Einstein 640 review, part 1
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bacilonur
Registered: Aug 14, 2006
Total Posts: 2700
Country: United States

Going now to run some flash duration tests, but here are a few additional first impressions that Ellis didn't cover:

The body is solid. It's clearly packed full of PCBs and capacitors and whatever else goes in here. Doesn't feel hollow like some recent monolights. That's great as long as the cooling can take > 10,000ws/min.

The dome doesn't offer much in the way of protection. It feels thin (which isn't a bad thing on its own, as it's good for efficiency) and the clips are fairly lightweight. As long as replacement domes aren't too expensive, this isn't a problem. A polycarbonate alternative would be nice.

Probably my biggest problem with the whole unit is the way the CSXCV connection was designed. I don't see why it couldn't have been reversed and had the female end on the CSXCV and the male end inside the Einstein, fully protected just like a CF card slot.

The stand mount is awesome. It's lined with metal inside. Feels very solid.

The speedring mounting arms are nice and solid but the movement of the lever isn't very smooth. It may smoothen out eventually, or that may simply be a side effect of making the arms tougher. They also don't feel spring-loaded, so you have to manually lock them into your modifier, you can't just release it .

The flash cover/protector is the same one they include with the ABs/WLs, unfortunately. It's about 2'' longer than it needs to be.

The metal back beneath the dome on both of mine is all scratched up and faded looking, not bright and shiny new like everything else on here. I blame China.

I loved how nerdy (or simple) the icon for turning on or off the light sensor is. Non-geeks will probably disagree.

Takes around 16 seconds to self-discharge all 640ws. When making small adjustments of -1 or -2 stops, it's very fast. Definitely no need to do a full power pop unless you're going from 640 to 20ws.

The LCD is brilliant. Very easy to read and navigate, very iPhone-like. The diagnostic screen is also a touch of pure genius, it includes three different temperature readings, a flash count (mine came with 225 flashes out of the box), and allows you to adjust "Cap PWM/Voltage", "Model PWM", and "Gate Time".







Recycle speed with my Pelican battery pack (180W Aims inverter) is:

1/1: 5.4s
-1f: 2.3s
-2f: 1.1s

Everything seems to work exactly the same as AC, but I'll be on a 5 hour location shoot on Saturday and will report any issues (which I don't expect).







Alright, here are the results of my flash duration test. I tried to keep everything except for the flash power mostly the same for each shot, so I used scrims and cinefoil to cut down the light at high power, and then I switched the 7'' reflector for the new 11'' high output once I got to -5f. This isn't meant to be a scientific, boring test like the ones you'll find of dremels at 30,000 RPM. If you shoot pets or people jumping, swinging things, pouring liquid, or anything like that, this is a good test to see what kind of power and flash duration you can get.

Settings were f/11-f/13 on the 5D2, Einstein set to Color mode (not action). Ambient exposure was pitch black. Only adjustment made in LR was to set the clarity to full, to make the details clearer.

The setup:







Full power. 1/540 t.1. This is equivalent to your average decent monolight.













-1f, 320ws. 1/1700 t.1. Detail is much crisper, but there's still some streaking towards the edge where the fastest water drops are.







-2f, 160ws.







-3f, 80ws. This is nice and crisp. Very little streaking. I missed the peak and didn't have enough water balloons to re-shoot.







-4f, 40ws.







-5f, 20ws. I caught this at its peak and you can see some slight streaking towards the edge on the left.







-6f, 10ws







-7f, 5ws. Caught at the perfect peak of the burst, no streaking whatsoever. -6f is probably just as good, but this shot was timed better.







Even in color mode, it's faster at -2f and below than any other monolight on the market right now, as well as most pack and head systems under $4k. This is actually a very demanding test, I'd love to see an RX600, Compact, or D1 user try the same.

Here are some shots to show the difference in the back plate between the Einstein and an AB, as well as the scratches that both of my Einsteins had right out of the box:

























And here are the results of my dremel test. Speeds used were 12,000RPM, 24,000RPM, and 30,000RPM. WB was left at 5600k for all of the shots, so you can clearly see the tendency towards a blue hue in the Action shots as the power goes down.

Here's what the lines looked like: (notice my daughter's pet of the day, to illustrate what the rest of you regular portrait shooters can expect out of an IGBT )







Full power: (same flash duration and WB for Color and Action)





















































































At this point I switched to the 11'' LTR. Really nice light. Notice how the foreground's exposure hasn't changed, but it looks darker because of the lack of spill.





































For a bit of background/perspective on a test like this, check out this review, comparing a Bron IGBT pack with a similar Action/Colors modes, versus a Pro-8a. http://www.h2hreviews.com/article/Lighting-H2H-Profoto-Pro-8a-2400-Air-vs-Broncolor-Scoro-A4S/Performance-Flash-Duration.html


Gregg Heckler
Registered: Aug 07, 2005
Total Posts: 1787
Country: United States

Looks like Hensel's mount. I wouldn't blame China for the poor finish on the back plate, I'd blame Alien Bees. They shipped it to you like that.



a2rob
Registered: May 21, 2003
Total Posts: 642
Country: United States

bacilonur wrote:
Going now to run some flash duration tests, but here are a few additional first impressions that Ellis didn't cover:

The body is solid. It's clearly packed full of PCBs and capacitors and whatever else goes in here. Doesn't feel hollow like some recent monolights. That's great as long as the cooling can take > 10,000ws/min.

The dome doesn't offer much in the way of protection. It feels thin (which isn't a bad thing on its own, as it's good for efficiency) and the clips are fairly lightweight. As long as replacement domes aren't too expensive, this isn't a problem. A polycarbonate alternative would be nice.

The stand mount is awesome. It's lined with metal inside. Feels very solid.

The speedring mounting arms are nice and solid but the movement of the lever isn't very smooth. It may smoothen out eventually, or that may simply be a side effect of making the arms tougher.

The metal back beneath the dome on both of mine is all scratched up and faded looking, not bright and shiny new like everything else on here. I blame China.

I loved how nerdy (or simple) the icon for turning on or off the light sensor is. Non-geeks will probably disagree.

Takes around 16 seconds to self-discharge all 640ws. When making small adjustments of -1 or -2 stops, it's very fast. Definitely no need to do a full power pop unless you're going from 640 to 20ws.

The LCD is brilliant. Very easy to read and navigate, very iPhone-like. The diagnostic screen is also a touch of pure genius, it includes three different temperature readings, a flash count (mine came with 225 flashes out of the box), and allows you to adjust "Cap PWM/Voltage", "Model PWM", and "Gate Time".



What number were you on the pre-order list?

Thanks for the review.



bacilonur
Registered: Aug 14, 2006
Total Posts: 2700
Country: United States

#0001



GeekChicPhoto
Registered: Oct 07, 2009
Total Posts: 70
Country: United States

Could you possible take pictures of the back interface, including the "brilliant" screen?

I'm way towards the end of the pre-order list but just put an order in for my first AB800 last night with a vagabond and large softbox. Hopefully it'll keep me sane until my Einstein ships.



Paul Buff
Registered: Oct 06, 2006
Total Posts: 2775
Country: United States

The backplate is matte stainless steel and is color neutral. It is purposely not mirror bright as the matte surface aids diffusion from the dome/tube assembly. There is practically none of this surface in play when accessories are mounted.

The frosted dome is very easily replaced and inexpensive (under $10) and the spring clips hold it securely. It's not that thin . . . 0.080". Dump rate is about three times as fast as most lights such as RX600 and others. Cooling volume is about four times that of AB/WL. Yes, it's full of parts and is purposely very compact. The airflow design is highly evolved and has a very effective path through all components. Multiple heat sensors protect everything from overheat damage. Model lamps and flash voltages are extremely tightly controlled, and also have overvoltage protection circuitry.

The reason for the 225 flashes is that we burn in all units with cycle testing for quality control.

Polycarbonate cannot be used for dome . . . plastics cannot withstand the temperatures present. The unit can easily withstand 10,000WS/minute.



E-Vener
Registered: Jun 18, 2009
Total Posts: 4260
Country: United States

"The metal back beneath the dome on both of mine is all scratched up and faded looking, not bright and shiny new like everything else on here. I blame China."

Paul beat me to the reason for this. It avoids the possibility of hot spots in the beam pattern.



tetrode
Registered: Apr 02, 2004
Total Posts: 433
Country: United States

E-Vener wrote:
"The metal back beneath the dome on both of mine is all scratched up and faded looking, not bright and shiny new like everything else on here. I blame China."

Paul beat me to the reason for this. It avoids the possibility of hot spots in the beam pattern.


I'm sure the OP realizes that. However, there's a BIG difference between a matte finish and and a matte finish that's "all scratched up ...." I would be dismayed if my new, fresh-out-of-the-box Einsteins (which I hope to have within a few weeks) showed anything less than a factory fresh finish on its external parts.

Dave F.



RMS956
Registered: Oct 09, 2009
Total Posts: 46
Country: United States

Thanks, a very nice review bacilonur.

"The metal back beneath the dome on both of mine is all scratched up and faded looking, not bright and shiny new like everything else on here. I blame China."

Is this an intitial observation? Or are you comparing the back plate of the Einstein to the back plates of the Bees and White Lightnings? In other words bacilonur, is the finish different from the Bs and WLs back plates? I have a pair of WLs and their back plates are a nice brushed finish but no scratches. Thanks.

RMS



bkfink
Registered: Nov 08, 2009
Total Posts: 23
Country: United States

Stainless steel is "scratched up" in its delivered state from the mill. Those who fabricate things from it don't add much to these scratches, nor does it matter when there is good reason for it not to be polished or brushed.

Treating this part to any finishing methods would be a huge waste of money. If you buy a spanking new Porsche, the stainless steel heat shields have the same finish, and few if any refused delivery based on this, I promise.

Brian



a2rob
Registered: May 21, 2003
Total Posts: 642
Country: United States



#0001


That ain't right

I am No. 56 for the first unit hopefully, I will receive that email this week...



bobbyz
Registered: Jun 29, 2004
Total Posts: 1762
Country: United States

Thanks for the update. Looking forward to more pictures.



bacilonur
Registered: Aug 14, 2006
Total Posts: 2700
Country: United States

Ok, I took some shots of the backplate. It's not a huge deal, but I definitely didn't expect it right out of the box and I'd be surprise if I was the only one because both of my Einsteins (#E64001019 & 1020) have it. There's also some kind of mold anomaly along the edge.

Will post what I shot this afternoon soon. It was fast, very fast.



RMS956
Registered: Oct 09, 2009
Total Posts: 46
Country: United States

Wow, next to that AB it looks like a real work horse. Yea I'm guessing the finish on that plate is not an issue since it looks like it's main function now is to keep things cool inside(notice air vents). The modifiers will take care of the rest. Thanks again for your time with posting your Einstein images.

I see the black finish on the case has been toned down a bit(less glossy than the AB next to it).



Paul Buff
Registered: Oct 06, 2006
Total Posts: 2775
Country: United States

The backplate is tumble de-burred to remove any sharp edges. Since this has no affect on the performance and since almost none of the backplate is in play when the dome and any accessory mounted we determined the finish to be perfectly acceptable.

As for the water drop tests one will see identical results with RX600 at fill power and more blur than at full power when power is reduced. Profoto Compact will have slightly more blur and D1 slightly less (about 15% faster than RX600). For a shot like this I would recommend using Action mode for approximately 1/2 the t.1 durations at most settings

Thanks for the pix.



adamdewilde
Registered: Jul 04, 2005
Total Posts: 3729
Country: Singapore

tetrode wrote:
E-Vener wrote:
"The metal back beneath the dome on both of mine is all scratched up and faded looking, not bright and shiny new like everything else on here. I blame China."

Paul beat me to the reason for this. It avoids the possibility of hot spots in the beam pattern.


I'm sure the OP realizes that. However, there's a BIG difference between a matte finish and and a matte finish that's "all scratched up ...." I would be dismayed if my new, fresh-out-of-the-box Einsteins (which I hope to have within a few weeks) showed anything less than a factory fresh finish on its external parts.

Dave F.



Nah, there are two things. First there's a natural finish which is just an unpolished steel look. Then there's a MATTE finish, which is when they treat the metal to make the finish matte, it's not needed and it would up the production costs. So why put it on? You won't see it, no need to complain about it.


Though the OP is also showing what looks like some chipping on the plastic casing, I'd be a bit upset at first out of the box. Then after setting up and shooting I wouldn't care
The OP isn't worried about it, and when all you guys get your lights, you shouldn't worry either.



c2thew
Registered: Apr 07, 2010
Total Posts: 360
Country: United States

wow, this was a very informative test, props to your hard work and for the numerous waterballoons that made this possible!

i'm wondering though, how did you trigger the explosions while both hands were busy?



adamdewilde
Registered: Jul 04, 2005
Total Posts: 3729
Country: Singapore

BTW bacilonur, in a situation like this, action mode would take priority over color mode... Tisk tisk, go buy more balloons and do the test again!

heheh I'm just a tad jealous don't mind me.



adamdewilde
Registered: Jul 04, 2005
Total Posts: 3729
Country: Singapore

c2thew wrote:
wow, this was a very informative test, props to your hard work and for the numerous waterballoons that made this possible!

i'm wondering though, how did you trigger the explosions while both hands were busy?



I was thinking that he probably set the timer then watched for his camera to blink at him... There's an audible beep from that distance if it was quiet outside, then pop balloon with pin at the right moment of the final elongated beep.



bacilonur
Registered: Aug 14, 2006
Total Posts: 2700
Country: United States

Ok, good to know Paul.

I wanted to test the color mode for this because I know there are lots of people who are gonna say "Of course it's fast, but you're at 6500k stupid!". But fine, I'll redo the test in action mode with a grey card.

Hey Adam, that would be extremely difficult. I had an assistant to pop the balloons, but it was still fairly difficult to catch the peak.



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