Elemental - Step into the light! - Digital Photography School

Elemental – Step into the light!

I had the good fortune of chatting with a friend of mine who used to work for a large PR company, photographic gear mainly. Turns out that she has started her own company and one of her new clients are a bunch called Elemental A couple of emails back and forth and I was booked in to meet Danny, the man behind Elemental, a photographer, musician and a comedian – quite the package! We met for dinner and a chat about the different things they have going on as a company, and I have to say I was feeling pretty inspired to hear a guy talk about photography and the kit used in our craft quite so passionately…

http://www.studio-flash.com/

A few days later and I had a large shipment of gear arrive at my office, it was like Christmas (except you have to give review gear back!) Well, I went about un-boxing the kit, checking it all out – you can see the un-boxing video below, it will give you an idea of just how much kit we’re talking about!

So, I had a kit that was made up from two x 600w Trinity heads, un-boxed and stacked neatly next to my desk.. I’ve been scheduling time in to try it all out.

The Lights! Let’s start there, eh…

Here are the figures;

  • Power Control:   1/32 – Full stepless
  • Cooling Fan: YES?
  • Auto Power Release: YES
  • Lighting Range: 55 degree
  • Flash Duration: 1/1200 – 1/800s
  • Modelling Lamp:   250W Diffused Halogen Quartz E27
  • Recycle Indicator: Ready Light & Audio Signal
  • Features: Digital Control Panel
  • Triggering:   Photo Sensor, sync chords, manual fire
  • Triggering Voltage:   5V, DC
  • Colour Temperature: 5500±100°K
  • Effective Photo Sensor Distance:   <10m
  • Power Source:   AC200 – 240V, 50Hz
  • Fuse:   10A

Now, in real world terms… how were they? Well, I typically use a set of Elinchrom Style 400fX lights, they have less power than the Trinity, they’re marginally slower at recharging and they cost me more than the Trinity kit… So, what gives? are the Trinity lights rubbish??- Read on…

The first thing I noticed when I popped a Trinity from its snug packaging was that it’s very tactile, rubber like coating… It made the little fella easy to hold and strangely, made me want to stroke it lovingly (I’m like that with new gear!) A solid feeling light with an easily removable cover for the flashy bits, the Trinity 600 was impressive and easy to use from the off, plugging it up and switching it on, there was no question as to what all the buttons were for…

I mean, quite obviously, the button on the left starts Led Zeppelin playing, there’s volume up and down, right?… But seriously, very easy to navigate – you’ll be adjusting like a pro (without the “pro” price) in no time.  The lights did exactly what I asked them to do, automatically dumping if I dropped the power, bleeping to let me know they had recycled, pointing where I wanted and not overheating.

I had two (well, sort of three) light shapers with the kit, I had a magnificent 55cm beauty dish, and a seriously awesome 90cm octa …and I had the little spill kill that comes with the kit.

Each piece of gear worked flawlessly, the beauty dish comes with a grid and a diffuser, and the Octa is just awesome… (and ridiculous value at £35!) That week  I had a portrait to shoot and toyed with using the Trinity lights “straight out of the box” so to speak..  why the heck not! So, I used one stand and one light and one trigger and the beauty dish… After a very quick set up, I popped the beauty dish on the front and in about three shots had the light right where I wanted it. (I didn’t have a meter with me!) Experimenting with the beauty dish and the grid that it comes with was lots of fun, swapping between harsh and soft shadow.. (my model wasn’t amused, but she didn’t really have a choice, lovely!) the beauty dish gives a great light and is very controllable from very soft to quite harsh with the included grid and sock (I’ll call it a sock, though I’ve no idea what size foot you’d need to wear that bad boy!)

I used the included radio trigger with the flash head, it works fine but doesn’t sync so quick… If you’re after more than about 160th you will either need to use a sync cable or a wireless trigger that’s a bit more up to task (and a lot more money! The Trigger included is only £30.00) The range is pretty awesome (I fired the light from one of end of my office to the other and scared the daylights out of and into one of our production managers at the same time! Quite funny. (For me, not her!)

The wireless trigger included runs off the mains at the light end and takes a small battery at the other end, it has 16 channels and is sturdy and simple… For someone starting out with a kit of lights, I’d say it’s pretty darn cool, and you get the sync cable and size adaptors in the kit as well, so if you need to be up above 160th the option is there. My Alien Bee triggers had around the same range and wouldn’t sync much faster, but cost a load more… (This review is annoying me! it’s showing me a whole load of flaws with my own kit!! Maybe I’ll just keep this stuff!)

SO, I’ve mentioned the lights, the triggers, the light shapers… I should also mention the stands that come with the kit. My Elinchrom kit came with two stands, when I undo the stands to slide them higher or lower, if I’m not holding them, the light crashes down and I have to replace the modelling lamp, without fail… I unclipped one of the Elemental branded light stands and watched as the light slowly descended, as if riding the fluffy white cloud of Monkey Magic, until it reached its resting place… sturdy, sexy and strong… Oh, and a very functional gear bag, that if you try you can easily get one light stand and a head / cables into along with the 90cm Octa, but not the beauty dish, that’d be messy!

In short, the answer to my question “Are the Trinity lights rubbish?” hell no… They’re the best priced 600w lighting kit that I can find on the market… There are a few others that are almost around the same price, they come with lower spec heads or cheap shoddy extras and certainly no shapers to speak of…

What did I get for my money…

  • 2 x Elemental Trinity 600W Studio Heads
  • 2 x Elemental Air Cushioned Stands
  • 1 x 16 channel Wireless trigger
  • 1 x 55cm Beauty Dish
  • 1 x 90cm Octagonal Softbox
  • 1 x Kitbag / power cables / sync cables

How much did I pay? (Well, nothing as it’s a review!) but how much would you expect to pay for the Trinity Twin head kit with the two light shapers? £565.11 (ex Vat)

I’m not going to compare prices of other kits, I don’t need to… The quality of this gear for the money (even for a lot more money!) is very, very good and the customer service (I always do secret shopper calls) has been class A. A very refreshing change for a company in this space, long may it continue…

I award the Elemental Trinity 600W Two head kit 10 of a possible 11 stars.

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Sime is the community manager of the dPS Forums and lead blogger in our Cameras and Gear Blog. He's a Melbourne based photographer, www.gtvone.com and please feel free to follow him on Twitter

  • Kelly Carsen

    Does it start playing “Stairway to Heaven” or “Kashmir”? : )

    All joking aside, this looks like gear worth learning more about. I like the features.

  • Laura

    So out of all the lighting kits do you think this is the one to buy?
    Even over the bowens range?

Some older comments

  • Laura

    March 10, 2011 08:28 am

    So out of all the lighting kits do you think this is the one to buy?
    Even over the bowens range?

  • Kelly Carsen

    August 24, 2010 05:21 am

    Does it start playing "Stairway to Heaven" or "Kashmir"? : )

    All joking aside, this looks like gear worth learning more about. I like the features.

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