The BAT Cave
I recently rented the new Profoto B1 Off Camera Flash and compared it against my Nikon speedlights. The B1 is a self-contained battery-powered strobe with 500 watt-seconds of power, TTL capabilities and High Speed Sync.
Although the B1 is rated at 500 watt-seconds, which would make it as powerful as about seven Nikon SB-900 speedlights, the observed brightness from it was exactly equivalent to three SB-900s in normal sync mode, which was a bit disappointing. This was using just the built-in reflector on the B1 without any modifiers.
The High Speed Sync implementation, which pulses the strobe to support shutter speeds faster than the camera's sync speed, works quite well, I observed in High Speed Sync mode light output was about .6 stop brighter than three Nikon speedlights in HSS mode.
Through-the-lens flash metering (TTL), works quite well on the B1 for Nikon. The flash exposure is well-controlled at short and long distances, and performed much better than PocketWizard's TTL.
What I liked about the B1: Self-contained, nice TTL implementation, decent power, high speed sync works well, powerful modeling light is great. The Air TTL controller that goes on the camera is nice, it's more complex than the PocketWizard AC-3 but also more powerful.
What I disliked about the B1: Heavy, oblong form factor that sticks far out the back of modifiers, only as powerful as about three speedlights, does not come in a ringflash design. Also wish the TTL power settings on the Air TTL remote were Nikon-style, instead of Canon-style, since I'm more used to Nikon flash.
So I did like the B1, but it is just a little too inconvenient and not quite powerful enough to merit switching to right now for what I do.
Test conducted on December 28, 2014, using a Nikon D7100 camera on a tripod with the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 lens, ISO 100. PocketWizard tests triggered using the AC-3 Zonecontroller. Profoto tests triggered using the Air TTL remote for Nikon. The Nikon speedlights were mounted on a Joe McNally tri-flash bracket facing forward at 24mm zoom, no modifiers.
Click on the buttons below the test image to see different settings with the different light setups:
Profoto B1 f16, 10 feet, max power, Nikon D7100:
3 Nikon SB-900s with PocketWizard HyperSync, 24mm zoom, f16, 10 feet, max power, Nikon D7100:
3 Nikon SB-900s with Nikon High Speed Sync, 24 mm zoom, f16, 10 feet, max power, Nikon D7100:
Profoto B1 TTL mode at various distances with Nikon D7100:
Profoto B1 TTL mode, showing how the minimum 8 power for HSS is too much indoors:
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