Gary Goldberg Reviews the Elinchrom D-Lite RX One

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As Vistek’s Pro Products Manager I get the opportunity to play with a lot of cool gear, and to teach our clients how to use it. A few times a year I teach our Saturday Seminar series here in the Toronto store. This past weekend we offered 2 classes featuring the D-Lite RX One: Portrait Lighting Basics, and Advanced Portrait Lighting/Fashion. I thought I would share some of my insights from these classes, and turn it into a bit of a product review for all of you.

In our Portrait Lighting Basics class, I always demo what can be done with just 2 electronic portable strobes. I’ve been wanting to shoot with the new D-Lite RX ones since they came in a few months ago. The value that these lights have, for the price, is just unbelievable. Just look at the feature list included for the single head umbrella kit:

  • Built-in EL-Skyport receiver for Radio triggering
  • EL-Skyport with 8 Frequency Channels with 4 Groups
  • EL-Skyport Speed Sync mode for synchronization up to a 1/320 s on enabled SLR cameras
  • Pre-flash detector system to enable the use of D-Lite ONE RX with speedlights
  • Power Auto-dump
  • 5V sync socket for maximum protection of digital cameras
  • Automatic temperature controlled ventilation
  • Multi-voltage auto-detection: 90-270 V (excluding modelling lamp)
  • Visual Flash Confirmation option. The modelling lamp comes on to confirm the flash has been triggered
  • Proportionality adjustment of the modelling lamp range
  • Variable f-stop steps: 1/1, ½, 4/10, 3/10, 2/10 or 1/10 steps are available
  • Programmable ready beep function
  • Radio Remote Control of flash power settings, Modelling lamp on/off, Speed sync mode and Triggering
  • Take full control of your units settings with the EL-Skyport App for IPod Touch/Ipad/Iphone via the optional WiFi module
  • Additional features can be found when used with the EL-Skyport Software such as Flash-Delay for strobing effects
  • Firmware update option
  • Accessory bayonet accepting all accessories and Rotalux softboxes up to 135 cm.
  • Stand bracket with extra umbrella fitting for larger umbrella shafts

Oftentimes I want to shoot with professional studio strobes with the light modifiers that are available with that system, and use my fast Nikon lens to shoot wide open – lets say somewhere in the 1.8-2.8 range.

Now, some of you might be thinking, “Why? What’s the point of that?” Have you ever heard the term Bokeh? If not, take a quick look at how wikipedia explains it.

These little RX One lights let us dial down the power from 100WS all the way to 6 – that’s a 5-stop range. When you get down that low, you’re able to shoot with your lens almost wide open, and you can also keep your main light fairly close to your subject – which is great for those of you working in really tight spaces.

The 2 images below were shot with the Nikon D800 and 85mm 1.8 lens. The first shot was done with the D-Lite RX One at full power, with the shoot-through umbrella; our meter gave us F-8  at about 6 feet from our subject.

D-Lite RX One Sample Image

This second image was shot at F-2.0, almost all the way open.

D-Lite RX One Sample Image

And both images were shot with focus maintained on our subject’s eyes. Note: focus is critical when shooting this wide open. So take your time with your shots, and make sure to double check your focus.

Notice how soft and dreamy image # 2 has become, really helping to pay attention to your subject’s eyes, and emotions. This lighting diagram demonstrates just how simple the setup is.

Lighting Diagram


For this third photo, I’ve changed our main light above to a reflective umbrella – meaning that our strobe is pointed away from our subject, and that the umbrella is opaque, reflecting the light back at our subject. You’ll notice in this next shot, that the lighting is a bit more contrasty. I’ve also now taken our shoot-through umbrella and moved it behind our subject on the camera’s right, so it is being used as a hair light. We’re still shooting with the camera fairly wide open to achieve the nice bokeh effect, at F3.5.

D-Lite RX One Sample Image

Again, see how simple the setup is:

Lighting Diagram

One my favorite all time gadgets is my iPad, and I decided to test the Elinchrom EL Skyport Wifi unit during this shoot. I have to say that it performed flawlessly, and is a great tool for quickly adjusting the output of your lights. I would highly recommend this and a light meter that can read flash exposures. My weapon of choice is the Sekonic L-358 .

If you’d like a bit more info on the El Skyport WiFi, check out this product overview:

I have to say that I’m mightily impressed with these compact and portable little D-Lite RX ONE lights from Elinchrom. Not only are they great for beginners, but they will give Pros the ability to use the many Elinchrom light modifiers that are available and shoot at a wide-open lens aperture to achieve some beautiful dreamy portraits.