The Profoto B1 vs. Godox AD600 for Flash Photography

The Profoto B1 vs. Godox AD600 for Flash Photography

I promised a while back that I would do a comparison between the Profoto B1 and the Godox AD600 head to head. I have finally had the chance to rent and spend some time with the Profoto B1 again, and I am ready to give my thoughts on the two as they pertain to the way I shoot and the situations I spend my time in. 

There have been a few comparisons out there, but nothing that really pitted the two against each other in the field, which is where they're meant to be. As an exclusively on-location shooter, I decided to throw the two in a bag and head out in the middle of the day for a personal shoot with a local model. What follows are my thoughts on that day. 

The Setting

My test shoot was from 2:00-5:30 PM on a below freezing day in Seoul. For that, I need to thank both the model, Christine, and my assistant for the day, Anuj Madan, for their dedication to my madness. The wind whips its way between buildings in Seoul, so "below freezing" was simply the weather report's version of the temperature we faced. I wanted to create as much drama as I could using the two flashes in both shade and bright sunlight to stress-test them both. We wound our way through an abandoned area of Seoul, switching between the two lights as we went. The modifier for the day was a Photek Softlighter II, my weapon of choice. Because I shoot Fujifilm cameras, there was no sense in comparing the TTL functions of the lights as there are no triggers available for the X System yet. What you see below was shot all manual using a Fujifilm X-T2 and Flashwave III (Impact PowerSync16) triggers. Let's get into my findings.

Build Quality

The first time I used the Profoto B1, I wasn't convinced. However, getting it in my hands again, it's mostly more solid and rugged than the AD600. The knobs, dials, buttons, connections, everything just feels a lot better built. Everything, that is, except for the outer shell. I'd say these two strobes are equivalent there. Both feel like they could take a knock or two.
 
The screen on the Profoto, although sexy, doesn't give you all the information that the Godox does. I love being able to know my flash duration at a glance so I can decide what sort of movement will be frozen. That may not bother you, but for me, it's handy at times. 
 
In terms of the flash bulb, the Profoto gets top marks. Being hidden behind a screen and recessed into the body of the strobe, you feel a lot more comfortable tossing it into a bag. That being said, the Godox bulbs are user replaceable and significantly cheaper. If something happens in the field, you can have a second bulb in within seconds. The Profoto needs to be shipped back to the hospital.
 
The one connection that perhaps feels more solid on the Godox is the battery to the body. It snaps on with a more solid thud than the Profoto and doesn't feel like it's going anywhere. With metal contacts securing it to the body, it feels a lot more robust than its more expensive counterpart.
 
The Godox also has a nice wing nut for holding umbrella shafts in place, whereas the Profoto replies on a pressure based system that simply doesn't seem to offer any benefit aside from being different. I understand that most buyers of Profoto strobes probably have the cash to splash on those pricey Profoto modifiers, but that's no reason to challenge the status quo. There are plenty of great modifiers out there with umbrella shafts, and there's a standard for mounting them.
 
Overall, I'd call this a tie. This is quite surprising when you consider the price difference.
 

Battery Life

I'm really sorry, Profoto, but what were you thinking? 220 advertised full-power pops for a portable strobe in that price range. Ouch. I was warned by the rental house that their batteries were getting old, and I shouldn't even expect close to that, especially in cold weather. I told them I was planning to review it, and they gave me a battery that was a little under a month old to test it with. Let's just say I was disappointed: just under 200 pops, most of which were at less than half power. 
 
So, let's move over to the AD600. Its advertised rating is over 500 full-power pops. After 200 shots between 1/4 and full power, the battery hadn't even lost a single bar. My battery is nearly four months old now and has been used most days since I bought it. Don't forget here that batteries are also just over half the price for the AD600. The Godox also has an AC adaptor available, which makes it convenient for prolonged studio use as well.
 
Let's call this one in favor of the AD600. The B1 just doesn't stand a chance here. 
 

Size and Weight

The Profoto weighs in at 3 kg, and as you can see from the picture below, is significantly larger than the AD600. The AD600 comes in at 2.66 kg, which makes it slightly easier to carry for the day of shooting. It can also be split into a pack and head style configuration, making it easier on an assistant if you have the light on a monopod.
 
I use F-Stop Gear bags, and the AD600 fits snugly in my large ICU, whereas the Profoto just bulks it up and makes everything else difficult to accommodate. So for me, this was quite annoying as well.
 
Again, this one goes to the AD600. 

System

Profoto have a great collection of strobes and a great system of service in place, depending on where in the world you are. From chatting to a few people in Seoul who use their equipment exclusively, Profoto's warranty and service centers are certainly on par with the price they charge. All of their flashes work together very well, and correlating flash powers are displayed excellently. No doubt, if you live in a region that Profoto supports and have the money to buy into their system, they are a fantastic option. 
 
On the other hand, Godox have also built an excellent flash ecosystem, including everything from speedlights to studio strobes. Most of their units are cross-compatible with their triggers, and parts are readily available on eBay and the like. For those of you who like the peace of mind of knowing that someone else will fix your gear, Godox may not be the right choice. But, you could end up with a full suite of flashes for less than the price of one Profoto unit and even have spare parts at home to boot.
 
This one I would say comes down to personal preference.

Power and Color

The Profoto unit offers slightly faster recycle times at high powers at between 0.1 and 1.9 seconds, versus the Godox with 0.01 to 2.5 seconds. Both offer good color consistency over the full power range with the Profoto swinging only 150 K in color mode and the Godox swinging only 200 K. While shooting the two, I did feel that the Profoto gave off a slightly cooler light, which could have to do with it's internal reflector and glass cover.
 
In terms of power output, the B1 is rated at 500 W/s and the Godox at 600 W/s. In my testing, the Godox put out just under one stop more power when inside my Softlighter II. This is really useful in daylight. However, when the B1 was fired bare and the Godox with its standard reflector, the Godox gave 2.5 stops more light than the Profoto.

Overall

In the field, I found both easy to work with and reliable. The Godox provided me with more peace of mind, knowing that I would get through the whole shoot on one battery. Both of these are excellent strobes in my opinion, and the choice should be a personal one. If you're invested in Profoto modifiers and their existing system, the B1 is a no-brainer. If you're starting out or on a budget, the Godox is an excellent choice. You won't be disappointed with either of these in the end.
 
Now, for the real test. Can you actually tell which frames above were shot with the Godox and which with the B1?
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44 Comments

Wouter Oud's picture

"Can you actually tell which frames above were shot with the Godox and which with the B1?"

Nope, because light is light! The flash itself doesn't change the "quality" of it, only the quantity.

Percy Ortiz's picture

Correct... And i think that was kinda Dylan's point. Buying a fancy Profoto flash ain't gonna make your pictures better...

Marius Pettersen's picture

Well, yes and no. A quality strobe (typ. Profoto or Broncolor) provide better consistency in output and color. Which is important to many professionals. It's a pain to "batch-edit" shots when the flash is not consistent. Then you'll have to micro-adjust in post.

Wouter Oud's picture

Fair point!

Igor Butskhrikidze's picture

can you plz show some examples when godox made different colors from shot to shot?

Marius Pettersen's picture

1. I don't have the raw files to do a fair judgement, and it is usually most noticeable in an environment where you control all the lights, e.g. studio.
2. I did not say that the Godox suffered from inconsistency, but that cheaper strobes often suffer from it.

I think the bare bulb in the Godox vs built in reflector with diffusion that Profoto uses would probably affect the quality of light a bit. The whole spread of light will be different.

Tomash Masojc's picture

I want it!

Christian Santiago's picture

Loved the article, but kind of felt youre being too modest at the end. Based on what I read, the godox is the clear choice and far better value. If you're already invested in profoto the answer should be, sell your overpriced stuff and buy yourself 2 godoxs

Andrew Link's picture

The B1 bulb is user replaceable.

Anonymous's picture

So is the Godox. It's a three-prong connector that pops in and out, even though it's very snug. No screws, no hassle.

Andrew Link's picture

I'm aware.... in the article he says the Profoto isn't user replaceable.

Michael Kormos's picture

it is, if you're an engineer.

My B1 recently exploded (literally). Apparently that's how the flash tube dies. While trying to replace it for 20 minutes without success, I ended up breaking the flash tube - that's how tricky that center pin is. Now I'm hoping the good folks at Profoto USA can repair the unit and get it back in time for next week's sessions.

Not impressed by the fact that replacing the flash tube is such a surgical procedure. And I'm quite handy.

"It can also be split into a pack and head style configuration"
You should mention that you lose 2/3 of a stop when doing this.

"Being hidden behind a screen and recessed into the body of the strobe, you feel a lot more comfortable tossing it into a bag."
I find the built-in reflector can't fill a 7' softbox or beauty dish very well compared to the bare bulb design of my Compact or Acute 2 head.

"The Profoto needs to be shipped back to the hospital."
This makes it sound like you have to ship it to Profoto and is not user replaceable, you should clarify.

I am invested in Profoto modifiers, but all my softboxes and Mola can use a Bowens speedring to mount to the Godox. The only issue is the 7' umbrella. I'm sure I could McGyver something, but I prefer to use a 2400 pack anyway, 600 isn't enough most of the time.

jonas y's picture

Just wondering, what do you usually shoot?

For work, products. For myself, lots.

"Now, for the real test. Can you actually tell which frames above were shot with the Godox and which with the B1?" - I can even tell you brand of SD cards, that was used durning session :P

i have used both systems but it has been awhile since I used the B1. I have shot with Profoto Pro and acute gear since the late '80s. I just began using Godox gear this summer, specially the Adorama XPLOR 600 TTL HSS which is the USA version of the AD600.

I agree with most of Goldby's conclusion but this stuck out as being unfair to Profoto:

"However, when the B1 was fired bare and the Godox with its standard reflector, the Godox gave 2.5 stops more light than the Profoto"

the built in eflector for the B1 (also the D1 and D2) is a wide angle reflector meant to fit an umbrella or softbox. a fairer comparison of output would be to use a similar wide angle reflector on the AD600.

One other point, this one in the Godox's favor: The Bowens-S bayonet mount is used by a lot of flash manufacturer's these days. Bowens themselves makes a few modifiers that no one else makes. if all you are doing is using a softbox or umbrella and 7" diameter grids that won't make a difference but to some of us it does.

Profoto also makes some unique light shaping tools but those, like Profoto's unique ability to adjust the beam pattern and fall off with their more standard reflectors, is designed around their Po and acute head design.

As a side note I really wish Paul C. Buff, Inc. would start selling a version of the Einstein E640 with a Bowens-S mount option. Yes I know there are Bowens to Balcar adapters and in fact own a couple,, but that is one more piece of gear to schlep around and keep track of.

Brian Schmittgens's picture

Hell, I'd settle for a firmware update or even a mail in hardware upgrade to make it capable of HSS. PCB has seriously dropped the ball on this. When I first got into off camera lighting, almost everyone I knew used PCB whether it was Alien Bee, White Lightning, or even Zeus.
Nowadays, all you hear about is the AD600.

That's viral marketing for you

Lee Christiansen's picture

This review is a little thin on some important points.

Firstly it doesn't make accurate comparisons between stability of each system. My B1 / D1 strobes hit the same exposure every single time within 1/10 stop, even at minimum power. How does the Godox system perform.

The Godox has been reported to have a weaker lock mechanism for tilting the head - which could be an issue for using heavier modifiers. I can put almost anything on my Profotos and know that it is locked.

Profot are easy to contact and talk with. Not my experience with Godox so far. I love their speedlights and have a few, but despite repeated emails and contact attempts, I've never received a reply.

Lets not forget about either the Air remote or the ETTL remote. And of course the ability to lock the exposure after setting it in ETTL first. And the Air system is the best I've ever used for trigger reliability. (I have a few channels of the Godox X1-c and it's great, but the Air system is amazing.

The Profoto batteries have less capacity, but if memory serves the Godox ones weigh more. I'd rather have 2 lighter batteries for this application than one heavier one. And please, lets not compare old, tired, worn out batteries with much newer ones.

Profot build quality is known world wide. It's more than just surviving a few bumps and scrapes. It how the boards are constructed and how well the assembly can survive nasty things like air travel. We don't know how the Godox strobes are built, so before we can compare build quality, someone should be strippin the things down to see. We can't review this element by having a "feel."

And yes, the Profoto tubes are user and field replaceable. Perhaps the reviewer was thinking about the LED modeling lights.

Light is light, but there is more to a pro strobe than just light. Godox make some great products and I'm a fan. I'm sure these are great too. But the overall review either came across as a fan-boy message, or one that had'nt bothered to delve too deep into all the facts.

Michael Kormos's picture

I walk around NYC with B1s and D1s in my pelican roller cases. The flash tubes have become loose from all the bumps, and the units wouldn't fire every time. Profoto USA advised me to check them every one and then. Been using both models for years. And they could be more robust for their top tier price.

Years ago Profoto saw their monolights - including the D1 as their entry level gear. I have no idea if that is still the case, but Iam sure they would be very happy if more people were moving from the B1, B2, D1, and now the F2 up to Pro-8 packs and head systems. The D4 seems to be abit of an orphan product now and it has been at least 14 years since they introduced the Acute 2.

Check out Robert's video with measurements with regards to power output and consistency. Profoto users may want to not watch that bit though.....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ou8ROX5dpo

The tilt head isn't weak. It's the opposite. It's too difficult to finely adjust the angle. Sagging will not be an issue.

The author touched on it a little bit in his review, but everyone else is missing the big advantage to the Godox. It is a complete system, and as good as the Profoto is, it is not a complete system. Godox has shoe mount flashes (AA's or lithium-ion), bare bulb flashes, and the 600 w/s monolight. They all work on the same radio system, perfectly. If I want a kicker light, I do not want to either pay for, or haul around a $2,000+ monolight to use as a kicker. If I am working alone, I can take the AD360 bare bulb unit, with the Godox to Bowens mount adapter, and have a nice lightweight strobe, with some power. If I need more power, I can use the 600 w/s monolight. If I need a bit of fill light, because a wedding dress is going black in the shadows, I can use an on-camera Godox Ving 860ii to give me a bit of fill in the shadows. Trust me, a kicker/fill light that almost fits in your pocket is going to be used much more than a 2nd Profoto.

And the remote head adapter is wonderful. I would note that the AD180/360 models are really 21st century updates to what the Quantum flashes should have been.
I suspect that the remote head idea came from Quantum as they offer that for their flashes.

Makes me think that I could McGyver that to my AD360s.

Absolutely Mark, not only are the flashes better than the Quantums, but the battery is so far superior to any Quantum battery, it is unreal. I used to have to nurse (2) Quantum batteries during a wedding day, shoot with one, while charging the other. I could shoot 3 weddings or more without charging the AD360 battery.

Several years ago (before any Li-Ion batteries in the photo flash world)I spoke to Quantum on several occasions asking them to implement a Li-Ion battery into their packs. I also noted that they could make it a quick release battery like a Makita drill uses so the individual batteries would be cheaper and could be rapidly changed.

They told me that Li_ion would not work as it was unable to deliver the current fast enough to make flash application practical. I told them that a 1/2" drill boring through masonry was drawing a ton of current and the drill manufacturers didn't seem to have a problem.
I told them then that the Chinese would come up with something that would make them regret their decision but they would have none of it.

So, here we are.

Ramon Vaquero's picture

Is the Godox compatible with Elinchrom accessories?

Nick Dors's picture

Buy the AD600BM (Bowens Mount) and get a Meike Bowens -> Elinchrom