If you’re like me and sometimes you get a little excited over new photography products, then you are in for a treat! Elinchrom just launched some new accessories and one that caught my eye was their new Elinchrom Umbrella Deep. The main feature that makes this different from the other umbrellas in the Elinchrom range is the massive depth and size.

I was keen to see what makes this umbrella special, so I therefore decided to purchase the 125cm silver version along with the new diffuser cover from The Flash Centre to find out.

Speed and Ease of Setup

When you’re rushing around on shoots, I find the setup normally takes the longest, more than the pack down. The amazing thing about an umbrella is all you have to do is pull centre to the locking pin and you’re set. One rod compared to 4 or 8 rods when setting up a normal Rotalux softbox. Don’t get me wrong it’s not hard setting up softboxes, just if you’re moving from one location to another location with nowhere to store a fully set up softbox (the Rotalux Softbox Deep Octa 100cm is rather big) an umbrella is very effective.

There are drawbacks to an umbrella compared to a softbox though. Light spill being the biggest. On an umbrella you’re softening the light but what about all that light that is coming from the flash tube and hitting some of the sides or even behind of the scene?! You can move the flash head through down the umbrella shaft however, your light source is now getting smaller and more intense. This is why softboxes are effective in controlling light spills because the light has nowhere to go but forward when it’s bouncing all around inside the softbox.

So it’s a choice between speed of setup Vs more effective control of light spill. Being a photographer though you never know what a shoot or a location is going to require, which was why I bought the new Elinchrom Umbrella Deep 125cm. For those times where I need a quick setup and want the light to hit most of the scene around.

Elinchrom Umbrella Deep - In the Box

Well, what can you say…….in the box you have an umbrella and that’s pretty much all there is. Not quite, you do have a very handy travel case. Space to store a business card or some company branding. Sometimes with other umbrella’s I’ve used all you pretty much have is the umbrella itself, so when moving from location to location you might end up damaging the umbrella.

So the little travel pouch to store the umbrella in is a very nice touch. Plus for myself as I use the Elinchrom ProTec Location Bag to transport my ELB’s, heads and cables, I can just strap the umbrella to the front of the bag and carry it to the location. The nice touch with the location bag is that you can just slide the bag over the top of any roller bag, so it’s the perfect combo with my ThinkTank Airport International Roller V2.0

Size and Construction

When I first opened the box and saw the bag, I wasn’t expecting such a long length to the umbrella. However, the main reason for this is because of the deep shape of the Elinchrom Umbrella Deep. The nice thing about the design is that Elinchrom has manufactured the umbrella to have 16 fibreglass rods to maintain a perfect circular shape.

The umbrella has the standard 7mm Elinchrom shaft size, which mounts directly centrally on every Elinchrom product. So the light is hitting the right area to bounce the flash around the umbrella. A nice feature of the umbrella is the shaft length. As the umbrella is deep you can control the light spread. By moving the flash closer or further down the umbrella shaft, you can limit or widen the spread. This also allows you to focus the light more as well, similar to a parabolic reflector. Perfect for when you don’t want loads of light spilling across your scene or subject.

Myself I opted for the silver version as I enjoy a crispy and detailed light, especially for when shooting my fitness work. I find it just gives a little bit more “pop” to the subject. However, what Elinchrom have allowed you to do is convert the umbrella into a fold-up softbox, allowing you to create a softer light source using the same umbrella system. How they have achieved this is by creating a separate diffuser panel which fits over the front of the Elinchrom Umbrella Deep. So depending if you have a reflective or shoot through umbrella, there’s a diffuser for both. A black diffuser with a silver reflective surface for the translucent umbrellas or a translucent diffuser for the reflective versions.

Therefore when using the Umbrella Deep Silver, the optional translucent diffuser delivers the lighting effect of an indirect softbox.

When using the Deep Translucent umbrella, the reflective diffuser offers the same lighting effect of a large light dome. So not only do you have an umbrella but with the extra diffusers, you can also have a softbox or light dome – depending on which model you opted for. A two for one product, which you don’t see that much in the photography world – value for money! Plus the extra diffusers aren’t too expensive as well.

One thing I’d wished the diffuser had is a smaller pouch or some sort way to carry the item. I guess you could stuff it in with the umbrella. However, I’d be worried about damaging the diffuser. For now, I’m just storing it in the box it was packaged in but I might look at a little pouch of some sort later on down the line. Unless Elinchrom actually bring out a pouch in the future?!

Usability with Elinchrom Quadra Heads

It might be a strange topic title to see “usability” when it’s just an umbrella, however, there is a good reason for this topic.

Any normal Elinchrom mains-powered studio head has quite a long and deep section to place the umbrella into. The example photos above show a D-Lite, one of Elinchrom’s entry level studio systems. Therefore the tension in the tilt lever has enough friction to stop any movement. On any Quadra head the normal tilt lever is tiny, small head = small lever. My normal 105mm shoot through umbrella works perfectly fine using the Quadra without any other mounts or supports. The reason why the Elinchrom Umbrella Deep doesn’t – the weight!

I’ve found two ways to overcome this issue, both have positives and negatives factor, therefore I’d explain what I’ve found and why.

Solution One - Quadra to EL Mount Adapter MK-II

If you’re already using the Quadra system, more than like you’ll have a few of these Quadra to EL Mount adaptors to hand already. If you don’t know what they are, it basically turns the RQ mount of the Quadra head into the standard Elinchrom EL mount. This then opens up a whole list of modifiers you can use – Rotalux softboxes, beauty dishes, larger reflectors and more! I own three myself, one for each of my Quadra heads.

The nice thing about these adaptors is the tension on the tilt lever has enough friction to hold the bigger Elinchrom light shapers. Including the new Elinchrom Umbrella Deep! However, this might just be a personal preference or it actually helps with the stability, the way you position the Quadra tilt arm plays a factor into the RQ lead you can use.

Due to the umbrella shaft being soo much longer and extending out I’ve been mounting the umbrella as the seen in the picture. Using the tilt as counter pressure to stop the “wobble” factor.

However, doing this does mean that you now need to use a straight cable rather than the standard right angle cable. Luckily my Elinchrom Quadra ECO Ringflash came with a straight cable. Also, all the Elinchrom extension cables are straight and they come in various different lengths – 1, 2, 5 and 10 meters.

You can also “daisy chain link” the cables, just make sure it doesn’t go over 10 meters as you’ll start to loose some power output.

Solution Two - Universal Umbrella Bracket (Manfrotto 026)

If you don’t have a Quadra reflector adapter you can also use an umbrella adapter and place the Quadra head on top. In this example, I’m using a Manfrotto 026 Lite-Tite Umbrella Adapter. A heavy duty aluminium adapter which allows you to mount pretty much any flash or speedlight to any light stand or tripod – as long as you have the right removable studs.

To mount the Quadra to the umbrella adapter I made sure there was no stud in the bottom, as this would slide over the light stand. The top section I needed to make an exposed mount point. Therefore, I used a Manfrotto 013 adapter spigot and slide the Quadra head on top as normal.

However, now the umbrella needs to be mounted in the Manfrotto umbrella adapter. Meaning the flash head is actually away from the centre of the umbrella. You can slightly tilt the Quadra down and line it up so it’s more centrally. Using an umbrella adaptor now means you can use any RQ cable – straight of right-angled as the Quadra is plenty of clear space. Plus you can use the standard RQ 13.5cm reflector if you wanted, although it’s recommended to leave the flash bare to light the whole of the umbrella.

Personally, I’m more in favour of solution one. I would already be using a Quadra Reflector Adapter, so using it mount the umbrella is fine. The way to position the trailing Quadra tilt arm is up to you. As I’m already using the straight cable within my lighting setups, I have no issues changing my ring flash cable to a right angled version and the straight for the umbrella setup. If I need the cable to be longer, I’ll just add a standard 2.5m RQ head to pack cable.

Overall Verdict on Elinchrom Umbrella Deep 125cm

Overall my first impressions of the new Elinchrom Umbrella Deep are that I’m very impressed! Something so portable can perform as good or if not almost better than a much bigger and more expensive light modifier. Like any product, there are positive and negatives – there’s never the “100% perfect” tool or choice. Although this does hit a lot of those boxes!

It would be nice if the diffuser panels came with a little pouch to transport and protect when you’re not using them. Also if it was a little easier to fit the diffuser! It might take a few tries as trying to make sure your two arms are three arms holding one side and the other side in place, can be a little tricky if you’re a one man band.

I know myself personally I can’t wait to use this on my upcoming shoots. Whether it will be my main light source or even a side/rim light – I’m sure the results will impress me just as much as my first impressions have.

This was NOT sponsored or endorsed by Elinchrom or The Flash Centre. All views and opinions are that of my own and not of the manufacturer.

Matt Thomas Photography

Matt Thomas is a Gloucestershire based Fitness, Commercial and 360 Virtual Tours photographer. Passionate about all things photographic no matter if it's digital or film. Creative with lighting and always looking for that new travel adventure. Visit the social links below to stay up to date with behind the scenes content, videos and more.