It was back around October 2008 when Profoto launched the Pro8A and we were all able to stop working in 1/6th stops and worrying about whether the new assistant had accidentally set the pack to auto bracket.
Eight years then of working with the 8A a flash pack which, for most, was a breeze to operate and delivered all the improvements and refinements on the 7A we could have asked for. Now with the launch of the Pro 10 we have not just the successor to the 8A but a new contender for the prize in the flash duration battle.
The new user interface is quick to learn and operating the packs is easy to get to grips with. There is enough similarity with the Pro8A to enable anyone familiar with 8As to quickly grasp the Pro10. We like the touch control on the Pro10 finding it an improvement on the 8A in terms of speed of operation and being able to observe the settings at a glance. The ‘model’ and ‘head’ on/off buttons for each output are well positioned, you find them straight away and they are simple and quick to use.
Overall the design of the pack is pleasing, the power controls easy to use and precise in operation. Personally I like to have the outputs labelled (A & B for example) it saves confusion on a busy set. The pack feels a little heavier than the 8A and although it is dumpier in form it is actually a little larger and heavier than the 8A. The handles are well placed though and it isn’t unwieldy.
I was disappointed to see only one 1/4” jack sync input. Call me old fashioned but I still sometimes like to hard wire my flash packs and I found the double jack sockets on previous Profoto models very useful for linking the packs together.
As for the important stuff, flash duration is extremely impressive and as expected, outperforms any other studio generator that we have used. As Profoto always quote the T0.5 figures (1/80,000 in this case) it is difficult to compare to the T0.1 figure (1/10,000) that is generally accepted as the shortest duration for a studio pack until now. Although we had limited time for our test we were able to conclude that the Pro10 freezes motion better than any other pack. What is not clear is the relationship between flash duration and power output.
For the 8A Profoto did produce an accurate chart of what duration to expect for each power setting and you can find this stuck on the side of some packs. It would be great if they would consider publishing T0.1 figures for the Pro 10.
As is usually the case when working with very short flash durations there is a considerable colour shift when switching between normal and freeze mode, the light becomes a lot colder.
When you are working at the edge of your equipments' capabilities and often having to squeeze an extra 1/3 stop out of your lighting it is really useful to have an immediate and exact understanding of how much that 1/3 stop will cost you in flash duration or the compromise you are making in colour temperature. Another factor is that sometimes we want a little motion blur in the image. If we know what the flash duration will be we can fine-tune that without endless testing.
Recycle time is also very impressive and even in normal mode at full power its possible to keep pace with medium format backs. We haven’t even tried using the Pro10 and a DSLR synced with TTL but the 50 frames a second Burst mode outperforms anything else we have used so far opening up new possibilities for high frame rate shooting and animated sequences or flash-lit short moving image pieces both of which we have been producing and experimenting with.
Overall we are very impressed with the Pro 10, a worthy successor to the much loved Pro8 and we very much look forward to getting to know the new pack a lot better.