Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Review

When Profoto announced their first truly portable setup with the Profoto B1 500 AirTTL battery powered flash last year, the news immediately caught my attention and I requested to get a sample unit for a review. The reason was fairly simple for me – I got tired of lugging around a huge and heavy battery pack for my Elinchrom Ranger lights when working on remote jobs. Speedlights are great for indoors and low-light environments, but they just do not have the juice to run big light modifiers or overpower the sun in mid-day lighting conditions (unless you use packs of them like Joe McNally does). For these reasons, I have been using big lights for sometime now, but with the huge inconvenience of carrying a heavy portable battery. Although the Profoto B1 lights have less power in comparison with a total of 500 watts, I realized that I rarely go full power with my Elinchrom Rangers anyway, so the B1 was plenty for most of my work. The biggest advantage that I saw in the Profoto B1 was portability – no need for any external power sources! Just attach a battery on the side of the head and you are ready to go. And with a built-in slave trigger, the head can be controlled with a radio or infrared remote units wirelessly.

Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery Powered Flash

1) Why Profoto?

When it comes to high-end studio flash, there are only a few big names out there: Profoto, Broncolor, Elinchrom and Hensel. While I have personally been a fan of more affordable lights from Paul C Buff, Dynalite and others, a few years ago I decided to invest in a high-end portable setup (mainly for outdoor projects and weddings) and went with the Elinchrom Ranger RX Speed series lights. It was certainly expensive with two heads, but once coupled with a huge Octabank as the main light, the results were just stunning. The shot to shot consistency, color accuracy, high quality, versatility and reliability made me realize why high-end strobes stand out from so many alternatives and Chinese knock-offs on the market today. Yes, light is light and there are many options out there today. One does not have to spend thousands of dollars to get beautiful images. The choice between high-end and other lights is similar to something like choosing between a Nikon D4s and a D610. Both produce stunning images, but the former is a high-end tool built for professionals in mind with amazing reliability, high-quality, speed, features, etc. People that buy a Nikon D4s know exactly what they are looking for and the steep price does not deter them even a bit. The same goes with high-end products like Profoto – people that buy these lights know that they are getting the best of the breed, backed by a company with an amazing track record and customer service.

2) Specifications

Here are the most important specifications of the Profoto B1 head:

  • Maximum Watt/Seconds: 500W/s +/- 1/20 Stop
  • Guide Number: 291 @ 6.56′ (2.0 m), 100 ISO with Magnum reflector
  • Flash Variability: In 1/10 or 1 Stop increments 9.0 Stops: 2.0-10 power level (1/256-1/1), 2.0-500W/s
  • Recycle Time: Minimum/Maximum: 0.1-1.9 sec., Quick Burst Mode: 20 frames per sec.
  • Flash Duration: Normal mode (t0.5): 1/11,000 – 1/1,000 sec. min/max power
  • Freeze mode (0.05): 1/19,000 – 1/1,000 sec. min/max power
  • Color Temperature: 5,600K
  • Beam Angle: 77 Degrees with built-in reflector and opal protective glass
  • Modeling Light: 20W LED (70W tungsten equivalent), Replaceable by service tech.
  • Modeling Light Control: Off / Proportional / Free (full) 5.0-100%
  • Wireless Remote: Yes, via optional Air Remote TTL-C/N, Air remote, Air USB (Profoto Studio)
  • Wireless range: Up to 1,000′ (300 m) for normal triggering, Up to 330′ (100 m) for TTL with optional Air Remote TTL-C
  • Frequency Band: 2.4 GHz
  • Triggering: Air radio slaves, optical (IR), sync cord
  • Operating Voltage: 100-240VAC, 50/60Hz, Self-sensing, 14.8VDC/3Ah via included, rechargeable battery
  • Auto Power Off: Yes, after 60 minutes of disuse, Sleep mode after 30 minutes of disuse
  • Battery Type: Lithium-ion, 220 Full power flashes
  • Battery life: 300 charge cycles (to 80% left)
  • Flash Ready Indicator: Beep tone, ready right, modeling light dimming
  • Battery Charge Time: 2.0 Hours with included 2.8V multi-voltage charger, 1.0 Hour with optional 4.5V quick charger
  • Battery Charge Display: Green LED indicators
  • User Replaceable Flashtube: No, via authorized service tech.
  • Voltage Stabilization: Yes
  • Circuit Protection: Adaptive thermal control
  • Fan Cooled: Yes
  • Auto Dump: Yes
  • Operating Temperature: 14 to +122°F (-10 to +50°C)
  • Storage: 4 to +140°F (-20 to +60°C)
  • Dimensions (length x diameter): Body only: 12.2 x 5.12 (310 x 130 mm); With 5/8″ (16 mm) stand adapter: 12.2 x 6.69″ (310 x 170 mm)
  • Weight: 6.61 lb (3.0 kg) including battery

As you can see from the above specifications, the Profoto B1 is a pretty complex strobe with a lot of features. The most impressive feature for me personally is the weight – at just 3 kg, the head with the battery is almost three times lighter than my Elinchrom Ranger RX battery alone!

Unfortunately, wireless TTL control is currently limited to Canon DSLRs, but Profoto is promising to release a Nikon TTL-N version later in 2014.

3) Build Quality and Packaging

As expected from Profoto, the build quality of the B1 500 head is amazing. Profoto pays close attention to all the details and makes sure that the finish looks very clean, with round corners all along. The head is pretty long compared to other heads, but that’s because Profoto heads have the flexible mount ring system, where you can actually move a light modifier such a softbox in and out depending on your needs. My Elinchrom heads do not allow for this and operate only under one wide angle. Profoto allows up to 8 steps of this head “zoom”, 5 of which are marked on the head (4, 5, 6, 7, 8). I love this feature, because you do not have to worry about rotating anything into position and wondering if it is locked or not – the ring lock system is very reliable and easy to use in comparison. Once locked, the modifier stays in place securely.

The packaging of the Profoto is also very nice. Aside from a nice-looking box with a plastic carrying handle, Profoto also supplies a padded nylon case that can fit the unit along with the charger and extra battery:

Profoto B1 Case

This made it really simple to carry the Profoto head when working outside. I was actually able to fit a couple of PocketWizard units with cables in the same case, which was nice.

4) Operation

Having had no prior experience with Profoto lights, I wondered how easy the B1 head would be for me to operate. Without opening the manual, I attached a previously charged battery and tried to turn the unit on using the TEST / On Off button. Two lines came up and nothing happened. I then realized that I have to hold the button for a second for the unit to turn on. Once it was turned on and the rear LCD display lit up (which is real nice), the rest of the operation was quite simple. Without digging into the controls, I hooked up a PocketWizard using a male to male cable in a socket underneath the unit, attached another PocketWizard on my Nikon D800E and fired a test shot – it worked right away. I moved the large dial clockwise and counter-clockwise to adjust power and did a couple of test shots in full power (10.0). As expected, the Profoto B1 fired every time and the recycle time of around two seconds at full 500W was pretty impressive. Dialing power back to the lowest setting of 2.0 increased the recycle time dramatically – there was practically no wait time at all. After playing a little bit, I opened up the manual and started exploring the settings. I am glad I did that, because I found some amazing features that I had no clue about!

Profoto B1 Head

The “MODEL” button turns modeling light on / off. If you press and hold this button, you can toggle between two different modeling light modes: “PROP”, which sets the modeling light intensity proportional to the selected power level and “FREE”, which allows you to set the intensity in percentage (from 5% to 100%). At 100% intensity, the modeling light was pretty bright when using it indoors, so if you have a corporate headshot session and you need to optimize the light position, the modeling light can be very helpful. Keep in mind that continuous use of a modeling light will drain the battery pretty fast, so I would limit its use to no more than a couple of minutes.

The “SYNC” button allows to set between two different sync modes: “SLAVE” and “AIR”. The “AIR” mode is specifically made for use with the Profoto Air Remote, a pretty expensive unit. I did not have the Air Remote, because I shoot Nikon, so my options for remote triggering were limited to my PocketWizard units. Or so I thought before I read the manual. On page 11 of the manual under “Slave Sync operation”, I read a line that said “When ‘Slave’ is shown in the Sync/Air setting section on the Display, the B1 unit senses the flash release, as well as IR signals from most IR sync transmitters“. Those last 4 words made me wonder if the head would be smart enough to be triggered by a Nikon built-in flash, which does send an IR signal. I popped up the flash of my Nikon D800E, pointed at a nearby wall and fired a test shot at 1/125 of a second. IT FIRED! Wow, what a surprise! It turns out that you can actually command these units with a built-in flash or an infrared unit like the SU-800. This was the first studio strobe that I have ever encountered that could actually do that! I then wondered what the fastest sync speed would be. My PocketWizards are typically limited to 1/200 of a second, so I tried that. Perfect exposure, no blackening in the frame. I then raised it to 1/250 and fired another shot. Once again, perfectly even shot. I then pushed my shutter speed to 1/320 and fired another shot and boom – same, perfectly even shot. Take a look at the below image of a wall in my living room, which is perfectly illuminated with no black lines anywhere in the frame:

Profoto B1 at 320 Shutter Sync

Full EXIF information is provided in the above image for reference. I fired about 10 shots at 1/320 to make sure that it was not a glitch of some sort and every single frame came out perfectly illuminated! Anything past 1/320 resulted in a 3/4 black frame, but it was still a nice surprise.

While infrared is problematic for shooting in daylight conditions, it works great in low-light and indoors conditions. It is great to know that you do not need to worry about hooking up external triggers to use the flash with a Nikon DSLR, as long as you have a built-in flash or an SU-800 unit!

The “READY” button can be used to turn beep on / off and if you press and hold it, you can set the behavior of the modeling light when flash is fired. If it is set to “DIM”, it will turn off the modeling light during the recycle time and turn it back on when the unit is ready (probably to recycle faster). Without “DIM”, the modeling light is always on, whether the unit is recycling or not.

Another cool feature of the Profoto B1 is its dual mode. The unit can operate in normal mode, where the flash head is optimized for stability over the entire energy range. The second mode is called “FREEZE” and it is turned on by holding the large center dial and pressing the “TEST / On Off” button. The Freeze mode is optimized for shortest flash duration, which is used in action photography where you need to freeze fast action. If you want to find out more about these modes, check out the page 10 of the manual, where you will find a graph that shows flash duration from 1/1000 to 1/20000 and how the Normal mode compares to the Freeze mode.

5) Weight, Size and Battery Life

As I have already pointed out above, the Profoto B1 head is pretty long compared to my Elinchrom Ranger heads. However, considering that I can move a light modifier up and down and there are no cables dangling behind the head, the size difference can be more or less neglected as far as I am concerned. The biggest advantage of the head is obviously weight. At 3 kilos with the battery included, this is a pretty light head when compared to everything else on the market. My Elinchrom Ranger RX weighs 2.4 kg with its 3 meter cable and I am not even taking into account the 8 kg battery! If you compare it to its slightly less powered Elinchrom equivalent, the Ranger Quadra with the RQ Hybrid head, the latter is a much lighter head, but the battery and the head combined is still 3 kg in total weight. Plus, you have all those dangling cables and a separate battery pack to carry around. So the Profoto B1 offers a huge advantage in terms of portability and simplicity when compared to other similar products on the market.

Here is the unit with the battery taken out:

Profoto B1 with Battery

And the battery itself is very compact, which is really nice. It is hard to believe that this small battery is capable of firing 220 times at full power. I almost never shoot at full power, so I would expect to get at least 500 shots from this guy from my typical shoot.

Here is the back of the battery:

Profoto B1 Battery

There is no battery life indicator on the actual unit, but if you want to find out how much you have left, you can press the “CHECK” button on the back of the battery and it will show you the charge level. Attaching and detaching the battery to the unit is real simple and the battery charges fully in 2 hours using the provided charger. If you want to speed up the charging process, you can use a 4.5A quick charger, which will reduce the time to just 1 hour.

6) Sample Images

Here are some sample images captured with the Profoto B1 head:

Profoto B1 Image Sample Horizontal

Profoto B1 Image Sample Portrait

I love the ability to overpower the sun in daylight situations. In the shot below, I placed the Profoto B1 to the left of the model, while back-lighting the model with the sun. While I did not really overpower the bright background (did not have an ND filter with me that fit my 35mm f/1.4 Fuji lens), the background is more or less visible and I could have recovered it a bit more in post. I did not want to stop down the lens more, as I still wanted to have some background blur. My only option was to increase the shutter speed here and the Fuji X-T1 is limited to 1/180 sync speed, so there was not much I could do without an ND filter.

Profoto B1 Image Sample Fuji X-T1

All images were shot with a single light modifier – the 3′ Profoto Octabank. I mounted it on a medium-sized light stand and the whole rig was relatively easy to walk around with in Denver downtown. If you want to get this setup, don’t forget to get the Profoto RFi speedring adapter.

7) Profoto B1 vs Elinchrom Ranger RX Speed

I have already talked quite a bit about differences between the Profoto B1 and my Elinchrom Ranger RX setup, but I wanted to add a few other thoughts. When using two Elinchrom Ranger RX heads with a single battery pack, the power is distributed unevenly between the heads: 2/3 power goes to the main head, while 1/3 goes to the second head. Makes sense, but if you wanted to control the power on each head independently, you would have no options. A single power setting affects both heads! In comparison, if you have multiple Profoto B1 heads, you could control them independently using any desired power – there are no such limitations. But most importantly, there are no cables dangling around your two lights. When shooting on location, I always have to worry about cables on the floor. Due to the cable length limitations, I had to buy a really long extension cable for my Elinchrom Rangers, which people have tripped over before. It was so impractical to use more than a single head when photographing weddings, that I would just resort to using a single light as the main light and speedlights in the back for backlight. And when shooting in a studio environment, I often had to tape the cable to the carpet/ground for safety reasons. In addition, I always use PocketWizards with my Elinchrom lights. Normal cables do not work, so there is an additional cable that I had to buy just to make those work!

No matter how you look at it, a fully wireless setup is much more versatile than one with cables. It is just one less headache to worry about!

Yes, my Elinchrom Rangers give me a lot more power when I need it, but then I cannot remember the last time I really needed to use that much power.

8) Summary

Without a doubt, the Profoto B1 is an amazing strobe. Being able to operate studio-quality lights in outdoors conditions without any cables or external battery packs, with the added advantage of using a pop-up flash on a Nikon DSLR (or an external infrared commander) is a huge plus, especially when shooting indoors or in low light. Although Profoto has not yet released a TTL version of its remote trigger, I was simply blown away by how well the strobe performed in regular manual mode. 500 Watts is plenty of power for most situations and as I have shown in the above image samples, it is even good enough to light subjects in mid-day conditions. At just 3 kilos, it is a lightweight head that is truly portable when working in the field. No more dangling cables, no more battery packs to carry around! A truly versatile setup that currently has no equivalents on the market. Yes, it is an expensive head, but if you factor in all of the above features and capabilities, you certainly do get what you pay for.

9) Where to Buy

The Profoto B1 head is available for $1,995 at B&H Photo Video (includes a single battery and a charger). Air Remote and other accessories are not included and can be purchased separately.

Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Review5Nasim Mansurov2014-04-03 19:38:14When Profoto announced their first truly portable setup with the Profoto B1 500 AirTTL battery powered flash last year, the news immediately caught my…
Build Quality
Handling
Value
Features
Size and Weight
Packaging and Manual
Ease of Use
Speed and Performance
Photography Life Overall Rating

Avatar of Nasim Mansurov About Nasim Mansurov

is a professional photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. He is the author and founder of Photography Life, along with a number of other online resources. Read more about Nasim here.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Tim

    Value 5 * for a $2000 strobe?

    It looks like a nice product, but you can achieve the same w/o TTL for ~$400.

    • Tim, yes, in my opinion, you definitely get what you pay for with the Profoto B1, which is why I gave it a 5 for value. It is expensive, but there is no equivalent product on the market. Whether you go for Alienbees, Elinchrom Quadras or any other strobe, all of them require an external battery pack and have cables going from the head to the battery pack. If there was an alternative at much lower cost, I would definitely drop the value rating down…

      • 9
        ) Jason

        Nasim,

        I agree with you that the B1 is a good deal despite the fact that it is $2,000.00. My only gripe would be that I wouldn’t consider this strobe to be 100% studio friendly as there is no ac power option for studio applications. Instead, you would have to buy another battery at $250.00 per strobe if you needed more battery power during a long day of shooting.

        But than again, most people buying this wouldn’t be buying it for a studio setup anyway as much as an on location lighting option.

        • Jason,

          I rented a set of them for a week from Borrow Lenses. I must say, in our studio we have Profoto Compact 600R’s I decided to use the B1′s for a couple of shoots, RARELY in studio do you ever shoot at max power, I shot for several hours and the duration was good.

          As far as the LED light, I did have the modeling light on 100% It lasts roughly 90 minutes doing so. Also it will shut off about every 25 minutes or so to save the battery life. I used two of these for a full day and had no issues about battery life. That being said, a second battery is wise. Also they only take about an hour or so to fully charge.

          My biggest advice… GET A C STAND. I tried using these on pretty heavy duty Manfrotto’s but at full extension, these heads are heavy, and will flex most light stands. Especially if you are a wedding shooter planning on putting these things 10-13′ high.

          Also for $5k you can buy a full Profoto D1 air setup for a studio of about 5 lights and modifiers, if you were looking for a studio solution.

          But Nasim is spot on when it comes to the portability of these things. no bag, just head. I can’t wait until they come out with the Nikon control.

          • 32
            ) Bobbs

            Please tell me where you can get a D1 setup with 4 heads for 5k.

            • 33
              ) Leighton

              A D1 500 block runs around $1200 new. You can find 250 blocks for around $1k new and around $600 in demo condition if you look. Check places like capture integration, Pictureline, and other shops.

              LD

      • 13
        ) Tim

        Personally I prefer a lightweight head with the weight in the battery pack, so the battery can be used to weigh down the bottom of the light stand.

        I work outside on location a lot and IME when light stands are top-heavy, they blow over a lot easier, and the heavier the head, the harder it crashes.

        Without an external battery I may have to bring a sandbag instead, not necessarily more convenient.

        • 19
          ) Marco

          I fully agree with you Tim! The overall compactness and weight of the Profoto B1 may be convenient for portability but it could well translate into undesirable side effects, which should be properly considered to avoid unexpected issues on location!
          Leighton, in his previous post, has also correctly pointed out that this heavy all-in-one head can indeed bend some light stands… and I can absolutely imagine that, considering the B1 weighs 3kg. Once again, Tim wisely suggests that lacking a heavy external battery unit, a sand bag would be needed to secure the light stand with the Profoto B1 while outside on location! I again fully agree with him that this is not going to simplify the setup or translate into a real advantage since, in the end, the overall weight of a Quadra system is the same.

      • 25
        ) nico socha

        There is another product on the market, the priolite mbx series from germany. Look for it, the specs are looking amazing and the build quality… its made in germany.

  2. 3
    ) Marko

    How much did you pay for your sample?! ;)

    • Marko, it was a review sample – it went back to B&H after I was done. I am thinking about selling my Elinchrom lights to trade for Profoto, but will have to sell my older lights first…

    • And btw, I would pay the same as everyone else – I don’t get any sort of “special discounts” for gear.

  3. 6
    ) eric laquerre

    How about a comparison between b1 vs einstein640? Einstein with battery pack are about the same weight with an extra 140 watts! Cheaper with reliable and consistent light. It is also a lot cheaper, 740$ for one light with battery pack. I am an amateur and I am looking to buy the best light for outdoors price/quality. Einstein still seems to be the way to go. I could get 3 einstein for 1 b1 prophoto. It is really expensive to pay an extra 1250$ for no battery pack and cables dangling around!

    • 8
      ) Jason

      Eric,

      The Einstein’s are great, actually I think for what you get and what you are paying for them nothing short of a several thousand dollar system can’t even come close. The lights are reliable, consistent and the flash duration is amazing. If you are thinking of getting a strobe and don’t want to break the bank I would highly recomend these units.

      These B1′s are still amazing though. If I can ever justify spending the money on something like this (you know like if I win the powerball or something like that) I would definitely be getting a few.

  4. 7
    ) Jason

    Nasim,

    Thanks for the in depth review on the B1′s. I actually looked into these units about four months when I was looking at purchasing a pair of strobes. Everything that I had read up to and including your review had nothing but positive things to say about these units and for good reason too, they are pretty amazing at what they do.

    In the ended up not going with the Profoto D1/B1 because of the cost, but again even with the high cost I still think they are a great value for what you are getting. The problem is I wanted 3-4 strobes and for my needs the costs would have been astronomical in comparison to what I would have been getting out of them.

    Instead I went with 3 Paul C Buff Einstein E640′s, a vagabond mini and the cyber commander system and I have to say I am highly impressed, they have by far exceeded my expectations in terms of quality.

    Nasim, I know you are a busy guy with all the gear that you have lined up to review, but If you be would be interested in borrowing my Einstein E640′s to conduct a review on the system, I would be more than happy to lend them to you for as long as you need them. I’m relatively close to you as I live in Highlands Ranch, CO.

    Thanks.

  5. 10
    ) Ryan

    What about mentioning high speed sync? Apparently it doesn’t come with it which is pretty bad for outdoor shots in the sun. Could the PW solve this?

  6. 12
    ) Dennis Luo

    Hello Nasim,

    Great Review. I made an order on the 3′ octa softbox last week and you post these two great review this week. I do not own any profoto strobe. I was struggling choosing between AcuteB2 or B1. After your review, I am more leaning towards B1.

    Couples of people were wondering about when attaching B1 or D1 to a large softbox, due to B1 and D1′s internal 77 degree reflector design, it may have some uneven light distribution across the the whole softbox. Personally, I don’t think it is a problem because the light emitting from the flash tube diffuse three times. Have you encounter this problem when using big softbox?

    Thank you very much for both reviews! Both technically on the specs and aesthetically on real use!

  7. 15
    ) Hussain

    Nasim, Very nice objective review as always! I have to be frank here and say that anyone who is bashing the B1 and saying it’s not worth it are just trying to convince themselves not buy it :) The Einsteins are fine products at a great price, but you still need a battery pack, cables, receivers and transceivers. The B1 gets rid of all that in such a compact package, this is priceless to many people. Add to that HSS is coming via an update which is also worth mentioning.

    The other thing that some choose to ignore (and sometimes laugh at) is TTL. With outdoor it’s such a great feature to use and particularly for sports or moving subjects. Even in the studio, you can start with TTL, lock your TTL value and go manual from there for each light separately. The TTL according to many reviews I’ve read is very accurate even with the most demanding light conditions. I’ll have to see for myself when the Nikon remote comes out.

    No metering, no cables, no extra triggers, potential HSS and no battery pack are features not found in any other strobe of this power makes it worth it for many people, including me. Add to that the other advantages of Profoto. Actually I lied, Jinbei has a battery-powered strobe at a great price without TTL, but it’s a risk you have to take.

  8. 16
    ) Fred

    The section dealing with sync speeds and pocket wizards puzzles me.
    With reasonably long flash duration 400ws monoblocs I can get totally clean frames at 1/8000 using Nikon bodies with mini TT1 transmitter and flex TT5 receiver.
    Granted, 1/8000 is extreme and I have never used that speed in a shot, it was purely done as an experiment to see if the pocket wizards could produce those results. Capturing movement is easily handled at around 1/1000 – 1/2000 and I haven’t had a hint of shutter curtains at those speeds. It takes a bit of time “tuning” the pocket wizards to suit the light/s + camera but once set it is there for good and entirely consistent.

  9. 17
    ) Wally Kilburg

    Nasim;
    I happened to read your B1 review thanks to a post about on the Profoto Blog. I’ve commented here on your site before but still am not a regular visitor since I take exception, or have taken exception to some of the reviews which are written by others (not you) and published here. We have also traded a few emails privately…anyway, I bought a B1 several months back. I also use a 600R with Lithium battery to lighten things up. I have a studio so I have a set of D1 Air 500′s and a three head Acute 1200 pack as well. Plus one Einstein with VLM. I bought the Einstein to see if it could work as a cheaper alternative to my 600R. It really can’t. I kept the Einstein though because it is a fine unit, its more or less permanently attached to a 79″ Rime-Lite Grand softbox in my studio. I use the VLM to work my D1′s some times. And power my laptop among other things.
    Your review of the B1 is spot on. I think the one thing to take away from it that many will not get, is not having any cords. THIS IS MAJOR! Even my trusted and loved 600R, as light as it is, is a pain to use at times with its one single cord and pack. It does one thing the B1 can’t but other wise it’s just so simple to grab a B1, put it to work and and not have to consider where the cords are. Even in the studio. Especially with assistants or models and others wandering about. I use it more and more even before the D1. I use mine with PW’s and the Air Remote from the D1′s and if anything, I’m finding the Profoto air sync system to work exceptionally well, almost to the point of going with it versus the PW’s. I plan to add another B1 as soon as the finances allow.
    In short, the Einstein is a good unit as stated, but its not built anything like a Profoto unit. It’s a bit bulky, I still don’t trust the four prong mount with anything other than a BD or similar reflector (on the Rime-Lite I use a speed ring that attaches to the stand AND a custom bolt thru the umbrella mount which secures the Einstein to the speed ring), and even using a 3 ft cord and the VLM, it does not attach well to a stand. It’s reliable though and it will get a shot on the road again once Buff can supply his new Omni reflector which I am interested in using outdoors.
    The B1 though as much as it costs is worth the money IF you earn your keep using a strobe. The ease, portability, and durability of the unit just beats anything else out there. I’m toying with trying a Westcott Rapid Box 3′ octa but am drawn to the Profoto 3′ octa (I use a Elinchrom 39″ Deep Octa now and a few Wafers)….still that Rapid box with that internal deflector gets BD like but thats stuff for another post. Take care. Good to read you again. Until next time.

    Wally

  10. 18
    ) Wally Kilburg

    Nasim;
    I should mention that another big plus I’ve found for the Profoto units, any of them, over the competition is the ability to zoom and move the modifiers. That long tube build of the D1 and B1 simulates the tube build of the Acute and Pro heads. Sliding your modifier (any modifier, softbox or hard reflector) can offer so many options when shooting. Sounds small, but its very big to me and something I miss when using other’s lights. Anyway, food for thought. I did not want to turn this into a Profoto fan fest.

    Wally

  11. Nasim,
    A nice review, with lots a well covered information.
    There are actually some similar products on the market. Priolite for one. They actually had this “battery-inside-the-head and no wires” form factor before the Profoto B1. They have several versions in several power ratings, including 500ws and 1000ws. The latest iterations even have HSS built in.
    The downsides of the Priolites are that they are a noticeably bigger box then the Profoto B1 and the 1000 is almost 1.6kg heavier.
    Having compared the two in person, I prefer the smaller form factor and simpler ease of use of the Profoto, but the HSS and affordable reflectors and softboxes (bowens type S mount) are a massive draw towards the Priolite system.
    There are also some Chinese copies, Nicefoto or N-foto, I forget they exact name, but they have a version of their own in this form factor now too.
    I’m still lugging my Elinchrom Speed RX’s around until I can sell them, and until Profoto incorporate HSS like they say they will, if that happens by september-ish this year, I’ll probably get the Profoto, if not, the availability of the same functionality in the Priolite means I’ll head in that direction.

    David

    • 31
      ) sceptical1

      This review is awesome! I had no idea about this type of product, but it is perfect for pet photography. HSS fill light is frequently required to balance the ambient light and I use it all the time with dogs that are a bit tuckered out and will sit still. Otherwise, I have to freeze action, and this would be even better than what I have (Nikon 910, Metz 50) for that due to its higher power. Truthfully, I would rarely need THAT much power, but it would definitely open up more possibilities. It’s pretty expensive, but I wouldn’t need more than one, because I could use a speedlight on the rare occasion that I needed a 2nd flash. When they deliver on the HSS I will seriously consider it. It’s expensive, but also a one time purchase. We’ll see what the budget will allow :)

  12. 21
    ) ig

    Great review! If using the D1/B1 I with the Profoto Beauty Dish I recommend using the glass dome diffuser. I have a pair of D1 500/Airs and notice a significant difference with the glass dome in place. Profoto is my lifelong choice thanks to the extensive line of high quality modifiers and consistent output. For professional work I wouldn’t use anything less but the Einsteins are a viable alternative for those looking to spend (much) less. I use a Profoto 7b on location with the new Life Batteries and it made a huge difference in weight. Having 1200w is very welcome on numerous occasions, specially in daylight use with large diffusers. I was tempted to buy a pair of B1′s but find it easier to just rent the Batpacs for my D1s when needd. I don’t use TTL.

  13. 22
    ) Earle

    Nasim, just saw this, wonderful review. As a Ranger and Quadra user I agree with your point about cables. If I had the $ and was starting from scratch I would go for the Profotos in a heartbeat. Though I also suspect Elinchrom will eventually follow suit with a cordless battery powered monolight as well (I know Multiblitz and several Chinese companies already have them as well).

    Do you plan to buy Profoto Rotalux adapters to keep your existing softboxes or switch to Profoto?

  14. 23
    ) Geoff

    Hi Nasim,

    Nice review, thanks!

    I’m pretty stoked that my Nikon D800 could trigger this light via the pop-up flash / infra-red etc. As you say that it a major bonus until the Nikon TTL control is released!

    Apologies in advance if this is a silly question, I have no experience whatsoever with studio lights or modifiers etc, so I’m going to ask it anyway…

    With the correct speedring connections etc, do you think this light would be compatible with an indirect soft box, like, for example, the Elinchrom Octa Bank 197? As you said the head is 3kg in weight; in my imagination I perceive that as being quite heavy to fit into a speedring fitting, facing in reverse, hidden inside a giant boom stand mounted octa box?!

    My rationale was that it could be an awesome ‘location’ light combo if feasible?

    Maybe the Profoto XL White Umbrella with an optional front diffuser panel would be a cheaper, easier, faster to set-up and much more portable ‘big soft light’ option?

    Any advice appreciated!

    Geoff

    • 29
      ) Tim

      Hey Geoff!

      I’ve used a B1 with the Profoto Deep XL Silver Umbrella with the front diffusion. I’ve done some on location Police environmental portraits without the diffusion for that crisp, silver look and have used the diffusion on for some portraits in a coffee shop as soft window light. My most used modifier on my Profoto lights has been the Elinchrom 39″ Deep Octa, so I’ve been lusting over the large indirect Elinchrom Octa for a couple of years. Since I got this umbrella/diffusion combo, I’m more than satisfied! It’s beautiful light, fast set up, and light weight … plus I get two different looks with the same modifier AND it’s indirect light. I love it and I have no desire for the big Octa anymore. Hope this helps a little!

      • 30
        ) Geoff

        Hi Tim,

        Thanks for reply! Great advice and much appreciated, yes, that helps a lot!

        I think I’ll try the umbrella and get to grips with that first!

        KR,

        Geoff

  15. 24
    ) Pablo Quiroga

    Very good review of this amazing flash, is my favorite product, and that the dream that I have the nikon sb910, but I perish is a toy next to this beast of light. My big question is the D800 or D7000 as this could trigger flash wirelessly without su-800.

  16. 26
    ) Danny Grizzle

    Like everyone else, I agonized over purchasing the B1 due to cost. For the price of a single B1, you can do a 3 light kit of Einsteins. In the end, I bought a B1 after Buff posted a picture of the stand clamp on their latest Vagabond Lithium Extreme, which looks like a joke. Also, I rented a B1 from lensrentals.com before making a decision. I’m shooting architecture, not weddings. Further, log homes are frequently built on steep and rough terrain. As I struggled about with the Profoto B1 on my test shoot, I realized that a separate power supply and cord would be intolerable. Working with the B1 under my arm and a CamRanger linked iPad to control the camera, the B1 makes it possible to illuminate large structures that have a tendency to be dark and behave a bit like a light trap. Other than price, my one beef is range on both the CamRanger and the Profoto Air Remote TTL-C, both rated to about 300′. My estimate is half that at max, my conditions being remote and rural, without much radio spectrum clutter, and also working uphill from the camera due to slope of hill falling away from the house. Usually a higher antenna position increases range, but not the case here that I can tell. The Profoto Air Remote TTL-C quickly becomes line of sight only. At 30 yards away, I could not hide behind a tree and achieve reliable flash triggering. The CamRanger is flaky also, with similar range and even more hassles to reestablish links and live link return images from the camera. Nevertheless, I ordered the B1 over the Einstein. For me, it comes down to this: if you must frequently move lights in exterior locations that will include rough terrain, all the wires and external batteries and questionable stand clamps look like certain dropped and broken equipment, and likely lacerations to the photographer or assistant’s face and head. The B1′s unitized design is a huge advantage, even though it will be months or years before I can justify building out a multiple light kit, and I shudder to think what the total investment of a Profoto system will ultimately be.

  17. 27
    ) gregorylent

    love my jinbei 600ws battery in the head strobes .. they ain’t profoto, but they work very well

  18. Avatar of Atiqur Sumon
    28
    ) Atiqur Sumon

    Love this photography.

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