Elinchrom has a pretty wide range of lights on offer, but their newest edition fills a gap in their lineup that users will be happy to see.
If you are looking to add one of the latest and greatest Elinchrom lights to your lineup of gear, you would probably notice that Elinchrom has offerings that are big and powerful as well as smaller and less powerful, but not much in between. That's where the newest edition fills the gap. While the Elinchrome ONE is great for indoor sessions and even has enough power to be used on location, it may not be powerful enough for brighter lighting conditions. Especially when paired with larger modifiers. On the other hand, the Elinchrone FIVE may be a little bit larger and offer more power than you really need. Especially for run-and-gun location work.
The new Elichrome THREE fits right in the middle of the ONE and the FIVE. But one of the more impressive things about this light is that while it has double the amount of power as the Elinchrome ONE at 261Ws, it's not much larger. This makes it ideal for on-location work where you want or need more power, but don't want to manage a larger setup. The light also weighs in at under four pounds, so it won't break your back to lug around. The light also features all the other features you would expect from a high-end light. Things like bi-color modeling light, full high-speed sync at up to 1/8000 shutter, TTL with manual lock, and more.
The overall design also mimics the Elinchrome ONE. In fact, side by side they look almost identical aside from the THREE being just slightly longer. Both lights have the same width and the same external flash tube design. A design that lets this light perform at a higher capacity than similarly powered lights in its class. Because of its unconcealed flash tube, you get a more optimal light spread, which in turn gives you more usable power.
When Elinchrome released the FIVE, in my opinion, they sort of took a step backward in terms of overall design compared to the ONE. So I love that the THREE maintains the updated aesthetic of the ONE as well as the updated full-color touch screen. This touch screen gives you much faster access to important settings such as power control, group/channel control, modeling light control, and many more.
I also really enjoy the backlit Elinchrome logo on all three of these recent models. The backlight can be set to various colors per group. So you have a very easy visual representation of what light is assigned and controlled by which group. So no more needing to remember which light is what group or having to walk up to a light to check where it's assigned.
Which brings me to one of the only negatives I have. And it’s not really about the light itself but more specifically to the triggering system. So while the Skyport Pro trigger gives you easy access to adjust the power of each light as well as adjust the modeling lights. It for some reason doesn't give you access to turn an individual light or group completely off. So if you have a three-light setup and want to power off a single light or group, you either have to walk over to the light and manually turn it off or you have to have your phone connected to the light and then turn it off through the app. While this isn't normally a huge deal, it does add a level of complexity and slows down a workflow.
Circling back to the actual light, in terms of battery life and functionality, the light can give you 525 full-power flashes on a single charge as well as a recycle time of 1.2 seconds at full power. Go down in power and you will obviously get more pops per charge as well as even faster recycle times. And one of my favorite design features of this light is that it has fast charging via USB-C. So no need to pack and travel with a large proprietary brick charger. Instead, I can use the same charger as my cell phone and other devices.
The powering system of the light also offers active charging. This allows you to simultaneously charge the light and use the light no matter the battery level. That's because the powering system and charging system work independently off the same power input. So if the light dies, you can still use it while plugged in. Likewise, while you are using the light, it won't slow or interrupt the charging of the battery.
Lastly, the Elinchrom THREE is similar to the ONE in the fact that it is designed to work with Profoto mount modifiers and then comes with an adaptor ring that gives you the traditional Elinchrom mount. But where the Elinchrom ONE initially came with an adaptor that attached via friction, the THREE comes with an updated mount that attaches via a Profoto-style clamp. This gives the adaptor a more secure mount for use with larger modifiers (I am not sure if the Elinchrom ONE will be updated to the newer mount).
What I Liked
- More power without much increase in size
- Updated aesthetics and touchscreen
- Fast active charging via USB-C
What I Didn’t Like
- The triggering system could use an update
The Elinchrom THREE finds itself in that sweet spot of power and size in order to be an ideal location light. The updated design also gives you access to quick and intuitive controls via the touch screen, while also giving you access to quick recycle times and plenty of battery life to last a full day of shooting. From these, the active charging makes sure you’ll never be bogged down in situations where you need to plug the light into an outlet. At the end of the day, I think the Elinchrom THREE is a fantastic addition to their already amazing lineup of lights.