You may remember how we were thoroughly impressed with the Profoto B1 off-camera flash. Its manageable weight, ease of use and dependability were among the largest strong-points, and made the product itself very tempting, even when compared to products from other highly-regarded manufacturers, such as Elinchrom. Now, Profoto has announced a successor (or perhaps a counterpart) to the B1. As good as the “older” system is, even on paper the B2 sounds fantastic.
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 you saw from our review of the Profoto B1, we were very impressed by the capabilities of this portable, battery powered flash head. At the time we wrote the review, the Profoto B1 was only compatible with Canon TTL and support for Nikon TTL was supposed to be announced later. Well, the wait is almost over, because Profoto announced the Air Remote TTL-N for Nikon, with expected availability on September 15, 2014.
While testing out the Profoto B1 500 flash head, I also had a chance to use one of my favorite light modifiers, a 3 foot octabox (also known as “octa softbox”, “octabank” or just “octa”), known as “3′ RFi Octa Softbox” by Profoto. Although Profoto carries a wide array of light modifiers and accessories in its arsenal of lighting equipment, I specifically wanted to get a smaller octa for outdoors photography. The primary reason was portability without compromising too much on the size. As you may already know, the larger the source of light in flash photography, the softer it is on the subject. The 5 and 7 foot octas were just too big and the smaller rectangular softboxes were too small for my taste. Quality-wise, both octaboxes and softboxes produce equally good quality light – the only difference is catchlight. I prefer to have more round catchlight in my subject’s eyes, rather than a square, so I prefer using octaboxes, umbrellas, parabolic softboxes and beauty dishes for that reason.
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.