The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore

Started 4 months ago | Discussions
jlafferty Contributing Member • Posts: 799
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore

Totally agree with you on the arcane UI of their speedlights and the TTL 360s. Huge gains made in the ease of use with their 200s, 400s and 600s. TBH the only thing I've had to dive into the menus for would be... trying out COLOR mode and device ID functions once, early on, and then never touching them again.

WRT to "bling"... on the one hand, I'm a big proponent of working with gear that puts you in the right frame of mind to shoot well. If it feels good using it, it makes you a better shooter. If that's Profoto for you, I'm not going to argue there. That's for sure Godox/Flashpoint for me.

OTOH I really think a lot of the posturing about which strobe brands get client recognition on set is just marketing BS, parroting what the light manufacturers put out there. Really only two strobes call attention to themselves: AlienBees and Briese. Everything else is a black/grey/silver box in a modifier, and the client couldn't tell you what works or why... they just want a seamless experience and images that elevate their brand. And if you can time and again prove to them you can do it with your favored gear they don't worry themselves with the details.

TBH on the biggest jobs I've been on in years as a digitech, the highest paid shooters tend to work with the most minimal, stripped down, nimble setups. Some despise gear and all of the trappings around it. Some even balk at using lighting gear at all (and only begrudgingly do so, usually passing off the details to a competent 1st assistant).

Seinfeld has a great line about "how do you want to be on the water" in his appearance on Alec Baldwin's podcast (around the 32:35 mark):

https://www.iheart.com/podcast/heres-the-thing-23562128/episode/jerry-seinfeld-27846392/

He says a lot of performers get suckered in to caring about everything but "the water" in what they do. In his case the water is connecting with the audience, in ours it's creating a smooth experience on set, growing creatively, challenging ourselves, all of which great photos are a side effect. I'm paraphrasing, but it's basically... "How do you want to be on the water? Do you want to be on a surfboard or a yacht? A lot of guys love the yacht... they want to tell you about the yacht, they want to show you their yacht... but managing the yacht becomes a whole other thing. I just want to be on a surfboard."

Talking about lighting can be productive if it serves creative growth. Otherwise it's just showing off your yacht.

bigtrouble wrote:

I should clarify that the UI differences I referred to earlier are primarily centered around the strobe head itself. I'm sure we all run the gamut in terms of technical proficiency, and I tend to like more of an apple experience in the sense that most can figure out how to use a profoto without glancing at a instruction manual once, whereas the godox strobes need a bit of menu diving and manual scrutinizing for some functions. If you've ever used a profoto a1x than you know what I mean compared to the atrocious menus in the godox speedlites. Each of the strobes are a bit different in terms of menu as well and LCD indicators for various functions, and the way you can select and turn off various functions light modeling lights and ready indicators are easier to do quickly with the profoto air triggers.

Bling isn't a bad thing though. Sometimes having a nice suit on helps you nail the job interview, and sometimes having fancy lights make people believe that we're as good as we all pretend to be No shade here - I apply these somewhat sardonic observations to myself as well.

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Rico Tudor Contributing Member • Posts: 587
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore
1

bigtrouble wrote:

Bling isn't a bad thing though.

No question.

I couldn't afford much Profoto if earning a living off photography. Fortunately, the real job pays for my studio habit and, even then, I acquired most stuff from used departments and eBay. One may find a D4 pack unjustifiably expensive but it sports build quality, haptics and capabilities far beyond anything Godox. Profoto makes more sense if you consider the whole system, and own a critical mass of its components: packs, heads, special fixtures, modifiers, adapters, cables, triggers. Little design touches like the modifiers staying on the heads (instead of crashing onto the floor) add to a pleasant operating experience.

That Profoto has priced itself out of existence is clear after all pack models except the $15K Pro-10 were discontinued, along with most of the system. The product and infrastructure of classic stills photography will continue to shrink with the rise of cellphones and video.

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OP flbdig Contributing Member • Posts: 607
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore

Krav Maga wrote:

flbdig wrote:

So I can't come up with any reason that Profoto should be the choice over Godox for anyone starting a new lighting kit. IMHO

Neither can I. But different people have different ways of looking at things.

The argument that "if you're a professional, Profoto makes sense" is especially curious to me.

The way that I look at it is that if you're "pro" it means that your business is photography. If your business is photography, how does spending $2300 on a B1 instead of $900 on an AD 600 Pro make sound business sense? No matter how you slice it, there is not a $1400 difference in quality or ROI; not even close. You can buy 2 AD 600s and still be way ahead; using one for backup.

But this is simply my opinion.

I agree 200%

A Profoto A1X is $1095 for ONE. From a sound Business perspective I can buy FOUR Godox V1-O's and Pro remotes for that price. So I have THREE backups, if I am worried about reliability.

People always talk about Profoto has good service and I am sure they do. But they NEED service also. At that cost I don't want to have to send gear in for service. Lol

Another thing that is forgotten is that like the ad200 the V1 OFF Camera can be used by other cameras in TTL. For example, I purchased the V1-O for Panasonic and Olympus to use on S1R, G9 and OM-D E-M1 Mark II. But when OFF camera my Sony a7 ll with Godox Sony transmitter can use the same flash in TTL!

Also IMHO the Godox system is more versatile because the ad200 is Modular. There are 4 different heads, frensel, round, bare bulb, and LED. Plus with the Godox EC2000 Flash Extender cable there are other options available. I have 3 of these extenders. I detach the flash head from the battery and use the flash extender so that I can use the ad200 as a ON camera Flash for receptions or outdoor daylight weddings by putting a X2T on my camera and the Round head in the hot shoe. That's a 200ws OCF with magnetic accessories!

I also attach the battery to the light stand and head into the modifier. Using the Godox AD200 AD-B2 Bowens Mount with two ad200's and 2 bare bulbs makes a great 400ws light when placed in softboxes or beauty dish.

Also, Godox IMPROVES there products on a yearly basis. And since the cost of their products are about 75% less than Profoto, it makes it Much easier to upgrade to the newest Godox gear. Very few people are going to invest in 2 Profoto B1's and turn around a year or 2 later and lose money by selling or trading to get a new Profoto product.

Profoto is a great product but from a business standpoint the Godox is about 75% less, reliable, versatile, seamless communications between lights and remotes and makes more business sense.

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RDKirk Forum Pro • Posts: 15,430
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore
1

Macro guy wrote:

When did Profoto actually make sense? I can't think of the time when it did even before Godox ever came around. There have always been lights that were just as good, if not better that were less expensive and some were a lot less expensive.

There are a few brands that reptesent the photographic version of "bling" such as Leica, Hasselblad, Phase One, among others. I think that Profoto falls within that category.

When everything is said and done, a light is a light is a light. All it has to do is work.

In the consumer portrait world, it never did.  The kings were companies that don't get mentioned in the commercial-photography-oriented blogs and forums.

Top consumer portrait photographers are still using Photogenic, Norman, Speedotron, and the like.

There is a whole lot of Web-driven follow-the-leader going on in photography today, with people merely asking "what is the best..." and flocking to it like sandpipers rather than getting experience with what they are actually doing and determining what they need from what they're doing.

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Dan Routh Forum Member • Posts: 52
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore
3

My 2 cents. Basically, buy what will do the job and what will pay for itself. Started in this business some 40 years ago shooting large studio work. When you are shooting 8x10 and 4x5, then the most power you could get was the key thing, and even then you were talking multiple pops for a view camera at f32. Masses of Speedo Black Line packs then turned to Profoto Acute 2 equipment, the Profoto being lighter and drawing less power. Note, Acute 2's were the cheap ones, D4 packs could run over $10,000. Got to shoot a bunch to pay for that. Enter digital cameras. Now the problem became too much power. How to turn down a pack enough so that you don't have to shoot at f32. So now the more useful strobes seem to be small battery powered units. Now there's a bunch of stuff that works, from Quantums to Nikon and Canon speed lights, to Godox now and of course the Profoto battery units. I now use them all, except for the Profoto. Like the guy said if I can by 9 lights for the price of two, I can afford to lose one now and then. As for the TTL and such, I still shoot my strobes in manual and use a meter. And, now strobes aren't the only game in town anyway. The rapid development of LEDs has changed the way I shoot several things. Now, locations with a mixture of available light, panels, Icelights and even Lume Cubes have become more and more normal.

So, are Profotos worth the money? If you shoot high end, high budget work and can afford them, then by all means go for it. There are, however, a bunch of other alternatives these days that work just as well for a lot less.

By the way, I have 2 Acute 2 packs, 4 heads, a ring light and a bunch of other stuff for sale these days.

bigtrouble Junior Member • Posts: 39
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore

RDKirk wrote:

Macro guy wrote:

When did Profoto actually make sense? I can't think of the time when it did even before Godox ever came around. There have always been lights that were just as good, if not better that were less expensive and some were a lot less expensive.

There are a few brands that reptesent the photographic version of "bling" such as Leica, Hasselblad, Phase One, among others. I think that Profoto falls within that category.

When everything is said and done, a light is a light is a light. All it has to do is work.

In the consumer portrait world, it never did. The kings were companies that don't get mentioned in the commercial-photography-oriented blogs and forums.

Top consumer portrait photographers are still using Photogenic, Norman, Speedotron, and the like.

There is a whole lot of Web-driven follow-the-leader going on in photography today, with people merely asking "what is the best..." and flocking to it like sandpipers rather than getting experience with what they are actually doing and determining what they need from what they're doing.

Agreed - godox isn't replacing profoto, it's replacing manufacturers like paul c buff who used to be the king of the session portrait world.

Profoto makes sense if it makes sense to you and your business or hobby. As much as we talk about light is light, which I completely agree with, I think it's also overly reductive to simply say cameras and lights are "just" tools. Take your average enthusiast guitar player - I'm sure they'd completely disagree with you that their fender stratocaster is "just a tool" to create guitar sounds, or that a Leica M10 is just a tool for capturing images, or profoto B10s are just strobes. If it was that easy, then we would just run down the spec sheet and consumer reports, and buy the one that was highest rated on everything - and things like forums would be pretty useless

bigtrouble Junior Member • Posts: 39
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore

Krav Maga wrote:

flbdig wrote:

So I can't come up with any reason that Profoto should be the choice over Godox for anyone starting a new lighting kit. IMHO

Neither can I. But different people have different ways of looking at things.

The argument that "if you're a professional, Profoto makes sense" is especially curious to me.

The way that I look at it is that if you're "pro" it means that your business is photography. If your business is photography, how does spending $2300 on a B1 instead of $900 on an AD 600 Pro make sound business sense? No matter how you slice it, there is not a $1400 difference in quality or ROI; not even close. You can buy 2 AD 600s and still be way ahead; using one for backup.

But this is simply my opinion.

Guesisng you're quoting me, in which case you missed the part about well heeled enthusiast/hobbyists. If we are talking about just straight financial calculations, I'd wager that a $900 AD600 doesn't really make sense for most people either.

cpharm86 Senior Member • Posts: 1,923
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore

Toilet paper is toilet paper. Just buy the cheap stuff and use and buy more of it. A little exaggerated analogy.

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Ellis Vener
Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 12,468
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore
1

Macro guy wrote:

When did Profoto actually make sense?

In the late 80s and throughout the 1990s when the alternatives (in the USA) for pack and head systems were Balcar, Bowens (also sold as Calumet), Broncolor*, Comet, Elinchrom, Norman, Novatron, and Speedotron Blackline.

I did not include Dynalite in that list of commonly used pack and head systems because it was was the sine qua non for location photographers and extremely competively priced as well.

I did not include Godard because it was very much a niche product and I did not include Luz even though they made a terrific and extremely rugged pack because at the end of the company’s very short life, its owner left the people  the people who worked for him and those  who financially backed him, and those who had made deposits

*I have only included Broncolor which as always been the best system, because of its price.

I can't think of the time when it did even before Godox ever came around. There have always been lights that were just as good, if not better that were less expensive and some were a lot less expensive.

i disagree.

There are a few brands that reptesent the photographic version of "bling" such as Leica, Hasselblad, Phase One, among others. I think that Profoto falls within that category.

for some photographers you are right, high end brands are just bling as you put it. For a small percentage of working photographers they are just the  tools of the trade.

When everything is said and done, a light is a light is a light. All it has to do is work.

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jlafferty Contributing Member • Posts: 799
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore
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But what about Hensel?!

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Ellis Vener
Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 12,468
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore
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jlafferty wrote:

But what about Hensel?!

Forgot about them. The first I ever heard of Hensel was the Hensel Porty a 1200 watt-second battery pack based system which was a better alternative to the similar Comet unit. This was before Profoto made something similar as well.

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Krav Maga
Krav Maga Senior Member • Posts: 3,226
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore
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bigtrouble wrote:

Krav Maga wrote:

flbdig wrote:

So I can't come up with any reason that Profoto should be the choice over Godox for anyone starting a new lighting kit. IMHO

Neither can I. But different people have different ways of looking at things.

The argument that "if you're a professional, Profoto makes sense" is especially curious to me.

The way that I look at it is that if you're "pro" it means that your business is photography. If your business is photography, how does spending $2300 on a B1 instead of $900 on an AD 600 Pro make sound business sense? No matter how you slice it, there is not a $1400 difference in quality or ROI; not even close. You can buy 2 AD 600s and still be way ahead; using one for backup.

But this is simply my opinion.

Guesisng you're quoting me, in which case you missed the part about well heeled enthusiast/hobbyists. If we are talking about just straight financial calculations, I'd wager that a $900 AD600 doesn't really make sense for most people either.

No, I was responding to the OP. The quote I had in my response was from the OP.

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bigtrouble Junior Member • Posts: 39
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore
1

Ah got it, sorry for the misunderstanding

jlafferty Contributing Member • Posts: 799
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore

Yeah, the Hensel Porty was the poor man’s Elinchrom Quadra when the Speedotron Explorer was the poor poor man’s Hensel Porty :/ But FWIW I know of a few guys who launched what are now pretty well developed and recognized careers using Portys.

Ellis Vener wrote:

jlafferty wrote:

But what about Hensel?!

Forgot about them. The first I ever heard of Hensel was the Hensel Porty a 1200 watt-second battery pack based system which was a better alternative to the similar Comet unit. This was before Profoto made something similar as well.

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Ellis Vener
Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 12,468
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore

jlafferty wrote:

Yeah, the Hensel Porty was the poor man’s Elinchrom Quadra when the Speedotron Explorer was the poor poor man’s Hensel Porty :/ But FWIW I know of a few guys who launched what are now pretty well developed and recognized careers using Portys.

Ellis Vener wrote:

jlafferty wrote:

But what about Hensel?!

Forgot about them. The first I ever heard of Hensel was the Hensel Porty a 1200 watt-second battery pack based system which was a better alternative to the similar Comet unit. This was before Profoto made something similar as well.

My recollection is that Gregory Heisler pretty much launched his career in the late 70s  using a couple of Norman 200s.

What really lit up the editorial and corporate  location photography world in the early 80s  was not any single make or model of lighting g Equipment were radio triggers and Chimera soft boxes: The Hawk was the first radio trigger system  that was reliable and the poor man’s version was the GVI Radio Slave which was was bought and became the Quantum Radio Slave. Then in the early 90s a company called LPA DESIGN came up with a substantially more reliable system than the Quantum called the PocketWizard. The PocketWizard was a more compact and simpler version of LPA’s earlier FlashWizard system and it is a system that is still going strong.

Fred Larson says he came up with the first Softbox but it was the Chimera Lightbank (Larson trademarked the word “softbox”)  which was invented by photographer Gary Regester and climber Tom Frost who made it more practical and did a better job of marketing the idea that you could replicate the quality of light coming through a well diffused window, anywhere, even outside at night or in a grimy factory or cluttered office.

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tcphoto1
tcphoto1 Contributing Member • Posts: 976
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore
1

I nearly forgot about the Hawk, my mentor used it with his Hasselblad, Dynalite kit and Elinchrom Octa shooting for magazines like Time, People and ESPN the Magazine to name a few. My first radio kit was the first version of the Pocket Wizard and it worked well until I transitioned to digital and discovered the the term, "latching" which rendered them useless. These days I'm quite happy with the PlusX units.

Back on topic, Profoto seemed to lose touch when they went to battery powered monolights with flat glass in front of the flashtube. Like Apple, Adobe and others they became even more profit driven and lost touch with advanced amateurs and pros. I still love my Acute2 kit but have little interest in their current offerings.

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Ellis Vener
Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 12,468
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore

Who was your mentor?

i think Profoto losing its way wasgradual but I think theteit had me mapped  by two events

The retirement of the company’s two founders, one of whom was a photographer.

The advent of good quality high enough resolution  digital cameras. Suddenly commercial photographers were finding that they did not need ISO 50 or  64 35mm and once past the 16~21mp barrier  they did not necessarily need medium and large format cameras and lenses which required stopping down to the f11 to f/32 range, hence a general drop in demand for 2400 to 4800 watt-second pack and head systems. There  is still a market for high end commercial, advertising, and editorial portrait work which does need that kind of lighting power. I sometimes need it for projects but not as much as I used to, but it is no longer generally necessary like it once was.

with the exception of Balcar, high-end electronic flash manufacturers always treated monolights as kind of a unwanted  stepchild, as entry level products designed to get new photographers using a particular system. This world view of the market started changing  in about 2005-2009. In the U.S.A., if the switch to digital was the hammer, the big nail in the coffin was Paul C. Buff’s Einstein E640. Suddenly there was a technology leading high performance moonlight for under $500.00.

In more recent years there has been in the introduction of battery or AC powered TTL and HSS capable monolights. In my opinion Profoto flubbed this transition badly with the B1 which was derived from the D1.  The big mistakes, besides pricing,  was not the recessed flash tube, but making the Profoto Air radio transceiver system closed to use with speedlights made by other companies like Nikon and Canon and not having an AC power option for studio use. The recessed flashtube design hurt as well by nullifying  the genius of Profoto’s sliding collar reflector mount system and starting the myth that the new heads could not evenly  fill a softbox.

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mod photographer67 New Member • Posts: 2
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore

Beauty Dishes -The finer details and Inner workings ..

I have had my Bowens Pro120 for over 20 years!! The reason I haven't spent money on new studio lights is that they are such great lights, they still won't die on me

The only annoying problem is when I use  4 heads at once.

(Two sidelights are on honeycomb grids, they just won't consistently sync all at once.

I'm forever trying to get the line of sight for all 4  to sync and I have pocket wizards.

My partner bought me the Godox AD200s, I use a cheaper chinese beauty dish.

The syncing is so great,.

However, when I tried to replicate a powerful portrait image I saw online, another photographer was using a profoto white studio beauty dish with a prolite mono head.

I got inspired and tried to replicate this image using my Godox AD200 and  Chinese brand white beauty dish.

I notice the outline perimeter of the subjects face didnt have the same light drop off  -

I liked the wonderful shadow frame around the subject's face

The ProPhoto beauty dish light seems more directional with that shadow frame around face, yet still soft.

My question is :

Is this due to the inner design of the Prophoto beauty dish?

Is the  globe inside the AD200 really that different from the ProPhoto mono head

The physical dishes virtually look the same?

I'm  thinking  should I just take the plunge and buy  ProPhoto and sell some old gear

Can I ever really achieve that exact same look with a cheaper brand?

Am I kidding my self ??  Is it still the old saying  "You get what you pay for?

I would love to hear from you  great people or even a portrait expert, if possible?

Thank you,

Kim

jlafferty Contributing Member • Posts: 799
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore

Post the photo in question that serves as your ideal and we’ll be able to tell you one way or another.

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stevevuoso Forum Member • Posts: 91
Re: The Cost of Profoto just can't be justified anymore
1

Macro guy wrote:

When everything is said and done, a light is a light is a light.

Don't agree. Color temperature and flash duration are two areas where a light is not just a light.

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