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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45 Comments

Previous comments

For some price is less important then reliability, you need to trust your gear. Then Swedish made Profoto is a safe bet. You are not wanting a high profile shoot to be messed up with cheep gear. Color temperature and output should be nailed pretty good to:)

To me Gidox seems like a clever brand and I think most people could come a long way with there bare bulb flash system. For a small investment you have ability to make great on location pictures. I have expectations about this brand.

I use Elinchrom and quality of there stuff is really bad. Cheep sluggish stuff made in India with no pride:) so this up and coming Chinese brand looks promising.

mark Beaumont's picture

If Godaox could up the build quality so it can withstand professional use, get the recycle time in par with the B1and then have a worldwide network of authorised repair and hire companies, Profoto just might have a problem. For the amateur and semi-pro market Godox may be onto a winner though.

Professional photographers are using the Godox system every day Mark. And the reason why they are using it is not just the price. I can afford to buy a couple of B1's, but I do not want to shlep around a B1 to use as a kicker or fill light. With Godox, I have 50/360/600 watt second units that work together and batteries that absolutely rock. Buying an extra battery for the Godox Ving 860ii, AD360, or 600 is an absolute waste of money. I carry one battery for each, and it lasts all day long or more. How about 3 weeks of 2 sessions a day (large family groups/sub-groups) on the beach in full sun, on one charge of an AD360? I am not here to suggest that Profoto are not superb units, I am here to state that the Godox/Flashpoint SYSTEM is far superior for most location shooters.

Steve Roberts's picture

Can anyone tell me if the ad600 has a delay mode for second curtain sync?

Nick Dors's picture

My Elinchrom Quadra just broke down the other day.. I like that you can buy a AC adapter so you can also use them without battery! I'm sold, buying this week!

Ben Pearse's picture

I purchased two B1's a few months ago and I'm more than happy with the lights. The HSS is a great feature too...

Andrew Richardson's picture

I ordered one of these over Black Friday to give it a try, opened it up and played with it today and immediately went online and bought three more. The Godox/Flashpoint wireless system just plain works. Love how it automatically jumps to HSS when my camera goes above the standard shutterspeed limit. Mixing in speedlites is dirt simple, the option of the extension heads and AC adapter back are no brainers. Can't wait to get out and shoot a full setup.

EDIT: I think the only irritation is the ratchet setup of the mount. Seems extremely secure, but kind of a pain in the ass.

Rex Larsen's picture

I'm very curious how Profoto and other strobes compare with a standard reflector or bare flash tube. I use Einsteins because of my budget, the lower power options, and the smaller, lighter size compared to larger, heavier Profoto monolights. The recessed flash tube is not a great design in my opinion. An exposed tube fills beauty dishes and octoboxes better. The Profotos are popular for good reason but I remain curious how they compare with Einsteins in terms of color and light character when used without a modifier, or with a basic reflector. Does the higher cost translate to better portraits ?
I'm happy to use an external battery to keep the size and weight of the strobe boomed overhead smaller and lighter.

Matthew Odom's picture

Love my godox!!! :)

Johnny Alamillo's picture

I sold my alienbee setup and bought 2 godox ad600 and i haven't looked back. I wish I could go profoto but im not that busy to justify such a purchase. awesome article.

I am probably wrong, but to me it looks like the first and third shot are from the Profoto and the second and fourth are possibly from the Godox. I'd love to know if this is right. I noticed a certain warmth and tone to the B1's when I tested them out and it's the same tone I'm seeing in shots one and three.

Hi Tracy,

Second and fourth are the Profoto. :)

My point here was that once you bring the files in and add your sauce, it really makes no difference. Light is light if you use it right, and the Godox does a great job.

Cheers!

Pic 2 shot by profoto

Michael Servis's picture

Compare to the Godox AD600 Pro now!