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Elinchrom ONE - In Depth Product Review
by Michael Sewell
Elinchrom ONE Review - Part 4 of 4
Read Part 1 - Photographing Food with the Elinchrom ONE
Read Part 3 - Automotive Shoot - ISO Bracketing with the Elinchrom ONE
The Elinchrom ONE, it's 131Ws in a small, and rather aesthetically pleasing little unit. But is that all there is to it? I mean, 131Ws? It doesn't seem like an awful lot of power to me. I photograph a variety of things including cars, food and portraits. I tend to need more than 131Ws.
As with any equipment I'm asked to review, I make use of it in real-life scenarios. Otherwise known as client shoots. This means I get a good, hand- on experience before I start looking at the specs and manufacturers' blurb. In short, I jump in and see.
I've now used these lights on several shoots, and this article is the formal review and summary. If you've read the previous blogs on their use in the run-up to this article, I have a few further little surprises for you in this review, that certainly got me excited. Read o to find out more!
The Elinchrom ONEs arrived to me as a Dual Kit. What I hadn't realised prior to its arrival, was the kit comes complete with a case. Now, when I've purchased dual kits before, such as the ELB 500 TTL, they also came with a case, specifically the Elinchrom ProTec Location bag. Basically, a large case with a handle and shoulder strap. Great bags, but a little cumbersome and heavy if you have two sets of ELB 500s in there and have to carry them a real distance.
The Elinchrom ONE Dual To Go Set comes with a rather nice, and very applicable Elinchrom ONE Backpack. Bearing in mind these lights are designed to go places, what better way to get them there? Most of my location work tends to be accessible by car, so my ELB 500s in their ProTec Location bag didn't really throw up any kind of issue. Well, not until my wife, Helen started her location work with dancers, and we were having to drag kit into all sorts of strange, and inaccessible places. Having the lights in a backpack suddenly opened up all sorts of possibilities we had previously ruled out, due to the distance required to walk there with the kit. Going forwards, I think I'll use this backpack to carry all my portable lighting gear.
The backpack itself is full of extra pockets and storage areas and can take a laptop or tablet too. The interesting thing is that the Elinchrom ONE lights also come supplied within an Elinchrom ONE Case that slips within the main compartment of the backpack, and each individual light comes with a protective dust cover.
I think these are possibly the most protected lights I've ever come across. Definitely designed to go places!
The heads themselves seem more substantial than I was expecting. To be honest, I think my expectations were based on them being 131Ws of power, and my interpretation as to what that means in terms of build quality when compared with location lights available from other manufacturers.
Elinchrom ONE heads certainly feel solid. The clear glass dome is quite prominent, as is the fairly large LED array at the centre of the bulb. It's 20w dimmable, equating to 120w (Bi-Colour LED, CRI 95, 3,000 lumens).
The display panel on the rear is nice and easy to read, even in sunlight, and you can choose to have a black or white background. The controls are quite minimalist, with only two buttons and a dial. The display panel is touch-sensitive and incredibly easy to get to grips with.
There are some nice touches amongst the menu options too. Choosing to have the logo as the group colour made each head easily identifiable at a glance, rather than having to go and check.
I've often found things such as touch screens to be quite nice to use, but they didn't really speed up the operating of a unit. However, I found the Elinchrom ONEs to be much quicker with the touch screen. The buttons and dial are reminiscent of the ELB 500 interface, so will suit existing Elinchrom users. Rotate the dial to find your menu item, push the dial to select it and then rotate the dial to adjust the setting. Easy. However, the touch screen on the Elinchrom ONE is a piece of cake and will take no time to get used to.
The above image shows the Elinchrom ONE head and the supplied Elinchrom OCF Adapter. As the ONE comes with an OCF mount as standard, you'll need this adapter to use existing Elinchrom modifiers. When I first handled the adapter, I was a little concerned, as it's a simple rubber over-sleeve, allowing the use of Elinchrom standard light modifiers.
To be honest, I expected movement from the modifiers, especially where I may position a head above the subject. However, my concerns were quickly put to rest during a food shoot I did for Lavender Hotel Group. Take a look at this behind-the scenes-shot, how much did the modifiers move during a full-day shoot? Not so much as a millimetre!
It's important to bear in mind I was using fairly small modifiers on this shoot, and there are a range of small Elinchrom accessories (such as Rotalux Go) or Profoto OCF accessories that can mount directly onto the Elinchrom ONE. For large Elinchrom modifiers you'd be best off using the Elinchrom Profoto V2 Adapter, and for larger Rotalux softboxes pick up a Rotalux Speedring for Profoto. Whichever solution you go for, there is a trade-off in size and weight though.
Talking of weight and size, this is the charger. Seriously, it weighs nothing! Time to charge from empty? About 100 minutes, which is pretty darn good. Mind you, Elinchrom also has a portable Powerbank available, allowing you to charge the unit out on location. Another nice little feature here, you can continue using the heads as they charge.
Elinchrom ONE 131Ws Output Performance
Onto the big question, how did the seemingly small 131Ws power perform in a light output test?
To do this test, I placed the Elinchrom One on a stand, and fitted an Elinchrom 18cm Reflector, via the OCF adapter. I placed a Sekonic light meter at a distance of 40 inches (101.6cm) from the bulb element, not the glass cover. The meter was set to ISO200 and the Elinchrom ONE was set to full power, 4.0 (131Ws). The meter gave me a reading of f22-3.
That result was particularly good and got me thinking back to a recent car shoot where I'd used the ONEs. On that shoot, I'd used the lights further away from the car than I'd have liked, but still got great results from the heads power-wise. At the time the performance was better than expected, but now I know why.
That got me to thinking, how would the ONE compare against a competitor with a similar power output?
I have a Godox AD200 Pro, which I've had excellent results from, and it makes an ideal travelling companion due to the size and the power available. 200Ws is a lot to pack into something not that much bigger than a speedlight.
In this test, I used a Godox S adapter to Elinchrom fit, so I could use the same 18cm reflector I'd used on the Elinchrom ONE. The distance from the light meter to the bulb element was set to the same at 40 inches (101.6cm).
As I had already seen extremely good results with the ONE in bright sunlight, I had been expecting the Elinchrom ONE to be close to the output of the Godox AD200 Pro. What I hadn't foreseen, was the One would clearly outperform the AD200 Pro. I ran the light tests three times, with the same results. At full power, the Elinchrom ONE puts out more light, even though it's two-thirds of a stop less power (on paper).
I had quite looked forward to playing with the Elinchrom ONE. The design intrigued me, although I did have some concerns regarding usability in certain scenarios. I fully expected it to be great indoors with maybe mobile studio work, but a little limited outdoors due to power constraints. Well, you know what they say about making assumptions...
Food shoots? I'd be more than happy with the Elinchrom ONE heads. A bit smaller to pack, and very easy to quickly set up the shoot on-site than my ELB 500 TTL setup.
So far, there hasn't been a single shoot I've taken them on that I struggled for power. I may have adjusted how I've lit the subject (The Lotus above springs to mind), but I've ended up with results that have exceeded my expectations. Couple this with the outstanding size and portability, not to mention the fact it gives 725 full power flashes on a single charge and the Elinchrom ONEs are a great little travel-sized allrounder.
The metered light test has completely stopped me from thinking of the Elinchrom ONE as being “only” 131Ws. The value becomes meaningless when you look at the image results.
We have a destination wedding coming up shortly, and it has already prompted a couple of conversations with the wife regarding revamping our location kit or creating a specific “light n tight” setup. We had looked at a number of setups, which were all fine, to be honest. I'd got the Godox AD200 Pro to try because that seemed to fit our needs perfectly.
And now? It's all up in the air. Well, I thought it was up in the air.
Apparently, we are getting a minimum of three, possibly four Elinchrom ONE.
Helen said so.