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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78 Comments

Felix C's picture

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.

Marc J Wrzesinski's picture

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.

Kurt Lindner's picture

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.

Will Prentice's picture

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. :(

Caleb Kerr's picture

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.

Deleted Account's picture

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.
https://www.adorama.com/fplfx600ptb.html
https://www.adorama.com/fplfx600bc.html?CategoryID=66005

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.

Joseph Kwan's picture

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.

Joseph Kwan's picture

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).

Eric Venora's picture

Your white lighting obviously caught fire while you were present. What if you'd been in the other room getting lunch? Seriously that is majorly concerning.

Eric Venora's picture

I suppose you could get the flashpoint version so Adorama would take care of it but otherwise maybe Silvinos in LA or something similar?

If you think I'm going to argue about the absolutely amazing service that PCB gives you're wildly mistaken.

Having said all that... I have five friends who shoot buff. I'd need to check with one of them but I believe all five of them without exception have needed to have their lights serviced on multiple occasions. Three of them shoot Einsteins and two of them alien bees. One of the Einstein users has a pair of very old white lightnings that still have screw lighting mounts and ironically those have been great. There are six Einsteins in the group Every single one of the Einsteins has had to go in. Every single one. Broken umbrella mounts, LCD's that have popped in, random shutoffs, a magic smoke incident, rapid unexplained firing when the radio receiver was on, you name it. One of the Alien Bees simply caught fire and another overheats with the modeling light on and shuts off.

I tend to buy a lot of used gear. I'm on Broncolor but I used to be on Profoto and I have a habit of getting equipment that's come out of rental houses. It's much cheaper that way and while the equipment has been clearly used hard for years I have very very few issues.

I've had three service issues across all the gear I've ever had. The first was a B1 I dropped which damaged the upper part of the light where the battery slides in. Oops. Profoto service was difficult to get ahold of and silvinos quoted me a crazy number so I carefully epoxied the thing and it was fine forever more. The second was a failed part on a 1998 era Pro 7a that came out of a rental house down in Texas. I sent it to Silvinos and and a week later it was working great. The third was a worn out friction disk on a positively ancient Broncolor Pulso Spot 4. Broncolor service was extremely responsive and sent me the parts quickly.

I have difficulty even comprehending the kind of things that PCB users put up with on a regular basis. The friend with the Einsteins and lightings takes his soft boxes off the lights when he leaves the room because he's worried they'll fall off because apparently they have and yes maybe he simply mounted them wrong but thats very difficult to do or flat out impossible with a good mount. Constant interactions with service? Being concerned modeling lights will cause damage? I have another friend who won't leave his alien bees plugged in when isn't actively shooting because he's afraid another one will catch fire. I routinely leave my modeling lights on for 12 hour periods when I'm working long days. These issues aren't even a thing in my world... my ancient abused gear that I paid around buff prices for... well... it all just works.

Eric Venora's picture

Silvinos Pro Flash RX

Francisco Hernandez's picture

Adorama or Cheetahstand will.

Francisco Hernandez's picture

You asked "who is going to repair the Chinese light?" and I answered. Why are you talking about C stands now?

Daniel Schenkelberg's picture

thank you for addding the 10fps ! i shoot continuous all day for my sports and motorsports photography and need to know that, good looking out

Robert Hall's picture

No problem! Someone requested it in a FB group, otherwise I wouldn't have considered it. You're the "you" in my video.

Rex Larsen's picture

Great comparison video, thanks. I use five Einstein’s and don’t see the need to go to the trouble to replace them. I would be willing to spend more money for a little better fit and finish if Buff would offer an updated model. The Einstein remote is due for an upgrade. I really like the light weight and small size. The others are big and heavy and the Broncolor is huge. Who wants that on a boom ? Any design with a recessed flash tube is nuts. The Godox is promising if support is high quality.

Robert Hall's picture

That much weight on a boom is nuts. I left this out of the video because it isn't available yet, but Godox will release a remote head similar to the H600B that is for the AD600. It's a 1 lb head that plugs right into the bulb port of the AD600 and utilizes it as a power pack. Thats what sold me on the original AD600 because you can have it be a no-cable experience when it's safe, or a pack and head when you are using outdoors. (pardon the awful video: https://youtu.be/mBb59MtWmks

).

Jay Jay's picture

After all the years the Einstein has been out, you'd think they'd built their remote triggering system into them, instead of still requiring people to buy a $30 antenna you have to stick on the back (and worse, have another extra item to carry with you)

Rex Larsen's picture

Thanks, William. I'll be very curious to see what direction Buff goes with an updated Einstein or new flagship model. It could be very revealing in regards to the future of the company and the growing competition they face. I'd love to know who is currently in charge of R & D.

Sergio Miranda's picture

Awesome Robert, finally articles that are worth the time of a photographer. Thanks for this (going for the AD600Pro no doubt).

ron fya's picture

To me I feel the choice between the Profoto & Broncolor is clearly Profoto because of the better T.1 duration, easiest mount and the volume/weight.

Then enters Godox, overall surprisingly the best all-round perfomer, with an excellent remote system as it seems ... except maybe for build quality which is one of the most important aspects for an on-location flash for which Profoto is hard to beat. But unfortunately, Profoto has a recessed lamp and you cannot unscrew the cylinder's tip like on the Broncolor. I really wish Profoto could have that simple feature because I like so much their build quality and mount.

So, lesser build quality of Godox VS recessed lamp of Profoto ? What flaw it the most tolerable ?

Eric Venora's picture

I've had both mounts and a lot of different lights and I think you'd be surprised if you gave them both a try. The Broncolor mount is surprisingly easy to use and I know several people who prefer it to the Profoto mount especially with larger modifiers. Trick here really being finding someone who's used them both. On Profoto systems The rubber ring can be difficult when the modifier is new and the metal rings that add tension fail when the modifier is older. Large modifiers are a real fight to mount when they're new. With hard modifiers where the benefit is most obvious alignment can be a minor problem since it's very easy to mount a reflector a few degrees off.

Keep in mind that flash duration is very important to a point but past that it's a number being used by a marketing company to manipulate you. Yes I mean it exactly like that. Flash duration is a very easy number to point to and say this is better than that even if that isn't something that affects you in reality. This is part of why that totally useless t.5 time is so often quoted in lieu of the t.1 time we can actually use. It is also very much not the whole story. To this point if for example you wanted to freeze water dead with a B1x you'd need to be down around 15-20 watts. That's a very general statement I realize and it depends on the speed of the water in relation to the size of the frame. (The faster something moves across the frame the shorter the duration needs to be. It's real life speed doesn't matter.) That same sort of speed could be acheived by an Einstien at about 150w or an ancient Broncolor Grafit with a twin head at about 300w. This power is low enough especially in the case of the B1 series that you need to be diligent about stray light sources to the point where you should be considering shooting in a blacked out room if you're working with water or holi powder or anything quick like that. With the Grafit or Einstein because of the extra power it's more highlights which can cause obvious streaking than a general low level of working light that you need to watch out for.

If you're not shooting something super fast but instead you're working with mid speed sources like a model that's jumping around then all those lights are more than fast enough.

I found the profoto's recessed lamp caused lighting quality issues but the dome is a partial fix which unfortunately then causes issues with umbrellas because you need to remove it to prevent huge amounts of spill. You can't use an umbrella reflector and umbrella with the dome because of the way the umbrella mounts. It's a terribly compromised design. Also those cool ocf gels... they cause mounting problems too and the quality is aweful. I owned three sets at one point. Oh right and they're not compatible with the dome.

The reason why you pick Profoto or Broncolor over Godox is because of the modifiers you can get. I know what he said in the video and he's honestly not entirely correct on that point. Certain things like Fresnels are tough to get now that Bowens is gone and you have to be very careful because they're dependent on the originating light pattern. A fresnel made for video will not have an even spread of light on a flash. Profoto has a series of hard reflectors that have been copied for other mounts but they're dependent on the user setting the zoom level because in part they don't have an even light spread at all zoom settings. These modifiers don't always work well if they can't be adjusted and as we all know from the original ad600 the bulb is not always set at the same position despite the fixed mount so even if a manufacturer designed a hard source with the limitation in mind they'd be SOL because there is no standard that is being kept to. Also the bulb is not always the same type of light pattern that loop bulb in the original AD600 is a point source bulb that other companies use for optical spots which would be fine except most modifiers are designed with omega shaped bulbs in mind which is a compatibility nightmare when we're talking about things other than umbrellas and softboxes. Anyway back to the point Broncolor has things like the satellite which can throw light 100 feet and still be brighter than the sun and optical spot attachments(plural) that don't have significant chromatic aberration. These examples are just part of what you're stuck without on Godox and so far as I know unless you're in with a machine shop or you can find some old bowens gear(and even then...) you're just kinda out of luck for these things.

Having said all of that... in your shoes if I was just using softboxes and umbrellas I think the Godox would be the hands down choice against the B1 because of the dome and the mount makes no difference at that point. I'd still pick the Siros personally if I had to choose because soft modifiers eat light like there is no tomorrow and an extra stop of light or actually even more than that if you're in high speed mode could make all the difference against the sun and unlike some unrealistic t.1 number that's a spec that really matters.

ron fya's picture

"most modifiers are designed with omega shaped bulbs in mind which is a compatibility nightmare when we're talking about things other than umbrellas and softboxes" --> thank you for that reminder cause that slipped out of my mind ! I clearly should take that into consideration and check if it's a problem for me or not.

Still the main complaint I can see about the Broncolor is the size/weight. It's a 4kg beast !! The Profoto is 3kg and is smaller to carry. The Godox is also 3kg but is even smaller. I sometimes wonder if manufacturers make their gear big to inspire trust. But in reality it's annoying enough to not consider it.

Eric Venora's picture

Oh yeah you're completely on point with the weight comment. Especially above 7 feet or out on a boom that kind of weight is a big deal. It means you need heavier stands and a greater amount of counter weight and so on. That's actually why I'm a huge fan of pack and head systems. Packs don't solve the size issue or the carry weight issue but I honestly care a whole lot more about the weight distribution issue than anything.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Godod 600's work also as packs, see video above, They really understand the challenges photographers face.

Eric Venora's picture

Also at least in Broncolor's case I don't think they've made their gear large to inspire trust. That company is truly incompetent when it comes to marketing and I believe that the only reason they still exist is that there are a thousand examples through the decades where their product was so far beyond what the competition was capable of Profoto definitely included that they couldn't help but survive in spite of themselves.

They have photos of computers from the pre-osx era remotely controlling the power and settings of each head on their power packs over a wireless connection.

IGBT? Broncolor brought that to market with the Pulso A in the late 80's or very early 90's. I can't even find materials on this but it was before the Grafit came out in 1996 and after the pulso came out in 1984.

Monolights? Been on that wagon since the late 70's

Wireless triggering? Did it with infrared in the early 80's with IRX maybe even earlier. I think the 404 could do it and that was mid-late 70's

Intuitive remote control? Broncolor is the only one doing it and they implemented wifi to make it happen so I can control things with the giant screen on my phone or iPad and get feedback on settings and I'm not limited to 3 or 6 lights I can have 40 if I want. Yeah I know cyber commander does something similar and its awful. Using that thing is like trying to drive my car with chopsticks.

You get the idea...

Their marketing on the other hand. I don't even know what half their modifiers do based on their materials. Their fresnel example HAS THE FRESNEL AS A PROP. AS A PROP FOR THE LIGHTING EXAMPLE. They've posted photos on their website in the wrong color space. Their videos are so boring I could use them to calm down from a panic attack and the fact that their Siros outperforms what it's specs would suggest relative to the other lights is just insanity. That company couldn't sell anything to save it's own life or we'd all be talking about how it's just a given that you buy Broncolor when you're ready for the endgame because they have modifiers and products that can do things that no other company has even dreamed of yet. I can control the color temperature on my 1996 Grafit. Intentionally. By remote. Nobody else can do that. I don't think profoto even had basic IGBT circuits until the B4 came out in 2012. They tried to fake it with the 8a using PiPe which looked awesome for marketing because they're good at that but caused ghosting in real life because it was a double flash to fake a short flash duration.

Jay Jay's picture

It's a tough call. I haven't gone with Profoto specifically because they still use recessed tubes in the b1x, which negate the ability to work efficiently in my Broncolor parabolic. I think it's a mystery to everyone why they dont use exposed tubes (aside from having a sturdier product when dropped, but i'll take quality of sturdiness any day)

Will Prentice's picture

I did some tests with a B1, with and without the dome and the Siros 400 L into a para 133. The B1 straight away can't illuminate a para, using the Profoto adapter for para. I used the generic lamp attachment, to pull the B1 further away, and it still couldn't fully illuminate the para. Light output between B1 and 400 L was 1 2/3 stops in favour of Siros. When I put the dome on the B1, it filled the entire para, so you lose the purpose of the para. Light loss was almost 3 full stops from Siros 400 L. That's crazy and pretty much useless.

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