Elinchrom 5 Review


I think my Canon rep put it best when he said that everyone is so afraid of off-camera lighting because they think that high ISO will handle that instead. And if you’re that person, then the Elinchrom 5 isn’t for you. This is a big, girthy, powerful light that in many ways reminds me of the older Profoto B1 lights with cooler LED lights, not as much power, a bigger size, and no frosted frontal area. But it delivers almost as much of everything that those lights do for less than half the price. In truth, the Elinchrom 5 should’ve been here years ago. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great light.

If you’re the type of photographer who needs a ton of power at an affordable price who doesn’t already own Profoto light, then the Elinchrom 5 is truly your best bet right now. It lacks the reliability issues Godox and Flashpoint have. And it’s built far better too. But if you already own Profoto lights, there isn’t much reason to switch over.

I’ve always thought Elinchrom’s rendering of TTL was better when it comes to working with Canon. But still, it can’t deliver the absolute power Profoto does. For most photographers though, that’s absolutely fine.

The Big Picture

The Elinchrom 5 can do pretty much everything you need it to. Need high speed sync? It’s got it done easily. Need to overpower the sun? It does it much better than the Elinchrom One does with a noticeable effect. Need to shoot portraits indoors and blend ambient lighting with massive power output? Well, put the Elinchrom 5 into a seven foot umbrella and get to creating! Indeed, the Elinchrom 5 does the vast majority of what Profoto can do. If he had been launched years earlier, I probably would’ve bought it instead of my Profoto B10. At the price point of around $1,849 you can’t beat it.

For newer photographers, this is seriously the best light you can get your hands on. If you’re more experienced and already have existing lights, then this isn’t necessarily worth switching over for.

Keep this in mind though, it’s huge.

The Elinchrom 5 receives four out of five stars. Want one? Check them out at Adorama.

Pro

  • Quite powerful
  • Think of it as a super powerful speedlight. Somehow or another in most situations, the TTL was flawless.
  • Simple integration into HSS
  • Beautiful light output even without a modifier
  • Insanely affordable for what this can do
  • Easy interface to use and work with.
  • Working with the Elinchrom app is simple to do.

Cons

  • Some misfire issues when the unit goes to sleep. But we’ve had similar problems with Profoto in the past before too.
  • Huge
  • No really, it’s massive
  • A pain to carry around. Make sure you’ve got a rolltop backpack.
  • You have to bring the barebulb protector with you when traveling. It can cause major anxiety otherwise.

Gear Used

Our Elinchrom 5 is a loaner unit provided to us by the company. We tested it with:

Innovations

To be frank, the Elinchrom Five isn’t doing anything innovative. It’s just doing what everything else has done at a more affordable price.

Ergonomics

The Elinchrom five is a pretty large light. It doesn’t look like it from these images, but from the image previously posted, you can get a bit more sense of scale. Like all other more modern Elinchrom lights, you’ve got the logo that lights up and that can change color.

Notice that massive handle on the back. You’re going to surely need to hold it as you use the light and position it. Also notice the wide angle reflector that we attached to the front.

Here’s a look at the back of this light. There are more buttons and the screen isn’t touch capable like it is with the Elinchrom One.

Here’s the battery, that’s detachable. You can charge it via USB-C pretty easily.

The battery also has a nifty power indicator. So if you’ve got more than one, you can quickly see the battery power. The Elinchrom 5 also has active charging, so you can charge the light while using it.

Here’s another view of the screen. You’ll navigate using the buttons and the round knob.

Build Quality

This thing is big! I’m really not kidding about that, the Elinchrom Five is the largest light that I’ve used in many years. I think that part of the big size is due to the fans inside that helps displace heat. And while shooting with this light, they surely were active several times. On top of that, when the modeling light goes on, the fans automatically turn on.

Still, know that this light is huge and despite that, it didn’t suffer from the normal wear and carry of every day work. However, I surely thought a few times that it would fall off my light stand, so make sure that you’ve got a very sturdy one.

I also have to say this: the lack of a frosted dome at the front made me very anxious. The Elinchrom One has that and Profoto lights have it too. It adds security that the bulb will be protected. These days when I see bare bulbs, I get very paranoid. Years ago, I was testing a Phottix light when the light fell and the bulb broke.

If you’re shooting in a location where everything is set down very securely, then you’ll be fine. But any experienced photographer shooting on location knows that light stands can fall pretty easily.

Ease of Use

Unlike the Elinchrom One, the Elinchrom Five doesn’t have a touchscreen interface. Instead, it feels older but still pretty straightforward to use. There were times that I was looking at the modeling light setting and wanted to modify it, but I couldn’t though. A problem like that would’ve been much easier to fix with the Elinchrom One.

However, most of what you need to and want to do can be done using the Elinchrom Skyport transmitters. And with some time, you can figure it out.

In TTL mode, you can bring the flash out and immediately just start shooting. In fact, that’s pretty much what we did. I probably shot only a few pops in my office before taking it out for testing. Indeed, it worked perfectly fine right out of the box. Granted, I’m an experienced photographer that uses Elinchrom lights every month.

Basic commands like exposure compensation, TTL changes, syncing, and other things worked flawlessly. Feature light high speed sync happened without any hesitation. And best of all, it msotly felt like an insanely powerful speedlight—which is something Profoto can’t do.

What’s also really nice is the fact that the light charges via USB. Granted, you’ll be taking the battery out of the light to do that. But it’s a nice addition. It’s a Lithium Ion battery, and some buildings don’t allow you to have one because they can explode. So keep that in mind for sure.

Like most other lights, the modeling light can also change color. Beyond that, there’s built-in bluetooth for it to work with your phone’s Elinchrom Studio app.

Image Quality

Now we get to the important part: the quality of the light. Most of the time using this light, I shot with it in a massive umbrella. Umbrillas to me are just the easiest way to make light look good without narrowing exactly where it goes. They’re fun, and they’re literally my favorite modifier. But at times, I needed to get rid of the umbrella. For one shoot, I was on a rooftop and didn’t have the right amount of security to keep the light from falling. I’ve had lights with umbrellas fall on my head and cause me to go get staples as a result of problems like this. So instead, I opted to just use the light barebulb. And when the settings we modified accordingly, the Elinchrom Five worked flawlessly.

Part of this is due to the TTL and using Canon’s light metering to get the best shot I could. Seriously, the light output was great.

Because the flash duration isn’t as fast as Profoto’s lights though, the images just weren’t as sharp looking at times. But that’s fine, as I ended up lowering the clarity on images and bumping up the sharpness anyway.

Thankfully, the color consistency was pretty on point most of the time. However, my biggest challenge was adjusting on the spot. At one point, I was using the Astoria Boulevard stop as a location and shooting under a ceiling. I flipped the light towards the ceiling and used it like a speedlight. To my surprise, the images that came out looked incredible. I never could’ve done that with Profoto lights; and trust me, I’ve tried.

This, ultimately, is where Elinchrom wins me over: the better exposures and TTL are pretty awesome. But when I need to take manual control over the light and demand more power or a fast flash duration, Elinchrom can’t beat Profoto.

Extra Image Samples

From day one, The Phobographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. They’re not showing what the lens can do. So we have a section in our Extra Image Samples area to show edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.

All of the image samples in this article have received minor editing of some sort.

Who Should Buy the Elinchrom 5?

This is a pretty easy answer. Any photographer that’s become serious about photography in the past five years and that hasn’t bought Profoto lights already should go purchase the Elinchrom Five. Any photographer that wants better TTL performance from a studio strobe should go get the Elinchrom Five. It’s pretty affordable; but also keep in mind how large it is and that you’ll need a big backpack to cater to its massive size.

For the money, the Profoto B10 series of lights are smaller, more powerful, and more capable. But not everyone needs Profoto products.

Tech Specs

The following was taken from Elinchrom’s info sent to the press.

UNIT Energy (Ws/J) 522
F-Stop (1m, 100 ISO, HP Reflector 26 cm (10.2”)) 90.4
F-Stop (2m, 100 ISO, HP Reflector 26 cm (10.2”)) 32.8
Power range (F-Stop) 7
Power range (Ws/J) 7 – 522
Power range display 1/1 to 1/64
Power increments in Manual / TTL mode (F-Stop) 1/10th/3/10th from – 3.0 to +3.0
Flash duration t0.1 min/max power (Normal mode) 1/1800s – 1/200s
Flash duration t0.1 min/max power (Action mode) 1/8080s – 1/250s
Recycling time min/max power 0.01s / 1.6s
Flash mode Manual / TTL / HSS (with Transmitter Pro)
Standard mode Optimized color temperature over the power range
Action mode Faster flash duration over the power range
TTL mode / HSS mode Yes (with Transmitter Pro)
Flash color temperature at max power 6300K (Standard) /6300K (Action) / 5980K (HSS)
Flash color stability over the power range (all modes) ±200 K
Power stability ±0.5%
Auto power dumping Adjusts power settings automatically in real time
Fan cooled Smart Pro Active cooling
Input USB-C
Flash tube (plug-in user replaceable) Article code: 24092
Glass dome transparent Screwed with 3x Torx TX10
Sync voltage 5V (compatible with all cameras)
Sync socket 3.5 mm jack
BATTERY Battery Li-Ion – 82Wh / DC 14.4V
Battery flash quantity min/max power (LED lamp OFF) 14’600 / 450
Battery flash quantity min/max power (LED lamp ON 100%) 6000 / 350
Battery charge status On the battery / unit display and the side logo of the unit
Charging time (with 65W USB-C Wall Charger) Battery plugged in unit 80% – 1h10 100% – 1h35 Battery out of unit 80% – 2h00 100% – 2h35
LED LED modeling lamp modes On/Off, free, proportional, VFC
LED modeling lamp power 26W / 4000 lm / CRI 91-94
LED modeling lamp color temperature Presets from 2700 K to 6500 K
LED run time (LED only, min/max power) 30hours/2h15
RADIO Skyport (built-in) 20 frequency channels, 4 Groups
Skyport distance range (Transmitter Pro, manual mode) Indoor: up to 60 m / Outdoor: up to 200 m
page6image57975328(built-in) Version 4.2 / Compatible Studio Software Win, Android, Mac, iOS
SIZE Accessory mount Elinchrom
Umbrella fitting (Centred umbrella fitting) 7 – 8 mm
Dimensions (with Protective Cap) 26.3 x 16.7 x 28 cm 10.35 x 6.57 x 11.22 inches
Weight (with/without battery) 3.0 kg – 6.6 lbs / 2.4 kg – 5.3 lbs

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