Elinchrom Quadra Ranger - does anyone use this setup for both studio a...

Elinchrom Quadra Ranger - does anyone use this setup for both studio and outdoor shoots

17 posts
26 Jan 2014
eosfan
Photographer
eosfan
Hi all,

I'm considering buying the above outfit and wondered if it is suitable for both studio and outdoor use. It would also be a nice portable outfit to take to clients homes.

I've read a few reviews, looked at web sites etc and am still a little unclear on the power output as I gather one head can be driven at 66% power and the other head at 33% power, when both outlets are in use. What does this mean in practice?

I know I need to pay a visit to The Flash Centre or wait for the Birmingham show in March, but any advice which can be given from experience would be appreciated.

Thanks

Dave

Posted 26 Jan 2014
RedChecker
Photographer
RedChecker
It means exactly what it says.

If using 1 port (port A) you'll get the full 400W/s of power through a head. If using both, you'll only get upto 268W/s (66%) on port A and 132W/s (33%) on port B.  It will also only give up to 132 W/s if B is used on its own (according to the writing on it).

It does not appear to be switchable, more expensive/advanced packs can have slight variations on this, my Profoto pack for example can have 50/50 or 66/33 (or 50/25, can't remember for sure) when using two heads although I've never felt the need to use two with the thing (one good/large softbox works 99% of the time). Note that adding cable extenders can also affect the ratios.

If you want full control of ratios with battery packs you'll be looking towards something like Broncolor Verso, Borncolor Move or Profoto B4 which will set you back between £5000-10,000. Alternatively there's monoblocks to consider (Profoto now do ones with batteries built-in) or there's power packs like the Innovatronix to use with the likes of Elinchrom or Bowens ones.

In practice, metering with these packs (like the Ranger or my Profoto B2) can be a nightmare as disabling/unplugging one head affects the output to take a measurement makes it difficult to get flash ratios, especially indoors.
Posted 26 Jan 2014
Edited by RedChecker 26 Jan 2014
Rawandthecooked
Photographer
Rawandthecooked
I use this product, In answer your first question yes! In regards to the second, practically it gives you a two to one main light to fill ratio, if you want to use it that way, or I have used second light as a background light or rim light. Essentially rc is correct. Though I get excellent results with one pack with one or two heads, a second pack would be much better. Still much cheaper than bronco lour! If you have any questions about the system, message me!

Posted 26 Jan 2014
HowardJ
Photographer
HowardJ
I use mine for outdoor shoots just using a single head for fill in shaded conditions. I've used the two head setup for hotel room shoots and it's worked well. it doesn't recycle as quickly as studio heads so it does slow you down a little.

the lithium ion batteries are meant to hold more flashes and weigh less. the lead acid ones are a bit heavy or maybe I'm just old.

p.s. it's worth getting the adapter so you fit elinchrom softboxes to the heads.

Posted 26 Jan 2014
Edited by HowardJ 26 Jan 2014
Andy_B
Photographer
Andy_B
I have a first generation pack with two 'A' series heads. I think the 'A' heads are better to go for - shorter flash duration for not much more, with no other downsides.

I think they're powerful enough for the studio... but then again I like to shoot at fairly wide apertures. If you're doing lots of studio work, you might find the modelling lamps in these are too weak.

The fixed lighting ratio is a pain. Once you have a modifier like a softbox on the main light, it'll bring it down to the same brightness as the secondary light. I always carry gels, so I can then dial back that second light to a more realistic fill level.

Plus points - extremely portable, mine have been very reliable, even the older lead acid version carries enough charge for hundreds of shots. The remote control of power is a joy - and it's easy to sort your lighting levels from the camera. Flash sync speed is reasonable - I usually select 1/160 on my 5DII since I found 1/200 could cause partial-lighting (I think the newer version has a faster transmitter).

Bad points - the fixed ratio is a pain, the max light is limited, the modelling light is fairly weak and will drain the battery. You will need to buy an extra extension lead (they can be joined together for extra reach), you'll need the adapter to allow full size elinchrom accessories, and you'd be wise to buy a spare transmitter/receiver.

For me, these have been one of the best photo purchases I've made. I'm able to carry a complete setup in a backpack and extra bag - so it's made travelling by train/tube to shoots completely viable. I am lusting after the new ProPhoto B4 Air units though... although expensive these address a number of the negative points the Elinchroms have.

Posted 26 Jan 2014
magpie1
Photographer
magpie1
I use Ranger in both situations. I would suggest you consider 2 packs and 3 heads, for better flexibility, plus the adaptors that allow standard Elinchrom reflector fitting. The lead acid battery can, provided its about 70% charged be used with the battery charger connected, essentially becoming a mains unit.

Posted 26 Jan 2014
Edited by magpie1 26 Jan 2014
Andy_B
Photographer
Andy_B
With two packs and three heads, the price isn't that different from a 2 head Profoto B4 setup - and the latter is more powerful and flexible.

One grumble that I do have about Elinchrom and this flash series is that if you want to move to the newer batteries you have to upgrade:
The controller
The connection leads
The heads

So - poor engineering on Elinchrom's part since they were unable to retain compatibility. Also a warning for those purchasing older units - there is an upgrade cost if you want to switch to the newer litihium batteries.

Posted 26 Jan 2014
magpie1
Photographer
magpie1
One doesn't have to buy all new units and 3 heads are more versatile than 2.

Posted 26 Jan 2014
RedChecker
Photographer
RedChecker
Andy_B
One grumble that I do have about Elinchrom and this flash series is that if you want to move to the newer batteries you have to upgrade: The controller The connection leads The heads So - poor engineering on Elinchrom's part since they were unable to retain compatibility. Also a warning for those purchasing older units - there is an upgrade cost if you want to switch to the newer litihium batteries.
While they didn't think forward, you reap the benefits of a much cheaper system. Profoto's batteries for their 7B, B2 and B3 can either be lead acid or lithium ferrite (the latter being higher capacity and half the weight), the drawback being that the Profoto batteries are ~£400/700 respectively iirc as they include the charger circuitry into the battery casing whereas the Elinchrom batteries are only £100 each.
Posted 26 Jan 2014
Edited by RedChecker 26 Jan 2014
Andy_B
Photographer
Andy_B
^^^ While a change to the control unit/battery charger is fair game when a new battery technology comes along, the necessity to have interconnection leads/heads modified is unexpected and seems poorly thought out. Makes 'magpie1's suggestion to mix and match new and old units more difficult to follow.

Posted 26 Jan 2014
magpie1
Photographer
magpie1
Andy_B
^^^[ While a change to the control unit/battery charger is fair game when a new battery technology comes along, the necessity to have interconnection leads/heads modified is unexpected and seems poorly thought out. Makes 'magpie1's suggestion to mix and match new and old units more difficult to follow.]
Worked fine, for me. The units have to be very old before a lot of things have to be changed, so I had an 'old' pack that worked fine with Li batteries, the leads were ok and the heads only cost £25 ea to make them compatible with either Lead or Li.
Posted 26 Jan 2014
Andy_B
Photographer
Andy_B
OK - thanks Magpie1... better than I thought.

Despite the occasional grumbles I do completely rate the system. For this size/price, I don't think there's anything else that touches it.

Posted 26 Jan 2014
eosfan
Photographer
eosfan
Thanks for all the responses to this post. I think I'll take up Elinchrom/dealers offer of a 24hr/weekend loan of the outfit and see how it goes.

Dave

Posted 26 Jan 2014
HowardJ
Photographer
HowardJ
magpie1
Worked fine, for me. The units have to be very old before a lot of things have to be changed, so I had an 'old' pack that worked fine with Li batteries, the leads were ok and the heads only cost £25 ea to make them compatible with either Lead or Li.
as far as I understand it's just the first batch of heads that need altering to work with the new batteries. it's £25 a head and there's a page of the flash centre site that tells you how to spot them. Apparently the fix is to replace a circuit board in the heads that is related to the modelling lamps. You can use a lithium ion battery with an old pack for powering other equipment such as ring flashes.
Posted 26 Jan 2014
Edited by HowardJ 26 Jan 2014
Bayrunner
Photographer
Bayrunner
Quadra is a great bit of kit, and works well indoors or out - I have also seen some quite good video shot using the LED modelling lamps too.

The downside of the 2 head set is that the supplied cables are only 3m long: Elinchrom soon realised this, and introduced 'The Works' set, which has two complete units, and two heads, so you have the option of two single head units well apart, or two heads running off the same pack, and a back up battery available.

The other thing to be careful of is that the heads are not compatible with other Elinchrom attachments, and other than a few produced by Lastolite the range specifically for Quadra is a bit limited: You can get an adaptor, but there is a caveat on the Elinchrom website about heavy attachments being a bit much for the swivel joint below the head.

The Try Before You Buy Scheme is ideal to try it out. Used to offer it ourselves, but having had to buy the kits, and keep them for at least six months, we received no additional incentive to be able to complete on price with those who sell from a laptop in the back bedroom - although we are told the distributor is trying to work something out on this.
Posted 26 Jan 2014
Edited by Bayrunner 26 Jan 2014
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