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Photography News

Just Released! Profoto B2 AirTTL Hands On and Initial Review

By Pye Jirsa on March 2nd 2015

Profoto B2 AirTTL

profoto-b2-airttl-1

We are excited to have our hands on a Profoto B2 AirTTL kit. We’ve taken this kit out on a few shoots and so far it has impressed us more than we could have imagined. Check out the video below to see our initial review and thoughts on this brand new off-camera flash solution.

Profoto B2 AirTTL Hands On and Initial Review

Profoto Press Release

Since its release in 2013, the Profoto B1 Off-Camera Flash has taken the photographic community by storm. Combining the portability and ease-of-use of a speedlight with the performance of a professional monolight, the B1 is considered by many to be a game changer in the industry.

Now Profoto is moving forward by releasing an entire new system of compact off-camera flashes and Light Shaping Tools, designed for fast and easy on-location photography.

The most attention-grabbing item in the Off-Camera Flash system is the new B2. The B2 is a lighter, more portable counterpart to the B1. The B2 consists of a battery pack and a head. The battery pack can be put on the shoulder or hip, while the head is small and light enough to be mounted onto a monopod or a bracket on the camera. This will allow the photographer to stay moving. If that is not necessary, both the pack and head can be put on a stand and the B2 can be wirelessly controlled from the camera. This makes the B2 the world’s first off-camera flash that can be used both on and off-camera.

[Click here to purchase the Profoto B2 AirTTL]

In addition, the B2 has all the benefits that made the B1 an outstanding success. It has TTL. It has HSS. It is fast enough to keep up with your camera and five times as powerful as the average speedlight. It can be used with the entire range of Profoto Light Shaping Tools. All this in a head with the same size and weight as a speedlight.

The Profoto Off-Camera Flash system also includes the new OCF Light Shaping Tools. The OCF Light Shaping Tools are smaller and more lightweight. They also consist of fewer parts and use smart, patent- pending solutions that make them fast and easy to mount and use. The assortment includes four new softboxes, a new Grid Kit, a new Snoot and a new Barndoor.

Included in the Off-Camera Flash system is also the renowned B1 and the patented AirTTL system. Everything works with everything.

“Our ambition when we first started designing the Profoto Off-Camera Flash system was to create a solution that pushes the boundaries of what can be achieved on a fast and hectic on-location shoot,” says Product Manager Johan Wiberg. “We closely observed the needs of wedding and portrait photographers and decided to try to make their jobs a little easier. Now, looking at what we are offering, I dare say we’ve succeeded.”

To show what the new system if capable of, Profoto asked some of the most renowned wedding and portrait photographers in the world to share their stories of working with the new B2 and the new OCF Light Shaping Tools.

Watch their videos and read their stories at https://www.profoto.com/on-to-light-shaping

About

Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

Follow my updates on Facebook and my latest work on Instagram both under username @pyejirsa.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    I am going to buy!

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  2. Reginald Walton

    Love the video Pye, nice job. I like the B2’s, but I like the B1’s better. No wires, no external battery pack to lug around. Yes the B1 is larger, but it has a battery attached directly to the unit, plus it has more power. The B1 will be my next purchase.

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    • Pye

      If you had to choose one, i’d probably choose the B1 first as well. But as a far more portable unit, the B2 is quite fantastic. I would consider it the “add-on” item for someone already with a B1 kit.

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  3. Vince Arredondo

    I can’t believe their prices. Profoto is still way out of my range.

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  4. Steve VanSickle

    I just realized that in every pack I’ve seen for sale, none of them include the hotshoe TTL transceiver. So, unless you already have one from owning a B1, add another $400 to the cost of using one with TTL.

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    • Pye

      Yeah, we factor that into essentially the $3k starting price with 1 head. Two heads with the transceiver, you are looking at close to around $3600. With a good set of modifiers, probably $4k.

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  5. Hannes Moser

    So you have to shoot always in manual mode with this kind of flash ? Am i right ? What does that mean in reality. You take your camera, take a reading e.g. iso 100 f/2 @ 1/4000th then you have underexpose and the flash does the rest ?

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  6. Joseph Kwan

    Just to clarify, I am in no way affiliated with the GODOX/NEEWER/CHEETAH light people. I have just been using their product ever since there Smart 300 and Quicker 600 series and now have moved on to the AD360 and V860Cs.

    Quite honestly, Godox have done quite a bit in the last two years to make itself standout. The wireless system (FT-16s & Cells II triggers) although not as sophisticated as the Profoto Air system, has never failed me once. The FT 16s provides simple 16-selectable flash groups, from A to F, and 0 to 9 by adjust the dial. The option to turn off individual units and as well the capability to use it as a off camera remote. Meanwhile the Cells II units is not capable as a remote, it does provide HSS for both AD360 and V850/860 units without having the user to purchase an additional HSS capable receiver on the unit end.

    I really think Profoto needs to step up its game in order to charge this price. Like Pye mentioned about his preference, most professional photographers like myself do not use TTL (at least not in a multi-light setup). There was news from the Godox side that the AD series will soon be coming out with a TTL version later this year, so once that is out their is not much difference between the profoto and the AD 360s other than price.

    I do admit that Chinese lights do have a bad rep from earlier models (not talking about Godox in particular), but I think that is changing. The AD360s are made solid and were meant to be transported around. I have carried these units in my pelican and dragged it around city roads and have not had any issues. I think one of the huge strengths from Godox is the size of the battery itself. There is the battery unit (PB960) and then there is the actually battery. The PB960 is around the size of 3 DVD cases together with the battery in place. While the battery itself roughly the size of two snickers bars (sorry can’t think of a better example). So all in all the unit is very small. Not to mention Godox sells an accessories cable which allow you to use the battery to charge and usb appliance like your iphone or tablet (very handy while on the road. I have been able to charge my iphone 4.5x with one full battery).

    Now although it may seem I am very happy with the Godox setup and still have not found a reason to switch over to Profoto (other than the obscured idea that only pros use Profoto and if you don’t use them Agencies won’t hire you BS), the Godox AD360 and V860c did have some issues as I previously mentioned.

    Fellow photographers please double check your batteries upon purchase. The problem has now been corrected but there was a major batch that had issues. Although I had to go through the trouble to have my batteries exchange (I bought about 8), Godox made this process as easy as possible and I really am impressed by that (well, not to say Profoto’s Customer service is not at par, my experience with Profoto customer service in Beijing was nothing less than superb as well.)

    Another issue I first had with the AD 360s at first was the wireless transmitters would fire off by itself once in a while and I would have to shut the unit off and turn it on again to eliminate the problem, but for the last year that has never happened.

    It was funny because when I first bought the unit and identified the problem a fellow photographer told me “oh if that’s the case I won’t get one cause I can’t have that happen when I am shooting a head shot for a client, just doesn’t look professional.” Two months later while he was shooting a head shot his Profoto Acute B unit blew out while he was shooting for a client. Very ironic, but 100% true. This is the other good thing about the PB960 battery packs and that it has two sockets. If one blows, most likely the other will still save your job.

    Pye if you are reading please consider doing a indepth tech review or comparison between the Profoto B2s and the Godox AD 360.

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    • James Rogen

      too long, didn’t read

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    • Pye

      Yep, I am going to be doing more reviews, I will consider the Godox as well.

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    • Lissette Garcia

      I bit the bullet and purchased the Godox AD360 and am quite happy with it. I am also happy with the price (under $500 for everything).

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  7. Lissette Garcia

    Extremely overpriced. I am looking into the Godox option. I have been researching for a few weeks now and have read many positives about the Wistro AD360 light sold under either the Godox or Neewer brand for under $480.

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    • Pye

      Very different light with very different features. Just keep that in mind. Not necessarily a good comparison, except other than simply wattage, which is a small part of what makes a good light.

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  8. Nicolas Meunier

    I had the opportunity ti use the B2 in my last shooting

    here are the image and backstage

    http://photo.anadore.fr/english.html

    Regards
    Nicolas

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  9. Joseph Kwan

    Hi Pye, thanks for the review. This is actually my first post, but have been longing to join your community for a while now.

    I have been using the GODOX AD360 + V860C system for the last year and a half now. I have always been trying to find a reason to switch to Profoto simply because by brand and reputation it seems to be a lot more reputable and reliable. However, after watching your review, unfortunately I am still unable to do so. The specs on the B2 although quite impressive are still only to what I consider to be at PAR with the AD360. I say at par because like yourself, I seldom use the TTL system. But in terms of power the the AD360 is slightly more powerful at 300Ws, and in terms of the refresh rates (2-3 sec @ Full Power) by connecting the battery pack with a 2-1 connector cable you can easily get 1 sec refresh at full power (less if you connect two power packs to one light head).

    What I want to say is the Profoto system I am sure are great systems but are also very costly. Comparing to the B1, the AD360s are just 1/5th the cost and not to mention a much smaller compact system to carry around. Godox have had it’s issues with their battery mind you, but I have had great after service to which they have replaced every single faulty battery and it now works great.

    Would you ever consider doing a review comparing something at the higher end like Profoto B2 with the Godox (Cheetah) AD360? I would love to get more details on a more technical comparison between the two systems. Thanks.

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    • Steve VanSickle

      I’m largely in the same camp: I hear nothing but great things about Profoto lights, and I’m sure these are great, but…

      1) This is 250 Ws TOTAL to split between two lights for $3000
      2) If you did want to add a third light, it’d cost at least $2200 more

      Portability aside, I could get a lot more light with $2200/$3000 in many different ways. Considering how many photographers I know that don’t use TTL on location, even when it’s an option, I’d love to try these, but find the cost hard to justify.

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    • Stan Rogers

      There is an aspect to the TTL system on these Profoto units (both the B1 and B2) that makes it different from “just” using TTL, and that’s that when you go to manual, you lock in the existing power levels. TTL can be a VERY quick way to ballpark your setup, and can save you a lot of time and test shots, and because it’s not a binary TTL/manual choice (that is, you’re not starting all over again when you go to manual) you get the advantages of shot-to-shot consistency that manual offers along with the setup speed of TTL. Saving even 2-3 minutes here and there during an event can make a huge difference in the flow of the day and the types of shots you can get.

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    • Pye

      Great idea, yeah I actually wanted to start with a review on the Phottix strobe unit! I didn’t even realize they had one until WPPI! =)

      I will definitely be doing more testing, especially as we create more content for Lighting 401, which will be all studio strobes.

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  10. Daniel Thullen

    Pye, great video as always. I’ll be waiting for the complete review when it becomes available. Then I’ll be like Marko and Brandon . . .”Shut up and take my money.” Hey, is that cool SLR Lounge tee your wearing available? Lots of us Loungers I’m sure would love to represent! Hope your having a great time at WPPI.

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    • Pye

      Thanks Daniel! Yeah, we were thinking about making a store for the tees if everyone wants some. But, right now they are just for the team.

      Yeah, I am stoked to do a full review. Thanks for the note!

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  11. Marlin Woodruff

    I love PROFOTO, equipment I must admit I have rented them many times haven’t made the expense, but in the past few years, they have been introducing new and better portable options… I may need to up my game for good.

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    • Pye

      It’s a fantastic option, and what I would consider a great “investment” into gear that will actually work and last. So, its something to consider!

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  12. Craig Beckta

    Great video Pye!

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    • Pye

      Thanks Craig! We were hoping to get the unit onto more shoots, so we could do an official review. But, given that it was a prototype, it wasn’t fully ready. So once we get our official production units, we will be taking it through its paces and put out a second official review.

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  13. Marko Nara

    Shut up! and take my money!

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  14. Gurmit Saini

    Hi Pye,, great video and that is something very exciting. Do you know whether it will fit bigger modifiers or do we have to get the small ones only?

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    • Pye

      It uses the same Profoto speedring system, so it should handle any Profoto Speedring modifier. I actually have a giant deep parabolic I threw it on, haven’t had a chance to shoot with it yet in that modifier, but I am excited to =)

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