A Practical Review
As with my previous reviews, this review is based on my practical experience of using the kit for over a year now. I’m not going to include the specifications of the kit here, as I’m assume that if you’re interested in its performance, you have already looked at the specs. Now, it’s more about understanding what those specs mean.
A Cut Above the Rest
These are the reasons why I strongly recommend the Profoto B2 Kit for wildlife photography:
- 250 W power
- High-speed flash sync
- TTL flash exposure metering
- Freeze Mode where the flash duration is cut down to 1/15,000 sec
- It’s much lighter and compact than many of the other similar options such as the Profoto B1
- If you are looking for quality and reliability, look no further
Travel-Friendly & Easy to Handle
It’s lightweight and extremely portable. With the head weighing a mere 600 g, it’s easy to handle and manoeuvre around when on a safari vehicle. Another upside is that it fits perfectly on the Wimberly F1 flash bracket with the Badger Gear B2 flash adapter plate. The B2 head will also mount on a ball head or a similar product by using a B2 plate.
Knowledge is Power
With 250 W, its head is extremely powerful (about 5 times more powerful than a top-of-the-range speedlight). That said, you must understand the concept of more power:
Light works differently to what most people may think. You’d assume, for example, that 500 W would give you twice the power that 250 W would, which gives you a massive advantage in terms of power and versatility. But, unfortunately it doesn’t quite work like that. Double the power is equal to about 1 stop of additional light, which means that Profoto B2 only falls 1 stop short of Profoto B1.
So, when your settings are at 1/200 sec, f/2 and ISO 400 at 500 W, it is pretty much the same as shooting with settings at 1/200 sec, f/2 and ISO 800 with 250 W of power coming from your strobe.
Why Having a More Powerful Strobe is Relevant for Wildlife Photography
A more powerful strobe will allow you to do one of two things:
- Shoot at lower ISOs
- Shoot at lower outputs
Being able to shoot at these lower outputs allows the strobe to recycle faster, which essentially allows you to fire more consecutive flashed frames in a burst. Even at full power, the B2 has an unsurpassed recycling time. The lower outputs also help me achieve faster flash durations, which I discuss below.
The B2 has a freeze mode that allows for a flash duration of 1/15000 sec at low outputs, which is what gives you the opportunity to freeze the motion of your subject even at excessively low shutter speeds. At full power, the strobe can still fire at 1/1000 sec.
The TTL was really a game changer for me. It really does make shooting in situations where ambient light and bush conditions are constantly changing, significantly easier. Having 9 stops of exposure compensation (as opposed to the 6 found in traditional speedlights) is also a great help with selecting just the right output for your scene. You can also adjust these 9 stops of exposure value (EV) by adjusting precise 1/10 increments.
Air it Out
The air remote is easily mounted on your camera’s hot shoe and allows you to make all necessary adjustments from exposure compensation to changing the modes of your B2 system right from you camera. It also grants you an unprecedented 300 m range between you and the B2 unit.
High Speed Sync
The HSS feature allows me to shoot at shutter speeds faster than my camera sync speed (generally 1/200 – 1/250 sec); a fundamental factor when shooting wildlife in full daylight / bright conditions.
The B2’s battery life is pretty good. It will give you about 200 full power flashes, which may not seem like a lot, but for the most part you’re not going to be shooting at full power, so you will get much more out of the battery than you think. Another upside is that the battery charges very quickly – it can charge in full within 45 mins. A handy extra is the button under the battery which when pressed, indicates how much power the battery has left.
Last but not least, Profoto offers a wide range of on-flash accessories that are interchangeable between Profoto strobes. For shooting wildlife photography from vehicles, I would suggest using the zoom reflector light shaping dish, and if you have the freedom to set up the unit elsewhere, perhaps the Magnum reflector. Both of these reflectors help shape the light into a more directed, concentrated area and will also allow for about two more stops of light.