Profoto B2 OCF Hands On Review & First Impressions

 

Profoto B2 OCF Air TTL
Profoto B2 OCF Air TTL with Head

Profoto B2 OCF System Review & First Impressions

(updated with more photos 3/9/15)

Profoto B2 OCF pack and 2 heads
Profoto B2 pack and 2 heads

In Sept of 2014 Profoto contacted me about trying a new off camera flash system.  At first I thought they were going to show me a Profoto B1 battery powered with High Speed Sync (which was not out at the time I met with them) and a new light shaping tool for wedding photographers.  Well, I was half right.  They showed me their new Profoto 2′ OCF series Octa Softbox (which I now use at every wedding).  What I wasn’t expecting was the B2 head and pack system with built in battery and transceiver for the AirTTL system.  After using the system for 4 months I thought it would be great to give some first impressions.

Holdfast Money Maker Profoto B2
Holdfast Money Maker with the B2 attached. How I shoot some engagements

Features of the Profoto B2 OCF System  

250 Watt Seconds
Each pack support 2 flash heads
Removable Lithium Ion battery built into the B2
Battery powered with the ability for plugged in use for studio or recharging.
Approx 1.5 second recharge of full power flashes.  I haven’t tested it but it seems to be about 1.5 second at full power.
High Speed Sync (HSS) with Nikon & Canon
Ability to mix seemlessly in TTL with the Profoto B1 system
LED modeling lights
Super light weight system.  Pack weighs less than the Paul C Buff Vagabond.  Head weighs less than my Nikon SB 800 with batteries.

Profoto B2 Real World Use with the OCF Light Shaping Tools
Over the last 4 months I’ve fallen in love with this system.  All of my Alien Bee gear has been gathering dust.  The Profoto B2 system is just so damn light.  For engagements, I wear the B2 Pack on my hip via the Money Maker Strap system and handhold the B2 head myself.   For wedding I have a Voice Activated Lightstand (my lighting assistant) use the light with the 2′ Octa Soft Box.   With a lighting assistant I keep either the 2′ Octa on or the 10 degree grid on the head itself. Oh and the lighting grids just snap on so nicely and they don’t fall off.

Size of the Profoto B2 Head vs the Nikon 900 flash
Size of the Profoto B2 Head vs the Nikon 910 / Nikon 900 flash

Profoto B2 vs Nikon SB900 / SB910

Since the system is self contained (wireless remote, led light, power) you don’t have all the extra pieces that hang with my former system.  Before with Off Camera Lighting, I would have a dangling trigger when the rigged system of vecro let go on my Nikon SB900.  The ability to have both TTL and manual override on the remote means that I only have to instruct my Voice Activated Lightstand / Lighting Assistant where to stand and what angle to point the

Profoto B2 with Assistant
Profoto B2 with Assistant at Eastern State Penitentiary // Philadelphia, Pa // Photo by Gene Smirnov

Profoto B2 vs Paul C Buff Einstein

Let’s just get the obvious out of the way.  The Einstein has more power.  If you want more power like the Einstein stick with the Profoto B1. With the obvious out of the way, the Profoto B2 has some clear advantages over the Einstein.  The system is sooooooo much lighter.  I haven’t used the Einstein since I got the Profoto B2s.  I haven’t run into a situation where the B2s didn’t have enough power.  I just have my lighting assistant get closer.  The Profoto head weighs as much as your regular flash with batteries in. Your lighting assistant and Voice Activated Lightstands will love how lightweight the B2 is.

Profoto B2 vs the Paul C Buff Vagabond Mini in Size
Profoto B2 vs the Paul C Buff Vagabond Mini in Size

Profoto B2 vs Profoto B1

The B1 is twice the power of the B2,  that is the biggest advantage of the B1 over the B2.  What I see most photographers doing is buying a D1 1000 w/s for in studio or a Profoto B1 and having a 2 head B2 pack.  There are many advantages in real world use of the Profoto B2.  First and foremost is the Profoto B1 is top heavy when placed on a fan, it has a battery and fan.  You need a heavyweight stand (I love my Avenger boom stand) to safely hold the Profoto B1 due to the battery on the flash. Conversely I use the Manfrotto Nano stand when my lighting assistant is holding the B1.  Since the removable battery is built into the pack, the weight is distributed perfectly for handholding.

Profoto B2 vs Profoto D1
If you never leave the studio and you have plenty of outlets, the Profoto D1 500 ws might be a better solution.   You do get spoiled quickly by the light weightness of the B2 system, so if you need portability in the studio the B1 or B2 might be beneficial over the D1.  On the road, the B2 wins hands down over the D1.

One of the best features and perhaps one of the least talked about features: The LED Modeling Light!
How amazing is it to have a super light weight system with a bright LED modeling light!  The LED modeling light has made after dark sessions with wedding clients a breeze. The LED light is just as bright as the Westcott Ice Light. You’ll notice the light is warm balanced and not daylight balanced.

Profoto B2 LED Modeling light vs Westcott Ice Light
Profoto B2 LED Modeling light vs the Westcott Ice Light at Full Power

So who is the system made for?

I would say it’s best for on location portrait photographers and wedding photographers. It’s easy to travel with and has enough power for most situations. On location I almost always stick to a one light setup.

Groomsmen Smoking Cigar Philadelphia
Groomsmen Smoking Cigars in Philadelphia, Pa

Is the Profoto B2 good for the studio? 

Yes, I use the B2s in the studio.  I’ve replaced my Alien Bees and Einstein with them. You’ll want to get 2 extension cords for the heads if you are using them in the studio.  The size of the head cord is meant for lighting assistant use, so the extension cords are a must. Again a good in studio setup with be either 2 packs with 2 heads each or adding in a Profoto D1 or B1 to the mix. The bonus to using the B2 in studio is the ability to leave the unit plugged into power during the shoot.

Profoto OCF Snoot and OCF Grid Holder
The Profoto Snoot & OCF Grid Holder and 10, 20, 30 degree grids

But wait…there is more!!

The new Profoto OCF Lightshaping Modifiers for Strobists

Profoto released a new lightweight lighting system called the OCF Modifiers.  These are special modifiers made specifically to be lightweight for the B2.  The softboxes and octabox use a new lightweight speedring.  Grid all the things!!! So the first thing I did when I got my hands on the system was gridded everything.  My favorite new OCF Lightshaping modifiers are the OCF Grids (10, 20 & 30 degree) and the octabox. I use the 2′ octa softbox for 90% of photos with the B2 at weddings. The 2′ octa is the perfect modifier for wedding photographers. The reason why I say this is it is the perfect size to get through doorways and move around at weddings and still provide nice kisses of light.

Examples of real world Profoto B2 Usage:

 

 

ProfotoB2-6
Strobist Info: Profoto B2 Heads. OCF Snoot for backlight and hair, 1.3 x 1.3″ profoto softbox for main
Softbox-1x1-B2-Profoto-1
Philadelphia Wedding in the snow. Strobist Info: 1.3’x1.3′ Profoto Softbox on Profoto B2
B2atWedding-1
Princeton New Jersey Winter Wedding. Profoto bare bulb on front seat.
Profoto Octa Softbox OCF
Strobist Info: Profoto with OCF Octa Softbox 2′
Profoto Octa Softbox 2'
Princeton Wedding. Strobist Info: AirTTL remote. Profoto B2 with Octa Softbox 2′
Profoto-B2-at-Wedding-PrincetonNJ-1
Princeton Wedding. Profoto B2 in front seat bare bulb. Triggered with the AirTTL remote.
Profoto B2 with 2 heads.  1x3' softbox with 50 degree grid and the OCF 10 degree grid on the 2nd head
Bodyscaping with Profoto B2 with 2 heads. 1×3′ softbox with 50 degree grid and the OCF 10 degree grid on the 2nd head
Profoto OCF 10 Degree Grid
Combining Profoto B2 flash and modeling light for 4 second exposure. 10 degree ocf grid overhead.
ProfotoB2-29
4 second exposure with Profoto B2 and OCF 10 degree grid.

 

ProfotoB2-11
B2 with 4 second exposure with 10 degree OCF grid

 

ProfotoB2-9
4 second exposure. Profoto b2 with OCF 10 degree grid

 

 

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