FIVE - Elinchrom's Evolution in Battery Flash
by Simon Burfoot
Evolution in flash lighting technology
I remember being at an Elinchrom agents meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, a good few years ago now and seeing some drawings of a new flash unit called the ELC TTL (fun fact - ELC stands for Elinchrom Compact & ELB stands for Elinchrom Battery if you didn’t already know!). The drawings I saw were very space-age and a real leap forward in a more modern-looking unit. Fast forward a couple of years and the drawings became a reality in the ELC 125 & 500 TTL units.
In days gone by, Elinchrom were never known for blisteringly fast flash durations, instead choosing supreme colour & exposure consistency using their full flash curve technology.
The ELC TTL was the first studio strobe to move away from this and incorporate a tweaked and updated version of IGBT (insulated-gate bipolar transistor), which is the technology flashguns or speedlites use, along with some other manufacturers that produce compact or battery units with fast flash durations.
Shot with the Elinchrom FIVE
Mastering colour consistency & flash duration
With any unit that provides a fast flash duration, there will usually be a trade-off in consistency. However, with the FIVE, Elinchrom have perfected this science, resulting in an excellent colour consistency of only ± 200 k. Flash colour temperature at max power is 5600 K (Standard) / 5900 K (Action) / 5500 K (HSS) and impressive power stability at ±0.5 %. How important that is to you will depend greatly on what and how you shoot.
IGBT technology also found its way into the Elinchrom ELB 500 TTL, a portable battery system that uses cables from the pack to small heads in the same way as its predecessor, the Quadra or ELB400. Where these systems required users to choose one of three head options (standard flash duration, fast flash duration and high-sync), the ELB 500 TTL using IGBT circuitry means the photographer can now use one head to do everything along with the added benefit of TTL.
Shot with the Elinchrom FIVE
Elinchrom FIVE - the best in battery strobe technology
Fast forward to the present day, where the circuitry has not only been used in the ELC & ELB TTL units but has also found its way into the popular Elinchrom ONE & FIVE battery onboard flash heads.
The much anticipated Einchrom FIVE utilises a very similar ELC 500 TTL housing with the addition of its removable battery conveniently fitted underneath the unit, which provides a very good level of weatherproofing.
The menu, which is very similar to the mains-powered version, is very simple to use and is almost a stripped-out version giving the user as much control over the system as they would need without overcomplicating it.
Wireless triggering and remote control of the power, modelling lamp, TTL & HSS are available through the Skyport Pro Transmitter. Newer camera models are all supported by firmware updates available for the ELC, ELB & Skyport, using the free Elinchrom Studio app and the built-in Bluetooth Bridge, which provides photographers with a level of comfort for future-proofing their system.
I was looking forward to the launch of the FIVE for my environmental shoots, and when it finally arrived, I wasn’t disappointed. The build quality is superb, and it feels like it will stand up to a lot of heavy use in all conditions. The extra power you gain over the ONE is helpful when you’re outdoors fighting against the sun, especially where you want to reduce the ambient light by utilising the High-Speed Sync setting. It allows the user to sync up to 1/8000s, and the 1.6s recycle time (from full power) is plenty quick enough for a fast past photo shoot.
A great feature incorporated into the FIVE and the ONE is the light-up logo on the side of the head. It will change colour depending on what group the head is set to, making identifying the heads amid a busy photoshoot incredibly simple.
The technical stuff
The Elinchrom FIVE has a 7 F-Stop power range (7 – 522Ws) adjustable in 1/10th F-Stop, 3/10th F-Stop or Full F-Stop increments. TTL mode provides power increments from -3.0 to +3.0. The best flash duration at t0.1 min/max power in Action mode is 1/8080s – 1/250s.
It uses a Li-Ion 82Wh DC 14.4V battery that can deliver 6000 minimum power and 350 maximum power shots while simultaneously running the LED lamp at 100%. When the LED is off, that extends to a whopping 14’600/450 flashes from one charge. The charging duration of the battery with the 65W USB-C Wall Charger is 1 hour 35 mins to 100% with the battery plugged into the unit and 2 hours 35 mins with the battery out of the unit.
With Active Charging, you can connect the FIVE to any USB-C power source (including a power bank) and continue shooting while charging, regardless of the battery’s power level.
The modelling lamp is a 26W, 4000 lumens, CRI 95 LED. Bi-colour from 2700K to 6500K and a runtime of just over 2 hours at maximum power without the flash being fired, means this LED makes a great little video light. It also has four user modes ON/OFF, Free, Proportional, and VFC (Visual Flash Control).
Weighing in at 3kg (6.6 lbs) with the battery, you can certainly tell its build quality and gives you the peace of mind, backed up with its 3-year warranty, that it will be robust enough to deal with whatever you throw at it.
Cables vs no cables?
In my everyday life, I, like many others, prefer to be a no-cables type of guy. The FIVE, along with its smaller brother, the ONE, are both great options in a studio environment, especially if you tend to shoot a lot of families with small children running around.
For location shoots, there are 2 ways of looking at it. In my 38 years of shooting in and out of the studio, I have learnt that the best indoors isn’t necessarily the best outdoors. On a breezy day, I would much rather use a lightweight cabled ELB 500 TTL head and the pack as low as I can get it on the stand as it adds ballast and becomes a lot more stable.
If you put a battery compact on a high stand, all the weight of the unit and modifier make it top-heavy and will very easily be blown over. On a non-breezy day or with an assistant on hand, I would opt for the simplicity of the cable-free FIVE.
Finding the right battery flash for you!
We all have different needs depending on our shooting style and specific job. The fact that there are now three extremely viable battery options from Elinchrom, all backed up by a 3-year warranty, ensures there’s a kit out there for you. If you are looking for a solution, see our full range in your local store or, better still, hire it, play with it and decide what works best for you!
Shot with the Elinchrom FIVE
Trade up to Elinchrom's Best!
Trade up to Elinchrom's best-ever battery-powered studio flash, the Elinchrom FIVE, by part-exchanging your old Elinchrom portable flash today! Receive up to £650 discount on an Elinchrom FIVE head or kit when you trade in your used ELB 500 TTL or ELB 400 system.
To register your interest in a trade up, please click the banner below.