I recently had a commission which entailed moving the studio to two locations that included a six-hundred-mile round trip. I knew, for this shoot, I’d be shooting largely with only one light. The client had specified a black and white shoot with a black background and wanted it dark. I asked what locations I’d be shooting in and one was a large warehouse and the other, a common entrance hallway. “Would I have electric points in the shoot area,” I asked … always plan for the worse-case scenario.
I have an Elinchrom studio setup that is faultless and I know it inside out … although I knew, for this shoot, that I’d be shooting largely with only one light.
Over the last 18 months or so I have wondered about purchasing battery-powered lighting rather than using speedlites. Yes, you can do a lot with speed lights, however, I needed to replicate the studio look and that involves using my current modifiers.
As my studio strobes are all Elinchrom, the decision was made for me. There is another reason though. I like the modular construction of the Elinchrom gear. My perception is that if monolights fail, then that is it. If a head goes on a Quadra then it’s pop a new head on.
The Quadra Living Light Set comes with a Lead-Gel battery and weighs in at 3kg instead of the 2kg with the lithium-ion battery. This isn’t a big deal, unless you are walking miles with all your gear.
Although, if I went with a c-stand and a large octa-box, I think I’d be employing an assistant.
I got a great deal on the setup and bought the Elinchrom adapter that would allow the use of my existing Elinchrom modifiers with the Quadra unit.
We are all like kids with new toys and getting a box of new gear, is, well, like Christmas.
Elinchrom Quadra Living Light Kit
What’s in the box:
• Quadra Controller with Lead-Gel battery
• Shoulder strap
• Sync cable
• Elinchrom Pro(Standard) Head
Standard Quadra Reflector with diffuser/cover
• 2.5m cable (the lead from controller to head)
• Skyport trigger
I was never going to use this pack with two heads. To me, it seemed pointless. Why? Well, for a start, two standard 2.5m cables don’t get you very far and the two channels, as good as they are, they always proportionate 1/3 from B and 2/3 from A. The power doesn’t run independently of each other on the channels.
I also felt that if I add to the system I’ll buy the ELB400 next, which is the younger brother of the Quadra and has more bells and whistles.
If I buy anything next for this setup, what would it be? Easy – an Action head. The Pro (read standard) head has a longer flash duration and isn’t as good at freezing motion. However, come the day that Elinchrom release a Fuji HS (High Speed) trigger this head can be used for High Sync. I could go and get two Cactus V6ii triggers and get High Sync now but I’d rather wait. The Action head has a very short duration and is therefore suited for use in action shots and, because of its short duration, it won’t work with High Sync.
How easy is it to use? Blindingly simple. Charge the unit fully after inserting the twenty-amp fuse. Those who have replaced a fuse in a car will instantly recognise it. Put the lead into the back of the head and the other end into the A or B channel socket and switch on. The power can be increased or decreased, either via the trigger or on the control unit. The head doesn’t have any controls on it and it isn’t much bigger than a speedlite. Think windy days and monolight’s heavy head with a large modifier. I’d put money on the Quadra head surviving a fall. The adapter brings it into its own.
I used it on location with a Bessel Octa-box and it was as sturdy as you like.
Performance and colour were great, although this was a black and white shoot for the client. Recycle times were great. The Skyport triggers I found a bit temperamental, if I’m honest. However, I have plenty of them, so switch them out if they mess around.
I’m happy with the unit. It says what it does on the tin and I’d buy another. Well, I’d buy an ELB400 next.
Pricey? I bought my unit from Clifton Cameras in Bristol. The current price is £704.99 and the Elinchrom Quadra Reflector Adapter to EL MK-II, is priced at £83.99, both at the time of writing. I don’t think it is that expensive and if it means I have complete confidence in my kit and the client gets the job they want, then the price has to be paid.
Published in PHOTOSHOOT Magazine – Issue 21