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We were asked by a photographer friend why we chose the Profoto D2 over so many other lights. And I think what this photographer was really asking was - 'Why did you pick it over so many other less-expensive studio lights?"
The answer is simple, and oh-so-complex.
We love the Profoto ecosystem of products. They make good stuff. Of course they aren't perfect - nothing is - but their products are as close to what we would design if we could.
We were an early adopter of the Profoto B1, then the B2, and we are currently long-term testing B10s as well. And while we love these battery-powered studio lights they have one painful drawback for our use case.
Kim and I are pet photographers. We are very-high end dog, cat, lamb, pig, what-ever-you-have pet photographers based in Manchester, New Hampshire, USA.
The problem with all battery-powered lights is frame rate - specifically - recycle time. Batteries simply can't recycle as fast as wall power. The B1 (and its successors) are awesome for quality of light, portability, and ease of use, but just can't measure up to AC wall power.
There are few studio photographers who need fast recycle time. Putting aside the show-offs, most shots in the studio are repeatable - a family can sit still for an extra moment to get a second (or third or fourth shot). A kitten or a puppy? Not so much.
Most studio lights out there recycle in about 2 seconds. For our world, we need something a bit faster. Enter the Profoto D2.
The way we use the light, in our real-world use case - this light is ideal.
Take a look at this iPhone video we created quickly this evening. Here is the set up:
Our camera is a Nikon D850 set to fire in CL drive mode (Continuous Low), which is 3 frame per second. The light is a Profoto D2 (1000ws model), set to power level 7.5.
Why 7.5? Because in our studio for our use, this is the typical setting we need. We are using the D2 on a 4x6' RFi softbox, and it will create about f/10 at ISO 100 at our working distance.
Power level 7.5 also happens to be the tipping point of where the light can keep up with 3 frames per second continuously.
When you watch the video notice the light keeps up! If you think the light is failing or not keeping up, think again - depending on how the video frame rates line up it can look like the light is misfiring, but we can assure you it isn't. The Profoto D2 is firing along as happy as a proverbial clam. (Side note: Profoto users know the light is firing fine by looking at the power level number while it is firing - if it isn't blinking, it is keeping up!)
We don't use this feature often.
Yes, we can create at 3 FPS with the Profoto D2. We don't use the feature every day - or even often - but when we do need the fast recycle time, it truly can make magic happen.
And that is the point of this post.
For a working studio animal photographer, frame rate is important. Once is a while we have a pet that isn't as 'cooperative' as others and that ideal moment is fleeting. In those cases a fast frame rate can truly help us create more and better images. Which brings us to the point: if this studio light can push even one session from the "average" to "awesome" category, the light will pay for itself - literally. One session.
Recycle time isn't the only reason.
There are a range of reasons why the Profoto D2 is the ideal studio light for us. Color consistency. Build quality. Ecosystem of products. US-based warranty repair. And - last but not least - a simple to use transmitter. We could gush all day, but we are sure you would grow weary of us.
Why this blog post?
We aren't sponsored by Profoto. (hey, Profoto - why is that? Is it because we don't wear trendy hats or something?) We wrote this post to share our rationale because we are asked often why we went Profoto when there are cheaper alternatives. Now we can just point them to this post. Easy!
One final thought:
Stop worrying about what a piece of equipment costs. Seriously. I would encourage small business owners to spend time thinking about the income side of their business equation. No business has ever "saved" their way into prosperity. They become profitable because they create value for this customers, and it the world of photography, it is through service. The Profoto D2 is the right tool for the job. Anything less is....less. Taken over the lifespan of the light, its cost is negligible. Did our wallet notice when we converted to Profoto? Certainly. But you all know the saying - buy once, cry once.
Bud Thorpe and Kimberly Buccheri are the owners of Kimberly Sarah Photography, a lucury pet photography studio in Manchester, New Hampshire, USA. They are also run The Master Lighting Course. You can meet them in person at the Animal Image Makers Conference in Minneapolis Minnesota, USA in April 2020 where they are speaking twice: once giving their hands on lighting workshop, and again speaking about this luxury business model.
Bud is a portrait artist, photographer, and educator with a gallery and studio in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He and his wife Kimberly Buccheri are the authors of The Master Lighting Course.
© Kimberly Sarah Photography, LLC
40 Pleasant Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801