REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
ProfotoB1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash
 
4.7

(based on 71 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (58)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (10)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (2)

100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Good power output (47)
  • Durable (42)
  • Lightweight (28)
  • Attaches securely (23)
  • Good color value (23)

Cons

  • Pricey / poor value (3)

Best Uses

  • Outdoors (43)
  • Portraits (43)
  • Indoors (36)
  • Outdoor events / games (30)
  • General purpose (29)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Pro photographer (27), Semi-pro photographer (18), Photo enthusiast (7), Photography student (3)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (55)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Pricey portable power

TL:DR: High quality, high price, needs the Profoto Air Remote TTL-C for full benefit.

I've completed two professional shoots using the B1 and like it very much. One was a...Read complete review

TL:DR: High quality, high price, needs the Profoto Air Remote TTL-C for full benefit.

I've completed two professional shoots using the B1 and like it very much. One was a lifestyle shoot in my subject's living room, which was awkwardly lit with no overhead light and severe (blinding) afternoon sunlight from a side window. The second was a real estate shoot that included a large atrium and several spaces with uncovered windows. I had previously been lighting with multiple Speedlites. In both cases, The B1 delivered consistently beautiful light and I achieved my balanced final lighting faster than with a Speedlite solution. Despite more than 150 flash exposures on each job, in both cases the B1 battery still retained half charge. I experienced zero misfires when using the Profoto Air Remote TTL-C. Blending flash with ambient is easy with the B1. The freedom from mains during a location shoot is wonderful, and the extra power compared to Speedlites means that you can easily defeat bright sunlight and, if you wish, gain a couple of stops of depth of field compared to Speedlites. The "Ready" beep felt almost immediate after every shot, although when I was down to half battery and shooting at full flash power it probably stretched to 3/4 second.

Controls are intuitive, satisfyingly built, and enjoyable to engage with as a user. TTL works great. Manual shooting works great. It comes with a nice transport case. There are a couple of subtleties that make it worth reading the User's Guide, but you'll be running with basic features as soon as you take it out of the box. The optical slave worked absolutely reliably. I didn't use the modeling light but it can be set to be full-on or proportional to the flash power. The modeling light can also be controlled from the Profoto hot shoe-mount Air Remote TTL-C.

The killer feature, though, is a separate purchase, the Profoto Air Remote TTL-C. The B1 power can be adjusted from the Air Remote TTL-C head in your hot shoe, and you can, almost magically, jump from TTL to manual and back. For example, you can shoot in TTL, then add 0.3 stops of light from the TTL value as flash exposure compensation for the second shot. Or you can start in TTL and switch to manual for repeatability. A full battery charge in the B1 is rated for 220 full-power 500WS flashes, or an hour of full-power modeling light use which might be valuable for video. The built-in fan is quiet and turns itself on and off as needed. The top of the B1 has a receiver for a 7-8mm umbrella shaft, so if you're using a compatible umbrella like the Profoto (my other umbrellas also fit) then that eliminates the need for an umbrella swivel mount.

Frankly, if you can afford the B1, you will want the Profoto Air Remote TTL-C hot-shoe mount controller. If you're not taking advantage of the B1's on-camera controller and TTL capability, then you could achieve the lighting output of the B1 far more cheaply.

I'm thinking hard to come up with disadvantages beyond price...

Still thinking....

Mmmm....Be aware you will need a solid light stand, not the light fold-up kind that's adequate for Speedlites. I'm not sure the monobloc form factor is ideal if you want to boom; you'll need to counterweight your boom arm more urgently than with a generator+head design. If you want to gel the B1 to adjust color temperature, Profoto says to buy their "spill kill" reflector.

The lack of mains power (battery power only) means that they're overpriced if you work only in a studio. They're a little too bulky/heavy for use in every single application (sometimes a Speedlite is still the best choice). They're also a little tricky to mix and match with Speedlites. I found it best to use my Speedlite triggers (Pocket Wizard Flex and Mini TT5) and then slave the B1 to fire at manual power from the Speedlite flashes...at least until I buy a couple more B1 units and can run exclusively Profoto off the Air Remote system.

Probably the biggest problem with the B1 is that as soon as you try one, you'll be wanting to buy at least one or two more (the Air Remote system lets you control multiple B1s independently). You'll also be wanting to buy lots of Profoto modifiers or at least a speedring to fit your existing modifier inventory.

Seriously, they're great. Being able to control 500WS from your camera with the Profoto Air Remote TTL-C, and being able to shoot TTL if you want to, are huge.

Not cheap, but if it's in your budget you'll love its convenience, reliability, and power provided you also get the Air Remote TTL-C.

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

Shuts Off Unexpectedly

When it works, it works great but I have had problems with the light turning itself off unexpectedly even after just turning it on a minute earlier.
Be wary.

When it works, it works great but I have had problems with the light turning itself off unexpectedly even after just turning it on a minute earlier.
Be wary.

Reviewed by 71 customers

Displaying reviews 1-20

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5.0

Perfect

By steveo

from Bend,Oregon

Verified Buyer

Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

I really wish I hadn't wasted so much money on other strobes. Should of just saved up and purchased this strobe a long time ago. No I need to save up for the kit to have a 3 light go anywhere set up.

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5.0

Vastly better than stacking speedlites

By DougB

from Orlando, Fl

Verified Reviewer

Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

I was shooting with 3 canon speedlites in the large umbrella, and it kinda worked. Sometimes one of the 3 flashes would fail to fire for whatever reason, or batteries would die and then I have 3 sets of batteries to replace. Or, using the external battery packs I now have 2 or 3 external batteries, their weight and cables, plus the 3 speedlites, and that is just one light source. In a 2 or 3 light setup you can imagine the headache.

I originally went that route figuring it would be cheaper than the larger head units, like the B1. But my 7 speedlites cost more than the 2 light B1 kit, and they are much more cumbersome, and much more prone to intermittent failure.

With the B1 you have a single battery, 0 cables, TTL on Canon and Nikon, and 10x the power of a single speedlite. Quite simply, it is a solid solution.

It is also part of the overall profoto lighting system, all the modifiers, as well as modifiers from other brands with the right speedrings, will fit these heads properly, so you have lots of flexibility without having to get creative about how to mount the lights in the modifiers.

Yes, the price seems high, but considering the speedlites (not the knockoff brands) are $600+, and you would need 10 of them to equal the output (but fail on the quality), these are dirt cheap. Add to that the setup time saved, and the reduced failures while shooting, easy choice.

At first I was put off by the lack of a power cable option, but with a second battery, and the speed charger (comes with the 2 head kit), you really, truly, will never miss the power cable. And not having the cables to trip over, or limit your light placement options, is fantastic.

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5.0

awesome

By Adam

from New Haven, CT

Verified Buyer

Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

pretty amazing light

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5.0

Amazing Product!

By reamesr

from Mission Viejo, CA

Verified Buyer

Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

I primarily use the B1 for interior real estate photography, but also exteriors for fill light. This is a versatile, well built product. Combined with the ProPhoto Air remote, TTL mode is so easy and precise. Manual mode adds another dimension to fine tune a shot. The model light a great feature as well. The price is a bit high, but this is an amazing product. My only "wish list" for ProFoto...integrate radio control triggering of 3rd party speedlights, like the Nikon SB-5000.

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5.0

Terry Harding Photography

By Terry Harding

from Hollywood aka La La Land

Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

amazing light!!!! I just wish the battery would last a little longer.

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5.0

Love this flash !

By capephotographer

from Cape Cod

Verified Buyer

Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

Way better than trying to stack speedlights together. No waiting for the flash to recycle, so you don't miss anything. This is by far the best solution for outdoor family portraits. High speed sync is awesome. I have two of these and wish I had bought them when they first came out. My flash frustration is gone.

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4.0

Excellent On-Location Light, But Not Quite Perfect

By P.S. Linden Photography

from Kansas City, MO

Verified Reviewer

Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

I used to use speedlites for on-location portraits, but have always wanted a bit more power for outdoor shoots. After splurging on a B1 and Air TTL-C remote, I've had the chance to put it through its paces for a few shoots, and am pleased, overall. Unlike speedlites, which tend to drift color temperature over their power range, the B1 seems to be very consistent, IMHO. The TTL feature makes it much easier and quicker to do shoots where you frequently have to change location or lighting setups. After a few test shots to ensure the exposure is where I want it, I'll flip the strobe to manual, to keep the lighting levels consistent until the next setup. The ability to cross over to high speed sync is a nice plus, as well.

With the Air TTL-C remote, the remote doesn't display the actual strobe power setting (rather, it displays either the light ratios or, in manual the +/- stop adjustment), which can be a little bit annoying if you're used to making manual adjustments from the remote. However, in fast-paced location shoots where you're relying on the TTL for your baseline settings, and then just tweaking from there, it isn't a big issue.

The main shortcoming, in my view is that I wish the strobe could put out just one more stop of light at max power. On a few occasions, I've wanted just a bit more light out of the strobe when I'm trying to underexpose the surrounding environment in brightly-lit conditions, especially when adding a softbox to the mix, and doubly so when crossing over to HSS (since that, by nature, also cuts the down on the amount of light the strobe is firing). Of course the power needed to supply that extra stop of light, would also undoubtedly chew through batteries like candy. Understandably, some compromises needed to be made.

Overall, though, I've been quite happy with the B1, so much so, that I've added a second since my original purchase, and have plans for a third, to give me even more options on location.

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5.0

State of the Art

By Geo

from Pacific Northwest

Verified Buyer

Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

Beautifully made strobe that's easy to use and casts a beautiful light. At about 6.5 lbs it is weighty but still very manageable. Took just minutes to learn to use and helped me create the kind of light I visualized immediately. I plan to use it alone or with Profoto's B2 Location kit (which I've been using for a few months now) plus a host of Profoto's OCF light shaping tools. They all work so well together! I not a pro photographer but lucky to have had a few fine art images published a number of times, and I have done a couple of weddings for hire just for the experience. I delayed the purchase of the B1 for a very long time because of the expense, and I thought the power was beyond my needs. So glad I finally pulled the trigger.

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5.0

Great light

By J.P. BIALADE

from New York

Verified Buyer

Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

These units are easy to use, and easy to set up on location. The battery is truly light-weight and compact. There is also a check button to see how much power you have left. I did not use TTL very much in the past, but now getting an initial exposure via TTL, and then locking it with Manual mode, makes exposure metering easier. Really like this profotos.

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(2 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

 
1.0

faulty B1s from B&H?

By Hubert

from Dallas

About Me Pro Photographer

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Powerful

Cons

    Best Uses

      Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

      I've bought a b1 a year or two ago from B&H and it would not fire at all. I had to pay for shipping and send it to Profoto to get it repaired and it's worked flawlessly ever since. I decidedly to buy another b1 recently from B&H, because I figured that wouldn't happen again, but this one doesn't fire either! Do I have to waste my money on shipping again to get it repaired from Profoto? =\

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

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      5.0

      3rd B1 500

      By Corey

      from Omaha, NE

      About Me Photo Enthusiast

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Durable
      • Good Color Value
      • Powerful

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Indoors
        • Low Light
        • Outdoors
        • Portraits
        • Special Events

        Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

        I like the portability, reliability and flexibility. I wanted a 3rd light and was not sure if I should go to two B2's or one more B1. At the end, I decided I like the simplicity of an all in one, contained head. This one did arrive DOA, but, was replaced next day by B&H's excellent service.

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

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        5.0

        I want another!

        By Ben

        from Eastern CT

        About Me Photography Student

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Attaches Securely
        • Durable
        • Good Color Value
        • Lightweight
        • Long-Lasting
        • Powerful

        Cons

        • Top Heavy

        Best Uses

        • General Use
        • Indoors
        • Low Light
        • Night Time
        • Outdoors
        • Portraits

        Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

        I've been using this light for about two weeks, using it basically every day. It was well worth the purchase for me, paired with the AirTTL remote, its an amazing seamless us. I use the high speed sync most of the time, and thats what sold it for me. The ETTL works flawless for the couple times It for which is to get in the shooting range I want it to be, then dial it in from there. It's solid built and I would highly recomend getting a heavy duty stand and a sand bag due to the light being rather top heavy.

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

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        5.0

        Top notch product to move up from speedlights

        By kingzrule

        from Medford Lakes, NJ USA

        About Me Photo Enthusiast

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Good Color Value
        • Lightweight
        • Portable
        • Powerful
        • Travels Well

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Outdoors
          • Portraits

          Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

          I bought a single B1 about six months ago while taking a studio light course. I am still amazed at the control and light quality I get from the B1, especially as a supplemental lighting source outdoors.

          I bought a second B1 recently, and have acquired a good collection of Profoto grids, gels, umbrellas, beauty dishes, soft boxes and snoots to go with the heads.

          I also bought the generic Air Remote for use on a Leica. It has worked really, really well for me so far.

          A decent light meter is pretty much a requirement to get the most out of these B1's, as I would expect from any studio or off camera flash system.

          I think I like the Profoto 1' x 3' soft box as a good starter light shaping tool to go with the B1.

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

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          5.0

          Awesome light!!

          By M. Rosario

          from Buffalo, NY

          Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

          Bought this light and I'm pretty happy with it. I wish I would of bought the 2 light kit but since I did the 6 month interest free financing they did not aprove me for yhe whole thing but I'm happy still. The light is solid and very good. I think next I will purchase a b2 and then another b1, I want a 4 light set up but it made sence for me to start with the b1 first and can't complaint.

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          (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Great Light!

          By Michelle V

          from Los Angeles CA

          About Me Photography Student

          Verified Buyer

          Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

          Huge investment, took careful thought to purchase. I have 3 B2s and wanted a light with more power. Although it is heavy (top heavy on a stand) must use a sandbag - the extra power it provides gives piece of mind to overpower the sun and to use large light modifiers (I use the Westcott 7' parabolic umbrella with a diffuser over it). I found with the B2 it did not provide enough power to fully light the umbrella for a large light spread with diffuser over it. The B1 does this beautifully and cordlessly. You do need an extra battery for piece of mind that you will not have to stop your shoot to recharge for 2 hours, so add that into your cost. I was disappointed that when you buy 1, B1 light you get the slow charger 2.8, not the more powerful fast charger that comes included with the 2 light B1 location kit, so you need to plan for a 2 hour recharge time. I haven't had time to test it outdoors to overpower the sun yet. Should work better than the B2s in that setting.

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

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          5.0

          Wish I would have purchased a long time ago

          By steveoh

          from Bend, Oregon

          About Me Pro Photographer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Attaches Securely
          • Durable
          • Powerful

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Indoors
            • Low Light
            • Night Time
            • Outdoors
            • Portraits
            • Special Events

            Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

            I use this for all my off camera needs. This strobe is super easy to set up and all the power in the world. The light quality and consistency is spot on.Incredible recycle time only qualm is the battery life at full power.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • Yes

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            4.0

            B2 Firing issues

            By Epic Images

            from CA.

            About Me Pro Photographer

            Verified Reviewer

            Pros

            • Durable

            Cons

              Best Uses

                Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

                5 things I hate about my B1's. I'm on 3rd battery charger .. and I don't use it that often. 2. You need the $200 glass dome to really use this head - search for Profoto B2 glass dome. Shoot a test with any box you own and you'll see for yourself how horrible the coverage is without it. It gets worse on smaller boxes. With my small Chimera's, only 60% to 70% of the front panel is lit. Us old school film Brooks Graduates figured it out before they even started shipping the heads. If you do blow another $200 on the head for this $12 piece of glass, it won't fit in their case 3. Transmitters are grossly over priced and kill batteries. I get 4 to 6 hours on a shoot before my $400 transmitter is dead. 4. I get a couple of miss fires per hundred frames when the heads are only 8 feet away. For $2000 a head, they should fire every time. 2 of my 3 heads do this. 5. The flash tubes are easily bumped to the side inside the chamber. I really baby my gear so I was surprised to hear others had the same issue. Had some trouble so I took it in and the rental guy knew right away what my problem was. The flash tube shifts and becomes partially dislodged. It will fire some of the time which makes you think it needs to be taken in for service with serious trouble. I have to pop the glass plate off and push the tube back in. If you look at the carrying case, the handle is on the end. By carrying it that way, I think it's easy to swing the unit back and forth some. In either case, the tubes are shifting inside the chamber. I'm so glad the rental guy told me what to look out for. Overall they are nice heads. For Battery Mono lights, they are one of the nicer units out there. The newbies and 22 year %^&*- for brains photographers who never took a class on lighting or understand light characteristics are who they are marketing too and who are buying them. Most of Profoto's promotion videos I've seen are dumbed down to the masses like 85% of the seminars at WPPI. Their marketing department is brilliant !! The one thing that is shocking pretty good is the ETTL. Pros can almost use it to lock in the base exposure before switching to Manual.

                • Was this a gift?:
                • No

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                (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                So far so good!

                By Ramon

                from Honolulu Hawaii

                About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                Pros

                • Powerful

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Outdoors

                  Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

                  So I live in Hawaii. That being said I avoid studio work at all cost and I prefer to do my photoshoots off the beaten path. It didn't take long at all of me to get aquatinted with using this thing. I prefer to meter in ttl mode then switch to manual adjust my power setting thru the Radio Controller for Canon. This light puts out more than enough light to over power the sun. I will be purchasing another one in the near future.

                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No

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                  5.0

                  Very nice unit

                  By Mark

                  from Eastern Washington State

                  About Me Pro Photographer

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Attaches Securely
                  • Durable
                  • Powerful

                  Cons

                  • Not Inexpensive

                  Best Uses

                  • General Use
                  • Low Light
                  • Portraits
                  • Special Events

                  Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

                  I made the transition from Speedlight to strobe to have more power for HSS outdoors and for more light power. The B1 handles it easily. The unit is easy to use with the Air TTL-N.. The switch from TTL to manual is easy. It's close to point & shoot easy For HSS one must upgrade the firmware in the B1 and the Air TTL but that's easy and then the unit engages HSS through the camera flash menu.

                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No

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                  (1 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  3.0

                  Great product but be aware

                  By JCP

                  from Boston Ma

                  About Me Pro Photographer

                  Verified Reviewer

                  Pros

                    Cons

                    • Loses Charge Quickly

                    Best Uses

                      Comments about Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery-Powered Flash:

                      I have noticed when I use these inside where I often need the model lights to prevent that "giant pupil" look on people from low ambient light on the subject the fans run non stop. Yes there are fixtures on them but nothing is blocked and this is a low powered LED?
                      So with models,fans and strobe you get nothing out of the batteries.
                      They seam to be designed for no fixture and no model light use.
                      I also have a battery that is causing one of the chargers to give strange green light sequences
                      Also had one of my 4 heads go back with a bad board after very little use. It was repaired but after shooting Profoto for 25 years these do not impress me.

                      • Was this a gift?:
                      • No

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