A closer look at the D1 Monoblocs

Written by DC Chavez on . Posted in Education, Lighting Tips

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dc chavez 200x300 A closer look at the D1 Monoblocs

IMG 149280 A closer look at the D1 Monoblocsby DC Chavez

I first saw the new D1′s at the Los Angeles Profoto Assistant event last March and I was instantly impressed with the build quality of the units but more importantly the range of power the units can deliver. The D1′s are fully digital have a 7 stop range adjustable by 1/10th of a stop allowing for precise control. The D1 1000 Air monobloc can deliver anything from 1000 to as low as 15.6 watt seconds!

I was amazed that with one unit I could take it outdoors and potentially overpower the sun or use it in a studio at a low enough power to use a really wide open aperture and a shallow depth of field without stacking on ND filters. I was also really impressed by the AIR system and the amount of control you have of the lights without even touching them. Even better, the Profoto Studio system allows me to control AIR equipped lights from my computer! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a kit and see what they could do- especially after seeing the D1 demonstration videos by Tony Corbell.

I must admit, I was a little taken back when I saw the front of the D1 unit- where was the usual bulb? Would the D1′s not work with some of the light shapers? According to the D1 brochure the lights are “designed for use with softboxes and umbrellas and for use with or without additional reflectors.” My worries were quickly addressed by the Profoto rep on hand. He explained that the front glass plate could be removed and could accept a Glass Dome kit which would bring back the bare bulb I was so used to seeing.

I headed down to Samys Camera in Playa Vista and picked up a D1 1000 kit and a few other light shaping tools to put it through its paces. I also got the glass dome kit to compare the light spread between the two:

d1 dome cover A closer look at the D1 Monoblocs

Here are some shots of the D1 with the standard glass plate and the optional glass dome. The white arrows point to the mounting points for the glass dome or plate:

d1 front A closer look at the D1 Monoblocs

Closeup of Profoto D1 glass plate

d1 w glass dome A closer look at the D1 Monoblocs

D1 1000 Monobloc with Glass Dome attached

Without the glass dome, Profoto says the unit has a 77 degree spread of light. With the glass dome in place, the monoblocs have the light spread of a normal Profoto head. I wanted to take a closer look at this, so I headed down to Stage 12 at Southbay Studios to shine the light on a bare cyclorama. Here is a side by side comparison of the light spread of the standard glass plate and the optional glass dome:

d1 testing 1 A closer look at the D1 Monoblocs

D1 Light spread: Glass Plate vs. Glass Dome

As you can see in the picture the light on the right is more concentrated in the center and has a relatively quick falloff compared to the Glass dome. The light output was also 6/10 of a stop higher than with the glass dome. One other interesting thing I noticed was the distinct line on the floor with the built-in reflector. The D1 straight out of the box acts pretty similar to a standard head with a zoom reflector, directing all the light forward. This angle does not do the light spread justice, so I pulled my Induro CT313 Tripod around the side to show the whole picture:

d1 explain3 A closer look at the D1 Monoblocs

D1 w/built-in reflector against cyc wall

This shows you how concentrated the light output is with the built-in reflector. In this case there was a center spot that fell of pretty quickly as you got away from the focal point of the light. This is strikingly different to how the monobloc reacts with the glass dome installed:

d1 explain2 A closer look at the D1 Monoblocs

D1 w/glass dome against cyc wall

As you can see, a nice even distribution of the light from the center all the way out- typical of a standard bare-bulb. To me this illustrates the need for the glass dome when using light shapers light a beauty dish or Parabolic Reflector, where the light is dispersed evenly over the light shaper before being reflected out. It would be interesting to see how the light output changes on a D1 with a beauty dish with or without the glass dome. I think that’s another blog post though…

The last thing I was wondering about was the light output with the glass dome compared to the standard glass plate. I set up the light and ran it through the full range of power output and recorded the light readings. Here are the results:

d1 power chart A closer look at the D1 Monoblocs

D1 Output test results

As stated before, the light output was consistently 6/10 of a stop higher with the built-in reflector compared to the glass dome. From what I could see, the concentration of light is much higher with the built-in reflector across the entire power range.

The last thing to do was put the lights through a quick shoot to see how they performed on the fly. I must admit, it was a bit odd to start working with the AIR system. I am so programmed to walk over to the monobloc or the generator to adjust the output that it took a few minutes to get used to not having to move from the camera. However, once I retrained my brain to use the AIR remote to adjust the power and turn on modeling lights it became cumbersome to walk over to the Acute 2R 2400 Pack to adjust. I quickly learned to love the AIR remote, especially for adjusting my key light that was overhead and angled out of reach. Here is a shot of the setup:

bts corinne shoot A closer look at the D1 Monoblocs

Light Setup- Profoto Blog Shoot

And here is the final result:

corinne 1 A closer look at the D1 Monoblocs

© 2010 DC Chavez

A few more from the shoot:

corinne collage A closer look at the D1 Monoblocs

© 2010 DC Chavez

Let me know if you have any more questions about the D1 kit. Hopefully I can pair these monoblocs with a new Profoto Batpac and take them out of the studio and on location sometime soon.

Thank you to all the people that helped make this shoot happen:

Samys Camera
Southbay Studios
Corinne Leigh
Rebecca Jewelry

For more info on me, please visit: http://www.dcchavez.com/

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Comments (22)

  • Jason

    |

    Hi DC,

    Thanks for the awesome review. I am curious about the output at power level 8. Is there really that large of a variance at 250 WS (f11 vs f8) or is it just a typo?

    Thanks

    Reply

  • Stefan Tell

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    Thanks for a very good comparison, I’m looking forward to see you go through the rest of the Profoto product line :)

    Keep up the good work.

    Reply

  • ron

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    I have to agree with your assessment. I bought the domes in February after owning the D1′s for several months, and the domes have been glued to my lights ever since.

    Reply

  • Allison Dandrea

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    Great review.. I was reading about the D1 series and is it REALLY true that you don’t have to use a battery pack (optional)? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Profoto Blogger

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      The batpac is the option for use when there is no AC power. The D1 also plug into the wall for AC operation.

      Reply

  • John Roberts

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    After reading the article and looking at your setup I did understand that with using the Acute 2R 2400 Pack you were having to manually walk to it and adjust your settings for the two heads attached but with the D1 Monobloc’s you were able to effortlessly do the changes with the air remote. Now that I said that, could you have achieved the same results as you did by replacing the Acute 2R 2400 Pack with two D1 Monobolc’s (reflectors and grids) and have them synced with the air remote as you did with Light 1 and 2? I am not sure if it would have been possible to achieve the same results but I have seen several situations where some have used up to four D1 Monobolc’s in some situations such as you have here. Thanks.

    Reply

  • DC Chavez

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    John-

    Yes, you are correct. I could have replaced the Acute kit with another set of D1′s and controlled them all via the AIR Remote. It would have also been possible to set the separation lights as one group and control them independently from the Key and Fill lights. The reason I used the Acute 2R 2400 was that I already had it on set as I used it in conjunction with the Acute2 Ringflash as a fill on a different lighting setup (not pictured).

    The AIR System was especially nice in this case due to the fact that the D1 was about 10′ off the ground, making it difficult to get to. I have used the previous version of these monoblocs, the Compact 600R’s, and every time I needed to change output I would have to manually adjust the knob on the back of the monobloc. The AIR system is something I have come to really enjoy using with all the AIR equipped generators and monoblocs. -DC

    Reply

  • Alan

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    Hi DC
    Great and useful review, thanks. I would like to use my three D1 with honeycomb grids, filters, snoots and door barns. I am a little bit confused about the accessories sold by profoto which will fit with the D1. Can you give me an advice ? Thanks

    Reply

  • DC Chavez

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    Alan-

    All the same accessories apply with the D1′s as the standard heads. The only difference is that with the D1′s come with a built in reflector, providing a 77 degree spread of light. Straight out of the box you can use this with the standard zoom reflector, softboxes and umbrellas and for use with or without additional reflectors. All of these Light Shaping tools attach via the standard rubber and metal clasp as they would to an Acute or Pro head.

    For light shaping tools that require a bare-bulb spread of light like a Softlight reflector, you can attach the optional glass dome pictured above (Part #101561) to achieve the same effect. This glass dome protrudes into the Beauty Dish and spreads light in all directions from edge to edge of the dish- in turn reflecting soft, even light forward.

    Here is a link to the Profoto Light Shaping tools brochure which should walk you through the various Light Shaping Tools and provide part numbers:

    http://www.profoto-usa.com/products/brochures/Profoto_LST_brochure.pdf

    You can see examples of how the various light shaping tools that provide a HARD light here:

    http://www.profoto-usa.com/products/lightshaping/hardlight.asp

    And for SOFT light go here:

    http://www.profoto-usa.com/products/lightshaping/softlight.asp

    And finally, here is a link to all the various accessories you can buy for not only your D1′s but all Profoto Products.

    http://www.profoto-usa.com/products/lightshaping/accessories.asp

    DC

    Reply

  • Jack

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    Would be great to see a comparison between a D1(with dome) and regular pro head, both using magnums or regular reflectors, cheers

    Reply

  • Otto Haring

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    Is it possible to use the 500w set for the same style portrait photos? Or it is not powerful enough?

    Reply

  • Michael

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    Great review! I’m curious, how do I remove the built-in glass plate from my D1′s? I can’t find instructions for removing the plate or instructions for installing the dome anywhere! Thanks in advance.

    Reply

    • Profoto Blogger

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      Just push the clips that hold the plate out of the way. They are spring loaded.

      Reply

  • Jack M.

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    What a great review and demonstration. Thank you for your time and efforts. I recently bought the D1 kit and 10 minutes out of the box I went online to buy the domes. I just came across this article / post today and you gave a fabulous visual and very helpful specs. Much appreciated!

    Reply

  • Olen

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    When using the D1 Air’s with the remote mounted on camera, can I still connect a Pocket Wizard II to the D1 air and fire with my Sekonic to get a light reading?

    Reply

  • Matt

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    Hey guys, I’d love to be able to see the images on this blog post – but every time I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a few times) the images don’t come up. It’s weird because on other pages the images work. I was really hoping to see the difference between a D1 with and without the optional dome (I’m actually trying to see the differences for a potential B1 purchase).

    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Fredrik Franzén

      Fredrik Franzén

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      Hi Matt,

      Sorry, this post is just too old and the images seem to be lost in cyberspace.

      /Fredrik Franzén, Profoto

      Reply

      • Matt

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        Hi Fredrik,

        What an interesting world we live in that 4 years is old eh? I can understand that it happens from time to time. Do you know if there are any plans to compare the B1′s output with and without a dome? I know this is something I’d like to see, as it’s a sticking point to pulling the trigger and buying one.

        Cheers,

        Matt

        Reply

        • Fredrik Franzén

          Fredrik Franzén

          |

          Hi Matt,

          The blog world. Not the real world. :-)

          Anyway, that’s not a bad idea for blog post. Will write it down. Thanks!

          Have a great summer!
          Fredrik Franzén, Profoto

          Reply

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