Elinchrom’s Ranger Quadra system is probably the most compact location lighting system on the market, when you compare power vs size. For a location car photographer, that’s a good thing as often, you’re cramming kit into a sports coupe built for the ‘credit card and toothbrush’ style of touring and not designed for carrying a photographer’s system. The Quadra system comes in a very stout case, reminiscent of the Pelican construction, with an O Ring seal. It’s a stout thing and if you have plenty of boot space, read no further, this post isn’t for you.
However, the Elinchrom case does come with an awful lot of spare space inside it, you could probably fit more stuff in if the interior was adjustable. Plus of course, you have other things to go into a lighting bag. Magic Arms, Super Clamps and other stuff all needs to be in the same place to speed up your work once on location. So last month I came up with this idea of taking one of the excellent Think Tank Airport Accelerator bags and figuring out a way to pack the Elinchrom system I use most on location in a secure way. The system has two battery packs and four heads, plus of course charger and cables. In addition, I wanted to carry a couple of Magic Arms and Super Clamps, Hi-Res vests, even though I hate ’em…. Finally, I wanted the whole thing to set accessible in a way that would get me up and running in the minimum of time on location.
Anyone who’s ever bought a new camera bag will tell you, there’s a period of tugging at velcro, arranging dividers, head scratching, more tugging at dividers and often several coffees before you’re happy. This one was actually easy. Because the Think Tank Airport Accelerator is deep and angular, it takes an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra head sitting on it’s edge without any problem. I could have just stacked them sideways into one slot, but I added a divider for additional padding to protect the heads further. The next thing was the controllers and battery packs. The new Lithium batteries from Elinchrom are superb, extremely light, fast recharging and very long lasting. One thing I was aware of though was airline’s current paranoia about Lithium batteries. The packs come with a simple automotive fuse, plus a spare and a slot to store it. By slotting both packs into the bag disconnected from the main units, it will hopefully prevent airline check in staff from adverse reactions if they can see that the batteries are safe. Though anyone who travels from UK airports with camera kit will know it’s always a bit of a random adventure.
Further essentials or course are the power leads, which coil up nicely and fit into the laptop compartment in the lid alongside my hated hi-res vest, plus of course the mains charger. This slotted in beside a pair of Super Clamps, leaving space at the top end of the bag for a full width, deep slot for two Manfrotto Magic Arms. My theory is that if you have all of this in a single bag, you’re good to go. Even if you’re flying and lose light stands etc, the essential bits of grip kit you have with you will get you by.
Though the Think Tank Airport series weren’t designed at the outset as a lighting bag, the square, deep design really lends itself to the job.
NOTE – use the affiliate links to the Think Tank store on this post and get a free gift courtesy of Car Photographer for every order over $50.