Flash Photography Face Off: Profoto vs. Godox vs. Broncolor

Just when you thought zeroing in on, and staying put with the copious amount of camera and lens options was enough to alone cause sleepless nights, you then discover this wild world of high power flash photography. Good news is help is indeed on the way, depending on your needs as a photographer one of these three advanced flash options will get the job done. 

Rob Hall is once again back in the lab, with a highly technical, and terrifically informative face off video, pitting Profoto’s latest B1X, versus the Broncolor Siros 800L, and new kid on the block, Godox and their AD600 Pro; these are some of the best portable strobe options on the market today, compared directly against one another. No rock is left unturned here, impressively Hall deep dives as he compares a litany of features that should be important to any number of stobists out there. Crucial things to consider, Hall has it covered. Items like the overall power output, high-speed sync capabilities, flash durations, recycle time, battery life, color accuracy, build quality, service options, and the available family of accessories to complete the experience.

For me personally, I am continuously impressed with the AD600 Pro. I think it is a force to be reckoned with, and more than competitive in the market, checking off all my needs. And all the while competing at a price that even my high end taste, can not ignore. 

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Drop a Godox and see how it performs. Unfortunately I have dropped a B1 onto pavement and picked it up and it was ready for the next job with only a minor scratch. The Profotos are built like tanks.

Robert Hall's picture

I dropped my original AD600 from 5 feet, directly onto the bulb. Changed the bulb and kept shooting. AD200's on the other hand are extremely susceptible to being destroyed with the smallest of drops.

Derrick Ruf's picture

For sure I have owned a couple B1's, I would never argue that stellar build quality. And really for more than double the asking price they should be built like tanks.

Chad D's picture

think we all have had flashes drop fall on stands from height etc..

yeah 600 has taken hits no issues with me :) my 360s when I did weddings same thing took hits kept working just fine

but any flash can break
as pointed out that back dial ?

we now have great options to choose from and I like many full time working pros are choosing/switching to the godox

Christopher Nolan's picture

I bought my first B1 immediately when they were available, took it out of the box, charged the battery, carried it outside to test it, and from above my head, it fell off of the light stand (in my hand) and fell to the pavement, ..... almost in tears I turned it on, and worked, .... and still works, .... thank god.
I have 3xB1 and 5xEinsteins (that are falling apart), so due to the lack of new options from PCB, I will be replacing those with new AD600Pro units to mix in with my B1 units.

Derrick Ruf's picture

Man, that is a nightmare way to start off, and just after you had unboxed it. I almost cried reading that. They are not cheap, happy to hear no real harm was caused.

Robert Hall's picture

That's definitely a sad day 1. I dropped an AD600BM within the 1st month or so of owning it and almost didn't try putting it back on thinking it was for sure a goner. Thankfully it was fine and never had any future problems.

Jay Jay's picture

I agree, Paul Buff used to be about innovation, but for the last several years, they seem to be content with selling things that were cutting edge 5 years ago (The Einsteins were their last great product). Their Cybercommander transmitter is one of the flimsiest, badly made transmitters on the market. I still use them in the studio, but i i have a more portable strobe solution while on location.

Michael Kormos's picture

We've used D1s in our studio, and are now on D2s, and B1s for on-location work. They've all been to the Profoto service center a number of times. None of them were ever dropped, but they've had issues with capacitors and other times just wouldn't go off. Luckily all repairs were covered under warranty, but we've had to secure an extra head for those times when others are in repair. They may be built like a tank, but they have the reliability of one too.

Still, I appreciate the fact that if one fails, I can easily rent one pretty much anywhere, as Profoto's rental network is widespread. Their service is also very quick. It's good to know I can overnight a strobe to their NJ office and have it back a few days later.

My Flashpoint Rovelight 600's (which are basically older Godox clones) are built like tanks as well. Had one tip over on a rocky dirt road during a wedding. Brushed the dirt off.

Kept shooting. No fuss, no muss. The build quality is there.

Robert Hall's picture

Rovelight family is Jinbei (Orlit Rovelight is newest version of their HD610)
But yeah I really feel like there is an expectation based on the pricing that these things fall apart just from handling and its just not the case. The type of fall to break an AD600 or Rovelight would potentially break higher priced flashes as well. We need more formal drop testing from manufacturers.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Speaking of Godox quality, at an event a waitress knocked my stand with the Godox V860 (8 feet). it hit the floor, the battery was ejected and the bounce card bent. I picked it up and just threw into my bag (I did not have time) an hour later I put it together and it hasn't stopped yet.

Andrew Paquette's picture

I've had my B1 drop three times. The first two times it was knocked over by basketball players during outdoor 3x3 games I was shooting. No discernible damage. The third time was a simple portrait shoot and it was mounted on a stand. A tiny breeze knocked it over. The light still worked after falling but the back panel was destroyed. I sent it to ProFoto for repairs that cost 250 euros. Now it is back in service as if nothing had happened.

I still feel Broncolor is on the bottom despite having the most capable product.

Robert Hall's picture

I personally could care less about TTL, but I think they should add it to expand who it would work for. I think it's also clear people enjoy the no-frills experience of HSS over HS, regardless of the power dip.

I think that by catering to the pro crowd, broncolor isn't being sucked into the Godox trap. bron will always be a step up - something to aspire to. Godox appears to be even with Profoto on specs but kills them on price. Aside from build quality, there's no obvious separation and it's harder to justify the Profoto price. The big problem with TTL is that it's variable. Shoot 400 portraits and compare them to see if the colour/light match. That test will always go to broncolor. Different products for different photographers.

Jay Jay's picture

But oh so heavy. :(

Personally, I find limited value in studio comparisons of battery operated flashes, that are designed to be banged around, thrown in and out of cars, backpacks, etc. The tech specs are absolutely relevant and important, but spec reviews almost entirely miss the real world usage of these lights; reliability, lifespan, ease of setup / use, etc. This is a well done video, but I think most of this data was already available (T1 times, etc), but doesn't give much insight into what it'd actually be like to own and use the products. (Disclaimer: I use Profoto).

Robert Hall's picture

Well, things like t.1 flash durations are available, but not often tested. And in doing so I found the Godox to boost their numbers a bit, which is why I found it important to do. Profoto posts t.5 flash durations, even looking now I can't find t.1 data on them. Anyways, I tend to think to think pros can draw their own conclusions about how these products would handle within their workflow from this type of approach.
A side note, I don't significantly value longevity at an added cost right now. Sounds weird, I know. However, technology is changing very quickly. I have no plans to own the same lighting equipment 5 years from today. There are advancements happening in LED technology. Features like HSS in monolights are relatively new and becoming more consistent and efficient with each release. And as soon as global shutters make it to high-performing sensors, the lighting game will likely completely change. I want my gear to handle day to day use and function as expected, but I don't want to pay a ton extra so it can last a decade+.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Godox all the way :-)

Robert Hall's picture

Also it's hard to review the lifespan of a product when it's new and people are still considering it.

Does the Sekonic L-858-DU trigger the Godox? Or do you have to trigger via the wireless remote to get a reading?

Robert Hall's picture

Have to trigger. It's got Phottix / PW triggering built in.

Robert Hall's picture

The fact that it caught on fire at all is more concerning to me than how fast you got it back. I suppose this is why photographers need a million dollar liability insurance policy.

Spy Black's picture

You don't, you simply replace it with ah new one, which will probably cost about not much more than shipping your White Lightning and paying for repairs.

Spy Black's picture

Pretty much that simple and straightforward. I don't know where in the 'States you are, but the Pro model listed here is $900, and the previous non-TTL model is $600. All IGBT, battery operated, high speed sync capability, with built-in radios. Good stuff.

Spy Black's picture

No, the point is that the units are cheap enough to just replace if they fail. You'll get your ROI well over by then. Once you get over the delusion of "buying American", you may realize Chinese gear is not as poorly made as you may believe.

Spy Black's picture

Well, that's cool. However you're cutting yourself out of very useful resources. In the end it's what you feel comfortable with that counts.

I totally agree Spy Black. And even if chinese products have a sketchy warranty service, I would still consider buying 4 AD600's over 1 profoto B1x for the same value of my hard earned money.

Actually William, I had a Godox light once damaged by my assistant and I brought it in to my Godox Retailer that I bought it for. I told them I was willing to pay for repairs and shipping costs and their reply was absolutely delight to a photographers ear.

"Oh, they'll probably won't even repair it."
I said "what?"
they replied "No what I mean is they probably just give you a new one."

After about three weeks I got a call to pick up my "repair unit," and guess what all the battle marks on my light was gone and it looked brand new. The retailer told me, that was likely because Godox is too buy to bother with fixing things, and it was easier for them to replace it for you. I paid only the shipping (equivalent of $20USD).

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