Do you remember the Profoto B1 flash? We had the pleasure of reviewing it a few months ago. If you are into flash photography and need a portable, but powerful light source, I suggest you read that review. Suffice to say it left us thoroughly impressed. And now Profoto decided to add to the already good impression by releasing a firmware update. As if a firmware update for a strobe isn’t peculiar enough, it’s not actually meant to fix any issues (not that there were any, in our experience). Nope. It’s there to add an actual feature, and one strobists will very much appreciate – High-Speed Sync.
As Nasim found out, he could use the Profoto B1 at shutter speeds all the way up to 1/320s using his PocketWizard system with the Nikon D800E (the PocketWizards are typically limited to 1/200s). While quite impressive, it was certainly not enough for those who’d want to use fast aperture setting in broad daylight outdoors. ND filters serve as a solution in such a case, but not a very practical one. After the firmware update, the Profoto D1 500 can sync at shutter speeds all the way up to a whopping 1/8000th of a second using the HSS mode!
High-Speed Sync modes generally tend to be compromises. According to Profoto, they either offer good power outputs and speed, but lack in the consistency front, or vice versa. The (apparently new, patent-pending) system the Profoto B1 employs is said to nail all three aspects delivering not only enough power and speed, but also consistent results. The firmware update can be downloaded directly from the manufacturer’s website.
Official Press Release
Here is what Profoto has to say about the new feature:
Profoto HSS. It Is Here. Start Using It Today.
Up until now, HSS solutions have been either consistent but lacking in speed and power, or fast and powerful but inconsistent. Today, we release Profoto HSS – a new solution that has all of the benefits and none of the limitations.
High-Speed Sync (HSS) is the technical term for syncing flash with shutter speeds shorter than the so-called x-sync, typically 1/250 of a second. It is a useful tool for controlling ambient light and for freezing action. But there used to be limitations.
Current solutions for speedlights give you a fairly even exposure. But it does so at the expense of speed and power. Previous solutions for larger flashes were faster and more powerful. But the exposure could differ as much as 2 f-stops in a single shot.
Profoto’s new solution for the B1 Off-Camera Flash has all of the benefits and none of the limitations. The B1 itself is about ten times as powerful as the average speedlight and fast enough to keep up with your camera. With the new Profoto HSS upgrade installed, you switch to HSS Mode with a simple button-press. You will then be able to shoot at shutter as fast as 1/8000 of a second.
But it does not stop there. Profoto HSS is a unique, patent-pending technology, providing an extremely fast series of flash pulses. What this means in practice is that you get an extremely consistent exposure with no measurable variation over the image.
In other words, Profoto HSS is fast, powerful and consistent. This will open up a whole new world of light shaping possibilities for you. For instance, you can now shoot with a large aperture in bright conditions to get a shallow depth of field and get that perfect deep blue sky. Or capture super crisp action in mixed light conditions without getting motion blur from ambient light. Etcetera, etcetera.
Needless to say, Profoto HSS works for both Canon and Nikon and has been tested for all common camera models.
Also note that you can use Profoto HSS both with and without TTL. Or do both! Shoot with TTL first to get a technically perfect exposure, and then switch to Manual Mode with the same readings and settings and do whatever creative adjustments you feel like doing. It is a huge time saver. Plus you can leave that light meter at home!
Profoto HSS is available through a simple firmware upgrade.
Click here and download it for free.
Note that you will need to do download separate upgrades for the B1 Off-Camera Flash and the Air Remote TTL-C and Air Remote TTL-N, and then upgrade both flash and remote.
Once installed, HSS Mode is activated with a simple button-press. There is no need to change the flash bulb or messy stuff like that.
We have done our best to make the entire process as easy and user friendly as possible. But if you have any questions whatsoever, leave a comment below or send an email to [email protected] and we will replay as fast as we can.
Have fun with it!