Why I Won't Use Certain Brands for Paid Work

Why I Won't Use Certain Brands for Paid Work

It’s not that I hate Godox or that I am paid by a different lighting brand to hate Godox every month. It is simply that when it comes to producing professional work, their lights are just not fit for the job. Here is why I will not use Godox for professional work.

My Journey

My first-ever light was a Neewer Speedlight, which was a direct copy of the Canon 600EX. That speedlight is still somewhere in my boxes, and I can still turn it on should I need to. I began my flash journey with that speedlight on a film camera. You can go and laugh, but my first-ever time shooting with off-camera lighting was a failure as I did not know that sync speeds are a thing. It is now that I shoot with this technique on purpose, but I digress.

My second light was a Yongnuo 200W light, which was a copy of the famous Godox AD200, loved by many photographers. That light did a decent job, but there were hiccups already then. I wanted a better light, so I went and bought the Godox V1, which was a direct copy of the A1 but worse. I say worse because any copy is worse. There is a reason it took Profoto 4 years to develop the A1, while it took Godox only 1 year after the A1 release to come up with the V1. But I once again digress. This is not an article meant to take a stab at Godox or any other consumer lighting brand. I want to go over why I will be using expensive kit for my work, not only Profoto but expensive kit in general.

It is far from a secret that I am a Profoto user and have been for a while now. I could’ve been a Broncolor user, or perhaps even a Hensel user. It just so happened that I saw good Profoto lights on sale used and went for it. By mere chance, really. As I value light the most when it comes to photo equipment, I spend a considerable amount of time writing about it, as well as working with it. So, let’s dive in.

Rental Availability

The first benefit of using established and expensive gear brands is the availability in rental houses worldwide. According to Profoto’s own statements, there are 300 rental companies worldwide that stock their equipment. This is a statistic worth mentioning, as this allows photographers from all around the world to be at pretty much any location with access to the gear they know they can rely on. Sure, not every rental house will have every light shaper, generator, or unit, but most things that are enough to do most work will be available universally. This is something that comes in handy should you find yourself working outside of your studio. I’ve rented everything from specific modifiers to generators. A lot of rental houses still rent out the older generators and lights such as the Pro-7a and Pro-8. While these units have been discontinued for a decade, in the case of the Pro-7a, they are still excellent products, and I am a lucky owner of a Pro-7a myself. It is surely a nice-to-have rather than a must-have, but it is good to work on the kit that I would rent for the job. The two companies that are available in most rental houses are Profoto and Broncolor. Broncolor is not as popular as Profoto. That said, I am more than familiar with their kit and will happily use it on a job if Profoto is not available. If I were a Godox shooter, I would not be as comfortable renting kit, as I am yet to come across a rental house that stocks that kit. In general, I found that Profoto is best for fashion and portrait photography, while Broncolor kit is most well-suited for product and still-life photographers. That said, there are modifiers such as the hardbox from Profoto or the Sunlite from Broncolor which would make you use the lighting brand that makes each respective modifier. Another brand that is lesser known but nonetheless exciting is Briese. They make light reflectors and generators that are some of the best performing on the market. They are also widely available on the rental market but do cost an arm and a leg to rent, let alone buy.


Another important reason I will not be using cheap lighting brands is because of reliability issues. This is something I have become used to, but any time I don’t have my kit with me and need to use whatever light is available, I end up realizing just how damn reliable my lights are. So much so, I don’t think about my flash firing; I know it will. Another thing is the issue of transportation. I have traveled with every single light that I own. So much so, I just recently brought 2 generators and a total of 5 heads from Sweden by train. While I do my best to protect my gear, there is only so much you can do, and I inevitably did bang my bag against the steps a few times. With that in mind, upon arrival, I turned on my generators and they worked as good as new. This is something that I can’t expect of cheaper lights to do, unfortunately. The same goes for modifiers. No matter how much light I blast through my modifiers or how hot they get, they will continue to work. Unfortunately, though, the Clic and OCF range from Profoto can be improved.


When working with light, you need to be able to modify it. Sure, you can do all jobs with a single speedlight and softbox, but there is only so much you can get with such a light. Having a range of modifiers is important to getting more interesting, unique images. As such, I am very familiar with the range of Profoto modifiers and am very keen on having as large a collection as I possibly can. This is not only because I love playing with light but also because I want to have the appropriate tool for the job. As such, I own a variety of Profoto modifiers from hard reflectors to softboxes, and a few other bits and bobs from companies such as Westcott and Chimera. My recent favorite has been the Briese reflector, though. This reflector can be adapted to two brands: Profoto and Broncolor. If I want to use high-end specialist tools that give out incredible light, I must be using high-end lights. There is simply no equivalent on the market to a Briese reflector, Profoto narrowbeam reflector, or Broncolor UV reflector. While softboxes are very common, expensive softboxes are way better when it comes to producing even illumination, consistent color temperature, and so on.

Closing Thoughts

So, there we have it. These are the reasons I will never use cheap lights and modifiers. The global rental availability, reliability, and modifier range have my heart forever. This is not a piece dedicated to praising one lighting brand. My brand loyalty is very low when it comes to any company. It is simply that Profoto lights have consistently been the best for half a century now, and there is unlikely to be a better alternative anytime soon.

Illya Ovchar's picture

Illya aims to tell stories with clothes and light. Illya's work can be seen in magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire, and InStyle.
LIGHTING COURSE: https://illyaovchar.com/lighting-course-1

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Godox have been working fine for me. I would say they are reliable just as anything else. Many Profoto fan talk about how Godox are not reliable but never read any Godox user complain. I used my first kit for a few years and sold for pretty much the same price. Profoto gear drops a lot in price as soon as you bought it.

Used Profoto gear is a good option. A lot of power but not that expensive. But Profoto don’t have superpowers. Broncolor make and Elinchrom made powerpacks, and so did Bowens. All these can be found.

I don’t need that kind of power and I am ok with some lighter gear and a clutter free space in my small studio.No cables:)

Godox have a variety of reflectors and stuff. I just bought the ring flash for AD200 on sale for 200 usd. With Bowens mount there are a lot of reflectors, and should you want those Profoto reflectors that’s an option with most Godox lights.

You can not go wrong with Profoto. Besides using gear out of warranty is a risk always. But other brands work fine too. Still, if I should advise a fashion photographer I think battery driven is not the thing. And a lot of power available gives you fast recycling time and no overheating issues. So I think you are good. But so am I with Godox for my use.

Just a little balance for those concerned that the gear makes a difference, and not speaking to the rental side of things, but Godox lights are up certainly up to the task. I’ve used everything, and Godox are fine for professional work. Honestly, I thing the AD200 is one of the best tools I own for environemental portraits.

You're kidding us, right?
Someone put you up to this?

The only thing for using high name brand is if you want to impress your clients.
I shoot L'Oreal, I use Profoto, C1, Walmart it does not matter as they never show up, so it's AlienBees and Godox. I will swicth from my Z7II to my D850 and back.
Can you tell the difference? No, I know how to use my gear.

This is the second time an article for Profoto came up on FStoppers recently. I read it, and at the end see the same name as the last article I had to comment on: Illya Ovchar. This author seems to be 100% shill for Profoto.

Illya, it isn't that I hat Profoto. It's that your writing and logic is flawed every time.

To your points:
1) Reliability depends, I've dealt with many reliable (but less expensive) lighting brands.
2) Also, modifier range, which I define as product breadth + quantity of accessories is solid with Profoto (of course), but Godox and many others are also pretty robust and creative in their offerings. And for less money! You don't even explain this point well, never citing form quantities of products in a line nor accessories to modify those main products. You just said you prefer it. No facts to back it up!
3) Lastly, you mention rental availability. First, you never really say why you dislike Broncolor, which is a red flag right away. Secondly, I don't judge my brand loyalty based on being able to travel the world and get a studio setup in every city I visit. I'd love to have that wonderful problem, but I think it's highly niche to elite photographers. In other words, it's a "first world problem".

Please stop posting these shill articles for Profoto. They don't hold up well. Do some research, cite facts, compare to other brands more faithfully.

No way this is actually an unbiased, thoughtful article - you guys get paid when people follow your links and buy stuff right, meaning that the more expensive stuff people buy, the more commission you make? That's the only reason for writing this, and honestly, I'd respect you more if that's the case. Because if not, you're just posting elitist foolishness, further leading astray young professionals that they have to get the most expensive gear in order to get good clients. Godox is fantastic quality, and surprisingly so. To your point about rental availability? Sure, cool, learn more than one system. It's not hard, you can learn quickly - they're all mostly the same. To your point about modifiers? Bowens mount. WAY more options, WAY more readily available. This is elitist garbage from a blog that I had previously respected as a tool for those in the industry. Very saddening and surprising. Do better, or you'll lose your base of actual professionals who can make great art with any gear, expensive or inexpensive.

Granted, I'm only using the Acute line. But I've had issues with my Profoto gear.
The 1200 went poof and smoked. $250 fix ~20 years ago. I bought a 2400 the next week, the fan was reassuring.
Though the fan on one of my heads is very noisy, but only at certain angles. I took it apart, I couldn't see an issue.
All your articles on Profoto did get me interested in the D4. I've been looking around for a good used one.
I have 4 Godox AD600 Pro's and 1 AD600, all non-TTL. No issues at all, >5 years. But I do baby my batteries, disconnect from flash and charge once per month, even if I haven't used them. So many reports of people leaving them connected and they go dead.
I'm using Chimera softboxes, that's what my clients see more than the brand of the strobes.

This is the second anti-Godox, Pro, Profoto article recently. Sorry, this is utter Bulls__t! I have and still use 3 Godox lights and modifiers, and have had them for 3 years, and it doesn't matter if I'm getting paid or not for my work! The bottom LINE is, they work, and not everyone travels all over the world, and needs to rent gear! Sorry, but you have lost all credibility with me to read any future posts you make!

15 year pro here. Commerical advertising, spent alot of time as a dit, been on set with photographers like Carlos Serrao. I've seen more combat than the author, and probably 90% of Fstoppers readers.. I usually give Illya a bit of heat for his articles, but I agree with the kid here.

Pro's shooting stills at scale for global brands and ATL usage, use either Profoto or Broncolor. Period.

We do this because if shit goes tits up, the rental house has the same thing we do.

Nothing wrong with Godox, but if something happens, you're on your own. That's fine for a senior/family portrait and wedding shooter in Conway Arkansas, but when you're photographing Serena Williams at Nike World Headquarters, you'd be delusional to shoot that on Godox, and you'd be up a creek doing it all yourself because there isn't an assistant who'd be qualified for that job who's even seen a Godox in action because it's too low-end of equipment.

I don't shoot with the latest and greatest, but I know if one of my D1's blows a tube, or I need more batteries for my B10's I can swing by any rental house in the country and be able to either rent substitutes or buy spare tubes/batts, and it'll all integrate with the rest of my kit and life would be pee-chee.

Often when I fly to NYC to shoot, I bring my weirdo specialty modifiers, but have the packs and heads delivered to the studio we're working out of. I wouldn't be able to do that if I shot Godox or Paul C Buff. That's HUGE.

Not every photographer is in the 10% of photographers who fly to NYC to shoot global brands.
When I worked at Pix Rentals in LA and people like Annie L would come to town they rented Profoto. We had Speedo and 2 or 3 Broncolors that went out with certain modifiers. But Profoto is the main rental units as you say.
Annie L also rented 2x the number of packs and a some extra heads for back up because like everything else Profoto can fail. Usually they were not used but sometimes they were.
Last April I did project that was 21 cities in 5 weeks. I rented two profoto kits and brought a small Godox kit for other things. Funny thing is that Lenstrentals.com had to send out another Profoto kit because one of my rentals failed. Shit happens, and I made the Godox work...

I loved PIX!

It was a hopping place when the bars closed and the assistants came in to pick up the gear for the days shoot

"Pro's shooting stills at scale for global brands and ATL usage, use either Profoto or Broncolor. Period."
Hyperbolic much?
I've been shooting for 25 years in NYC. I use Godox when I need to move quickly or am remote. Yes, Fortune 500 C-suite people. The ones that pay Serena.

So you do corporate headshots, got it.

Yeah, that's way less pressure than a produced celebrity billboard shoot. Nice try.

TBH if you're getting paid big bucks to shoot Serena Williams type clients, you'd be kinda foolish to not have backup equipment with you if whatever you're using, should something fail

Saying “period” doesn’t make your claim any more authoritative. It just shuts down conversation. Which is what you want, I guess.

Im not a pro but could not read this.
You are saying "upon arrival, I turned on my generators and they worked as good as new. This is something that I can’t expect of cheaper lights to do, unfortunately." but you did not do any tests of the cheaper brands. These are just your assumptions...

You also said "As I value light the most when it comes to photo equipment,"
I always thought it is lens that are the most important piece of equipment.


I dont get the purpose of this article. Is this a promotion ? A warning ?

It's sort of every 3-4 weeks Illya praises Profoto...

April fools day posts generally work better in April. Silly goose.

Long story short :
- either save money and buy godox
Or - buy quality and buy European (broncolor or elinchrom ). Personally I like broncolor
Profoto is super overpriced for quality that isn’t better than godox. Godox is actually better in some aspects but profoto has its advantages. But they should be at the same price range, with profoto you’re definitely spending extra for their marketing and influencers.
I would say though, profoto keep its value pretty well, but so does godox.
My experience is profoto aren’t super solid.
5 years ago I would say profoto wins durability and quality but godox quality went up a lot, and I would actually say they’re more durable.

I’ve been doing photography for 25 years, and while profoto is OK, most people buying profoto are people who don’t understand lighting and think it’s going to be magically better because they paid more money.
In reality profoto is same quality as godox, which isn’t bad because godox is pretty reliable.
They’re also both made in china.
But if you’re spending profoto money, you might as well get elinchrom or broncolor, that are actually made in Europe and top quality lights. Again it’s not magic, light is light, but they’re more reliable and better quality light.
Major downside of using those more expensive flash is that, everything is more expensive, and especially the bulb - that needs to be changed multiple times in the life of the flash.
To give you an idea… I was working in a photo studio and we had 12 broncolor studio lights.
The bulb were $600 a pop.
So at some point we decided to sell all the flash and buy $600 godox flash - bulb cost $150 to change.
The broncolor flash were a lot more powerful and fast - BUT our clients were simply not paying us enough to justify spending $3000 in flash bulbs.

Ugh... another pro profoto anti godox article from the same guy in a short time. Not going to read any article in the future, just not trustworthy.

I own some Godox and Neewer flashes, and they do have reliability issues especially if used a lot in one day. It doesn't cause any problems if I'm using it for personal work, but I have had experiences with these brands that have taught me that I can't rely on them for really important jobs, in which case I opt to rent the higher end options like Profoto or Broncolor, or to rent a studio space that provides use of their high end lighting gear.

I see and have experienced lots of value and have created works that I am very proud of using brands like Godox and Neewer, but I definitely see the other side of the coin as well.

What reliability issues did you have with Godox?

Retailer here, working with both brands. We dropped Profoto, because quality per cost ratio was too low, having more issues with Profoto than with Godox. Both will break down, mind you, but having a 500$ setup breaking down at a critical spot is way less serious than a 2.5k$ doing the same, the same amount of times. So I call this bs.

Have a listen to Scott at Tin House Studios who shoots worldwide add campaigns. He tells you the only reason he doesn't use godox on a shoot is because everything is hired and there's no rental house that stocks godox which he will use for his own work and test shoots. There's no quality issues.

I'm not annoyed at all that commercial photographers tout Profoto as their be-all and end-all, particularly with the point that it's easily rentable.

What annoys me is the presumption that "professional photographers" are all commercial photographers.

There is an entire world of retail photographers who don't do commercial work and have different equipment considerations...and and most professional photographers are in that other world.

Even besides retail, there's other photo areas that are not commercial / studio. Agreed.

The money spent on renting ProFoto will buy me new godox gear. I bet the Godox/Bowens mouth is way more pupular than ProFoto mount. I can borrow a softbox with bowens almost anywhere from anyone, I doubt is the same with ProFoto.
What a dumb logic, FS should fact check a few of the writers on this page.

You can bill your client for rentals...

Golly, another Profoto story.
I think your reliability issue might be a bit overblown. Most power packs are reliable and do what they are told to do. I still have three Norman P2000D and one P800D power packs that I've had since like 1990, so a bit older than you. In that time frame, I replaced a couple blown capacitors and a few heads/ that broke when they hit the ground, and maybe one or two tubes that failed. I did have a box of modeling lights handy...
TBH since I am not in the market for pack and head systems I am not sure what is out there but the things I see on line are pretty impressive compared to my vintage strobes.
I am not familiar with your work so maybe Profoto is the only way to accomplish what you do.

Haha. Good ole Normans. Every once in a while you plug a head in and “BANG” another cap is blown. Always fun for a heart attack. Easy to fix and keep on firing. Not many of the old P2000Ds running around anymore though. Great packs. Cheers mate.

LoL I still make sure that I flip the power switch quickly and with one finger in it...Just in case :)
This 10" fresnel spot i one of the reasons that I have some Norman power packs. I use it a couple times a year but not recently.

BS. AND 99% of recommendations on TikTok are for Sony cameras. Why is that? I’ve been a Pro for 51 years. I use Godox. It works. It gets the job done. That’s all I need to know.

When it comes to Godox, I agree completely. While still a tremendous value, the product itself is notoriously unreliable and buggy at the worst times. In a single year I went through 3 speedlights due to random internal electronics failure. Then I almost had to replace the hotshoe on my Fuji X-T5 due to an improperly made Godox flash trigger. When Godox equipment works, it works well... But you never know when it will fail. That failure rate is far higher than both my Profoto and Wescott equipment. I think Godox gear is perfectly suitable for everyday abuse, but not dependable enough for professional work.

Been using a bunch of Godox/Flashpoint speedlights & monolights for about 8 years now as an event pro. Only one “bug” easily resolved long ago by a firmware update. No failures other than 2-3 of the oldest batteries, affordably replaced for $40 each. How much are those A1 batteries again? Oh, yeah, upwards of $300.

I’m a Profoto user. Before that I shot with PCB E640’s, and before that Nikon SB800 and SB900’s. They all were great, but the 640’s were not rugged, and I sent many back for repair. I’ve also had one PF D2 fail after 5 years and needed a $500 capacitor board. Nothing is bullet proof, but if trust the build quality and higher price from here on out over Chinese manufacturing which is great bang for the $, but typically no where near as rugged as my Profoto lights. I guess that’s what I have avoided Godox to this day, but heck, it might be great bang for the $ for you in your photography journey.

Hey some of those were probably my Profoto lights!

I own both systems. Working with Profoto D2 (have 3 of them) + Godox AD 400 / 600 PRO. Both works flawlessly. As well I have all kind of different branded soft boxes and modifiers including Profoto. I don’t think there is a difference. Only in skills :)))))
70y ago if you wouldn’t have Profoto, obviously you’d be f***d. What a joke.

when I read Ovchar as an author.. I don't read a word of the article. The man is extremely polarizing, and his “expertise” is often way off the mark.

If it plays one of the insignificant roles, it is flashlight. Light is light, perhaps recycling time may play a role. There is also too much hype about light modifiers. The same applies as with cameras - no one can tell the difference between a Hasselblad or a Sony/Fuji/Canon etc... If someone tells me which flash and light shaper they used to take a picture (not in portraits where you can see the reflex in the eye ;-) ) then I take my hat off! The lighting is crucial, just like when taking photos. The creative mind creates the image, not the equipment. And when it comes to reliability, a Goddox system doesn't leave you out in the cold.

Great promo article for pro photo …

Profoto, great if you live in the United States or Europe, but if you live in Brasil (like I do) or any other part of the world were exchange rates for the US$ are BRUTAL, Godox is a great solution, it is the difference between paying R$ 4000.00 for a Godox AD600 or R$ 30,000.00 for an equivalent Profoto.....

I have never understood your thoughts and then I found out that you are Hungarian Illya... I got it now... Me being Czech living in Ireland for 20 years... Hope that Germany will do a good job and change your way of thinking about things. You've used copy of Godox 🙈🙈🙈 it is like to use copy of Canon lens... I remember my friend got the EF 100/2.0 usm back in the days from same company you've got the AD200 from, with same thoughts. You don't buy Fiat as a copy of Ferrari, do you? Bugatti and Audi isn't the same either... You get what you pay for 😉

I used profoto lights for 20 years. In that time, not one single paying client ever asked or commented on what brand of lighting I was using. I switched to completely to Godox lighting several years ago. Since then, no one has ever asked or commented on what brand of lighting I was using. Why, I get the same results and everyone is happy.

On Profoto, I dislike the remote on the camera. It should just read 1-9. But with the + and - you can get really lost. That’s the first of things I would change about their system

Some advice is for taking while some is for ignoring. I would put this most definitely under ‘I’ for ignore.
For someone starting out Godox kit works fine. I’ve got some I’ve used for years. It’s not the best but you don’t always need the best to produce good images. What these articles always fail miserably to point out is that the limiting factor is not your kit or the badge it carries but YOU. It’s you that makes the ultimate difference. When it comes to good portraits always remember a photon is a photon despite what some people try to say. They give the idea that some make of strobes produce much fancier photons, they don’t. They may well have lots of fancy features that can be handy but are not required. Get to know the kit you have and having simple kit that requires less faffing about can be advantageous allowing you to think more about the subject and the shot rather than fiddling around that can make you look like a right old prat. Learn to use what you have, that’s my advice for what it’s worth.

This guy has to be paid by profoto.
What he is saying makes no sense.
I could understand if he referred to brands like newer and youngkuo, different category all together.
This seems to be a very bias article if you ask me.

Profoto is a premium brand for premium markets. In my market, there is no economic justification for Profoto prices. Meanwhile Godox rules around here. Maybe they do not have the best reliability, but they have the right pricing structure for our markets. Same reason why one cannot speaks negative of Sigma here. Godox and Sigma have gone a great length to offer practical solutions at practical prices. Their global vision has allowed many people around the world to be creators. Far more than Profoto has ever done. Just wanted to give you context of what those brands consider. There is no need for them to compete with Profoto just like Ferrari does not compete with Toyota, nor Celine with Zara. We will however continue to use Godox for all our work. Thanks for the article.

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