Gels have never really been my specialty. I love using off camera lighting and work out of a studio for a good majority of my work. But when it comes to gels, it’s not something that has ever really had a long term life in my equipment box. And that is because of the very nature of gels.

In general, I find gels to just be a messy situation. You buy a set of 8”x10” gels from your preferred store for $25, and in no time, colors go missing, nothing is ever labeled, colors used become bent and beat-up, difficult to use alongside modifiers, and the general experience seems to be more of a hassle than they’re worth. You see, I like my equipment and studio space to be clean. More often than not, the process of gelling is taking a piece of gaff tape, and haphazardly taping the gel to your light, and hoping it doesn’t fall off mid-shoot.

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Profoto quietly changed that at WPPI and created an easier solution to gelling your lights, by creating filter system along with a variety of filters that are labeled and custom cut to the system. At $59-$99, you’re able to get a nice booklet of gel colors ranging from CTO and cooling gels, to various blues, pinks, and other colors to add creativity to your lighting. But the beauty of this system really lies in its simplicity.

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For one, each gel is individually labeled, meaning you don’t need to double check if you’re using a full CTO gel verse a ½ CTO gel. Along with the label of color, you’re also given how much of a stop in light the gel will create, so if you’re at f/8 when metered bare, the gels will tell you exactly how much light they eat up, assuring your metering stays consistent and correct. These gels will eliminate the guessing game gels tend to bring into the studio, and in an elegant and simple solution.

And the book containing the gels is really nicely made. With a magnetic open and shut system, you don’t need to worry about gels falling out when in transport. The book also comes with plenty of space for additional gels to be added, and the filter holding system, while made of plastic, is well built and works wonderfully alongside their already popular gridding system.

Certainly there are some shortfalls to the system. For one, they only work with Profoto B1 and B2 lighting systems. So while the filter system isn’t terribly expensive ($59-$99 for a nice little filter booklet, mounting system, and  variety of gels), it will only be useful after you have yourself a somewhat expensive lighting kit in the Profoto B1 or B2 system. However, it works and works with an elegant splendor. The filter system is a nice change to the standard gel solution, and the booklet has plenty of space for all the organization you’d need for gels.

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However, I’ve found a nice money saving solution that you can use after already purchasing the Profoto gel system. The gels themselves can easily be traced, allowing you to create your own colors and variations using a popular Roscoe gel kit. While the hassle might be a bit much for most, it does give an option to those who prefer a specific color that Profoto doesn’t make. Additionally, you’ll find the beginner gel system comes without a red gel, which is a pretty important one in my eyes.

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The Profoto gel system comes in three different kits, the light correcting system, the color effects pack, and the starter kit system. The light correcting system is much like it sounds, with a variety of CTO and cooling gels to help better mimic natural color temperatures when shooting on-location. The color effects pack is a bunch of bolder colors, used for actual gelling of colors, such as blue, green, pink, yellow and red. The starter kit is sort of a grab bag of each, with some color correcting gels, as well as some more vibrant colors for creative lighting. Currently, I have the starter kit of gels, and they’re great. However, left out of the starter kit is a red gel, which I consider a pretty common gel color. Either way, I’ll be purchasing the Color Effects pack soon.

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So is the system worth it? If you have Profoto B1s or Profoto B2s, then absolutely. Profoto was able to finally able to create a system that makes sense for gels. I personally recommend the Starter kit, as it has many of the gels you’ll need for a one or two light setup. However, with the lack of a Red in the beginner kit, you’ll find yourself quickly adding the additional kits to your B&H shopping cart.

Profoto OCF Gel Systems
A Clean and Practical System for Gelling LightsWorks with Profoto's Grid SystemNice, Durable, BuildWell Organized and Thought Out System
It's Exclusive for the Profoto B1/B2 Lighting SystemsNo Way to Buy Individual ColorsThough Better, A bit More Expensive Than Competitors
9.4Great
Build Quality9.8
Ease of Use9.6
Variety of Uses9.3
Price Point8.5
Overall Appeal10
Reader Rating 16 Votes
7.1
  • Anthony

    Solid!
    First get my hands on some profoto’s.
    Then gels that i will never lose. 😀

  • Zach, I fully concur with your review. I love the gels and hated (and therefore avoided) gels on my profotos prior to the OCF ones due to the same reasons you list.

    As well as the B1s and B2s I can confirm (as I used them for 4 hours yesterday) they work great on the D1s too, just don’t put the model lights on the strobes and the gels and filter holders stay cool.

  • peety3

    They’re great if you want to gel a light, but if you want to gel a modifier, the functionality goes downhill. I wanted to gel a background that was lit with a Widezoom Reflector, and you can’t effectively combine a WR with the gel holder (sure, you can combine them, but it totally discards the broad even coverage of the WR with what amounts to a mini-snoot). I suspect the mini-snoot effect could hamper the smoothness of OCF softboxes, and it’s impossible to use on the ProFresnel Spot modifier (can’t reach inside, can’t feed the gel holder in through the light mount). I just cut a bunch of 5″ squares, grabbed a grease pencil to mark the gel color on each gel, and stash them in envelopes. Done! I make 4 squares to start, and can make 16 squares from a 20″x24″ gel sheet. A box of manila envelopes and they’re all sorted; a box of larger envelopes and they’re all grouped (“Color Correction”, “Color Effects”, “Skin Enhancements”, “Diffusion/Dispersion”, and one more “Gig Selections” for the ones I’ve picked out to take to a gig). Sure, a few gels might walk away, but it’s rare that I’d even need four lights with the same gel(s), so I let it be and adjust as needed later.

  • Caleb Kerr

    The fact that it can (seemingly) only work with a bare light is a deal breaker. I love (love love) my Magnum, and other modifiers, and wouldn’t want to give up my modification options. If they could figure out how to keep it all on the front glass element to still allow modifiers to slip over that’d be incredible.

    • Steve

      I took the frosted glass disc off of my B1 and traced it onto a gel pack. I cut the circles out of the gels and had plenty left over the one B1 I have with a dome head. The disc is spring loaded so you can push it in a little and the clips will hold onto the gel. It offers full coverage, doesn’t block any of the light and the best part is I spent $15. It takes a little time and it doesn’t look as fancy but works great.

  • Markthetog

    This is a great system for Profoto users. However I don’t use Profoto and have always wondered why manufacturers have never addressed this issue.
    In the late 90’s I asked a few manufacturers if they would consider making a full CTS flash tube cover to convert strobes to a tungsten balance flash as I used strobes for interior lighting and was endlessly gelling my lights.. There was polite acknowledgement but no interest.

    I understand that was an expensive route to CC but clearly a fast, easy to use system is needed.
    I am constantly testing plastic container lids to find those that fit my reflectors. But a cap system would be the ticket for use with soft boxes.

  • David Alonso

    you forgot these shortfalls to the system, its terrible it falls constantly!!, you cant add a modifier with out it moving out of place, and in real world situations you have to gaffers tape the edges so the holder doesn’t get lose, really huge over sight, Ive worked with many photographers and they all say the same thing, hope they fix this bad design