Photography News Issue 31

Photography News | Issue 31 | absolutephoto.com

42 First tests

ElinchromD-Lite RX 4 Softbox Set £790

Specs

In thebox 2x D-Lite RX4 heads, with 100W lamps, protective cover, 1x Portalite Square 66cm, 1x Portalite Octa 56cm, 1x translucent deflector, 1x EL-Skyport Transmitter Plus, 2x mains leads, 1x sync lead, 2x 88- 235cm lighting stands with carry bag, 1x tube case for two heads Power range 5EV power range, 25-400Ws, adjustable in EV0.1 steps Power supply Mains Minimumflashduration 1/800sec Recycling times 0.35-1.2secs Colour temperature 5500K Cooling Microprocessor controlled fan with thermal cut-out Modifier setting Elinchrom bayonet Modelling lamp E27 100W, proportional, min, max, off Integratedreceiver Transceiver with 7 channels & 4 groups Sync socket 3.5mm jack, 5V sync voltage Hi -Synccompatibility Yes – camera dependent, with Skyport HS EL-Skyport TransmitterPlus Workingrange 200m Power 2x AAs Sync socket 2.5mm jack, 5V sync voltage Dimensions (wxhxd) 5x10.3x3.4cm Weight 0.122kg Contact elinchrom.com, theflashcentre.com Dimensions (wxhxd) RX4 head 14x19x26cm Weight RX4 head 1.5kg

Elinchrom won our Innovation of 2015 Award for its impressive Elinchrom EL-Skyport Plus HS, a trigger that gives Hi-Sync with practical levels of output using its Quadra portable flash system. Now the company has launched another trigger, the EL‑Skyport Transmitter Plus and at the same time has looked at its lighting kit offerings. Here we take a look at the D-Lite RX 4/4 Softbox To Go Set, which includes the new trigger. The D-Lite RX4 series of compact flash heads is aimed at newcomers to studio lighting and offers great value for money. This kit, which contains all you need to shoot professional quality pictures, retails at £790. The heads, which we’ll come back to,andleadsaside,animportantpartof the kit are the two Portalite softboxes, the Square 66cm and the Octa 56cm. Both disassemble to be very portable and take just a few minutes and a modicum of effort to assemble. Front diffuser panels are supplied, but in the kit is a white deflector disc that means you can turn a softbox into a beauty dish. The Octa, which gives lovely round catchlights, is ideal for this approach. As the kit comes with two softboxes and no brollies that also means you don’t get spill kills or basic reflectors. Therefore, if you buy brollies later, you’ll need to invest in spill kills, too. Each RX4 head has a maximum 400Ws output at full power, represented by 6.0on the LEDreadout and is adjustable in EV0.1 steps in default mode – this can be changed in the unit’s advanced features mode. The difference between 6.0 and 5.0 is one f/stop, and 2.0 indicatesminimum output of 25Ws. Power changes can be done with the up/down arrows but also remotely

using the Skyport Plus unit, and auto dumping dissipates spare energy when going from a higher power setting to a lower one. Dumping can take many seconds so you might as well trigger the flashand let it recharge to the lower setting – it’s quicker. To give you some idea of output, I set up one head and used a Gossen flashmeter set to ISO 200. At full power (the 6.0 setting) with the 60cm softbox (front diffuser panel fitted) placed 3m from the subject, the meter read f/16.7 – which equates to f/20. Using the Octa with the white deflector in position, the meter reading was only EV0.2 less. Move the light closer to 2m and full power gives readings of a little more than f/22 so basically there is plenty of power for most portrait situations. For product shooting where your lights might be even closer, full power with the 60cm softbox gave enough light for a meter reading of f/45.7 – your lens probably stops at f/32. The power output control is very effective too. With no movement of light or flashmeter, full power gave a f/16.7 reading, adjusting the power out to 4.0, ie. two stops down, I got a reading of f/8.0.6 so a mere EV0.1 out. Taking the power down another two stops gave a reading of f/4.0.8 – again an EV0.1 variance from the full power reading. That’s admirably consistent and we’re talking variances that aren’t really discernible to the naked eye. Each head has a tungsten ES fit 100Wlamp. This can be turned off, set at full power or set to be proportional to the flash output. Pushing the lamp icon button on the back panel scrolls through the options. You can set Visual Flash Control in advanced features where the modelling lights go off when the flash fires and come back on when the unit is recharged.

Recharging at full power averaged around 1.7secs in my tests. That’s marginally slower than as claimed in the specifications, but it’s still plenty fast enough. With the modelling lamp and flash on full and a softbox fitted, in my tests the cooling fan turned itself on after about 15 minutes and ran for five minutes before switching off. Then 15 minutes later it started again. It’s not noisy so during a studio session becomes accepted background noise. One of the key selling points of this To Go kit is the new EL-Skyport Transmitter Plus. It’s twice the size of the Speed version but that is offset by easier to use buttons, a swivel mount and a working range up to 200m, plus it takes readily available AA cells. Features include four groups, eight groups on normal mode, eight in speed mode for leaf shutter sync and remote power adjustment. Over the review period, the kit performed without missing a beat. It didn’t overheat despite being left running with the modelling bulb on and the flash being regularly fired for several hours at a time. Power was sufficient for home studio shooting and the Skyport Plus trigger proved utterly reliable. There are also plenty of extra features to let you adjust such things as the duration of the recharging confirmation beep and whether you want to adjust power in EV0.1, EV0.5 or EV1 steps. Another important factor for the home studio user or for the photographer on the move is that the two heads fit into one bag and the stands fit into another with the leads, softboxes and trigger spread between the two. The whole packed Softbox To Go Set takes up very little room indeed and carting it around is easy enough. The ‘To Go’ tag is well merited. WC

Above left This good value kit includes two D-Lite RX4 heads, two softboxes and a deflector, a Skyport Transmitter Plus, two stands, leads and two cases. Top The ElinchromD-Lite RX4 heads offer plenty of power and it’s easy to control. Above The Portalite Square 66cm and Octa 56cm softboxes.

Verdict

In the world of studio lighting, £790 for a two-head kit with stands, softboxes and a quality radio flash trigger is very competitive value. And you’re also buying into the Elinchrom lighting system where the range of lighting modifiers is second to none. There are also plenty of third-party options and many brands use Speedring adapters so the same modifier can be attached to Elinchrom, Bowens or Profoto heads with the appropriate adapter. To sum up, the Elinchrom D-Lite RX 4/4 Softbox To Go Set is a very good value lighting kit with enough power and features for many photographers, and topped off nicely with the EL-Skyport Transmitter Plus. Recommended. Pros Lightweight, good power output, two useful modifiers, quality radio trigger, advanced features Cons Nothing significant

Over the review period, the kit performed without missing a beat

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