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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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:
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:
For more info on me, visit my website at www.dcchavez.com
Tags: D.C. Chavez
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