Recently, the game of artificial lighting, including flash, has started to change. LED lights have become more common, but also TTL and HSS have become available to studio strobes, not just hot shoe flashes anymore. Today, it is Elinchrom's turn to join in this new era. The Elinchrom Skyport celebrates its 10th birthday this year, and over 400,000 units have been sold since its launch. However, it was time for an update. But Elinchrom did not just update the Skyport, they made a whole new version introducing a range of hi-sync products.
For those of you that have been sleeping under a rock the past few years, hi-sync let you sync your camera and flash at a high shutter speed that the sync speed of your camera – usually 1/200th or 1/250th. With hi-sync, you can go up to 1/8000th of a second and keep much more power than with HSS. Hi-sync is in other terms what most of us know as HyperSync. However, HyperSync being a registered trademark, Elinchrom had to find another way to call it.
New Elinchrom Skyport
The new Skyport is called EL-Skyport Transmitter Plus HS, but Elinchrom also call it Skyport HS for short. It offers hi-sync capability like aforementioned, but not only. From a form factor point, it is nothing alike its predecessor.
It has an LCD display that will show all the lights turned on around it on the same channel, their power and their modeling light is on or off. The screen also allows for quick and easy settings changes. Each light's power can be adjusted individually, by group (four available) or all at once.
Just these two updates sound great, don’t they? Well, apparently it was not enough for Elinchrom. They went a step further with their implementation of the Hi-Sync mode and added something called ODS (Over Drive Sync). In Elinchrom's words "ODS enables users to fine tune the Skyport HS transmitter’s trigger signal to optimize exposure at high shutter speeds while gaining up to two more f-stops of light".
They also thought of event photographers with the 20 frequency channels that the Skyport HS can use, either in Normal or Speed mode. No more triggering someone else’s flash during a sport event for example. Speaking of events and sport photography, the 656 ft range (outdoors, 196ft indoors) might come in handy at times.
Finally, two functionalities of the Skyport HS also caught my attention. The first is the possibility of turning on the modeling light only when AF is performed so that you can achieve AF in a low light environment without making your heads heat up. The second one is the possibility of sending a laser pattern when the scene is too dark to focus (much like an SB-910 or EX-600RT would). Each of these can replace or complement the other one, depending on the situation and scene you are shooting.
If you are already equipped with Elinchrom gear, the Skyport HS will most likely work. It is compatible with the three previous generations of flash units (including EL- Skyport Transceiver RX module for Style RX, Digital RX, and Ranger RX systems, and the integrated EL-Skyport modules for the BRX, D-Lite RX, ELC Pro HD, and ELB series).
The Skyport HS is now available for Canon and Nikon for $249.95. A Sony version will follow soon. Every version of the Skyport HS will also be ready for future firmware updates thanks to its USB port. Also one last note. If you used to get crazy because of the previous Skyport battery format like me, do not worry, the Skyport HS uses two AA batteries. For more details on the compatibility of the new Skyport HS with the current and older Elinchrom strobes, head over to their compatibility list here.
New Elinchrom Quadra Flash Head fo Hi-Sync Photography
As you may or may not know, for the best results possible when using hi-sync mode, you need a flash that has an almost flat output curve. The smaller the peak, the better the hi-sync will work.
The Quadra Pro head is thus better than the Action head for hi-sync, but Elinchrom came up with the HS head. It has the same specifications as the other heads, but the output curve has a smaller peak, resulting in longer flash duration and easier hi-sync results.
This is not the head you want to buy if you do not shoot in hi-sync, as at its shortest duration is 1/1100th of a second. But if you are going to use hi-sync, look no further, this head is made for you.
No price has yet been announced, but I was told by Elinchrom that an HS head should be roughly in the same price range as the Pro and Action heads.
This product announcement is quite exciting. Hi-sync is something that makes flash photography much easier. With the possibility of syncing your camera at up to 1/8000th of a second, shooting with large apertures outside in the bright sun isn’t much of a problem anymore, ND filters can stay home. For sport photographers, that means you can chose the power you need and freeze the action with your shutter instead of doing it with the flash duration. It makes the settings way easier as you do not need to set the power of your flash as its shortest duration recommended power. You can just set up your flash the way you need to light the scene however you like and freeze the action with the shutter.
Elinchrom was kind enough to lend me one of their first Skyport HS units along with an HS head to review. Keep an eye on Fstoppers for it. I will come back with more details on the hi-sync mode, what it offers, and if everything works as Elinchrom state. All can say for now is I’m excited and do not regret a single second having sold my B1 for an ELB 400.