Portrait, Fashion and Glamour Model Photography, Lighting Techniques, Workshops & Teaching
The Elinchrom ELB 500 TTL

42 Comments

  1. Guy Daudelin

    Wow, very nice article. I have so many questions…

    First and foremost, my biggest fear : since this seems to be based on a bit of Phottix tech, can you tell me if there’s any pre-flash when using the strobe in manual mode? Phottix Indra has that problem because it uses a TTL signal even in manual mode. It has the effect of screwing up the white balance, especially at low power levels.

    Do you know if Elinchrom has plans to allow independant group control of the 2 ports in a future update, like you can do with Phottix Odin?

    How well does the flash white balance mixes with other Elinchrom strobes (ELB400 and ELC Pro HD for example)?

    Is the battery and pack the same size as the ELB400?

    Is the battery easier to remove than the ELB400?

    Very important : how low can the power level go? As low as ELB400 on port B?

    I have a gazillion questions… but I’ll rest my case for now. 😁

    Reply
    • Hans van Eijsden

      Hi Guy,

      Thanks for your reply!
      Tomorrow I will get the Phottix trigger delivered. I will update this article with new measurements then.
      Independent group control depends on the specification of the Skyport Protocol. I cannot say anything which is internal at Elinchrom, but I think there will be a good chance of supporting that independent control.
      The flash white balance mixes perfectly with my other Elinchrom strobes, but my Mola Setti has a slightly warmer coating so I take that to my advantage too, to make shadows and/or ambient a little cooler.
      The battery pack is different. It’s lighter, has better connectors and can be charged during studio use. And yes, it’s way easier to remove: no more hassle with listening to the clicks: firm locking handles are in place.
      The power levels can go to 0.1 on both ports: as low as the ELB 400 on port B.

      I hope my answers will help you out. Enjoy! πŸ˜ƒ

  2. Dan Carr

    Thanks for the details. Can you share more info on working with the Phottix Odin and speedlights? Can you control Canon speedlights and mix them with the ELB if you have a Phottix Odin II?

    Reply
    • Hans van Eijsden

      Hi Dan,

      You’re welcome. Yes I will, these days I will experiment more with the Odin system and other Speedlights. And yes I can confirm: it’s perfectly possible to mix and control Canon Speedlights and mix them with the ELB 500 TTL through the Phottix Odin II system.

    • Paul Zhen

      When you say you can mix and control Canon Speedlights and mix with the ELB 500, does that require one to use the Odin II receivers on the Canon Speedlights and ELB 500 (or do both the Canons and ELB 500 accept the radio signal from the Odin II transmitter directly without the need for attaching receivers to them?)?

  3. Paul

    Hans, first of all Your thread from dpreview disappeared – did You delete it maybe?

    Secondly, the Elinchrom website clearly states the ELB400 is 2 kg + 0.25 kg for the head and ELB500TTL is 2.48 kg + 0.66 kg for the head πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Hans van Eijsden

      Hi Paul,

      DPReview deleted the information. They also sent me the reason: I am a commercial photographer and not a hobby photographer. Because I’m making money with my photography by teaching and spreading my knowledge, links to my articles are not allowed (although I don’t run ads on my website and although I’m not getting paid for the article). So, the thread disappeared indeed.

      About the weight: the Elinchrom website states the ELB 500 TTL weighs 1.7 kg and the battery 0.73 kg. See also here: http://www.elinchrom.com/battery/elb500ttl.html – As far as I know that’s also what I’ve measured here. But correct me again if I’m wrong, maybe yours is heavier. πŸ˜‰

    • Hans van Eijsden

      Aaah Paul, I think I understood you wrong. I mentioned in my article the weight of the unit and of the battery. That’s 2.48 kg together indeed, so we’re both right. πŸ˜‰

  4. Elinchrom introduces the ELB 500 TTL, The most powerful portable TTL light ever! | Quentin Rademaker's Blog

    […] The main presenters were Brett Florens (a editorial, fashion, portrait and wedding photography) and Hans van Eijsden (also a fashion and portrait photographer) both avid Elinchrom users. Brett started off the presentation talking about the tests he done with the Elinchrom ELB 500 TTL on location where as Hans van Eijsden gave a more technical overview on the new ELB 500 TTL. Checkout his full story on the ELB 500 on his blog. […]

    Reply
  5. Elinchrom ELB 500 TTL is the most powerful and portable TTL light ever!

    […] De belangrijkste presentatoren waren Brett Florens (een commercieel, mode, portret en huwelijksfotografie) en Hans van Eijsden (ook een mode- en portretfotograaf) beide enthousiaste Elinchrom-gebruikers. Brett begon de presentatie met de tests die hij had gedaan met de Elinchrom ELB 500 TTL op locatie waar Hans van Eijsden een meer technisch overzicht gaf van de nieuwe ELB 500 TTL. Bekijk zijn volledige verhaal over de ELB 500 op zijn blog. […]

    Reply
  6. David Joseph

    Omg! I really enjoyed your post! I like many others have many questions, and find your technical expertise on all things Elinchrom.

    My thought is to pickup a ELB 500 system with 2 Heads ( a new radio controlled light meter & The new Skyport controller) with the hope that I can incorporate my 3 Quantum Trio’s w/ Turbo3’s. I currently shoot Nikon camera but I’m thinking of getting a Sony a7r3. My hope is that all this is possible and they play nicely with each other. I love to get yours thoughts ?

    Reply
    • Hans van Eijsden

      Hi David, you’re welcome!
      Currently the new Skyport for Sony is in development. The release shouldn’t take too long though. But you can already trigger the ELB 500 TTL in normal Manual mode with the current triggers on your Sony, afaik.
      About the Quantums: I don’t have experience with them, but I think the easiest way to go is using the Phottix Odin II triggers and receivers. With that system you can trigger the ELB 500 TTL in TTL mode AND you can use the receivers to trigger other TTL flashes. And as far as I know, the Odin II is also available for Sony.

  7. Roy de Ruijter

    Hi Hans,

    Really interesting read, I use Elinchrom lights (BRX500 and BX500Ri) in my studio and I’m looking for an upgrade because I need a shorter flash duration to get the action shots of our chameleons catching their food. Up to yesterday I was 99% sure to buy the Profoto D2 500 at the NEC photography show in two weeks time, now I’m not so sure anymore:-). Could you please let me know what the flash duration (t0.1) is with the following setup: We use a white beauty dish with a diffuser but the deflector in the middle has been taken out (customers don’t like the “donut” catch light effect). Settings in camera are f/18, ISO 160 and the shutter speed anything between 1/160 and 1/250 depending on the maximum sync speed of the customers camera. The distance between the subject and the strobe is anything between 100 and 150cm and we only use one strobe. Thank you very much in advance. Kind regards, Roy

    Reply
    • Hans van Eijsden

      Hi Roy,

      Those BRX lights are nice, they simply won’t stop working. πŸ˜‰ But yes, shorter flash durations are always welcome in the studio. I have the best experience with the Elinchrom ELC 500 and ELC 1000, check the graphs in my other article. With those flashes I think you will have a lot more light output while retaining shorter flash durations.
      Personally I don’t like the Profoto lights because they are less powerful, especially at shorter flash durations, I don’t like their lack of colour accuracy, I prefer the wide angle distribution of Elinchrom light to their accessories and I can reach higher with a lightweight head (with a separate pack).

      My Sekonic doesn’t measure the T0.1 flash durations of the ELB 500 TTL like it should, because of the “special” Elinchrom shaped flash pulses, I’m still experimenting with a lot of different firmware versions and combinations, until that time the T0.5 readings are better, but not exactly like the specifications (I measure better flash timings than Elinchrom specifies).

      If I can measure meaningful T0.1 values I will update the article. Thanks!

    • P.Jasinski

      Hi, (Hans, and Roy)
      Thanks for a very intersting read. Have you managed to get any meaningful t0,1 readouts for the ELB 500 yet?

      I’ve just got my ELB 500 unit and have been doing some initial tests and comparisons with my speedlite setup (2x EX 580ii). I couldn’t get my hands on a sekonic meter so I took a more home-made method of estimating t0.1 times – I took photographs of a spinning fan with the ELB and speedlites and compared the results to the known averages of t0,1 times for my speedlites. Oddly enough, the weird shape of ELB500 flash pulses is visible there – but I could still compare the “blur length”. It seems that at min power (0.1 setting) the flash practically approaches 1/6500s@ t0,1 equivalent for speedlites. However, with a slightly different blur gradient than the speedilites. The gradient is smooth for speedlites, and it seems more “stepped” for the ELB, making it possible to recover some detail in post) even though the blur tail is a bit longer for the ELB…Still, looking solely on the visible blur length I would have to indicate about 1/5000s as the t0,1 approximation)
      At 5.0 power setting for the ELB, the blur seems slightly “longer” than what the 1/2 power output for the EX580ii delivers, so I’d estimate it at about 1/1000s – 1/1200s (vs reported 1/1400s for EX580ii at 1/2 power), which seems more or less in line with reports on what the competition offers (Profoto/Quadralite-Godox AD600pro/Bron SirosL)

  8. Blanka Petri

    Dear Hans,
    I need to upgrade my Quadras (400ws) for additional HS Heads.You wrote that new 500ws are manually working on 400 generator,so maybe that could be something for me and bright future…My question now is:
    -are 500ws heads so slow that they would offer me fully HS spectrum without black issues mostly at full power?

    Reply
    • Blanka Petri

      …and another IMPORTANT QUESTION would be…are the regulare Action 400Wh heads compatible with 500Wh generator in their ActionFreezing modes?

    • Hans van Eijsden

      Hi Blanka,

      That’s true, the new ELB 500 Heads are manually working on the ELB 400 flash unit. But be careful: it’s not officially supported by Elinchrom, as stated in the user manual.
      The ELB 500 Heads are slow indeed, here they offered my the full HS spectrum without black bars, on the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (full frame, X-Sync 1/200s). But, of course with that typical HS-gradient.

    • Hans van Eijsden

      The regular Action Heads of the ELB 400 are NOT compatible with the ELB 500 TTL unit. If you connect the older Quadra Heads to the ELB 500 TTL there’s a warning on the display and they don’t trigger. And I think that’s good, because the ELB 500 TTL can deliver a much stronger and larger flash pulse to the Heads, which can overload them.

  9. Per

    I have the elb 400 now but there I need one head for the phase one and another head for the canon. Now with the elb 500 it sounds like there is just one type of head. It sounds smarter and I guess that it works better together then two light that use different flash duration?

    But does it work well with all cameras so it would be better to get the elb 500 instead of the elb 400 I have now? FX does the elb 500 flash Sync up to 1/1600th sec. And work with canon and phase one with same head for what I have two elb 400 heads that cover?

    Reply
    • Hans van Eijsden

      Hi Per,

      That’s right, the ELB 500 TTL uses only one type of Head, the ELB 500 Head. By modulating the flash pulse the unit can deliver the right length of effective flash pulse, it’s smarter indeed. My experience is it works better indeed.
      Currently it works great and automatically on Canon and Nikon cameras. Sony will follow, then Olympus/Panasonic and then Fuji.
      It also works on Phase One, with Leaf Shutter lenses, by putting the Skyport system in Speed mode. See here for the explanation: http://www.elinchrom.com/learn/what-speedmode.html
      And yes, the ELB 500 TTL does support Speed mode indeed, enable it in the menu. That way you can use the same head for Phase One and Canon.

      For Phase One and Canon I always used the Action Heads when possible. The only exception was outside with shutter times faster than X-Sync, then I switched to the HS Heads. I never used the Pro Heads, because they are “the best of both worlds” but to me a compromise. If I wanted to have short flashes, I wanted to have REALLY short flashes. And if I wanted to have long flashes for HS, I wanted to have REALLY long flashes for the best gradient.
      Now with the ELB 500 TTL that will be a thing of the past for me.

  10. Paul

    Hi Hans!

    Could you please confirm if you got the sekonic L-858D to measure the FD on the ELB 500 TTL ? And if so how ?

    Thanx!

    Reply
    • Hans van Eijsden

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your patience. Yes, I can confirm. Set the Sekonic to the FDA mode and trigger your flash. Then you will have the flash duration on the display. Tap the display once to view the graph.

    • Paul

      Thanx Hans! A bit confused as you stated in another reply that you can’t measure a t.01 FD and not to spec at t.0 5 ?

  11. Per

    Thanks Paul.

    Yes I got the same head yous said for the elb. But I haven’t used them yet. So a bit strange to go and change it already.

    I’d I had know they made the elb 500 at the time I bought the system….

    It sounds much better with elb 500 and 2 light that works together a lot better.

    But great that you tested and took time to help me. It sounds better. Thank you for that πŸ™‚

    Reply
  12. Roy de Ruijter

    Hi Hans,

    Thank you very much for taking the time to reply to my question about the flash duration. When I spoke to Profoto the other day about the D2 the gentlemen did say to me that the colour turns more blue, confirming what you say about the colour accuracy:-) A friend of mine uses the ELC pro HD 500 you mentioned, for her they are ok doing portrait work but for me the flash duration is not short enough (1/1700 shortest flash duration) to freeze the tongue of a Chameleon hence I started looking at the ELB 500. Godox have the Pro QT600II selling for only Β£399 but from what Ive read that one suffers from colour accuracy in action mode as well. The Buff Einstein E640 from the States are another option but I dread it if something goes wrong having no customer support here in the UK. Maybe I need to look at the Broncolor Siros S series or rent the ELB 500 first and see what for results I can get, decisions decisions:-) Hans keep up the good work, always a pleasure reading your blogs. Kind regards Roy

    Reply
  13. Jelle Zijlstra

    Great article Hans and great presentation at the Allard Studio’s on March 5th! Based on your and Brett Florens advise I bought the unit and am more than pleased with it! It is perfect for my kind of work in almost every way. I hope you are right that the expected software/firmware upgrade for the Elinchrom Transmitter Pro will encorporate independent control of the A and B port. It is a bit of an embarassment for Elinchrom this is currently only possible with the Odin II trigger and not with their own trigger. Another issue I would like Elinchrom to fix is a bug with the Quadra system. If you connect your flash-head to the B-port and work with a very low power setting, you can use the trigger to set the power below level 2.0, however settings below 2.0 are only correctly displayed at the unit itself. The trigger itself falsely keeps jumping back to an indication of powerlevel 2.0. Finally it would be very helpfull if Elinchrom would make it possible to easily switch individual groups on and off on the Transmitter Pro in manual mode (like the way the Odin trigger works). My conclusion: Great system and extremely happy with it, but there is still room for improvement with a firmware upgrade for the Transmitter Pro! It should not be necessary to buy an Odin trigger for functionalities that Elinchrom cannot provide itself!

    Reply
    • Paul

      Seems there is some lack of understanding how the current Elinchrom ELB system and Skyport works.

      Not sure what Elinchrom should be embarrassed about? Offering two radio protocols.. ?

      The challenge here is to preserve backward compatibility and stability of the current Skyport implementation on all Skyport enabled strobes.

      So naturally, Elinchrom won’t botch skyport for their whole lineup of strobes just to rush the individual group/port control of the new ELB 500 TTL.

      It’s in the works, but as a professional, I rather wait and have full functionality with the rest of the Elinchrom lineup and in the meantime, i’ll just adjust the power on the pack.

      Odin II works nicely if you want to use it, but it’s not as consistent as Skyport.

  14. RVN

    thank you for the great article review mister Hans.

    i really like this ELB500 because had more power output (500ws) than my older quadra, full asymetric power control when use 2 head, and TTL.

    btw mister, what i want to ask you is, can this ELB 500 TTL work together with elinchrom quadra ranger in HS mode to reach 1/8000 with el skyport transmitter HS in manual mode?

    i heard if we update firmare our skyport transmitter HS to new firmware, that will be change our transmitter like a skyport pro so it can use for TTL and HSS fuctional, is it true?

    if we had update that skyport transmitter to new firmware, can it still use for HS mode 1/8000 if we play with old quadra/ELB400? or cant?

    thank you very much sir

    Reply
  15. Petr M

    Hi, Very nice review, thank you. I have one question regarding to power setting. Its possible to send power manually by trigger and still have HSS? I can imaging that in TTL mode I can go above X-sync (1/1000 for instance) and I will get some exposure. But in case I want still same exposure everytime but with shooter speed like 1/1000, It Is possible? Or it behave like normal speedlite (HSS only in TTL mode)? Thank you for explanation.

    Reply
  16. Thomas

    Hans
    quick question. I have the unit. if I put it into TTL mode, speed or normal, then AV on Canon-5DRS, I get a shutter speed of maybe 13 seconds (dark setting). Obviously I am not in TTL mode. However the Skyport says TTL. in 5DSR menu-External Speedlite control, it shows manual mode, and am unable to switch to TTL mode. I’m not sure if that even makes a difference, but that is the only conflicting issues that I can see. do you have any insight? It seems at the moment I only am using Manual mode.. of which I am getting good results. But I should be able to have TTL as an option. thanks

    Reply
  17. Pieter du Preez

    Hi Hans, just bought ELB500 and thank you for all the good info. I have a question please: What is the advantage of using β€˜normal’ mode? Seems to me it is best just to leave it in β€˜action’ mode all the time? Thank you

    Reply
  18. Lukas

    Hi Hans, can you compare it with the Profoto B1X? I had ELB400, but I switched to Profoto because we have Profoto equipment in our newsroom. But B1X is sometimes too big to shoot outdoors:-)

    Reply
  19. Declan McGlinchey

    Hi Hans great review but was wondering did you ever get a chance to test it with the Phottix Odin II trigger?
    As i have the ELB500 and (two Phottix Odin II controllers) which stop controlling the pack after a fiew shots, if i turn the pack off and on again it works ok again for a few more shots

    i do not have any problems when using the elinchrom trigger. I sent it back to my supplier and they sent it off to their service people but came back doing the exact same thing as before Any info would be a great help!

    Reply
  20. Paul Zhen

    Hello Declan:

    I use an Elinchrom ELB 500, Odin II trigger and several Phottix Mitros II + speedlites for Canon. I also experienced what you did. Sometimes the 500 would fire but the power level would not adjust uo or down with my trigger settings. Other times it would fail to fire. Restarting the 500 pack would sometimes work but the problem would recur.

    The solution for me was to test various channel settings. By bad luck the one I was using was apparently getting a lot of interference. Once I found a clear channel it worked fine for the ELB alone, Mitros II’s alone, or both mixed together. I am quite happy. (I had even bought a second trigger to test it were an Odin II problem. Like you, the Elinchrom trigger worked fine. I am glad I had brought it as a back up on my shoot or I would have been up the creek!)

    Phottix support was useless. Many emails were not understood or not answered correctly due to, I believe, translation problems. I think theirbemail support is in China.)

    Hope this helps!

    Reply
    • Declam

      Hi Paul i tried all the channels but it is the same in them all i am waiting now on a response back from elinchrom . it has now been 4 months and i am a little annoyed to say the least thanks for your response and help.

  21. Elinchrom ELB 500 TTL is the most powerful and portable TTL light ever!

    […] The main presenters were Brett Florens (a editorial, fashion, portrait and wedding photography) and Hans van Eijsden (also a fashion and portrait photographer) both avid Elinchrom users. Brett started off the presentation talking about the tests he done with the Elinchrom ELB 500 TTL on location where as Hans van Eijsden gave a more technical overview on the new ELB 500 TTL. Checkout his full story on the ELB 500 on his blog. […]

    Reply

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