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Elinchrom FIVE Review Part 2 - Lighting Workshop

Elinchrom FIVE Review Part 2 - Lighting Workshop

by Michael Sewell

Elinchrom FIVE Review - Part 2 of 3

In the second part of my Elinchrom FIVE review I'll be taking you through some simple portrait and food lighting setups, as demonstrated during the  Elinchrom FIVE launch workshops we held at TFC.

For those of you that haven't read the first part of my Elinchrom FIVE review, you can read it HERE. In part one, I give my initial impressions of the FIVE, go through some of the features and menu navigation, and show you how to do a simple three-head setup for lighting motorcycles. 

For this review, let's start with a cornerstone of studio lighting, portraits. Before I do that though I'd just like to say a quick thank you for all our course attendees for allowing me to use them as models on the day!

Lighting Portraits with the Elinchrom FIVE

When lighting my first portrait with the Elinchrom FIVE, I started with a very simple single light setup. I had an Elinchrom FIVE placed about seven feet high, angled downward and firing through a Phottix Raja 80cm Deep Octa Softbox. The output on the FIVE was set to 3.0 (equivalent to 50Ws). 

This setup was to demonstrate one of the techniques for mitigating the reflection of the lights within spectacles. The angle of incidence would mean the light striking the glasses would reflect well below the frame, and therefore not show the modifier as a white patch on the lenses. The camera settings were 1/320th sec ISO 200 and f8 on an Olympus E-M1 mkII. We made very subtle use of a reflector panel, so as not to lose detail under his chin, and also lift the far side of his face a little.

I then had a question asked, regarding hats, and whether a single light and reflector would cope to create a usable image. This gentleman wore a baseball cap, and with the light at the same setting and using the same modifier, a reflector was held lower frame left, bouncing the light under his chin and also under the peak of the baseball cap. It also provided fill to the frame left side of his face. If you look carefully, you can make out the position of the reflector and key light from the catchlights in his eyes. Camera settings, 1/250th sec ISO 200 and f8.

In this image I substituted the reflector for a Rotalux Go Recta softbox, fitted to a second Elinchrom FIVE. In doing so this allowed me to create a basic clamshell lighting setup, with a high key light angled down towards our subject, and a low fill light angled up. This provides fill in a very controlled manner and can give a very flattering look for the more mature client.

The key light is the same folding Phottix octa softbox set to an output of 2.0 (equivalent to 25Ws), as it's a little nearer our subject. The fill light is set to an output of 1.0 (equivalent to 12Ws).

The image really highlights the benefit of the fill light in our clamshell setup. The harsh shadows accentuate any wrinkles or imperfections in the skin, ageing the model, which we generally want to avoid.

After a discussion regarding typical quick setups, I was asked for something a little more creative. I have discussed the history and uses of the Chiaroscuro setup before (for more detail, read the blog HERE), and chose to create an example for the workshop attendees.

For this portrait, I made use of two Elinchrom FIVEs, with each firing through a Phottix Raja 30cm x 140cm softbox with a grid. The key light is frame right, and pretty much alongside me, firing at an output of 4.0 (100Ws). The background is lit by the second head and strip softbox, standing fairly close to the background at around three feet and just out of frame. It was firing at an output of 3.0 (50Ws). Camera settings were 1/250th sec ISO 100 and f10.

Lighting Food with the Elinchrom FIVE

The last section of our FIVE workshop was based around food photography, and we were provided with the obligatory slice of cheesecake. As you do.

The key light is immediate frame left and alongside me. The Elinchrom FIVE was firing through a Rotalux 70cm Deep Octabox at an output of 1.5 (18Ws). It was about head height, and I was working beneath it. The accent light is the second FIVE, firing through an 18cm standard reflector, with a 30° grid fitted, helping to reduce the possibility of flare. It was at a similar height to the camera and aimed downward towards the food. The output was set to minimum at 0.1 (7Ws) and the angle of incidence ensured that the light would reflect towards the camera, creating the specular highlights that would give it more texture and also make the dish appealing. Camera settings were 1/125th sec ISO 200 and f5.6.

We also shot some macrons using an identical lighting setup.


Due to the timing of kit availability, I walked into the lighting workshops with next to no hands-on experience With the FIVE. I'd had a read of the manual, turned it on and been through the documentation. In use though, it was very simple and reassuring, in part because there are no cables to worry about.

The mount is very robust and will hold large or heavy modifiers without any concern. In particular, I liked the change to the modifier lock, which is now a simple switch, similar to the Elinchrom D-Lite range. The quality of light, consistency and build quality were all up to the very high standard I've come to expect with Elinchrom flash heads.

I felt instantly at home with the FIVE, and it dropped into my workflow effortlessly. I initially had concerns the USB-C cable would possibly drop from the head during charging, but it pushes home very securely, and the included velcro strap means it really can't come out, even if you give it a less than gentle tug.

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