As an experienced wedding photographer, well versed in the use of speedlights for weddings I often find they have their limitations. Portable and easy to use, in bouncing the flash off a wall or ceiling to give that nice soft light and inside of a venue they work very well. Outside on an overcast day with a small aperture and depth of field and a low shutter speed, can produce a lovely evening sunset shot. My signature spiky sun shot is brilliant when using a speedlight, on Full power at F11, the spiky sun comes out. Doing the same set up in bright sunlit daylight means having to get the flash extremely close to the subject. Just a couple of feet away and literally right on top of them. Not an ideal situation, any further away and they just can’t overpower the sun.
Things needed to change for the better and the search was on for a better lighting system. With the majority of the weddings I film I do on my own and for the odd one or two have an assistant. More often than not someone just starting out and wanting to learn. So it had to be a portable system and easy to use for just me alone. I looked at various options. The Chinese systems were nice and cheap but reliability could have been an issue especially when shooting forty to fifty-odd weddings per year. This narrowed it down to three contenders. The Elb400hs. Profoto B1 and the Profoto B2. The B1 head was just too heavy and the B2 not enough power to overpower the sun and only 250 watts opposed to 424 watts and I don’t do TTL, manual all the way for me. The Elinchrom Elb400 won. The flash Center was the ideal retailer to buy from. Really helpful guys and more than happy to answer my questions. Felt really at ease with them.
The wedding of Sam and Sophie at the orchard suite in Maidstone was going to be the first real test of the system. Perfect conditions for overpowering the direct harsh sunlight. Shooting at shutter speeds of 1/160 to 1/4000th of second and wide-open apertures, something I could never do with regular speedlights. The system itself performed flawlessly and the ability to shoot at 4000th at 2.8 was superb. Overpowering the sun from several feet away with bare flash and with a lastolite Ezybox. Something I could never do with a speedlight. We even did a few shots with depth of field. But really the whole point of the system is the ability to overpower the sun, shoot wide open and get lovely Bokeh shots.
I ummed and erred before I bought this system wondering if £1420.00 was a worthy investment for such an expensive flash setup. I’m now a convert to Elinchrom flash systems. If I had a choice, would have made the purchase a long time ago. From a wedding photographer’s point of view, the Elb400 is a superb flash system. The flash head is as light as a standard speedlight. The battery pack is light and can be easily worn by its strap from a shoulder and feels very light considering the job it has to and holds enough juice to shoot all the points of an all-day wedding and coupled with the ability to get those wide-open bokeh shots in bright sunlight, you can’t go wrong.
Elinchrom Elb400 Wedding