Elinchrom Releases Portable 500 Ws TTL Strobe

On-location photographers have a new piece of lighting gear they’ll want to look into. Elinchrom just introduced the ELB 500 TTL with high-speed sync, active charging, a built-in Skyport trigger, TTL, and 500 Ws of power.

The TTL functionality of the ELB 500 TTL is a good fit for fast-paced photoshoots where the exposure needs to be locked on at a much quicker pace. The 500 TTL bridges this feature with a “Manual Lock” which allows photographers to get a TTL reading of a location, lock that exposure down, and then manually adjust the exposure from there as needed.

Elinchrom says that the ELB 500 TTL can overpower the sun and fire off 400 full power flashes on a single charge. The recycle time after a full power flash is two seconds.

For outdoor shooting, this is an impressively small unit with ample power behind it. According to Elinchrom, the head unit of the ELB 500 TTL is smaller than speedlights but produces 10 times more power. They also said it is light enough to mount on a boom arm on location.

Elinchrom uploaded these two behind-the-scenes videos below to get a better look at the ELB 500 TTL in action.

The ELB 500 TTL comes in either a $1,899.95 “To Go” kit or a $2,124.95 “Dual To Go” kit, offering a single head or two heads with the battery pack respectively. These two kits and other ELB 500 TTL products are available to preorder now.

Stay tuned for our review coming very soon.

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29 Comments

Definitely a Profoto B2 knockoff. Looks good except the heads look so fragile compared to a B2.

Carlton Canary's picture

It's also more than twice the power of the b2. And if the heads are anything like the original quadra heads, I think they will hold up just fine. (and the quadra was released years before the b2). Anyone remember lumedyne? I used those for years!

It's not a knockoff of 2015's Profoto B2 it's an evolution of a product line that began with 2010's Elinchrom ranger Quadra.

At the time Profoto had the 600w Acute B2 which is nothing at all like the 250w B2 and nothing like the 1200w Pro B2.

The Quadra may have been a development spurred by the Acute B2's predecessor the AcuteB 600 but that's probably as far as the copying goes. If you look at the units or use them you'll realize very quickly that except for the fact that they fall in a similar wattage category the Quadra (which is very similar to the ELB 500) bears little to no resemblance to the Acute B2 or B600. It is much more likely that things like the bottom loading clip on battery that the B2 were in fact taken from elinchrom.

You're right about the Elinchrom head being more fragile. The exposed flash tube is much more likely to be broken but fortunately it costs less than most of the simple protective domes and plates Profoto sells.

Teo Lab's picture

The electronics inside the ELB500 have a lot more in common with the Profoto B2 than any other strobe from Elinchrom.

The flash duration times would seem to indicate a flash cutoff circuit just like the B2 but that’s true of more flashes than not these days soooooo... what’s your point?

Teo Lab's picture

- IGBT circuit (unlike the Quadra)
- TTL (unlike the Move)
- colour consistency and speed modes, both available in TTL or manual (unlike the AD600 pro)
- two fully asymmetrical heads (unlike the Quadra).
- no voltage control, no notion of dumping (unlike the Quadra).
There you go. Try to find another pack + two head system that has these exact characteristics other than the B2 and the ELB 500. I don't think there is one.
Basically, the ELB500 is a more powerful B2. That isn't exactly a bad thing.
From the flash point of view, it isn't an evolution of the Quadra lineup. It's a radical departure.

The Pro-10 ;)

It's a nice improvement on elinchrom's sadly dated technology. I fear it may not be enough though.

Teo Lab's picture

Good call :D. I'm going to add "battery powered" then :D.

Hans Rosemond's picture

Hmm. Not sure what the point of dealing with a pack system is if the power is low and recycle times are high. Especially when there are several monolight options with the same or better specs for much less money.

If you need a 2400w/s kit for tin types or something that’s a different story. But also a much different kit.

Tom Weis's picture

I think the point of a head & pack system is to be able to hang a tiny flash head off the end of a boom without tons of sandbags holding the whole rig in place. It's also easier to change power settings rather than having to reach up and/or lower the stand/boom to get to a monolight control panel.

Hans Rosemond's picture

Sounds reasonable! Just not sure that a factor of 3 price difference is worth the weight diff. But hey, I suppose different photogs have different priorities depending on their needs.

Tom Weis's picture

Agreed. It's way too much coin for me that's for sure. I get a lot of utility out of four Nikon SB-25s which cost me about $40 each. On the other end of the spectrum I have a couple of Elinchrom D-Lite RX 4 units which I got on sale for a steal... but for me it's mostly the SB-25s. I'm old school that way.

The advantage is weight distribution, to some degree control-ability... and sometimes modifiers.

On the weight distribution side not only is it easier to go overhead but the fact that the head is super light weight means that you can use a lighter weight stand like for example of of those tiny reverse folding stands manfrotto sells that are really only intended for speedlights. As an added bonus you can attach the pack to the bottom of the stand to act as a small sand bag whereas on a monolight all that circuitry would be in the air and it would be a liability. On that note. Accidents with pack systems are usually less expensive.

On the control side sometimes it's just easier to hit a button than to play around with RFS, Air, Skyport, or a Cyber Commander. With monolights it's frequently the case that the head is just a little too high or in too awkward of a position to easily change without resorting to remote control or moving the light out of position.

Modifier wise pack systems in general often have special heads available like plexiglass strip boxes for vehicle photography or Broncolor's Pulso Spot 4 has a point source configured flash tube so when the optical snoot modifier is connected it can create extremely sharp shadows. Or a not awkward version of the ringflash -- since monolight ringflashes are heavy and speedlight ringflashes are weak it really leaves a pack as the ultimate version of the light.

Also yeah wow that recycle time is aweful.

Anyway... monolights obviously have their own advantages like setup time and absolute mobility but there really is a point to pack systems that isn't just overwhelming speed and power.

Hans Rosemond's picture

I’m not sure I buy the difficulty changing settings argument, as changing settings from camera, assigning groups, etc is pretty darned convenient. As for weight and modifiers, I can’t argue there. If a photographer really needs lighter heads, that’s their prerogative as a pro!

And I agree, the recycle time for a 2 grand head is pretty sobering.

It depends on the system and how you have it set up. Broncolor Wifi for example is so easy it's unbelievable, The cyber commander is a bit awkward, and air is a bit limiting if you need more than three heads with one of the new TTL controllers or if you want to know how much power you're putting out. The not knowing power output can be somewhat irritating if you need to know flash duration, power consumption or simply how much farther you can go if you need extra depth of field or something.

In studio settings which I do realize is not what the elinchrom above is made for I'll often set packs on a small folding table next to me so I can control everything without moving and see all the power levels at a glance.

Hans Rosemond's picture

Yeah , I think the PCB solutions are flirting with irrelevance. I hope they catch up. Godox and others have much more mature wireless systems

The PCB system is awkward but the Profoto Air system is just getting sad at this point. I was working at a booth for WPPI and we had all sorts of interference problems since there are only 8 channels. Our flashes would just start popping because someone had come into range or had switched to our channel or the wind was just right.

Worse by far than that is that they moved from an already meager 6 controllable channels to a scant 3. I use more than 3 lights all the time. A lot of photographers use more than three lights. Why is the new and expensive controller handicapped this way?

I use the Skyport USB controller for studio work, that way I can set up/tear down locations faster and have them preset for next time. Makes life easier for standard sets for clients. Works with all Eli lights, so I assume it'll be the same for the ELB 500.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

I made a business out of the classic Quadra. It was 400W/s, no hi-speed-sync, no hi-sync, max 250 flashes per charge, and I still use them. The ELB 500 is definitely an upgrade to me (and I don't care about TTL).

Paul Lindqvist's picture

Just about anyone with any experience in grip knows that putting all the weight up on top is never a good idea. Distribution of weight to the base of the stand is, of course, the best solution in terms of safety and stability.

Motti Bembaron's picture

In my opinion (and mine only) needing a bag the size of a large camera bag is hardly portable. Portable is when batteries (and radio receivers) are in the strobe body, not hanging with a cable. Portable is when two flash head and camera equipment can fit in a medium size camera bag.

Personally, I do not consider the AD600 or equivalent strobes portable because it is a lot to carry and setup, especially when you do not have an assistant. Yes, you need to compromise on power when needing a light gear but I think that Godox got it exactly right with the 200w/s.

CACTUS RQ250 are out and those look like a great addition to the Godox AD200. That's portable.

Just a side not. what worthless, useless promo videos. Take the little bits of equipment footage and this can be a tourist promo video.

Lol and in my opinion (and probably only mine because I'm weird like that) portable is simply when I don't need to bring a gas generator. The little ELB 500 seems microscopic to me.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Everything is relative :-).

David Moore's picture

so good, so expensive

Motti Bembaron's picture

Yeah, very (!!) expensive.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

Their price is the same as the price of the original Quadra that I bought when I was a young lad. Now, about 8 years after, I still use it. The price is worth it.

To me it's worth giving $1.8K for lights than $6K for a camera body.

Motti Bembaron's picture

My colleague has four Norman heads and two Elinchron which he bought...well, probably before I was born. Just kidding :-). He swears by them but guess what, he now uses Godox because they are so much more convenient (and affordable). I am not so sure he would pay for Elinchron if he had to buy them again.

I am not saying that they are not good, I know they are but I just think that there are more affordable and convenient ways to be mobile.

Derek Yarra's picture

Long time Quadra user here. These seem nice, but the best part about this new unit are how much more affordable finding classic Quadras will be! I personally don't find much use in TTL, so since the older packs gained Hi Sync, there isn't much more this one offerers.

To be honest, I was hoping this release would have been a battery powered monohead, like the Pro B1 or Bron Siros. I actually like the pack/head design of the Quadra/ELB but having a fully contained unit in the range would be a nice addition.

Sure, this is an improvement, but for me it really doesn't do anything my classic Quadra kits don't already do.

I have two ELB 400 generators which I bought at time when Elinchrom were pushing Hi-sync and no other portable option could compete (as far as I was aware at the time) with he light output at fast shutter speeds.
I’ll be interested in seeing how Elinchrom’s implementation of HSS stacks up to their own Hi-sync technology, as they claim that the difference in light output between the ELB 500TTL using HSS and ELB 400 using hi-sync are almost the same at maximum power. I look forward to someone testing this.

One of the big bonuses over the ELB 400 is that there is only one type of head instead of three.