Elinchrom Ranger RX AS Speed Lighting System

“Light is Light, our’s is just better” is a slogan that evolved among myself and my shooting partners and iStockphoto members Jacom Stephens and Dan Bachman. I”m hoping Elinchrom will pick it up and use it.

So, where do I start? I guess you could go look at my portfolio and do a search by age and look at the front and at the back. What would you find, well, there’s crap at the back and some pretty good looking stuff up front. Sure, I’ve improved as a shooter over the years, but I believe a good portion of it has to do with the quality of the light that I’m now using.

Delorian on the Bonneville Salt Flats

©Dieter Spears | Do Not Use Without Permission

Over the last few years, I have been consistently shooting with Jacom and Dan. We’ve been shooting around the US and even made it down to St. Johns, USVI. When we first all got together we each had different lighting systems. I was using Alien Bees, Jacom had ProPhoto and Dan had Elinchroms. At the time I really didn’t have a solid clue as to what I was doing, just slam some light in that direction and shoot, I can always fix it in photoshop. After the first day of shooting with the boys, I knew I needed to learn some things, they were spouting of ratio’s and f-stops of power, they really knew their gear and the science of photography, I just smiled and acted like I knew what I was doing:)

©Dieter Spears | Do to Use Without Permission

Well, I came from the world of Alien Bees, their corporate offices are a block away from my office. I bought the lights off of a photographer who was retiring from the studio game, and most iStocker’s can only afford AlienBees. looking at the ProPhoto and Elinchrom gear I could tell it was another level of quality, but it’s also a different level of ‘Get yer wallets out”. So, I was thinking that I’ll just stick with my Alien Bees.

Later that night when we sat down to download what we had shot, I had a rude awaking. I sucked! Ok, was it totally me or was my gear handicapping me? It was a little of both. I did notice that the few shots that I took with their lights looked better. Was it because they stood over my shoulders and helped me get the shot or was it the lights, it was both. That night I noticed that Jacom kept asking Dan about his lights, and true to form Dan spouted out numbers and formulas that didn’t make much sense to me.

Jump forward a few shoots and we realized that we really enjoyed shooting together and it would be more effective if we had more common gear. I was ready to buy, I had learned a lot about light and creating shadows. Yeah, Alien Bees were working, but my end results didn’t look like Jacom’s nor Dan’s. Jacom said he was ready to move from the ProPhotos to the Elinchroms because of the power and consistency that he was seeing.

Ok, opening the wallet that much hurts, especially when you could buy a lot of Alien Bees gear for the same amount. So, I made the jump and bought the Elinchrom Ranger RX AS Speed Kit with 2 lights. My decision was based on using them a little, Jacom’s decision to move from ProPhoto, and Dan’s knowledge of the gear… and, oh yeah, the photos that Dan and Jacom were getting.

©Dieter Spears | Do Not Use Without Permission

Ok, let the review begin…You get a battery unit that has 2 plugs for lights. You can run up to 2 light off of one battery. if you run one light of port A, you will get the yummiest 11oo watts of light. The power they create even makes a cool resounding TWHOP when triggered! If you use one light with port B then you get some really low power setting and the super fast flash speed. If you run 2 lights off of the unit, it splits up the power sending 66 percent to one light and 33 to the other, I guess the photo gods get the leftover 1 percent. There is a slow recycle button that helps on battery usage, I normally just keep it on this setting. You will be able to get 300+ shots on full power this way, that’s a lot. It’s really easy to slip out the battery and put a new one in, or plug the unit into the wall and use it without running out of battery.

There are two easily seen power up/down buttons making it easy to tweak the power and with 10 click equaling a stop of power, you can really tweak the amout of light that you want. (look at me spouting off worlds light “stop of power”) If you by the Elinchrom Skyport triggers then you can adjust the power remotely from your trigger, this feature rocks! You can always turn on the optical slave if you don’t have triggers.

Elinchrom Ranger RX AS Speed

The battery unit is easily carried over the shoulder with the Snappy enclosure that you can buy. However, we ended up putting the units in custom made backpack. This makes the system really comfortable and portable. You assistant can easily carry the battery pack on their back and hold a light.

The Ranger lights come in 2 version the A-Head and the S-Head, The A-Head is capable of the super fast flash speeds when shooting in the port-B settings, the “Speed” mode. the lights feel a little plastic, but believe you me they are tough. We have taken these units and shot all day in minus 20° degree F. , into the dusty deserts, and the humidity of jungle islands. The battery power remained consistent in all shooting scenarios and it took the wind 3 times of knocking over one the stands before a small plastic piece broke. The whole system is rock solid!

You’ll get very solid, consistent light from these units, and across multiple units. I now have 2 sets and among the 3 of us we have 6 complete sets and they all shoot identically.

I just bought the smaller quadra setup and will review that soon.

Elinchrom Ranger A-Head

This is not a paid endorsement, I have just bought the product and love it and know you will too, but (Cough, Cough, Wink, Wink) I won’t turn an endorsement down. :)

Dieter Spears is a Nashville Photographer, He shoots Royalty-Free Stock images for iStockphoto.com and Getty Images. He is an iStockphoto Inspector.

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