The Godox V1Pro Review: The Best On-Camera Flash Finally Gets Updates

The Godox V1Pro Review: The Best On-Camera Flash Finally Gets Updates

Recently, Godox launched the V1Pro, an upgrade to the popular V1 flash. But with the V1 already at the top of the pack, was there much to improve? In this review, I’ll be comparing the Godox V1 and V1Pro to determine which you should consider adding to your flash photography kit.

Godox V1 Pro Specs

The V1Pro doesn’t look much different from the V1 at first glance. It retains a similar form factor, putting it slightly bigger than compact speedlights. While it does add a bit of size over the V1 according to the spec sheet, it feels the same both in the hand and on the camera.

This extra size makes room for a few nice upgrades. Among these, an added external power port will please event shooters and should help photographers make use of the greater thermal limits of the Pro. An additional accessory port on the front has been added to support a forward fill flash unit that will be detailed later in this piece. Lastly, Sony shooters should be relieved to see that the plastic and metal foot of the Sony-specific V1 has been replaced with an all-metal design.

Almost all aspects of the user interface have been conserved, from the dial interface through to the layout of the buttons. One notable button has been added to the side, though: a dedicated TTL/Manual switch. This switch is a bit odd, as it essentially duplicates the mode button on the rear dial but can require being actuated twice if it’s “out of phase” with the mode as set via software. While this is a bit of a time-saver, as it skips the less frequently used multi-flash mode, I’m not sure it’s a crucial addition. Let me know in the comments if your workflow would benefit - I’d be interested in just seeing a software toggle to hide multi-flash.

The light itself is quite capable for an on-camera strobe, with 76 Ws of power at 1/1. While not as powerful as some of Godox’s other portable flashes like the AD100 and AD200 at 100 and 200 W/s of power respectively, it matches the quantity of light put out by the far more expensive Profoto A10.

The V1 Pro retains compatibility with the excellent X trigger system. It can function as both a master and remote unit, controlling or being controlled across the dozens of groups available. Switching between modes is also easy, thanks to a dedicated wireless functionality button.

Flash duration is also decent, with listed times of 1/300 to 1/20,000 of a second. Stopping regular motion is well within this flash’s capabilities, but specialist applications for freezing extreme motion will need to look at other lights with shorter flash durations and correspondingly higher outputs.

Zoom and tilt ranges are also as good or better than other speedlight products. The flash can zoom between 28 and 105 mm automatically. Meanwhile, you can swivel 7 degrees down and 120 vertically, allowing for easy ceiling and wall bounces. Rotation is allowed through 330 degrees, with the mechanism feeling nice and smooth.

Rounding out the basic specs, high-speed sync is supported, along with brand-specific TTL implementations for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, and Olympus (each requiring a different model of flash). AF assist lighting is also present.

On the battery side, upgrades have also been made. The new VB30 comes standard with the light. The VB30, compared to the VB26, decreases the recycle time at 1/1 from 1.5 seconds to 1.3 seconds. It also increases the number of full-power pops from 480 to 500. Lastly, it adds support for direct USB-C recharging - this is arguably the biggest upgrade, as Godox’s dock-style charger is a bit clunky for travel and field use. Interestingly, this battery is backwards compatible with the regular V1 and V860II flashes, while the older VB26 is incompatible with the V1Pro. The VB30 is also available for purchase separately.

In Use

In regular use, the V1Pro feels very much like the V1, albeit with slightly better color consistency. It’s only when you start to push the flash hard that differences open up.

The original V1’s greatest limitation was the thermal capacity. Heavy, prolonged use, particularly at high power settings, could result in you running into the thermal protection mechanism. That was particularly an issue for me, where ambient temperatures of 90 or 100 degrees could mean I was already deep into my “thermal budget”. Shooting just 20 to 30 pops at 1/1 would put the light into the danger zone.

The V1Pro, however, more than tripled the thermal budget of the light. The spec sheet lists the new over-temperature range at 100 1/1 flashes. In use, while I don’t have access to those same crazy ambient temperatures yet, I ran into no overheating issues. I also like the reliability implications of this greater range, as thermal stress can be a killer to electronics, and I’d expect this unit to handle those thermals better.

The V1Pro has another trick that event shooters might find interesting: the SU-1 fill flash. This small unit clips onto the front of the flash, slotting into a dedicated but well-hidden port above the AF assist lamp. The SU-1 basically replaces a bounce card - it can’t be used in wireless mode, nor can the main flash head be straight on. Instead, when using the main head for bounce flash, the SU-1 can add a catchlight to eyes or a little lift to shadows on the face.

The SU-1 can be set manually from 1 to 1/128th power, independent of the power to the main flash head. Godox doesn’t provide power figures specifically for the SU-1, but I’d characterize it as significantly more light than a bounce card. The unit does sit over the AF assist panel, however, so event photographers may want to consider that trade-off.

Overall, the V1Pro provides some nice upgrades to the venerable V1. The V1 series has remained a great entry point into both on-camera flash and even the X wireless system, thanks to the master/remote capabilities built-in. The Pro model takes the V1 formula and seems to have focused on pushing the capabilities for demanding event and portrait photographers. Extra battery options, far greater thermal performance, and the addition of a bounce-card-style subflash are all perfect for weddings, portraits, and events.

Godox’s greatest challenge in selling the V1Pro to everyone except event photographers is going to be their own V1. On the street, the V1 is selling for around $100 less than the V1Pro, and that’s a significant savings for a worse battery and lower ceiling for high power, continuous use. As a result, I’d recommend the V1Pro to everyone with the budget, particularly those who’ll need the sub-flash or who will make use of the greater thermal headroom.

The Godox V1Pro is available now in a variety of models compatible with Canon, Fuji, Nikon, Olympus/Panasonic, and Sony.

What I Like

  • A great value compared to OEM speedlights
  • Smart design in a good form-factor
  • Retained control interface from the V1 and similar generation triggers
  • Continued compatibility with X wireless
  • Helpful innovation on the battery and sub-flash designs

What Could Be Improved

  • Original V1 lights can be significantly cheaper for less-demanding use
  • The dot-matrix screen doesn’t wow like the OLED used on the X3 trigger
Alex Coleman's picture

Alex Coleman is a travel and landscape photographer. He teaches workshops in the American Southwest, with an emphasis on blending the artistic and technical sides of photography.

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I wish they'd make that front flashtube an avoidable option and make the base price lower.

Yeah, there's quite a premium on this model relative to the V1, particularly if you aren't pushing it to the thermal limit.

I wish they would take that design and aim for a 150-200Ws output. For the given size, there is enough space to move on from GN60 flashes which have kept a similar size and output for well over 15 years now.

I dunno. The Godox AD180 was bigger and heavier than I'd want for on-camera flash. Some folks put an AD200 on their belt with an extension head on a bracket, which is pretty much what I used to do with Lumedynes.

Maybe Godox could make a hammerhead flash like the Metz 50MZ-5 I used to use. That was probably somewhere around 100-120Ws. Those were the days when max ISO was 800. Nowadays, I can get by with a 50Ws (?) Godox TT350 for slower-paced corporate events. For hectic wedding work, the V1 is just about right for me.

Eh, the AD100 is a reasonable size but the AD200 is too big and heavy to be on-camera. I don't know how much W/s you'd need on camera - at a certain point you'd be running into diffusion and light shaping issues.

I never understood the hype around V1. Almost nobody uses the round head for its biggest feature, the smooth light fall-off: you will never see that feature during events, it only shows if you shoot someone in front of a wall. It also has restricted zooming - making it less powerful for bouncing. The V860II has the exact same internals; but just with a normal flash head and zoom range.

To me it looks like people buy these because a Profoto A10 is too expensive and this is the closest alternative. Or they think the round head is revolutionary, without looking at the specs.

I, too, was skeptical about round heads, until I got a pair of V1s to replace my V860IIs. What I love about the V1 is the combination of a round head with the accessory kit, specifically the magnetic filters and dome and the bounce card that clips onto them. I was shooting grip & grins the other night at a corporate reception, and I really loved the ability to spin the bounce card around the dome to redirect or even block light. For example, when I was getting glare off a shiny wall behind my subjects, I spun the bounce card around so it was in front of the dome (with the head pointed up), which effectively squelched the reflection. At other times, the fill was too strong, so I aimed the bounce card at a side wall so it partially blocked half the direct light from the dome. Combined with tilting and swiveling the head, this gave me more control than I'm used to over the spread and direction of bounced light, the bounce/direct ratio, and the key/fill ratio. Very nifty. The modeling light is handy, too, in very low light.

The V1 and V860III also have a simpler, more user-friendly interface than the older models.

I've been with Godox since the original V850, and I've got about a dozen of their speedlights. The V1 is my favorite so far.

"It also has restricted zooming"

Only once in 20 years have I needed the ability to zoom a flash head beyond 120mm, and that was just because I needed barn doors, not super-long throw. Now, I have barn doors for my V1. In a space with a 50' ceiling, I'd want a more powerful flash.

Some articles give me the feeling to be "bought". Further, this flash is a copy of the Profoto A1 /10 only. Yes, a copy may be better than the original but there is no content in this so called review supporting that. Not worth reading.

The article provides useful information from the manufacturer and the reviewer's own experience. It's not a comparison of the V1/Pro and A1/A10. If you already know the information that's in the article, it may not be worth your time to read it. Others may find it useful. What I'm wondering is, why do you feel it's worth your time to complain about it?

As for "a copy of the Profoto", is Godox' V860III a copy of Canon's EL-1? Is the EL-1 a copy of Nikon's SB5000? Is the SB5000 a copy of Sony's HVL-F60RM2? Is Sony's 50/1.4 a copy of Nikon's or Canon's or Pentax' or...
They both have a round head. Beyond that, neither is a "copy" of the other. Profoto's UI looks better. Godox' power management seems to be better.

Returning this very unit today. Put it on my Sony and no matter what setting I used, the flash output was always yielded roughly 18% gray (average). TTL -3 was the same as TTL 0 which was the same as TTL +3. No need to pay $$$ for that kind of performance. I wanted to like it, but all the fancy didn't fancy. Very odd. Never had anything like that happen on a unit in 20+ years. And yes, I read the very thin manual.

My two original V1s (not the new Pro version) work great on my a7IV and a7RV, and I often use them TTL with EC. Did you dial in EC on the flash or the camera? Is your camera's setting for EC set to adjust ambient + flash or ambient only? I set my cameras to the latter and dial in flash EC on the flash. This lets me easily control flash/ambient ratios.