posted on Nov 23, 2009 at 7:25PM
Head-2-Head Lighting Review: Profoto Pro-8a 2400 Air vs. Broncolor Scoro A4S
Reflector PerformanceBy Ted Dillard
Let’s look for a moment at the standard reflectors. The two systems ship with heads that give you control over the spread of the light-focusing reflectors. The Broncolor system does this by a rack that moves the light assembly - strobe tube and all, in and out of the head. The Profoto system uses a simple spring clamp on the reflectors; loosen the clamp and slide the reflector from front to back to focus. It’s a cheap and workable solution, and gives Profoto the ability to offer reflector focusing for virtually every head they sell.
The Broncolor system is fairly complex and expensive to manufacture - and focusing is not universal. Add to that the head sleeves - the little cans that protect the flash tubes when you pack them up – that will not fit on the head when the tubes are focused all the way out, and you have a less than perfect solution. It is, however, a solution they’ve seen fit to use for decades now.
Since we’re talking about reflectors, the two systems attach in very different ways. The Broncolor uses a bayonet-mount with an interlock. The bayonet has a one-way fit. That is, there is a small tab and a large tab, and they have to fit into their respective slots. This is, again, a design Broncolor has used for years, and is needlessly complex, expensive, and slow in actual use. Compare it to the Profoto system - a simple sleeve that can slide over the head in any attitude. There’s nothing to line up, nothing to key and un-key. Offhand, it takes about half the time for an experienced assistant to unpack a Profoto head and set it up with a reflector than a Broncolor. This is something that in either case takes very little time but when it’s repeated many times a day, for many, many days? It makes a big difference, both in the satisfaction of the user and the lifespan of the heads and reflectors.
Let’s look at the actual light spread from the two standard reflectors. We shot these at full wide, medium, and full spot pointed at a white wall. Here’s what we got.
The Broncolor reflectors are much more consistent in the quality of light they give. You’re getting essentially the same pool of light, the same edges, the same spread, just a little bigger and smaller. The Profoto, however, is very different. The range of spread is considerably bigger. The quality of the light is very different, too. At full-wide it’s a very even coverage for a single-head source. At full-spot it’s very similar to the spot on the Broncolor.
This is an interesting point. If you want a very specific light quality and just want to be able to focus it in and out a bit, the Broncolor is the head to use. If you want a single head and reflector that will let you make everything from a tight pool of light to a big even wash, then it’s hands down the Profoto. It really depends on your requirements, taste and shooting style.
One other point before we move on. The Broncolor reflectors take the more expensive, and somewhat non-standard 12” grid spots. The Profoto reflectors have now been improved to accept grid spots (the older versions could not - you needed a special reflector) and they take the cheaper, standard 8” grid. Again, some like the larger grid spots, some even like the 22” disks, but for a standard reflector on a standard head, we’d lean to the 8”diameter.