A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

Written by DC Chavez on . Posted in Videos

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dc chavez 200x300 A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

DC Chavez

In the past, anytime I was shooting on location knowing what gear to bring was easy- the Profoto Pro-B2 1200R Generator. This would allow me to be on location free from a power outlet and still provide quality lighting wherever I went. With the introduction of the new Batpac, the options for portable power have increased. When combined with the Acute series generators or the new D1 AIR monolights, you can have portable studio lighting at a fraction of the cost of the Pro-B kits. Lets take a closer look at the new Batpac and see what makes it so unique:

A Walk Around the Batpac

At first glance the Batpac is pretty unassuming- a clean tapered nylon backpack with a few pockets and a simple Profoto patch sewn on. To the casual observer, it would look just like any other backpack.

batpac 1 A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

Profoto Batpac- Exterior

batpac 2 A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

Profoto Batpac- Exterior

Even down to the straps- the Batpac looks very low-key. In addition to the backpack straps, it has a handle that goes over the top as well as a removable shoulder strap. I set a Canon 70-200mm lens next to it to give a sense of scale. If you are a numbers person, it is 9.8 deep x 10.2 wide x 13.8 inches tall weighing in at 24.6 lbs.

batpac 3 A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

Profoto Batpac- Carrying Straps

batpac 4 A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

Profoto Batpac- Size Comparison

Now to the business end of the Batpac… Unzipping the top of the bag reaveals a sleek interface with two outlets, a charging port, various warning lights and a battery switch- more on that later. Unzipping the inner pocket reveals the source of the power- a carefully secured and sealed lead-acid battery rated at 12V/17Ah. I am pretty sure this is an off the shelf battery that a savvy person could purchase and have multiple on hand for an extended source of power. What you cannot see from this image is the inverter that runs vertically behind the battery for the entire length of the Batpac. That is the brain of the whole operation that delivers consistent, safe power to your device that you have plugged in- be it a set of D1′s, an Acute 2400, a laptop, a refrigerator or any device with max. 600W power consumption.

batpac 6 A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

Profoto Batpac- The Main Panel

batpac 5 A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

Profoto Batpac- A look under the hood

Looking a bit closer at the main panel the first you see a bright red Battery Switch. Profoto has included it to prevent discharge of the battery during transport and storage. Above that is a series of lights that tell you how the Batpac is operating. When the power button is flipped the green ON light illuminates to let you know that its ready for use. The other two warning lights are BATTERY and TEMP. The BATTERY light turns on when the battery level is low and needs to be recharged. The TEMP light illuminates when the inverter overheats and will give a visual indicator that the output power has automatically been disconnected.

On the other side of the main panel is the charge port which accepts a standard Profoto Battery Charger 2A. The charger can be stored in a pocket in the top panel of the backpack. Lastly, there are two power outlets which provide 120VAC 60Hz or 230 VAC 50Hz output for International users.

batpac 7 A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

Profoto Batpac- User Interface

batpac 8 A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

Profoto Batpac- Charger and Outlets

batpac 9 A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

Profoto Batpac- Charger 2A

batpac 10 A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

Profoto Batpac- Charger Pocket

“Batmode” – Why you need this Firmware Update for your D1′s

A new D1 firmware (1.2) released in June, 2010, includes a “Bat mode” making it possible to connect up to 4 D1 units to 1 Batpac. All D1′s are set to “standard mode” as default. In standard mode the D1 maximizes the power consumption to minimize the recycling speed – optimal when connected to the mains. In “Bat mode” the D1 reduces the power consumption and automatically dims the model light during flash recharge– optimal when connected to a battery power source with a limited continuous output power.

According to Profoto, the recycling time is roughly 1.5 times longer when plugged into the Batpac as opposed to the wall. If a D1 1000 (in standard mode) is fired at full power, it takes 2 seconds to recycle when plugged into a wall. When being powered by the Batpac, recycle times increase to 3 seconds. At the lowest power setting (15.6 w/s) the recycle times drop to 0.2 seconds and 0.35 seconds respectively.

The same principal applies to using the Batpac with Acute generators- slower recycling means longer battery life. The Batpac is rated to run all Acute2 Generators as long as they are set to SLOW recycle and the modeling lights are off. If you have the generator set to FAST recycle, the draw will dramatically reduce battery life. Another important note is to verify the voltage setting of the generator before you connect to the Batpac.

Taking it On Location

Now that I had throughly looked the Batpac over it was time to take it out and put it to use in the real world. After finding a new-found freedom from being plugged into the wall, I loaded up the car and hit the road. A few calls later I ended up in the mountains of Malibu with two models, a Batpac and a set of Softlight Reflector in a Tenba Transport: CC-PSF case in one hand and the Batpac over a shoulder.

batpac location 1 A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

Profoto Batpac- On Location

We started the day in harsh afternoon sunlight- firing the D1′s at their full 1000 w/s setting. Despite the increased recycle time when on battery power, I never once was waiting for the monolights. The 1000 watt seconds was more than powerful enough to balance ambient light- even with the head a good distance away from the model. When used in close proximity it is possible to overpower the sun. I took advantage of the built-in 77 degree reflectors which provided an even edge to edge light. Another bonus of the built-in reflector is that when packing gear in, it was nice to not have to carry additional reflectors. In total, I fired off about 125 full power flashes and the Batpac was still going strong.

As the day moved to our second location and slowly turned down the power on the lights as the sun started to set. I used the sun as a rimlight and for a key we used the D1 with glass dome in a Softlight Reflector with a 1/2 CTO Gel to balance out the warm sunlight. Once the sun dipped behind the mountains we were shooting at the minimum output of the D1- 15.6 Ws, balancing ambient light with the D1. This allowed me to open up the aperture and work with a shallower depth of field. In our second location I fired another 200+ shots at mid to low power on the same charge as before. The Batpac surprised me at how long it lasted after a full day of shooting at various power ranges.

batpac location 2 A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

Profoto Batpac- Behind the Scenes

batpac location 3 A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

Profoto Batpac- Behind the Scenes

Once again I was impressed with the ease of use of the AIR system and how it allowed me to dial in my exposure without ever leaving my camera. Prior to the Batpac, I would use the Pro-B2R and even though it fired via Pocketwizard, I would still have to walk over to the pack and adjust the output. With the D1 AIR / Batpac combination I can be wireless AND make adjustments on the fly- something that is very essential on a shoot where you are chasing the setting sun. This is an extremely versatile combination that is unbeatable at its price point for shooting on location. The Batapac helps to turn the already impressive D1′s into great location lights. Here are a few of the results from the shoot:

batpac klaudia 1 A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

Profoto Batpac- On Location

batpac diana 6 A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

Profoto Batpac- On Location

batpac klaudia 3 A closer look at the new Profoto Batpac

Profoto Batpac- On Location

Final thoughts on the Batpac

There are a few more points that I feel need to get across here to show why the Batpac is a must-have for every Profoto user:

- Profoto has tested the Batpac with all of its products and can guarantee full functionality with all D1 & Compact Monolights and all Acute generators
- The Batpac has multiple safeguards engineered into it to prevent gear damage due to overheating, input low voltage, input over voltage, Ground Fault Circuit Interruption and short circuit.
- Batpac / D1 combination is a portable battery powered lighting with AIR functionality at a fraction of the cost of a Pro-B kit.
- Standard extension cords are much less expensive than a head extension cable for a Pro-B kit. This allows you to use one power source, but position lights where you need them for less money.
- The Batpac is not only a photographic lighting tool, it can also be used for any peripheral equipment, such as camera chargers, PC, wind machines etc. However, this equipment should not be connected to the same BatPac as a flash generator.

Here is a link to the Batpac User manual so you can view all the detailed info: http://www.profoto.com/downloads/guides

Thank you to all the people that made this happen:

Samys Camera
Diana Butova
Klaudia McDonald
Evelyn Sanabrias
Kareenas Trends

For more info on me, visit my website at  www.dcchavez.com

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Comments (15)

  • Dwight McCann

    |

    I have a pair of D1 Air 1000′s but cannot find any references on the Profoto website or Google on the firmware update you mention. Where can I find out about this feature?

    Reply

    • Profoto Blogger

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      To view your firmware version:
      In standby mode, press the center button (dial) and “model set” button simultaneously and firmware version will display.

      Firmware upgrades are performed at authorized Profoto Service Centers. In the USA, that is MAC Group or Silvino’s in Los Angeles.

      Reply

  • max hodges

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    is that beauty dish a profoto product? the green ring around the rim looks like a creative light product, but they don’t make dishes right?

    Reply

  • Profoto Blogger

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    Good question, Max! Many rental dealers use colored gaffer tape on their gear. This appears to be the colored edges of the honeycomb grid inside the front of the Profoto Softlight White Reflector. (and it’s very close to the CL green, for sure!)

    Reply

  • DC Chavez

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    Max-

    Yes, the beauty dish used was the Profoto Softlight white reflector. The green that you see is gaffers tape around the edge of the dish. I use this on all of my gear so I can see at a glance which product is mine and which product is rented. It helps both myself and my assistants during teardown. If you look closely you can see the same tape on the light stand leg and also by the set screw on the D1. Its an easy way to make sure that your owned gear doesn’t get mixed up with rental gear.

    DC

    Reply

  • Josh

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    Thanks for another fantastic review Mr.Chavez, and hats off to Profoto for consistently creating high quality products. Your review of the D1′s in conjunction with my own hands on testing influenced my purchasing decision of three Profoto D1′s. Perhaps when I receive the lights I will post my own in-depth review of the D1′s working in full stride.

    Cheers,

    Josh

    Reply

  • Adam

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    Thanks for Review DC, I would like to know what are the recycle speeds like for a pair of D1 500s? Would it still be 1.5 times the recycling speed when I use 2 D1 monolights? Thanks

    Regards,
    Adam

    Reply

  • DC Chavez

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    Adam- With the Batpac you can connect up to 4 D1′s total, as long as they are in Batmode, or 2 total if they are in standard mode. Recycling times vary depending on the power setting of the light, mode of the light and whether it is plugged into mains or the Batpac. The more D1′s you have connected to the Batpac, the slower the recycling. I personally have not tested the D1 500′s with the Batpac, but here are the specs outlined in the Batpac User Manual :

    http://www.profoto.com/sites/default/files/users_guide/batpac/BatPac_EN_LR.pdf

    Recycling times (120V or 230V, mains powered, standard mode): 0.95-0.2s
    Recycling times (120V or 230V, BatPac powered, standard mode): 1.6-0.3s
    Recycling times (120V or 230V, BatPac powered, Bat mode): 2.4-0.35s

    Here is the last part you should be aware of:

    A Profoto D1 in “Standard mode” will get approximately 1.5 times longer recycling time compared to a mains powered D1. If more than one D1 in “Standard mode” is connected to the BatPac, the recycling time will slow down further.

    A Profoto D1 in “Bat mode” will get approximately 2.5 times longer recycling time compared to a mains powered D1 in standard mode. If more than two D1 flashes in “Bat mode” are connected to one BatPac the recycling time will slow-down even further.

    Hope that helps- DC

    Reply

  • Brian

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    I am strictly profoto in the studio, but went with Hensel for battery operated. I found them very very heavy and poor holding charges. I just dumped them, and was debating on the batpac. Shooting about 300-500 images on location, am I better off with the acuteB or using existing acute/D1/compact gear with the batpac. My fear is running out of power around 200 images at full power, which seems to be the norm for battery operated gear.

    Your work is very inspiring!

    BW

    Reply

    • Profoto Blogger

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      Brian,

      We suggest you use the Acute B, as they can carry a spare battery. This is not possible with the Batpac.

      Reply

  • Rob V.

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    Does “sealed lead-acid battery” mean that it’s non-spillable? In other words, can we take the Batpac on a plane, even check-in if not carry-on? I don’t see any documentation on air travel with the Batpac. According to TSA guidelines, unless a battery like this has the words “NON-SPILLABLE” printed on it, then you can’t take it on.

    I know the AcuteB2 packs are tested and certified/licensed to travel, and much lighter too. Are those my only option if I want to take a battery powered light pack (or two) on a plane?

    Reply

    • Profoto Blogger

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      Dear Rob:

      Thanks for asking! Yes, it does indeed mean it is non-spillable. Here is a PDF of our MSDS with more information that you can bring with you to the airport if you wish.

      Reply

      • ian elston

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        “you to the airport if you wish.” but can you take it as a carry on?

        Reply

        • Ian Elston

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          Well… I’m at LAX right now and turns out the anwser is “no you can not take it as a carry on”. I got sent back outside by TSA :(

          Reply

  • Abdulrahman

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    thanks for the information, but how can i connect up to 4 D1′s and there are only two output slots ?

    Reply

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