Marc Williams , Sep 22, 2011; 06:47 a.m.
My entire studio is Profoto equipped. I also use a Quadra for some location work where 400 w/s is adequate for the job. In fact, I have two Quadra units, a third battery, and 5 heads.
You are absolutely correct, it is not a direct comparison at all. It is apples and oranges.
One is a highly mobile battery powered location tool, and the other is not. One tops out at 400w/s and the two heads can only produce asymmetrical 2/3 to 1/3 distribution ... where the D1s can deliver 1000w/s, and be any distribution you want. This is the reason I have two Quadras ... so when needed, I can plug one head into each pack and distribute levels anyway I wish for up to a total of 800 w/s.
If you want to go mobile with the D1s you'll need a pure sine wave battery inverter like the Profoto BatPac. If you are working alone, this two mono head/battery set-up can be a handful ... way more to lug than the Quadra. However, if you have the time or some help, it is far more versatile and powerful. If there is power available the Profoto D1 kit wins hands down.
To set the two D1s far apart from one another using the BatPac battery, you'll only need a standard household extension cord. To set the two Quadra heads far apart requires up to a 32' head cord ... and a longer head cord stunts the output and reduces the level of light from that head.
Be aware that the Quadra only takes a limited amount of light modifiers directly on the tiny strobe head ... there is an adapter to allow use of standard EL modifiers. However, the demure Quadra head can only take so much torque.
IMO and direct experience with using Elinchrom for many years before finally switching to Profoto as my main lighting system, is that the modifier mount on Elinchrom is it's weakest feature ... in fact I think it is the worst one out there. Profoto is miles ahead, and is far more secure ... plus, the Profoto method of mounting modifiers is not fixed ... most any modifier can slid back and forth on the body of the head to create different degrees of focus and intensity.
If a main consideration is mobility where there is no power, look at the 1200 w/s Hensel Porty Lithium pack. Small, but packs a more punch than either of your choices. This new Hensel comes with radio receivers for Hensel's Strobe Wizard, FreeMask, and the same Profoto AIR triggers used in the D1s. Hensel also offers an AC mains adapter so the Porty can be used in the studio like any other studio pack. This pack with a pair of D1s could be a dandy studio kit.
The Hensel is expensive but you get what you pay for when it comes to lighting. To equal the output with the Quadra would require 3 units, and to make the D1 mobile would cost more for the battery inverter. You do the math.
Lastly, there is the radio trigger systems for these choices, the Profoto AIR allows far more distance compared to the Hensel Strobe Wizard and Elinchrom Skyport.