I had the chance to shoot on location yesterday in Williamson Park with my Fujifilm X-Series cameras and the Profoto B1 along with their new Deep Small Silver Umbrella, making a great portable location setup.
As you can see, it allows for a very compact arrangement, which was particularly useful yesterday not only due to spending quite a bit of time walking around between locations and carrying it, but as it was extremely windy with strong gusts! With anything larger we wouldn’t have stood a chance of even setting it up, even sandbagging the stand (which I forgot to bring along!). Despite the small footprint of this umbrella we still had our moments, and the model was a star, jumping and catching the stand on a couple of occasions! The umbrella is extremely well made and feels to be very high quality as you would expect from Profoto, with the rods made from glass fibre rather than cheap hollow metal that can bend easily. I’m sure it will stand up to being dragged around on location for many years to come.
One of the reasons I wanted the deep umbrella was the design of it allows you to get a tight focussed light on your subject, which suits my style of shooting well. Here below the B1 head is pushed about half way along the rod. You can place the umbrella further away from the head giving a wider softer spread of light, or move the head right into the centre of the umbrella to give a very tight hard light.
FUJIFILM X100S (23mm, f/8, 1/250 sec, ISO200)
I chose the one with the silver interior as I wanted something with a bit more bite than the white interior. There is also a translucent version available for a very soft diffused light, although I’m less sure about the usefulness of that particular model in the deep parabolic design over the normal umbrella. You can also purchase an optional front diffuser that will turn the umbrella into a softbox and I’ll probably end up getting one of those eventually after this initial successful shoot with it. It will save me having to change modifiers part way through a shoot if I want a very soft diffuse light.
However, push the umbrella out all the way from the head and you can still use it to get a nice soft result even without the diffuser.
I tried out many cheap copies of the B1 at The Photography Show but none of them were able to cope with flash synching at 1/1000th, most of them got nowhere near, maxing out at 1/200th on the whole. In the end I was left with sticking with my Elinchrom Quadras or the Profoto B1 as serious reliable options. I like the Quadras but the battery packs and wires always frustrated me. When I saw the B1’s announced, they seemed like a perfect portable location solution, and the fact that they are 600WS heads gives them quite an increase in power over the Quadras too.
Another advantage of the B1, although I can’t make use of it with the Fui’s, is that the B1 runs TTL mode wirelessly on both Canon and Nikon systems, so if I ever did use their kit for a shoot I could pickup an Air Remote TTL and shoot in full TTL modes.
With the X100S I am able to sync up to 1/1000s using the Profoto Air Remote to kill off as much ambient light as I please. This is one of the reasons I love the leaf shutter in the X100S so much.
FUJIFILM X100S (23mm, f/8, 1/400 sec, ISO200)
With my other X-Series cameras I don’t have the advantage of the leaf shutter, so was shooting at small f-stop values to control the ambient light and did on occasion shoot with the B1’s on full power. This isn’t something I could do using speedlights as there just wouldn’t be enough power in them, let alone the quality of light you get from a full-sized studio head.
FUJIFILM X100S (33mm, f/11, 1/160 sec, ISO200)
Despite a 4 hour shoot, I didn’t even get through one battery pack in over 400 images with 2-bars of 3 still showing on the display. Profoto quotes around 220 images at full power, but when you’re shooting at less than full power that increases significantly.
Carrying the kit between locations was very easy as the umbrella simply slides out of the head and then folds down. I was easily able to carry around the cameras, B1, light stand and umbrella by myself without feeling fatigued.
Overall I’m very happy with the small version of the Profoto Deep umbrella and it makes the perfect compact studio and ideal companion to the B1. Along with my small and lightweight Fujifilm gear it means I can go out shooting with a fraction of the amount of weight and bulk that I would have had to previously to get the same results.
The Profoto deep parabolic umbrellas have been available for a while in Large and Extra Large, but were always too big for me personally to consider using on location. With the introduction of the medium and small umbrellas, all that has changed. I have been struggling to find a small deep parabolic modifier for the B1 that I liked. Elinchrom do the Deep Octa which I had and loved, but sold off with my Quadra kit and then regretted it. I could have purchased the Elinchrom modifier and then the Profoto adapter but that combination was not only expensive, but I really wanted something easier that could just pop-up on location quickly and this new addition fits the bill perfectly.
A big thanks to Dale Photographic who sorted out getting me the umbrella last minute next day delivery in time for the shoot.
More information about the Profoto kit and the new umbrellas can be found here. To be clear, I’m not paid, prompted or sponsored in any way by Profoto to write this, I just love their kit!
Below you can see a small selection of images from the shoot.