A Mobile Strobe with a Flash Duration of 1/25,000?!! Yes, Please.

I know the title of this article is a bit wordy, but I didn't know how to describe this beast of a lighting system in fewer words. 1/25,000th of a second! As you can see in the video, the new Profoto Pro-b4 1000 Air turns water into glass. It negates gravity. There is nothing you can't shoot with this rig. Plus it's field-ready, running off of a fast-recharging battery pack. It's almost enough to get this speedlite-only shooter to convert completely. If I could only scrape up the $10k that I would need.

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tompano1's picture

OR you could just gang up your speedlites set them to a low setting and then send me 5 k for the tip! :)

Accordning to B&Hs spec page for the Nikon SB910 it's lowest flash duration is: 1/38500 sec. at M 1/128 output.

Full list:
1/880 sec. at M 1/1 (full) output

1/1100 sec. at M 1/2 output

1/2550 sec. at M 1/4 output

1/5000 sec. at M 1/8 output

1/10000 sec. at M 1/16 output

1/20000 sec. at M 1/32 output

1/35700 sec. at M 1/64 output

1/38500 sec. at M 1/128 output

Emil Nyström's picture

Well... Since youd be needing about 40 SB 910 to get the same amount of power and versatility at 1/25,000. I'm guessing you have to send everyone who fell for your tip some money ;)

tompano1's picture

 Well i've never really felt a need for that much power to be honest especially in a studio situation where you can control the ambient light. I'm certain that there is a use though but I'm fairley certain that you can replicate the images seen in the trailer with about five or so speedlites.

BUT if you need a 1000 watt flash with a flash duration that quick then sure.

Emil Nyström's picture

The only time you need that much power is if you need to overpower ambient light durying a sunny day, Sure.

BUT. I'm pretty certain any working commercial photographer shooting sports would prefer one profoto head over the handling of 5 speedlites.

tompano1's picture

Sure and I would prefer a Pagani Huayra over my old Renault Clio as a mode of transport. :)

All I'm saying is that I think they are a bit overpriced and that you could probably take the exact same pictures with far less.

Also I replying to this statement more than anything else.

"It’s almost enough to get this speedlite-only shooter to convert
completely. If I could only scrape up the $10k that I would need."

Spy Black's picture

 Yeah really, it doesn't take much, and it will be cheaper yet if you use Yongnuo speedlites, 40 of these will only set you back $1700: http://www.amazon.com/Yongnuo-Flash-Speedlite-Yn-460ii-Pentax/dp/B003IZ9XTI

Carbon 43's picture

The more obvious and practical answer is two Einsteins and a vagabond. 

Claudette's picture

 wow you wise. 

Thomas Langley's picture

How about this: http://highspeedflash.com/flashpro.cfm - 1/28,000th of a second :)

Michael Miller's picture

Or you can buy these. The Profoto stuff is still dope.


Serge Yurovsky's picture

sorry, but how does this reconcile with much slower sync speeds on most DSLRs?

Sergio Kanazawa's picture

You can use your fastest shutter on your camera and still get the flash pulse.

Ryan Jensen's picture

You kill the ambient with a small aperture and the fastest shutter speed your camera can sync, then set the strobe duration to 1/25,000 second.  Your shutter will be open for 1/200 or 1/250 second, but it will only see light for 1/25,000 second.

When using flash while shooting action its the duration of the strobe that freezes the action, not the shutter speed. Faster the flash duration, less motion blur.

Jens Marklund's picture

Well, it also depends on the ambient light. If you don't have a fast enough flash sync, and you meeter for the ambient - then a slow flash sync speed will cause some light trails at the same time as the flash will freeze the object. I mean, you'll get light trails with a 1 sec exposure - but still with a 1/250 - that slight cause of blur would look weird on the subject if you view at 100% right?

nospam11's picture

there is a nice video from, i think it was alien bees or einsteins.. who do the same for a fraction of the profoto price.

video is a year old or so.. also about water effects. some flower and a womans face as i remember.
profoto is way overpriced if you ask me.... and im a pro studio photog.

Mike Last's picture

I believe the video you are referring to was Broncolor vs. Profoto, so price was not a concern. 


Plenty of comments about the video and Alien Bees on the F-Stoppers post - http://fstoppers.com/video-how-much-does-flash-duration-affect-photo-sha...

Conrad Norton's picture

For a moment I thought I was watching a trailer for G.I. Joe, then realized it was an ad for a light.

Looks fast though.

Adam Temple's picture

Why not just use continuous studio lights and save a couple of grand?

Mike Last's picture

Something this blog post missed... the Pro B4 1000 only achieves 1/25,000 between 4.5-4.7 on the pack. That is about 25Ws... and it's measured at T0.5. That's why most of the wakeboard shoot was in the dark, so they didn't need to overpower any ambient. 

Straight from the B4 manual - "The shortest flash duration is obtained when the Mode Control [13] is selected to FREEZE mode and the energy is set 4.7 f-stop (25.4 Ws). The flash duration in this setting is 1/25,000s."

John_Skinner's picture

Once water is frozen in time..... it's frozen. It doesn't get more frozen with the more money you spend.

That Russian guy that shoots these kind of images has been using a $499.00 head from Buff to do this for years. So what's the point? 10K to gather a nominal amount of extra light you may, or may not use?

I could grab a lot of PCB E640's for 10K

Joetwopointoh's picture

Curious about the mtbf.

Henning Ras's picture

The same unit that Chase Jarvis uses at the ski body boarding ....


Quentin Decaillet's picture

Not quite… those were Broncolor Scoro A4s which are meant to be used in a studio. The Scoro line isn't a battery system but rather a powerpack system. Hence the generator you can see and hear in the video ;) CJ has worked with Bron for quite some time now I believe

Jimmy Schaefer's picture

Light is faster then sound, so I have a question for you all. 

Man A is traveling at the speed of light to my house. 
Man B is traveling at the speed of sound to my house.

Which man will I hear arrive to my house first? (Keep in mind they are both starting at the same point and ending at the same point)

Assuming they are far enough away for you to distinguish the difference between the two arrivals and that it is possible for Man A to reach the speed of light without his mass becoming infinite then you would naturally hear Man A first.

Quentin Decaillet's picture

The Pro-B4 isn't all that new…It's been around since last fall. I think it was announced at Photokina last year and available since. Anyways, at that kind of price point I'd surely go with the Bron Move 1200 rather than any Profoto. 
I must say, I'm an Elinchrom user and have been for a few years. I love their gear but Broncolor as such an awesome light of products (especially the reflectors…)! I wish I had the money to make (and justify) the switch.
Here's an article about the Bron Move: http://www.mikelastphoto.com/blog/2013/02/testing-the-new-broncolor-move... It might help those who think a SB910 could be as useful as a battery powered strobe such as the Pro-B4… Go try use your SB910 on a bright sunny day up the mountain and let me know how that works for you… Oh… and no, a battery powered strobe isn't meant to be used inside a studio, hence the battery…

damianvines's picture

You do not get 1/25,000 of a second at full power, you get 1/2,200 of a sec at full power. No better than a Speedlight.

damianvines's picture

Granted Quentin, you'd need about 6 SB-910's to equal the 1,000 watt seconds of the Pro-B4 pack, but this article was boasting about the flash duration, not max power. There needs to be more data to know if at 160 watt seconds (that of a SB-910 at full power) whether this pack would be "faster" from a duration standpoint at that same power. I'm not knocking it, I love ProFoto's gear, I just want to know the facts, I really want to know at "equal power ranges" is this pack actually faster that a speed-light? From what I can gather specs wise: To get an SB-910 to 1/20,000th of sec. you're at 1/32nd power or 5 watt seconds. So based on any published specs, what is the watt seconds power at 1/20,000th of a second on the Pro-B4? I can assure you it's not anywhere near the full 1,000 watt second power rating. But perhaps it is more than 5 watt seconds, I just want to know. :-)

Quentin Decaillet's picture

The manual says: Flash duration in Normal mode: 1/5,500 – 1/2000 s // in Freeze mode: 1/25,000 – 1/11,000 s. While not extremely good, it's still decent duration at full power.
But I much prefer the way the Ranger RX works. Meaning the shortest duration is at full power. It's way more useful for outdoor sport and action photography IMO :)

Paul Davies's picture


Marios Karampalis's picture

To compare the time you must know the T1 of the battery if it is larger than T1:2000 it is good if it is 3000 you can do decent splash photography the best is 4000.
Profoto says T 0,5= 1/25.000 tha is more or less T1= 8000 inpressive!!!!

damianvines's picture

Marios, I'm assuming you're talking about how fast the capacitor can fully deplete itself? This still does not answer the question about at what power or watt seconds you get the fast depletion or flash duration. The speed at which the capacitor can deplete itself is linked to how much power you're asking of it.

Matthew Wagg's picture


R. J. Kern's picture

It's too bad that at full power, the flash duration is shorter than 1/1600 sync with the PhaseOne IQ back and a leaf shutter lens. That means that I'd have to use it no more than at 1/4 power in super bright sunny conditions which almost negates the super fast flash duration. Booo.