Update, May 27 2014: The photos have been updated and some – combined for a better overview. Minor edit of the text.
An important disclaimer: What you’re about to read and see is a modification of a product which is likely to break its warranty (should there be any) and as such is to be carried out at your own responsibility. Furthermore, if you damage whatever (the product, your tools, toes, nails, windows, etc.) while you’re trying to repeat what I’ve done – you’re the one who takes the full responsibility. You don’t have to do what I did unless you decide to yourself.
Alright, now to the point – you bought yourself an Elinchrom Quadra, the initial excitement has settled (or not) and you want to make the most of it (which is why you bought it in first place). The problem however, is that to achieve this you’re very likely to use it on modifiers larger than the optional EL Quadra Reflector Adapter is specified for. The first batches of the adapter which are still in stock at some smaller distributors just won’t hold, say your Elinchrom Deep Octa. People complained, Elinchrom came up with a solution – a new batch of adapters with improved rubbers, washers, whatever it is that they changed. The problem with this new one now is that it’s far too sticky. Tighten it up and then you’ll be doing the opposite (what appears to be) forever if you want to change its angle. And even then the adjustment is far from the quality of the Manfrotto/Bogen Lite-Tite Swivel (a.k.a. 026). I believe that swivel/umbrella adapter to be the best out there, albeit pricey.
There’s a few similar mods out there, but none seemed clean and simple enough for me, so I sat down one day and came up with the following.
Please, do read the entire thing and only then start working (if you choose to do the modification).
The original EL Quadra Reflector Adapter (left) and the modified (right):
Simple. Your first step is to remove the adapter’s swivel – just loosen it up all the way and it will come apart. I kept my swivel, but if you’re mad enough you could do other things with it, I suppose.
Next thing, get your Manfrotto swivel and remove the bolt which normally tightens the umbrella, as well as the large white one from the top – which normally tightens any adapters you stick at the top. You should have something like the image below (left). Except, I already have my small metal corner element mounted (on the right to the umbrella shaft on the adapter).
Then comes the most advanced part of the task – you need to drill an extra hole on the adapter’s side and the Manfrotto swivel. Make sure that the new holes are perfectly aligned with the ones already present – both on the adapter and the swivel. The white hole at the top is the one you’ve just made and it only goes through one of the walls – not all the way through. I just put a piece of paper behind mine to make it more prominent… and I forgot to take a photo of the adapter, but I’m sure you get the point:
I first made the mod up to this point and it became clear to me that the ring itself won’t hold the Deep Octa anyhow – stuff was swinging about like crazy. So I decided to add the yellow metal corner element. To do that you’ll have to disassemble the ring itself – basically, unscrew the three Phillips screws on the reflecting side and you get access to both sides of the metal plate. You drill, put small screws, tighten and assemble back together. Important: make sure that your screw is actually short enough for you to be able to assemble the thing to how it should be. This is it viewed from the front and the back:
You then assemble the final improved product – align the holes on the side of the adapter with these on the swivel, 1) put the small bolt in and tighten some of that up, 2) put the large Manfrotto screw with the handle in its own hole and you’re done:
0) Both the swivel and the adapter’s metal ring are from soft metal (some weird top-secret aluminum compounds), so be very careful while drilling. It’s good to point out that the additional hole you’ll be making on the swivel needs to be ~5mm so it doesn’t crack the top, nor fit only a tiny bolt which may bend with time. To minimize any fluctuations, always drill with a bit the same size as your screws (remember – the metal is soft, the screw will make its own thread if necessary).
0b) If you do the mod but skip the small yellow metal corner element you stand a chance of losing your adapter if you attach a heavy modifier. The point where the ring bends out for attachment to the swivel is simply too weak to go without the extra metal piece. It only adds a couple of minutes and a few cents to the equation – not worth skipping it. You’ve been warned!
1)A large modifier (ie. Deep Octa) will still swing about but a LOT less than before. So, keep that in mind while outside with a large modifier.
2) I initially thought that I’d even be able to use the adapter as an umbrella holder with a large shaft (as opposed to only EL’s 7mm), but the Manfrotto umbrella tightening screw has a large plastic ending which doesn’t fit together with the bottom part of the adapter. I suppose you could make that smaller or simply use a different screw/handle combination. I gave up mainly because I was a little lazy and in addition to all else, the flash will no longer be properly aligned with the umbrella if you use the large hole on the swivel (it ends up higher than where it should be). At the end, you can still use the EL 7mm shaft.
3) The huge big plus of it all is that now your adapter can hold serious modifiers AND be adjusted with silky smooth movements at the same time. Something which I believe Elinchrom could have done in their own factory, but oh well…
4) You obviously add a little weight with the Manfrotto/Bogen swivel but given that you’ll be carrying a large modifier around – I don’t think it matters.
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