82 pdnonline.com DECEMBER 2014
GEAR & TECHNIQUES PRODUCT REVIEWS BY GREG SCOBLETE
ELINCHROM ELC PRO HD 500
Step into the light.
It’s been years in the making, but Elinchrom
has finally refreshed the high-end of its
compact studio flash lineup with the new
ELC Pro HD 500 and 1,000. The ELC serves
as a replacement to the company’s RX series
of flashes and, as the new flagship, brings a
number of significant improvements over its
aging predecessors. We gave the 500-Watt ELC
Pro HD 500 a spin in tandem with Northern
New Jersey-based professional photographer,
director, artist and self-professed gear head
David Patiño ( www.davidpatino.com) to find out
if it was worth the wait.
SHINING A LIGHT
Elinchrom has substantially reworked the guts
of its flagship strobe with a new charge circuit and
capacitors that endow the unit with short flash durations of
both high and low power settings. You’ll enjoy minimum power flash
durations of 1/2940 second and maximum power durations at 1/2330
second. The fastest duration you’ll achieve is around the middle
power range when the flash duration hits 1/5000 sec. Recycle times
are as low as . 6 seconds.
The Pro HD 500 also brings three creative capabilities to the table.
First, the speed has been ramped up so that the flash can fire at 20
frames per second at the minimum power setting for a stroboscopic
effect. We found it easy to set up in the menu, and you’ll have the
ability to choose a frame
rate between 1 and 20 in
as well as a duration
window between 0.5 and
There’s also a
sequence mode that
works in tandem with
up to 20 ELC units
to fire off flashes
effect, we should add,
that would cost you
about $25,000 in ELC
flashes to actually pull
off. Finally, there’s a
delayed mode, which
provides the option for
first or second curtain sync
for streaking light effects.
Beyond the new modes, the ELC
Pro HD 500 features a photocell
for syncing with speedlights and
a built-in, 8-channel Skyport
wireless receiver. There’s a 3.5mm sync socket for attaching third-
party triggers, but you’ll need to use Elinchrom’s Skyport transmitter
(sold separately) if you want to update the unit’s firmware, which is
unfortunate. It’s natural for companies to try and shoehorn you into
their accessories but we don’t believe a device’s firmware should be
held hostage to additional purchases.
For this test, we stuck with Patiño’s Pocket Wizard, taking a series
of shots with the flash set to full power and a fast recycle. Output
was measured with a light meter from 6 feet away. The results were
consistent, flash-to-flash, as recorded by the meter. When we took a
series of test portraits with a human model and a color test chart with
the flash at 50 percent, we again found consistent color reproduction
and skin tones across all of our images. Patiño was definitely impressed,
particularly with how quickly the flash recycled.
Beyond its nearly “always-on” performance, the other thing that was
immediately apparent during our time with the ELC Pro HD 500 was
that Elinchrom has definitely nailed the menu system. It didn’t take
Patiño long at all before he was up-and-shooting (sans manual), noting
approvingly that the menu system proved exceedingly simple to master.
The flash is operated via six buttons plus a dial in the center that
doubles as a test switch to trigger the flash. The wheel also incorporates
a status LED so you can tell when the unit is ready to fire or to alert you
to trouble. It’s the first Elinchrom flash to incorporate an OLED display
for navigating menu functions and while the display itself isn’t large—
roughly 1. 5 inches—the text is bright, crisp and easy to read. Indeed, all
the light’s settings are visible at once in the menu and Patiño particularly
liked that the flash duration setting was displayed at all times.
The flash can save up to four user-programmable modes, which are
easily accessible through a dedicated button on the back of the flash.
You can customize everything: flash power settings, the audible beeps
The 500-Watt Elinchcrom
ELC Pro HD boasts three new
creative modes and ultra-fast
From our time with the unit we can say that
Elinchcrom has definitely nailed the menu
system, which proved very intuitive.