To answer your question about elasticity, in a static test (and assuming there is no friction, no measurement errors, etc.), a DIN 10 on a Look should release at exactly the same (externally measured) torque as a DIN 10 setting on a Marker.
However, when short, impulsive loads are applied, a binding with low elasticity will release almost instantaneously the first time the release torque value is exceeded, whereas bindings with high elasticity do a bit of "averaging", and don't release until the release torque value is continuously exceeded for a significant period of time (in the low 100's of millisec range). In addition, during this time, if sking fast in ruts or frozen crud, your skis might even receive another shock in the opposite direction, and the average force sensed by the binding might be quite small.
Since your boots and lower leg have considerable inertia (mass), they can't start moving and applying bone-breaking forces instantaneously when external forces are first applied to them. Thus, it is safe for a binding to "wait" for a little bit to see if the external force is going to remain high before it decides to release. This is the theory behind high-elasticity bindings.
In both theory and practice, this means that you can set the static release value (the DIN setting) somewhat lower on a high elasticity binding than on a low elasticity binding. Personally, I run my Looks about 1 DIN unit below my other bindings with no problems. Depending on the snow conditions, speed, skier technique, etc., this differential might be more or less. Unfortunately, the only way I know to determine it is by trial and error.
With respect to MXP's specific problem on his Atomic bindings, I think that the two most obvious culprits have already been mentioned:
1) A defective unit (any of several things could be wrong); or
2) Skier technique (too much rotary being subconsciously applied in cruddy snow conditions);
Differences in optimal release setting due to elasticity differences could be present (as described above), but I don't think they are the major issue since they are usually never more than 1 or 2 DIN units, and it sounds like MXP's problems occur more frequently than could be accounted for by a change of this magnitude. However, if he wants to pursue this possibility, I would *strongly* recommend that he NOT arbitrarily increase the relese setting on his Atomic bindings beyond the point at which he can force a release while standing still.
Culprit #1 can and should be checked by a shop.
From what MXP said about not having this problem on his other ski/binding setups, it sounds like Culprit #2 is not a major effect, but it still might be coming in at a low level. One test for this might be for him to ski his other setups at lowered DIN settings. I know that I can ski most any smooth snow (up to easy blacks, modest speeds) with my bindings cranked all the way down below their very lowest settings. If MXP can only go down a couple of DIN settings on similar slopes before he starts twisting out, then he might be subconsciously applying a bit more rotary than needed, and this will only increase in cruddy snow conditions.
Tom / PM
PS - FWIW, I forgot to mention that I also ski a pr of 9.16's with old Atomic 4-12 binders on them, and have had absolutely no problems with them, but I tend to use other skis in really cruddy conditions.
PS#2 (in edit) - Whoops. I mis-spoke in the previous PS: I actually have Atomic 6-14 bindings on my 9.16 skis.
[ October 08, 2003, 08:29 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]