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Profoto B1 500
Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 8:36 AM on 12.14.13
->> First, I learned yesterday that Profoto is no longer represented by the Mac Group. Profoto now has a physical presence in the USA with their main offices in NJ. They also have two service centers located in NJ and CA and dedicated territory reps.

The new B1 500 off camera light certainly has some very interesting applications for those wanting portability with a big punch. Price isn't that bad if you compare it to the number of speedlights it would take to match the same 500ws max output plus all those darn AA batteries and packs you would need to have good recycle times. In all, a very cool concept and something worth keeping an eye on.

With that said, however, there are a few things (beyond the cost) that are of concern to me.

1. The firmware is in Beta at this point. The holdup appears to be that the B1 500 will not work with the Canon 1DX or 5DIII. Why would you build a new light around older cameras and not the newer? Something doesn't seem right.

2. Profoto isn't publishing T.1 durations (at least not now) and the only demos I have seen freezing action were taken in very dark environments. Wonder how they will do in environments that have fairly good ambient light and you need at least 250ws to stay 1 to 2 stops over. Something tells me their results might be very different.

3. Wow! 1/19,000 t.5 duration in action mode at 2ws. Isn't that approximately a 1/6500 t.1 duration? According to Andy Gock who did some t.1 tests on speedlights years ago, a Canon 580EX has a t.1 duration of 1/19,841 at 1/128th power. Don't you think a Canon 580EX at 1/128th power level would be at least 2ws? Sooo...Which light do I choose to freeze action when all I need is 2WS. A Profoto B1 500 (t.1 1/6500th) or a Canon 580EX (t.1 1/19,841th)

Here's Andy's research link

Don't get me wrong. I think Profoto is a great company with outstanding products!! Just want to know if my concerns are legitimate.

I'm certainly not an expert on this stuff but hoping those that are will jump in with their thoughts.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 11:52 AM on 12.14.13
->> I was mistaken on the compatibility on the 5D III. It does work with that camera body. I watched Mark Wallace's webinar yesterday and I though he said that the 1DX and 5D III would not work. I watched it's only the 1DX.
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Josh Merwin, Photographer
New York | NY | | Posted: 11:57 AM on 12.14.13
->> Profoto separated from MAC group several months ago. Basically cutting out the middle man and I think it really made business sense for them. But the MAC group is great as well.

Manufacturers change things in the newer cameras and what probably happened is that these lights were in development for along time and now Profoto has to play catch up with the newer Canon's. But Profoto has in the past done various upgrades via both firmware and hardware. IE-the battery setting for the D1 series so you could use it with the Vagabond Lithium and the ability to add the Air system into the older D4 series packs. So I am pretty confident that they will do everything on their end to get it up and running asap.

I would assume that the specs will be VERY similar to the D1 500's. But these are NOT top of their line lights. They fit into a nice, segment that needs the portability, medium power, battery power and above all, you get to use the profoto modifiers. If you need to stop the action in full sunlight and overpower the sun, etc. You're probably going to need to step up to the ProB series. Although with the ttl functions you may be able to shoot in the highspeed flash sync mode like you can with the Canon speedlights. But I haven't tried that.

This is based on my opinion, not proven fact obviously... But I hope it helps!
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 5:28 PM on 12.14.13
->> Not sure I would use any lighting to stop action in full sunlight and overpower the sun. I would just want to stop action in a fairly well lit high school gym and overpower the ambient light by 1-2 stops. 500ws is plenty of power for that. What concerns me is how much power you would need to drop in order to get a duration fast enough to stop the action and still be at least 1 stop over. It's not a problem with two Einstein's at 160ws with a t.1 duration of 1/3300 in fast mode. No high speed sync or hyper-sync on the B1 500's.

I understand that these are not their top of the line. However, at $2000 per copy you would think they would be top-shelf at least compared to other strobes in the portable lighting class at half the cost. The Profoto modifiers are great (if you already own them).

When Pocketwizard introduced the Mini and Flex for Canon it was a disaster. They proved that taking the Canon signal and converting it to another signal wasn't an easy thing to do. I know first hand and it wasn't very pretty and gave up after 18 months. Thank God for the 600EX-RT!
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Jim Karczewski, Photographer, Assistant
Hammond | IN | USA | Posted: 2:18 AM on 12.15.13
->> Not 500w/s but 360 (even though Calumet sells the same thing and calls it 400w/s)

Runs on a Lithium pack that can also be used to power speedlights.

Other options, since lighting HS Basketball is more of a daily chore than anything lately I'm trying these:

NO AA Batteries, but a speedlight that runs on a Lithium Ion internal battery good for 650 shots. Add to that, remote power control and with an additional transmitter (Cells IIc, the c is very important for the 1Dx or 5D3) which allows syncing up to 1/8000.

Or Youngnou will have a 600RT compatible flash in January, along with a transmitter that will generate a focus pattern (something the Canon version will not do.)
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 5:06 AM on 08.25.14
->> I purchased two B1-500's with the Air Sync Remote for Canon and a couple of spare batteries. Not advertising for Profoto but thought I would share a few points with those who might be interested.

1. The new firmware that resolves the TTL issues with the Canon 1DX works.
2. Full control of the lights with the Air Sync at the camera position is simply awesome! TTL metering works great.
3. No wires and built-in receivers make deploying these lights very simple and fast.
4. Batteries and battery management is also very simple and fast. The standard charger that comes with the unit is plenty for recharging and is actually better for the battery itself (excessive use of the rapid charger increases wear on the battery according to the manual).
5. Built-in recessed reflector (78 degrees I believe) is also very nice and gives a very nice edge-to-edge and even spread of light. Magnum reflectors are on back order but will be adding these to the kit later.
6. These lights are pretty heavy with the battery attached. I wouldn't use a small stand for these as it will become very top heavy. I'm using the Manfrotto Alu Master 3 Riser 12' AC Stand to be on the safe side.
7. The frosted glass plate in front bulb itself is nice from a safety perspective.
8. Modeling light works great and does not add excessive heat to the unit. Some of you that use Einstein's know about how the heat from the modeling light during long shoots can cause the light to slow or shut down.
9. Audible beep at the light is loud enough even to be heard outdoors. Just wish the Air Sync had a beep that let you know when all lights were ready (like the Canon STE3-RT do).
10. Profoto's claim that the B1-500 is 10 times more powerful than the average speedlight is a GROSS overstatement.
11. Everything packs very well in a Think Tank International roller with room to spare. Thought about the Profoto Backpack M but that's about 25 pounds on your back. More than I'm willing to throw on this old horse.
12. No high speed sync .... YET. My understanding is now that the B1's work with Nikons, this will be the next priority for Profoto. I am pretty confident that they won't be "hit or miss" with this feature and will do ton load of testing before rolling HSS out. Lessons learned from the failed attempts and struggles some companies have had over the years.
13. Recycle times .... even at full power just a couple of seconds. Very nice.
14. Color / Exposure from the lights is great. Has saved me a considerable amount of time in post production.

I've been using these lights to do all of my fall pre-season work (about 800 athletes). They have held up nicely even in the extreme heat we have had the past couple of days in the Midwest (no shut downs from lights overheating). They really have made things easier to manage, deploy, pack up etc.

I'm not looking for a pissing match on cheaper options so save your breath. Just sharing this information in the event that one or two of you are considering an investment in these lights. My decision to invest in them was based solely on saving me time, reduce cost (my time that I cannot bill for), and free up a few more hours for marketing and sales.
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Garrett Hubbard, Photographer
Washington | D.C. | USA | Posted: 9:50 AM on 08.25.14
->> Kevin, I really appreciate your thoughtful update. Thanks for taking the time to post it for us.
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Steve Puppe, Photographer
Olathe | KS | USA | Posted: 9:52 AM on 08.28.14
->> I've been told that HSS will be released shortly after the Nikon TTL remotes start shipping.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:49 AM on 12.12.14
->> According to my Profoto rep, firmware for utilizing Canon's High Speed Sync for the B1-500's will be released on Monday, December 15, 2014.

Thank you Santa!
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Robert Seale, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 12:21 PM on 12.12.14
->> Kevin,

I've used these and they work great. For stopping action in daylight at high power, I rent 7A's, 8A's, or use my 7B's or B4's.

The B4 actually displays the flash duration at various power settings, which is cool.

I use my Acute 600B's for normal portraiture where stopping action is not an issue, and I would use these the same way, unless you're in a darker environment where you could really power them down.

Speedlights generally fall between 85-100 w/s depending on your zoom settings.

I agree the whole "quoting the quickest flash duration at the very lowest power setting" is a bogus stat, and is confusing, if not completely misleading. Full, half, and 1/4 power setting durations are the only ones that really matter in the real world.

That said, the TTL on the B1's used in conjunction with the Profoto wireless remote , is nothing short of remarkable. These are truly idiot proof lights, and will make a lot of people's lives easier.

Good luck.
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Jeffrey Nycz, Photographer
Warsaw | IN | USA | Posted: 1:29 PM on 12.12.14
->> Kevin:

What ISO and F stop do you use with the Einsteins at 160 WS? I'm using 4 Einsteins in a 2000 seat arena at 320 WS for a t.1 duration of 1/2000 but stil realize a slight amount of ghosting in some shots. Currently I'm using ISO 800 at F8 with a 1DX, 5D MKIII and a 7D MKII.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 2:44 PM on 12.12.14
->> Robert - If HSS works your rental bill for daylight should drop considerably. Using the shutter to control ambient rather than adding a ship load of powerful strobes. Again, the proof will be in the pudding.

Agree, TTL on the B1-500 is amazing. Good thing as I am a self proclaimed "idiot".

Jeff - I have 8 lights in the catwalks at the university I shoot for. All lights are set at 160ws. I too get a bit of ghosting particularly in volleyball when shooting from the sideline. No ghosting when shooting from the catwalks or from the baselines.

Typically we are ISO 100-400 at f3.5-f5.6. Regardless, the key for me has always been to make sure that the lights are at least 2 stops above ambient. It used to be very easy to do in the old days of "crappy lighting". With newer lighting systems that schools have installed, it's a bit harder to do without adding more lights. I would experiment with your 4 Einstein's by increasing your power slightly and use action mode. Eventually you'll find the right setting that works.

It will be interesting to see how HSS changes all this since you'll be able to use a faster shutter beyond 1/200-1/250 sync (depending on your camera). Once again, the proof will be in the pudding.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 6:31 AM on 12.15.14
->> HSS firmware has been released and includes BOTH Nikon and Canon. I've downloaded and installed the firmware on both my Transmitters (TTL-C) and B-1 Flash Units. Separate firmware upgrades. No hassles or problems.

Just waiting for the sun to come up to do some test shots in HSS.

Link for more info on Profoto Blog:
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:10 AM on 12.15.14
->> For Canon shooters - Settings to shoot HSS

1. On the Profoto TTL-C transmitter, push the Sync button until "Hi-S" is displayed.

2. Using your camera settings menu, go to External Speedlight control and make sure sync setting is set to "Auto". This will allow HSS to be used on your camera. If you already use HSS with your Canon speedlights then this setting is most likely already set to "Auto" already. It's also the default setting on the 1DX.

Hey Robert ... Firmware and set-up, so far, "idiot" proof. "Easy Peasy Shutter Squeezy".
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 11:09 AM on 12.15.14
->> Raining in Central Illinois today so no sun. Did a test anyway using the B1-500 at 1/8000th of a second.

Santa - the only thing left on my Christmas list is a box of Rocky Patel's and a bottle of Crown for all my friends and I to share.
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 1:16 PM on 12.16.14
->> What Garrett said; Kevin, you should start a strobe review page!! Thanks for the feedback.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:24 PM on 12.16.14
->> Phil ...Not sure I would be qualified to start a review page but certainly willing to share my "boots on the ground" experiences with other SS members. Lord only knows how much I've learned from others including you.

Couple of updated notes on the B1's / TTL-C/N transmitters:

First, several folks have reported problems updating firmware due to USB connectivity issues. I personally advise that before you do the upgrade, disconnect all USB devices except your mouse and keyboard. It appears that having too many USB devices connected causes both PC and MAC problems installing their system device drivers correctly for the B1's and transmitters. If you do this you'll eliminate all those issues.

Second, several folks have called into question as to why Profoto uses higher power settings when HSS is used. The power ranges are 7-10 for Canon shooters and 8-10 for Nikon. Profoto does this to eliminate ghosting that occurs when flash durations and shutter speeds compete with each other. If you don't need HSS you can easily turn it off on the transmitter and use lower power settings and faster durations. The point I'm really driving at is that HSS isn't a default setting that you leave on all the time. It is, however, a tool you can use to control difficult shooting situations (such as shooting in the bright sunlight without having to haul out a truck load of lights).

The only sporting events I have actually shot with the B1's are two swim meets at the university I shoot for. I bounced the light off the ceilings (clients preference)using power level 8 on two lights. No problems locking up the splashing water or swimmers. This was over two weeks ago so HSS was not available. B1's performed beautifully. I had planned on shooting a basketball game last night using HSS but had to cancel due to a personal conflict. My hope is to share my experiences from a basketball game I am schedule to cover on Friday.

Finally, I'm not advocating Profoto as the "best solution". I simply want to share my experiences with equipment that works well for those that primarily shoot team sports and whose needs are different than a studio photographer. Equipment that is easy to use, highly portable, durable, safe, feature rich, and makes fast work of what we need to accomplish without sacrificing quality is really what I am advocating. Price can only be justified once all of these factors have been validated first.

No doubt, Profoto has made a rock solid name for themselves inside the studio. I know for a fact that they want to have as big a foot print outside the studio which is great news for all of us. It should cause other lighting companies to take notice and begin developing new products that should make all us very happy. Finally!
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 5:39 PM on 12.31.14
->> Several people, including myself, reported that when HSS is used the battery level indicator on the B1-500 drops 25% immediately. I spoke with my Profoto rep today and their technicians are aware of the "False" battery level reading when HSS is used. It does not impact the performance and is simply a "False" reading. It will be corrected in the next firmware upgrade for the B1.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:59 AM on 01.13.15
->> Finally was able to shoot a basketball game with my B1's last night after getting past the flu and the holidays. I had shot a swim meet before the HSS firmware so I'll include my comments before/after the upgrade. And now, in no particular order, here are my thoughts and observations:

1. Management / Setup - Fast, easy, and simple. Everything from charging batteries, setting up the lights on a ball joint and super clamp, take down, packing up, and so on ...simply the easiest lighting system I have used in my 9 years. The only setting you make on the lights is to put them in FREEZE mode. Everything else is controlled at the TTL transmitter and camera.

2. No problems with HSS. Just move your ISO up as you increase your shutter and you're golden.

3. My preference, after using HSS, was to go back to 1st Curtain sync (1/250th on my 1DX). This seemed to be more efficient as it related to power and recycle performance. For indoor sports, I think I'll stay with this setup. Cameras were in manual mode ISO 1000 f3.2-3.5 1/250th.

4. In both cases (1st Curtain 1/250th sync and HSS) I used the TTL metering setting on the transmitter. WAY COOL! For those of you with indoor sports portable strobe experience, you know that there are hot spots and dead spots on the court when you set your lights and camera in manual mode. When a subject comes close to you, your images are "Hot" because the subject is closer to the light. Conversely, when the subject is on the far side of the court the subject is underexposed. Perfect exposures are right down the middle of the court. With TTL on, the lights automatically adjust their power based on what the camera is communicating "Through The Lens" to the lights. Exposures therefore are more evenly lit near, far, or right down the middle. Again, VERY COOL!

5. The 77 degree built-in reflector on the B1's does a great job of spreading the light around. In both shoots, I pointed the heads towards the ceiling slightly so that light would still hit the floor directly, fill the background, and bounce off the ceiling. Not having to use a magnum reflector was a plus because it's one less thing you have to haul and attach on location.

6. From time to time I would get some images that were very HOT or over exposed. These were all shots to the far side of the court so I think the TTL system was picking up the darker background (the crowd) rather than the subject I was shooting (player in a white uniform) and simply got confused and pumped out more power. Fully recoverable in post production however.

7. In both shoots, I had approximately 200 pops with 2 bars of power left.

8. I had no misfires (where the lights did not fire) at the swim meet. I had 11 at the basketball game. After coming home, I pulled the AAA batteries out of the TTL-C Transmitter and put them on a charger. They were almost dead. I've had the same experience with Pocket Wizards and Paul Buff CyberSync transmitters. When the power levels drop below 50% you'll start getting misfires. I'll simply need to make sure I use fully charged batteries in my transmitter next time.

9. The frosted glass plate in front of the element on the B1's is only HOT when the tube fires and returns to room temperature in about a second. While the glass plate doesn't seal the element, it does cover it enough that if the element exploded the fragments would stay behind the glass. In other words, it eliminates the need to attach a plexiglass cover over a reflector for safety purposes. Safety is always my #1 priority both for myself and the public. I'm very comfortable using the B1's as they present no more risk to the public than if I mounted a speedlight in the stands. The B1 also has a carry handle attached to it which makes attaching a security cable to the light very easy.

10. Color - Dead on buck nasty perfect even in FREEZE mode. With speed lights (turned down to 1/4 power) and my PCB Einstein's (in Action Mode) I always picked up a blue color cast on white uniforms that was always very hard to get rid of in post production ....even with a RAW file. Almost no color correction required in post production! Heck YES! (Sorry for my excitement here but this will save me a ton of time). I know...I know... slip a CTO gel on and calm down Kevin!

Here's a link to a gallery from both the swim meet and basketball game. They really don't tell the story of the B1 but I'm throwing them out their just in case you are interested.

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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 4:56 PM on 01.28.15
->> Just an update .... According to Profoto support, using rechargeable AAA batteries in the Profoto TTL Transmitters will cause inconsistent communication between the transmitter and the B1. Standard 1.5 volt alkaline batteries are the only batteries that should be used in the TTL transmitters. Rechargeable AAA are 1.2 volt.

I was having some issues while shooting a basketball game the other night. Miss fires, not being able to control settings from the camera position, and several flash dumps. Used 1.5 volt alkalines and all is good.

Also, lithium AAA should not be used. Funny ...Canon released a notice last month regarding the use of Lithium's in their speedlights and transmitters.
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Rob Sirota, Photographer
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 1:09 PM on 01.29.15
->> Kevin, Your link seems dead... Do you have this PDF anywhere?
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 4:43 PM on 01.29.15
->> Here's a gallery I have been using to put sample shots.

I deleted the pdf. It was just a couple of test shots after I uploaded the firmware for HSS.

Here's a link to a DropBox folder that has some test images in it. You can download them as well. All shots taken on a cloudless day. There's one RAW file and the others are JPEGS converted from RAW files.
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Rob Sirota, Photographer
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 4:50 PM on 01.29.15
->> They look cool... Are you suspending them from the ceiling?
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:54 PM on 01.29.15
->> No. Mounting lights using a ball joint and super clamp on the outside railings in the bleachers. Magnum reflectors are also used on both lights.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:59 AM on 01.31.15
->> Here is a summary and my final thoughts on the B1's:


1. The only issue that remains is the accuracy of the battery meter level indictor when using the B1's in HSS. Profoto has indicated that this will be resolved in a future firmware update. The false battery meter reading has no impact on the power or number of flashes however.

2. The B1's deliver as promised. One should note, however, that Profoto's claim that the B1 is as powerful as 10 average speedlights is a bit stretched. They don't define "average". Based on my own testing, the B1's are about as powerful as two Canon 600EX-RT speedlights at full power.

3. When using HSS, make sure the B1's are in normal mode rather than FREEZE mode. HSS needs to slower duration to work correctly.

4. The Magnum reflectors do increase the intensity of the light by at least one full stop. A little bulky (13" bell) but are the best reflector I have ever used. So, need more power....just slap on a Magnum and you're good to go.

5. Overpowering the sun using HSS and Magnum reflectors is easy from any direction the sun is lighting your subject (front, back, or side). In TTL/HSS mode, using your camera's exposure comp and flash exposure comp while in Av Mode has worked best for me. (I try to keep ambient (EC) and flash (FEC) separated by 1-2 stops.)

6. Because the B1's have their own 77 degree reflector built in, not all of the Profoto reflectors will work with them. Check the Profoto website to make sure the reflector is compatible with the B1 or D1.

7. Don't buy the fast chargers. The user manual indicates that they will shorten the life of the battery. The standard charger that comes with every light works great and can fully charge a depleted battery in about an hour.

Product Quality / Durability / Management / Support / Price

1. Everything is built to last. Best quality lighting system I have ever owned.

2. Because this lighting system supports Canon/Nikon TTL and HSS (and it works) it simply has more value than other systems that don't.

3. Profoto email and phone support are great. Each person I have communicated with has been very knowledgeable and helpful. No Rookies working the support desk!

4. Everything from battery management, set up, take down, packing up is very fast. I use the Profoto Bag "S" which will hold two B1's, 4 batteries, two super claps with ball joints attached, two security cables, and two TTL Canon Transmitters. I use a Think Tank Low Rider Bag Strap so attaching the bag to my Think Tank International roller is simple and easy. I found a $20 soft side Arriba bag to carry my Magnum reflectors. This too, can be attached to my Think Tank International roller.

5. Price is a big issue. If you weigh in on the added value of quality build, time saved in the field, and HSS/TTL compatibility it's not as bad. HOWEVER, even with those added value points, the B1, TTL remotes, and accessories are still grossly over priced. Once we see Dynalite, and other lighting companies release both TTL/HSS, Profoto will need to drop their prices to be in the ballpark and continue to be a player in this market space. They will always be at the top end of the price matrix however. My best guess is that fare value, once those lighting companies step up, will be around $1200 on the B1's and $250 on the TTL transmitters. A two head kit system, with transmitter, charger, batteries, and a bag at less that $3000 would be a great value point in my opinion.

Finally, I haven't used strobes to light indoor high school sports for almost 3 years. The Canon 1DX and improvements to lighting in the gyms I shoot eliminated that need. A 12,800 ISO at f3.2-3.5 / 1/2000th file still blows my mind. You'll get no argument from me that a strobed image is better than an available light image. However, a strobed image, while technically superior, doesn't guarantee that the content of the image will be superior. I've missed many opportunities shooting single shots and from fixed locations where my lights are pointing. For me, I think I'm going to leave my Profoto lights at home for indoor high school sporting events (unless there is a special need). I will make my B1 kit the GO TO system for all other location work.

I'm certainly not a lighting "expert". I'm just a "boots on the ground" small-medium market sports photographer trying to stay a few steps ahead in the game and taking care of my clients the best I can. I'm very excited about the future technology that all lighting companies will be rolling out for location work. Sports photography, particularly action, is the real acid test if you ask me. If they work for us, then they will most certainly work for everything else.

Thanks for allowing me to share my experiences with Profoto's B1 lighting system. I hope it will help a few of you with your decision making.

Best to all!
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 4:01 PM on 02.03.15
->> I hope there is enough room for me to change my mind on a couple of things.

I was going out to shoot a basketball game last night with every intention of leaving my B1's at home. At the last minute I put them in the car thinking that I may not have tested everything I should have. F3.2-3.5 at 1/2000 at ISO 12,800 with the B1's in Manual Mode using HSS. Previously I used TTL. I also forced the power level down to its minimum of 7 (which is the lowest you can use in HSS with Canon). What I wanted to see is if the lights would recycle faster than when I shot a basketball game using TTL. Indeed, the recycle VERY fast! Light was delivered as fast as I couple push the shutter release. Only a hand full of "miss fires". I may be changing my mind about shooting available light high ISO now. A 12,800 ISO with fill flash is outstanding, no color correction issues, and no blur or ghosting when using a shutter of 1/1250 to 1/2000.

ALSO, noticed that the price of the B1-500's went up $100 at B&H, Amazon, and other photo distributors. BIG MISTAKE Profoto!!!! You are going in the wrong direction!!!
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 5:11 AM on 03.02.15
->> I've been exploring a bit with light modifiers for portrait work. First, I really like the umbrella style soft boxes as the are much easier to deploy on location. Here's what I decided on:

Westcott 36" Rapid Box (Octa) XL for Profoto Lights w/Reflector Disk. This thing is amazing and actually serves as two different types of light modifiers... a 36 inch octabox and a 36 inch beauty dish (when used with the reflector disk).

Paul Buff 10"x36" foldable strip box with 40 degree grid. Buff now makes a Profoto replacement ring for their line of foldable umbrella style soft boxes. You simply remove the Buff Ring that comes attached to the box and install the Profoto ring. I really like the way you can shape the light with a small strip box so that's why I went with it versus a more traditional size like a 24x36. (nothing new for you folks that regularly shoot portraits)

Both of these solutions make shooting on location fast and easy and produce outstanding light. The price on both was also outstanding as well.

Finally, Profoto just announced a new light that they have added to their line up of off camera flashes. The B2 is a 250ws and is powered by an external power supply. The power supply has two ports so you can run two B2's off of it. The B2's are fully compatible with the Nikon and Canon Air TTL/HSS remotes that are used with the B1's. Frankly, I don't see the value proposition in this new light both in price and function.

They also added several new light modifiers and speed ring that are exclusive to the D1, B1, and B2. The only thing they have going for them is that they are lighter weight. Again, I don't see why anyone would buy these particularly when the price is within the relative price range of their regular boxes and rings that will work with all Profoto lights. Doesn't make sense to me.

I'm still growing and learning with my B1's every day. So far, there is very little to be disappointed in other than the price tag. Hopefully a little head-to-head TTL/HSS competition will help resolve that.
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Jim Karczewski, Photographer, Assistant
Hammond | IN | USA | Posted: 2:29 AM on 03.03.15
->> I saw the B2's as well, for $3000 it doesn't seem worth it for 250w/s when I can get a self-contained B1 kit for $1000 more and double the output.

Granted this is on my "Really wishing" list, but would be nice to have for location sports shooting (B1's that is) along with portrait work.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 4:58 PM on 03.03.15
->> Jim - my B1's continue to amaze me for both sports and portraits. They really make things very easy and do a great job. Magnum reflectors are a must have as they really do add a full stop of light output. Make sure to include them in your "Really Wishing" list.

Something tells me that there will be more players in the "self-contained" TTL/HSS space very soon. I happened to notice that Profoto has reduced their price on the B1's back to $1995 from $2,095. They took a ton of heat over the increase. Hope more competition will drive the B1 price down to more reasonable levels.
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Jim Karczewski, Photographer, Assistant
Hammond | IN | USA | Posted: 12:41 AM on 03.04.15
->> They are still $2095 on B&H. I'd end up buying the kit, but then I'd be stuck next season figuring out how to mix lights unless I suddenly stumbled on $10k to buy 2 kits to light basketball. Again, while it would greatly simplify life, the cost just doesn't provide the benefit just yet.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 5:07 AM on 03.04.15
->> Yesterday a.m., B&H had them priced at $1995.00. Not uncommon for B&H to do this when people have them in a saved shopping cart and they want to "flush" some sales.

WOW! 4 lights for basketball??? Why??

I use two. I shoot 1 quarter from one corner, the second from the opposite end. After the half time activities, I move the lights to the opposite side of the gym and then shoot the other two corners in the second half.

Since these are self contained, moving them is a snap! Loosen the super clamp and unclip the safety cable and away I go. I can generally do this before the second half starts provided I skip the popcorn run.
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Jim Karczewski, Photographer, Assistant
Hammond | IN | USA | Posted: 5:13 PM on 03.04.15
->> Well, 4 speedlights. With these, it might be different, we'll see. I always place one on the baseline or as far back from it as I can on the sides and then another set between the freethrow line and the top of the arc. When I was using just 2 speedlights I found I was getting shadows on players that wasn't very good, with 4 lights filling in I don't have that problem anymore.

Hell, some games I've used 8 lights, but that was to light down court as well when I had a game I knew was going to be a close call where anything could happen.
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Bryan Rinnert, Photographer, Photo Editor
Kent | OH | United States | Posted: 10:33 AM on 03.07.15
->> I'll throw in my endorsement for the B1 as well. They have made location portraits and fashion shots so much easier without the need to worry about power packs and cords. I sometimes mix them in with my D1s in the studio since the control is so much easier then anything else right from the camera controller.

I'm not sure I'll buy a set of B2s but I see the appeal of them.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:41 PM on 03.26.15
->> It's been a little wet here in the Midwest so not much baseball and softball being played. Decided use the downtime to answer a couple of questions that have been on my "to do" list for some time.

When Canon came out with the 600EX-RT and STE3-RT radio based flash and transmitter it was love at first sight. I purchased 4 600EX-RT's and two STE3-RT's from the first batch that Roberts received. Haven't had a single problem with them and they work flawlessly. Used with the Canon 8 cell battery packs, you have a system that not only gives you a ton of options (HSS/TTL, zoom heads 24-200mm, gel holder, audible ready tones at the light and transmitter,.... ) but it's completely weather sealed. That's a feature that Profoto B1-500's or B2's don't have...something I was reminded of a few weeks ago when shooting some team photographs outdoors.

The questions that have been peeking my interest are as follows:

1. What is the real "full power" equivalent of the B1-500 vs the 600EX-RT? I placed a B-500 and two 600EXRT on separate stands and fired them into Profoto Shallow 41" silver umbrellas. Everything shot manually and metered at 15' using ISO 100 with a shutter of 1/250th.

The B1-500 at full power (10) measured f9. The two 600EX-RT's measured f5.6. I added a two more 600EXRT's to the configuration and produced f9.

I've always had a problem with Profoto's claim that the B1-500 is equal to 10 average speed lights. They really don't define average. What I can say, is that one B1-500 at full power is equal to 4 600EX-RT's at full power. Quality of light is comparable.

2. The second question ... I wanted to know how well the B1-500's and 600EX-RT's would work together using the optical slave on the B1-500's. These means I was using the STE3-RT to fire the 600EX-RT's which would then fire the B1-500's. Everything shot manually, no TTL, no HSS (not possible with this setup). It works great indoors or out and the optical slave didn't fail once even in the sunlight. While I would rarely use the combination of both systems it's nice to know that option is most certainly "doable" in a manual setting. Can really come in handy for those creative lighting setups.

On a final note, I'm struggling to figure out why anyone would consider a B2 system. Frankly, two 600EX-RT's and Canon battery packs give you many more options. Sure that would also be true of Nikon Speedlights as well.

For the expert lighting guys.... nothing thrilling here. Just tossing it out there for those who are looking at upgrading their lighting systems down the road.
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Steve Puppe, Photographer
Olathe | KS | USA | Posted: 2:00 PM on 03.29.15
->> I was hoping for an AcuteB2 version of the B1's but I'm also not that impressed with the B2 system. It seems to offer less power and cost more money than other systems. I've been really happy with the B1's since they added HSS but sometimes you want a lighter head on a stand.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:46 PM on 03.29.15
->> Steve:

Profoto, as well as other lighting manufactures, have much to learn about meeting needs of location photographers. My personal opinion is that 1-2 years from now we will see many more options and entries into this TTL/HSS market space. I'm encouraged that it's finally getting some traction.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:08 PM on 12.20.15
->> Just an update on my B-1 experience.

1. It was discovered this past fall (by Joe McNally I believe) that if you replace the frosted glass plate on the front of the B-1's with a clear plate (now available from Profoto) that you get an extra 1/2 stop of light out of the B-1's. Put a Magnum reflector on and add another full stop. Think that brings the B-1 500 close to a 1200ws head with this configuration. Bottom line .... very powerful in the field.

2. I purchased a 21" silver Profoto beauty dish and was just blown away with the quality of light it produces.

3. I've purchased a 3rd B1-500 as I want to do some more creative lighting setups. I have two OCF 1x3 strip boxes w/ grids and a Westcott 36" Rapid Octabox that I hope to expand my athlete portrait business with.

4. All of my Canon 600ex RT's and Paul Buff E640's are gone. My Profoto B1's are my only lighting system. I don't miss charging 96 AA's either.

I thought about the B2's but felt like I was going backwards with a corded solution. There's nothing like pulling out a light, flipping a switch, and firing perfectly exposed shots (TTL & HSS). It's been an investment that has paid for itself over the past year.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:07 AM on 12.22.15
->> I was was Dave Black. Here's his blog post regarding the B1-500.

(Sorry Dave)
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:21 PM on 05.25.16
->> Just got an email from Profoto's National Service Manager. Says they won't have a firmware upgrades for the Canon 1DX II for the OCF B1/B2/Canon Transmitter until fall 2016.

I find 4 months very unacceptable for a flagship camera body which the OCF system was built upon. Just saying.
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Steve Puppe, Photographer
Olathe | KS | USA | Posted: 9:39 AM on 05.26.16
->> I love the B1's but I've had some issues with them. Two of my batteries have just flat out died and one unit randomly turns itself off. Profoto replaced the first battery. We'll see if they replace the second. I haven't had a chance to send in the unit that has been acting up. A friend of mine with B1's has also had some problems with his.
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Paul DiSalvo, Photographer
Highlands Ranch | CO | United States of America | Posted: 10:53 AM on 05.26.16
->> I recently made the switch to the B1's and they are amazing. One thing I found maddening though was the cost of their reflectors. I stumbled on this blog and ended up finding a simple hack to use my old (cheap but effective) Buff reflectors on the B1's. A $25 adaptor + a few nuts/bolts and they work great. 1 stop improvement with the 8.5" and just over 1.5 with the 11"LT's.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 5:26 PM on 05.26.16
->> @Steve - Let us know if there is a reason for the battery issues. I just sent a charger in for replacement as it was making noise that sounded like it was shorting out.

@Paul - There are many lower cost options for Profoto modifiers. Once you use a Profoto modifier, however, you begin to understand why they are more expensive. If you actually ever get your hands on one let me know if you agree. I own 3 magnums, 1 silver beauty dish, 2 OCF strip boxes, 2 shallow 43" silver umbrellas, 2 deep 43" silver umbrellas, and a 10 degree cap style grid. The only non-Profoto modifier I use is a 36" Westcott Rapid Box for Profoto.
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Paul DiSalvo, Photographer
Highlands Ranch | CO | United States of America | Posted: 10:12 PM on 05.26.16
->> @Kevin - can you let me know where you park your car ? :)
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 8:41 AM on 05.27.16
->> It's parked in the front row. It's unlocked and keys are under the floor mat.

Keep in mind that Profoto built its reputation around its light modifiers. It's more than increasing output. Trying them will help you better understand all that. I did with me anyway.
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Steve Puppe, Photographer
Olathe | KS | USA | Posted: 9:58 AM on 06.06.16
->> Kevin,

They just sent the battery back to me and said it wasn't repairable. I'm pretty disappointed since I had just sent another battery in a couple of months ago(still in warranty). Pretty crappy that two batteries from one order die a few months apart and they won't replace it. There was obviously something faulty with the batteries I received.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 12:35 PM on 06.08.16
->> I performed a full-power flash test on all 6 batteries for my B1's. Although they range in age from 18 months to 7 months, they have had less than 40 full power cycles on them. They are rated for 300+ full power charge cycles.

All flashes were set to manual power setting 10 (500ws). I fired the flashes until all the power was depleted and the lights turned off.

Full power flash results were as follows (spec is 220):
173 194 186 194 181 189

Next, I tested the length of time required to bring the batteries up to full charge (spec is 120 minutes). Results in minutes were:
160 165 140 155 170 185

I shared these "underperformance" results with the sales manager that covers my neck of the woods and he has shared these results with the technical department at Profoto. I am waiting a response.

One thing to note is, unlike Canon and Nikon lithium battery chargers, the Profoto charges do not have a reconditioning/refresh/calibration cycle feature on them.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 9:59 AM on 06.24.16
->> Well, I sent three of six B1-500 batteries to Profoto (at their request). They performed the same test as I did and came up with a few more shots of the each battery. Still 10% or less than the 220 full power shots however.

Their response was that the batteries were to spec. So what's the spec? "Up to 220 Full power shots". Emphasis on the "Up to"

So, even if the B1-500 battery only delivers ONE full power shot it's still within spec. Right?

I have sent an email to their National Service Manager explaining that the 220 full power flashes has been set as an expectation repeatedly in promos, marketing materials, and the like. Using "up to" only suggests that you can get 220 full power flashes if you are lucky enough to get the one battery that they were able to make that claim with. Unfortunately, none of their clients have that battery. :)

Also, none of my batteries will full charge in the 2 hours that they state in their specs. Even when all lights are solid green the battery isn't fully charged. It's about 90% charged. I know this based on full power flash tests that I did, drained the battery, charged it back up, performed a second round of full power flashes, and got 10% few pops.

So, based on my actual experience in the real world, plan on getting at least 150 full power flashes and 3 hour recharge times.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:39 AM on 06.25.16
->> I spoke directly to Profoto's National Service manager by phone yesterday. Very nice guy by-the-way.

He was very open and receptive to my concerns and agreed that detailed information needed to be provided to user regarding "expected battery performance" based on the settings on the B1 and B2 lights. Additional information should also be provided relative to the impact on battery performance based on environmental conditions, physical age of the battery, and how many charge cycles the battery has endured.

He assured me that he understood why this information is important to photographers that shoot on location (away from power sources for recharging)who need to plan battery swaps using spare batteries. It also gives us a good idea when proactive battery replacement would be a good idea as well. (I personally don't wait for my battery in my car to die or flash a red warning light on the dash. I proactively replace my battery once every 3 years thus have never been stranded on the side of the road.)

He confirmed that the spec of "up to 220 full power flashes" was based on the very most controlled situation using brand new batteries. It was also most likely that only some of the batteries used in developing the spec actually produced 220 full powered flashes as well.

Finally, I was very impressed with his enthusiasm and interest in the "real world" experience of the B1/B2 system. Profoto is monitoring the needs of it's users and is carefully developing the OCF category. To their credit, in the past 18 months, they have developed a complete lineup of lightweight and portable modifiers for the B1 and B2 which are outstanding.

My wish list for further product development is:
1. Power ac adapter that would allow you to shoot with a power cord rather than a battery.
2. Wet weather gear that will protect the lights while shooting in wet conditions.
3. New transmitter that is weather sealed and also has an audible "ready" beep. Sometimes the ready beep on the light is hard to hear on location or in a crowded room.
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Preston Mack, Photographer
Orlando | FL | | Posted: 12:16 PM on 06.25.16
->> I wish the Profoto remote would display the relative power on each head, not just the adjustment.
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Paul DiSalvo, Photographer
Highlands Ranch | CO | United States of America | Posted: 12:26 PM on 06.25.16
->> Had mine for about two months now and really love everything about them. An AC adaptor would be about the only thing I can see missing so far. Kind of nervous about doing fall team photos and how far battery life will go shooting 200 football players at one session. The radio system is bulletproof on both manual and TTL. I'm not sure I've had one misfire yet.
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