Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Profoto B1 - What is REALLY holding you back?

The guys and gals of Profoto announced the Profoto B1 Off-Camera flash, some days ago and had all the big guns talking about it to create a hype, which helps selling products (just look at Apple).


Sleek design!
The Profoto B1 Off-Camera flash is a studio-strobe with a build-in battery and the ability to 'talk' TTL with your camera. Really cool as it gives you a lot more bang that a (or even multiple) Speedlites, and works with excising Profoto equipment (soft-boxes, beauty-dishes and so forth).

Within a few days I saw a Mark Wallace/SnapFactory video, a Scott Kelby "Photography Tips & Tricks" video, an Adorama video (again with Mark Wallace), a Neil van Niekerk blog post, a Louis Pang blog post and lots of other slightly hyped up "reviews" of the Profoto B1 flash, some of which were talking about how this flash was going to revolutionise the flash photography business.

I put reviews in brackets as the B1 isn't available yet and I must therefore assume that the above mentioned (and more) have had theirs given to them by Profoto and therefore cannot be trusted as objective resources for unbiased reviews. Fine by me! The above mentioned instructors, photographers and bloggers are all very well respected, and I assume that they would not put their name on something that wasn't worth it!

Anyway, I found the product quite interesting and decided to research it a little more as I just got rid Profoto is a manufacturer in the Top 3 of high-end flash equipment, so naturally I was going to look at them!
Nice interface!
of my old studio flash setup, as I'm moving to another country, and therefore was in the market for new hardware. There is no doubt that

In my research process I came across the Profoto B1 Off-Camera Flash FAQ, where most of the questions I had about the new flash was answered. The again; That is the hole point of a FAQ, I guess.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a FAQ that was honest and not just some list of selling-points. All the good stuff was mentioned but also, currently, missing features! No, it currently only supports most Canon cameras; Yes, the Air Remote works with other Profoto flashes; No, it currently does not support High-Speed Sync!

WHAT! No High-Speed Sync? And that is where the tire fell off the wheel. Lots of people have been commenting on the FAQ on how they need HSS, which is fine. The blog posts actually says that they will look into it, if the demand is there. But lots of people have been saying that its the only thing that is keeping them from preordering/buying the product. The lack of HSS!

No, I have no idea why smoke and
graphics are coming out of it.
That, my dear friends, is just plain silly! Profoto already say that the hardware is not the limitation and I'm pretty sure that HSS is at the top of their list in the next firmware upgrade. So go ahead and order it! Do it now, if that is the only thing that is holding you back!

But lets be honest! It's not the lack of HSS that is the problem. It is the price-point! $1.995 for a strobe. A strobe! A as in 'singular'. One! When is the last time that the lack High-Speed Sync was a bigger problem that not having to flashes/strobes? Or even three. So lets say you'll need at least two. $3.990! As the strobes cannot be plugged into the wall, you'll probably need extra batteries at $249 a pop, making it a grand total of $4.488 for a two-strobe setup.

What is that I hear? You can get a Elinchrom Ranger Quadra kit for $2.300 and a Wifi module for $200 that lets you control your strobes from your iPhone? No, you won't get TTL, but you will be saving almost $2.000! No, there is no High Speed Sync there either, but technically that makes them comparable to the B1's.

Don't get me wrong. I think that the Profoto B1's look REALLY cool and yes; I would love to get my hands on them, HSS or not! But at that price-point... I'll gladly trip over a few cables and adjust my flash settings manually!

If any Profoto people out there are reading this. Feel free to contact me and I'll send you an address to where you can send me a complementary set of strobes! I'll gladly give a very positive review :)

After-thought; The B1's will be a Wedding photographer must-have!

Oh, and please comment! My opinion really doesn't matter that much! But your do!

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