1. Welcome to NikonCafe.com—a friendly Nikon camera & photography discussion forum!

    If you are thinking of buying a camera or need help with your photos, you will find our forum members full of advice! Click here to join for free!


Discussion in 'Studio Equipment and Lighting' started by isayx3, Aug 26, 2008.

  1. isayx3


    Apr 12, 2008
    Corona, Ca
    If money was not an issue..what are the avantages of using Profoto heads vs cheaper studio strobes like Alien Bees?
  2. absolute consistency in the light - shot after shot.
  3. topher04r1

    topher04r1 Guest

    what he said
  4. RGB Bob

    RGB Bob Guest

    Whenever I buy anything of substance, if my application warrants buying the best and I can afford it, i do. If it doesn't make sense for what I'll do with the item, I go for the well respected bargain. I bought Alien Bees and have been happy with them. If I had a full time studio and was billing constantly I'd go Profoto.
  5. No argument whatsoever. The AB's are phenomenal performers for the price. But the guy asked, "If money was no object......"
  6. You have to consider consistency frame after frame in output, and you have to consider accuracy of color temperature at all output levels. I have read a number of reports from full-time professionals regarding less expensive brands shifting in color temperature as you change the output level. Flash duration is another thing to consider if you need high shutter speeds to overpower sunny conditions outside. Longer flash durations prevent you from using high shutter speeds because the shutter has to remain open for the entire duration of the flash. Also consider interoperability of accessories like light modifiers. Profoto has an excellent reputation for adaptability to different brand modifiers. Some brands only work with their own manufacturer's accessories.
    • Color consistency
    • Accessory options
    • Output level consistency (recycle time)
    • Modeling light output (although this is a standard light bulb versus non standard and there are many brands that don't use just a standard bulb)
    • The way things attach, look at the reflector and speed rings, they don't just attach to the front. I know of no other head or mono light like it. All the rest just attach to the front, makes me nervous to think of a 6' Octa Bank of even a 4' by 3' softbox just hanging off the front of a light head after using Profotos.
    • Option of built in Pocket Wizards

    What I have owned or used:
    • Alien Bees - I do work for a school photo company and they provide them. This is my 3rd year using them for 2-3 month stretched. They work just fine for this use. No real issues other than being under powered for me (the AB400 is not 400W/S, it's only 160)
    • Owned a set of 3 Calumet/Bowens 750ws Monos. Did what I needed at the time but more than I needed and way too heavy. But 2250W/S of light was nice. Also given that the Calumet lights are made by Bowens you have tons of accessories with these as well.
    • The Dyna-lite/Comet Twinkle set I have now. Small, light weight, built well, 400W/S fan cooled, and 250w modeling lamps. All in a case that holds the 2 heads, 2 stands, 2 umbrellas, and cords. And the case is too small to fit my tripod and weights less than 20lbs. Great for traveling.
    • In School, The Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University, we used Profotos (packs and monos, softboxes from 2' by 2' up to 6' Octa Bank, grids, reflectors, beauty dishes, etc). I was there for about 26 months taking the night program, on any given day there may have been 50-200 people in photo classes at different stages of the program. Not every class used the equipment every day. But the fact that most people started out not knowing which end of the plug goes in the pack and which end goes in the wall is a lot of use and abuse 6 - 7 days a week. Over the 26 months our class (40 students in my group) only had issues with one pack and one head that I know of. They are heavy, which is the main reason I did not get a set at a great student discount before I left school. But money (and weight) no object I'd buy then in a heart beat.
  7. I have also heard great things about the Hensel products. May not be as versatile in accessory compatibility as the Profoto product line, but not as expensive either. I know several professionals who use Hensel exclusively. Excellent German engineering - consistent, durable, reliable.
  8. isayx3


    Apr 12, 2008
    Corona, Ca
    Thanks everyone! A lot of good information.
  9. I've done extensive testing with the Profoto Acute 2400 Pack and heads and did not find them to be as consistent as Elinchrom's.

    I would give serious consideration to either the Elinchrom Style 600RX (1200RX if you need the power) or the Ranger.

    Pop to pop consistency and color consistency are incredible and proved to be better than Profoto.

    Also, Alien Bees have such tremendous color temperature shift as you drop the power. If you're not going to shoot a gray card or set a new custom white balance every time you adjust power then forget about the Bees. I've owned them and tested them, so I speak from first hand experience.
  10. Hensels

    When I was shopping for lights to supplement my Alien Bees, I looked at Profoto because of the great marketing they do (they must spend a ton of money on advertising). What really turned me off was the much higher cost of accessories. I just couldn't afford them.
    That said, the AB's were driving me nuts with their inconsistent output, 1/2 stop or more when used a low power settings, and resulting inconsistent color temp.
    I heard about Hensel on a forum and started researching. I bought a kit for $1,300 and got much more for my money than I would have with Profoto -- two heads, stands (really flimsy), two umbrellas, a softbox/adapter and a beauty dish, plus the rolling case. The consistency is fantastic. I have measured it with a meter and it is dead on shot after shot. Build quality is great. Only downside is no PW option, but for what I saved I was able to buy external PW units.
    I highly recommend Hensel.
  11. Thanks Carl. Hensel also has kits with a transmitter and mono heads containing built-in receivers. It works very similar to the SU800/SB800 setup from Nikon - multiple channels, multiple lights. You control everything from the transmitter in the hot shoe of the camera. It is a Hensel brand setup, not a PW setup, but it has great flexibility.
  12. I've tested Hensel Integra Pro 500's as well. Great build, nice strobes, but still the pop to pop consistency is not there. I've measured variations of up to 1/3 stop between pops at various power levels. To me that is still unacceptable.

    I have no affiliation with Elinchrom and no reason to endorse them but after testing just about every major brand of strobes there is no question that pop and color consistency goes hands down to Elinchrom. If I pop an Elinchrom strobe 20 times I may get 2 or 3 pops that vary by .1 stop at most.

    I know many disagree but frankly most that disagree are those that have not tested or exposure is not critical. It's one thing to say "I'm happy with my strobes" or "I've never noticed a problem" but when exposure is critical it does become an issue and I can't see the point in dropping that kind of money to have inconsistency in power or color.
  13. I'm with Robert on this one. When I switched form AB's to Elinchrom, it was like night and day. Although the number of pros using Profoto probably speaks to their performance also, for the price, light modifiers, and performance, it's hard to beat Elinchrom. They also have a loyal professional following like Joe McNally and others. I think one of Profoto's biggest draws is the ability to find it in most rental facilities if you travel a lot.
  14. isayx3


    Apr 12, 2008
    Corona, Ca
    Is portability an issue? Most other brands seem pretty big compared to the profoto heads.
  15. Elinchrom monolights are lightweight by comparison and their heads are no heavier than any others and lighter then the profoto heads.
  16. Are we talking Flash heads or Monolights here?

    Profoto Flash heads are just under the weight of the Hensel or Elinchrom heads, but don't compare them to Dyna-Lites. A friend and teacher at the school I went to does interiors and has about a dozen heads, the Dynas are lite. Most of his are not fan cooled, but when you setup for 2 hours for 6 pops you really don't need fans.

    Profoto Monos are about the same as the others (Hensel and Elinchrom) when talking about the Pro lines (using pro line for lack of a better word at 8:00 in the morning). Their 300ws lights are just heavier than Elinchrom's BX line (400ws) and their 600ws lights are just heavier than Elinchrom's RX line (300 or 600ws). Hensel is right in there as well, some lighter, some heavier. The Calumets that I sold because they were too much and too heavy are just that 8.8 lbs each. But again Dynas are lite, 3.6 lbs.

    When looking at the prosumer lines for Elinchrom (D-Lite), Hensel (eFlash), and Dyna-lite (Twinkle made by Comet) it's a little different. The Elinchrom and Hensel are lighter with the Dyna being heavier. Profoto doesn't make anything here that I know of. The Alien Bees are the same weight as the Elinchroms.

    For me weight and size were two of my big selling points. The Dynas heads are just a little heavier, but the kit weight is less and packs into a smaller and lighter case. And it's one case not 2 or more for lights, stands, cords, umbrellas and it's under 20lbs.

    Flash head weights from B&H:
    Profoto about -- 5 lbs
    Hensel -- over 6 lbs
    Elinchrom -- 5.4 lbs
    Dyna-lites -- 1.7 lbs - 3.25lbs

    MonoLights weights from B&H (pro):
    Profoto -- 4.8 - 5.9 lbs
    Hensel -- 4.6 - 6.3 lbs
    Elinchrom -- 4.3 - 5.75 lbs
    Calumet/Bowens -- 8.8 lbs
    Dyna-lites -- 3.6 lbs

    Monolights weights from B&H (prosumer):
    Hensel -- 3.0 lbs
    Elinchrom -- 2.9 lbs
    Dyna-lites -- 3.5 lbs
    Alien Bees -- 2.9 lbs (from AB site)
  17. isayx3


    Apr 12, 2008
    Corona, Ca
    What is the difference between heads and monolights?
  18. Flash heads are connected to external power packs with something like 500-6,000ws worth of power. Multiple heads are connected to a pack. Monolights have a built in power pack. Think about all those shots you see of studio setups, with all those lights high up on stands. Those are more likely power packs and heads as the power output to each head is controlled at the pack and not on the heads.

    Here is a picture from B&H Profoto power pack set.
  19. AndyE


    May 2, 2005
    Vienna, Austria
    Monolights - Profoto calls them ComPact - are fully independent units. Lamp, condensers, charger all packed together in one unit.

    A generator is a central unit which consits of everything, except lamps. It provides power for between 2 to 4 heads.

    The advantage of monolights is: easier to start with (one unit is cheaper than a generator plus lamp), higher flexibility if the units need to be far away, ...

    The advantage of a generator setup: higher consitency between the heads, one central place to change the light setup (vs. walk to each monolight), faster recycle times with some units.

    Profoto's "value" line is the Acute series.
    Focus on highest color stability and high variability from light settings (max 8f-stops without colorshift) is the D4 series)
    Fast recycle times for fashion shots is optimized with the Pro-7 series (1sec full charge)

    Battery units:
    AcuteB and Pro B2

    Some examples:

    2 years ago my then 12 year old daughter shot this pic of her 11-year old friend.
    Camera D50, Sigma 18-200mm, Profoto B2, 2 x heads, 2 x standard zoom reflectors
    More pics and higher resolution: http://www.pbase.com/andrease/a_new_hat
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Here is another one from my daughter, this time with her 15 year old friend.
    Nikon D2X, Profoto D4, 4 heads
    View attachment 243505

    This year she produced this:
    D300, Profoto D4, 2 heads (1 beauty dish, 1 x 5' octa box)
    View attachment 243506

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2008
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.