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Profoto vs. Elinchrom

Richard Hatch , Sep 21, 2011; 11:32 p.m.

I'm getting to the point where I want to purchase a two strobe system like the Elinchrom Quadra A Head Set:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=wishListDetail.jsp&A=details&Q=&sku=632657&is=REG
Before I jump right in and go that route I'd like to ask those of you who have used both Elinchrom and Profoto to offer up any opinions you might have. Are there strong reasons to go with Profoto? (D1 500/500)
I know this is not a direct comparison but I'm open.
Thanks,
Richard

Responses

Marc Williams , Sep 22, 2011; 06:47 a.m.

My entire studio is Profoto equipped. I also use a Quadra for some location work where 400 w/s is adequate for the job. In fact, I have two Quadra units, a third battery, and 5 heads.

You are absolutely correct, it is not a direct comparison at all. It is apples and oranges.

One is a highly mobile battery powered location tool, and the other is not. One tops out at 400w/s and the two heads can only produce asymmetrical 2/3 to 1/3 distribution ... where the D1s can deliver 1000w/s, and be any distribution you want. This is the reason I have two Quadras ... so when needed, I can plug one head into each pack and distribute levels anyway I wish for up to a total of 800 w/s.

If you want to go mobile with the D1s you'll need a pure sine wave battery inverter like the Profoto BatPac. If you are working alone, this two mono head/battery set-up can be a handful ... way more to lug than the Quadra. However, if you have the time or some help, it is far more versatile and powerful. If there is power available the Profoto D1 kit wins hands down.

To set the two D1s far apart from one another using the BatPac battery, you'll only need a standard household extension cord. To set the two Quadra heads far apart requires up to a 32' head cord ... and a longer head cord stunts the output and reduces the level of light from that head.

Be aware that the Quadra only takes a limited amount of light modifiers directly on the tiny strobe head ... there is an adapter to allow use of standard EL modifiers. However, the demure Quadra head can only take so much torque.

IMO and direct experience with using Elinchrom for many years before finally switching to Profoto as my main lighting system, is that the modifier mount on Elinchrom is it's weakest feature ... in fact I think it is the worst one out there. Profoto is miles ahead, and is far more secure ... plus, the Profoto method of mounting modifiers is not fixed ... most any modifier can slid back and forth on the body of the head to create different degrees of focus and intensity.

If a main consideration is mobility where there is no power, look at the 1200 w/s Hensel Porty Lithium pack. Small, but packs a more punch than either of your choices. This new Hensel comes with radio receivers for Hensel's Strobe Wizard, FreeMask, and the same Profoto AIR triggers used in the D1s. Hensel also offers an AC mains adapter so the Porty can be used in the studio like any other studio pack. This pack with a pair of D1s could be a dandy studio kit.

The Hensel is expensive but you get what you pay for when it comes to lighting. To equal the output with the Quadra would require 3 units, and to make the D1 mobile would cost more for the battery inverter. You do the math.

Lastly, there is the radio trigger systems for these choices, the Profoto AIR allows far more distance compared to the Hensel Strobe Wizard and Elinchrom Skyport.

Richard Hatch , Sep 22, 2011; 07:24 a.m.

Thanks Marc... this is the type of discussion I was interested in.
Richard

Marc Williams , Sep 22, 2011; 08:32 a.m.

You are welcome Richard.

John A , Sep 22, 2011; 09:42 a.m.

I don't know your use for the systems, but have you considered other alternatives? ProPhoto and Elinchrom are great units but there are more flexible and less expensive systems out there.

I have worked in advertising for over 20 years and have Hensel, Speedotron and have used Elinchrom, Broncolor but over 99% of the time use my White Lightening mono heads.

I haven't tried them yet, but the new Einstein units they are producing look like a great system. Each head is 640w/s and can be adjusted over a 9.5 stop range (largest range I have ever seen) wirelessly from the camera--each head has a receiver in it. Although it is a plug in system, with the Vagabond battery it becomes totally portable (I have the Hensel Porty 1200w/s system and if they had had the Vagabond when I got this, I would have saved about $2900 and been more than satisfied!)

A two head Einstein set up with the remote command unit (also a flash meter)and two Vagabonds for full flexibility would give you money left over to get a bunch of light modification accessories.

I know a lot of people like to have the "hot" brands but only other photographers will be impressed. My clients never knew the difference as they hired me for my results, not my equipment. Just something to consider.

A. Davis , Sep 22, 2011; 10:22 a.m.

I'm looking at the Elinchrom Ranger RX system-it seems like the best of both worlds, battery powered, 1100 W/S, asymmetrical, and the whole kit with one head weighs 18 pounds. I have a pretty large Speedotron kit, 7 heads, 7200 w/s, tons of reflectors, softboxes and so on, but it is a beast to haul around, so I am looking for something portable enough for weddings and portraits, but powerful enough to do some location commercial work.
I've worked with White Lightning gear, and have been less than impressed. The Einstein looks like they fixed one of my main gripes, which was color accuracy, but I also didn't much like the build quality-I managed to break the handle on one, had to send another back in for an electrical issue, and the reflector mount on one got stuck. And i was even less impressed with their light stands and softboxes. Paul Buff's support was excellent, but my favorite customer service is the kind I don't have to use.

Zach Ritter , Sep 22, 2011; 10:29 a.m.

Well, I have to say, as far as portable systems go, the Elinchrom is up there towards the top. If you are shooting digital, you are more than likely shooting at higher ISOs than back in the film days, which allows the use of less powerful heads.

In college I handled Speedtron and ProFoto, and since then I have used Elinchrom and Norman. Of those, the Speedtron and Normans were pack lights out of the 80s, so any comment I have on them doesn't really mean anything now. For pure studio lights, the ProFotos (can't remember which system) were great. In the studio I prefer running one or two packs. And have no issue running multiple heads off of packs.

Since college, all my work has been location. First I tried with the Norman (800ws pack from the 80s) and it did alright, but it took a long time to setup and was cumbersome. Now I am on Elinchrom's Quadras, and I have to admit, I couldn't dream of a portable system much better. Yes, the full Rangers pack a bigger punch, but the Quadras are definitely great for a go light, easily managed system. I run one head per pack, and right now have a two pack/head system. This allows me to put the heads anywhere I want, and not be worried about power loss through the cords. This is a huge plus if you are using them to light evenly from an interior, or doing the light setup I have lately where there is a front light and one off to the back/side.

I have been contemplating selling them, but it's really hard since they are such a great system.

John A , Sep 22, 2011; 11:27 a.m.

A. Davis, were you using White Lightening or Alien Bee? Like I said, I have used the same White Lightening units for over 20 years for commercial work--I only had their top of the line heads--mine don't have handles nor do any of their current heads. I think they did have some really cheap/basic units 20+ years ago--before they got serious--that had handles. They sold those for several years after that and those may have been relabeled and the first Alien Bee lights when they wanted to differentiate between Pro grade gear and the more Prosumer type. Anyway, I shoot color critical work and have a Broncolor Color meter. The units I have are as stable and repeatable as to color temperature as any I have ever tested. In all those years--and with 12 heads--I have never had a unit fail (once with an electrical short at a client location, I thought they were toast, but after sitting overnight were back to normal function). ( Other than their grids, I don't have any of their accessories--like stands or softboxes etc)

My heads are all the old Ultra line, the newer heads are the "X" line and now the Einsteins--no handles on any of them that I know of.

A. Davis , Sep 22, 2011; 01:22 p.m.

I was using the White Lighting X series, my problem was with the stand connection where you would adjust the angle of the light, and it's possible I'm hard on lights or got a couple bad copies, almost everyone else I know that's used White Lightning loves it. I do have one really old UltraZap that I got for $40-it was too good of a deal to pass up, and I figured it would be handy as a spare light if I ever needed a small accent light for interior work.
Zach-you make a good point about the quadras being a more manageable system, and I would like to have more than 1 pack for backup and more flexibility.

Richard Hatch , Sep 23, 2011; 06:38 a.m.

I appreciate all the discussion and suggestions. This is what I needed to stimulate my own thinking about my projected usage of lights. I'm currently using speedlights with cypersyncs so I have a portable system of sorts already.
I'm leaning toward the Profoto D1 500/500.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/605750-REG/Profoto_901053_D1_Air_500_W_S.html
Looks like a reasonable solid starting point. I'm sure there will be more in the future.

Thanks,
Richard

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