The New Profoto B10 Might Be The Ultimate Portable Flash

The Profoto B10 is here, and it's one of the most exciting advancements in lighting that I've seen in years. 

Months ago Patrick and I received a cryptic message from Profoto inviting us to an all expense paid trip to Alaska in September. Of course we agreed to go but Profoto refused to tell us what the event was about or who would be there. When we arrived we met a strange group of photographers. Many of them were famous studio, portrait, and wedding photographers while a large portion were famous "influencers" and "Instagramers" who had never used a strobe before. I actually started to wonder if Profoto was about to announce a new mirrorless camera. 

Luckily Profoto wasn't planning on competing with Sony, and instead they revealed the Profoto B10, a portable battery powered strobe with a color shifting LED for video that can also work on AC power. The B10 can also sync a LED flash with an smartphone to get studio lit shots without the need for a pro camera. At this point it all made sense. Profoto had made a light that could "do it all" in an extremely small package and they wanted to sell it to every photographer, even the ones who haven't considered buying lighting. I knew how special the B10 was from the moment I saw it, but for the next two days, they took us through every possible feature and function of the light. By the end of this event, everyone, including the instagrammers would want one. 

Why is the B10 special? 

The B10 is shockingly small. It's about the size of two speedlights. It's a strobe first but it also has a very powerful LED that is actually designed to work with video. Best of all, this is the first monolight Profoto has ever produced that can be used while it is charging. This means that the B10 is actually a great choice for studio photographers as well. 

The Profoto D10 is about the same length as a normal speedlight

Battery Life

The battery that is included with the unit is capable of 400 full power flashes or around 700 flashes at half power. If you're using the LED for video, it can remain lit at full power for 90 minutes. Unlike the Profoto B1 and B1X, the charging port is no longer hidden while attached to the flash. This means that the battery is able to charge and power the B10 at the same time. This feature means that you may not need to buy extra batteries. If you were shooting a wedding for instance, you could leave the B10 plugged in at the church and reception but use battery power for outdoor portraits. 

Design

Profoto has really stepped up their game when it comes to design. Obviously the flash is small, but everything about it feels high end. I was told that the B10 does have a fan but nothing about this light feels hollow and there are no noticeable holes for a fan. During my 4 days with this light, the fan has never come on, and if it has, I certainly couldn't tell. As a videographer who is constantly worried about sound, this was extremely important to me. The screen on the back is now a high res color display. The buttons and UI have been simplified and updated too. The bottom of the B10 has a quarter inch thread which allows you to easily mount it to a tripod directly or you can use the included tilting umbrella bracket to attach it to a light-stand. There are a few issues I have with this light but in my opinion the physical design of this light is flawless. 

Profoto really stands out from other strobes with their slick design and reliability

Power

Profoto claims that the B10 is as powerful as five speedlights. We put this to the test and found that the B10 is comparable to around 2.5 speedlights or around 1.3 extra stops of flash power. Keep in mind that our test was far from scientific and if our results are disproven, we will happily update this. We didn't have another LED light with us to compare the power output of the constant light but the B10 appeared to have similar output to our Fiilex 360EX light which we are currently using in our studio. The Fiilex light is not particularly bright but we use it because it will accept all of our Profoto light modifiers. The LED light is not powerful enough to be used outside unless the sun has set but it may be enough for studio work. 

B10 is about 1.3 stops more powerful than a single speedlight

Air Remote

The Profoto Air Remote is basically a mandatory accessory to this light. The light itself has a receiver built in but you will need an Air Remote to put on your camera to trigger it. The remote is extremely reliable over long distances and it also allows you to change the power output of multiple lights remotely, but it does have one major inconvenience... Even though the remote allows you to change the power of the flash, it doesn't actually show you the flash output so you will still find yourself staring at the back of the light to figure out your settings. Profoto has partially fixed this by introducing a new iPhone App that has this missing feature. 

The Smartphone App

The B10 is capable of connecting to your smartphone via bluetooth and with the new Profoto app you will be able to see and control the settings on each of the lights. This seems particularly useful to me if you were using the lights for a video and you couldn't easily reach them. With the app you can turn lights on and off, dim them, and color shift them individually. Using the app during a still photoshoot, like a wedding, feels more cumbersome than helpful to me but I'm sure some photographers will like it. 

The Profoto App allows you to change your power settings and LED color balance wirelessly

The Profoto app also has a camera function built in that will use the LEDs in a high powered "flash" mode that is capable of syncing with a phone's digital shutter. This will allow photographers to get even better looking shots with their phones. I'm not sure that I personally will ever need this feature but I can certainly understand why Instagrammers will love it. 

The Price

This is where Profoto is probably going to lose most of you; the B10 is $1595 for one and $3195 for two and it comes with a custom backpack. Some photographers will be able to justify paying this while most will not, but that is right where Profoto likes to be. If you were on a budget, you could buy a flash and a color shifting LED panel for less than $100 on Amazon but the B10 is all about convenience. If you want one light that can do it all, and can be used with battery or AC power and can be controlled wirelessly, this may be the only option at the moment. I really wish Profoto could have made the B10 $999 and at that price they would have truly made a light that would be appealing to almost every photographer, but at $1600 it's certainly not for everyone. 

Final thoughts

Profoto is betting a lot on the new B10, and I think I know why. I bet it will become the most successful Profoto product they've ever released. Is it for everyone? Of course not, it's extremely expensive, but everything Profoto makes is extremely expensive. Most photographers can't justify these prices because they don't rely on these features but if you're a professional, paying the premium for a light like this might actually be a really easy decision. The B10 is actually capable of replacing three different lights: AC powered strobes, battery powered strobes, and a color shifting LED. When you look at it that way, the price begins to make a little more sense. If I was still shooting weddings I would probably buy three of these and I would use them as studio lights during the week, battery powered lights for on location portraits, and then I would plug them in during wedding receptions. But, if you don't need a light that can "do it all" there are so many other cheaper options to consider as well. I've been shooting with Profoto for years now and I love their system but I'm the first to admit that it's a luxury branding with a luxury price. 

I'm personally very excited about the B10. Yes I can always wish for more power and a lower price tag but for the way I shoot, this little light is about as close to perfect as I could wish for. 

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63 Comments

Lee Christiansen's picture

The mains power option is welcome. But it does bring up the question as to how this effects battery life.

With Li-Ion batteries having a limited number of recharge cycles, would plugging in to the mains and essentially constantly trickle charging the battery, have a bearing on our recycle numbers?

Russell Tracy's picture

I've been using the B2 for several years and I have not seen any decrease in performance on battery only after using it plugged in when Im in a studio setting. Obviously the B2 battery is different but I dont think this would be a major issue.

michael andrew's picture

Batteries like to be full and charged, that’s how they will last the longest. Depleting a battery is not the best way to extend its life. Read any statistics on any battery, the longest life will come from the least depleted usage cycles.

Travis Harris's picture

Lithium cells actually dont like to be full. 4.2V per cell is a full charge, and the packs in the Profotos are 4s I believe. Either way, Lithium like to be at 50% full all the time for long term use (3.8v/cell). This I know for sure, and have tens of thousands in RC jets, and planes and live this day in and day out lol. So, by using them all the time plugged in.. your keeping the cells at full charge state all the time, and this is in fact not the best for the battery. Want to make a cell phone battery last longer? Dont charge till 100%. Charge to 90%, and remove from charger. It will last longer in terms of how long it will hold a charge over time. Now.. Profoto may have a sensor on the board that detects that its being used while plugged in, and keeps the voltage lower in the battery to 4.1v/cell or something like that, which would be a lot better. It just depends how they engineer it.

Well I use four speedlights to create white background and use two Godox AD 200 for my mainlight, as well as one more speedlight. All Godox. I have HSS on all, and all flashes have rechargable batteries.
Price maybe 1700 dollar.

So 5 a1 is 5000 USD, and two B10 is 3000 USD. Total 8000 USD.

And Profoto modifiers are expensive to.

Most likely the LED light on these B10 they are not usable for photography.

I believe any battery based flash system will be compared to Godox. For most people to pay 5x is not on the table

That aside it looks great. I would not mind to change, but at that pricepoint Profoto are for wery Pro Payed customers. Evidently Profoto is not competing in price.

Dan Howell's picture

Your math is off. What you are describing could be achieved more simply with 3 B10 at $4500. Or probably with 2 A1 and 1 B10 for $3500. For me, if you have to use 7 units it is not an effective system and still no modeling light. If you get the results you like from it great. No-one is forcing you to buy Profoto. I choose it for my work because of the power and speed I require for my shoots.

While I already have Profoto 7b and an AcuteB pack/head units, I am considering adding a B10. I would not consider Godox, especially the AD200 because of the shape/form factor doesn't make sense for the way I mount lights or use lighting modifiers.

My math is just fine. 4 speedlight to make a background white is required due to the fact it's a narrow area. Those don't have modeling light but I have no need and the one in Profoto A1 are pretty useless anyway.

Then I have two AD200 in a Bowens mount bracket, and there are modeling light. Or eqalent the new AD400 pro will have a more powerful modelling light at the same price.

Nobody's forcing me to purchase Profoto, and nobody force you either. That's not the point.

The point is Profoto is expensive and Godox will do the job for much less, actually for what the sales tax are on Profoto where I live.

Still nobody tested HSS on Godox, Elinchrome ELB 500 and Profoto.
It's a known issue Godox flashes have overheating protection that will hit in after a certain number of rapid fired flashes. If this new Profoto head will take unlimited number of HSS flashes fired rapitly then ok, that's something to pay for.

Yes Profoto is wery sleek and nice, the display logic looks much better. I hate traditional speedlight interface. But the latest trigger Godox made is wery nice to work with. 1/3 increments compared to 1/10 is a pluss with Profoto.

A highly successful well payed photographer might go for Profoto or Bron, but even among those I notice at least one loving Godox.

But yes, Profoto makes nice stuff. For the pro. Rich pro:)

Francisco Hernandez's picture

Godox made a recent update to the trigger and now it can do 1/10th increment adjustments if you want. =)

Cool! That's the xpro trigger? Do I need to upgrade firmware on flashes also?

Francisco Hernandez's picture

I believe so. Robert Hall is my friend and go to guy on Godox. This is his video on it:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tu0byxWjCVU

Matt Sweadner's picture

Rob is great. He's my go to guy for Godox and Cheetahstand reviews.

Matt Sweadner's picture

Dan Howell - "For me, if you have to use 7 units it is not an effective system." You do realize there are other types of photography besides portraiture, right? And frankly, if someone wants to use 7 lights in portraiture and they get good results then who am I to tell them they're wrong?

I shoot architecture and on location product installs am almost comfortable with a dozen lights. My kit is now all Godox, consisting mostly of the 360's. The first used 180 I bought in 2014 is still cranking. My remote is the old $20 version and it actually does show me the output of the light I'm adjusting remotely. No need for me to pull out my phone to check it. What a ridiculous fail on the part of Profoto on their remote, wow.

The Godox batteries last so long I can get two days of shooting out of them. That's two days of lit brackets followed by light popping (painting) everything in the scene. And I'm not talking about short days either. Most days are a good 12+ hours on location. I'd pay a premium for a US product (not that Profoto is made in the US), but not even the European mfrs are close to challenging Godox for my workflow.

Dan Howell's picture

He described white background and main light,something I actually know a little about given that I've been doing it for 20 years. On my shoots which I might need f8 or f11, prefer shooting with modeling lights and generally look for fast recycle to catch sequences, speed lights don't work for me. The B10 would not suffice for most of my shooting. I'm not advocating it would. I would consider it only to supplement my 7b and AcuteB. Or had I not already owned one or both of those I would consider it or an Interfit (though I still think Profoto's speedring system vastly superior to the Bowen's style)

Stacking speed lights has been around a lot longer than Godox. People used to do it with Vivitar 283s. I don't know if you thought that you were educating me, but I have actually been aware of the concept for a while now. Stacking units to get to a particular f just doesn't interest me. It increases the chances of failure due to charging, sync-ing, or breakage. At that point, having more robust and powerful equipment with a network of support and rentals across the country is both a tangible and intangible advantage that, for me, creates enough value to invest in a system. Is there something else you would like to educate me about the work I do?

Actually I mostly do use one main light with a huge umbrella for my simple type of work. But I have a 3 meter (9 foot) wide cyclorama that I need to light up. Due to the fact I have less then (3 foot) on each side I put 4 speedlight with flash benders, pretty close to the wall. Maybe umbrellas would be better but I do not have space for that. Before I used 4 strobes with 60x60 cm softboxes, and some huge flags. I am much more happy now, my studio is more fun to work in and apeare larger. The speedlightss are close to the wall and out of my way.

Of cause if you or anyone could educate me in a better way to do it, I would appreciate that. I am just a simple small town photographer - I don't know as much as many here on Fstoppers.

Then in respect of the speedlights, they are powerful, a stop less then Profoto B10, and have the same type of battery. Due to the fact the run on a fragment of full power, the recycle time is just about instant. By far less then a second. And it runs I expect 1000 pops before need to recharge.

Also running two Ad200 together gives a really fast recycle time.

I actually tested and the flashes will trigger if I shoot in single mode, one after the other. Also in slow motordrive actually, due to my autofocus settings.

The new process controller gives a wery sleek interface to remotely control all flashes.

So I find it strange you think I am washing my money on flash gear. After all those 4 flashes including flash benders are less then one A1.

Ohh. And if you look at my setup I actually have spare flashes so if one break I am still good.

I am probably proud and arrogant, but I truly think I have a good setup, that I also can pack down in a small case. I love for sure:)

Matt Sweadner's picture

Lol Dan. I did take a little poetic liberty by changing up what is being photographed (portraiture vs architecture & products) so that's on me. I just got riled by your judgmental response to Bjarne sometimes using 7 lights.

You are obviously a gifted photographer (I checked out your work) and could no doubt offer terrific insight if you just had a little better "bedside manner" haha. In my eyes you came across as a bully and I have this sort of knee jerk reaction to that sort of thing. If you're not, then my apologies.

We don't know how large of a background Bjarne is trying to blow out when using 4 speedlights. It wouldn't be my "go to" method, even for a large area. I agree that having at least a little more power than speedlights would be optimal but I don't know Bjarnes circumstance. He's making it work so that deserves credit. I like redundancy too but in 4 years of switching to Godox I have yet to have any of them break and that's even after taking spills and landing on asphalt.

I will say that if I found myself on location and all of my Godox went down, I could rent just about anything to continue the assignment. I fly all manual and would just need to get the nuances of the new lights down. I used D1 500's on a rather lengthy assignment and didn't particularly find them awesome. They were alright but I didn't walk away from the gig telling myself I had to have some of my own. I have a good deal of experience with White Lightnings and JTL's as well. Hated the JTL's. The White Lightnings were tanks without many bells and whistles but reliable as hell. Most of my Godox have been purchased used (except for the 200) and have run me about $200 per light. I control them all with a crazy old $20 remote and $10 triggers. That's some insane shit.

Lee Christiansen's picture

Yes... I will regualrly use 5--6 lights for portraiture or even headshots. And the results look beautiful, (so my clients say...)

And sometimes I'll just use one. (And they can look just as good - but different).

Matt Sweadner's picture

Nice work Lee. Your painterly portraits are phenomenal. I want that backdrop you're using even though I don't do much portraiture at all lol. It looks like you're changing it's color with your lighting since I'm seeing it look cool and warm in different shots. Is that right?

Motti Bembaron's picture

I love it when the word 'ultimate' is used. Kind like 'awesome' and 'epic' -:), words used to get your attention but no real value in them.

Ultimate? Hardly. Kind like the A1 was never the ultimate flash.

If you are a professional, you will take good care of your money and do some serious thinking before paying so much for basically a strobe.

That's what pros should do.

Patrick Hall's picture

We should have said “Ultraaaaaaaa!”

Looks great. Probably very convenient. But that price... Just need to charge more :)

Lars Daniel Terkelsen's picture

I will be looking forward to a comparison to Godox AD400 pro. Yes, the AD200 is closer in power and weight, but functionally the AD400 pro covers the B10 except for the bi-color LED. (It doesn´t really seem like a big deal, though, given that it is very easy to gel.)

This review gave me a *very* surprising fact, that definitely will give Godox users (like me) a good chuckle: The 420$ Profoto remote does not tell you the actual power of your flashes. Wait, what the what, what? I have relied on this functionality for years (in some of my work) but Profoto just doesn´t have it? (Oh yes, you can use your iPhone, but if I am all wet in my wetsuit in waist high water in the dark, I only want to deal with my camera (including the camera mounted trigger.)
But off course, if you are an all Profoto shooter, then you would not know what you are missing, and all will be fine. :-D

Interesting features? Sure. If it was 500ws or more without the recessed head, really interesting. The main power is nice, but I'd still use a B1 or speedlights before this. I won't get why they didn't make a 1000ws B1...THAT would be the "ultimate" portable flash. The thing people don't think about with the tiny lights is the distance limitation and the modifier limitation. You need the power not for power's sake, but so you can shape the light.

Travis Harris's picture

Yeah, I have been watching.. and it seems all manufactures seem to be limited with the power to weight ratio. Something new (tech) needs to happen I think before we see some real innovation on that regard. I see 400 - 500ws all coming in close to 5.5 - 6.5lbs (regardless a Quadra pack with head, or a B1x, Or the slightly heaver AD600 PRO at 600ws). I see 1000ws - 1200ws packs in the 9.5 - 10lb range (Ranger SPEED Pack was 17- pounds at 1100ws, and the new ELB 1200 is just under 10.) So, 250ws at the 3 pound mark is about right. I agree, I was wishing it would be a 400ws light at the same size and weight, but this is not possible right now.

no thx i stick to godox

Lee Christiansen's picture

We get a lot of comparisons with Godox. Nothing wrong with Godox.

But it is a mistake to compare on features or paper specs alone.

Shoot complex projects with multiple strobes with Profoto for a week, and Godox for a week. Then tell me there is no difference.

After that, decide on whether the difference is worth the extra £££. It's a law of diminishing returns. 5x the ££ doesn't give 5x the benefits. But I shot with Bowens, (and excellentbut now defunct UK brand), for years and was very happy, until I tried Profoto. Changed my whole set up in a heartbeat and despite the high cost (6x D1's, 2x B1's, lots of modifiers, Air remotes, TTL remotes...) I've always been pleased I made the switch.

I have Godox speedlights and their build quality is great. I love the radio system. They have much the same features as the more expensive Canons. BUT, I find the Godox ETTL system is less predictable and quirkier. This would be typical of a feature not easily marketed as an advantage by Canon, but the experience shows Canon is better as a user experience.

Godox and Profoto are both fine brands. They answer different needs or priorities. Light is light, but how we enable that light is another thing.

Lars Daniel Terkelsen's picture

Just out of curiosity: Have you shot an extensive setup of AD600 Pro's? And how did they fail in comparison to Profoto. (I am really just trying to understand the differences here.)

Lee Christiansen's picture

Unless there has been an update since I last explored the AD600's, the AD600's only offer adjustment in1/3 stop, which is not refined enough for me. That inabilty to go 1/10 stop is a dealbreaker for me. (Edit - Godox have now updated this to 1/10 so I'm told).

I have the Godox remotes for my speedlights and it just isn't as fast to use as the Profoto Air system. Something to do with the layout and application. True the lack of power display on the Profoto makes people upset, but I'm using a meter in the studio so it is rarely an issue - unless I'm finding a silly mistake.

Depending on who you trust, colour consistency is worse or the same with Godox. In all fairness, when the Profoto tubes go "off" you can get inconsistencies.

I much prefer the modifier mounting system with Profoto. I've used the "S" type mount for years and never quite loved it. I prefer the build quality of the Profoto softboxes, (although my current favourite is the Elincrom Deep Rotax Octa).

Unlike many, I quite like the flat face of the B1 / D1 strobes. Sooo easy to fit gels (NDs or colour correction which I use extensively to get exact balance with different modifiers). And I find the dome is almost as good as the more traditional open tube.

I love that I can turn the modeling lights on / off with the remote. Some of my projects require me to shoot many headshots with multiple strobes and the ability to do this (when using grids) is a real speed boost. The modeling light on the AD600 is a little under powered for me. (The Pro version is suitably powered)

The rather excellent HSS ability of Profotos is rather useful when shooting outside and now partcularly as Profoto offer such an extended power range with this option. True it isn't always needed, but I don't like limitations when faced with the unexpected.

I use mains powered and battery powered strobes with my D1's and B1's. I love the interchangeabilty, and of course the D1's are less expensive than the B1's and only about £200 more than the AD600 Pro. When I'm shooting hard all day, that mains power is essential and I can reserve B1 use for little things like highlights. The Godox has a power adapter but this brings the price difference between the AD600 Pro and the Profoto D1 to even less at just £120 difference, and it's a whole set of extra power supplies to bag up...

My experience of Godox backup is zero. They simpoly don't respond. To be fair, Profoto UK is not much use with tech response - but there are excellent 3rd party service people to give me this support.

There is something about the "feel" of the lights in use. It's hard to quantify... If they were car doors, Profoto would be a more reassuring clunk when you close the door.

Godox don't fail in comparison, I just find I work quicker with Profoto. And of course when I bought Profoto, the AD600's weren't around.

So, when I'm shooting outdoors or balancing with ambient I'll typically use my B1's but in those cases I'll typically only use 2x strobes, (maybe an extra little speedlight or two sync'd up). In that case I pay a bit more but I have 1/10 stop adjustment, better colour rendition, easier gel application and HSS when I need it.

When I'm in studio mode I'll be using 5-6 strobes all day and so mains power comes into play - hence my D1's. And with that 1/10 adjustment, colour accuracy, flat head OR dome use and all those beautifully made Profoto modifiers, AND with the Air remote system which is fast and gives me modeling light control, I'm only paying £120 more per head.

And of course if I need to supliment my kit, shoot on location or send a unit in for repair, (not yet), I can hire in duplicate replacements in a heartbeat from almost any city.

Must admit, I prefer the Godox display being on the side.

Never expect massive differences, but the experience is different. How different is up to the user.

Lars Daniel Terkelsen's picture

Thanks a lot for explaining in depth.
Two notes:
AD600 pro (as well as the pro remote) has just been updated to accommodate 1/10 stop adjustment. And there is a color accuracy mode on the AD600 pro, that I have seen reported to be more accurate than Broncolor.

Lee Christiansen's picture

Good to hear of the development. I'm happily entrenched in the Profoto ecosystem so I don't keep up with all the new tweaks of other brands.

When I bought my Profoto gear I was working more than I am now and the choices were more limited. Godox is bringing some great new products to market amd they're aiming for better and better quality. Certainly if I was doing it agin I would be auditioning their systems with careful attention.

Michael Jin's picture

The reference to the "clunk" of a car door is interesting because that's something car companies specifically go out of their way to acoustically engineer to increase the perception of quality despite the fact that it's not something that is necessarily related to the ACTUAL quality of the product (be it the door or the car).

In photography we see a similar thing with lens manufacturers building barrels out of metal rather than plastic despite it having no beneficial effect other than increasing the perceived value (we associate heavier with better build quality).

I find it interesting that you attribute some sort of "feel" to a strobe and I would be curious to know what that can be attributed to because I've never thought of strobes like that.

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