Equipment

Comparing the Profoto B1X to the Profoto B10 & Profoto B10 Plus

When Profoto released the Profoto B10 back in September of last year, my initial thought was “Oh okay, that means the Profoto B2‘s are discontinued.” Profoto assured myself and others that they were going to continue support for the Profoto B2 still and that we were wrong. When Profoto announced the Profoto B10+ back in June of this year, my initial thought was “Oh okay, that means both the Profoto B10 and Profoto B1X are discontinued.” Profoto assured myself and others that we were wrong. So with these announcements (along with the Profoto B1 and B1X replacement) in such a short amount of time, what is each light’s specific demographic? I decided I’d do my best to find out.

For full disclosure, I have worked with Profoto for several years as a professional photographer, and am sponsored with them through their ‘Legends of Light’ program. That said, I wasn’t paid or encouraged in any way to write this article – in fact, Profoto doesn’t even know I’m writing it. Nor did I receive any of these products for writing this article or any other article. Still, in the interest of fairness, I am looking at these lights as technically as possible, and emploring scientific processes on all my tests – and will show my notes at the end.

Additionally, there are always variances with these kinds of testings. When testing battery packs, flash power, and so on, there is a number of things that can change the output (flashtube life/battery life for example). So all these tests were done with these variances in mind. If I got a weird reading on the power output of a flash (I didn’t) I would retest the flash. If I got a weird reading on battery life (again, I didn’t), I’d retest the battery. However, I did want to make it aware that these variances exist, and so take all numbers and testing with a grain of salt. 

For ease, I decided to limit my testing to just three Profoto Strobes – the Profoto B1X, the Profoto B10, and the Profoto B10+. The methodology for this was simple – they all share a lot of similar aspects to them. For starters, they all are battery-powered units, with hot-swappable batteries mounted on the side. Secondly, they all contain the same features – Built-in TTL, High-Speed Sync, Air Remote Support, and plenty of power. But let’s go through the basics, with a table highlighting each light and the features they have.

Product NamePower OutputLight SpreadModeling LightLengthWeightBattery LifeSync OptionsPower Plug-In Option?Price (As of 8/19)
Profoto B1X500 Ws77° beam angleYes12.2 inches6.6 lbs
325 Full Powered FlashesProfoto Air and 3.5mm Sync Port (And Optical)No$2295
Profoto B10250 Ws68° beam angleYes6.9 inches3.3 lbs400 Full Powered FlashesProfoto Air Only (And Optical)Yes$1695
Profoto B10+500 Ws68° beam angleYes9.3 inches4.2 lbs200 Full Powered FlashesProfoto Air Only (And Optical)Yes$2095

So immediately looking at the table can raise a few questions. First, I always have a fundamental issue with strobe lights being measured in Watt/seconds, simply because the wattage is a measure of electricity and not actual brightness. A common analogy would be horsepower and cars. While 400hp might seem like a lot, it’s not a lot if you’re working with a semi-truck and not a two-door sports car. Efficiency is just as important, and so we’re going to start with the measure of power, using figured and real-life examples that will hopefully be a bit more expressive in this comparison.

Overview of Units

Profoto Comparison

Before we get into the testing of these units, let’s do a quick overview of each unit, and discuss each of their advantages and disadvantages. 

Profoto B1X

Profoto B1X Comparison

The oldest of these three lights is the biggest as well and is known as the Profoto B1X. Introduced in May of 2017, the Profoto B1X was an upgrade to their Profoto B1 studio strobe, which broke ground for being the first studio strobe completely void of cables. All in all the Profoto B1X shared much of the same design (and price) as the Profoto B1, and was known as a refresh more than a completely new product line. The difference between the two? A larger capacity battery, brighter modeling light, and a matte blacked out ring on the front.

Advantages of the Profoto B1X compared to Profoto B10/B10+

  • Generally considered to have a more robust build quality to it, with a larger and stronger stand mounting bracket.
  • More modifier ‘zooming’ available, given it’s longer body design.
  • Sync port for use of PocketWizards or other wireless trigger systems outside of the built-in Profoto Air.
  • Ability to mount Profoto Dome Head and replace flash tubes without the need to send to service center

Disadvantages of Profoto B1X compared to Profoto B10/B10+

  • No Bluetooth connectivity to use with the Profoto Phone App.
  • Larger and heavier design makes it slightly harder to transport.
  • Available as a battery-operated only.

Profoto B10

Profoto B10 Comparison

The Profoto B10 announced September of 2018 was the next big studio strobe from Profoto, offering the same battery-operated design as the Profoto B1X, but in a much smaller package. Additionally, the Profoto B10 brought a bi-color modeling light and Bluetooth connectivity that pairs it seamlessly with iOS devices, allowing you to control the power settings using your phone or iPad. At only 250Ws in power, the Profoto B10 also offered up way more firing power, giving you 400 full powered shots on the battery, and with the ability to use it in battery-operated mode, and plugged into a wall.

Advantages of the Profoto B10 compared to Profoto B1X/B10+

  • Smaller unit for better portability.
  • Ability to shoot in both battery-operated mode, as well as through the use of a wall powered adapter.
  • The removable mounting design allows for a smaller footprint when available.
  • 400 full-powered flashes on the battery.
  • Bluetooth Operation through iOS app.

Disadvantages of the Profoto B10 compared to Profoto B1X/B10+

  • Triggered through Profoto Air systems only (no sync port).
  • 250Ws vs. 500Ws of the other units.
  • No ability to add dome head or replace flash tubes on your own.

Profoto B10+

Profoto B10 Plus Comparison

Following the release of the Profoto B10, was the Profoto B10+ announced in June of 2019. The Profoto B10+ was the bigger brother to the Profoto B10, sharing much of the same design and features, in a slightly longer body. Still, the size of the unit is really small when compared to the Profoto B1X, while sharing the same power output of 500Ws of the B1X. Additionally, the Profoto B10+ shares the same battery pack as the Profoto B10, allowing you to mix and match their batteries as needed.

Advantages of the Profoto B10+ compared to Profoto B1X/B10

  • Smaller design than the Profoto B1X, while sharing a similar power rating
  • Ability to shoot in both battery-operated mode, as well as through the use of a wall powered adapter.
  • The removable mounting design allows for a smaller footprint when available.
  • Bluetooth Operation through iOS app.

Disadvantages of the Profoto B10+ compared to Profoto B1X/B10

  • Triggered through Profoto Air systems only (no sync port).
  • Only rated at 200 full powered shots on the battery.
  • No ability to add dome head or replace flash tubes on your own.
  • Longer recycle times than competitors.

Testing the Power Output

For testing the output of the flash, I chose to use the Sekonic C-700U, as not only is it an incredibly accurate light meter, but it also will test color shifts that sometimes occur when adjusting the power of a flash tube. The Sekonic C-700U gives you an abundance of data which I’ll be showing here, but it also gives you pretty detailed readouts, which I’ll be providing at the end of this article for your own viewing and deduction.

All testing done here was shot with the light aimed directly at the light meter and 6ft from the meter. Why did I choose 6 feet? Because it felt the most practical. With my personal experience in the studio, I’ll sometimes use a large bounce umbrella, and sometimes I’ll use a 5ft octobox. So keeping the light 6ft from the subject (or for this test, lightmeter) felt like a good distance to do real-life testing. That said, with the inverse square law, that may reflect the output of the light if you’re comparing it to tests from other sites and with the light 1ft from the subject. To read more about how distance affects the output of light, feel free to read my previous article on lighting principles.

Additionally, I opted to use Sekonic’s Lux reading for illuminance. It’s a more practical number than can be used for comparison of output between lights, but I had the meter record all of the data in my testing, so if there is a different number you want to look out, download the data at the end of the article and look it up there.

 

As you can see from the data plotted above, the Profoto B10+ is the most powerful strobe of the three, over 1/3rd of a stop more powerful than its fellow 500Ws brother the Profoto B1X. This isn’t particularly surprising, given the Profoto B10+ is a much newer strobe than the Profoto B1X, and thus, more efficient in its output. With that being said, the Profoto B10 also shows quite a bit of light output, even though it’s a full stop less in power at 250Ws. Despite its halved Ws rating, the Profoto B10 is only about 1/2 a stop of power under the Profoto B1X; not a full stop as the Ws ratings would suggest.

As mentioned above, I’m going to present you with the raw readings and data directly from the Sekonic 700U at the bottom of this article, for those who want to split hairs even further.

White Balance Read Out

Of the four major tests that I did with these lights, white balance was actually the one test I cared less about. While I shoot all of my work in full manual mode, the first thing I usually change in the editing process is my white balance. My reason for this is that I can change my white balance, without degradation to the image quality. That said, I understand the importance of accurate white balance – particularly when mixing lights, but believe the shift in white balance is fine, when in small amounts. For me, the important aspect is consistency from shot to shot on the same power level, and not the subtle changes that happen through frequent power adjustments. Either way, below is the white balance information for each of the tested lights, on the power adjustments from full power (10) down to the lowest measurable power (3).

 Power 10/10Power 9/10Power 8/10Power 7/10Power 6/10Power 5/10Power 4/10Power 3/10
Profoto B1X6101K6267K6402K6303K6354K6358K6616K6760K
Profoto B106095K6084K6115K5948K5889K5826K5713K5502K
Profoto B10+6093K6131K6119K6170K6076K6050K6032K5968K

As the table shows, all of the lights are fairly consistent in white balance readout across their power range. Of the three, the Profoto B1X and Profoto B10 were the least consistent, both showing about a 600K shift through its power range. Profoto B10+ was most consistent, showing only a 300K shift through the entire measurable power range. While the shift is pretty minimal overall, there is a lot to account for here, and where I would likely lean on the variance more than anywhere else. Of these three lights, the Profoto B1X is the oldest, and the Profoto B10+ is the most recent. One could assume by just the age of these units, the number of times the flash tube has fired would come into play. That said, I’m just speculating, and you can jump to any conclusion you need in the comments.

Modeling Light Tests

Included in all three of these flash units, is an LED modeling light. The difference, however, is that both the Profoto B10 and Profoto B10+ offer a bicolor modeling light, allowing you to adjust them from a cooler tone to a warmer tone. For me personally, I only ever use modeling lights to add a little light to your subject to help with focusing in darker environments, but this news might be exciting for those who are looking to use their strobes for light video work as well. Either way, I decided it was worth testing more extensively. So I killed all the ambient light coming into my studio, and after tripping over a C-stand or two, was able to turn on each modeling light and test the color output and power levels of each.

Product NameModeling Light PowerWhite BalanceCRI
Profoto B1X767 lux2990K~92%
Profoto B10731 lux2724K-6673K~92%
Profoto B10+765 lux2676K-6589K~92%

Profoto B1X CRI Readout

Profoto B10 CRI Readout (at 2724K)

Profoto B10 CRI Readout (at 6673K)

Profoto B10+ CRI Readout (at 2676K)

Profoto B10+ CRI Readout (at 6589K)

 

 

Battery Test

The final test of these three units was most certainly the most tedious – the battery test. This test, however, was the most simple, and probably the most annoying to the neighbors at my studio. This test involved charging the battery to it’s a full rated amount, then set the light to a power level of 10/10, and firing off the light, counting each full-powered shot as they happened. Once done, I charged the batteries again, and did it all over, to help limit any discrepancies. Because the Profoto B10 and Profoto B10+ share the same battery, I used the same battery for all of the testings on that unit and used the Profoto B1X battery that came with my rental.

Profoto Battery Testing

Finally, there are a few other things to note. For one, both the Profoto B10 and Profoto B10+ unit got extremely hot during these tests, while the Profoto B1X gave me a heat warning, and didn’t let me fire the light until it cooled down. While I don’t expect anyone to normally shoot these lights at the speed I was shooting them, it is something to note. Despite the warning given by the Profoto B1X, I got the impression that it was a better design for heat dissipation, as both the Profoto B10 and Profoto B10+ were probably at “melting a colored gel to the front of them if given the opportunity” levels of heat. Additionally, all three units saw a slowdown of its recycle time as they heated up and the battery lowered in power. This was most dramatic with the Profoto B10+ – clocking in at ~9.8 seconds between fires at its lowest battery setting. I wasn’t able to measure this change through the entirety of the power cycle but did pull some rough numbers from my phone’s stopwatch to use as a reference for those who care. 

Profoto B1X Full Power Recycle Time
Full Battery: ~2 seconds
~10% Battery Life: ~5.8 seconds

Profoto B10 Full Power Recycle Time
Full Battery: ~2.2 seconds
~10% Battery Life: ~6 seconds

Profoto B10+ Full Power Recycle Time 
Full Battery: ~2.6 seconds
~10% Battery Life: ~9.8 seconds

StrobeBattery Test #1Battery Test #2Battery Recharge Time
Profoto B1X344 Full Powered Flahes340 Full Powered Flashes~70 mins w/ 4.5A charger
~140 mins w/ 2.8A charger
Profoto B10422 Full Powered Flashes429 Full Powered Flashes~75 mins w/3A charger
Profoto B10+223 Full Powered Flashes241 Full Powered Flashes~75 mins w/3A charger

 

Conclusion

So is there a sure-fire light better than the rest? Well, it’s never quite that simple. Each light has its own list of pro and cons, and which light is best for you is entirely dependent on what you need it for. If I was to interject my personal opinion, my preferred light is the Profoto B1X, as it has the fastest recycle time. That said, I spent most of my time in my personal studio, and thus don’t take advantage of many of the small size perks of the Profoto B10 and Profoto B10+. If you’re traveling, or need the added power of the Profoto B10+, your preference might be different. And then, of course, there is the cost to power ratio of the Profoto B10 that makes it a pretty great bargain. As promised throughout the article, you can download all of my testing and notes by clicking here. Feel free to chime in in the comments with your thoughts, and let me know if you would like similar tests with the other lights available within our inventory.

 

Author: Zach Sutton

I’m Zach and I’m the editor and a frequent writer here at Lensrentals.com. I’m also an editorial and portrait photographer in Los Angeles, CA, and offer educational workshops on photography and lighting all over North America.

Posted in Equipment
  • PhilippeC

    Very good article. Thanks 🙂 !

  • Michael Steinbach

    Lux output. I’ve been working 36 years a photographer, I’ve yet to meet one photographer using lux readings as their standard in stills. And as to “download the data”, I did, it made zero sense. You couldn’t have done it simply? 6 ft @ iso 100 = output aperture? And as I’ve mentioned below, standardize the the light spread using a reflector or a modifier. I own B2s and have run those exact tests with and without a reflector. I found 8 tenths of a stop difference from bare head, f 8.6, to Magnum reflector, f 11.4, 10’ @ iso 100. Huge difference in my mind.

  • Michael Steinbach

    That is why most reviews I have read measure the light coming out of either a modifier or use a reflector to keep the spread the same. Apples to apples to determine real output. Really not splitting hairs all day, good methodology equals accurate testing.

  • That’s likely the case. I actually assumed that they had the same degree of beam given their similar design. It wasn’t until the night before publishing when I got the technical specs buried deep on the internet.

    Of course once we go into a discussion on “what is the correct and best beam angle”, we’re going to be over here splitting hairs all day.

  • I knew that, and had it as Ws through most of the article. Old habits die hard. Eitherway, thank you. I’ve corrected it.

  • Franz Graphstill

    Technically a Ws is actually a Joule. But strobe makers don’t seem to like that unit.

  • zogzog

    Zach, it’s Ws, not W/s—watt TIMES second, not watt PER second. Watt is a unit of energy per second, so watt times second is a unit of energy. In this case, it is a measure of the maximum energy available to the strobe for one shot.

    You’re right that this figure is only indirectly related to the amount of light that the strobe will actually deliver.

  • AlainCl

    Good article. It might be worth noting that the Profoto B2 250 Air TTL Location Kit (250w AirTTL Power Pack, 2x B2 Heads, 2x Li-Ion Batteries, Carrying Bag, Location Bag, Battery Charger) just had a dramatic price cut last week from $2100 to just $995 (B&H, Adorama, etc). So it would have been nice to include that in the comparison given its price/performance. (And LensRentals might consider decreasing its weekly rental charge for that system 😉 )

  • No problem, at least my thoughts were not too far-fetched… :o)

  • Vincent

    I understand your simplification, but 9 degrees angle difference is almost a 30% difference in ‘lighted area’ at every distance. That means 1/3 larger area that the given powered is distributed over… might be that 1/3 of a stop you are ‘missing during measurements… 😉

  • Zach, that was very informative, thank you. Even Profoto couldn’t do a better explanation.

    Could the narrower, more focused beam angle of the B10+ be a reason for your Sekonic recording a higher power output?

  • Tobias Bugala

    I wrote the exact same issue. Sorry for not having read yours first

  • Tobias Bugala

    I’d say: of course, the B10s are more power efficient. Their beam is narrower. So, where the light DOES hit, it’s stronger.

    The question is: will it still be stronger in a large softbox and will it be as consistent on the whole area?

  • Two Questions:

    Have you tried if the B10’s can handle large modifiers like the 5′ Octa or the 4×6′ Softbox?

    Have you measured the output with a modifier like a Softbox to determin wether the ? of a stop the B10+ offers ist really more power or rather due to the different angle of the build-in reflector?

  • Tracy Bosworth Page

    And Zach — thank you for following my Instagram! Seeing your occasional likes on my work always makes me smile!

  • Tracy Bosworth Page

    Oh no worries! I was just convinced I wanted the B10plus but after the review, and considering size and recycle time, I think I’m just going to add some B10s. I have D1s in the studio that I’ve had forever and a day and they still perform beautifully! I did not realize I can not change the flash tubes myself but I’ve only had to do that ever once on a D1 in 8 or 9 years and that was after I threw it (accidentally, it got caught on the trunk) onto my driveway. The B1X would be a clear winner for me until I throw in size and the ability to use plugged in. I travel a lot but I almost always have power. I think the B10 being able to fit more easily into my camera bag is also a big plus. Ohhhh, no pun meant there!

  • Thanks for taking the time to read it!

    Hopefully we didn’t make it too convoluted for you, and you can always throw down on some rentals to help sway your decision.

  • Thanks for taking the time to read through it.

    Yeah, one could assume that the B1/B1X would have better coverage in larger softboxes and other modifiers, based on it’s beam degree…it also may account for the B10/B10+ having higher output than their Ws rating suggest.

    I’d love to do a more expansive test that meters the light at various angles of the degree, but that would probably be a bit too complicated to put together, and a bit out of my pay grade, so to speak. I figured doing a center output would give a pretty good explanation on it’s output.

  • Vincent

    Great article. Thanx for this good work. One question, the b1x has a larger spread as the b10 and b10+.

    Can this result in better coverage in modifiers and less ‘low’ output when used in a (magnum/zoom) reflector? Measuring output in the center of the beam is not always a good measure when spread is not equal…?

  • Tracy Bosworth Page

    Great review, thank you!!! You answer a lot of questions and now my decision is not as firm as it was…

Follow on Feedly