Profoto AcuteB 600/600R Product Review

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Taking well-lit photographs on location can be challenging, especially if the assignment involves outdoor portraiture. While the sun pumps out ample volumes of light 24/7 (daylight balanced no less) it's not always positioned where you want it or when you want it. And then you have the rain, snow, and cloud factor. In any case, when shooting outdoors on location, the sun is your primary light source. Beyond that, it's all about you and your choice of portable lighting.

If you're within easy reach of an AC outlet, lighting on location is usually a reasonably easy ordeal. It's when you're beyond the reach of outlets and gas-powered generators that you have to consider your options (and you get to find out how good you really are). And while high-output, battery-powered strobes have been available for quite some time, they tend to be heavy and can be clumsy to use when tracking moving subjects.

The Profoto AcuteB 600 and AcuteB 600R strikes a tasty balance of light output (600Ws), size (7.5 x 7.5 x5"), and weight (10.8 lbs including battery) in a well thought-out package. AcuteB 600 and 600R packs are identical, except the 'R-version' features a built-in PocketWizard transceiver, which enables 32-channel, 4-zone wireless flash sync to your camera (a wise investment!).

You can expect up to 170 pops-per-charge at full power with AcuteB packs, or thousands depending on how far you power-down the 7-stop (in 2/10th-step intervals) output-range. Recycling times vary from about 2.6-seconds at full power, to about 0.09-second at the lowest (9W) power setting, and flash durations range from 1/1000th to 1/6800th, again depending on your power setting. As for flash consistency, Profoto claims a flash-to-flash variance of less than 1/75th of a stop.

AcuteB 600/600R packs run off sealed, FAA-approved, 12 V 5Ah lead/acid batteries, which can be charged in or out of the power pack. The batteries slide into the side of the pack housing rather than the bottom, which reduces the risk of moisture damage when shooting in wet or damp environments. A full battery charge takes about 5 hours with the standard Profoto Charger 1A, or 2.5 hours with a Profoto Charger 2A, which can also double as an AC adapter. Similarly, you can use a Profoto Pro7B charger as an AC adapter, which simultaneously charges the battery.

To go along with the pack, Profoto offers the AcuteB head, which measures 8.5" and weighs in at a travel-friendly 3.2 lbs. The AcuteB heads are smaller and lighter than standard Acute heads due to the lack of (or need for) cooling fans. AcuteB heads accept all Profoto lighting accessories, and ship with a Disc reflector, flash tube, removable frosted glass cover, protective transportation cap a 10' cable, and a 65W tungsten modeling lamp, which outputs the same volume of light as a standard 90W halogen lamp. You can also use standard Profoto Acute heads with AcuteB packs, but you must use an optional modeling lamp adapter if you want to maintain use of the modeling lamp.

Weight has long been an enemy of spontaneity on many outdoor photo shoots, and it is here that the AcuteB truly shines. Being light and compact, it's also an easy rig to mount on a pole or folded lightstand for use as a 'run & gun' lighting tool at weddings or fashion shoots. As long as your assistant keeps the flash-to-subject distance constant, you can easily maintain exposure accuracy regardless of how fast or slow your subject moves about. To make running around with the pack easier, Profoto makes a fitted Transport bag that comfortably cradles the pack.

Weight is also a consideration when traveling these days. Whether you fly with your gear or ship it ahead via FedEx, UPS, or your Uncle Bob's brother-in-law, the cost of shipping heavy and/or oversized cases adds up fast. Because of the AcuteB's high power-to-pound ratio, you can pack more Watt-seconds into smaller cases with the AcuteBs than other battery-powered lighting systems.

Need more incentive? How about a free AcuteB head when you buy an AcuteB 600 or 600R pack. See product pages for details. And as with all Profoto gear, you're backed by the best customer support teams in the business.