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Drone Flash with the Elinchrom ELB 400 by David Robinson

11/21/2016 ISO 1200 Magazine 0 Comments

Today we have the pleasure to feature photographer David Robinson with his latest project 'Drone Flash with the Elinchrom ELB 400'. We hope you enjoy his behind the scene look into drones, lights and photography

What if you were able to place light wherever your mind wanted to? David Robinson followed his vision and attached an ELB 400 to a drone in a visionary MTB photo shoot!

The Start

The story begins about 2.5 years ago, when being given a tour of Red Bull's generously stocked Equipment Pool, amongst the plethora of cameras and endless walls of lenses, I was shown a custom Octocopter. Designed to carry such cameras as RED's Scarlet, at a time when the only cameras flying around at this time were GoPros.

"I wanted to take the idea as far as I could!"

© David Robinson | The Octacopter in action with a battery pack and 1x head.

The main thing about this piece is the muscle behind it, and it opened a lot of doors regarding what equipment could be used. I wanted to take the idea as far as I could right away, I knew that a hot shoe flash just wouldn't cut it since one of my favorite things to do is add to the daylight already in the scene.

The light where needed

The existence of this drone got the gears turning in my head. Not being a filmmaker, my idea for exactly how to use it was motivated by allowing me to get light into places it's not typically possible to do so.

© Liam Joyce / Marco Leiter

Being a biker myself, instantly I thought of slopestyle MTB, since the prominence of the jumps usually limits a photographer to placing any additional lighting behind the jumps and lighting the subject from below.

This isn't ideal since the eyes and brain can recognise, even subconsciously, that something that isn't quite right since light very rarely occurs from beneath in nature.

The ELB 400 form factor

I touched on some of these points in the video, but the ELB 400 itself was a huge catalyst in making this shoot happen.

"Get light into impossible places."

The form factor, in that it's a separate pack and head system, allowed us to distribute the weight optimally in the center of the drone. With a head weighing in at a mere 250g, it's no problem if this is off axis as the drone self-levels itself.

© Liam Joyce / Marco Leiter
Not only was this package exactly suited to what we needed, but with the Skyport Plus HS transmitter allowing me to change my settings while it was airborne, made it extremely user-friendly.

Of course, the Hi-Sync functionality to allow me to reign in the ambient light, allowing the rider to pop.

What next?

With my idea down in pixels now, it was quite satisfying but at the same time not quite as outstanding as I'd hoped. The main image worked perfectly but I realise now that it might not be so obvious to the untrained eye.

Technically, everything worked as expected, and in that respect as a proof of concept it was a success. The next step for me is to take it to another sport where it will make more of an impact!

© David Robinson
With such packs as the ELB 400, coupled with the trend of the commercial drones getting stronger and more intelligent, I can't help but dream of what exactly might be possible in the future. Take the newest drones and their subject tracking ability. How about a 3-point light setup that leaves your bag and tracks your subject automatically? All in an integrated and dedicated flash drone package?

Sign me up!

© David Robinson
Keep your eyes out because this is going to be the next big thing.
Note: The photos were altered in post-production to fit to the Red Bull branding guidelines

This article and all the images were originally published on and shared with their permission

About David Robinson:

Hi! My name is David Robinson, and i'm a freelance photographer based in, and servicing Europe (and beyond!)Extreme sports is what put a camera in my hand, and it continues to be the driving passion behind my photography to this day. I've since expanded to fulfil many roles, and i'm eager for any excuse to hold a camera.See more of David's work on

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