Whenever Profoto introduces a product, anyone in the photo world sits up and takes notice since at the very least, it's going to be impressive. The introduction of the B1 500 AirTTL is truly ground-breaking or to be more accurate, game-changing.
Based on the popular D1 Air series of monolights, all of the familiar professional and convenience features we've come to expect from Profoto are onboard. The B1 has the same dense, durable polymer housing, integrated 77-degree reflector, built-in receiver compatible with Air transmitters and intuitive highly visible controls and display as the D1 but with two striking differences - battery power and TTL camera/flash integration.
Busy photographers can literally set up their lights, slip the optional Air Remote TTL-C transmitter onto their camera's hot shoe and point-and-shoot without taking a reading and testing. Traditionally point-and-shoot would be a suspect term for a pro, but not if you're shooting back to back jobs on an impossible schedule with what you thought was an undoable deadline. Composition, posing etc, is of course up to the photographer, but time after time the B1 will give you a first shot exposure that's a keeper.
The key to this control is the optional Air Remote TTL-C transmitter, available for Canon but also for Nikon DSLRS (TTL-N) in 2014. Operating on 2.4GHz band width, the transmitter, really a controller, has 8 frequency channels and with 3 groups per channel and a range of up to 330' for TTL triggering and 1,000' for normal triggering. Each channel has power ratio capability of +/- 2 stops. If you prefer to use manual you have +/- 9 stops power variation. You've also got modeling light, unit shut-down and first or rear curtain control. The TTL-C and the B1 500 Air TTL have mini-USB connectors for firmware updates directly from Profoto's website. The head can be triggered by any Air Remote but requires the TTL-C for full functionality.
Core performance features are equally impressive. The B1 recycles in 0.1 to 1.9 seconds but can deliver up to 20 flashes per second in Quick Burst Mode which engages at lower power settings. Flash duration in Normal Mode is a very fast 1/1000 sec but there's also a Freeze Mode that delivers flash durations a short as 1/19,000 sec. for capturing liquid sprays or splashes and other creative effects. The modeling light has also been upgraded to LED to put less strain on the battery and provide the equivalent output of a 70W halogen bulb.
And regarding the battery, The B1 500 AirTTL employs a exchangeable Lithium-ion battery that gets up to 220 flashes on a 2-hour charge with the included 2.8A charger or a 1-hour charge with an optional 4.5A quick charger. The Battery has fuel gauge-type LEDs that make monitoring remaining power easy.
Finally, B1's the back panel has been upgraded with a large, bright LCD screen that informs the user of the flash's power level, radio channel and group, sync choice, modeling light mode and recycle alert. There's also a large battery gauge that literally can be read from 20' away.
Full E-TTL II with Canon Cameras
The B1's patent-pending technology fully integrates the flash head with your Canon camera. The integration is so complete that Profoto sometimes refers to the B1 as an "off-camera flash." The key to this control is the Air Remote TTL-C.
Optional Air Remote TTL-C
The Air Remote TTL-C transmitter has 8 frequency channels with 3 groups per channel and a range of up to 330' for TTL triggering. Each channel has power ratio capability of +/- 2 stops in TTL or +/- 9 stops in manual. Modeling light, shut-down of the unit and first or rear curtain exposure can also be selected.
Lithium-ion Battery Powered
The B1's Lithium-ion battery gives you up to 220 full power flashes and thousands of minimum power flashes on a 2-hour charge from the provided 2.8A multi-voltage charger. An optional 4.5A quick charger shortens that time to 1 hour. Fuel gauge type LEDs on both the battery and charger allow you to monitor remaining power.
Exceptionally Short Flash Duration
In Normal Mode, which prioritizes color fidelity, the B1 500 AirTTL is capable of t0.5 flash durations of 1/11,000 sec. at minimum power, and 1/1,000 sec. at full power.
Freeze Mode automatically selects the shortest flash duration possible at the user-selected power level. Motion-stopping flash durations of 1/19,000 at minimum power make the B1 500 AirTTL ideal for high speed shooting.
Quick Burst Mode
At lower power settings Quick Burst Mode allows a series of flashes to be fired at a faster pace than the B1 can recharge, allowing triggering of up to 20 frames per second.
LED Modeling Lamp
A 20W LED modeling light with a 70W tungsten-equivalent output draws very little power from the battery and generates minimal heat. The light can be set to proportional or full power and will dim during recycling if that option is selected.
Redesigned Control Panel
The B1's control panel has been upgraded with a 1.4 x 2.5" bright LCD screen that informs the user of the flash's Power level, sync choice, modeling light mode and recycle alert. There's also a large battery gauge that literally can be read from 20' away
Both the flash head and the Air Remote TTL-C have mini-USB connections for firmware updates directly from Profoto's website.
Power Variable over 9 Stops
Power can be regulated over a 9-stop range (2.0 - 500W/s / 1/256 - 1/1) in 1/10 or 1-stop increments.
Full Light Shaper System Compatibility
With its zoom scale and integrated umbrella sleeve, the B1 500 AirTTL is compatible with Profoto's extensive line of umbrellas, reflectors and softboxes.