Last week, the plethora of photography announcements from Photokina was incredible. One product that was introduced, but got barely any attention, was a new strobe from Impact, the Venture TTL-600. It personally stood out to me as something I could possibly add to my own kit immediately if it does what it says it does and more importantly, does it reliably. So right now, it currently sits at the top of my list of new gear to try out.
The Venture TTL-600 battery-powered strobe from Impact is basically a direct competitor to the groundbreaking Profoto B1 500 AirTTL flash, which was a game-changer when it was first brought to the market roughly two years ago. It is where the popular new category of battery-powered strobes all started. It was and is what most photographers dream of: a powerful studio strobe that can run off an onboard battery, be fired via a wireless remote, and is capable of syncing with your camera all the way up 1/8,000 of a second. Now us photographers can easily shoot anywhere at anytime.
These type of lights are slowly taking over the industry. Since then, many other brands have released similar models that also compete against the B1. And as these other choices become the norm, hopefully prices will drop as competition becomes tougher. That is the one and only downside to the Profoto B1, its price. There is nothing else to complain about. It does exactly what we want and need with zero problems. Two years ago, Profoto was the only choice with this feature set and could ask any price they wanted for it.
I personally cannot wait to get my hands on one of these new Impact flashes and try it out myself. I am going to pick one up next month and throw everything I can at it for a week. As long as it works properly and does what I need it to, I will end up selling off my B1 and replacing it with this immediately. I don't care about the name on the outside shell; light is light. It's all how the photographer uses it. I can put that extra cash towards a variety of other things more important.
So, even though these two lights are in completely different price brackets, they offer extremely similar features on the spec sheet, so let's compare them on paper.
What Is Similar Between the Two
These are the major selling points and the most important features to me between the two models, knowing already that they are both battery-powered, wirelessly triggered lights.
- Both are TTL-compatible for Canon, Nikon, and Sony cameras, with the receiver for all three brands built into the strobes. So, you just have to buy the appropriate remote according to what camera you own.
- HSS up to 1/8,000 of a second
- You can control up to three separate groups of lights
- Flash duration: both lights have modes to shorten the flash duration while reducing the light's power, and they are virtually identical in both models. In the Impact, it is called ''Quick Mode,'' and Protofo calls it ''Freeze Mode''. They produce a duration of 1/19,500 and 1/19,000 of a second respectively. For me personally, that is negligible.
- Color temperature and consistency are also very similar in both strobes. The Venture and B1 are both listed at 5,600 K, with the Impact model at +/- 50 K difference despite what power setting used, and the Profoto giving a variance of only +/- 20 K flash to flash. Yes, it is more accurate, but is +/- 30 K really something to worry about? Perhaps. It depends on your genre.
- Wide range of modifiers
The Profoto B1 is obviously compatible with all of Profoto's extensive line of umbrellas, reflectors, and softboxes and is already known to be durable and made of high-quality materials. The Impact strobe has its own proprietary mount called a "Comet" mount, which I believe there is only one Octabox currently available at launch. However, the Impact strobe comes with an optional Bowens adaptor included for free, which immediately opens you up to wide range of modifiers on the market from various manufacturers. I personally use universal modifiers, like the Wescott Apollo Orb and Photek Softlighter, so they work with any strobe as well as my small hotshoe flashes too. So in my opinion, modifier choices are dead even; they are not a pro or a con for either strobe choice. There is so much to choose from for both.
Pros for the Impact Venture
All of these positives for the Impact flash that I will list are just on paper. I have not used one yet, so I am going only by the press release. But again, if it does exactly what they claim it does, these are wins for the Venture model over the more expensive B1.
The price of everything is so much cheaper with Impact, less than half the cost of the Profoto. That is a giant difference!
- The Impact Venture cost $999 versus $2,095 for the Profoto B1. You can buy two Impact flashes, and still have $100 left over instead of just one B1.
- The remote control: $230 for the Impact versus $411 for the Profoto.
- Extra battery: $150 for the Venture versus $266 for the B1.
B&H currently has a Venture Kit available for $1,249, which includes the strobe with battery and charger. Then, they throw in the remote control trigger and a second battery along with a hand grip for an assistant to handhold the flash if wanted and the 32'' octabox. To buy all that for the Profoto costs $2,772, over a $1,500 difference, and it does not even include the handgrip or softbox. It seems like it could be a tremendous deal.
Impact claims their new flash is capable of 500 full-power shots per battery charge versus only 220 shots on the Profoto; that is more than double and just incredible to me. That means less batteries you have to buy, again resulting in a cheaper investment overall.
Size and Weight
The Impact Venture wins here again hands down. It is much smaller and lighter compared to the B1, listed at 8.9'' long with a 4.1'' diameter, while the Profoto is 12.2'' x 5.12''. Also, the Impact flash weights in at 4.25 lbs, while the Profoto is 6.61 lbs. Amazingly compact for what it is, it is not much larger than a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. So, both actual size and weight are a significant difference, considering they have such similar features and are supposed to do the same thing. For me, every inch and pound counts when working on location.
Cons for the Impact Venture
This is a surprisingly short list considering what I am comparing it to, but they are all very important things that have to be considered.
Build Quality and Durability
This has yet to be seen, but will this new Impact flash hold up in real-world usage? Will it survive the grind of a professional photographer using it on location without breaking down? Only time will tell, but reading all the reviews for other models made by Impact, people seem to be very happy and content with them overall, with a huge majority of the comments being overly positive for the brand. So, even if this thing is made out of cheaper materials and plastic, if it works, it's fine with me. But build quality and durability have to be considered as a potential issue with cheaper companies. I know Profoto heads can take a beating and keep on going.
Profoto does give you a two-year warranty versus only one year with Impact, but in my seven years of being a professional photographer, I have only once had a piece of gear fail on me, and it was a lens, and it broke years after it was already out of the warranty period. Quality products seems to last, and a guarantee is not that important to me personally. I never go on a job anyway without a backup plan for each piece of gear failing.
The Profoto B1 recycles in 1.9 seconds at full power with the Impact at 3.0 seconds. But the Venture is also putting out 600 Ws, versus only 500 Ws for the B1. Basically, a one-second extra recycle rate does not affect my style of shooting, but maybe it does yours. So, it actually isn't a con to me, but it has to be mentioned. I'll take the extra 100 Ws, and wait one more second for a full recharge.
Whenever a new camera model comes to market, if the B1 or its remote does not work properly with the new camera, I know that Profoto will make and release a firmware update as quickly as possible to make it compatible. Will Impact do the same? Maybe, but you never know. So, that is one more thing to think about. Another bargain B1 competitor, the Interfit S1, has this problem. A reviewer said it does not work with his Canon 1D X Mark II, even five months after the release. I also read online somewhere else that the the S1 also does not work with some older cameras, like the original 5D classic. So, this is another potential issue to keep in mind.
Any way that you look at it, this release is great for the consumer. More brands are going to be releasing strobes with similar specs and of all different price ranges. More choices are always a good thing for the customer. Competition will hopefully cause manufacturers to build better products to compete against each other.