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Profoto A10 power.


BeBu Lamar
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The theoretical energy of any of Nikon's top-line speedlights from the SB-24 onwards is about 75 Joules (Watt-seconds). This is based on the marked main capacitor rating of 1400uF/350v, with an operating voltage of 330v. Giving 0.5*V*V*C in Farads = 76.23.

 

From Nikon SB-24 repair manual -

Screenshot_20220923_100348.thumb.jpg.cd5874953aa4251c7d9a891655205a4c.jpg

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Quite expensive.

Quite?

That's a bit of an understatement. It's nearly £1,000 in the UK, including VAT. Just for a pretty average speedlight with a round front.... and that makes what difference to a rectangular picture?

 

Hmmm. One Profoto A10, or 3 Godox V1s and a good chunk of change leftover? Not a hard decision in these austere times I suspect.

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Quite?

That's a bit of an understatement. It's nearly £1,000 in the UK, including VAT. Just for a pretty average speedlight with a round front.... and that makes what difference to a rectangular picture?

 

Hmmm. One Profoto A10, or 3 Godox V1s and a good chunk of change leftover? Not a hard decision in these austere times I suspect.

When I use the term quite I meant expensive. Anyway I am not interested in a flash of that power. I need more power.

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I need more power.

Stacked speedlights?

2 on a bracket guarantees you one stop more light, and 4 of them guarantee two stops more. I.e. an actual doubling of Guide Number to a real figure of about 60 @ 50mm coverage.

Whereas something claiming 120 Watt-seconds gives only about a half-stop increase (GN * 1.2).

 

An ancient Mecablitz 60CT-x does gain you about a stop - depending on the coverage angle of what you're comparing it to - but the inconvenience factor is "quite" high. Personally I'd rather stick another speedlight on a bracket in addition to a hotshoe-mounted one.

 

And as we've discussed before, maker's Guide Numbers are to be totally mistrusted.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have not used the A10 but have shot a few times with the A1. I have two SB-5000's.

Profoto has some advantages and disadvantages. The recycle time is faster and there is higher flash energy available. The unit can be mounted to Profoto's accessories of which there is a huge selection. Round flash shape is good to fill round modifiers. A neat trick in the Profoto system is that you can take a shot in TTL and if you want to fix the exposure you can go to manual mode and it'll show the last TTL exposure numbers in units used for the manual flash energy, so you can continue from there. A disadvantage of the A1 is that one can't freely mix TTL and M mode groups like you can with Nikon. Another disadvantage is that the flash is quite big for on-camera use and it makes handling in vertical mode awkward compared to the relatively compact SB-5000. Also at least in the A1 if you put on a larger modifier it can droop, and won't stay upright. Maybe some of these shortcomings have been addressed in the newer A10; I don't have any information about that.

 

Profoto in general is expensive but very very nice in use. E.g. the B10 is just great. The thing about Profoto is that it seems to always work, whereas some of the cheaper brands can often give misfires, fall asleep etc. while Profoto always fired on my test shoots and always gave consistent light from shot to shot. The user interface is also clean. However, Profoto is out of my price range and I use Nikon and Elinchrom flashes. They're not as nice but something like 40% cheaper. I've watched people use Godox and Yongnuo flashes and radio triggers with mixed results and while cheap I am more confident in the reliability of the Nikon SB-5000 and Elinchrom flashes that I use. If flash photography was my main thing, and something I did a lot, I'd probably get Profoto gear though. But switching from the bare bulb type Elinchroms to the forward-oriented light of the Profotos would not be economical because the modifiers that I have would not work as designed but I'd need to swap them also, and I happen to like the option of bare bulb flash to fill huge softboxes evenly.

 

But for the pleasure of use and reliability, I can't argue against Profoto based on what limited experience I have with them. I have also seen people being happy with Godox equipment and it seems their nicer stuff (not the very cheapest models) is also nice. If you want more flash energy than a speedlight and want to stay in budget, Godox is something to look into.

 

I've used flash brackets for combinining 2-3 speedlights and my experience with them is that they are poor. The main problem is that they can easily break and so the flash can fall off (mine was Lastolite) and carrying a loaded setup on stand is scary (it becomes top heavy with multiple speedlights). I would prefer to use a larger battery-powered flash such as the B10 any time over doubled or tripled speedlights. However, the kit I actually have includes Elinchrom Quadra Hybrid which are 400 Ws but purely manual. The head is super lightweight so no problems with top heavy rigs but there is a cable and main unit which weight more and a monolight has its advantages. I stick to what I have because it gives high quality light, is consistent from shot to shot, and I already have the modifiers etc. 

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On 10/11/2022 at 12:56 PM, ilkka_nissila said:

there is higher flash energy available.

How so, if it's only claiming 75 Joules (Watt-seconds)? Which is identical to every top-of-the-range Nikon or Canon speedlight since the SB-24.

 

On 10/11/2022 at 12:56 PM, ilkka_nissila said:

The unit can be mounted to Profoto's accessories of which there is a huge selection. Round flash shape is good to fill round modifiers.

I think we're talking apples vs oranges here. I assumed BeBu wanted more power from an on-camera flash, not something stand-mounted in a modifier. And Profoto has no monopoly on wide modifier choice. The Bowens 'S' system has dozens or even hundreds of modifiers, reflectors and attachments available for it, and 'bare bulb' can be got simply by removing the reflector. 

Fragile and broken bracket? You're using the wrong bracket! 

A metal bracket screwed to the tripod mount of a camera is quite difficult to break with only one speedlight attached to it. And another speedlight in the hotshoe doubles the light energy available, without too much extra weight and imbalance. It makes the difference between being stuck with direct flash, and having enough light to bounce at a reasonable aperture. 

3 or 4 speedlights attached to the camera? - yes, that would get silly cumbersome. And if you need that sort of power at sensible ISO speeds, then off-camera is probably the way to go. 

Nobody wants this! 

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Neil van Niekerk tested the Profoto A1 in the studio and said it's about 1/2 stop brighter than the equivalent Nikon or Canon speedlights. The A1 and the current A10 are hot shoe mounted flashes but they also make adapters and modifiers for using it in applications where the flash is off camera (e.g. one can use them with beauty dishes, which at least I haven't been able to do with my Nikon speedlights using Elinchrom's beauty dish). I like versatility and it would be preferable if one unit could be used in different ways.

In addition to the maximum flash energy difference, there is a more significant practical difference as the recycle time of the Profoto flash is faster than a speedlight, which means you can use the full energy of the flash reliably even when taking several shots in quick succession.  I'm frequently infuriated by the variable output of Nikon flashes when pushing the light to give more than 1/8-1/4 of the maximum output and taking a few shots quickly. If it's sunny even at sunset, the light coming from behind and I'm using flash with umbrella to light the subject from the front, some of the shots won't be correctly lit.  My experiences with Profoto flashes suggest that they tend to produce constant output very reliably even when pushed.  You can use an external battery pack on the Nikons to speed up the recycle time but it's a chore to deal with the cable, battery pack and the large number of AA batteries needed to operate it that way. The Profoto has just a single rechargeable battery which is contained in the flash unit, no extra cables or modules needed to get fast recycle times.

 

 

Edited by ilkka_nissila
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