The BAT Cave

Huh? What?

Profoto B2

I recently rented the new Profoto B2 Off Camera Flash and compared it against my Nikon speedlights. The B2 is a small, light strobe head connected via cable to a battery with 250 watt-seconds of power. It offers TTL capabilities and High Speed Sync.

Since I use Nikon flash, I compared the Profoto B2 to my Nikon SB-910 speedlight. Some interesting observations: The Profoto B2 head is quite a bit larger than the SB-910, and it is a perfectly round circle with a 3 1/4 inch diameter. The SB-910 head is a rectangle about 2 3/4 by 1 1/2 inches. This makes it near impossible to get the exact same spread pattern of light. I zoomed the SB-910 all the way out to 17mm but it still did not cover the wall as evenly as the B2, so the B2 head has a really wide spread out the front.

All photos taken with a Nikon D7100 camera and Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 lens, ISO 100. The PocketWizard Mini/Flex system was used to trigger the Nikon SB-910, while the Profoto Air TTL remote was used for the Profoto B2. White balance set manually in Lightroom to 5870K. Images shot Raw.

The Profoto B2 has a tungsten-balanced LED modeling light that can be useful in some circumstances, but it isn't really bright enough to be generally useful, and it drains the battery quickly. Setting the modeling light at max power and letting it run, the battery died in 1 hour and 40 minutes in my testing. So, you would have to use it very judiciously, and if the B2 head is inside a modifier like a soft box, there just won't be enough light from the modeling light to be useful in many situations.

Regarding TTL, the Profoto TTL algorithm is decent, quite a bit better than some others including PocketWizard. However, it still suffers from the same problem of not including the coverage area of the light. For example, if you photograph a wall with the light two feet away from the wall, and use a wide angle lens so that the flash only covers the center part of the frame, the flash will fire too strongly, overexposing the center of the frame in an attempt to get some light into the dark corners, despite the fact that light will never get into the corners because the light can't reach there! The only TTL I have seen that doesn't suffer from this problem is Nikon's i-TTL system.

The color temperature of the Profoto B2 is a couple hundred degrees warmer than the Nikon SB-910. Also, when in HSS mode, the B2 is a couple hundred degrees warmer again, so I wouldn't recommend mixing Profoto lights with Nikon Speedlights.

Click on the buttons below the test image to see different settings with the different light setups:

Profoto B2 1/200 second, f/8, 2 feet, 2.0 power

Profoto B2 at 2 feet from wall:

Profoto B2 at 3 feet from wall:

Profoto B2 at 4 feet from wall:

Profoto B2 at 5 feet from wall:

Profoto B2 at 6 feet from wall:

Profoto B2 at 8 feet from wall:

Profoto B2 at 12 feet from wall:

Profoto B2 TTL exposures:

Profoto B2 TTL at two feet, narrow and wide framing:

Profoto vs Nikon SB-910:

Profoto vs Nikon SB-910 in Apollo:

Profoto B2 HSS mode transition Apollo:

Profoto B2 HSS mode transition bare:

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