Bringing lighting equipment on family holidays is not something I do all the time, but once a year it happens. My oldest son is kind enough to model for me, and this time in front of a Profoto B10. Last year it was with the then new A1.
One of the days on the ski resort gave us fantastic weather, the same harsh sun as last year with the same deep blue sky. But working against the sun without flash tends to wash out almost everything, and I really wanted some lens flare again.
Overpower the sun = HSS
What I wanted to get out of our brief but good photo session at the top of the mountain was about the same as last year. Lots of deep blue sky and lots of snow, with my son in the middle of it. Plus the sun.
I really like sometimes to have the sun in my frame, even if that means that I need a lot of light. Or rather, being able to work with a quick shutter. Profoto B10 can do High-Speed Sync in the same way as B1/B2/A1 etc. and that is very useful in a situation like this.
Behind The Scenes
With me this day I had one Profoto B10 (plus one A1 as backup), a Manfrotto Nano light stand and camera. All this including radio transmitter, batteries etc. fit perfectly in my LowePro ProTactic 450AW with the Nano strapped on the outside.
Test without flash
This time I worked a little backwards, but started as usual with the standard test shot without the B10 turned on. Not so fun, yet.
Testing different exposures, I settled on 1/4000s and aperture f/2.8 on ISO200. Then turning the light on, I directly set the B10 on full effect, that is 10 on the display.
It was a bit windy that day, so I left my Deep Umbrella on the ground and worked with just the built-in reflector. Instead of fiddling with my large gloves on the small buttons of my Air Remote, I just moved the B10 closer until I got the flash exposure right.
Freezing snow with HSS
I knew that my schedule was tight, any moment my son could have said that enough is enough, so I saved some snow throwing until last. It is fascinating how hard it can be to instruct someone to throw snow in exactly the way you want it. But it worked reasonably well.
And working with HSS and a very short shutter speed, I can, if I want, count the snow flakes in the air.
Same scene with Profoto A1
Last year at the same time, I didn’t have a B10 (nobody did, I think), so I used a Profoto A1 in the same way. Which makes it interesting as a comparison, even if the settings differed slightly.
In short, Profoto B10, compared to A1, allowed me to have a greater distance between the model and the light with the exact same camera settings. Sure, the A1 is a really lightweight solution, but the B10 is just about twice as heavy. And that is still around 1,5 kg (3 lb -ish?).
But it is interesting that I can do stuff like this with small and lightweight flashes that fits in my backpack (with a tiny stand on the outside).
If I as a photographer can let my clients chose from more different portraits with more different backgrounds and styles, chances are big that they will buy more.
That has been my sales pitch the last few years, and it works. The more choices I give to my clients, the more portraits they will buy. And the best part is that they will pay me more money but at the same time they will be more satisfied.
Truth be told, if you are in need of a professional portrait, two or three will be a lot more useful than just one. In the long run, at least. Why buy just one carton of milk when you have walked all the way to the store? Especially if you could use two in a near future.
Two different portraits at the same time
This is from an assignment at a Swedish company I shot portraits for recently. They needed new business portraits of their management group, mostly for intranet and contact pages.
As I like to deliver more, I suggested that they might need publicity portraits as well. Something that is not just head and shoulders on white background, something that the press would want to use in an article if they would be featured there.
As we were indoors, I could use my most lightweight stands for this. The Profoto B1 needed something heavier, though.
Scouting their office, I found a white wall next to a curtain outside a conference room. Setting up my first, clean portrait to the right with one B1 plus Deep Umbrella Large White and diffusion as main light, I used a A1 as background light.
So close to the wall, it was hard to cover it all with light. But I think that if at least the background behind the hair is blown out, the rest is easy to fix in Lightroom or Photoshop.
Assign channels for easy workflow
That setup became my Channel 1. The two other lights, set up in a similar fashion, I put in Channel 2.
For a slightly different style, aside the background, I switched side for my main light and chose a Medium umbrella plus diffusion.
Duct tape all over the floor
I could have been slightly easier, I could have found a spot at the office where I didn’t need to move my camera. But not this time.
To make sure that I took all the portraits from the same position and angle, I marked the spots on the floor with small pieces of tape. Not just where the camera tripod should be, but also my light stands.
Plus two additional markings for where the models would stand. That way I could be sure that even if I moved the camera from station 1 to 2, all the portraits would have the same settings.
Each time a new person stepped into my makeshift photo studio, I started by switching to channel 1. Satisfied with the results, I asked them to move on to station 2 and changed channels on my remote.
Show more – sell more
Sometimes, the clients are very firm in their beliefs that they only need just one portrait per person. But more often, when suggested, they think that it is a great idea to make use of the time I am there better. And maybe more importantly, make better use of the small amount of time that the important persons have for things like a portrait session.
This is not something I do all the time, with two separate portrait stations and all. But I try to always suggest that maybe some of the people in key positions would really need more than on portrait.
And they often do.
If you have enough lights, I would very much recommend that you try this method. Or at least make a habit of asking if the client has a bit more time for a couple of more shots at a different location. Very often, just setting up your lights nearby will create something different enough for them to buy more.
And probably feel more satisfied that they got more for their money, as well as for their time spent.
Controlling and modifying light is a lot of what photography with studio lights and battery powered strobes are about. Especially when it comes to portraits, I like to work with my lighting setups so they add something that is not perfect or flat.
Twisting and turning your lights to make use of the edges is one very effective way of doing that. Breaking up the light with a scrim, gobo or something else is also very rewarding.
This DIY project is all about a cheap prisma from a LED Disco Party Bulb that I found for under 10 EUR/USD.
A cheap Disco Light bulb
When looking through a store in Stockholm for fun things to modify, I found this disco light that fits in a regular lamp socket.
A quick ocular inspection showed me that the plastic prisma on top felt like it would fit perfectly on a Profoto A1 with its round head.
Remove the bottom, keep the top
It was a perfect fit on my Profoto A1, just inside the outer ring. But removing it completely from the original mount on the LED lamp was not that easy. Pinch and pull and wiggle, and the top will come lose.
When you have removed the plastic prisma, there will be a rod left inside, screwed to the top that was a lot harder to remove.
A not-so-elegant solution
To remove that rod (if you don’t, it will be long enough to make it hard to have the prisma on your A1), I had to drill a few small holes around the screw to be able to wiggle it free.
But then it fit perfectly outside the fresnel lens of the A1. To make it easy, I just attached it with tape. A more elegant solution would of course be some kind of magnet, but that I save for version 2.
Nice Light Patterns
When you have it attached to your Profoto A1 (it might fit on the new Godox with the same round head, maybe?) it opens up all kinds of possibilities to light a background.
Put it close to a wall from the side, or aim it straight at something for one kind of light effect. Have it further away for something else.
Use the Zoom Function on Profoto A1
You can create a lot of different patterns and effects from the same angle and position just by zooming the head of your A1.
Cool lighting effects with filters
Do you have a roll of color gel laying around? Cut it in small pieces and tape it inside of the prisma, maybe more that one color?
No rainbow prisma effect
The only downside with this combination of a Profoto A1 and a cheap plastic prisma from a disco bulb is that you will probably not get any rainbow patterns.
I never went so far as to remove the fresnel lens of my A1, so the light source is a bit to big and filtered for that effect to happen.
Good for smoke effects, I guess
I have not tried this in combination with smoke yet, but I guess that it will be useful that way.
A cheap way of getting fun light
Every solution to make my lighting more fun is always welcome, and I found this to be exactly that. 10 Euro or Dollar for a piece of plastic that might not produce perfect prismatic effects, but good enough.
If you want to modify your light in a cheap and easy way, I can recommend buying something like this.
Profoto B10 is a Profoto B2 reborn in a smaller Profoto B1 jumpsuit, which means there is now an option for photographers between Profoto A1 and the significantly heavier B1.
I borrowed two Profoto B10 for a week to test how the new studio flash / battery light / on-location flash works (call it whatever you want, but not a speedlight).
Here is my review. In short (but you will be wiser to read the entire review, plus see all the fine example photos), this is precisely the battery powered light that I was missing in Profoto’s ecosystem. Perhaps the one many had wished A1 had been?
Half as long as Profoto B1, half as ”strong” (250Ws compared to 500Ws), less than half as heavy but with very modern technology and features that can be useful.
Then there are of course some small things I would like to fix, but otherwise it’s made for me.
Profoto B10 = one half B1
When photographers ask me which Profoto flash to choose, based on my experience, it’s usually about Profoto B1 or B2. In recent years, Profoto A1 has certainly been a good option for some, or many. For others, a good complement, and for some not an option at all.
My default response has often been:
“Do you need a little more light, bigger light modifiers, want everything without a cord in one device and will use heavier stands? Choose Profoto B1.
“On the other hand, do you think it would be nice with a lightweight flash head, usually using lightweight modifiers and lightweight stands, and can work with a little less light? Choose Profoto B2.
Profoto B10 now fits the second sentence best, with the big difference that it is a more modern device and now cordless as Profoto B1.
Plus LED adjustable light with variable color temperature (bi-color) plus the ability to control the flash via an app and Bluetooth.
Lightweight, small and easy to use
It may be the easiest way to describe the new battery-powered compact flash Profoto B10 with three words.
At the same time it feels very sturdy and well-built, especially unlike the B2 head, which is plastic and has a slightly weak and wiggly stand mount, in my opinion.
A small but big miss
My first impression of the Profoto B10 when I got it in my hands was somthing like: “very neat but at the same time sturdy”.
My second was: “Why the slippery knob on the light stand? Maybe not optimal trying to work with in the winter using gloves or with cold hands?”.
I am a bit disappointed that the one thing you will work with on the Profoto B10 the first thing you start setting up your lights, not to mention all the small adjustments I do during a shoot, is so badly designed for its use.
It’s a bit of a shame that design has gone before user-friendliness here to make it look as slick as possible. Hopefully, this may improve with a new part that you can change (my wish, nothing more than that).
I’d rather see something grip-friendly like the one on Profoto B1 that can be twisted with large gloves on without problems.
A removable stand adapter is smart
This solution I think was really successful, being able to detach the stand adapter, where the umbrella mount is built-in. If you want to put your Profoto B10 in a bag, it’s easier to make it fit without having things sticking out outside the cylindrical shape.
Apart from the slippery knob, it is really well built. Based on this, Profoto could easily produce a smart and lightweight variant of the old Profoto Speedlight Speedring Adapter to use Profoto A1 with a softbox.
Maybe something for the future?
Size Comparison: Profoto B10 and A1
If you have space for a Profoto A1 in your camera bag, it doesn’t require many more cubic centimeters to get a Profoto B10 to fit. It’s actually a bit shorter in length, but like the B2 head in height.
Perfect minibag for B10
I bought earlier two ThinkTank lens bags that can be expanded to fit tele lenses if you want (within reasonable limits of course). I have occasionally attached them to my photo bag to have room for two Profoto A1, which at the same time become more easily accessible hanging outside the backpack.
The fun thing is that these bags are a perfect fit for Profoto B10. I think you can have them in a strap on your shoulders, or maybe attached to your belt, but I have never tried that.
With Profoto B10, I can fit two smaller battery monolights in the same space as one Profoto B1 requires, and it will be about the same total weight (about 3 kg).
Size Comparison: Profoto B10 and B2
If you already own a Profoto B2, it can be replaced by a Profoto B10, which weighs less in total and takes less space, plus it has some features and new features not in the B2. I guess B10 will replace B2, but I actually have no real idea, never asked Profoto about this.
Either way, the second hand market for a B2 will soon become the buyer’s market, since B10 is better than B2 on basically every point.
The only thing that really speaks for B2 is that the head weighs half of what a B10 weighs, but the difference is not that big.
I hope that Profoto will make a ring flash that works with the B2 pack, but I have not heard any rumors about it. Maybe a tiny market, but I would love one.
Size Comparison: Profoto B10, B1 & A1
This is what the current Profoto family of portable battery powered lights looks like together. Do you want the most lightweight, choose the A1. If you want the most light, choose a B1. Can you live with one step less light but get half the weight of a B1, buy a B10.
Now I might say that one of these does not rule out the other. If you can afford it, I think most photographers who use Profoto will benefit most from a mix.
For many assignments to me, a B10 and one or two A1 will be very good. Should I set up a temporary mobile photo studio, maybe I bet on my B1: or anyway, maybe with B10 or A1 like edge lights or backlight?
Would I need a lot of light, it is possible to hire larger units that can blind most people where I live.
LED for photographers (& movie makers)
The modeling light on my battery lights (B1 / B2 / A1) is something I used very sparingly in photo sessions. Some time I can turn it on to see roughly how the light and shadows works, but never for the lighting the scene or portrait itself.
Bicolor modeling light
Profoto B10 have a super easy way to either change the brightness of the LED light but just as easily changing the color temperature from CTO to “neutral white” to CTB is something interesting.
Suddenly you can easily mix LED light and flash light if you want, and be able to adjust the color temperature to fit the existing light. Without having to use color filter gels.
Modeling light centered on the color temperature scale.
Profoto B10 modeling light with the most cold / blue setting (CTB)
Profoto B10 modeling light with the most warm/orange setting (CTO)
As a portrait photographer only working with non-moving images I can not comment on how useful this is for filmmakers. But I guess it’s certainly useful for many occasions.
Or you could use it as an alternative to flash, indoors and outdoors, when you prefer to work with light you can see directly? Maybe something for the mirrorless crowd?
Shoot and charge simultaneously
A smart thing with Profoto B2 was the possibility of having the charger connected while taking photos. Why this was not possible with B1 I can not answer. Perhaps the charger would not charge a battery fast enough for a more powerful flash, or maybe they didn’t want it to compete with Profoto D1 / D2 and others?
Either way, you can have the slim charger for the Profoto B10 plugged into a power outlet and shooting while charging the battery. Maybe that’s not an feature I’ll use super often, but nice to have.
Another smart thing is the Velcro strap on the charger so that you can attach it to the light stand rather than hanging free.
How long does the B10 battery last?
According to Profoto, the battery for the B10 can handle up to 400 flashes at full power. I can not say how accurate this is, since I have not tested. Their numbers for B1 was correct, so I trust the facts.
Or 75 minutes with the LED modeling light on full power. That sounds very good in many ways, I think the modeling light on B1 has drained the battery considerably faster.
The charger that is on 3A will be able to charge one empty B10 battery to full in 90 minutes. Buying a spare battery is always a good idea, and they are really small so you will have no problem finding space for an extra in your bag, I think.
Too bad they never listen to my desires of having a small protective cap for the batteries they do. It would be easy with such batteries for the B1, A1 and B10 batteries to make sure they do not let go or do anything else stupidly in the camera bag. Can Nikon have it for its big batteries can well Profoto?
Shooting portraits on location is something I do a lot, and think a lot how to do in the most effective way. Of course, I want it to be as good as possible, but I also want to work faster and carry less equipment (those two things are very connected).
For most lighting setups on location I have a standard list of lights and stands that I bring along. Most of the times, I only use about half of all the things I pack.
Since I bought my two Profoto A1, there is now a mini-kit available as a good choice when I do quick assignments. If I know that the portraits are to be taken indoors, two lightweight lighting stands (Manfrotto Nano or similar) plus the lights and umbrella will suffice.
Use the environment
Sometimes, a white wall can be made into something more interesting, and sometimes you are in luck. On this assignment, the client had some kind of plastic decor made of blue plexi glass on the wall.
One Profoto A1 camera left as main light with a small umbrella (white inside) and the other laying on the floor to create a blue pattern on the wall. Very quick and very simple.
TTL first, then Manual
For portraits like these I usually start with just having the main light on, TTL activated for a rough reading of everything. Often this will put me quite close to the exposure, but a little adjustment will still be needed before everything is as I want it.
Being satisfied will the main light, I turn the second light on (a simple thing to do from my Remote on the camera). This changes the portrait a lot, so most of the times I end up making more changes to the lighting ratios to balance the light and shadows nicely.
Use the same relative placement
One smart little trick to work faster on location is to remember the distance from the light to the model’s face. If you will get that right, not much is needed in terms of adjusting the exposure or light settings. Maybe just a little, but you will end up pretty close on your first try.
When I work for magazines, I always try to deliver a few portraits with large areas left “empty” for text and headlines. As with covers, the layout people always like low contrast and clean space for this.
In this case, it was very easy to do portraits like that. Stairs made of dark stone, a person dressed almost only in grey or black, and a face in the middle. To make it just a bit more interesting, I had my second light act as rim light and also light the stairs just a bit.
The white wall camera right provided the fill I needed for the shadows on his head not turning completely black.
15 minutes later
I had the portraits I needed for the article and it was time to pack up my mini-kit and get on to the next assignment.
My back is grateful that not every portrait job involves large bags, heavy lighting stands and big battery lights.