Profoto B1: A Practical Review
June, 2017 / Light Kit Review
If you take one look at my portfolio you can easily tell that my work heavily relies on strobe lighting. It's a part of my creative language, my brand, and my identity, and without it some of my best photos would have never came to be. Roughly 6 months ago I took the plunge and invested in a Profoto B1 lighting kit, and almost immediately afterwards I had requests asking how the experience had been.
When I bought the kit I really wanted to create an unboxing video and do an initial review; but now that I think about it, it's actually far better that I'm doing it now after they've been put through the gauntlet. Within a mere 6 months, my lights have baked in the 100 degree heat of the Mohavi desert; they've shivered in the 20 degree snows of Colorado; and most importantly, they've faced the relentless grind of numerous portrait, commercial and editorial shoots.
With that being said, I can now offer the most practical and realistic review of these lights possible, and with the Profoto B1X now right around the corner, understanding the legacy of its predecessor might be the most important thing you can hear before making an investment of your own.
If you're here looking for the short answer, then let me get straight to the point and tell you YES, the Profoto B1s are a stellar set of lights that I would highly recommend you buy. But if you're looking for the more practical details about this light kit, like how effective its key features are, how good its light quality is, and why I as a working photographer chose this as my most essential piece of equipment, then feel free to join in the fun by reading below.
BEFORE BUYING: THINK IN LONG-TERM When I shopped for my new light kit my number one concern was longevity. This didn't just mean how many times I could run my light without a bulb burning out, this meant if every component of the it would operate in 15 to 20 years. Could my light endure the extended wear and tear of a working environment? Could it survive an inevitable fall? Is the technology advanced enough to sync and operate well into the future?
If you practice photography for a hobby or rarely use lights then these questions shouldn't be much of a factor, but if you're a professional who uses strobes on a regular basis then this should be your number one concern. The last thing you want is to have to replace a light with no longevity. At that point you'll be investing thousands in another light, which could easily jeopardize your entire business.
THE B1 LONGEVITY CHECKLIST: Since longevity is such a large factor, let's review how well the B1 Body casing: + A metallic body cover is always essential. The reason? Because the most expensive parts within your light are only as durable as its protection. Personal experience I have witnessed a metal body and plastic body take damage while in the job. I've even seen both types fall on the floor and the results were drastically different. The plastic light's covering (and sadly the bulb) shattered, but the metal body merely recurved a scratch and the bulb survived. The Profoto B1 has a durable metal body that is tight, secure, and strongly built.
Technology + Digital display + Transmitter (easy to use, long battery life) + 30 min battery time + Light compared to most monolights
- Why I bought it + Longevity + Metal body casing + Seen it survive falls
- Light Quality + Diffused photo + Studio photo + Outdoor + Baffle removed + No modifiers + 500 w/s (shooting in full sunlight)
- Durability + Fell with no problems + Works in cold and hot environments (hot: shuts down before overheat. cold: batteries) - Investment +
- rent before buying