4 reasons why Profoto B1X is the go-to action flash | Profoto (UK)

4 reasons why Profoto B1X is the go-to action flash

18 May, 2021

Written by: Olle Nordell

The Profoto B1X is described by many action photographers as the ultimate go-to flash, when you absolutely have to rely on simplicity, speed, power, and rugged ability to take on rough locations. Shoot after shoot. For photographers Jesper Grønnemark, Denis Klero, Kelly Pratt and Ian Kredich - the B1X is the one they trust.

The Profoto B1X really symbolizes the direction that photography has taken in the last decade. Talent is pouring into the industry from all directions, and old conventions are out the door. Creativity paired with technology is taking image creating to new levels, and definitely to new locations. Competition is tougher, and as photographers are becoming increasingly bolder and experimental – demand on what their gear can produce is intense. Many of the world’s leading action photographers have an amazing range of powerful flashes to choose from before any given mission, but they keep reaching for their B1X. Here is a full break-down of why pros never leave home without it. 

1. It’s fast – You’ll never miss the action

Action sports and speed are synonymous. And that goes for whoever tries to keep up with these athletes. One of them is professional photographer Denis Klero, who is regularly out in the field - squeezing everything out of his B1X’s when capturing moments that last literally fractions of a second.

”Athletes’ physical resources are limited and you don't have the privilege of time when shooting action.”

For Denis, it is extremely important to minimize all situations when your equipment becomes the reason for a ruined photo. You don’t want to waste good tricks on a flash that won’t perform. To catch the exact moment, reliability and accuracy is key, and this is where the short flash duration of the Profoto B1X comes into play. With a flash duration of up to 1/19 000s of a second, the B1X is able to freeze the moment, and control the shot, however brief it is.

The B1X has a designated ’Freeze Mode’, which makes sure that the unit maxes out its flash duration. HSS and 20 flashes per second really opens up for more options in creating sports images, especially as ambient light changes. For a creator such as Denis, this is totally in line with his process - as he always makes the photo in his head before even choosing a location. Once he’s in the field ready to execute the idea, the B1X has the capacity to support him, whatever the light, athlete or weather throws at him. Making sure never to miss the action.

2. It’s powerful – Always enough power on-location

Shooting sports outdoors is always full of surprises. The variables aren't only about being in the right spot, shooting from the best angle and capturing the exact moment of greatness. Light can be a loose gun, with the sun blasting or weather turning everything flat, resulting in contrasts and shadows annoyingly toying with your vision. With many years inside the ropes of sports photography, Jesper Grønnemark knows that full control is the only way to be ready for any situation. 

”I capture athletes in the zone, doing extraordinary things. This is the moment I must control with a powerful flash.”

Jesper’s style of shooting often includes over-powering the sun. With the Profoto B1X’s 500 Ws, adjustable over a 9 f-stop power range, he is able to underexpose the sky and make the subject pop by balancing the perfect blend of ambient light and flash, and fill the shadows. But for his recent shoot in a moody bunker, the 500 Ws brought enough juice to also create in darkness.

To accentuate the vibe, he added colored gels, made for Profoto's OCF series. Plus, the built-in LED modeling light was great at letting him preview the scene with a sense of how lights, colors and shadows would behave. At the end of the day, the Profoto B1X in combination with a single light modifier and the Profoto Air Remote TTL is Jesper’s preferred setup that always gives him enough power, in any situation.

3. It's easy to use - Uncomplicated and cordless

Professional photographer duo Kelly Pratt and Ian Kreidich has built their brand around dance. As for any action or sports photographer, there are tons of knowledge and experience going into each shot, in order to make it authentic. Not only do they have to master their gear, understanding of light and photography skills – they need to master a dancer’s technique as well, to see what’s what and when to expect it.

With that amount of moving parts on a shoot, they have decided to go with the super easy-to-use B1X. With intuitive controls, simple menus, large grips, and lack of irritating cords - they are free to fully focus on their vision and the image. The rechargeable Li-ion battery lasts for 325 flashes at full power, and is swapped in seconds when needed. 

”The number one advantage is the time savings. We don't have to concentrate on how to use the flash, or explaining it to assistants. Our minds can stay on the shots.”

This simplicity also extends to the fact that a powerful flash quickly takes care of control. Whether shooting wide open under the sun, or in a dark dance studio - their Profoto B1X together with just a simple light shaping tool, will put them in control of the situation. Again, making them free to engage in creativity, not technology.

”Flash vs ambient comes down to control. We have a limited amount of control over ambient light. And the extra control with flash allows us to spend less time worrying, and more time getting the shot.”

4. It’s robust – It can master all tough conditions

Getting yourself safe and sound into awkward and uncomfortable locations is one thing, but also securing that delicate electronics make the trip in one piece is a whole different story. This is mainly the reason why professional action shooters are so impressed (and relieved) by the Profoto B1X. It handles itself in rough conditions, and has earned its spot as the number one away-from-home flash. When Jesper Grønnemark is creating sports images, he relies on the gear being able to put up with dirt, snow, sand, rain, hail and wind. This ruggedness is built into the B1X from the ground up, making sure that detail quality is unparalleled, ergonomics well-balanced and that exposed areas are designed with the best materials.

”Certainty is the number one advantage of robustness. Being sure that the gear is ready to go in all situations.”

Jesper, as most other professional photographers, doesn’t have an unlimited gear budget. But what he also knows, is that failing equipment can be costly. Not only in terms of money, but also in energy, inspiration and new opportunities. And not least the confidence to go back, and do it all over again. ”Quality flashes cost money but it’s all worth it.”

A sometimes forgotten advantage of a truly rugged, and battle-tested flash like the B1X, is that it also handles well with bigger and heavier modifiers. This opens for a wider range of light shaping tools that fit, and if you rent gear on location or need to rely on what you already have – the B1X will make it work.

Profoto B1X - hard facts for action photography
Flash duration in freeze mode: 1/1,000s - 1/19,000s
Recycling time: 0.1-1.9 (Quick bursts up to 20 flashes/second)
Battery: Rechargable Li-ion with 325 flashes at full power
Power: 500 Ws
Ergonomics   ✔️
HSS   ✔️
TTL    ✔️
Modeling light   ✔️

Written by: Olle Nordell

Products used in this story

OCF Zoom Reflector

Adds power to our flat fronted lights
£112.50

OCF Magnum Reflector

Adds maximum power to our flat fronted lights
£162.50

Umbrella Deep White

A versatile and zoomable umbrella for a softer light
From £149.17

OCF Beauty Dish White

A portable beauty dish for off-camera flashes
£149.17

OCF Softbox Octa

Ideal for flattering portraits, used with off-camera flashes
From £124.17

OCF II Grid & Gel Kit

For color balance and creativity.
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OCF II Gels

Be creative with color.
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Air Remote TTL

Wirelessly connects your AirTTL light with your camera
From £299.17