Ringflash Roundup… Profoto D4 vs Elinchrom ECO

Sort of a comparison….

I have two battery systems in house. Profoto Acute B and Elinchrom Ranger Quadra. I started with the Acute B a decade ago and still love it though I bought into Elinchrom looking for fast and light digital with lots of heads. Though the Acute B has been discontinued, additional reasoning for sticking with it, it’s compatible with AC powered packs.

Brother from another mother? Profoto D4 ringflash and Elinchrom ECO ringflash


The quantitative…
Profoto D4 Elinchrom ECO
Internal Dia 4” 3.93
Weight 4.85lbs 2.2kg 2.2lbs 1kg
W/S max 2400W/S or 9600 Joules/min


Accessories Profoto reflectors/diffusers Diffuser
Casing Metal Plastic
Bracket Beefy aluminum Lighter aluminum



Cable 4M fixed 2M swap up to 10M plug-in

The qualitative:

Sure, I love my D4, had it for years, it’s solid. A power cable you could anchor the Titanic with. It puts out enough light to overcome sunlight yet can dial down low enough for just a little fill. I was about to put my Acute B out to pasture due to battery issues but as written a few posts back have given it LiFe or LiFePO4 for a future!

The profoto Acute replacement Li battery cost more than the ECO ringflash and I rarely used ringflash above 150W/S so along the way I grabbed an ECO. I have used the D4 at higher powers though in the rare case, I may be renting higher output packs as well as diffuser/reflectors for it.

First impressions of the ECO.  It’s lightweight, will make shooting 2lbs easier. It’s a little deeper, maybe 1/4″, makes manual focus tougher with some lenses.

The diffusion cap.. ugh. I’m going to modify it with black paint… if you don’t have your lens stick out the front of the diffuser cap it causes flare! Bit of a drag, not sure how that was released in the wild. To use it the focus ring on a Canon 24-70 f2.8 has to be completely witin the confines of the ring making autofuckus mandatory. Check back in a few days, maybe I’ll post the hack.


Elinchrom ECO ringflash mount

The tripod mount… I put a 1/4-20 adapter in it and it protrudes from the bottom too far to tighten, needs some chamfer. I found this out on set and had to insert it from the top to make it work, not an easy thing as you may be able to see from the bottom view. It has to be inserted between the rear support rails and screwed in using… anything but a screwdriver which won’t fit in there.

ASMP Annual winning entry! NJTP

Back again, from the garden tractor pull series   my submitted image to the ASMP 2017 Annual is about to hit the streets. Here’s your jump start, you can say you saw it here first! Woo Hoo! Look out, I just scooped the Daily News!

Feel free to toss me some dough to continue the series, I’d love to keep it going.



Profoto Acute LiFePO4 custom battery

26650 4.5Ah 14V LiFePO4 yay, I made a battery

I had a previous post detailing my research on an alternative power source to the Profoto branded battery for the Acute B.

After exhausting my search for a battery within spec for the job and in some form of personal protest I made a battery. Not so much made as assembled a battery of batteries with some protective circuits but still, it’s a project!

WARNING: Lithium batteries can explode or catch on fire, they can dump massive amounts of power, will melt things and burn up your devices. Build and use at your discretion, this is a record of what I have done not a suggestion that you do it.


26650 4.5Ah 14V LiFePO4 battery build

First off, my design spec… it had to fit in the original battery cassette, handle at least 26A draw and I didn’t want to exceed 14V which pointed to LiFePO4 cells over LiPo which would have given 16… and done who knows what to the electronics. I wanted it to cost less than $650, and preferably not take hundreds of hours to build. It’s a battery, not a car. It took about $100 and probably too many hours but if I want to make another…. maybe two hours not including print time.

In the first photo you can see the cassette, with the original Pb gell cell removed. You can 3d print the cassette for the 26650 cells from this design.

25560 cells can be bought in several chemistries. LiFePo4 gave me comparable voltage to the original PB. I had wanted to use a different cell made by Nitecor originally but thought 3.7V cells combined to make 16V might increase the chance of catastrophic failure. I used Tenergy 26650 cells. You can buy A123 cells, same capacity for double the price. The reviews were favorable on Tenergy, I have used their NiMh cells in previous projects, I’ll tell you next year how the 26650’s hold up.

26650 4.5Ah 14V LiFePO4 battery build

BMS Board- Battery balance and protection PCB. This allows you to charge the battery using a relatively stupid LiPo charger and to not blow things up. It took a while to source a board that could supply up to 30A continuous and fit in the box. This just made it, barely! It can peak discharge over 100A, kind of scary but there’s a fuse on the cassette as well to limit it to 40A. Note, the board didn’t work at first. After removing it, I found a reference online that mentioned hooking it to a charger to reset it. Bit of a pain that I had desoldered it but after successful testing with a batch of alligator clamps I put it back together and went on to live testing. How to wire it or “the secret spec sheet!”





Just because I can… I had previously printed a custom jumper set that allowed me to power up the Acute B with the battery outside the generator that was able to handle serious amperage. I was concerned that battery clamps might short out on the bench. It’s overkill but that’s what you do when you have a 3d printer. It has lights to indicate correct polarity and a power meter to catch peak draw. I metered the original Pb cell at 24A, a drop in replacement LiFePo4 I bought five years ago which is no longer available at 25A, then my new homebuilt cell at 31A. Pretty nifty, likely I’ll get a bit faster recycle on the unit. I might consider that as the cassette has a 40A fuse on it and hopefully the pack has it’s own internal temperature monitoring I’ll be safe… but then the heads for this system are not fan cooled so I’ll have to be aware to not overheat the heads/pack. It’s rare that I’m rapid firing at full power for any length of time, and for that matter on huge shoots I usually rent equipment.

battery normally goes inside the rig powerpack, power meter/test rig in use

Note: the . I have it wired externally to test it… I’ll have to upload the files for the rig perhaps…

Thanks to Jamie Allegre for initially putting the test rig on an oscilloscope to get power readings and see charge profile. The initial tests kept me from buying a bunch of possible replacement that would have just shut down on start up. Thanks for Michael Curry for encouraging me to fry my pack… enough to make me second guess the LiPo pack I bought and never test it on the rig.

The Pains of Being Pure at Scheduling

Last month, we photographed Peggy Wang, a Buzzfeed founder, for Tulane University Magazine. We had sample layouts, a bit of instruction for self AD’ing the shoot and and Peggy’s email address to get the ball rolling. We almost nailed down the time, date, place and some ideas with Peggy before the PR handler jumped in. What started as an hour shoot with an hour setup was hacked down to twenty minutes setup and twenty minutes to shoot for two to three sets. From run of the shop to two tight locations. You take what you can get sometimes, and even if you have to spend 5 of your forty minutes looking for a two replacement light bulbs. We found only one. Just do it? Photoshop the lamp to look like it has two bulbs in it? Maybe tomorrow.
Peggy Wang, Founder: Buzzfeed
Peggy, seasoned with a decade plus in public eye was easy to work with. PR advised her not to dunk the cookie for us even though she convinced Pres. Obama to dunk a cookie for Buzzfeed. Thanks Obama? Once again, you take what you can get. Though I would have liked to have some silly in the shoot, here’s the serious Peggy Wang from Buzzfeed.

P.S. stock concert shot isn’t mine.

Kognito Shoot

Some new work just went live, results of a two day shoot for Kognito. 

Kognito is “a health simulation company that believes in the power of conversation to inspire and inform, impact how people think and act, evoke empathy and change lives. How do you say that in pictures? The assignment was to get environmental portraits of the leadership team and a set of images from around the office to put a face behind the technology. Pretty fascinating and innovative place in my opinion.

Challenges we faced were working in a live workspace using real people while working, minimal styling and a pretty loose shotlist. Though the office usually has nice sunlight, the week we had to shoot turned out to be very wet so everything was lit using four Elinchrom Ranger Quadra packs. We had a small crew and did a whole lot of hustle. Usually keen on a tighter shotlist but can manage fine on the fly if we have to.






Another rainy day, another $400,000.00

Not my money, but Dr. Singh was a pretty good sport for having been swindled out of nearly a half million bucks and being photographed on a miserably rainy day in January for the writeup. The Profoto AcuteB is still chugging along, though I brought the Elinchrom’s along too for the ride. I’ll save the smiley outtakes for Dr. Singh. He’s a pretty upbeat guy and even gave me some sidewalk medical advice for free!

Profoto Acute B Lithium Battery Upgrade LiFePO4

I have a 1st generation Profoto Acute B, 600ws pack/generator. The original battery is a Lead Acid I’m documenting my second and current attempt to find a suitable LiFePO4 (Li) 3rd party replacement.

update…. I built a battery… check out the new post…

My beloved AcuteB so this post isn’t all words

 I have a 1st generation Profoto Acute B, 600ws pack/generator. The original battery is a Lead Acid (Pb) 4.5Ah 12V in the form factor of a home alarm backup battery. Several times I have re-celled the batteries and attempted to use 3rd party cells with mixed results detailed below in addition to a current attempt to find a suitable LiFePO4 (Li) 3rd party replacement. 

Profoto sells replacement PB cells for about $65 and a replacement LiFePO4 battery for $655. You can find 3rd party Pb cells for as little as $20 and LiFePO4 for $60 but don’t expect them to work so easily.

My first attempt at using an off the shelf Pb 4.5Ah (PowerSonic PS-1250) in 2010 was lousy, where the original would give about 160 full power flashes, it gave about 45 and never rose the battery level out of the red zone.  

A few months later I purchased a Tenergy 4.5Ah LiFePO4 which is no longer on the market and was getting over 200 full power flashes per charge. I should have bought four of them.

Recently as the performance of the Pb and Li cells have sharply dropped, I began shopping for another drop in Li and it’s turned into an engineering project. After a two month wait for the only drop in I could find out there, a CTC LiFePO4 I was disappointed that the cell would shut down when the generator was powered up. I’ll go into the details a bit more below and document my attempts to avoid dropping $655 which just seems like a steep hike… until you start doing research.

The Profoto AcuteB is rated at 600J output per flash and charges the capacitor bank in under 2 seconds using a stock PB 12V 4.5AH 

with a 40A automotive fuse on the battery case. Speaking with a tech on the phone at Silvino’s in LA I found the approximate surge pull on the battery was 30A. He was also searching for a feasible LiFePO4 solution.

Considering the lack of a drop in replacement I began looking at configured and tested packs that might fit into a 3d printed battery case vs building a pack using off the shelf cells and protection circuits.

So far, I’m unable to find a preconfigured pack that will supply over 22A peak discharge let alone the 30-40A I need. In conversation with a battery tech, we surmised that it would be possible to wire a large capacitor in parallel to the battery pack to buffer the peak draw, keeping it from shutting down during the initial surge and also lengthening the life of the batteries as a bonus.

Breaking out a calculator and the internet, I did a little math to see how this would work.

The AcuteB has a rating of 600WS or 600J
WS = Watt Seconds
J = Joules
S = Second
A = Amps

I’d like to cut the peak draw from 30A down to 20A, if a capacitor could hold 14.5V 10A it would appear that I might be able to make this work. A few more google searches and scribbles and I calculated I need a 15V 1F cap or (5)2.5V 5F caps in series parallel with the battery to do the job. Here’s where I need someone to chime in and tell me it won’t fry.

Q=Coulomb=1A/1S 1Amp supplied for one Sec
C=Capacitance (Farad F) 1F cap can store 1Q
C=Q/V for Parallel
1/Ceq=1/C1+1/C2… series

Alternative Solution: I spoke with a tech today at bioenno power about a 4.5Ah pack with 18A peak cutoff and a 6Ah with 24A peak cutoff . The tech said that they could be programmed to cut out at a higher current though it would decrease the battery life/charge cycles though pose no danger of overheating.

AcuteB battery $250, replacement cell $65, carrier $190? for what?

ISO comparison Canon 5DMKII

ASAtest5DMKIIISO 1001-60 sec at f - 14
ASAtest5DMKII ISO 100 1-60 sec at f – 14
ASAtest5DMKIIISO 8001-60 sec at f - 20
ASAtest5DMKIIISO 4001-60 sec at f - 20 ASAtest5DMKII ISO 400 1-60 sec at f – 20
I’m a few weeks off of bringing home a new camera, likely the Canon 5DS over the Sony A7RII. I decided to do some testing of my own so I really know what I’m getting for my dough. As I mentioned in the previous post, I use a 5DMKII and love it. Nearing the point where my backup DSLR really is obsolete, upgrading to make my beloved 5DMKII the backup seemed like more fun than buying a new backup. I invited Heidi Klum over to stand in for the test but she got a last minute booking so I had to do the test alone. The following series of images were shot with studio strobe varying the power as much as possible to maintain consistency in camera settings though I had to stop down at the high ASA end and open up a little on the low. What I’m really looking for is excessive noise and funky colors at the high end and creamy smooth low end. I’ll shoot the same series with the new camera in a few weeks. Images were processed to JPG 65 using Lightroom. There is a default amount of color noise reduction which does make a big difference on the high ISO files but as I use it on all my files regardless I left it on. There is no applied luminance noise reduction. The images are reduced cropped sections, click on them to inspect at full resolution.

ASAtest5DMKIIISO 16001-60 sec at f - 20

ASAtest5DMKII ISO 1600 1-60 sec at f – 20

ASAtest5DMKIIISO 32001-60 sec at f - 20
ASAtest5DMKII ISO 3200 1-60 sec at f – 20
ASAtest5DMKIIISO 64001-60 sec at f - 20
ASAtest5DMKII ISO 6400 1-60 sec at f – 20
ASAtest5DMKIIISO 128001-60 sec at f - 20
ASAtest5DMKII ISO 12800 1-60 sec at f – 20
ASAtest5DMKII ISO 25600 1-60 sec at f - 20
ASAtest5DMKII ISO 25600 1-60 sec at f – 20
ASAtest5DMKIIFFISO 1001-60 sec at f - 14
ASAtest5DMKIIFF ISO 100 1-60 sec at f – 14
ASAtest5DMKIIFFISO 8001-60 sec at f - 20
ASAtest5DMKIIFF ISO 800 1-60 sec at f – 20
ASAtest5DMKIIFF ISO 3200 1-60 sec at f - 20
ASAtest5DMKIIFF ISO 3200 1-60 sec at f – 20
ASAtest5DMKIIFFISO 64001-60 sec at f - 20
ASAtest5DMKIIFF ISO 6400 1-60 sec at f – 20
ASAtest5DMKIIFFISO 128001-60 sec at f - 20
ASAtest5DMKIIFF ISO 12800 1-60 sec at f – 20


Camera comparison


I’m shopping for a new camera, why? I skipped a generation, the 5DmkIII as it was only 1MP higher and I didn’t see the need for top end ASA increase. Sony and Canon recently released the next generation Sony A7RII and Canon 5Ds & 5Dsr. My backup camera is rather obsolete, I fear my main camera going down on a shoot, probably a time to invest again. Caught up in the buzz surrounding the Sony A7RII, it seemed for a while that I might be leaning towards a platform change. The prospect of buying new lenses again $$$ was enough to get me to scour the internet for reviews. In the end, well, almost the end, It looks as though I’ll go against the flow and get the new Canon 5Ds.

I used DP review’s camera comparison tool to look at the Canon 5DMKII, 5DMKIII, 5DS and Sony A7RII at ASA’s from 100 up to 12800 and pushed the cameras capable of higher ASA’s up more for grins. Though the 5DMKIII and A7RII are capable of higher ASA’s, and possibly can resolve the same as the others at another stop of sensitivity, the gain once again probably doesn’t matter so much to me. What surprised me most was that my existing 5DmkII really wasn’t as bad as I had assumed at the higher ratings. Other considerations were, do I really need 50Mpixels? Should I get the 5DmkIII instead? I’ll post a follow up on my choice perhaps next month, though the deciding factors are as follows. The Sony mirrorless line is always on “live view” and has a battery half the size. You get about 300 frames on a battery. It’s not uncommon for me to shoot over 3000 exposures in a day. Do I really want to manage 10 batteries in a day? Dual battery grip and charger aside, it’s one more thing to go wrong. On Mega pix, why wouldn’t I want  50Mpx? Sure it will kill my computer and stuff my server with files, but then I can crop with reckless abandon? Oh yeah, and it costs more too!

DP Review Camera Comparison tool… yes the 5DS has more noise… but then it’s also about 18% larger
Pros and cons

 Canon 5DS Sony A7RII
Price $3,899.00 $3,198.00
Mpx 50 42
ASA normal ISO 100-6400 max 102,400
Shots per battery 750 300
Tether USB 3 USB 2 micro
Size Big Cute

Another set of close ups from DP review, this time at 6400ASA, a more likely top end for me. Notably on the target test, the solid grey has more noise on the Canon. I’m not thinking it’s a problem for me. When I shoot product, it’s with strobe, with people it just doesn’t matter as much and additionally, these are supposed to be RAW files processed without noise reduction which in my tests using Capture One and Lightroom give a whole lotta latitude more in capability. There’s a chance that the camera itself has some noise reduction prior to writing the RAW file as well so comparisons aren’t always so simple. That in mind, nevermind the comparing color below, they are RAW files which need profiling/correction. For the record, I use both C1 and LR, noise reduction is added by default. I’ll go into this more on my next post, the 5DMKII benchmark. Guess I should have shot my original 5D too… oops.


Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 1.51.18 PM

And one more test group, because rarely do I shoot anywhere outside of 100-400 ASA, as I mentioned, I’m a user of strobe as a primary lights source, people use me for my particular style so why would I start shooting available light portraits at 6400 ASA? First impression, 5DS has more noise, more contrast and more resolution… but once again, Lighroom or Capture One would likely make that comparison moot. Only in some extreme situation would I expect one to look better than the other that extreme being full resolution use in which case the 5DS would pull ahead or extreme low light situation where the 7RII has the advantage.
ASA 400 test group
ASA 400 test group

calling cards again!

Not calling cards like AT&T but Biz cards. Another round. Address changed, I decided it was time to make the small print easier for people that don’t carry around a magnifying glass with them all the time. Here’s a few of the candidates that rose to the top jumbling around elements of the original ID done by Axiom. I know the “Dave Says” version is over the top busy but I always loved my tape and just wanted to see it live on. If I ever get a silly enough image to put it on, I may do a version with it on the face.



And the finalists for the backsides of the cards….