by 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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
And here is the final result:
A few more from the shoot:
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:
For more info on me, please visit: http://www.dcchavez.com/
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