We Review the Elinchrom FIVE Monolight

We Review the Elinchrom FIVE Monolight

Elinchrom has long been known for their amazing lights and modifiers. But does their newest release, the Elinchrom FIVE, live up to the hype? 

If you have been following along and paying attention, you may have noticed back in 2021, when Elinchrom released the Elinchrom ONE. At the end of the announcement video (think Marvel movie end-of-credits type tease), they showed a sneak peek at the Elinchrom FIVE. Well, in late 2022, the Five was made official. 

Since the release of the light, I have used the FIVE on a handful of jobs, from weddings to studio work and even on-location portraits. While there are some things about this light I wish were a bit different, as a whole, the light is pretty amazing. Sporting 522 Ws of power, a bi-color modeling light, and 450 full power flashes on a single battery, there is plenty of power and flexibility for almost any job. And at full power, you get a recycle time of a blazing 1.6 seconds. That’s more than half a second faster than the Profoto B10X, and you even get slightly more power output with that faster speed. 

Elinchrom FIVE inside chapel, Elinchrom ONE between couple and door. 

The FIVE also has an exposed flash tube, which makes it ideal for uses with modifiers such as reflectors, softboxes, and umbrellas. This exposed flash tube is also conveniently protected by a glass dome so you do not have to worry as much about accidentally hitting it and breaking it.

Another feature that I absolutely love about the FIVE (which is also on the ONE) is that the light charges with a simple USB-C cable. So, no need for proprietary cables or giant battery brick chargers. This makes traveling with the kit way more convenient, especially since I use an Android phone, meaning I can simply use one charger for all my devices.

This USB-C port not only charges the battery but can also double as continuous power to use the light in a studio environment. The best thing about this setup is that the light actually has active charging. This means the single USB-C cable charges the battery and powers the light independently, so you’re not pulling power from the battery while trying to charge. This is ideal if you use up all 450 full-power flashes, as you can simply shoot in a location where you have a power supply to let the battery charge and not have to worry about that work taking away from the charging. You can also use a USB-C battery pack to charge the battery while on location, which is very convenient when you have a long shoot. 

Elinchrom FIVE as main light. Elinchrom ELB 500TTL for both rear lights. 

More great features that the FIVE has that I have come to love are TTL, high-speed sync, and manual lock. So, as long as you are using the appropriate Skyport Trigger for your camera, you don't have to worry about shooting at or below your camera sync speed. You can also set the light to TTL and let the light figure out what the power it should be set to. But then, switch over to manual and have that power locked for more consistent output moving forward or to fine-tune the power to your specific needs. Letting TTL get you most of the way there can really speed things up, and then using the manual lock lets you still have the consistency most off-camera flash users like to have. 

The last standout feature that is worth mentioning is the bi-color modeling light. While most modeling lights are meant to do what their name implies, this modeling light is much more functional. So, instead of just getting an idea of what the flash will look like, you can actually use the LED modeling light to take photos or videos. The bi-color functionality means that you can actually adjust the output to vary between warm and cool color temperatures, too. This is ideal when trying to match the color of other available light sources, but it's also very useful for situations where you want to push the other available light temperatures in one direction or another. An example of this is if I take a photo of a couple with the modeling light set to the warmest temperature. Then, once I take the photo into post (or you can do a manual adjustment in the camera if you'd like) to correct this warm temperature back to neutral, all other available light temperatures will go much cooler than they really are. 

As I'm sure you are aware, no product is perfect. And the FIVE does have a few things that I wish were different. For one, it sports a similarly exposed flash tube and glass dome protector as the Elinchrom ONE, but unfortunately, they have different sizes and functionalities. So, while the ONE has the ability to use the Elinchrom frosted abs color domes, these accessories don't actually fit in the FIVE. 

Next up is the screen and user interface. The ONE has a new and pretty awesome color touch screen. Unfortunately, the newer and more powerful FIVE reverts back to a regular screen with knobs and buttons for control. 

Elinchrome ONE on the left. Elinchrom FIVE on the right.

Lastly, I wasn't initially a fan of the large handle on the FIVE. But in use, I did find it very useful, and it felt much better in my hand than other light handles usually feel. That said, I do still wish it was possible to remove this handle when needed. While possibly making usability a little less ideal, it would make the packing footprint much more manageable when space is limited. 

What I Liked 

  • High power with faster recycling times than the competition 
  • Bi-color LED modeling light 
  • Very good battery life 
  • USB-C active charging is extremely nice to have 

What I Didn't Like 

  • Non-removable handle
  • Didn't get the better screen and user interface found on the ONE
  • Glass dome accessories for the ONE are not compatible with the FIVE 

While no light I've ever used has been perfect, the Elinchrom FIVE comes pretty close. The power was enough for every situation I threw at it and then some. The battery gives more than enough juice, even for a full wedding day. And the USB-C charging is something I wish all manufacturers would use. It's a light I'm excited to keep using and pushing to the limits. 

Jason Vinson's picture

Jason Vinson is a wedding and portrait photographer for Vinson Images based out of Bentonville, Arkansas. Ranked one of the Top 100 Wedding photographers in the World, he has a passion for educating and sharing his craft.

Log in or register to post comments

That USB C charger is interesting. I shoot with Profoto (and other strobes as well) but I do find myself wishing that charging power block didn't have to be velcroed to the lightstand and even then, the power cable somehow always seems to pop out.

I wonder what the longest USB C cable you can buy and reliably have charge this flash? I always upgrade my power cables to 15 foot or longer cables and wonder if you could find a similar USB C cable and have a simple power plug at the end to plug it into the wall?

Patrick Hall - I'm using one of these right now and haven't yet run into any issues


I also have a 10' cable with PD readout that works without issue.

For flash power minimum limits, I feel that it is almost always a software limit. My reasoning is because in many off camera flashes, especially budget ones, they will limit the minimum output to around 1/128, and then they will have a more premium model that will allow for 1/256 power.

The problem is if you take a flash that only goes down to 1/128 on manual, but use TTL and have the flash comp set as low as possible, it will do output that is even lower than a flash that bottoms out at 1/256 in manual mode.

This applies even to budget Godox tt685 as well as some cheaper yongnuo flashes.

Here are some images from a test I did a few years ago. The brighter image is at 1/128 power, the one that has the bulb darker is at TTL.

For the attached images, I brightened up the area around the screen of the flash so that the settings can be visible, but no adjustment to the flash head area was made.

Here are the raw files
1/128 power https://www.dropbox.com/s/hzawr72yjvjp806/DSC_0004.NEF?dl=0


While 1/256 power on a GN60 flash is not very useful, the fact that even budget units can go down to those levels, supports the idea that some minimums for manual output are software limits and not hardware limits.

when do you need such fine power control? such low power? The only time I have had too much flash power was with a ring flash..

Not sure when it would be needed, (at the minimum output via TTL, it is very dim, the camera doesn't show the difference as well as the human eye can, but that minimum via TTL is much less than half of the output at 1/128 power.
Even though it would be nearly useless to have a GN60 unit go to 1/256, or even 1/512, my stance is if the hardware can do it, then why not just allow the user to do it?

I would have thought a such low power any changes in distance between the model and the light would mitigate most of the need. Changes in shutter speed would also mitigate indoor portraits and modelling lights would probably work.

If a strobe has a good quality modeling light, then they can work, though it is common to get ones that are around 90CRI rather than the 97-99 CRI of many video and photography focused constant lights, thus limiting their use. Changing of distance can impact the softness of the shadows and highlights.

totally agree, I never work at powers where the modelling light has any effect and changing the distance would be the last thing I would do. I was clutching at straws on what you could do if the flash pack couldn't be turned down enough... Probably put a grid on or something 🤣

Biggest drawback is the price. I can get a kit china made strobes for less. 1850 usd plus sales taxes is a lot. Still I think Elinchrom made a nice strobe, much more tempting then Profoto. I like the ELB500 also. The USB charing option is brilliant. That alone makes me want it.

The ELB500 is still one of my favorite lights of all time!

Did you ever try to make it overheat? I bet it will not.

I found the Fjwestcott best value for me. I have he Fuji X-H2. There system is quirky at times with fuji but best tech support of any vender who makes this value driven lights from my experience