The Elinchrom One is a portable, powerful, high performance monolight that's about the size of a 70-200mm lens. Offering everything from high speed sync to fast charging and recycle times to the ability to use USB laptop power banks to keep on shooting, this is a flash that promises to move seamlessly from studio to location.
For flash aficionados, the Elinchrom One will be compared to the Profoto B10 – and while its rival is a more powerful option (on paper, at least), it also costs almost twice as much. It also features a budget challenger in the form of the Godox AD300.
So the question is, is Elinchrom's portable powerhouse "the one", and can it challenge the best lighting kits on the market right now?
Elinchrom One: Specifications
Power: 131 Watt seconds
Power range: 7 to 131 Watt seconds
Battery: Integrated 41.04Wh Li-Ion (USB-C charging)
Battery life: 9700 min power / 725 max power
Active charging: Yes
Recharge time: 1h 40m
Recycling: 0.06 (min power) to 0.9 (max power) sec
Cooling: Fan cooling
Shortest flash duration: 1/7,000 sec
Color temp at max power: 5,600K HSS / 5,900K Action mode
Color Stability: ±150 K
LED lamp color temp: 2,700-6,500K (+/- 400K)
LED lamp CRI: 95
LED lamp life: 90 mins
LED lamp power: 20 Watts / equivalent to 120W / 3000 lumen
Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB-C
Dimensions: 225 x 100 x 100mm
Elinchrom One: Key features
The Elinchrom one is compatible with with Profoto modifiers straight out of the box, and with Elinchrom modifiers via an included adapter, so you can use it with a variety of light shapers to suit the work you're doing.
In terms of power, at minimum it delivers 7Ws and a recycle time of just 0.06 sec, and at maximum output it gives you 131Ws and takes 0.9 sec to recycle. Elinchrom states that you can achieve 725 full power flashes per charge of the integrated battery, which takes 100 minutes to recharge.
And you can keep on shooting when the battery is dry, by plugging in a USB source – either via mains power or a USB power bank, which is an absolute godsend when working on location (and isn't possible on the Profoto or Godox).
The One offers high speed sync, with a duration of 1/7,000 sec at minimum power and 1/625 at full output. It also boasts a 20W modeling light with adjustable color temperature, which is actually sufficient to provide a kiss of light for some videography purposes.
It has a beautiful and intuitive touch menu system, enabling you to quickly and easily adjust everything from color temperature to modeling light power to even the color of the illuminated Elinchrom logo on the side – which not only lights up to indicate charge levels, but can also be used to differentiate multiple heads on a shoot (so one can be green, one can be red and so on for ease of reference).
Elinchrom One: Performance
The first thing worth mentioning about the One, specifically in comparison with the B10, is the power performance. While the Profoto is, on paper, more powerful at 250Ws, anecdotally we found that its output was only marginally brighter.
This is likely due to the design of the respective models. While the Profoto features a flat head, the Elinchrom has a bulbous bulb that projects from the front of the body, meaning that you get a much bigger spill of light – and this actually fills modifiers better than the narrower beam projected by the B10, delivering less hotspots and far more 'effective' power than the 131Ws rating would suggest.
Indeed, Elinchrom claims that the engineering of the One is so efficient that it delivers an output comparable with 200Ws lights. While only anecdotal rather than empirical, our experience does bear this out.
The flash also exceeds its specs in terms of battery performance. We got almost 1,000 shots before needing to plug in a USB power source, and again – you can keep shooting with the One while using one of the best laptop power banks (Elinchrom sells its own 20,000mAh bank that adds an additional 1,100 full power discharges).
Something worth noting, however, is that the official Elinchrom mains charger actually 'blew up' while charging one of our test units; while there was no smoke or fire, there was a loud bang and an unpleasant smell. These things can and do happen with all kinds of electronics, but we would be remiss not to point it out here.
While the One can be used seamlessly with Elinchrom and Profoto modifiers alike, the included diffusion dome is a surprisingly good performer for many situations – especially if you use tried and true tricks like bouncing it off walls, reflectors or V-flats – meaning you can get maximum results with minimal kit.
In addition, because the unit is small and light enough to hold, it can easily be used handheld either with your off hand or by an assistant to manually direct the light (the mounting foot can even be removed to make it easier to hold).
It proved more than capable of overpowering the sun for outdoor shooting, and performed spectacularly as a studio light – and the fact that it really does have the footprint of a 70-200mm lens means that it takes up minimal space in either setting.
Elinchrom One: Verdict
The Elinchrom One is a fantastic flash unit for freezing motion, overpowering the sun with high speed sync, shooting products and portraits in studio or events and lifestyle on location.
Its tiny form factor means that it takes up minimal room in your kitbag, and makes it easy to handhold when assistants or stands aren't an option. Its USB-C battery has enough life to see you through demanding shoots, and once it's empty you can either plug it into the mains or a power bank to keep on firing frames.
The Profoto B10 packs more power on paper, but in practical terms we're not sure that it justifies the significantly higher price tag. For our money, the Elinchrom One – fully compatible with Profoto as well as Elinchrom modifiers – is the one we'd reach for whether in studio or on the road.