Photography News Issue 53

Photography News | Issue 53 |

21 Interview

ChrisWhittle Profile Elinchrom is a world leader in lighting, with its kit found in many a bag. We asked the company president what to expect next from this innovative brand...

PN: Elinchrom is a well-known lighting brand, but perhaps you could introduce the company to our readers? CW: Elinchrom is based at Lausanne, Switzerland. It started over 50 years ago designing and manufacturing electronic flash equipment for professional and enthusiast photographers, since when it has built a reputation for supplying equipment on which many stake their future, at a very fair price point. How is the lighting business? We had Bowens going to the wall last year so is the market in a perilous state or was that just an unfortunate case? As with all businesses, competition is increasing. Unfortunately, Bowens was a casualty of this because it could not deal with the increasing competition. In one sense this is good, in another it becomes harder to invest the sums required to create the real- time capabilities our customers will need for their futures, at a price to compete with the headline numbers promisedbymanyofthenewcomers. I say headline numbers, because the realities of this equipment when tested or used can be very different. PN tested the Elinchrom ELB 1200 system in a recent issue. We found it a rather lovely, pro-spec unit. Has it been well received? The ELB 1200 is a product on a long burn. Compared directly against its competitors from major brands it offers more of what ‘can-do’ photographers need in almost every respect, and in one case, at half the price. As a first, it also includes serious video functionality with the vast range of Elinchrom flash accessories, a direction in which more photographers are heading. Hence those who have bought it love it, and those who have not have yet to discover why they need it. It is a lovely over-engineered, future-proofed power tool for photographers.


Years in the photo industry? In March it will be 44 years. Current location? Leeds, UK. Last picture taken? Yesterday! When youwere younger, what did youwant to bewhen you grewup? The head of a conker business. Or a go-karter… it cost more than a car for my mother so it was a non-starter! Dogs or cats? Dogs. Toast or cereal? Tough... I do a wicked poached egg on toast, but only have time for cereal! Email or phone call? Email – or one-to-one. Time zone variations and workload make email so convenient. One-to-one is essential for a genuine meeting of minds. Contact

Above The new ELB 500 TTL is an exciting portable lighting system that offers TTL and manual flash control.

Has the boom in video capture and the need for continuous lighting helped your business? Video used to be something a videographer did. Now it’s something that everybody needs to do. Social media prioritises video content, stills are often explained with behind-the-scenes video content, and increasingly from Elinchrom this will be done using the same equipment for both stills and video. It is broadening the opportunity for all photographers, and it needs light, so yes it must help our business, but only as it gives oxygen to our customers’ work. Elinchrom’s collaboration with Phottix was announced back in August 2015. What has that relationship done for Elinchrom? Elinchrom could not have resourced the forward on-going compatibility with all the TTL/HSS/Hi-Sync options in the market. Phottix can, leaving us free to think about the things that we are good at. A condition of this was that we had to be willing to create an open system where everything goes – and we are, for the benefit of all. It’s Photokina (major German imaging show) this September so should we expect to see more exciting products from Elinchrom. Photokina is no longer a place to launch new products. It is a very expensive show and I understand that they wish next year to move the exhibition to May, and make it an even more expensive annual event. We will launch anything new at a time to suit us, and that’s no longer driven by Photokina. What’s the next ‘giant leap’ for lighting, do you think? LEDs are coming, but who knows with what?

What do you think is the ELB 1200’s biggest attraction? This is its greatest attraction: not what it can do now, but what it will empower our customers to achieve by offering more than they could have imagined needing before their customer pops the next question, and the answer, with our help, is ‘yes’! Job done. Hot on the heels of the ELB 1200 is the new ELB 500 TTL. Tell us a little about it. How long has it been in development and what do you feel are its key selling points? The ELB 500 TTL is incredibly intuitive to use, offering full asymmetric output, so with 500w/s and two heads, despite being tiny, this configuration provides an amply powered two-head kit that can be used with both Quadra (Q) mount and full-sized Elinchrom accessories. It will complement any existing lighting system in manual control, and, to begin with, Canon and Nikon with full TTL control, including seamless HSS. And as our little extra, it also offers 90 CRI daylight-balanced modelling lamps that can be integrated into both stills and video shoots. What were the key technology obstacles that had to be overcome to get the ELB 500 TTL performing to a level you were happy with? We have often been asked about TTL. In the past, TTL was really not good enough, not because of the technology of the exposure control but the quality of the light. Speedlights often required separate colour and exposure optimisation in the camera, every one was different, and we have seen equipment which, when tested, we could not have offered to our customers. This has at last evolved – we can say that TTL is autofocus

in light and at last Elinchrom has its own TTL solution which will work as well with other speedlights as it will with daylight, both inside and outside of the studio. sync, Elinchrom uses its own Hi-Sync technology where the shutter release and flash burst are very precisely timed for correct flash sync. The ELB 500 TTL uses a longer lasting flash, effectively pulsing, for its high speed sync feature. Can you explain, in layman’s terms, the pros and cons of each and why you took the pulsing option here? Elinchrom has long been known for its emphasis on fashion. But a fast flash duration that will perfectly capture the spirit of the moment is expensive and it’s not something that most IGBT TTL-type flash units are very good at. It has also to be said that if one day we were to see global shutters with perfect flash synchronisation, HSS would be a thing of the past because it offers so little usable flash power at higher shutter speeds, in comparison with a full, fast-flash curve with perfect synchronisation. That said, using Elinchrom’s Hi- Sync system where we use a head with a longer flash duration and synchronise as accurately as we can, will at, say, 1/8000sec offer three to four stops more light than HSS – this is rather useful when competing with bright daylight. With the ELB 500 system we do notneedtooptimisesynchronisation times for perfect results. We also have more power than other HSS systems and full asymmetry. In your eyes, what is the single most exciting feature on the ELB 500 TTL and why? Its power and simplicity, and it will work for everybody. For high-speed flash

The Elinchrom ELB 500 TTL has power, simplicity, and it will work for everybody

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