The NEW Profoto Pro D3 – First take

 In News, Profoto

We are very fortunate to have established strong relationships in our photo marketplace. As such, we usually receive products to test well before they are introduced to the general public. The Profoto D3’s arrived last week and we were thrilled to be able to put them through their paces as soon as we could. Capture integration has many large customers that have literally helped shape this product into what it is. There has been a need for features sets of the D3 for our customer that require extremely high volume flash output or color and output consistency. So let’s look at what our customers have been demanding.


Just looking at the new design you can tell from the outside that these new heads are a step above its predecessors. The new addition of a large handle and the improvements on the head connector jump out at you. When we sell the B10x heads, we ask the customer if they will be using anything larger than a 3′ Octabank. If they say yes, we then recommend looking at the B1X as the larger more robust head connector will hold that larger size box. With the new D3 design, the sky is the limit. The connector is more than twice the size with geared locks. It will surely be the standard that all head connectors are judged by from this point forward.

But now let’s get to the inside of the pack. The new capacitors added to the D3 are manufactured to last 2.5X longer than the D2. Then add a reinforced tube electrode to the recipe. This new combination means we can expect a 5X return on flashes without downtime. For our customers that want to just set up the lights and never think about them again, these new features mean that the units can be in production 5x longer and working seamlessly in your background than the units before them.

It might sound simple, but the D3 also has a user replaceable long life quartz flashtube. Needing to send a complete flash head to service just to replace the tube is frustrating. Extra heads need to be purchased just to keep production rolling when heads ship to be serviced. Being able to replace the tube yourself is a key to higher production and a must.

And finally, the addition of a 56w CoB LED means less heat and better efficiency. This means never having to swap modeling lamps again and being able to change the color temp of my continuous light to accurate daylight rather than inaccurate and inefficient tungsten.

Simply stated, the D3 will increase production with less downtime. This also means less cost of repairs, replacement parts, and shipping. This is what the high volume studio requires.


Testing output

The second area that I wanted to delve into is power. It’s awesome to have 1250 watt seconds in a monobloc head. We have been complaining about the demise of the power pack but those days are over. We now have more power in a single head than a full Acute 1200 pack and head combined. While we all can read the specs, trusting the manufacturer and then just regurgitating the marking hype back to the customer is not who we are at CI. We need to understand the product fully so we are able to tell our customers the truth about it. And how do we do this. We put the product in our hands and test it!

So my choice was to grab our Pro 11 and our Acute 2400r and put the D2 1250 to its test. Let’s compare our packs to this big guy “on a stick”. My parameters were:

  • Profoto D3 1250 head – in ECO and Boost modes
  • Profoto Acute 2400r with acute/D4 head
  • Profoto Pro-11 with Pro head
  • Profoto standard zoom reflector – same one used on each head
  • Sekonic L-358 Flashmeter at 10″ from each tube
  • Each was tested 3 times per move and the results were averaged
  • Each head was fired at maximum power output
 D3D3Acute 2400r Pro 11
Zoom PositionECO ModeBoost Mode

Before we dig into these deeply let’s discuss one big factor in design differences in these heads. Profoto heads for packs have an exposed tube, dome, and modeling lamp that extends out from the front of the head. As opposed to the Profoto B and D units that have a protected tube and lamp that sits behind a frosted glass front. The B and D head also have a “built in” reflector that creates a different look. Each have their advantages. The exposed tube allows the light to be focused more precisely or it allows the beams to wrap around a light shaping tool to help soften the subject. This allows those heads much more flexibility in shaping light. The B and D tube design adds more inherent focus and power to a compact head. And it protects them from inadvertent bumps while adding an accessory. These difference show themselves in the chart above. The D is much more consistent but less focusable than the single had and packs. Just something to be aware of.

Profoto Pro D3 Light - artemis-piu-8-large

ECO vs Boost modes

Why do I need these and what are they they? If you have been using ANY monobloc head over the years then you know that they ALL suffer from the same problem. Consistency, Consistency, Consistency! When you are shooting high volume images you can see 1/10th of a stop density changes or 200 Kelvin color shifts immediately on the computer screen. They scream at you from the monitor. And our testing showed these results in spades. The D3 in ECO mode was by far the most consistent in testing any of these three systems. Yes, more consistent in accuracy than the Pro 11! You can actually hear the difference audibly. Internal controls to keep color and density consistency are so important to our high volume users or any photographer that cares about quality. And the D3 in ECO mode successfully passed this test.

Now, when you just want the most power out of the head you can switch to BOOST and quickly get 1/3 of a stop more power out of the same head. You are pushing the head to its max output and it works. It will no longer have the output consistency as you are sacrificing that for power. But if you just want more output, the D3 1250 actually gives you more power output than a 2400 w/s pack with a defocused reflector. Is that fair? No, it’s foolish as it only tells a portion of the picture. A focused Pro 11 and head combination yields a full stop of power over the D3 1250. But again, that is only a portion of the results as well. So these tests should be looked at as whole and if you do, you will find the differences interesting.

Pack vs a Monobloc

How much power do you use today? Do you shoot your power pack at full power or do you usually use it at lower settings? I think it is important to know that a New Profoto D3 1250 is, on average, the same output of your Pro 11 on a setting of 9.0. That means that two D3 1250 heads will give you the same output as your Pro 11 with 2 heads attached at max output. Hmmmm, now isn’t that interesting?

The weight of the D3 1250 is just about 9lbs. The weight of a pro head is 1/3rd that at 3lbs. I can tell you for certain that I would much rather have 3lbs on the end of a boom than 9lbs. Needing to counterweight a head on a boom means having equal weight at the other end. 18lbs on a boom just sounds dangerous. I lean heavily towards a pack and a head system for this need.

This test literally showed us how an exposed tube gives us much more ability to use reflectors and flexibly control my light output. Wether I need to soften, wrap, or focus the light I have more latitude with a head and a pack combination.

With these things said, I think the new D3 Features give packs and heads a run for the money. The consistency, the power per head, the cost savings in my studio. All of these areas are to be considered on where I invest into my next lighting system.

And now you can come test these units at Capture Integration or we can send them to you to test in your high volume studio with our “try before you buy” program.

Product Name Pro-D3 750Pro-D3 1250Pro-11 + ProHead Plus
Max energy750 Ws1250 Ws2400 Ws
Energy range11 f-stops (0.8-750 Ws)11 f-stops (1.3-1250 Ws)11 f-stops (2.4-2,400 Ws)
Energy control increments0.1 f-stops (0.1-10)0.1 f-stops (0.1-10)0.1 f-stops
Recycling time230V/ 50Hz: 0.01-0.5 sec 200V /50Hz: 0.01-0.5 sec 120V/ 60Hz: 0.01-0.8 sec 100V/ 50Hz: 0.01-1.0 sec230V/ 50Hz: 0.01-0.8 sec 200V/ 50Hz: 0.01-0.8 sec 120V/ 60Hz: 0.01-1.2 sec 100V/ 50Hz: 0.01-1.5 sec0.02-0.7 s
Energy stabilityEco mode: 1/600 s (10) - 1/5500 s (0.1) Boost mode: 1/600 s (10) - 1/5500 s (0.1) Freeze mode: 1/600 s (10) - 1/15900 s (0.1)Eco mode: 1/400 s (10) - 1/4000 s (0.1) Boost mode: 1/400 s (10) - 1/4000 s (0.1) Freeze mode: 1/400 s (10) - 1/12800 s (0.1)± 1/20 f-stop
Flash duration t0.5Eco : 1/1900s (10) - 1/7000s (0.1)
Boost: 1/1900s (10) - 1/7000s (0.1)
Freeze: 1/1900s (10) - 1/75000s (0.1)
Eco: 1/1400s (10) - 1/5000s (0.1)
Boost: 1/1400s (10) - 1/5000s (0.1)
Freeze: 1/1400s (10) - 1/62000s (0.1)
Normal: 1/800s (2400Ws) - 1/12000s (2.4Ws)
Freeze: 1/1000s (2400Ws) - 1/80000s (2.4Ws)
Color temperatureEco mode: 6100K +-100K
Boost mode: 6100K +-100K
Freeze mode: 6200K (10) -9000K (0.1)
Eco mode: 6100K +-100K
Boost mode: 6100K +-100K
Freeze mode: 6200K (10) -9000K (0.1)
Not Specified by Manufacturer
Max f-stop @ 2m / 100 ISOBare: 22 6/10 Magnum: 45 4/10 OCF Magnum: 32 9/10Bare: 32 2/10 Magnum: 64 4/10 OCF Magnum: 45 7/10128 with ProHead Plus and Magnum Reflector
Beam angle65°65°Not Found
Field angle106°106°Not Found
Continuous light
Lamp typeLEDLEDHalogen
Max power56W56W500W ( PLEASE CHECK )
Dimming range100-1%100-1%Not Found
Color temperature5600K +-100K5600K +-100KNot Found
Color rendering Index (CRI)Over 92Over 92Not Found
Max luminous flux (lumen)6,300 lm6,300 lmNot Found
Max illuminance @ 1m (lux)Bare: 2380 lx | Magnum: 16540 lx | OCF Magnum: 25530 lxBare: 2380 lx | Magnum: 16540 lx | OCF Magnum: 25530 lxNot Found
Beam angle65°65°Not Found
Field angle105°105°Not Found
Wireless connectivity
Built-in connectivityProfoto AirXProfoto AirXProfoto AirX
Frequency band2.4 GHz2.4 GHz2.4 GHz
Supported Profoto Air functionsSync, TTL, HSS, Remote control (Air 1 and Air 2)Sync, TTL, HSS, Remote control (Air 1 and Air 2)Sync, TTL, HSS, Remote Control
No of Air channels100 (1-100)100 (1-100)100 (1-100)
No of groups per Air channel Supported apps for Bluetooth devices6 (A-F)6 (A-F)6, (TTL: 3 (A-C), manual: 3 (D-F))
Supported apps for Bluetooth devicesProfoto Camera and Profoto Control appsProfoto Camera and Profoto Control appsProfoto Camera and Profoto Control
Wireless operating rangew/Profoto remotes: 0.5-100m (1.5-330ft)
w/Bluetooth devices: 0.1-30m (0.3-90ft)
* in optimal conditions up to 300m (1000ft)
w/Profoto remotes: 0.5-100m (1.5-330ft)
w/Bluetooth devices: 0.1-30m (0.3-90ft)
"w/Profoto remotes: 0.5-100m (1.5-330ft)
w/Bluetooth devices: 0.1-30m (0.3-90ft)
* in optimal conditions up to 300m (1000ft)"
Sync1 x 3.5 mm socket (mini-phone)1 x 3.5 mm socket (mini-phone)1/4 socket
OtherUSB-C service portUSB-C service portUSB 2.0 Type B
Power supplyAC 100-240V 50/60HzAC 100-240V 50/60Hz100-127 V / 200-240 V, 50/60 Hz (nominal)
Mains fuse requirement10 Ampere10 AmpereAuto fuse characteristic C 13A / 200-240V, 15A / 100-127V

Firmware updateVia BluetoothVia Bluetoothvia USB 2.0 Type B or Bluetooth
Stand adapterYes, for standard 5/8 studsYes, for standard 5/8 studs0 °C to +35 °C / 32 °F to 95 °F
Umbrella mountYes (in stand adapter)Yes (in stand adapter)Yes
Operating temperature0 °C to +35 °C | +32 °F to +95 °F0 °C to +35 °C | +32 °F to +95 °F0 °C to +35 °C / 32 °F to 95 °F
Storage temperatureStore in normal indoor conditionsStore in normal indoor conditionsStore in normal indoor conditions
Width13.0 cm (5.12 in)13.0 cm (5.12 in)21 cm / 8.3 in
Length34.5 cm (13.58 in)34.5 cm (13.58 in)29 cm / 11.4 in
Height20.0 cm (7.87 in)20.0 cm (7.87 in)30 cm / 11.8 in
Weight3.6 kg (7.94 lbs)4.1kg (9.04 lbs)13.2 kg / 29.1 lbs – 770.846.5223

If you would like us to conduct any specific test that would allow you to make a better informed decision on your next purchase, then please reach out to us. Conducting tests allows you to be an informed consumer and pushes us to know the products we sell better than our competitor. Please reach out to us.


Profoto Pro D3

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