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Calumet Elite power packs, Calumet Traveller, Elinchrom Classic packs

Eric Stephenson , Dec 17, 1998; 02:15 p.m.

I am considering the purchase of a Calumet Elite 2400 pack and some of the elite heads? Does anyone have any experience re: the reliability and ease of use of these packs and heads? My other possible choices would be the Elinchrom 3000 classic pack or the Calumet traveller plus 3000A pack and heads. Anyone with experience with these packs and head? I with be using the equipment for a mix of commercial tabletop and people photography with 4X5 and medium format.


Ellis Vener , Dec 17, 1998; 05:14 p.m.

I use Elinchrom monolights and think they are great; rugged, easy to control, great light. I use these with most of the usual forms of light modifiers: umbrellas (note: the EL monoblocks need a thin (7mm) umbrella shaft); Soft boxes (Plume & Chimera); grid spots, and various reflectors.

Back in 1993 I attended the Santa Fe Photo Workshops and we all (class and teacher) found the Travellers a pain in the ass. Another class teacher, Greg Gorman and the class assistants positively loathed the Calumet Travellers. Maybe the Elite system corrects those problems?

I also recommend you look at Profoto Acute (1200 w/s and 2400 w/s versions, the Profoto Acute system is now marketed in the US by Mamiya. The big Profoto 7 units (like those used by Annie Leibowitz and Albert Watson) are still distributed by Profoto.

You might also look at the Dynalite M1000x system.

Philip Greenspun , Dec 17, 1998; 08:50 p.m.

I hate questions like this because I always wonder "how does this loser expect anyone to actually have something interesting to say about something as simple as X?"

Yet oddly enough, I have recently been using some brand-new Calumet 2400 packs that my friend bought. They look beautiful. They have all kinds of advanced features. They have LED readouts. In all of these respects they are better than my absurdly cheap Novatrons.

The Novatron packs outperform the Calumet in only one minor way: they trigger when you trip the shutter of a view camera, click the button of a flash meter, or press the test button on the powerpack. My friend has two Calumets and they are both flaky in exactly the same way.

Dan Brown , Dec 18, 1998; 09:56 a.m.

My experience with flash gear has been limited to a 3-light Novatron set-up that I borrow from a friend a few times a year for portait shots. Novatrons are OK, but the power ratio is pretty limited and you can't fire the lights one at a time an take meter readings of each to "build" the lighting in a scene.

For the last year I have studied just about every brochure and still haven't purchased a lighting set-up because it is so difficult to distinguish which would be better. There isn't much available here on photo.net on the subject, and I think this is because most photographers don't have expereince with a variety opf brands, so you get answers like "I have X and I like it." But that doesn't really help a prospective buyer much.

The pack ahd head groups get a minus rating from me because of my Novatron experience. But I realize some of the high end gear has symetrical/asymetrical settings that might make light control easier. However, wouldn't monolights just solve this problem completely?

I'm rambling, but let me make a few statements from my reseach.

For monolights, the Paul Buff units look like the best value on the market, plenty of power, features and ruggednes, plus a great warranty and the units are lighter than most of the copetition. Reasonable range of accessories. plus Bowens stuff fit them. If I bought today, I would get three of the new UltraZap 800 units (660ws).

Dyna-Light also looks like the class of the field for portable pack & head gear. Compact, rugged, etc.

The Comet 1200 anbd 2400 ultraminiature packs and heads look to be really, really nice, I played with them at Light-Tec in Dallas, but they are really, really expensive.

Speedotron is at some level a de facto standard, I guess it is because they are field proven to take all the abuse the average gaffer can give them. But to me (an amatuer) they look over-priced and over-weight.

If you want to take a step up from the Speedotron gear, for a big system type outfit, Balcar Source looks like the big league of big heavy, rugged professional gear.

Calumet stuff is all rebadged from another source, so why not just buy it from the other source?

I realise this didn't answer your question, thank for reading my rambling

Ellis Vener , Dec 18, 1998; 04:28 p.m.

Novatron: We used to (fifteen years ago) call Novatrons "Novabombs" because of the high # of incidents of people getting shocked by them, of having connectors arc when unplugging heads, even after turning off the unit and hitting the test button a couple of times, and of having heads meltdown when used in softboxes. They have always been among the most efficient of units in terms of light output. Because of my history with them, they are part of the reason I always use radio slaves to trigger big high voltage flash units. Obviously they have improved because they are still in business.

Speedotron: Speedotron is the workhorse of the American photographic industry. Rugged, reasonably priced, versatile,fast recycling, easy to find as rental gear, and did I mention heavy? The newer units the 1205 and the 2405 are much lighter than their bigger studio brothers, but still heavy compared to the competition. The bigger, older designs are evidently built to US military specs so things like capacitors and diodes are easy to find. Very reliable units. Because they are a 900V unit some fashion photographers, mostly in the Chicago area, use modified Profoto PF heads (better light quality, color temp, and UV coating technology on the flash tubes, and reflectors.)

Balcar is also great, but in my experience and by reputation, can be tempermental and fragile. They make a loud pop when they fire. As strobe makers Balcar makes great accessories, and modifiers.

Elinchrom is better and more reasonably priced, especially for monoblocs. I wish the EL monoblocs had infrared remote contol and that the EL 1000 units had user replacable flashtubes. I don't have any direct experience with the classic studio series.

Comet, in my mind, has always been way overpriced. I have never had a good experience with the PMT battery units, but these have been rental units, not new ones.

Dynalite is a very good workhorse alternative to the size of Speedotron and the cost of Comets and Elinchrom. The M2000 pack used to be problematic but that may now be solved.

I don't like the Paul Buff units but this opinion is based on what I feel is his deceptive advertising. He does have a great reputation for service, and the price is good.

My favorite flash equipment is made by Profoto from Sweden. Great light, great ergonomics, bi voltage (auto voltage tracking withthe Pro 5, Pro 6 and Pro 7 variations), and short flash duration. The Acute 1200 and 2400 units are great: only slightly more expensive than dynalite, many NYC pros have switched to Acutes according to Steve Pollitt at Strobesmith (http://strobesmith.com).

Broncolor. Well that is something to think about after you win the lottery or marry an oil heiress.

Carlo Ma. Guerrero , Jan 29, 1999; 01:45 p.m.

I'm not so sure about those units. But please try Hensel Studiotechnik. It's available in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. Check their website at http://www.hensel.de

Good luck.


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