It's here! I believe this is the first Quadra delivered to Germany. I think it's also the full writeup from an individual, and definitely the first unboxing post. I normally don't do this kind of thing, but since it's so new to the market, this might help some people decide. There were some things I wasn't sure of, that I would have loved to know before buying.
The box was conveniently sized. Not too large, it fit in my backpack to take home by bicycle.
Everything was packed nice and tight, with cardboard padding to keep it from rattling around.
First things out are the manuals, shoulder strap, PC-sync cable, and the connector cable for the head to power pack.
Everything out of the box. Click through to Flickr to read the notes highlighting what is what. I love the fact the charger has easy to change adaptors, for UK, US and EU, so you don' t have to pack an adaptor. I like how the charging port is on the battery itself, so if you buy a 2nd, it can be charging while you are using the power pack and other battery. It can also run off wall power if the battery is gone, but it won't charge till you turn the pack off. They included 2 standard 20 watt fuses, and there is a tray for both. They recomend to remove the necessary one while traveling, so it's nice to have 2 spots so you can have your main and spare in the pack, so you won't lose it, while traveling.
Closeup of the pack itself. Large size should let you read all the text. Again, click through to flickr to read the notes. I like how it has LEDs for each function so you can easily see. I also like how you can have the power display either in F-stops or in Watt seconds. I picked Ws because I understand that better, coming from someone who never uses a light meter. I like that all the top ports are covered when not in use (like the sync port) to keep out light rain, though they don't recomend using it in the rain. The shoulder strap hooks are also very nice, and I like that they are carabiners to fascilitate easy removal.
The head itself compared to the 580ex II.
Full setup. I particularly like how the battery pack acts as a weight to really stabilize the stand, without being too heavy for these Nano stands.
Closeup of the S-head. Note that the umbrella holder DOES NOT fit Wescott hexagonal umbrella stems. The stems are too large. Also note the lack of a clamp of any sort. These fit the Elinchrom shaft diameter, which I believe is 7mm. I am awaiting the arrival of my replacement Alzo 60cm silver umbrella, which I'm unsure if it fits or not. This is the only dissapointing aspect so far.
This head does not use the standard elinchrom mount. If you want to mount elinchrom modifiers to it, you have to purchase an adaptor. I want to try to build one myself. I plan to get the XXS or XS Chimera softbox with a 20 degree grid, but it will have to wait till next month's paycheck. :-) There is coming a 40x40cm Elinchrom softbox that will mount directly to this head without the need of the adaptor, but it's not out yet, the price isn't known, nor whether it can accept a grid, which is important to me.
Now for some comparisons in light quality. Inside a lighting modifier, the light source itself is practically irrelavent as long as it can fill the light mod, and be bright enough. A 60x60 cm softbox will look the same on the subject regardless of the flash inside it, if the power levels are comparable. However bare bulb is a different aspect. Bare bulb throws far, won't blow over in a strong wind, and is the fastest to set up. It also gives a very edgy harsh look, but it's very rarely desirable.
This is lit with the Canon 580ex II. Bare, at 105mm. Notice the hot specular on nose and forehead, and the razor sharp shadow from the nose on the cheek, the harsh transition from light to dark on the edge of the face, and the sharp shadow on the wall from the chair.
Lit with the Modeling LED light only. This one is interesting, because it's supposed to be daylight balanced, but in actuality runs quite yellow, at least on mine. It's possible it warms up to be properly balanced, but when it just turns on, it's 4500k with a green tint, not 5600k as claimed. So if you're wanting to use this for a video light, be aware that it is not daylight balanced as claimed online in other places. I still find it useful for previewing the light position on the face. I don't know yet if it's bright enough to push through a softbox to see the light on the face, but bare, it works fine, and throws quite far. It has a bit of a hot core, then a much dimmer surrounding. This is because it sits flush, and isn't able to bounce much into the reflector. You can program how long it stays on from 1-60 seconds, with a single button press, or if you hold it for 3 seconds, it stays on till you turn it off again. Very nice that you can leave it on as long as you have battery power, to do some light painting.
You can see the shadows are a bit softer, most noticeable on the chair shadow, but it gives kind of an odd, uneven softness.
Lit with the flash itself. The shadows are softer, but you have to look close to see it. The chair shadow shows it the most. I won't use this bare with the 13.5cm reflector much, but it's nice to know that it is softer than the 580, which I would use bare sometimes. Any amount of built in softness is nice.
Here is an animated gif flashing through all 3, so you can better appreciate the bare flash bulb difference.
The best places to view the differences is in the chair shadow on the wall, and the tip of the nose shadow where it almost joins the cheek shadow.
I'm really excited to use this kit more, unfortunately it will have to wait till I get at least one lighting modifier. I had planned to use my umbrella till I get the Chimera, but since it doesn't fit, I can only use it barebulb for now.
One thing that I wanted to know, and have now confirmed, is that you can change the incremental power changes via skyport. The default setting is 1/10 of a stop per button press, but that's a lot of presses if you're off by a lot on your first shoot. I also don't like doing tiny changes, as I find things normally need a bit more to be noticeable. You can also set it to 1/10-1 stop increments. I've got it set to 1/2 stop increments. So each up or down press goes down 50% or up 100%.
Pros of the Quadra over the 580exII
- Much MUCH brighter highest power.
- 1.2 second recycle time at full power, compared to 5 seconds on the 580exII. If you turned the Quadra down to the power of the 580, you'd have near instant recharge.
- Lower minimum setting. Just 8.2 Watt seconds on the B port.
- Lighter head. The head is all that must sit on the end of a boom, so the 250 grams of the Quadra head is nicer than the 375 grams of the 580ex II
- While the battery pack does have to be carried, it can serve as a stand weight to stabilize.
- Bare bulb, it throws in all directions, whereas the 580ex II only throws straight ahead. This results in the Quadra filling the light mods more fully. As an example, inside a softbox, the 580 just goes straight and hits the first baffle. The Quadra also goes straight sideways and hits the silver of the interior, resulting in more even light coming out of the front.
- Softer bare. As the examples show, with no light mods, it's a softer light
- Built in skyport. This is the biggie. No pc-sync cable to bother with, no skyport to velcro to the top of the 580ex, it just works wirelessly soon as you turn it on.
- Built in wireless power adjustment via radio! Yes, with the Canon 220 you can control the 580's power remotely, but it has limited range, and doesn't work that great outdoors. This allows you to control the quadra's power output via the Skyport remote trigger, and it's radio based, so you get crazy range, and sunlight doesn't phase it. This is the number one reason I bought this unit. I can stay in front of my subject, and adjust power without interupting our shoot.
- Built in stand mount. With the 580, I have to also setup the flash mount on the stand, before I can mount the flash. It doesn't take that long, but it's just one more item I have to deal with, that slows my setup time before I can shoot. The S-head has the stand mount attached, so you just pop it on the stand and tighten.
- Much improved modeling light. The 580 has one, but it's just a 1 second long pulse. You can't really take a photo with it, it's hard to light paint with it, and it's far too weak to fill a light mod. The Quadra's can stay on as long as you need, and doesn't flicker. It's not daylight balanced, which is dissapointing.
- Size/weight of the total unit with flash and batteries included.
- Can't mount the Quadra directly to the camera (which I never do anyway)
- No TTL on the Quadra (again, never do that)
- More weather proof.
- That's about it.