Last Updated on 11/10/2022 by Chris Gampat
I think my Canon rep put it best when he said that everyone is so afraid of off-camera lighting because they think that high ISO will handle that instead. And if you’re that person, then the Elinchrom 5 isn’t for you. This is a big, girthy, powerful light that in many ways reminds me of the older Profoto B1 lights with cooler LED lights, not as much power, a bigger size, and no frosted frontal area. But it delivers almost as much of everything that those lights do for less than half the price. In truth, the Elinchrom 5 should’ve been here years ago. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great light.
If you’re the type of photographer who needs a ton of power at an affordable price who doesn’t already own Profoto light, then the Elinchrom 5 is truly your best bet right now. It lacks the reliability issues Godox and Flashpoint have. And it’s built far better too. But if you already own Profoto lights, there isn’t much reason to switch over.
I’ve always thought Elinchrom’s rendering of TTL was better when it comes to working with Canon. But still, it can’t deliver the absolute power Profoto does. For most photographers though, that’s absolutely fine.
The Big Picture
The Elinchrom 5 can do pretty much everything you need it to. Need high speed sync? It’s got it done easily. Need to overpower the sun? It does it much better than the Elinchrom One does with a noticeable effect. Need to shoot portraits indoors and blend ambient lighting with massive power output? Well, put the Elinchrom 5 into a seven foot umbrella and get to creating! Indeed, the Elinchrom 5 does the vast majority of what Profoto can do. If it had been launched years earlier, I probably would’ve bought it instead of my Profoto B10. At the price point of around $1,849 you can’t beat it.
For newer photographers, this is seriously the best light you can get your hands on. If you’re more experienced and already have existing lights, then this isn’t necessarily worth switching over for.
Keep this in mind though, it’s huge.
The Elinchrom 5 receives four out of five stars. Want one? Check them out at Adorama.
- Quite powerful
- Think of it as a super powerful speedlight. Somehow or another in most situations, the TTL was flawless.
- Simple integration into HSS
- Beautiful light output even without a modifier
- Insanely affordable for what this can do
- Easy interface to use and work with.
- Working with the Elinchrom app is simple to do.
- Some misfire issues when the unit goes to sleep. But we’ve had similar problems with Profoto in the past before too.
- No really, it’s massive
- A pain to carry around. Make sure you’ve got a rolltop backpack.
- You have to bring the barebulb protector with you when traveling. It can cause major anxiety otherwise.
Our Elinchrom 5 is a loaner unit provided to us by the company. We tested it with:
- Canon EOS R5 (long term loaner)
- Canon EOS R (our own)
- Canon RF 50mm f1.2 (our own)
- Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM (long term loaner unit)
- Canon G1X MK III (our own)
- Westcott six foot umbrellas (our own)
- Savage multiflex light stand (our own)
- Elinchrom Skyport transmitters (our own)
To be frank, the Elinchrom Five isn’t doing anything innovative. It’s just doing what everything else has done at a more affordable price.
The Elinchrom five is a pretty large light. It doesn’t look like it from these images, but from the image previously posted, you can get a better sense of scale. Like all other modern Elinchrom lights, you’ve got the logo that lights up and changes color.
Notice that massive handle on the back. You’ll surely need to hold it as you position the light. Also notice the wide angle reflector we attached to the front.
Here’s a look at the back of this light. There are more buttons and the screen isn’t touch capable like it is with the Elinchrom One.
Here’s the battery that’s detachable. You can easily charge it via USB-C.
The battery also has a nifty power indicator. So if you’ve got more than one, you can quickly see the battery power. The Elinchrom 5 also has active charging, so you can charge the light while using it.
Here’s another view of the screen. You’ll navigate using the buttons and the round knob.
This thing is big! I’m really not kidding about that. The Elinchrom Five is the largest light I’ve used in years. I think part of its size is due to the fans inside that help displace heat. While shooting with this light, they turned on several times. On top of that, when the modeling light goes on, the fans automatically turn on.
Still, know that this light is huge but didn’t suffer from the normal wear and carry of every day work. I wondered a few times whether it would fall off my light stand, so make sure you’ve got a sturdy one.
I also have to say this: the lack of a frosted dome at the front made me very anxious. The Elinchrom One has one, as do Profoto lights. It adds security, protecting the bulb. When I see bare bulbs, I get paranoid. Years ago, I was testing a Phottix light when the light fell and the bulb broke.
If you’re shooting in a location where everything is set down securely, then you’ll be fine. But any experienced photographer shooting on location knows that light stands can fall pretty easily.
Ease of Use
Unlike the Elinchrom One, the Elinchrom Five doesn’t have a touchscreen interface. It feels a bit older but more straightforward to use. There were times I was looking at the modeling light setting and wanted to modify it, but I couldn’t. A problem like that would’ve been much easier to fix with the Elinchrom One.
However, most of what you need and want to do can be done using the Elinchrom Skyport transmitters. And with some time, you’ll figure them out.
In TTL mode, you can bring the flash out and immediately start shooting. In fact, that’s pretty much what we did. I probably shot only a few pops in my office before taking it out for testing. Indeed, it worked perfectly fine right out of the box. Granted, I’m an experienced photographer that uses Elinchrom lights every month.
Basic commands like exposure compensation, TTL changes, syncing, and other things worked flawlessly. Feature light high speed sync happened without hesitation. And best of all, it mostly felt like an insanely powerful speedlight, which is something Profoto can’t do.
What’s also really nice is the fact that the light charges via USB. Granted, you’ll be taking the battery out of the light to do that. But it’s a nice addition. It’s a Lithium Ion battery, and some buildings don’t allow you to have one because they can explode. Keep that in mind.
Like most other lights, the modelling light can also change color. Beyond that, there’s built-in bluetooth, so it works with your phone’s Elinchrom Studio app.
Now we get to the important part: the quality of the light. Most of the time with this light, I shot with it in a massive umbrella. Umbrellas the easiest way for me to make light look good without narrowing where it goes. They’re fun, and they’re literally my favorite modifier. But at times, I needed to get rid of the umbrella. For one shoot, I was on a rooftop and didn’t have the right amount of security to keep the light from falling. I’ve had lights with umbrellas fall on my head, resulting in needing staples. So, instead, I opted to just use the light barebulb. And when the settings we modified accordingly, the Elinchrom Five worked flawlessly.
Part of this is due to the TTL and using Canon’s light metering to get the best shot I could. Seriously, the light output was great.
Because the flash duration isn’t as fast as Profoto’s lights though, the images just weren’t always as sharp looking. But that’s fine, as I ended up lowering the clarity on images and bumping the sharpness anyway.
Thankfully, the color consistency was on point most of the time. My biggest challenge was adapting on the spot. At one point, I was using the Astoria Boulevard stop as a location and shooting under a ceiling. I flipped the light towards the ceiling and used it like a speedlight. The images that came out looked incredible. I’ve never done that with Profoto lights not matter how much I’ve tried.
This, ultimately, is where Elinchrom wins me over; the better exposures and TTL are pretty awesome. But when I need to take manual control over the light and demand more power or a fast flash duration, Elinchrom can’t beat Profoto.
Extra Image Samples
From day one, The Phoblographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. They’re not showing what the product can do. So we have a section in our Extra Image Samples area to show edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.
All of the image samples in this article have received minor editing of some sort.
Who Should Buy the Elinchrom 5?
This is a pretty easy answer. Any photographer who’s serious about photography in the past five years and hasn’t bought Profoto lights should purchase the Elinchrom Five. Any photographer who wants better TTL performance from a studio strobe should get the Elinchrom Five. It’s affordable, but keep in mind how large it is and that you’ll need a big backpack to cater to its size.
For the money, the Profoto B10 series of lights are smaller, more powerful, and more capable. But not everyone needs Profoto products.
The following was taken from Elinchrom’s info sent to the press.
|F-Stop (1m, 100 ISO, HP Reflector 26 cm (10.2”))
|F-Stop (2m, 100 ISO, HP Reflector 26 cm (10.2”))
|Power range (F-Stop)
|Power range (Ws/J)
|7 – 522
|Power range display
|1/1 to 1/64
|Power increments in Manual / TTL mode (F-Stop)
|1/10th / 3/10th from – 3.0 to +3.0
|Flash duration t0.1 min/max power (Normal mode)
|1/1800s – 1/200s
|Flash duration t0.1 min/max power (Action mode)
|1/8080s – 1/250s
|Recycling time min/max power
|0.01s / 1.6s
|Manual / TTL / HSS (with Transmitter Pro)
|Optimized color temperature over the power range
|Action mode Faster flash duration over the power range
|TTL mode / HSS mode
|Yes (with Transmitter Pro)
|Flash colour temperature at max power
|5600 K (Standard) /5900 K (Action) / 5500 K (HSS)
|Flash colour stability over the power range (all modes)
|Auto power dumping
|Adjusts power settings automatically in real time
|Smart Pro Active cooling
|Flash tube (plug-in user replaceable)
|Article code: 24092
|Glass dome transparent
|Screwed with 3x Torx TX10
|5V (compatible with all cameras)
|3.5 mm jack
|Li-Ion – 82Wh / DC 14.4V
|Battery flash quantity min/max power (LED lamp OFF)
|14’600 / 450
|Battery flash quantity min/max power (LED lamp ON 100%)
|6000 / 350
|Battery charge status
|On the battery / unit display and the side logo of the unit
|Charging time (with 65W USB-C Wall Charger)
|Battery plugged in unit 80% – 1h10 100% – 1h35
|Battery out of unit 80% – 2h00 100% – 2h35
|LED modeling lamp modes
|On/Off, free, proportional, VFC
|LED modeling lamp power
|26W / 4000 lm / CRI 91-94
|LED modeling lamp color temperature
|Presets from 2700 K to 6500 K
|LED run time (LED only, min/max power)
|30hours / 2h15
|20 frequency channels, 4 Groups
|Skyport distance range (Transmitter Pro, manual mode)
|Indoor: up to 60 m / Outdoor: up to 200 m
|Version 4.2 / Compatible Studio Software Win, Android, Mac, iOS
|Umbrella fitting (Centred umbrella fitting)
|7 – 8 mm
|Dimensions (with Protective Cap)
|26.3 x 16.7 x 28 cm
|10.35 x 6.57 x 11.22 inches
|Weight (with/without battery)
|3.0 kg – 6.6 lbs / 2.4 kg – 5.3 lbs
The Phoblographer may receive affiliate compensation for products purchased using links in this blog post.