The Profoto B2

Sorry for all the strobe stuff of late or for those that do strobe stuff I guess that's fine. In any case, I figured I'd answer an email question regarding the B2. It went something like this…

Why the B2 instead of the B1 or for that matter the Elinchrom ELB400. The B2 is crazy expensive for what it is.

Well, gee. I did go into the bit about how the umbrella holder is way better if I'm planning on using them compared to the ELB400 right? Well they are. Some people hate the D1/B1/B2/D2 umbrella holder. I honestly have no idea why. I love them, my favorite so far. For those not familiar with the particular detail I'm talking about, all of those mentioned lights have umbrella holders that are friction based. Theres no set screw or anything to tighten/loosen. I've never had an issue with the friction mount.

Even on my old D1 heads that have had shafts jammed in and removed 1,000 times they work just like they always have. I've also never had an issue with creep, even when mounting the crazy big Umbrella deep XL pointing strait down (I think some people think this is an issue but it's not on any of my lights). So no set screw to fiddle with, no set screw to loose. What's more is that although not perfect it puts the head very close to on-axis of the umbrella. OTOH, Elinchrom uses a friction mount that's 7mm non-standard size and sucks because it's so so tight it's actually dangerous it takes so much pressure. Their alternate standard uses a clamp that's very weak and is hard to get large brollys to hold still. Nuf said.

A Picture Is Worth A Bunch Of Words

Wide

I think people don't understand the Profoto B2 because they've not experienced it up close and personal. Take a look at the illustration above. No tricks, no that's not some sort of prop gear. That's a real B2 head and pack along side equally real SB-800 and not so big Minolta flash meter. This is why the B2 is so awesome. It's the size of the package and the size of the head. Sure it's bigger than a speed light but consider adding what you need to make the two work the same (sorta).

  1. Radio trigger for the speedlight and maybe a cord.
  2. Some sort of shity but heavy umbrella adaptor with shit set screw to get lost or that you need pliers to tighten in to order to hold a large umbrella securely pointed downwards.
  3. A shit-ton of double-A batteries or an external power pack that's almost as big as the B2 generator.

Do all that and you still have 1/3 or 1/4 or 1/5 the power, long recycle times (relatively at any given power which you'll be using the speedlight closer to full blast), miserable color and power variations shot to shot let alone color all over the map based on power level. Oh yeah and a bunch of fiddly rickety adaptor shit all Velcro'd together (only half kidding). With batteries, umbrella adaptor, radio, etc. The speedlight is actually heavier on a small boom.

The bottom line is that the B2 hits a size/power/features sweetspot that's hard to match. The power is no joke, really 250W/s (which seems realistically rated compared to my D1/D2 lights) is typically plenty. If you start splitting it across two heads that might be another matter, especially because you'll most likely need the extension cord to do anything remotely interesting which drops another 1/3 of the extended head but still sucks the juice from the generator.

End Notes

Image shot with the XT-1 and 55-200mm XF Zoom. Lighting via Profoto D2 and 33" Profoto umbrella S white that's 5 feet away. and a silver reflector. Processing via Lightroom CC with the ProNeg Standard profile. Yep, got a few ridiculously overpriced Profoto S regular umbrellas (got them for free) and I use them a lot. More later on the whole umbrella thing and how underrated they are with everyone wanting to use huge octa's etc etc etc. I'm personally a giant fan of umbrellas, bare heads, plain old reflectors dishes of varying smallish sizes, silks, etc. Sure boxes are useful sometimes but all the "shortcomings" of umbrellas can be looked at the other way too.