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Accessories Reviews

Profoto D1 Studio Kit Review

Mike Hagen (Mike_Hagen)

Keywords: lighting, non_nikon, profoto

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For more than four decades, Profoto has been manufacturing some of the highest quality lighting equipment known to the professional photography market. I had always heard that their gear was top-notch but it wasn’t until I actually tested Profoto’s newest product, the Profoto D1 Studio 3 Head Kit, that I really came to appreciate what fine lighting equipment can do for a photographer.

There is a video of the review at the end of the article.



A Profoto head viewed from front



The setup of the Profoto D1 Studio Kit


About ten days ago, Profoto shipped their newest kit out for me to test in the real world. The D1 Studio 3 Head Kit includes one D1 Air 1000Ws monolight, two D1 Air 500Ws monolights, two speedrings, two softboxes and one D1 10-degree grid. All of the gear stows nicely in the included trolley bag, which has durable ball-bearing wheels and skid plates on the base. The whole kit is designed with efficiency in mind so you can take it on the road with no hassle.

The test kit arrived just two hours before I was leaving to photograph a fundraising event. I decided to take the Profoto D1 Studio Kit with me and set up a photo studio on location to take portraits of the fundraiser guests. Since I didn’t have any time to familiarize myself with the system, I was a bit nervous that I wouldn’t be able to pull off my photo shoot. Just in case, I brought along my full ensemble of Nikon CLS flashes as a back-up.

The fundraising event was at the Tacoma Museum of Glass, so I staked out a location in front of the museum’s hot shop, which had a very interesting brushed steel background. I knew this backdrop would be bright and shiny which was exactly the look I was after for these images.

An assistant and I setup the lighting equipment in approximately 15 minutes. I used the 1000Ws monolight for the key, and one of the 500Ws monolights for the fill. I set up the third 500Ws light for the background and had it fire directly on the brushed steel to make it appear bright in the final images.

My assistant and I fired off a few test shots for the light meter and then we were ready to begin taking pics of all the guests. I utilized the D1 Air Remote system to control each of the heads independently. The D1 Air Remote allows full control of up to six different groups of flashes within a single channel. In the case of this kit, you’ll be using three groups, but the ability to use up to six total groups means you’ll be able to easily expand your Profoto lighting equipment in the future.



Sample shot using the kit -  1



Sample shot using the kit - 2



I programmed the monolights for Group A (key), Group B (fill), and Group C (background). Adjusting power output for each flash head was very simple and was accomplished by pushing a few buttons on the D1 Air transmitter. The transmitter mounts to the camera’s hotshoe and operated on two AAA batteries. It is lightweight and unobtrusive, so doesn’t get in the way of your shooting.

The shots from the fundraiser turned out very well. My initial fears were absolutely unfounded which is a true testament to the ease of operation and overall quality of the Profoto equipment. The equipment performed flawlessly and allowed me to focus on my job – taking photos. There wasn’t a single glitch or failure in hundreds and hundreds of shots. The Profoto gear was reliable, consistent, and excellent.




Sample shot using the kit - 3




Sample shot using the kit - 4



(1 Vote )
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Originally written on April 2, 2012

Last updated on January 24, 2021

Mike Hagen Mike Hagen (Mike_Hagen)

Expert photography teacher

Gig Harbor, USA
Basic, 149 posts


Bernard Frazier (PhotoGuy40) on August 12, 2012

Love your review. I actually have an elinchrom rx300 and several rotolux soft boxes and was considering selling everything for the D1 kit.. Is the D1 quality that much better?? Thanks Bernard

Robert Horner (Broadway Bob) on May 3, 2012

Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014warded for Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017

I fully agree with Mike's assessment of the Profoto D1 system. I was able to get hold of the free demo loaner system (2 days only) which had 2 heads, 500Ws each, two umbrellas and the Air system. All I can say is "Wow!". I had never used a Profoto system, but had this up and running including the wireless control in about 15 minutes. Performance was flawless. The design is clean, compact, and exudes quality. This system is definitely on my Christmas list! (if I can wait that long)!

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