In Defense of the Profoto B10

In Defense of the Profoto B10

Listen, I know what you're all thinking. "Whoa, it looks cool. The modeling light is even bi-color. But it costs how much?" I get it, but bear with me.

At 250 Ws, there is a totally useable amount of power. The batteries, from which Profoto claims 400 full-power flashes per charge, cost $200. Two of those should last you quite a while. There is a revamped modeling light in the new B10 that has an adjustable bi-color LED. While not many people have been able to see the B10 in person, thus not being able to verify the usefulness of the modeling light, it is a step in the right direction for many flash manufacturers and shows promise and initiative for the brand. The flash itself is incredibly small at just 7”x4”. The best part is that there are no cables to deal with, unlike the B2. Everything seems great; Profoto has released a fantastic product that seems to truly be something new for many photographers. There is just one issue.

You guessed it, the price. I’m going to be playing the devil's advocate for a little bit. I am truly a fan of Profoto’s lights, and I’ll touch on that more. But, the B10 is nearly $1,600. While not remotely unusual for Profoto, that pricing will still sting a little. Why? Because of Godox.

Years ago, when I first got into using flash, there were few options available. Basically, you could get Bowens, Elinchrom, or Profoto if you wanted quality. Understandably, you would pay handsomely for it. If you weren’t going to use a full-size studio light or needed a portable solution, speedlights were more or less your only option. When the B1 was released, it created a flood of knock-offs and paved the way for many other brands to introduce battery-powered lighting. Like LEDs, the market has become saturated with an overwhelming amount of options to choose from, Godox being chief among them. Specifically, the Godox AD200 is what you might say the B10 ripped off. It’s a small, self-contained strobe, offering modest power at 200 Ws, has a great wireless system, etc. That light is $300. I’ve used it and think it’s pretty amazing. I’ve taken some great photos with it and would be more than happy to use one for just about anything. This whole Profoto thing is seeming a little foolish then, right?

Wrong. The AD200 is pretty cool for $300. Really cool, actually. But the B10 feels like what you want out of a light of that size. It is the solution to most every problem location portrait photographers or wedding photographers have faced for decades. There are indeed some major differences that I think set the B10 well apart from its alternatives.

The Modifier Mount

The B10 has the usual Profoto mounting system and is compatible with RFI and OCF modifiers from Profoto and basically any off-brand lighting modifier that accommodates the Profoto mount, which is almost all of them.

The AD200 is seriously lacking here, and here’s why it’s frustrating. With the B10, you can have a camera bag that holds your camera and a B10, then another bag with one light stand and one softbox of your choice that fits right onto the light. Conceivably, that’s only two bags of equipment and no spare pieces to keep track of. With the AD200, to mount any softboxes, you need either a clamp-style adapter to hold the AD200 onto the back of the speedring or the Godox Dual Mount that holds the AD200 on one end and the flash tube on the other. It certainly isn’t as sturdy. At best, you have an adapter to carry with you; at the worst, you have to pull the flash tube off and assemble your light on location. Yes, it seems like a small issue, but for some photographers, that time is very precious. The B10 is a more simple unit in this respect and feels far better designed, though Godox has new lights on the horizon that could mend this sore spot somewhat. AD400 anyone?

The Stand Mount

Another small gripe, but important nonetheless. The AD200 mounts to a stand with a single 1/4” screw on either the bottom or the side. While the B10 also uses a 1/4” screw, there is a locking pin that keeps the screw from slipping at all while the light is mounted and eliminates the worry of anything coming detached. Again, a small thing, but the small things add up. Having equipment feel sturdy reduces a lot of stress while shooting.

Service

There isn’t much in the way of service for Godox products in the U.S. as of right now. Profoto USA will pick up the phone if you call them right now with any issue. Hopefully, you won't ever need to call them, but like Canon and Nikon having CPS and NPS, respectively, service matters, and Profoto realizes that. I have had excellent experiences with them. Your mileage will certainly vary here. I personally have never broken a light from either manufacturer, but if you plan on keeping things for a long time, this might factor into your decision-making.

Investment

I worked on set with a photographer last week who was using Dynalite strobes. Let that sink in: Dynalite, in 2018. Why? Because they still worked flawlessly. Several people I know have Profoto lights that are nearly as old, still working fine. While time will certainly tell, I can’t imagine other brands will weather professional use as well as Profoto lights can. All of your equipment is an investment in your business.

Perspective: Wrapping Up

I like Profoto’s lights. I like Godox’s lights. They both make flashes that produce light, which means in the end, they will both do the same for you. Not everyone is in a position to make an investment in Profoto; some may not need flashes often enough to justify the investment. I fall into the latter category myself. But, if you are reading this article, you have at least a faint interest in flashes. What I’m telling you is that like with your camera, the investment can (key word: can) be worth it. You could shoot an entire wedding with an entry-level DSLR, but it doesn’t have super-fast autofocus and a million megapixels and (gasp) dual card slots. A higher-end camera does. Maybe you can’t justify a nicer camera right now. I certainly can’t justify buying a B10 for myself right now. All I’m saying is, don’t discount the Profoto as a statement piece just because it’s expensive. Profoto is still pushing out quality equipment that some other brands just aren't. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, don’t discount the AD200 or any other flash just because it isn’t Profoto. If anything, the B10 is an example that unlike ever before, the lighting world is full of options. If you need it, or hell, even just want it, the B10 is awesome. If you don’t need it or can’t justify it, use whatever you can and make some cool stuff. If you scoff at Profoto’s pricing and have sworn off paying that much for equipment, that’s fine too,  I’m still rocking my Paul C. Buff equipment for the few times I use flash these days. All in all, the B10 is an awesome step in the right direction for Profoto and I’m excited to get my hands on one for an actual shoot. Are you excited about the B10?

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36 Comments

user-204058's picture

OMG - created an account just for this: I will NOT bare with you. I WILL, however, bear with you. But probably not for long.

I'm pretty persnickety about such things but didn't notice that. :-)

Okay. You would know! :-/

user-204058's picture

Alright - I've had my say. Now to delete the account from this soft-porn site....

It's a bugBEAR of mine too!

John Horwitz's picture

The Internet is full of mistaken uses of homophones in expressions such as bear with me and bare with me. Bare with me doesn’t mean what you might think it means! The verb bare means “to reveal” or “to uncover.” The correct expression, “bear with me,” means “be patient with me.”

Kenneth Jordan's picture

Now there's the Godox 400 and 600 pro for half the cost and flashgear.net is one of a few US based suppliers who stand behind the product and have in house repairs along with the best customer service that can be found anywhere. Not to mention the full line of Godox products that work off of one $69.00 transmitter

Tim Wilson's picture

Thank you! I have been using my B1s and B2s since their introduction and the cost is SO WORTH the experience, reliability, and availability. I once had a B1 fall from a C-stand onto a concrete floor and though the dome was obliterated it kept on going and works flawlessly today. You cannot put a price on that! Actually you can: two-thousand bucks, and worth every penny. Good luck with a Paul C Buff in that circumstance; you'll be on the phone to Nashville with a week before you're back in business.

One point to add to those who can't get past the price is that Profoto offers a very attractive 20-30% student discount if you qualify. It's pretty smart on their end because it gets people into their ecosystem at an early point in their career, and personally speaking I doubt I'll ever change systems at this point.

I'm looking very forward to the B10 two-pack because on top off everything else I'll end up with a world-class backpack or carrying case as well.

Patrick Hall's picture

I’m currently in Alaska for the Profoto release and I have to say, the B10 is an absolutely amazing light. I was never sold on their B2 light and thought that was a step in the wrong direction, but the B10 is everything the B2 should have been.

People will always complain that Profoto gear is too expensive and while on the surface it does seem like there are other cheaper options, once you see the build quality, experience the ease in their light modifiers and mounting system, and enjoy the consistency in both their light quality but most importantly their Air remote trigger, I can’t imagine going back to the cheaper flashes I’ve used in the past.

I need to get a Godox AD200 and do a side by side comparison because there a several photographers here next to me that also own that system and they have a ton of critiques about it that I’ve never heard of. A few are lesser build quality, apparently it doesn’t light an even circle and has hard edges when lighting a studio background, and many have said the modeling light can’t be used at all it’s so bad. Obviously if you are just getting started out, you can easily overlook these flaws and wait for the next version esp if you can buy 3 for the price of one B10....but if you already own anything Profoto or want to use the light that most professionals and rental houses use, you should really consider the B10.

Francisco Hernandez's picture

It's 5, almost 6, times the cost of the AD200. That light also goes on sale every now and then for $280 too. I do see the benefits of the B10 and of course it's gonna be solid since it's Profoto, but with options like the new AD400 it's still hard to justify any Profoto lights to me.

Patrick Hall's picture

Another thing I love about he B10 not mentioned here is that the light stand mount detatches so you have a compact cylindrical flash that easily packs into a camera bag. It’s a lot like a 70-200 lens at that point.

I always had a hard time with the B1 and D1 packing into a camera bag (don’t even get me started on the alienbee square design). Also the B10 has a 1/4 thread on the light itself so you can also easily mount this light to a tripod if you travel light and carry only a tripod and not a light stand. Those two little features will make this light a lot easier to travel with and mount to a wide variety of stands that other lights can’t do without umbrella brackets, brass adaptors, and other grip accessories.

michael andrew's picture

I have a B-1 kit, amazing. Love those strobes. Bought them in 2013, haven’t missed a beat. Now, I wouldt buy them again. Im a photographer not a philanthropist, at the time there existed zero other options for me. Now there are options at considerably better price points.

The fact is this B-10 should be 800$. You can buy 5 ad 200,s and still take your wife out to dinner for the price of 1 B-10. That’s insane. No way the B-10 is 5 times more anything than an AD200

Brian Stricker's picture

I am betting the the B10 is a great light, it better be at that price. I just can't see how it can be worth that much more than a AD200. The godox has never ending adaptability. Speedlight head, bare bulb, round head like the Profoto light, bowens adapter, 2x mount to double power. Buy all that and you are still about half the price of 1 B10 but with functionality to fit any shoot. Plus the color and output is pretty spot on. And I thought Bron was over the top. LOL

Tony Clark's picture

I've owned Profoto Acute kits since '94 and love the system. I understand the need for battery powered systems but after owning a D1 500ws monolight and adding a $185. glass globe, I'm not interested in a flat faced flash head. I think Profoto going with the 250ws unit is underwhelming and it's overpriced at $1000 or whatever it is. Hell, I still use a Compact 300ws from time to time that keeps on going. I haven't found a backup flashtube, so I guess it's be thrown out when it dies.

Cesare Bonazza's picture

Call Silvino's Pro Flash Rx in LA it will fix your compact 300 and find your parts.

Tony Clark's picture

Thanks, it's still going strong but finding a backup flash-tube would be nice. I've used Flash Clinic in NYC for the one Profoto repair I've ever needed and will make a note about Silvino's.

gabe s's picture

With all that it offers, it seems like it might be worth it at that price point. Yet to see how they work in the real world with regular people, not all these promo videos.

What can not be defended is their insulting asking price of the air trigger.

David T's picture

Had the pleasure to work with Profoto in my vacation. Really love the mount, super easy to put softboxes and color gels on there without worrying too much about the flash tube.

Using Broncolor, Elinchrom and Bowens-style for my other studio work, find them very "fiddly".

I used Profoto for years. Started with packs, went with D1's and then the B1's when they came out. I had the B2 as well. I didn't have the same experiences that others mention. I had issues with color consistency. Yes, I use a color checker but still I had some oddball experiences and I think it was the Air triggers...I did have my B1's fall over and its expensive to get them fixed. And each broke when it fell. Its the cards inside that get damaged and cracked, the cases where scratched but the lights would not turn on and there was no power adjustment if they did. Profoto did get them back to me in just over a week. Cost for both was about $1100. Ouch. I owned three spare B1 batteries and 1 B2 spare. I never got more than 273 flashes from a battery. In tests I never got 500 w/s either. Best calculations are maybe 450 or so.
I tried the AD200 and then bought another. I started just using the Profoto stuff in my studio but I rented to an out of town photographer and noticed his Godox lights. The AD600. I admit the AD600 is a beast. But if you took care the batteries lasted forever. The light consistency for me was ok. I lived with the Profoto so I could live with the Godox. I sold all my Profoto equipment and stuck with AD200 always mounted to S brackets. I pack them that way. I use bare bulb about 99% of the time and Cheetahstand Quick open modifiers and hard reflectors. I now have the AD600Pro's and they ARE color consistent. I don't think they get to 600 w/s either but its at least 500! I just bought and tried the AD400Pro and this is my light. The stand mount removes, its about the size of a 70-200 and its just a great light to work with. Its $649. It has the same color consistency the 600Pro has. The newer X-Pro triggers really seal the deal though. $69! And they work! Sure if I were Annie Leibowitz I'd rock Profoto but I'm just me and Godox reacts to my needs and the market quickly, their stuff works and honest, if a AD200 goes down, I just buy another. Try the new round head H200R attachment too. My fresnel heads stay at home, the round head works very very well. In a pinch I can mount the extension head on the 200 and yes its corded but I can carry it on a boomerang bracket with the round head and get some pretty good, powerful light on the go. With decent weight. I don't have that flexibility with Profoto. For me, it was a no brainer.

Michael Jin's picture

Yes, small things here and there can add up in overall value, but I'm not really sure that all of the "small things" add up reasonably to $1300 in this case. I suppose to each his own...

kai mollerud's picture

Like most products that actually make it to market from a major company like profoto, there is a well research group of users who are going to buy it. In this case, people who already have profoto modifiers, and need extreme portability and fast setup. That's a small group of people, but one that profoto thinks will buy enough of these to justify making it.

Meanwhile, for the majority of users, the AD200 is a better option. It's a cheap, powerful, portable, high quality device, and as good as profoto's service might be, it isn't free outside of warranty, and I can buy a new AD200 faster and cheaper than I can have a profoto flash repaired.

john wheatley's picture

I spent 30 years in the professional end of photography retail.. From there I had a great insight as to what was good, and what was not so good... When it came to equipping my home studio, I chose Profoto, and have never regretted it.. I'm hoping as soon as possible to add a B10....

I don't know how or why you would write an article about something as good as Profit starting with "In defence of".

Michael Jin's picture

The main bashing of Profoto (as well as similar high end brands) isn't in regard to their sheer quality. It's in regard to their value proposition. So while this might be an excellent light, I would certainly say that its price tag requires some defense given the fact that we're not talking about a 30-50% price premium over a comparable product, but something closer to a 400% premium.

In short, the price for what you're actually getting is a bit absurd.

It's only absurd if you come from the mindset that everything should be cheap. Fair enough if you are a beginner, an amateur or a casual user but the people this is aimed at won't think twice about the price and they understand that quality, reliability, functionality comes at a price. If you are spending this much on gear then the work you are doing has a lot at stake - you don't take risks with cheap stuff. There is no reason to either.

Jon Miller's picture

I shoot at least 1-2 times a week, using strobes all the time and sometimes in studio other times on location. For location I use the Profoto B1 and they work beautifully do not skip a beat. Now, I also use 4 x Quantum's T5D-R Strobes (with battery they cost me about $1,500 each when I first got them) for smaller lights and I was going to replace them with the Profoto A1. Now that these have come out guess what I'm swapping to. Just in time too. What sealed the deal is the fact that these units can charge themselves while in use.
As for your statement about longevity I just retired a Speedotron 2403 after 30 years of excellent service then I went to Profoto.

John Skinner's picture

Maybe it's just me -- but over the last few months, every item released by every manufacturer seems like they're being marketed out and globally released like a cure for cancer.

All of this over-blown hype and fan-fare over new bodys and whatever else they can get internet website people on a paid junket to exploit people's opinions to BUY - BUY - BUY our new goods. It's insane.

Michael Jin's picture

I think that's been happening ever since selling stuff was a thing.

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