If you're a fan of the Elinchrom One (opens in new tab), you will love the Elinchrom Five. The battery-powered studio flash offers the same portability – albeit in a bigger, heavier model, which is to be expected from a much higher-powered flash.
Elinchrom's highest-powered wireless flash is incredibly versatile thanks to a removable lithium battery that can also be charged whilst in use. Whether you shoot in a studio or on location, the Elinchrom Five monolight delivers consistent color temperature and a fast recycle time of 1.6s even when shooting on full power
Elinchrom Five: Specifications
Battery capacity: 450 full power flashes
Power range: 7 stops / 7 – 522 Ws
Flash duration: Up to 1/8000 with HSS
Color stability: ±200K
Recycle time: 1.6s on full power
Modeling lamp: Bi-color 26W modeling lamp
Dimensions: 26.3 x 16.7 x 28 cm
Weight: 3kg (with battery)
Setting the light up, connecting it to the transmitter and operating the menu system are all really easy with the Elinchrom Five. It takes just a minute to sync the light to the remote trigger on your camera (either the Skyport or the Skyport plus) and basic operations can be controlled from there.
Whether you're shooting fashion or action, the Elinchrom Five keeps up incredibly well - not once did the flash not fire when it should and out of 50 similar photos, not a single one looked different. It's incredibly reliable and when shooting on a lower flash power the recycle time is even faster than 1.6 seconds.
When it comes to brightness there is no denying this light is plenty bright enough - in fact in some scenarios, it was almost too bright even shooting at the lowest power setting of 0.1. I used it with a silver, 110cm umbrella which made the light look high-key and very contrasty however if you shot with a large softbox, it would spread the light a lot better and cast much softer shadows.
Unlike some flash heads, the Elinchrom Five is extremely easy to navigate. The simple menu system can be controlled using the arrow keys and dial on the back of the light and in the menu you can set things such as group, channel, whether it beeps and you can assign a different colour to each group (useful when you're working with multiple lights with different power settings).
Build and handling
The first things that stands out about the Elinchrom Five is how well made it feels - the casing is made from a solid plastic and it comes in a padded carry case that can fit in the umbrella reflector, spare battery, charger and trigger.
At 3kg it isn't the lightest Elinchrom lightest but it's a fairly average weight for a light of this flash power. In terms of dimensions, it certainly has weight to it but this helps it keep stable when shooting although if shooting on location I recommend getting sandbags for extra weight as you don't want it getting caught in the wind especially if you're using a large umbrella. The stem for mounting the light is also quite close to the front rather than central so the light is slightly off-balance but it's not a massive issue especially when shooting indoors.
One of the few issues I had with the Elinchrom Five was the size of the umbrella hole. I have a Calumet own brand shoot through umbrella but the stem of it is a hexagon shape rather than rounded so it wouldn't fit in the hole. Replacing an umbrella isn't too expensive but it's worth checking whether your current light shapers will fit.
Elinchrom Five: Verdict
There is no denying there Elinchrom Five is a powerful, versatile monolight that suits both shooting in the studio and on location. I never used it above the 1.5 power setting as it was so bright but I was never able to test them in the midday sun for example as we haven't had much recently.
It's an extremely consistent light, out of over 200 photos the flash only didn't fire twice (and that could well have been down to the fact I was using the Sony app on my phone to take the self-portraits). Color is also consistent which is very important, especially when shooting for e-commerce.
It feels well built, there are hundreds of light shaping tools to use with it thanks to its S mount fitting, they are easy to click into place and there is a locking mechanism so you can be sure they won't come off mid-shoot. It's not cheap but it's definitely worth the money - my one gripe is the positioning of the stem that attached it to a light stand but it's not something that would put me off buying it.
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