Replacements for Einsteins: Elincrom? Profoto?

pwp

EOS 5D MK IV
Oct 25, 2010
2,527
21
I've had a shocking month with my previously totally reliable PCB Einsteins. Three expensive failures inside a month. It's shattered my confidence in them. Luckily I have six of them so breakdowns while on jobs have been limited to annoying changeovers rather than ruining the shoot. I always take spare everything!

It's got me looking at alternatives. I'd get four heads initially. On the list being considered are:
Elinchrom ELC PRO 500 (looks good, premium price)
Elinchrom BRX 500 (half the price, what's missing?)
Profoto D1 500 Air (I dumped unreliable & heavy Profoto Compact 600's to get Einsteins)

Then there are dozens of Chinese alternatives which I don't know whether to trust or not.

Anyone been down this road? Whatever I get will be used solidly, carted from studio to locations and occasionally air-freighted. I don't necessarily need battery power, TTL or HSS. Fully manual is fine.

What I did love about the Einsteins is their huge power range, compact dimensions and light weight, not to mention low price and inexpensive modifiers. But reliability is paramount when your business depends on it.

-pw
 

CSD

Photographer, WP Developer, and IT Geek.
Sep 3, 2015
49
0
Scotland
The BRX are less flexible to control power compared to ELC lights and ELC heads are designed to stop action. Despite the lower price they are just as robust although my experience is with the older 400 units.

Personally I'd look at the eco-system as to what modifiers you'll want to use but these days it's fairly easy to find adaptors for many of them. You can't go wrong with Elinchrom or Profoto but I went with the Elinchrom system due to the Skyport system and also the Ranger packs as I do a lot of location work and the RX, BRX and Quadra units have taken a lot of punishment over the years from travel. The worst damage I've gotten is a broken handle on the RX unit which result in a case replacement which is fairly cheap to do.
 

pwp

EOS 5D MK IV
Oct 25, 2010
2,527
21
Thanks CSD, that's not the first time I've heard about broken BRX handles. Still, that's no reason to dismiss them. I've just been Googling to see if there are adapters available to use my PCB Einstein modifiers on Elinchrom. There are plenty of adapters to put Elinchrom modifiers on PCB, but not the other way round.

-pw
 

Valvebounce

EOS 5D SR
Apr 3, 2013
4,252
189
52
Isle of Wight
Hi pwp.
I know nothing of the studio lights, but I have some cheap Chinese flashes and they have their issues, missing ettl, white out or black, I think this is related to a power saving mode, although they never went to sleep turning off power saving seems to have cured it, I have also gone manual as they are used in constant light for a setup.
Are all the lights that failed the same age, how old, could they just be worn out, is it the same fault on all or different on each one, I'm sure these things have a finite lifespan, number of flashes, it sounds like you use them hard. (I'm not implying carelessly, just a lot of use)

Cheers, Graham.
 

pwp

EOS 5D MK IV
Oct 25, 2010
2,527
21
Thanks Graham, the failing Einsteins are of varying age, though similar mileage. Einsteins have a handy info screen which displays the number of pops the unit has done. The three fails were around 58,000 pops, 42,000 pops and one under 10,000 pops.

-pw
 

Eldar

EOS 5D MK IV
Jan 14, 2013
3,247
0
www.flickr.com
I am currently looking at the Profoto B1. I have read quite a few field reports on the Profoto gear and it seems to be top of the heap in terms of quality and their TTL functionality is very good. The B1s are 500Ws and even though 1000Ws would have been nice, 500 is OK for me. Alternatively their new D2 looks very good, but don´t have the benefit of being battery powered.
 

Valvebounce

EOS 5D SR
Apr 3, 2013
4,252
189
52
Isle of Wight
Hi pwp.
I'm guessing that 58k and 42k is annoying, 10k must be infuriating, such a low number to fail at.

Cheers, Graham.

pwp said:
Thanks Graham, the failing Einsteins are of varying age, though similar mileage. Einsteins have a handy info screen which displays the number of pops the unit has done. The three fails were around 58,000 pops, 42,000 pops and one under 10,000 pops.

-pw
 

arthurbikemad

EOS 7D MK II
Jul 19, 2015
451
18
UK
Eldar said:
I am currently looking at the Profoto B1. I have read quite a few field reports on the Profoto gear and it seems to be top of the heap in terms of quality and their TTL functionality is very good. The B1s are 500Ws and even though 1000Ws would have been nice, 500 is OK for me. Alternatively their new D2 looks very good, but don´t have the benefit of being battery powered.
I had a ELB400 kit and wanted the B1s, love the fact the ELB heads are small and pack down, plus light weight and easy to mount anywhere, the B1s are heavy, TTL and HSS are handy but nine times out of ten I end up metering the lights anyhow, anyway mine were the first ELBs and had a fault, 9 months later and I have just today ordered another ELB400 Hi Sync kit, plus a sekonic meter and trigger, I often wish for the B1s but like all things photo gear it's trade offs here and there, the ELB is so portable I found I could pack one head, a softbox, DSLR and small stand all in one backpack, can't wait to get shooting outside again with the ELB. This time I have the twin power pack, all can be adjusted and triggered from the Sekonic.
 

Viggo

EOS 5D SR
Dec 13, 2010
4,215
781
Had Elinchrom Quadra and sold it due the really annoying hassle of cable and battery pack. Which meant I always had to carry it vertically when changing spots. That and no HSS. And no grid for the deep Octa.

Currently using the B1 because it fixed every problem I ever had with speedlites and cheap modifiers and the problem s I had with the Quadra.

And Profoto Modifiers are sooooo nice. Haven't skipped a beat yet. Only issues are ; Battery Power, for my hobby use it's not a problem at all, but for pro's shooting all day, it will be extra batteries needed, and they aren't cheap. Second slight issue is the remote can't display the power of the lamp.
 

CSD

Photographer, WP Developer, and IT Geek.
Sep 3, 2015
49
0
Scotland
Viggo said:
Had Elinchrom Quadra and sold it due the really annoying hassle of cable and battery pack. Which meant I always had to carry it vertically when changing spots. That and no HSS. And no grid for the deep Octa.
The problem with the grids is that Elinchrom was going to release them but was stopped by a patent suit from what I remember, hence why you have to pay over the odds for grids (same price or more than the modifier at times!). There's third party solutions such as these:

http://www.honeycombgrids.com/grid-catalog/elinchrom-grids/elinchrom-octa-grid-detail
 

pwp

EOS 5D MK IV
Oct 25, 2010
2,527
21
Yesterday went and had a look and test drive of the Godox AD600. What a mighty little thing!
http://www.godox.com/EN/Products_Camera_Flash_Witstro_AD600_Powerfou&Portable_Flash.html

You'd get three of these for the cost of a B1. They won't be my Einstein replacements as I need faster recycle times, but I can see a couple of these finding a place in the kit.

-pw
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
7,907
1,050
119
All studio flashes have issues and capacitor failures.

In my experience PCB are the best, fastest and cheapest to repair (if you are in the USA), Profoto are an expensive joke and Elinchrome are beyond a joke.

If you go for the Profoto's don't get the D1's get the newer D2's they have all the niceties of the B1, ETTL/HSS etc, but with mains power and they have a 1000w version. I have run one off a PCB Lithium Extreme and was very happy with it.
 

pwp

EOS 5D MK IV
Oct 25, 2010
2,527
21
True, in 30 years with Elincroms, Profoto and PCB Einsteins the run to the repair shop has been a consistent thing.

The old Elinchrom EL 500's were shockers, always blowing capacitors. These were the old fanless monoblocks. Ugh...

Then the Profoto kit with Compact 600 monos, 2400 ws floorpacks and tiny Acute floorpack had both high price of entry and eyewatering cost of ownership. I'm not rough with my gear but I do expect it to take solid work.

The PCB Einsteins have been pretty good, especially considering the low initial cost and almost free modifiers, but when the Australian agent was closed down by PCB all repairs come with expensive and slow international air freight added on.

Today I checked out the Elinchrom ELC Pro 500 heads which have a well designed Skyport trigger which looks like what the almost bizarre PCB Cyber Commander should have been. The ELC 500 comes across as fairly competent, but feels very plasticy, and is much bigger than Einstein.

PrivateByDesign what experience has caused you to class Elinchrom as "beyond a joke"?

-pw
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
7,907
1,050
119
pwp said:
True, in 30 years with Elincroms, Profoto and PCB Einsteins the run to the repair shop has been a consistent thing.

The old Elinchrom EL 500's were shockers, always blowing capacitors. These were the old fanless monoblocks. Ugh...

Then the Profoto kit with Compact 600 monos, 2400 ws floorpacks and tiny Acute floorpack had both high price of entry and eyewatering cost of ownership. I'm not rough with my gear but I do expect it to take solid work.

The PCB Einsteins have been pretty good, especially considering the low initial cost and almost free modifiers, but when the Australian agent was closed down by PCB all repairs come with expensive and slow international air freight added on.

Today I checked out the Elinchrom ELC Pro 500 heads which have a well designed Skyport trigger which looks like what the almost bizarre PCB Cyber Commander should have been. The ELC 500 comes across as fairly competent, but feels very plasticy, and is much bigger than Einstein.

PrivateByDesign what experience has caused you to class Elinchrom as "beyond a joke"?

-pw
Ah owning PCB outside the USA must be very frustrating, I feel for you.

I have a decent investment in Einsteins but was looking for something with a bit more portability and robustness. I got excited at the Elinchromes until I realised the different head options meant I'd never get the flexibility I might want and the Hi-Sync was just HyperSync rebranded. So I looked at the B1's with some interest, indeed I started buying Profoto modifiers. The only bugbears for me for the B1's is the 500Ws and the inability to power them direct from the mains. So I am now looking to purchase the D2 1,000Ws head for a specific style of shooting I am trying.

But back to the Elinchromes, my experience with them is purely anecdotal but from personal users/owners I trust. They seemed very dismissive of support and repair times and costs when they had issues, even more so than the Profoto users I know.

Having pontificated my needs uses and costs I am pretty sure I'll be going the D2 route in the next tax year but the flash market is changing so fast, even the Broncolor Siros L 800 isn't too ridiculously priced, but I haven't met a local user of them yet!
 
P

Pookie

Guest
Owning both Profoto B1 and Elinchroms in Ranger's, Quadra's and ELC's... I'd say you're about even in performance. The biggest issues I've had are with Profoto the company. I use ELC Pro in the studio if not going anywhere but that's rare these days. The majority of my work is on-site location photography (weddings, corporate, and event). Studio work is mainly portraiture... business and commercial work.

I've owned the Ranger's the longest and they have never failed me but are big and hard to move around. If I need 1100ws then they come out a play. I often use these for snowboarding work in Tahoe. Covered in snow they keep trucking along.

The Quadra's I've had for about 4 years. And now a few S heads from the current iteration. With one new ELB pack. So far these have been the work horses for all my work. Over 70 weddings this year (California, Hawaii, Nevada and Mexico) and never had a failure this year or any others. The new controller makes use in the field seamless. I like their new Hypersync as it works marvelously in full daylight. I have 5 packs and tons of lithium for them and a few leads. The only issue I've had is the plastic mount tab breaking on a few but I use another way to mount them and it's never been an issue if they break. I've broke 2 out of 8 heads this way. I use them everywhere; beach, churches, studio, in the woods... even in the rain (covered in plastic).

The Profoto's... meh, the batteries are small and don't last very long. The monobloc style with head and battery is heavy and can be quite a PITA when moving them around due to them being top-heavy. My VALS complain bitterly when they are placed on booms/poles as the weight plus a mod can be excessive. You either need beefy VALS or lots of sandbags. When the power dips the color consistency suffers a bit. Initially I bought a 5 light set but after about a year sold 3 of them and now only use the two for second shooters when doing large weddings. Granted, I bought mine when they were just coming on the market so they may have worked out the kinks but it was enough for me to not want anymore.

Two of my B1's took a dive (top-heavy) in the wind and broke some of the housing. An easy fix but Profoto won't send parts... they want the whole unit shipped back to them. That is a major PITA. Then it took almost 3 months to get a repair done. Not a happy camper. I use a lot of Profoto mods also... same story. Break a spar or tear an Octa... you'll be S.O.L. for a number of months until they get around to looking at them and deciding if they will repair the unit. Just poor CS (at least in their NJ HQ) and it makes a difference when you want your gear to just work.

Einsteins are good but I left them long ago as they really are hobbyist in nature. Made cheap so you can buy them cheap. I like them but they never stood the rigors of commercial work. Granted I use and abuse my equipment... boxed and shipped constantly, unloaded used and packed again.

The only other units I've used are Broncolor... nice but not sure they are worth the price when you can get everything else relatively cheaper. I've mainly rented these for work in LA and they are beasts, great mods are available. Feels like quality but I'd bet you'd be hard pressed to pick an image shot with one or any of the other strobes mentioned here. In the studio I just use ELC Pro's as they work very well in that limited capacity.
 

arthurbikemad

EOS 7D MK II
Jul 19, 2015
451
18
UK
I don't have anything to offer to the thread but feel I must give a shout to Elinchrom, any problems I have had in the UK they have stepped up and sorted them ASAP, Wex are hands down the best dealers by far, I am often grateful to Wex for no quibble supper fast service no matter what, Wex and CPS keep me rolling in style, as for my ELB400s Id have t say I love them, I use a couple of Lastolite softboxes most of the time as they fit my 4 600EXRTs also, I have the twin HS set, two packs and heads, plus the Sekonic EL meter and HS trigger, I love the fact I can hang the packs on light stands and fit the small heads to whatever, they are so small you can hook them up in anything, even mods that don't have the correct provisions if needed. I.e make do. Hi-Sync for me works great! I love all the things Profoto offer but as said, batteries, recessed flash tube and 3kg heads pushes me away from them, I understand the pros though, HSS and TTL work brilliantly with B1s, love the fact you can shoot TTL with the profoto and the settings are transferred when you switch to manual, nice! Shame no TTL with the ELB but I rarely shoot run and gun style if you like so setup/meter time is no issue for me.

Anyway some great info here, you guys offer great advice.