B2 Or Not 2B - That Is The Question With Profoto

on March 03, 2015

There's nothing quite like a B2 arriving at night...

So last night we had a Profoto B2 plus pilot here at the shop for a demonstration of the new system. Over 50 photographers attended the session and the mission commander...Saul...gave us all a briefing about what it is and what it is going to cost.

The pilot - Stefan Gosatti - had taken the new equipment for a spin at a red-carpet affair, on a fashion shoot, and out to do twilight coverage of a sports event. He had examples on screen and printed out to show what the coverage and power of this new unit can do.

The flash is the even-more-portable off-camera flash solution from Profoto. They make a great battery-powered monohead called the B1 that can fire out 500 watt/seconds from an on-board lithium-ion battery. Heart-stoppingly short flash duration and takes all the big Profoto light shapers.

The new B2 is a battery pack system that supports the use of two small portable heads - much smaller in overall size than the B1 heads. Surprisingly, they have been moulded to still take the large Profoto light shapers....but the makers have also provided a new range of lighter-weight shapers and modifiers to match the portability.

Make no mistake - this is a pack system that you can carry round on your belt or shoulder all day but is capable of firing 250 watt/seconds - divide it between two heads as you like. It dials down to an incredibly small amount of light as well so it would be suitable for lab as well as studio use.

Okay - how did Stefan fire it? He used a Profoto Air TTL with his camera - Profoto can supply the Air TTL controllers for both Nikon or Canon DSLR cameras. If he had chosen the Profot Air without the TTL provision it could have been used on any brand of camera - I'm sure he would have been fine because he knows what light can do and how to set it for his results, but even he said that it was helpful in fast-moving situations to have the TTL to help out.

Note: we suspect other camera manufacturer's TTL system requirements will also be addressed in the coming months with Profoto Air TTL versions - don't know which ones but we'll find out eventually.

The heads have standard 1/2" light stand mounts or can be unscrewed from these for even smaller specialised applications. they are small enough to mount above the DSLR on an arm - this is the deal for he gunadrun event photographer. One head on 250watt/seconds is about 10 times the light of a speed light so you can work brighter in darker spaces...

The Profoto light modifiers for the new B2 are deliberately lighter than the studio ones - there is a new range of grid sets, barn doors, soft boxes, and beauty dishes. the soft boxes have been designed with integral diffusers and rods for very fast set-up.

Stefan found that he got nearly 200 shots from each battery charge - had he turned the power down on the lights the number of flashes would have been very much greater. Note that the charger will fill up the battery in an hour - and you can get a car charger as well if you need to top-up between jobs on the road.

My conclusion as a staff member lounging behind the counter was that the new flash is a clear winner in this class of photography. This in spite of my brand loyalty. It will become the standard of the industry for portable shooters.