I once started with the top of the line Canon flash with a remote controller. Even though those flashes very good, they can have too little light output for off camera flash. That is why I started looking for a portable studio flash system and I ended up with the expensive Profoto system.
I use flash for my wedding photography, cooperate portrait sessions, and an occasional on site model shoot. Especially for weddings I need a hot shoe flash gun with TTL possibilities, because I have to be flexible and I don’t have time to adjust flash output manually. For all other use of flash I can work manually and off camera. For this I owned a couple of Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT flashguns, together with the Canon ST-E3-RT remote trigger. This works perfectly but often I ran into the limited flash output of these flash guns, especially when I used a softbox or an umbrella. That is why I decided to buy a more powerful flash.
The Profoto B2 250 AirTTL Flash
The demands were simple. It had to be powerful, battery powered and easy to take with me. It also had to be robust, because I would take that flash everywhere. Flash modifiers needed to be small for transport, yet simple and quickly to set up. Then I was asked for a review of the Profoto B2 airTTL flash, with its Off Camera Flash (OCF) modifiers. Although the price was almost scary, I discovered this system to be extremely easy to use, with a very intuitive control, and a very robust build.
But I thought the flash output to be too low, so I decided to buy the more powerful B1 AirTTL and I loved it. There was only one downside to it. I still needed to use the Speedlite 600EX-RT flashguns for my flexible TTL shoot, and I used the Profoto for the stationary group portraits. So I had two separate systems that could not communicate with each other, although I could activate the Profoto by the light sensor and slave function.
Then Profoto introduced the A1 flashgun, with build in remote trigger and the possibility to work seamlessly with the other Profoto flashes. Now I used only one system, one remote trigger, and I never had to think of a workaround like slave flash triggering or other DIY solutions. It did not matter if I used it during a wedding, for cooperate shots, or a model shoot on location. It worked everywhere without problems and with amazing flexibility. Sure, it was very expensive, but it was worth it.
But Profoto is not the only flash system available. There are others, and I think Godox is one of the best affordable systems available. Their systems are flexible, and everything the Profoto (or other expensive brand for that matter) can do, the Godox can. And in a much, much lower price range. That is why I often wondered if I had made a good choice. Many would say, and perhaps you too, that I am a fool to spend that amount of money on a flash system. Then I got a chance to review the Godox Witstro AD600B TTL flash and all my questions would be answered.
The Godox Witstro AD600B TTL Flash
Perhaps the Witstro AB600 flash can be best compared to the B1 flash of Profoto. On paper it has a little bit more power (600Ws vs 500Ws) and it too uses a battery to power the flash. That battery is perhaps larger than the battery of the Profoto, but it delivers more flashes on one charge. The Godox is bulkier and the flash bulb protrudes. It may be easy to exchange, but it is more vulnerable. I found the menu of the Godox to be quite difficult and I often needed the manual to search for a setting or to find the explanation of an abbreviation. It has a lot of buttons and it took a lot of time to setup the flash exactly how I wanted. With the Profoto this was very straight forward and easy and I cannot remember to have ever needed the manual.
When I placed the Godox next to the A1 the difference in build quality was striking. The materials used for the Godox were cheap and the quality of the buttons isn’t that good. I also disliked the way the foot of the flash was designed. When I used the Godox during a wedding on location, I did not have the same confidence as with the robust A1 flash.
But it worked of course. And the light produced by the Godox had a good quality, as to be expected. The Godox took more time to setup, but when it was ready, it worked without hesitation, firing flash, after flash, after flash, almost indefinitely. With 500 full power flashes it outrun the capacity of the Profoto. And the best part, Godox could be connected to the power supply and still shoot while recharging.
The TTL System
The TTL system of both systems work perfect, but if the distance of the subject and flash does not change, why would you rely on a TTL system? There is no need for it. But for the Profoto the TTL system can be very handy, even in a studio like environment. When triggered with TTL it will remember the TTL flash output setting when you switch the flash from TTL to manual. In that way you can use the light measuring system of the camera as a flash light meter. This way you can set the flash output with just one test shot, and correct it if necessary. The Godox does not remember its TTL output when you switch to manual flash, so you have to measure it yourself, or perform a lot of test shots.
Whatever flash you buy, you need to trigger the flash remotely. Every flash manufacturer has its own radio trigger that not only fires the flash when the shutter is pressed, but it also can transfer information to the flash, and receive information in return. It makes TTL systems possible and although it is perhaps never needed for these kind of flash units, it can be handy at times.
The build quality of triggers is something that is not getting the attention it needs. There is one trigger I have used that had a professional feel to it, and that is the Canon ST-E3-RT. The triggers of Profoto and Godox both feel cheap. Especially the Godox is not really user friendly and although the Profoto is easier to use, with a large clear screen, I find it far from perfect.
Making a Choice
To be honest, I already decided to buy Profoto before I tried Godox. I was blown away by the simplicity of the system. It just worked, without problem or without difficult settings. On top of that it just is quality build. Making a choice is very personal, since every photographer has his or her own demands. The Profoto isn’t perfect, but I found the downsides of the system acceptable. It had more benefits.
When I received the Godox and used it, I found out it addresses some things the Profoto lacks. Nevertheless using the Godox brought only annoyances when setting up the flash. I must admit, perhaps it was because I was used to the interface of Profoto, but I didn’t enjoy using it. In the end Godox delivered the light that was needed, from that point of view there is nothing wrong with it. But using the Godox made me convince I had made the right choice.
What I Like About the Godox Witstro AD600B TTL Over the Profoto B1 AirTTL
- Flash bulb easy to replace
- Battery can be recharged when connected to the flash and the flash can still be used
- Capacity of the battery that allow 500 full power flashes
- Battery capacity can be read from the unit without disconnecting it.
- Flash duration time is mentioned at t0.1 instead of t0.5
- Flash power up to 600Ws
- Good price
What I Like About the Profoto B1 Air TTL Over the Godox Witstro AD600B TTL
- Built like a tank and sleek design
- Flash bulb is inside and protected against collisions
- Very easy to operate
- Visibility of the power settings are very clear and easy to change
- Flash intensity can be set in 0.1 stop
- Very fast recycle time, also with full power flashes
- Flash intensity setting in TTL is visible on the unit and that setting is kept when switching to manual flash
- Brightness model light can be set manually or proportionally
- Off Camera Flash modifiers are user friendly and easy to transport
- Flash comes with a nice case, or backpack when buying two units
What I Don’t Like About the Godox Witstro AD600B TTL
- Large unit, bulky
- Build quality is disappointing
- Handle on the foot is very large and has a bad design
- Too many buttons and operating the menu and settings are too complex
- Flash intensity is mentioned in full power fractions (1/2 – 1/4 - 1/8 until 1/256)
- Dialing 1/3 stops can be confusing since the way its displayed depends if it is turned down, or turned up
- Lowest flash intensity (1/256) cannot be set from the remote
- The flash is without any carry case or bag for transport.
What I Don’t Like About the Profoto B1 AirTTL
- Capacity of the battery is not that high
- Battery can only be charged when its disconnected
- No possibility to use the flash with power cord
- Capacity of the battery can only be checked if it is disconnected
- Very expensive
When Profoto introduced the B10 flashgun I did not think it would be interesting to me. I already had two wonderful flash units. After I read about the B10 I found out it was the answer to all the things I missed about the Profoto B1 en B2. It was small, yet powerful (enough). It had a battery that lasted much longer, and the ease of use was even better. And I could charge the unit while I was using it. The design was perfect, compact and well though through, and finally I exchanged my flash units for a set of Profoto B10. I haven’t regretted it at all.