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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39 Comments

Previous comments
zave smith's picture

​I have a question for the group. I travel on occasion for clients and with the TSA now making it difficult to put lithium batteries in your checked kit, how do you carry enough batteries? Having 6 batteries in my carry on plus my camera case would not work. Up to know I have been traveling with electrical powered DynaLites so this has not been a problem but I have been thinking of switching to battery power units.

DU NGUYEN VIET's picture

How bright is the LED light? That is what i dont know.
FYI, the AD200 just need a tiny mount which fits in any bags. I never need to remove its head to mount, so which mount you are using?
FYI again, i drop 1 ad600, ad600 pro on concrete floor, highest my light stand can go, nothing wrong with the flash! Profoto can last longer, never used one, but my godox lights haven't failed me since.
Im just providing info. Probably profoto lights are nice, id love to try out if my income justifies its price.

Kurt Lindner's picture

I can't help but strongly disagree, the AD200 and B10 are nothing alike. The AD200 is more of a monster experimental speed light that sits between studio and location -frankly, it looks like a joke, I'd be embarrassed to use one on set.

The B10 is intended for a backpack of 4 heads and 4 spare batteries (I don't know if ProFoto is intending it like this, I mean a pro would most appreciate them in this way), that you can mafer in a tree or throw into a 3" Octa and a have a studio.

The B10 is WAY overpriced, even considering the quality, the wireless only interface is a joke, and far from a feature. I can't wait for Godox to actually rip the B10 off for us, it'll be great; hopefully the big light manufacturers will learn something...

frank nazario's picture

Profoto is walking in the the same exact path that Youngnuo did with Godox. Now all of the sudden every main manufacturer is offering lower power solutions to maket ... because they saw that HIGH POWEr MEgA PACKS and Absolutely ABSURD pricing did not work anymore to entice customers to buy their product.

Thankfully new professional photographers look at their equipment as business investments BUT also look at their ROI as their priorities... and found out that Godox and other similar brands not only provided BETTER performance than their premium brands but also a a FRACTION of the price.

Profoto is desperately trying to reach a market that has been identified by these 2 companies and trying to justify their premium price with the weight of their brand... thankfully that is not working.

Their A1 Flash... a marketing flop. nothing more than a suped up speedlight. with the limitations of speedlights with power similar to it...or nothing that a bump in ISO or an adjustment in shutter speed could not equal... and please STOP the comparison of 2/3 of a stop and that kind of BS... NO ONE CAN SEE THAT in real world scenarios only in labs!!

Grab a Godox TTL speedlight and an A1 drop them inside an softbox and they behave IDENTICAL in the real world

The B10 is their futile effort to grab a piece of the market also controlled by the more affordable brands... and by the way it has been shown to perform ... the B10 does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING than any other of the more affordable brands cant do.

I am in the belief that Profoto is a bloated, and now technically lagging product brand that is trying to keep a grip in the market by presenting redundant OUT DATED products using their brand as a leveling item and ask premium price, thankfully photographers today have been educating themselves and are exposed to so many alternatives that now are really seeing what Profoto is about.

Godox and many other companies at this point offer solutions similar to this one at a fraction of the price and with even better specs and performance. and for a working photographer saving money and getting performance that will get the job done is becoming the standard...thankfully.

Errick Jackson's picture

I would honestly compare the B10 to the AD400Pro before the AD200 simply because color accuracy is a considerably important feature in both of those lights and the AD200 is pretty terrible in comparison to those lights in terms of stable color temperature.

I moved from the AD200 and have been using the AD600Pro for about 6 months now for a lot of E-Commerce and studio work and the stable color mode is exceptional and has been flawless. Plus the new firmware updates allow 0.1-stop increments now. The battery life is great; it powers all the way down to 3Ws for shooting wide open; it has an AC Adapter you can get to plug the light into mains power. Before Profoto was a cost issue for me. Now it's an inconvenience.
My AD600Pro does everything I would personally buy a Profoto light for: Color consistency, power, battery life, mains power connection, and a wealth of great modifiers.

As for the "investment" thing: I'm not really one to play that game right now. Refusing to try new brands because they haven't been around long or because it's Chinese (kind of a shady, prejudice reason to not like something) is a bit silly to me. I've not seen reports of issues; I've not experienced issues. If I break my light, I spent so little on it, I'll just buy another or buy the Flashpoint version and have it serviced through Adorama (I just like the Godox name lol). But seriously, every brand has to start and be young at some point. Godox has continuously put out solid equipment. Feels like a reason to work with them.

So all in all, I'm sure the B10 is excellent, but I do think Profoto should be worried about Godox; just not the AD200. Plus, at this rate, who's to say an AD200Pro isn't in the works?

Damian Mythe's picture

I had B10 and B1X on last photoshoot (on friday). I was really sceptical about it but it done pretty good job :) Unfortunately B10 misfire few times (i was told later that it is because of not updated firmware. ) Anyway IMHO battery is less capable than B1X (its just subjective feeling) I did not measure it in any way. After draining it I just plugged it in and continue to shoot - what is amazing. I did not find out dim light option though. But I overpower led light with flash so... no harm done. Color consistency for me is similar to B1X - good enough. (but not good as pro-8a :) ) After my previous shoot when i had only b1x i started to consider godox (ad600 pro) its like 50% cheaper... but after last shoot.. i'm not sure about it. Maybe you had any experience with it? I never shoot with godox. Is it durable/reliable as Profoto? Anyway shooting with B10 was realy good experience. I thought about investing in D2 but now.. hmmm maybe B10 :)

Jay Jay's picture

Keep in mind that although there are some things the author likes in the B10 that he doesn't with the AD200, Godox releases models and updates on a much much faster release schedule than Profoto. (My opinion only, but do people need or want an A1 speedlight, or this small B10? I'd much more prefer a capable strobe that can be run off battery, as well as connected to AC power in the studio. That's what you call a perfect on location/off location system).

I love the B1x, but in the few years it's been out, Profoto has only managed to basically correct the things that was wrong with the original model. That's it. In that time, Godox took their idea, improved on it, and has been running circles around them since. All that translates into a *lot* of lost sales and customers for Profoto.

And a question to the author- if you had the money to spend on Profoto gear, would you really buy this B10, when for $600 more, you can get the much more powerful B1x? :)

Jesse Dittmar's picture

I purchased this unit. Returned it after one use. There is no sync port. If your Air Remote is too close to the unit the flash will not fire because of radio wave interference. If you ever want to use this light near your camera the unit is useless with no fix - other than optically slaving from another flash. Such a stupid oversight. Un-usable for professionals.

Hooman Mesri's picture

first, its not a war to make an article in defense on something. Tons of factors determine if i have to go with a system or another one. But there is an other side regarding these manufacturers and how they operate.
See, you have to ask yourself, how a light system can have almost all the technology, light quality, design and build and sells almost one third the price of the other competitors?. Still, the profit margin shouldn't be less than 40% or so for the company itself.
I am pretty sure both Profoto and Broncolor get many of their components and casings from China, and there is nothing look cheep on Godox lights that we can say they compromise on build quality. So, They really compromise on something that they can do this, Right?. The only thing i would think of is the cost of labor and in general the labor laws. Its true this manufacturers making jobs for people but for what cost!?. Isn't it right to say that the actual people building these piece of technology should be entitled for basic benefits for what they do? The sad part is that this is not going to change, because what? because, no matter what, outside people always looking for bargain.