Battery-Powered Monolight is Ideal for On-Location Photography

Review by Michael Corsentino

Profoto had a smash hit on their hands three years ago with the introduction of their much-lauded B1 Air 500-watts/second (Ws), battery-operated strobe. (I own three; they’re feature-rich, tough-as-nails portable strobes.) Never one to rest on their laurels, Profoto is back with the new B1X 500 AirTTL; however, the B1X is far from a simple update—it’s in a league of its own.

Like its predecessor, the B1X is 500 Ws, ten times more powerful than the average speedlight; but that’s where the similarities end. The B1X sees improvements in three key power areas: the battery, the modeling light, and the implementation of High-Speed Sync (HSS), along with cosmetic improvements. Profoto also introduced two new light modifiers specially designed for use with the B1/B1X’s flat-front diffusion glass: the OCF Zoom Reflector and the OCF Magnum Reflector. The OCF Zoom Reflector ($149) doubles the effective light output at two meters, and the OCF Magnum Reflector ($199) adds even more effective power output.


Starting with all-important battery life, the B1X boasts an impressive 325 full-power flash pops compared to 220 for the B1—50% more battery power, that’s nice! Next up, the modeling light gets a power boost, going from an effective output of 75 Watts with the B1 to 130 Watts with the B1X. That’s 70% brighter—I’ll take it.

HSS also gets a major upgrade in the B1X by breaking the 4-stop HSS barrier of the older B1. The B1X 500 AirTTL allows High-Speed Sync to be used across all 9 stops of its power range. Now, that’s cool! (Thanks to Profoto, B1 users have been gifted this feature via an available firmware update.)

Rounding out the B1X is a new, all-black exterior finish, and an improved tensioning knob that allows you to tighten down heavier modifiers. Also, TTL compatibility via Profoto’s optional Air Remote TTL ($419) is now available for Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Olympus.

All in all, Profoto’s new B1X 500 AirTTL is a sexy beast inside and out. I want 1…or 3! ■