So Iʼm just a little nuts, I decided to leave Canada and make a go at things in one of the craziest places on earth, India.. specifically the wonderfully messed up city of Mumbai. In between getting my bearings in this country, finding an apartment, getting harassed by pimps/drug dealers, and networking, Iʼve made some time to shoot some personal work as well. I left my favorite piece of kit back in Canada; the Elinchrom Ranger RX Speed AS pack, luckily the great folks at Photoquip India and Mehta Enterprises came to my rescue and kindly lent me a pack and head for my work out here.. I honestly canʼt thank these guys enough for their help… I woulda been shelling out a good chunk of chai money on renting gear
So I just wanted to talk about this gear, why I use it, and how itʼs different than other alternatives available on the market.. hopefully I can avoid fielding a bunch of “why wouldnʼt you just do it with speedlights?” questions.
The Ranger is 1,100Ws of photon goodness, couple that with a 2.8 second recycle time and Iʼm laughing like a group of Japanese girls at a bubble tea joint. I like shooting key shifted (underexposed backgrounds) images, which means Iʼm shooting anywhere from f/16 to f/22. This requires a lot of light, especially when my light source is going through a modifier and is farther away from my subject. Now all this power tends to eat batteries fairly quickly, and while the Ranger batteries are stated as offering 250 full power pops, Iʼm pretty sure the folks at Elinchrom work some voodoo magic on these things to make them last far longer.. Iʼve easily fired off 300 frames and been able to get through half a shoot the next day on one battery.. especially if you begin dialing down the pack, the battery life doubles for every stop you dial down, which means youʼre going to get a lot of shooting in before you need to quickly swap batteries.
NOT SO MUCH POWER!
The Ranger also kindly dials down to a mere 5.7Ws, so I can also shoot in low light at wider apertures as well. This ensures that I donʼt need to deal with swapping systems from shot to shot and I can work all day with the one unit.. Iʼm already carrying enough stuff around, I donʼt want to also have to bring another light and modifier with me as well. Back to the batteries.. if you dial this baby down, youʼre going to be able to shoot on one battery. all.frikken.day. Again, if youʼre at 100Ws on the ranger thatʼs equivalent to full power on an SB900 zoomed to 200mm. So if youʼre using a speedlight youʼre shooting at full power which is A) murdering batteries B) taking 7 or more seconds to recycle, and C) especially in the case of the SB900, youʼre going to overheat and possibly damage the unit. The Ranger will be near instant recycle, youʼre definitely not stressing the unit and itʼs not going to overheat..speaking of overheating, I put the Ranger in a black backpack and carted it around in 45 degree heat… and the unit just kept on tickinʼ like a timex!
~The main competition to the Ranger is the Profoto 7B, which is a whopping 27lbs! while the Ranger is 17lbs. This is a huge difference when that puppy is on your back and youʼre hiking a mountain in the heat. The 7B is so heavy that I donʼt even like using it in the studio! Another benefit of the weight is that the Ranger can double as a sandbag for your light stand (I like to just hang the Ranger from my C stand by the shoulder strap). Now I know the Ranger Quadra is light as a feather.. if Elinchrom can pack 1,100Ws into that package Iʼll find a woman and marry her just so I can give them my first born..
As the internet loves to say “why didnʼt you do A with B instead??” sure, you can overpower the sun with 10 speedlights like Joe McNally.. but you ever try to rig 10 of those into one softbox, or better yet, a beauty dish? Cant.Be.Done. I like the ease of just using one head to get the job done..I fussed around in the past with multiple lights and itʼs not fun (granted, I never had one of those fancy tri-flash brackets) so I just lock in the head and rock and roll.
And speaking of modifiers, Iʼm in love. I bought the 100cm Rotalux Deep Octa when I first got here and itʼs just about the best thing ever..next to real Indian chai tea of course
But really? what more could you ask for? The octa stays attached to the speedring, so you just collapse the unit in 10 seconds when you need to travel. I can then pop it open and add diffusion panels in less than a minute.. The same canʼt be said for the old fashioned rod and speed ring variety, those are a total PITA to deal with. not only is it easy to set up, itʼs light as a feather while still being built tough, Iʼve got a photoflex softbox that seriously weighs three times as much. But itʼs not the weight (or lack thereof) or the speed ring system that Iʼm in love with..itʼs the versatility of this modifier that does it for me. I can pop in just a deflector (which you can only do with an Elinchrom head so ditto with other heads that can be used with Rotalux) and Iʼve got a big ass portable beauty dish. I can go one step further and put in just the internal diffusion, which gives me a soft yet crisp light, this is definitely my favorite way to use the deep octa. Finally, I can pop on the outer diffusion and I now have an extremely soft light that still manages to maintain its character.. I find that some soft sources are soft and ʻflatʼ. All in all, I know the Deep Octa is going to be my go to mod for a long time (Even though Iʼm grabbing the 150cm octabank in a week that guy will mainly be a used in the studio).
Letʼs face it, photography is an expensive craft, so why spend more cash than you need to?
So you want a Profoto 7B, a head and a spare battery? Thatʼs gonna cost ya a cool $6,450 before shipping… seriously, a spare battery alone is $1,100. So donʼt even get me started on the newer B4 generator thatʼs just under 8K
Or you can go and grab this kit for $2,399 before shipping and you get the pack, head, 2 batteries, shoulder strap, reflector, varistar umbrella, sync cable, and hard case. Wow. That leaves you enough cash for a couple of mods and a used car.
So just a final breakdown as to why I use this gear over some other options:
Elinchrom Ranger Quadra>> Only 400Ws
Speedlights >> Lack of power, longer recycle, modifiers, overheating issues, changing light power while light is up high.
Alien Bees >> lack of power, and generally just not a fan of their units.
Profoto >> Weight and price
Broncolor >> Are you frikken kidding me????!!!??
Ohh and some pictures
And one of me hauling around the kit! thanks to my trusty assistant Ankur Jadhav for the photo and all the help!!