Photography and Video by Maring Visuals
Disclaimer... I need to mention that Profoto has sponsored many of our speaking engagements over the years, so I may be writing this with a bias when it comes to their products. However, in my 25 year career I have experienced many different lighting tools and owned many other brands along the way, and once I experience Profoto tools first hand I've never wanted to look elsewhere. I am not being paid to write this article in particular, and if I didn't feel strongly that their newest tools made a difference in our lives then I wouldn't take the time to write this at all. However, they do, and therefore I want to share my experiences with you.... Learn more about Profoto's new gear at http://profoto.com/offcameraflash/
The Profoto B1 and B2 My Take...
Profoto recently reached out to us asking if we would be interested in trying out the B2 prior to it's release. We've had to keep quite about this innovative new product for a few months until it's debut. But, now that it's a go we want to share the truth about how we see these new units fitting into our lives.
First and foremost I think Profoto has hit a home run with the advent of the B2. It's small footprint and weight alone make it a winner as a lot of our photo-shoots take place on the move whether it be at a wedding or in the streets of NYC. The B2 packs plenty of power at 250WS, which is ample for the majority of work we do. It also has some light shaping tools built exclusively for it that are also very lightweight. There is a new lightweight speed ring for softboxes and octas. That may not sound like something of value, but if you have held the studio version of the speed ring from Profoto, you know how heavy and well made they are. When we are on the go and carrying gear on our backs, every once counts. So any improvements in weight makes a difference on our ability to focus on shooting rather than gear.. There is also a snoot, various grid spots, and a new 2 foot Octa available, and we adore using them all.
What makes the Profoto B1 and B2 unique goes beyond their portability and size though. If coupled with a TTL AIR Remote, the TTL works perfectly with Canon and Nikon Gear allowing you complete freedom to concentrate on the shot. If, like me, you are working with the latest Mirrorless cameras like the Panasonic Lumix GH4, or Light Field Cameras like the Lytro Illum, the system works great as well with the standard air remote. So, regardless of the camera you choose, these flashes have the ability to fit in with your workflow smoothly.
We've been working with the B1 version of their portable strobes now for quite some time, which has twice the output of the B2, but with a considerably larger head. The B1 is our go to light source both in our studio, and on location these days as we have come to love the fact that we can cut the power cord to an outlet. Being wireless in the studio and on location is a great benefit when it comes to enjoying the creative process, and being able to place lights exactly where we want them.
The B2 has a cord that connects to a battery pack. So, technically it isn't wireless I suppose, but you don't have to connect to an outlet because the power pack is battery operated. What makes the B2 so intriguing is that the head is dramatically smaller and lighter than the B1, and the power output is ideal for 85% of situations where we need strobe. It is so small and light you can even use it as your on camera flash via TTL if you get a flash bracket. The power pack can power two B2 heads simultaneously as well, and you can dial in exact exposure on each with ease.
The price point of Profoto gear is certainly above that of many other strobe companies. However, I have to say that when it comes to strobe you are purchasing gear that has the potential to last your entire career. In my personal experience I've wasted a lot of money on equipment that I deemed "good enough" at the time only to have to re-invest once I experienced best in class strobes first hand. There is a difference on many levels I've learned. In everything I do, whether it be snowboarding, photography, video, sailing, etc.... high quality gear makes the experience that much more enjoyable making the investment worth every penny.
Quality of light matters to me as an artist. Compliment that mindset with the short flash duration, control, power, portability, TTL, and seemingly endless light shaping tools that Profoto makes available and it seems to me that the price point is quite reasonable for a product that will stay with me long after I've bought and sold digital cameras and lenses over and over again with upgrades.
You can learn more about the Profoto B1 and B2 on their microsite dedicated to this innovative new technology at http://profoto.com/offcameraflash/ where other professional photographers share their experiences as well.