Review of the Remarkably Powerful Elinchrom ELB 1200
Elinchrom have always been one of the leading manufacturers of studio and on-location flash lighting, and they are market leaders in bringing out new and innovative products.
I’ve been using Elinchrom lighting for over 20 years, and I absolutely adore their products. The lighting is fast and reliable and always creates beautiful images.
Now, Elinchrom have produced a new on-location lighting kit – the Elinchrom ELB 1200. This is the follow up to the ELB 400, which was introduced in 2015 and is designed to offer more power and flexibility to photographers.
First impressions and build quality
The first thing that I noticed about the ELB is how compact it is, and how little it weighs. The power pack comes in at 4.3kg (9.5lb), which is incredible given how much power it offers. The casing is shock and weather resistant, with slight recessed buttons to give a completely sealed unit. There are also oversized cable connections, which mean you can operate the unit even when wearing gloves. And, as the ELB is designed for location work, it’s shipped with a TSA-Approved ‘Air’ Lithium-Ion Battery meaning that there are no issues with flying with it.
I was also very impressed with the choice of heads provided. The Pro Head is designed for all round general use. The Action Head allows you to acquire shorter flash durations. And the Hi-Sync Head means you can reach shutter speed of up to 1/8000th of a second – freezing motion, and allowing for the use of wider apertures with higher shutter speeds.
All the heads have a lightweight aluminium housing and tilt head, with a dimmable 92 CRI LED for both stills and video work.
Here’s all the technical specs on the Elinchrom ELB 1200:
|Flash capacity (Ws/j)||1200|
|Power distribution||Asymmetrical 2:1 or symmetrical|
|F-stop ELB 1200 Pro||100%: 128|
|F-stop ELB 1200 Action||100%: 90.6|
|F-stop ELB 1200 Hi-Sync||100%: 128|
|Power range f-stop||8.5|
|Power range ws/J||100%: 14-1200, 50%: 7-600, 66%: 14-791, 33%: 7-396|
|Power increments in f-stop||Dial: 1/10 – left/right buttons 1 f-stop|
|Best flash duration (Action)||1/8850th sec at 33%, power setting 4.7/172 Ws|
|Recycling fast to full power||1.7secs|
|Recycling default to full power||3secs|
|Recycling eco to full power||6secs|
|Colour temp in K at max||5500|
|Modelling lamp modes||On, free, prop, timer 1-60secs, VFC, dimmer|
|Auto Power Dumping||Adjusts power settings automatically|
|Max flashes at min/max power||20000 / 215 (Li-Ion Battery Air, included), 36000 / 400 (Li-Ion Battery HD, optional)|
|LED run time 1 / 2 heads||up to 80 / 40mins (Li-Ion Battery Air), up to 120 / 60mins (Li-Ion Battery HD)|
|Li-Ion Battery Air (included)||36V / 2.5Ah / 90Wh|
|Li-Ion Battery HD (optional)||36V / 4.0Ah / 144Wh|
|Battery Box options||USB charge socket, shipping mode, charge status|
|Charger: recharge time||1.5hrs (Li-Ion Battery Air), 2.5hrs (Li-Ion Battery HD)|
|EL-Skyport||Built-in, 20 frequency channels, 4 groups|
|Sync voltage||5V compatible with all cameras|
|Sync socket||3.5mm jack|
|Supplied with||ELB 1200, battery box, quick charger, sync cable|
The ELB 1200 is a highly powerful piece of kit. As well as 1200w/s of flash power, each head comes with a bright 250w 92 CRI daylight balanced LED modelling lamp. There’s an 8.5 stop power range and an extremely efficient and silent internal fan to keep the lights cool.
Now, this is where the unit gets really clever. When you have two heads plugged into the pack you have the choice of splitting the power either symmetrically or asymmetrically across the A and B channels. What does this mean? Well, symmetrical power splits the power of the pack evenly between the two heads (50% each). Asymmetrical power sends twice the amount of power to channel A as to B creating a 2:1 lighting ratio (66% to 33%). Asymmetrical distribution also extends the available power range when you’re using a single head.
The OLED display shows which head type is connected, as well as which head is active. You can activate or deactivate each head separately using the A and B channel buttons. The display shows the flash duration and power in joules at your chosen power setting, and there’s even a built in USB socket for firmware updates. The ELB also comes with a built-in Skyport system – Elinchrom’s radio system that allows you to control all your lights quickly and seamlessly, with 4 groups and 20 frequency channels.
The ELB 1200 also allows you to take your creative vision even further, by offering a choice of three shooting modes. Strobo mode allows you to take a single frame photo with stroboscopic effect. In Sequence mode you can trigger up to 20 (!) compatible units (ELB 1200, ELB 400 and ELC Pro HD Heads) either in bursts or on a continuous cycle to allow you to utilise the higher frame rates of your camera. And Delayed mode allows predictive synchronization within a short sequence, as well as the option of first or second curtain sync.
The lights come with their own range of accessories – reflectors are included, but there’s also the option of a deep Octa softbox or deep white umbrella. However, being Elinchroms, you can also use all the accessories from across their range and the ELB will sync with any of their other lights. There’s also a choice of kits with either a location bag or rolling case.
The ELB is a seriously clever piece of kit. I could repeat that a million times as there’s so much to be impressed by! There are so many features and little touches to make this a really high-end and accessible portable lighting kit. Any serious location photographer would find this a joy to use and I have no hesitation in recommending the ELB highly.
With huge thanks to the wonderful crew at The Flash Centre who helped out enormously with this article. If you’re in need of Elinchrom or any other photography equipment, please give them a visit!