Focus On Imaging is the biggest photography trade show in the UK – think of it as our version of Photokina or Photo Plus. While it’s not as large, you still get a few product launches there and this year I was particularly interested in The Flash Centre‘s launch of the ECO Ring Flash for the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra system. If you have followed my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a big fan of the Quadra pack and head system and I’ve been hankering after a ring flash for quite some time.
I’d looked at the Orbis and Rayflash gadgets that attach to a standard hotshoe flash and bounce the light around a series of light pipes but wasn’t impressed. They seemed a little fragile, are expensive enough to not be an impulse purchase and they eat up a load of power (around 2 stops in fact).
Let’s be generous and say a 580EXII is kicking out about 100w/s at full power. Drop that by 2 stops and you are down to 25w/s – that’s the minimum a Quadra pack can put out on it’s A channel. With such little power, you’re not going to get the prominent halo shadow that’s the signature of a ring flash and working outdoors you will need to work very close to get any effect at all.
The Quadra ECO ring flash, kicking out 400w/s at a few metres away, is a total different proposition. Plenty of power to create that halo shadow and enough to tame bright sunlight at a reasonable working distance. The Fast Show is coming up and I plan on seeing how it copes in daylight then, so stay tuned.
So, first impressions then?
It’s a solidly built bit of kit! The brackets that hold the flash to the camera attach to the tripod mount and are very adjustable to allow for a range of cameras and lenses. There also a tripod mount on the base.
The flash itself is all metal, except for the clear acrylic cover on the front to protect the flash tube. There is also a clip on translucent cover to diffuse the light slightly and hold any gels to may want to add.
The power lead that connects you to the pack is 2m (slightly shorter than the 2.5m leads that come with the Quadra A and S heads) so you can just sling the pack over your shoulder.
With it mounted to a 5D with battery grip and a 25-105mm lens I had no trouble reaching the zoom ring or shutter buttons and while its by no means small, it is lightweight and doesn’t get in the way. I did find the flash illuminated the specks of dust on the front element of my lens at certain focal lengths but that’s more than likely down to me fitting the ring too close to the body.
What’s that? A sample photo you say? Well, OK then! Thanks to Helen for being my guinea pig… again!