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Elinchrom Prolinca 250 - too bright!

James osborne , Nov 14, 2005; 07:30 a.m.

I have just bought 2 second hand Prolinca 250w (elinchrom budget) studio strobes. They work well, except for the fact that they can only be adjusted to full or 1/2 power. I am finding that for a portrait the strobe (with 22" softbox) has to be more than 6ft away to even get f11 on the flashmeter!! At that distance I might as well use a bare bulb, since I am getting horrible specularity on the skin.

Am I missing something really obvious here? I would have expected that a puny 250w strobe running at 125w with a 22" Softbox cutting at least 1 stop would make for a perfect portrait light... other people seem to be using what seem like ridiculously powerful (600w+) lights at 2 feet, are they just dialling them right down?

Anyone overcome this? Bigger softbox, more internal baffles?




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Garry Edwards , Nov 14, 2005; 07:38 a.m.


This is a very common problem. Very little raw power is needed for headshots and the ability to adjust the output of the lighting is IMO far more important than the amount of maximum power. I find, typically, with a medium (4'x3') softbox set very close, and the power dialled down to the minimum of 37J, I get around f13 @100 ISO.

The answer is to use neutral density gels, either over the lamp itself or over the softbox.

Coincidentally, If you go down a few posts to 'Monthly Lighting Project' you'll find it covered there.

Jonathan Brewer , Nov 14, 2005; 09:43 a.m.

One issue is that these strobes are adjustable pretty much only 1 stop, anthother is that @ 6 feet away, your 22" softbox isn't going to do you much good, these other folks you've mentioned are using much bigger softboxes, which suck up more light, and their strobes can be dialed down over a 6 stop range.

My 2400ws Profoto Acute 2 can be dialed down from 2400ws to 37ws, the 22" isn't doing what you want it to do @ 6 feet, buy a large piece of white foamcore, turn your light around/away from the subject and bounce it into the foamcore, you're using this rig like an umbrella, then you've got the distance from the light to the foamcore, and the large area of a board of foamcore to illuminate, doing both of which might possibly knock down your stop down to f8 or less with the foamcore(not the light, which is pointing at the foamcore) @ 6 feet away from the subject.

This is the dialemma with these lights, they cost less but have less features which cause you more work, I know that saying that doesn't do you any good now that you've got them, so try bouncing them into a large sheet of white foamcore as a workaround(keep the softbox on your light when you try this, it'll knock your light down even more).

Jonathan Brewer , Nov 14, 2005; 09:54 a.m.

OMT............knocking down everything to F8 isn't bad if you're using some diffusion on the front of the lens, also when you use the foamcore at 6 feet away from the subject, you can defacto adjust your power by moving the light closer/farther away from the foamcore(don't move the foamcore, move the light).


James osborne , Nov 14, 2005; 11:32 a.m.

OK, thanks for your responses...

I have bought some 0.6 grad ND gel, can I clip it to a Translucent Deflector inside the softbox (will it melt!), or will I have to tape it to the front of the softbox?

My concern with tape is that if I buy strip light, I will have to buy lots and lots of gel to cover the larger softbox.


Garry Edwards , Nov 14, 2005; 11:35 a.m.


It should be safe to place it within the softbox but you need to test it to make sure.

ND (and other) gels are also available in 4'x25' rolls.

James osborne , Nov 14, 2005; 11:45 a.m.

Thanks Garry,

I ended up buying 21" square ND gel from an online DJ supply shop, I can't find ND gel anywhere else in the UK!!! Do you have any suggestions?


Garry Edwards , Nov 14, 2005; 11:49 a.m.


For standard full and half sheets, http://www.srbfilm.co.uk

For rolls, http://www.leefilters.com and go on to their 'nearest supplier' page

Skip Douglas , Nov 14, 2005; 06:53 p.m.

Your problem is why I purchased AlienBees flash units. They can be dialed down 5 full stops from full power. That's 1/32 of full power. I haven't run into a situation yet where they can't be set low enough for me, and they are powerful enough to do some fairly large group photo lighting (such as a big class reunion) with four of them.

Garry Edwards , Nov 14, 2005; 07:04 p.m.


Don't misunderstand me - I'm not in any way critical of your choice, which seems to have a good reputation in its market sector, but there is no single 'right' choice for every situation and every type of photography.

Elinchrom are renowned for their build quality, reliability, fast recycling, consistency of output and consistency of colour as well as their acessory range. Prolinca are their budget range and don't have the wide range of adjustment - a pity - but all the other benefits are there, and as pointed out above there's a workaround to the adjustability issue.

Of course, not everyone needs the same features or the same standards of consistency.

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