Elinchrom Combines Power and Portability in ELB 500 TTL Flash


Boasting the most power ever in a portable TTL light, Elinchrom wants to make some waves with the ELB 500 TTL. This compact battery-powered pack offers up to 500Ws of power while featuring some now-essential functions, like high-speed sync and a built-in radio receiver. Photographers will also appreciate the dual outputs of the pack, letting them connect the extremely lightweight heads, which will easily mount on a bracket on your camera when you are out shooting. This setup is meant to be more versatile and effective than your average speedlight, with multiple times the power, precise controls, and the ability to transform into a studio lighting kit quickly.

Let's start with what most obviously separates this from your usual portable lighting options: the power. The ELB 500 TTL offers 500 Ws of power and features two asymmetrical outputs for exceptional control over each attached flash head. Photographers will enjoy seven stops of power control, from 7.1-500 Ws, and the ability to set the level in precise 1/10-stop increments in manual or 1/3-stop increments in TTL. The pack is equipped with an easy-to-read OLED screen on the top, alongside clear controls, for rapid adjustments during shooting. It also features fast recycle speeds of just two seconds at full power when set to FAST mode or 3.5 seconds in ECO. During shooting, the ELB 500 TTL can be set to either Action or Normal, with flash durations as fast as 1/20,000 of a second and 1/3400 of a second, respectively. One more thing that makes it a better option, compared to more conventional speedlights, is a built-in 14W LED modeling light equivalent to a 50W halogen.

Another distinct advantage of this unit is a built-in Skyport radio receiver, as well as support for Phottix's Odin II protocol. The Elinchrom Skyport system enables wireless TTL and power control when using a supported Skyport Transmitter Pro, which was formerly known as the EL-Skyport Transmitter Plus HS. At launch, Elinchrom has stated compatibility with Canon and Nikon versions of the trigger, though more brands are certainly on the way. When using this transmitter, shooters will be able to control up to four groups of lights over one of 20 channels from up to 656' away. Another critical advantage to using the remote with TTL is added functions like high-speed sync for working at shutter speeds up to 1/8000 of a second. Also, a Manual Lock function lets photographers quickly judge their exposure using TTL and then switch to manual mode to adjust the saved setting. If remotes and TTL aren't your thing, the pack offers a couple of other triggering options, including an optical slave that works at up to 50' indoors, and a 3.5mm sync port.

Elinchrom EL-Skyport Transmitter Plus HS

This pack would be nothing without the new ELB 500 Flash Heads and their exceptionally lightweight and compact design. Each head features a built-in 8' cable for connecting to the pack and weighs just 1.5 lb, meaning it can be mounted easily on a camera flash bracket. The heads also support Elinchrom's Quadra, or Q, accessory mount, enabling direct support of various Practilite softboxes and reflectors. The 8' cables that come with the heads should be plenty for most portable and on-camera uses but, for studio use, there are 16 and 32' extension cables available for added length when needed.

For this to be a completely portable pack, Elinchrom used a Li-ion battery as the power source. This 72 Wh battery is very capable since it is rated to provide up to 400 full-power flashes on a single charge. When set to minimum power, this is dramatically boosted to 28,000 flashes. A useful trick of the ELB 500 TTL is Active Charging, meaning that shooters can charge the battery while shooting. It will also charge to 80% in about 50 minutes. And, with the battery attached, the entire pack weighs just 5.5 lb for just tossing it over your shoulder when you go out and shoot. All these features and functions combine to make this one of the most appealing portable lighting options for professional photographers.

Those looking to pick up the ELB 500 TTL will be offered two main setups, either the To Go Kit or the Dual To Go Kit. The standard one-light kit comes with the ELB 500 TTL Power Pack, a single ELB 500 Flash Head with an 8' cable and protective cap, a Li-Ion Battery, Battery Charger, Sync Cord, the 7" Q-Reflector, the ELB 500 Snappy with shoulder strap, and the ProTec Location Bag. The Dual Kit upgrades this configuration by adding a second ELB 500 Flash Head and a 5" Q-Wide Reflector. Of course, if you like, you can purchase all these items separately as replacements or spares. There are also many other accessories that are compatible, including the 22" Q-Portalite Octa Softbox, the 16 x 16" Q-Portalite Square Softbox, the Q-Reflector Adapter Mk-II, and both 16 and 32' Flash Head Extension Cables. For wireless communication and TTL, users will need to get a supported remote and, at launch, Elinchrom's own Skyport Transmitter Pro for Canon or Nikon are supported. If you are currently a Phottix user, you may be better served by the Phottix Odin II Transmitter, which is compatible, as well.

What do you think about Elinchrom's impressive new portable lighting solution? Let us know in the Comments section, below!

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