• Login
  • No products in the cart.

Elinchrom RX Review: pros, cons and comparison with PCB Einsteins lights

I had an opportunity to test the Elinchrom RX series strobe lighting in a studio environment.¬† I’ve got one of the most interesting Elinchrom’s ¬†to work with, the top of the line Style RX 600 Pro monolight and Digital RX 1200 Pro Power Pack with A3000N speed flash head.

Below are my Elinchrom RX review and personal thoughts and conclusions about these strobes.

 Build quality:

Being a long term Paul C Buff customer, I was thrilled by the Elinchrom build quality. Everything from the packaging to the assembly and the product itself are built exceptionally well.

Everything fits perfectly. All of the parts look nice and give you that “polished” feeling, similar to¬†what you find with luxury cars. I’ve got¬†two softboxes with the kit, a¬†large stripbox and a square medium softbox. Both were very easy to assemble. ¬†I figured out how to get it right in just a minute, without needing to look in the manual. (the manual is this is the last thing I usually check ;-)

Elinchrome Digital  1200Rx
Elinchrome Digital 1200Rx

 

The light modifiers are very light, especially when compared to the Paul C. Buff softboxes. The speedring connection is secure, seemingly there is no way the softbox can fall off; even if you accidentally hit it, as it happens sometime with PCB stuff.

The way ¬†the softbox attaches to the unit was slightly more confusing for me. I had to open the softbox and hold the speed ring from inside the box to be able to push it in to a socket. There was no way for me to connect it by holding the fully assembled softbox having the flash unit on a stand. I guess I could have placed the softbox on the floor and screw-in a flashhead in it… but still, it was¬†cumbersome :-)

 But like I said, once attached it holds very securely.

Elinchrome Digital  1200Rx  A300N head
Elinchrome Digital 1200Rx A300N head

What I also found  great is that the flash head and mono-light stays cool during the whole photo shoot.  Quiet fans suck air from the back of the unit, exhaling the hot air inside the softbox. It even created an inflating effect, as the speed-ring attaches very securely to a light, leaving almost no escape for the air, making the flat front surface of the softbox to look like a pillow:-)

Elinchrome style Rx  600
Elinchrome style Rx 600

Controls and ease of use

On-unit Controls are straight forward and have completely self-explainable labels.  Again, no manual was needed to start working with Elinchroms :-) Take a look yourself, can you guess the purpose for each of the buttons?

Elinchrome Rx-1200 controls
Elinchrome Rx-1200 controls

For me, the hardest guess was¬†the snail button. I wasn’t exactly sure what it did, but my second guess was for a slow charging mode (for weak power sources like battery powered ones), and I was right.

You can check your answers right on a product page.

Almost identical controls can be found on the mono-light unit.

Elinchrome style 600 Rx monolight controls
Elinchrome style 600 Rx monolight controls

Product page of Elinchrome Style RX 600

Specification and features

Elinchrome Style RX 600:

  • Interface for Mac and Windows workstations. Control 1, 2, 3 or 4 studios each with 16 units, with EL-Skyport.
  • EL-Skyport, wireless control and triggering! Set flash power and switch on/off the modelling lamp with the Transmitter, or control and set all features with Mac‚ĄĘ or Win‚ĄĘ computer.
  • Low 5 V sync voltage protects digital camera systems.
  • Ultra consistent performance for every digital application. (QuickTime VR, multi and single shot digital imaging).
  • Rapid re-cycling times, maintaining stability.
  • Action freezing flash durations at full power Style RX 300-1/2850 s; RX 600-1/2050 s; RX 1200-1/1450 s / t=0.5
  • Optional remote control with large digital LED feedback display of all functions!
  • New dark grey, fire retardant, robust body shell encasing the die cast alloy chassis.
  • Lightweight elegance for easy ‚ÄĚout of studio use‚ÄĚ.
  • Integral reflector, designed to maximise power efficiency combined with our plug-in omega flashtube precisely positioned avoids the inherent uneven illumination produced by non‚Äďconcentric or U-shaped flash tubes.
Digital RX 1200 Power Pack
  • Ultra stable circuitry for absolutely consistent flash power.
  • Unique dedicated Digital S flashheads for QTVR and 4-shot durability and stability.
  • Budget priced Digital SE, SEE flashheads for single shot use.
  • High Speed A – and regular S heads available for fashion and general purpose photography.
  • Precise digital power display to complement advanced technology.
  • Digital power values compatible with the Elinchrom system.
  • Modelling lamps proportional or independent, with display.
  • Fast recycling consistent with precision and stability.
  • Remote control (optional), 2-way with read out. Extension cables available for tracking / wall installations
  • Surge resistant circuits, Auto Dump Function, twin sync sockets, ready beep, sensitive photocell, anti shock edgings, fan cooled.
  • Price / performance / quality ‚Äď Elinchrom
    value, just buy the best!!
  • EL-Skyport, wireless control and triggering! Set flash power and switch on/off the modelling lamp with the Transmitter, or control and set all features with Mac‚ĄĘ or Win‚ĄĘ computer.

Everything looks nice here, except flash duration. They call thse strobes “Action Freezing”, but 1/2000 t.5 is not what I personally can call action freezing. From my experience with Einsteins, I can tell that 1/4000 sec t.1 (BTW, t.1 vs t.5 is a serious difference) or shorter will give you confidence that no motion blur will be¬†presented¬†on a splash shot. I have no idea why many photographers are thinking about Elinchroms as action freezing strobes.

Remote controls/triggering

I had the EL-Skyport RX Computer Remote / Trigger Set: trigger for a camera, 2 receivers for strobes and EL Skyport USB trigger/remote for PC/Mac. Very small and efficient devices:

Elinchrome EL-Skyport RX Computer Remote / Trigger Set
Elinchrome EL-Skyport RX Trigger Set
Elinchrome EL-Skyport RX Computer Remote / Trigger Set
Elinchrome EL-Skyport RX Computer Remote / Trigger

 

Software

One of the most interesting things for me was a remote triggering functionality provided by EL-Skyport Software.¬† There was no CD in the package, but they had a link to free download listed in manual. Too bad that it wasn’t clickable:-).

Install was a breeze and¬†everything started to work right after I’ve plugged in USB wireless remote unit called Skyport. Application control screens matched the controls on the units, while configuration and advanced settings let photographer to adjust many hidden settings.

Elinchrome El Skyport software screenshot
Elinchrome El Skyport software screenshot

Cool feature I found was a delayed flash you can set a group of flashes to fire one after another, up to precisely 1 millisecond.

Elinchrome El Skyport software screenshot
Elinchrome El Skyport software advanced features screenshot

Price, Power and Flash Duration

As the model name suggests, I’ve got 600Ws mono-light and 1200Ws powers pack, which can fire one or two two flash heads. Nothing extraordinary with this power, and few 600 Ws mono-lights will suit many studio¬†photographer¬†needs. Set of two Rx 600 monolights with remote triggers will¬†cost you about $1600.

Power pack is more expensive ($1500 alone), and paired with 2 flash heads it will cost about $3000 for a set. This is a good price for such a well built device flu of features.

I’ve read where many people were naming Elichchroms as a good action-stopping strobe. In fact, this was one of the reasons why I chose Elinchrom for the test.¬† I’ve been working with PCB Einstein mono-lights, priced lower than Elichrome Rx 600 ($500 vs $800) and delivering slightly more power (640Ws v.s 600ws), I was curious to compare their ability to freeze action.

What a disappointment!

While being well built and better engineered, Elinchromes simply can’t compete with Einsteins when it comes to action stopping photography, like moving liquids and splash, for example.

I know that Ranger Quadra RX can fire up to 1/6000 sec short flash impulse through “hi-speed” outlet (B) but I never considered battery power pack to be a good choice for a studio photographer, and max power of ¬†400Ws does not seems to be enough even for one head. Also, considering the price of RS Quadra with two A flash heads (with only one hi-speed) of ¬†2,109.95 at BHPhotovideo, it seems slightly unbalanced to me. ¬†Not saying that this is not a good product, just pointing to the fact that it can’t compete with less¬†expensive¬†and more¬†powerful¬†Einsteins¬†when it comes to freezing the action.

Below are the tests in different power levels of the Elinchrom RX 1200 unit with A3000N haed , using exactly the same spinning disk I had for Einstein tests.

 Elinchrom Digital 1200RX at minimum power

Elinchrome Rx1200 at minimal power
Elinchrome Rx1200 at minimal power

 Elinchrome Digital 1200RX at medium power

Elinchrome Rx1200 at middle power
Elinchrome Rx1200 at middle power

 Elinchrome Digital 1200RX at maximum power

Elinchrome Rx1200 at max power
Elinchrome Rx1200 at max power

As we see, the Elinchrome Digital 1200RX behaves exactly like any non-digital strobe: it has least flash duration at maximum power. Same as in my test with Alien Bees 400.
For a second I thought that it might be spinning  speed of the disk got raised, and snapped a shot with Einstein E640 in close to a minimum power, without stopping the disk. Result is below.

Paul C Buff Einstein E640 in action mode

PCB Einstein E640 min power duration
PCB Einstein E640 min power duration

Color shift is evident, but 1/13000 sec of flash duration is evident as well:-) To see in-depth flash duration test I had with Einsteins and Canon speedlites, go there: Paul C. Buff Einstein 640 in-depth flash duration test: action v.s constant color mode.

If you are going to buy Elinchroms in US, I recommend to do it through BHphotovideo.com, they have one of the best pricing and great customer support. Saying this not because I affiliate with them, but based on my 7 year purchasing experience:-)

Elinchrom Digital RX 1200   Elinchrom Style 600

All the best!

Alex


 

14 responses on "Elinchrom RX Review: pros, cons and comparison with PCB Einsteins lights"

  1. One thing that is lacking in this review…. actual light output. Wattage is at best a rough guideline, with internal circuitry and tube efficiency having a substantial effect on actual output. I’d have more faith in the review if we had a measure in lumens, etc. at a specific distance.

    Einsteins set at the “action-stopping” super-short duration are putting out MUCH less light, more on par with a speedlight, IIRC. Match the light output, and the “action-stopping” isn’t really all that different. Remember, the output of those Einsteins at 1/13,500 sec is only about 2.5 Watts. Just a thought.

  2. i am slightly regretting with my elinchrom. i want to buy the strip boxes but they are just soooo much more expensive than the PCB ones, was wondering what strip boxes are out there if i dont want to get the elinchrom branded ones.

    main reason: I AM POOR!
    Thanks!

  3. I think your comparison left out comparing the the 600RX to the E640. The 600RX has a shorter flash duration and does stop action quite well. I have found the Elinchrom to be far superior because of it’s trust flash to flash color consistency. This was the problem I had with my previous Buff products.

  4. Hey Alex, been reading up through your blog again after a friend and i debated on medium backs, and i landed on this review.

    I am not disagreeing or agreeing with anything (how very politician of me) but i would like to point out a very often ommited fact about “action freezing” and the einsteins…

    They freeze things only at low power levels, this is important because there are alot of scenarios where even if they could “freeze” things better, they would simply not provide enough power. I can think of quite a few examples off the top of my head, outdoors, fashion shoot with large modifiers and space needed for the designed “set” amongst other things.

    This isn’t to say the einsteins are bad in any form, they really do freeze things better then most… at low power levels, it really should be mentioned. Even in your image, we see a f4 compared to a f20, thats alot of power difference…

    • @Laurian, also, i noticed the “medium” power is f20, while the “full” power is f16… that seems wrong somehow. But yes, i would say that if you are in a situation where freezing is important, the einsteins are tough to beat, but if you are shooting fashion, people, or just generally need power>freezing, the einsteins are facing a different challenge all together.

      Cloth might not even show this “freezing” better, but the DOF differences would be more obvious.

      Again, this isn’t to say the einsteins are bad, simply that they cannot cover every situation, and the more expensive solutions exist for a reason and should not be compared without the proper disclaimers.

    • Laurian,
      I completely agree with you, Einsteins won’t cover all the situations. However, this is true for any, even much more expensive strobes: Profoto and Broncolor do not provide short enough flash duration at full power either.
      Eisnteins gives about 1/4000 sec duration at 120Ws, enoug to stop most of the actions. But Broncolor Scoro A4 3200Ws power pack has a very long 1/132 second of duration at full power. They probably will give you 1/4000sec of duration at.. 800Ws? 1000Ws?
      But if you think how many Einsteins you can get for the price of one broncolor A4 powerpack with 1 head… You cna probably stop the train in action with lighting from 20 Einsteins:-)

      But like I said, I agree with you: each strobe has its own limitations. Each, even $15000 one:-)

  5. I am a longtime Speedotron Black Line user. It has served me well for 20 years, but is heavy. I decided to get a monolight for NILMDTS shoots and chose an Elinchrom Style 300 RX. I like the size, weight, simplicity and constancy, but the housing does not seem that strong to me for a device that is always traveling.

    I came across a deal on some new Profoto equipment and went for it. It is very pricey but built like a tank. I have no fear of a housing breaking. It also recycles quickly and is consistent. Wonderful stuff.

  6. I have question about shooting liquid splashes. What is better studios flashes or continuous lighting? :)
    Thank you for your reply!

    • Both are good, but it is much easier for me to work with strobes v.s continues lighting.. Less hot:-) To get the same power as 640 Ws strobes fires in 1/1000 sec with continues lighting, you would probably need 10000 W lamp…

  7. When are you coming to Toronto, Canada
    would love to attend one of your seminars

    Regards

  8. PCB just makes incredible products for price/performance! Good review Alex :)

Leave a Message

Copyright © Photigy Studio Photography All Rights Reserved
EXTENDED! Zero Gravity Photography course: 97% sale  Get It Now
X