While looking at the Elinchrom Ranger RX Speed kit recently I thought it would be an appropriate time to check out Elinchrom's super powerful ringflash. The company make two models - a 1500 version specifically designed for use with the Ranger RX pack, and this more powerful RF3000, which needs an Elinchrom Ranger EL adapter cable to convert the plug
from a standard Elinchrom pack fitting to the Ranger Powerpack.
Elinchrom RF3000 Ringflash Specifications
- Max. flash power: 3000 Ws / all EL power packs
- Compatible power packs: Digital RX 1200 & 2400, Digital AS 1500 & 3000,Classic 1500 & 3000, Micro AS 1500 & 3000
- Flash duration @ full power t 0.5 – t 0.1: 1/2600 – 1/935 (Digital RX 1200)
- Flash duration @ min. power t 0.5 – t 0.1: 1/1920 – 1/760 (Digital RX 1200) RX)
- F-stop 2 m, ISO 100, @ full power, 1/500s: 22.3 (Digital RX 1200)
- Inner diameter:10 cm
- Outer diameter: 20 cm
- Cable length: 5 m
- Camera fitting: Universal, incl. 1/4” and 3/8” camera screw
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 23 x 20 x 32 cm
- Weight: Including cable, 1.9 kg
Elinchrom RF3000 Ringflash Handling
The RF3000 is a big beast compared with the range of hot shoe connecting ringflash units you may have seen in your local camera store. This is because it's a pro-spec model designed for fashion and portraiture, while the Vivitars, Sunpaks and Cobras of the world are more appropriate for close up and macro work.
The principle is the same. The flash is a circular tube that is mounted over the lens on the camera so you shoot through the hole. This type of flash concentrates the illumination for high contrast or high key lighting while ensuring almost shadowless light.
The advantage of a flash like this Elinchrom is that its larger ring gives a less direct light with more modeling and the halo catchlight is larger and more pronounced.
The unit is capable of delivering 3000W/s output at full power, which means you get an aperture of f/22 at two meters away. Compared with your portable units with the guide number of between 10 and 15 it means this is roughly four times more powerful! And that's noticeable when you fire it at full blast. You can joke with the model that you are about to fry her.
The unit comes with a camera mounting bracket which can be adjusted up and down and forward and backward so you can align the camera and lens dead centre to the ring. The camera mounting plates are provided for standard 35mm thread (1/4in) and medium format (3/8in) Each plate attaches to the camera with a locking nut that needs a screwdriver to tighten. The design doesn't have space to use a coin which is a bit of a flaw. I hadn't realised this by the time I got to the beach so had to tighten with my thumbnail so it was a bit lose on the mount.
The ringflash has a long 5m power cable that connects to the Elinchrom Powerpack. As the ring flash is mounted near to you I'd like to see the power control settings on the head rather then on the pack. but that's only a small point.
Elinchrom RF3000 Ringflash Performance
I was really please with the output of this unit, the light provided is very clean and even.
It's clear how the ring flash effect improves the closer portrait modelling a single head flash would cause a stark lit subject whereas the ringlight gives a subtle shadow on the face to the side of the nose resulting in a more three dimensional appearance.
The characteristic soft shadow a ringflash creates around the subject is difficult to see on these shots as I had a dark background, but if you look carefully on the full length shot it's there and perfectly formed.
The colour of light is a touch warm, giving the model's skin a healthy glow. I'd like a larger or less defined ring catchlight in the eye. Hensel make a ringflash diffuser which would help here.
It was possible to hand hold the unit, although there was no comfortable position to grab it and edges are quite sharp and industrial. Newer models have a handle grip and more curvatious contours which will imporve matters.
Elinchrom RF3000 Ringflash Verdict
The RF3000 is a competent beast. The lighting is direct and even and much better than the Cobra I've used before. The recognisable ringflash shadow is present on the full length shot I did, but the dark background means it's quite subdued. A ringflash is definitely on my wish list and this is the best I've used so far. I've just got the new Bowens to check out before I make my mind up. If you are an exisiting Elinchrom user you won't be disaapointed with this!
Elinchrom RF3000 Ringflash Plus points
Bright and powerful
Elinchrom RF3000 Ringflash Minus points
Tripod attachment could be easier
No diffuser as an accessory
Old industrial design
The Elinchrom Ranger Ringflash costs £799 and fits elinchrom powerpacks. It's available from the ePHOTOzine shop here