PLUS HS is a great improvement. With display and everything!

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

Behind The Scenes Shoot

ELB400 with Pro Head & Rotalux Deep Octa 100cm – Canon5d mk2</figcaption

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Elinchrom ELB 400
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