Archive for the 'profoto' Category

28
Mar
17

Profoto Air Sync & Air Remote

The Profoto Air Sync and Profoto Air Remote are basically the same as each other with both having 8 channels, 300 m range, 10 to 140 hours battery life transmit mode fast /slow, 30 hours battery life receive mode, 30 min auto power off, and integrated antenna.

The difference is that the Pro Air Sync will only trigger a flash i.e. just fire it like a sync lead but without the lead. Whereas the Pro Air Remote also lets you control the flash so you can change its power setting and modeling light function.

Just to slightly confuse you the Air Remote also comes in a TTL version for Canon and Nikon (TTL = Through the lens). This means that the remote will transmit TTL information to any Profoto flash with TTL Air Support and this will allow for fully automatic point-and-shoot shots. It can also be used in manual mode (without TTL) or Hybrid mode that allows for you to shoot first with TTL and then switch to Manual mode to make adjustments, and that’s good because TTL is often inaccurate.

All Profoto Air Remotes can be used with non Air equipped flash systems by using 2 units, one on camera and one connected to the sync socket of the flash, just like a pocket wizard system. However this will not allow for the control of flash power, modelling light, or TTL operation. It’s worth noting that you can mix Pro Air Sync and Pro Air Remote to achieve this.

Profoto equipment we have that supports Air and or AirTTL operation:

Profoto B1 Air & Air TTL

Profoto B2 Air & Air TTL

Profoto B3 Only the Air

Profoto B4 Only the Air

Profoto D1 Only the Air

Profoto 7A Neither is supported

Profoto 8A Only the Air

Profoto Acute 2  Neither is supported

Profoto Air Synch & Remote

 

Broncolor

 Broncolor used to be simple, they had a RFS (Radio frequency Sender) that controlled power and synced the flash and that was about it. It was a bit fiddly as you had to alter a “trimpot” underneath the unit to change channel and double check that the pack was on the same channel, also the packs (Grafit etc) had a weak aerial that was either missing, forgotten, or broken. The Scorro packs we stock now have this aerial built into the handle.

Broncolor also did a little gizmo called an IRX (Infra Red Sender), an infra red sync trigger that came in surprisingly useful from time to time, particularly in areas with radio restrictions.

Broncolor has now upgraded the RFS to the RFS 2. It operates like the Profoto Air Remote and controls the power & more on any RFS equipped Broncolor Flash, like a Broncolor Scorro for example. An additional RFS 2 Receiver can be used to trigger non Broncolor equipment by attaching to the sync port with a short cable.

The Broncolor RFS 2 has 40 channels compared to the Profoto Air’s 8. I would think this is an advantage once or twice every millennium.

Broncolor

Pocket Wizard

Pocket Wizards are a third party wireless sync trigger and either the Pocket Wizard 2 or Pocket Wizrd 3 system will trigger any flash from any camera provided you have the correct cables to connect.

Connect one pocket wizard on to the hot shoe of your camera (or connect it to the sync socket using a small lead) and attach another one onto the Flash (again connecting to the sync socket with a small lead). Check they are both on the same channel and away you go.

Easy, just be careful that the correct size leads are supplied for the flash.

Historically Profoto used the larger jack and Broncolour used the smaller one but they are both changing this around to keep us on our toes. Here at Pixipixel, we ensure you’re supplied with the correct cabling, even if it means providing both sets for your shoot.

Pocket wizards however also have a few tricks up their sleeves that you don’t find on the brand specific triggers from Broncoor and Profoto.

Firstly, the Pocket Wizard 3 units will automatically switch to transmit or receive depending on what they are being used for, a very clever feature. The Pocket wizard 2’s came as a transmitter, receiver, or a transceiver; they can do both but you need to select which.

The Pocket Wizards claim to have the longest range of 300m and that’s pretty impressive as I can’t even see a camera at that range.  But it gets better, you can also use pocket wizard units as “repeaters” i.e. you could put one at a half way point 300m from the camera (transmitter unit) and a further 300 metres away from the flash (receiving unit) thus extending the range to 600 metres and this can be extended even further.

Based on rough calculations it then follows that, with the circumference of the world being approximately 400 thousand metres it would take approximately 133,333 pocket wizards to transmit a sync signal the long way round the globe from camera to flash, and lots of AA batteries too.

Ok I know that’s silly but I had a customer who used to put flashes up at the top of huge sporting stadiums and the like and use this “Repeater” facility to trigger them from his seat in the stands so it can come in very useful.

The same guy also used to make use of another function available on pocket wizards and that is the ability to be powered via a USB port on the unit. This is great if you have to set up the pocket wizards say 24 hours before you are going to use them, this can happen more often than you would think. During my years living in Melbourne, for “Carols By Candlelight”, lights had to be set up in the rigging and subsequently could not be accessed for a day so the pocket wizards would go flat by the time the sing-song got going. Attaching an external power source via the USB allowed for them to be left on and not go flat.

The other great use for pocket wizards is the ability to use them to remotely trigger a camera rather than a flash. A special cord is required to do this and it’s called a Trigger cable; it comes in Canon or Nikon. Useful when the camera has a high viewpoint up on a boom, for example. Another scenario could be when shooting two cameras at the same time.

A few motor sports guys will have a camera on the opposite side of the track to themselves and trigger it at the same time as the camera they are holding this enables them to shoot both sides of the can and also get some heroic selfies. The test button has a two stage action just like the shutter release button on the camera, so a 1/2 press wakes the camera and starts auto focus and more. A full press will release the shutter.

And don’t forget you can attach one to a light meter for remote triggering of the flash during that initial setup stage. This is particularly useful if you are setting up and doing the pre light on your own.

Pocket Wizard do a range of TTL units specific to Canon or Nikon, but we do not stock these.

Sync Leads

Old school sync leads should not be forgotten. They are still a great way to trigger your flash from camera or light meter. They don’t run out of battery power, and they don’t interfere with the guy in the next studio. They are uncomplicated enough for your average photographer to understand.

In fact the only real problem with a sync lead is that they get trodden on and so get damaged quickly like an iPad lead.

We include sync leads with all flashes hired out to our clients, as they will save many a problem just by being there as a backup. I would hope that most photographers and good assistants would have a spare sync lead in their own kit.

As an aside if you ever want to test a sync lead just power up a flash and plug in the sync then “short out” the other end of the sync lead with a paperclip or your keys etc and if the synch is in good condition it will fire the flash, you won’t blow yourself up as the trigger circuit is separate from the flash circuit in modern flashes. Perhaps best not to do this if you can see “Balcar” written on the flash and you are stood in a puddle.

Synch2

Synch

Also don’t forget that most packs or mono blocks have a slave cell so in a multiple pack shoot often you only need one pair of triggers and then use the slave cell on the other packs to trigger them to fire. As light travels at the speed or er..light, the tiny delay is not likely to cause any problems unless some serious high speed or short flash duration stuff is going on.

Coolness rating of sub zero, ok that’s mean, but lets face it sync systems are never going to be exactly cool are they? In terms of usefulness then the pocket wizard system has to be a high scorer unless you are a die hard Profoto or Broncolor shooter. Now if Pocket wizard would just incorporate the TTL capability for both Nikon and Canon into the Pocket Wizard 3 then I would have to rate them as icebox cool.

 

cheers all

 

Written by Bruce Lindsay

23
Mar
16

Something slightly different-Sunlight

Sunlight

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I don’t know about the rest of you, but everyone here at Pixipixel is well and truly over winter. Short cold and dull days are not exactly the stuff of great photographs or location shoots are they? This has however given me an idea……….

As a departure from my normal rambling “Kit Of The Week” blogs I’m going to try something a little different, more along the lines of a how to guide, and what better place to start than how to recreate sunlight?

So please don’t take this the wrong way, I know many of you will be well versed in this but you never know you may pick something up even if it’s only a nice tan.

Firstly a small bit of Brucie theory:

Sunlight (I’m talking about a bright blue sky sort of sunlight not an overcast miserable day) is a hard light. You can see this if you look at your shadow on a bright day, it will be well defined with hard edges and a high contrast between it and the surrounding ground, in fact often exactly what we try and avoid as image makers. So why is this?

 

Ok, so back to photography basics for a moment, a hard light is produced by a small light source like the sun!

Yes I know the Sun is big (1392000 km across ish) but it is also a long way away, so to us it appears fairly small in the sky. This would be different if we stood on Mercury, but we aren’t so stop being awkward.

Now with the light source being small and far away the light rays that “hit” us are reasonably parallel to each other and this is what gives us the hard edged, high contrast shadows that we associate with summertime. With me so far?

 

So it makes sense that to recreate sunlight we either need to find a massive flaming orb and install it at the center of our solar system and pray for a break in the clouds or use a small light source in the studio itself. I know which option is easier, but exactly which light source should we use?

 

Now up until this point I’ve been thinking in general terms but obviously you moving image types are going to need a continuous light, whereas us stills guys can use flash or continuous. This is no big deal because we have numerous options for everyone.

 

Starting with us stills guys and looking at flash lighting we have a couple of options. Firstly and most simply a bare head will work fine, provided it is positioned at a reasonable distance from the subject. The trouble with this is that the light rays will be scattered causing a more diffused effect and also any stray light will bounce around the studio, becoming unwanted ambient light and further softening the effect. A small reflector or even a snoot will greatly help with this, however a purpose built modifier will yield much better results.

 

Both Profoto and Broncolor produce Fresnel lensed attachments for their lights and these help to bring those pesky light rays under control and more parallel to each other creating a beam of hard light (much the same as a lighthouse). This is a great starting point and works very well. The Broncolor attachment is called a “Flooter” and the Profoto version is the “Fresnel Spot”.  Both are fairly large so will need to be positioned at a distance from the subject. Very small versions are available such as the Broncolor Picolite Fresnel Spot Attachment but they are best used for tabletop macro sort of work, also we don’t carry them at the moment, so best you forget I ever mentioned them.

 

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Happily this Fresnel approach works well, but it can be done better and both the big names in flash have specific light shapers for this, they are radically different to each other but both work superbly.

 

Profoto have the “Hard Box” this is essentially a T shaped tube with the flash head inserted into the bottom, it decreases the size of the light source and eliminates unwanted stray light giving a light rich in contrast and very similar to sunlight.

prohard.jpg

Broncolor have gone down a different path with their “Satellite” reflector. It’s a highly polished disc reflector into which a standard head is fired this reflector concentrates the light giving the daylight effect, it’s a bit like burning ants with a magnifying glass back in the schoolyard and must not be left in the back of a car on a bright day (I learnt that one the hard way myself).

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Both the Profoto and Broncolor solutions work better if the flash heads protection glass is replaced with a special purpose one. Just to confuse us the Profoto frosted dome should be replaced with a clear one and the Broncolor clear dome should be replaced with a frosted one!!

breisepara.jpg

The next method to consider is the use of a parabolic reflector, now these “Para” reflectors are designed to bring those light rays parallel again and do a far better job than a spherical reflector, I won’t go into detail why but it’s all to do with internal angles of reflection and is also probably why rugby is a better game than football!!!

Briese make a really magnificent version specifically designed for the recreation of sunlight, it produces a spectacular fresnel like light that is also very enveloping and it can be used with flash or continuous lights.

sphericalvparabolic.jpg

See how I made the move from flash to continuous so smoothly…….. I think that’s called a segway. I’m getting the hang of this I think??

 

Ok so you moving image people have been very patient with me again, thanking you, now it’s your turn.

 

Nothing changes as far as light modifying is concerned between flash and continuous, I am pleased to say so all that stuff about a small light source with parallel rays of light giving a hard light is still correct.

You can use numerous lights to give you the “sunlight” look. Traditionally an 18k hmi Fresnel has been the go to fixture for film crews looking to recreate sunlight but with recent improvements to lights we no longer always require so much power. A good alternative is the Arri max 12K or the Arri m90 9k both of which have the unique MAX reflector giving a light quality similar to a fresnel but without the lens.
maxref.jpg

With the extra power delivered by the Arri Max range of lights you can afford to use diffusion to “take the edge off” so for an exterior shoot often an 18k or 12k unit will be used with a 9k through a scrim (1/2 stop) as a fill. In studio the smaller Arri M series units often will be employed and Kino’s or LED’s used to fill in.

The Alpha 18K K5600 is another very powerful light that could be employed to recreate daylight/sunlight, with its clear front it will give a slightly less hard light than a Fresnel but it comes with a Fresnel lens too if you need to harden up a bit so it gives you some options.

 

It’s worth mentioning at this point that despite recent improvements to cameras 18k is still the goto strength required to override sunlight, yes the Arri max range will give you the equivalent oomph at a slightly lower power rating but the sun is the sun and its not getting any duller just because the chaps at Arri are getting smarter. Film crews use 18k for one very important reason, clouds, if they appear and you don’t want to hear “cut” then you need the power of 18K to keep shooting. From what I understand this is not going to change no matter what improvements are made to cameras, well not until the sun goes super nova anyway and I think we will be safe from that for a couple of years yet.

 

Now one last thing to consider is the good old inverse square rule (remember that) it states that the strength of a light is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from its source. Now when you think about the Sun itself, it is so large and so far away from us that any exposure drop over say the length of a room is negligible, therefore a larger light positioned further away is going to give you more consistent light levels across your set than say a smaller one positioned closer. Now I don’t think I am contradicting myself as a large light positioned at a greater distance becomes a “smaller” light source just like the sun and hence retains the hard light characteristics.

tattoo.jpg

(I had to include this pic as it proves the inverse square law can also apply to people’s intelligence in relation to the distance from a tattooist shop.)

 

Ok so that’s how to recreate sunlight, easy eh it’s all about recreating the same characteristics in your light that would be present in real sunlight and in a studio when you don’t have real sunlight to work with it’s an extremely useful thing to be able to do, but once outside in the real sunlight is it a redundant skill, does it still have a use? Well to the uninitiated you would think that bright sunlight at lunchtime on a nice day would be about as good a light as you could get and it certainly is hard, high in contrast and powerful but that doesn’t really help us as photographers does it.

 

Bright sunshine is (somewhat counter-intuitively) not great for us image-makers. The high contrast nature of this light can cause us problems with tonal range and correctly exposing our subject and the background at the same time. Think about a beach scene on a bright summers day, you want to take a nice picture of the kids running out of the surf so you grab your snapper and shoot only to find that.

You have a beautiful blue sky and silhouettes for children or nicely exposed children and a washed out sky. “Damn it I spent a small fortune on this camera and  I can’t even get a snap of the kids!”

So how do we get round this problem?

Simple, you overpower the sun!

Now you can stop short of creating a small fusion reaction in your speedos to do this, as the sun is surprisingly easy to overpower (well for us stills guys it is anyway).

 

Essentially all we need to do is to meter for the background exposure and then add in some fill flash to light our subject. This flash needs to have the same characteristics as the sun to keep the feel, but we know how to do that now don’t we? Using flash for this is easy as we don’t actually need a particularly powerful flash, we as stills people only have to overcome the sun for a fraction of a second and flash equipment is good at that, it has the ability to push out large amounts of power (light) for very short amounts of time.

 

For you filmmakers however it’s a different story, yes the theory of exposing for the background and then filling the subject is the same but you need this light on for the full duration of each frame and for the entire shot. Therefore you need a lot more punch to do the same thing as us stills guys, traditionally an 18k Fresnel or similar is used for this (try running that off 4 AA’s) oh and if the kids are running any distance you’re going to need more than one to “keep them in sunlight”.

 

At this point I realize how lucky I am to be a stills guy, it puts me in mind of watching the odd orchestra walk through the green channel back in my former life, I always wondered if the double bass player was jealous of the flautist at airports.

 

That’s all folks,  let’s make this year’s summer brighter than last year by everyone using artificial lighting lots n lots. Perhaps we can bluff the sun into shining a bit more!!!!

Now before I go, the shrewd folks amongst you are probably jumping up and down screaming what about colour temperature but that’s something for a future blog I think as it’s a subject all on its own and depends a lot on what sort of sunlight you are simulating, be it midday or evening and so on I’ll get back to you on that.

Likewise if you are trying to recreate a diffused sunlight (overcast) look then we need a chat about scrims and so on, again that’s for another day.

 

I hope you all learnt something if only how to brighten up a miserable English “spring” day, or how to avoid work by reading a verbose and slightly silly blog?

Cheers for your time…… Now get back to work!

 

Merry Lighting BB

21
Dec
15

Day 9 of Brucie Bloggers Christmas Wish List

 

bells1

Second place (drum roll please) goes to the fantastic B2 250 Air kit from profoto.  Now this is right up my street being a flasher, as opposed to a continuous sort of a guy and if you are going to flash then really you need something to be proud of and this may not be the biggest in the world but its beautifully formed.

2          Profoto B2 250 Kit

 

Profoto B2 250 Kit

Right, I will start here by saying I have been a Broncolor boy at heart since working for their Australian importers for many years and I do love the Move system but…….. I was very very impressed with this system it really is portable with a capital P. It has loads of oomph and some very impressive recycling and duration times that would more than suffice for anything I am likely to want to shoot.

Now, if it only had a mains booster like the old Profoto battery packs had!!!!

 

profoto

 

Not to forget the runner up of the most revolting Christmas Jumper ever donned in our Christmas countdown … this is truly inspired……. Although I’m a little disappointed that we can’t see the blokes face, whether he looks mortified or proud??

o-ULTIMATE-CHRISTMAS-JUMPER-facebook

Well tomorrow is it the top of my list, I can feel the anticipation………. No really I can.

Cheers BB

23
Oct
15

KOTW-Profoto Medium Striplight

Profoto Medium Striplight

Firstly lets put an end to any confusion as this sounds remarkably similar to the Profoto Medium Strip Softbox but apart from the name and the fact that they are both a long thin oblong (bring back the word oblong as it’s more fun to say than rectangle) they are totally different things.

The Strip softbox is, as its name gives away is a SOFTBOX and attaches to a Profoto head to diffuse the light and chance its pattern of spread. It produces a soft edged long and narrow field of light ideal for rim lighting or separating a model from a background and so on. Also it is often used when space is tight as it can be squeezed into a small area. This is a very popular light shaper for fashion shoots.

Strip Softbox and Striplights

prostripsb striplight

The Striplight is not a light shaper it is a light in it’s own right. The medium unit contains two flash tubes and requires a pack to fire it. It is a hard box with a hard translucent plastic front and in use gives a long narrow light spread with a subtle fall off (harder than the softbox). Again they are popular with fashion photographers looking for a highly controllable rim light but they really come into their own when used on reflective subjects such as cars as they can produce razor-sharp reflections to help emphasize the cars contours. Also the shape of the light spread produced lends itself perfectly to emphasize texture in a subject (so it’s great for selling woolly jumpers on eBay too.)

To fully understand the difference we need to think like a car photographer for a bit. Car photography is all about form and shape of the subject and the best way to show this is with the precise use of reflections and highlights, now a softbox will work but it’s not precise enough, many car pictures are made up of several individual shots with each bringing a reflection or highlight into the image. These individual shots are then combined to produce the final composite picture. Now a Striplight can give you beautiful even and razor-sharp reflections that are much easier to combine in post but a softbox (no matter how new and clean) will always have a tendency to “fall off” towards the corners and ends, also a softbox will bend and flex slightly as its angle is changed thus changing its lighting characteristics (all be it slightly) and this can cause many a headache in post.

nigelHnigelh2Demented, the custom Kawasaki

In these images by Nigel Harniman we can see the reflections created by a striplight built up using about 15 separate images. @nigelharniman

Ok so I think we know the difference now so let’s have a quick look at some tech stuff:

We stock the Medium Striplight that measures 130 by 10cm, however it is available in two other sizes (would you believe large and small?).

It contains two uncoated flash tubes and two 200 watt modeling lights. With a built-in cooling fan it is able to be used fast without over heating and has a flash capacity of 2 x 4800 Ws. Yes 2 x 4800Ws that’s why it has two leads hanging out the back so you can connect it to two packs if you need that much oomph!

The two tubes also allow for light power to be varied along its length to create a graduated light.

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The Striplight has a couple of options such as Barn doors (that we carry) to help create razor-sharp edges to highlights and a clear cover (that we don’t carry) to give a faster fall off and more light transmission (i.e. brighter).

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And one last thing to note is that Striplights can be “stacked or used end to end to give thicker or longer reflections.

Cheers folks BB

22
Jun
15

KOTD-Profoto Spot Small

Todays toy is going to be the Profoto Spot Small.

Before I get into it have a look at this image from Marco Fazio, here he has used the Profoto Spot Small to create some beautiful hard-edged shadows and create the illusion of a theatrical spotlight on this model.

But do you notice anything odd about the image ? it took me a while and you will kick yourself when I tell you. The answer is at the bottom of the page so No cheating !

20130107_1395_midQ-600x400So the Spot Small is basically what it claims to be, its small and it creates a spot like effect. It’s an attachment designed to work with the Profoto D1 mono blocks but will work with any Profoto head provided you follow a few cautionary issues.

Much like its big brother the Profoto Multi Spot this is a projection spot and hence has a focus able lens on the front to allow for precise focus of the light, it gives an even, crisp edged circular light with virtually no fall off.

It is great for creating theatrical lighting effects and projecting patterns and shapes.

Designed to hold M sized (66mm 2.6″) gobos to project patterns or just used as it is for the spotlight look.

The Spot Small can project an image from a distance of 1m to 3m with a maximum image diameter of 47 cm @ 1 m to 150 cm @ 3 m.

On a cautionary note Profoto tell us that it will get hot in use (no great surprise with that as anything would get hot with a D1 stuck up its ……..) so you will need a pair of gloves to handle it when in use.

It is optimised for use with the D1 mono blocks but fits all profoto heads without the need for a converter,  however a maximum of 500w modelling light is recommended if using a head without built-in fan cooling, also it has maximum continuous loads as detailed below.

If used with a 7 or 8A

4 x 2400 Ws per min

8 x 1600

16 x 600

or

If used with a D1

10 x 1000 Ws per min

20 x 500

40 x 250

etc etc

so it’s not great for a machine gun photographer but it is great for a creative one.

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I rate anything that projects gobos quite high as i like to play with them myself so lets give it a 8/10 for coolness , despite it getting hot!  This is one of my images “Cell” shot using the Broncolor Pulso 4 spot.

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Ok short and sweet that one , so how many of you figured what was odd about the image at the top ?

Well if you have another look you will notice that the shadow is the wrong way round and doesn’t  start at her feet. That’s because the shadow is in fact from a different model who is out of shot ,

See below:

Cheers Brucie Blogger

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