Can you name 2 frequent mistakes and 2 non-typical uses for softboxes

Started Jan 15, 2011 | Discussions thread
Joseph S Wisniewski Forum Pro • Posts: 34,133
Where Elinchroms fall down, literally...

andrewD2 wrote:

Joseph S Wisniewski wrote:

A common mistake is buying Elinchrom lights. Their softbox attachment system is so screwy that we went through at least 4 speedrings at MPW, as the two prong bayonet Elinchrom just tore the tabs out of the speedrings.

The effort required to mount a rotalux onto a elinchrom light is minimal. I can do it one handed with only the friction of the softbox on the floor as resistance.

Hi Andrew.

My issue with Elinchrom isn't the "difficulty" of mounting things. It's easier than many systems. I can swap a reflector for a shoot on an Elinchrom easier than I can on my White Lightning Ultras.

And sure, they can hold a Rotalux, which Elinchrom describes in their English language literature as "The featherweight box". It's one of those boxes that's built with thin cloth and thin rods, like an umbrella. The Rotalux is shallow and has a horrible center hot spot. It's little better than an umbrella as far as quality of light. And doesn't have a recessed front so it can take a normal grid, just the weird "slip on" grid.

We use "standard" softboxes, the kind that deliver years of trouble free service mounted on Broncolor, Profoto, White Lightning, Speedotron, etc. heads. They're much deeper than the Rotalux, and the better approximation of a parabola really improves the quality of light, it's less divergent and there's less hot spots. That depth, plus the deeply recessed front, gives a lot more moment arm to torque the ring. Like the old quote "give me a lever long enough, and I shall move the world". And the heavier cloth, double side panels (the reflectors are separate cloth from the outer light blocking shell, double diffuser, heavier rods, rolled edges, and Velcro lining puts a lot of weight on the end of that long moment arm. Again, it's nothing that bothers most other brands of lights, it's just the Elinchroms that get trashed.

MPW uses Westcott III (3x4, 90x120cm) and IV 4x6 (120x180cm) softboxes, but my own Chimeras are built similarly, as are Brons or Profotos.

The problem with the Elinchrom attachment system is that the mating collar is about a 85mm cylinder, about 10mm deep, with two curved slots cut into it for a bayonet, maybe 15mm long and 4mm deep. The light has two pins that engage those curved slots. The weight of a softbox is born on the projection that's left after a slot is cut into the collar, and that projection is simply too fragile to hold all that weight on a long moment arm. So it fails. Elinchrom collars fail. Westcott collars fail. Even the collars we had machined by a local shop, about twice the thickness of a stock collar, failed.

A White Lightning, for example, engages a speedring with 4 claws, not 2, and those claws grab the inside edge of a solid collar, not projections undermined by bayonet slots. An off the cuff engineering estimate, I'd put that system at at least 8 times the strength of an Elinchrom.

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Rahon Klavanian 1912-2008.

Armenian genocide survivor, amazing cook, scrabble master, and loving grandmother. You will be missed.

Ciao! Joseph

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