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Elemental LR55 Plus studio kit Studio Lighting and Flash Review

Elemental LR55 Plus studio kit Studio Lighting and Flash Review - Shed some light on it. A high end professional lighting system from Elemental gets tested.

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Category : Studio Lighting and Flash
Product : LR55 Plus
Price : £599
Rating :
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Features and handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Priced at £599, the two heads are based on the Visico VCLR500 flash units, the LR55 flash heads feature 500w output, with a full five step control range of 1/1 to 1/32.

Elemental LR55 Plus Studio kit pointers
1. LCD display
Shows the information of the flash unit and lights up in blue for easy use.
2. Fuse holder & spare fuse
Easy access to the fuse box if it blows and a spare is included if you're in a shoot.
3. Sync cord input
Tether the camera directly to the lights.
4. Main power switch
Powers the unit on or off.
5. Flash/Modelling Lamp power regulator
Changes the power of the flash unit on the LCD screen.
6. Photocell (slave)
Allows the flash to be fired by the flash of another unit. There's a possibility of non-firing if the trigger isn't in line of sight.
7. Red-eye reduction switch & slave sensor On/Off
Scrolls through the slave sensor options on the LCD screen.
8. Test button
Easiest way to fire the flash. Useful for discharging the flash tube before replacing.
9. Ready flash beeper On/Off
Enables or disables the audible ready beep.


Elemental LR55 Plus studio kit: Features and handling
The back of the lights are easy enough to understand even if you're a novice. A large dial selects the power output on the unit and while being easy to move, doesn't run through the range too quickly, so it's unlikely you'll keep skipping past the setting you want. A large LCD screen gives all the information you need while in a shoot and is lit in a cool blue. Typical things shown on the screen are the current power output of the flash in big numbers, the voltage of the country you're in and whether the slave is on. It tells you whether there's going to be an audible ready signal as well as the word 'ready' when it's good to go. I also like the warning sign if the light is overheating or if it's malfunctioning.

Elemental LR55 Plus Studio Kit rear view
The rear of the flash head is well laid out making it easy-to-use.
Elemental LR55 Plus Studio Kit front view
Two modelling bulbs are supplied but one blew quickly.
Elemental LR55 Plus Studio Kit with dish removed
The reflector dishes have the widely used S bayonet mount.
Elemental LR55 Plus Studio Kit side view with tilt lever
The Elemental LR55 is a joint development between Elemental and Visico.

The LR55 has a great build quality to it made out of aluminium and coated in a rubbery skin that feels weird to touch, but not unpleasant. It's worth noting that the tilt lever on the side of the light is on a ratchet and needs to be turned to tighten, pulled out and turned again. This is explained in the instructions, so it's advisable to read them before using the kit.

Along with two LR500 heads, you also get two air cushioned lighting stands which are built to a good standard. They're strong with thick tubing and work well enough for what you need. One thing I found was that the nut to fasten the head to the stand looks like it's falling out when the head is attached and tightened. It won't fall, but didn't do anything for my nerves while I tested the kit.

The kit comes with two bags: A long one for the stands and brollies that opens in the middle like an ordinary bag and also has a zip at one end. The end one is to take the stands out with because the middle opening isn't big enough to get the stands out with. The main bag is a compartmentalised kit bag for escorting the flash heads and other equipment that comes in the kit such as the reflectors, remote trigger and cables. The padded dividers are thick and strong while the bag is sturdy and will easily fit all the kit into it.

So far, so good, the flash heads are built to a high standard, the stands are strong enough to support them confidently and the back of the light is easy to understand. A more complicated area is synchronising the remote trigger. It's done by setting the lights to 5.5 power and switching them off. Then press and hold the test button on the back and turn on the lights. The 5.5 will be replaced by two dashes. With the remote already powered up, press a number on the remote then the large round button. Turn the flash unit off, then back on and they're synchronised. It's designed so you can't accidentally sync it, which I think is a good idea, as well as the fact that you can sync it at all. It means you're unlikely to get interference from outside influences and it works faultlessly everytime. There's no power button, so if you're using it sporadically or leaving it for a long time, you may want to remove the batteries.

Elemental LR55 Plus studio kit: Performance
In my tests, the lights worked well, firing whenever I needed them and sometimes when I didn't. I thought this may be from a build-up of static because this used to happen to me in the past, but a chat to Danny James, Managing Director for Elemental explained that because I had the receiver plugged in and decided to use the hot-shoe infra-red trigger instead of the transmitter, the receiver then started to cycle through the range trying to find a channel that will fire the flash.

Elemental LR55 Plus Studio Kit in action
Canon EOS 5D MkII & 50mm f/1.4 lens set to f/6.3 at 1/160sec.
Elemental LR55 Plus Studio Kit portraits
Bowens softboxes were attached for this portrait and they fit excellently.

The only other problem I had was with a modelling bulb blowing after around an hour which was annoying but happens and you can't really grade when it's going to happen. You can try to extend the life of the modelling bulb by using gloves or a cloth to handle it. Using bare hands will leave oil residue from your skin which heats up the glass unevenly. However, modelling light filaments aren't made as well as they used to be, although the glass surrounding them is much better quality than it used to be.

Elemental LR55 Plus studio kit: Verdict
I really got on well with this kit, it's efficient, easy to set up and is compatible with the Bowens S fitting so I got to use some softboxes we have as well. It's relatively compact, so will work well for a travelling photographer and is sturdy enough to be moved around all over the place too.

The performance is great and one of the easiest I've used in this classification. Other kits for the same price such as the Bowens Gemini 400 at £559 offer the same items in the kit but the lights aren't as high powered. Recycle times are roughly the same as is the control range of five stops but the Elemental kit has a higher guide of 78 at ISO100. The kit comes with two reflectors, brollies, stands and power leads as well as a synch lead and kit bag.

Elemental LR55 Plus studio kit: Pros
Easy to use
Great build quality
S bayonet mount compatible



FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE
OVERALL


Elemental LR55 studio kit: Specification
Kit price £599
Contact www.studio-flash.com
What's in the box 2x Elemental Visico LR500 strobes, 2x spill kill reflector dishes, 2x sync leads, 1x remote control, stand bag, 2x air-cushioned stands, 2x 43in umbrellas, 1x DC 8 channel trigger, 1x AC 8 channel receiver, 1x armopured studio case, 1x 80cm 5 in 1 reflector
Output 500w
Flash duration 1/800 - 1/1200sec
Colour temperature  5600k
Power settings 1/1 - 1/32 full five stop range +/- 0.1EV increments
Slave Photocell, slave cell, sync cable, test button
Sync socket Yes, 1/4in jack
Modelling lamp JD E27 250, 250w, screw fit
Accessory fitting S bayonet type
User-changeable flashtube Yes
Fan-cooled Yes
Battery-pack compatible No
Size 320x130x130mm
Weight 2.8kg

The Elemental LR55 Plus Studio kit costs around £599 and is available from Elemental UK here:

Elemental LR55 Plus Studio kit

The Elemental LR55 Ultra Studio kit comes with background equipment, costs around £649 and is also available from Elemental UK here:

Elemental LR55 Ultra Studio kit


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Comments


Had a nice long chat to Danny @ Elemental (www.studio-flash.com) and you couldn't have spoken to a nicer guy imo.

When I'm looking at buying a product I need to know it's backed by great customer service and I can guarantee that is what you get from Elemental.

Im picking up a custom setup from Danny asap for my new studio in Glasgow.

Cheers

Fraser Gordon
Napier-Designs.com

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JasF 5 31 Wales
20 Dec 2009 10:58AM
Hi Gordon.

You made a great choice!

I have the 3x head version with Elementals own softbox's etc, I really do feel that they are the best overall buy in this category/price range.

I can honestly say that they have not missed a beat in the two months that I have had them. They have great recycling times, consistent colour (everytime) and awesome build quality.

For me, the remote was the icing on the cake as it is so handy when the lights are positioned high... and as per the review, it works everytime!

I fire mine with the included chinese style wireless triggers which surprisingly have again been consistent with no misfires.. I even bought a spare trigger which is attached to my Sekonic lightmeter, again performing well.

And as per Gordons comment, Danny is so easy to deal with.

I really would recommend these to anyone looking for some high performing, well built lights as they really are the best out there for the price tag! I have a three head setup with everything I needed to start off with (and more!) for under 900.

The kits in the 500 region will get you going straight out of the box.. If this is the budget you have then it's easy, just buy them as like me and many others on EPZ "you wont be disappointed!"

Feel free to PM me if you have any question.

Jason
Britman 8 1.7k England
22 Dec 2009 11:46PM
I'm another very happy customer, I've only got the starter G3 kit but man do you get a lot for your buck. When I ordered I ask for one of the white brollies to be swapped to a silver no problems, they also gave me 2 white brollies in exchange for not getting the 5-1 reflector , already got that baby.

I did have an issue with the wireless triggers, for some reason when 2 where synced they'd fire the strobes at random. A quick email and an exchange was arranged, had the new triggers a couple days later.

Something I'm really upset about and that's I've just not had time to play with my new toys.

I do have an unboxing video on my site, just follow the link in my profile.

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