PORTABLE LIGHT

The Elinchrom Ranger Quadra RX 2 Head A Kit

The Elinchrom Ranger Quadra RX 2 Head A Kit

The Elinchrom Ranger Quadra RX 2 Head A Kit seems a bit of a misfit at first glance, but believe me there is nothing gimmicky about it. This is a serious piece of lighting kit, well thought out and put together to the standard we come to expect from the Elinchrom stable. The kit the Flash Centre loaned is a two head/two battery plus control pack ensemble that all fits nicely into a dedicated case. All of the power leads are included, as is the charging unit for the two batteries. A Skyport Transmitter is also in the kit, so no clumsy trailing sync leads, although one of those is also supplied should your Skyport battery fail you. The power pack is the nerve centre of this system and it is from here that you control the flash heads. There are, in fact, no controls at all on the flash heads, so once they in position you don’t have to stand on tiptoes to change the power output. Traditionally we think of flash systems as bulky, studio-based affairs that run off the mains and heavy powerpacks, or speedlights running off nothing more than four AAs. Shooting with the bare head and diffuser cap in place gives light that s not too harsh but also doesn’t flood the entire scene, allowing me to achieve a very low-key effect. POWER OPTIONS There are now two options with regard to batteries. The original power source is a lead gel battery which, according to the manual, will give you 150 flashes at full power. In my test I managed 205 over two sessions one day apart. This is a good number, especially when you actually consider that this kit comes with two batteries. Charging takes one-and-a-half to two hours and the battery has no memory effect, so you don’t have to worry too much about totally discharging it to keep it conditioned. The new Li-ion battery is a little smaller and considerably lighter, which is even more astonishing, particularly when you consider that I stacked up a total of 270 flashes at full power and this was on the first charge of a brand new unit. A couple more charges and I expect to get even more once it up to maximum efficiency. You given an option of either fast or slow recycle times in between each flash, with the slower mode giving you more flashes from one charge. I carried out both tests in the fast recycle mode as I do tend to work quickly, albeit in short bursts. The battery itself clips to the underside of the control pack and it is from this pack that the flash heads are controlled. You can run up to two heads from one battery pack, with the power delivery being asymmetrical in nature —in other words, if you attach two flash units, the one connected to port A will receive 66 per cent of the output with the remaining 34 per cent going to port B. This doesn’t mean you have to have both heads connected; in my test shoot I only used the one head connected to port A, although that was largely down to the fact I only had one make-up artist with an umbrella to protect it from the Manchester drizzle. A point worth mentioning here is by connecting to port A you get maximum power but by connecting to port B you achieve an ultra fast flash duration. The A series heads, I am reliably informed about in the showroom, can offer a duration of 1/6000sec which is quick enough to freeze most things you may encounter as a photographer. It is the A head set I using but there also an S series head designed for more general use.
The Kit packed

The Kit packed

CONTROL PANEL With ports A and B defining the ratio of the power delivery, further control is offered by the two arrow buttons on the control panel. You can set these via the menu in either 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10th or 1/1 increments. There are numerous functions set up via the menu, too many to mention in this piece in fact, but most notable is the Photocell allowing you to fire the Quadras from another flash sources, such as a speedlight and to tailor the Skyport system to your exact photographic needs. It may all sound a bit complicated but believe me, if I can use it then a monkey on a unicycle probably can. I not by any means a particularly technical photographer and as I mentioned before; I don’t generally make a habit of rifling through instruction manuals but for the purpose of this feature. In this case I used this kit straight out of the box with utmost confidence which was a great feeling. There are a few softboxes and reflectors available from Elinchrom specifically for the Quadra range of heads, but I also borrowed an adaptor ring, which allowed me to use my existing range of reflectors and softboxes from my Elinchrom monoblocs. I have spoken very little up to now about the flash heads themselves and the reason for this is that these are the simplest part of this entire kit. Weighing little more than an iPhone, they fit neatly into the palm of your hand, which is amazing given the versatility and power of them. They are basically just a flash tube in a mini reflector. Another nice touch — which again is proof that Elinchrom listens to its customers — is the inclusion of a modelling light, or pilot light as it called in this instance. Not a traditional bulb, but a tiny halogen light source delivering 20W power which is perfectly adequate. Utilising this pilot light will obviously sap some of that battery power so you can set up the amount of time it stays on via the menu system, or choose as I did, and not even have it on at all. VERDICT As stated at the start of this feature, I was interested to see if the Quadra fills the void between speedlights and monoblocs and I think it does. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that it a trade-off between the two, because it is certainly more than that. For someone like myself, who often shoots short portrait sessions in various different and sometimes awkward locations, it is, I would say, the perfect kit. And I favour it over my BXRi for this specific purpose. If you are going to be studio-based then mains powered units would win hands down, but the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra system certainly deserves a place in my lighting armoury.

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