Last week in Melbourne I had the opportunity to put the Elinchrom Skyport Plus HS Transmitter and the Elinchrom Quadra HS Head through their paces. Elinchrom users finally have the ability to control and visualize power settings across all of their lights directly from the Skyport transmitter plus the ability to shoot at speeds up to 1/8000s in Hi-Sync mode. Hi-Sync is even possible with the amazing Elinchrom ELB 400 battery unit when combined with the new Quadra HS Head.
Elinchrom Hi-Sync technology lets you go beyond the X-Sync of your camera. Now you can simply switch to Hi-Sync mode and access sync speeds up to 1/8000s to freeze motion, overpower the sun, darken backgrounds or use a wider aperture. The new ODS (Over Drive Sync) enables users to fine tune the Skyport plus HS transmitter’s trigger signal to optimize exposure at high shutter speeds while gaining up to 2 more f-stops of light.
I’m very experienced with using High-Speed sync with Nikon Speedlights in conjunction with PocketWizard or Phottix TTL triggers but the obvious disadvantage with that is the lack of power from a single speed light. Sure you can combine multiple speedlights to increase your power but the rig becomes cumbersome and expensive! The Elinchrom ELB 400 is a little powerhouse of a battery flash unit and now that the Skyport Plus HS Transmitter is here, it has just become an amazingly versatile piece of kit.
The main appeal for using Hi-Sync for me is not so much the action stopping high shutter speeds but the ability to shoot at wide open apertures to achieve shallow depth-of-field. When restricted to a maximum flash sync speed of 1/250th of a sec and when shooting outdoors in daylight, it’s extremely difficult to under-expose the ambient light to get a darker background, without using small apertures.
For my shoot with Nicole, I wanted to shoot pretty wide open to take any distractions out of the background. Unfortunately the Melbourne weather wasn’t being to kind to us this day so we had to put up with freezing winds, overcast sky and at times, slight drizzle. In the end this actually gave the final images some great mood as I was able to darken the sky right down and make the clouds look very ominous. I was hoping to create a timeless, cinematic and dramatic look to these images of Nicole who has the look of a modern day screen siren. I must say I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. To achieve that under-exposure of the ambient / available light, I had to set my Nikon D750 to 1/2000th sec at f4.
The Skyport Plus HS was relatively easy to use and I figured out all the settings very quickly without having to resort to reading the manual. Just turn it on and it will find any nearby Elinchrom flash heads or ELB units and list them on the screen. From there you can adjust the power of the heads individually just by selecting them from the list.
Overall I was very impressed with this first test drive of the new Skyport Plus HS Transmitter and the Quadra HS Head and I was very happy with the resulting images. I’m really looking forward to the next challenge I can give them!