above assistant Bennet Farkas standing in as I set my lights
Last month a friend asked me to start a big portrait project. 140 people in 3 cities. My first thought was "I need new lights!" I've been using Elinchrom Ranger Quadras and an Elinchrom 600 monolight happily for a couple years. But I knew I'd have to light entire office spaces so I wanted to add a couple extra monolights. While I like the 600 I'd always been bothered that it is 110volts only. Lots of my work does happen over seas so a multivoltage light seems better. The Elinchrom BX500Ri seemed to be the perfect light for me. Almost as bright as the 600, 90-220 volts, plus it takes the same flash tube as my Ranger Quadras. Sounds perfect so I ordered 2 along with a 27.5-Inch Rotalux Deep Octabox.
So are they perfect? Well maybe half perfect.
In general the BX500Ri's worked just like I would expect them to. Plenty bright, easy adjustments, with a nice full spectrum light. They have built in optical slaves but I use them with my pocket wizards. 1/10 stop adjustments are fantastic. They sound perfect right? Again 1/2 perfect. Why? One of them does not fire consistently. Every now and then it just won't fire. I replaced the flash tube and still had the same problem. So the bad one is on its way back to New Jersey to be repaired or replaced. The other 500, the 600 and the Ranger Quadra packs soldiered through admirably.
The lesson in all this is that even good equipment breaks, even when it is new, even when it is well taken care of. As a professional photographer I plan for that. Need 2 lights? Better bring 3. Have an extra camera on hand, back up to 3 hard drives... It isn't paranoia, it is good business sense.