It’s fair to say that Profoto’s B1 kicked off a mini revolution in strobe design when it was introduced in 2013, nudging a slew of manufacturers to introduce battery-powered monolights all their own. With the B1X, Profoto is replacing the flash that started it all. We tested the Profoto B1x Air TTL Location Kit (Sony Version) at our studio to see how it performed.

Features

If you needed a one-word summary of how the Profoto B1X compares to its predecessor, it’s “more.” There’s more battery life. The new 500 W/s B1X offers an upgraded battery that delivers 50 percent more energy for up to 325 full-power flashes while retaining the size and weight of the original B1 battery. The new Profoto B1X battery can be used in the B1 to deliver that additional battery life. It can also be charged using a B1 battery charger—which is a nice touch.

Profoto also tweaked High Speed Sync mode to give you more control. The B1X has the same power range in HSS mode as in normal flash mode: 9 f-stops for all compatible cameras. (B1 users also gained that capability via a free firmware update.)

Some things haven’t changed. Like the B1, the Profoto B1X supports TTL metering using the Air remote. Recycle times clock in at 0.1 -1.9 seconds and flash durations between 1/11,000 and 1/1000 sec. (t0.5).

Design

Profoto didn’t go back to the drawing board for much of the B1X’s external design: It’s the same weight, shape and has the same intuitive set of controls as its forebear.

While other battery-powered lights have hit the market, the B1X is still relatively light compared to its peers despite its durable build. It’s lighter than the Broncolor Siros and just a bit heavier than the Interfit S1.

Image quality & Performance

We used the B1X for studio shoots (actor headshots). Usually powering the Key Light at about 4-5 an the fill light at minimum (2.0) with both Profoto B1X lights at 100% modelling light intensity. This is a personal preference as I like to see how the light shapes the client’s face before snapping and also using the modelling light to contract the pupils and get more color on the eyes. We snapped around 400-500 images using Sony Air Remote on a 90 minutes session—without a single misfire. The battery on the key light just went out of juice at the very end of the session.

The color consistency and recycling performance were on par with the B1, which is to say excellent. If you were impressed with the B1, the B1X delivers that plus a much improved battery.

OCF Color Effects Gel Pack

Accesories


OCF Color Effects Gel Pack

If you have been following our studio for a while, you know we love colour gels to create cool effects on portraits. We have been using this creative gels pack with our Profoto B1x getting excellent results. The only downside is, as we are using Pixapro Umbrella Type octaboxes, the mounting of the gel adapter on the profoto head can be a bit tedious.Add color to your palette with the OCF Gels.

The OCF Color Effects Gel Pack includes 20 gels in Rose Pink, Gold Amber, Light Lavender, Just Blue, Deep Straw, Chrome Orange, Scarlet, Peacock Blue, Magenta and Yellow.

Glass Cover for Flat Front

Dome shaped frosted glass cover for Profoto B1, B1X, D1 and D2. The dome shape combined with the frosting increases light spread compared with the standard frosted glass plate.

Bottom Line

Where the original B1 had no real competitors, the Profoto B1X enters a very different market. Competitors like Broncolor have taken unique approaches by adding Wi-Fi control to its battery-powered strobes, while lower-cost brands like Godox and Interfit have undercut the B1’s price tag. Despite the rush of rivals, the B1X is still the battery-powered strobe to beat.

If you own a B1, though, springing for the new B1X battery and installing the new firmware should meet your needs—at that point you’re only missing out on the higher-powered modeling light. If you’ve been on the fence, the B1X makes the compelling B1 that much more tempting.

PROS: 

  • Excellent build quality.
  • Great control of light intensity and overall intensity (with 0.1 increases).

CONS: 

  • Battery life still lags some competitors.
  • Plastic battery clamp can break during transport.
  • It doesn’t allow to connect to wired power as it is purely battery powered.

PRICE:

£3,275.00 (The Profoto B1X 500 AirTTL Location Kit contains 2 × B1X 500 AirTTL, 2 x Li-Ion Battery MkII for B1/B1X, 1 × Battery Charger 4.5 A incl. power cable, 1 x Car Charger 1.8 A, 1 × Backpack M.).

www.profoto.com