What do you call it when something that was already very good gets quite a lot better? Well I guess that would be an upgrade. That’s exactly what happened yesterday when I changed to the new Lithium Ion batteries on my Elinchrom Ranger Quadra kit.
New lithium ion on the left and the old lead gel on the right.
From the picture above, you can see that there is an appreciable size difference – which is always handy but there’s no way that I would have swapped them out just because of that – after all, they weren’t exactly huge to start with. There are four real reasons that I swapped:
- My old batteries were over four years old and had stopped holding a full charge – especially in the cold weather
- Elinchrom claim a higher capacity of up to 320 full-power flashes per charge for the new battery compared to only 150 for the old ones
- Faster recycle times. I’m going to have to believe Elinchrom and my own gut feeling here because you cannot compare brand new batteries to four year old ones in any meaningful way but at full power the recycle time appears to have halved to just over 1.5 seconds
- They weigh a lot less – 892 grammes less each. The new battery is 784 grammes compared to the old one which was 1,676 grammes. With two batteries in my kit I have saved a massive 1,792 grammes
Less weight, even in a rolling case, has got be a good thing 99% of the time and I am really looking forward to having to carry less. Of course I have always loved using the pack and battery to weight the base of the lighting stand down when working outdoors. I might have to find a few rocks and bricks lying around to supplement the pack more often that I used to but that’s fine by me.
I’ve only managed to shoot two small jobs with them so far and the speed of the recycling is great – even with my four year old Ranger Quadra pack and S heads. Some portraits yesterday afternoon shot indoors and on a lower power setting had the kit recycling in a fraction of a second which made the job go very smoothly indeed.
I have yet to try out the new Quadra Hybrid pack which promises all sorts of extras that I don’t think that I need. Elinchrom offer an upgrade to packs as old as mine to get the brighter display but my purchasing decisions these days are made on a perceived need rather than on wanting the shiniest and newest kit.
I’ve blogged about this Elinchrom kit before. The first time was in May 2009 when I’d only had the kit a short while. 32 months later I blogged again and, in what has become my most popular posting ever, I gave my considered review of the kit. One of the first comments on that posting alerted me to the new batteries being on their way. It’s taken me twelve months to get around to getting the new batteries and having the small modifications done to the S heads and I’m a happy man.
In the “32 months on” review I mentioned a few other things that I’d like to have seen produced to go with this kit. In the last six months I have become less and less pleased with the Skyport remote system that comes with the Ranger Quadra. The original triggers were prone to falling out of the hot shoe and the controls on the mark two version are tough to see in low light. I know that the whole raison d’être of this system is to be small and lightweight but they went too far with the Skyport transmitter – so much so that I’ve gone back to using Pocket Wizard Plus III transceivers a lot of the time at the expense of being able to remotely control the power.
So, Elinchrom – I hope that some senior managers are reading this… if you really want to make my happiness complete, can you please produce a transmitter that works with the EL Skyport receiver built into my Quadra pack that takes AA batteries, is about the size and weight of the Pocket Wizard Plus III unit with a digital display that has all of the functionality of the small Skyport transmitter but that is easy to use in subdued light, doesn’t require a tough-to-find button battery and that stays in the hot shoe properly. Pretty please?