This is a review of the Profoto B10 AirTTL OCF Flash Head, a lightweight, portable and battery-powered flash designed for professional portrait photographers. Although Profoto had previously released battery-powered flash heads for on-location work such as the B1 (see our Profoto B1 Review), B1X and B2, they were all either too big and heavy, or small enough to require an external battery pack. The Profoto B10 was designed to strike a perfect balance of portability, power and weight, so it it is arguably the flash head that delivers the most value in the entire line-up.
I had a chance to test the Profoto B10 in the last few weeks for portrait photography while traveling, and I found it to be an extremely versatile off-camera flash. It is powerful enough to be able to do portraits in daylight conditions, it is light and small enough to be able to fit in a small camera bag, and the ability to use it in the field without having to hook up any cords, battery packs or other accessories gave me a lot of freedom and flexibility. Let’s take a look at the Profoto B10 in more detail.
Profoto B10 Specifications
First, let’s take a look at the specifications of the Profoto B10:
- Maximum Power: 250 Ws
- Power Control: 10 Stops
- Guide Number: 72.51′ / 22.1 m at 6.56′ / 2 m, ISO 100 with Reflector
- TTL: Yes
- HSS: Yes
- Recycle Time: 0.05 to 2 Sec (Full Power)
- Color Temperature: 5,600K
- Flash Ready Indicator: Audio
- Reflector: 3.9″ / 9.91 cm Fixed
- Accessory Fitting Type: Profoto, Profoto OCF
- Modeling Light: 150 W LED
- Modeling Light Control: Dimming 10-100% (up to 2500 lumens), Adjustable Color Temperature 3000-6500K (+-500K)
- Modeling Light Color Rendering (CRI): 90-96
- Sync Type: Button, Optical, Radio
- Sync Socket: No
- Wireless Frequency Bands: 2.4 GHz
- Wireless Channels / Groups: 8 / 3
- Operating Range: Sync and remote control 0.5-300m (1.5-1000ft), HSS and TTL: 0.5-100m (1.5-330ft)
- Bluetooth: Yes (Profoto app)
- Interface: USB Type-C
- Power Source: External Battery
- Battery: 3000 mAh Lithium-Ion
- Maximum Output Voltage: 14.4 VDC
- Flashes Per Charge: 400 Flashes (Full Power)
- Recharge Time: 90 Minutes
- Display: LCD
- Mount: 5/8″ / 16 mm Receptacle
- Auto Dump: Yes
- Fan Cooled: No
- Operating Temperature: 32 to 113°F / 0 to 45°C (Recommended)
- Dimensions: H: 3.9 x W: 4.3 x L: 6.9″ / H: 9.9 x W: 10.9 x L: 17.5 cm, Including Stand Adapter
- Weight: 3.3 lb / 1.50 kg, Including Battery and Stand Adapter
As you can see from these specifications, the Profoto B10 has quite a bit of power and features for such a small and lightweight flash. It is important to point out that the B10 has a built-in “IR Slave” capability similar to what the B1 can do, which means that you can trigger it with another speedlight. I tested the B10 with Nikon SB-800 and SB-900 speedlights and I was able to use it up to 1/200th of a second on the Nikon Z7. If you have a camera with faster flash sync speeds, you can shoot even faster – I have previously done successful tests with up to 1/320th of a second on the Nikon D800E / D810 without having any darkening of the frame.
Packaging, Build Quality and Ergonomics
Anyone who previously had experience with a Profoto flash head knows that these units are built to the highest standards and to deliver consistent results in the field, which is important for any working professional. Unlike some of its Chinese knock-offs and equivalents (more on that later), the Profoto B10 feels like a top-notch product when it is handled. While I personally rarely pay attention to things like product packaging, one can immediately tell the difference between unboxing a Profoto product vs a cheap flash unit – everything feels like it has been well thought of. Inside the cardboard Profoto box you will find a nicely padded case with a handle, for those situations where you want to just grab the whole case with all its contents. Within the case, you will find the following items:
- Profoto B10 AirTTL Flash Unit with Rubber Protective Cap
- Stand Adapter
- Lithium Ion Battery
- 3A Battery Charger
- B10 Carrying Case with Separators
- User Guide, Safety Instructions and Warranty Card
The flash head itself comes with the battery attached to the unit, but for storage purposes there is a small piece of plastic that keeps the battery from powering the flash. Once removed from packaging, my first step was to charge up the battery, which is easily detached from the flash head when I squeezed its bottom. Charging the battery is simple and quick – you just attach the male part of the charger to the hole on the bottom of the battery and the charging will commence. Once fully charged, a green indicator light on the charger will turn on. One of the main differences between the B10 and previous-generation Profoto products is the ability to charge the battery while being able to simultaneously use the product, which is a nice advantage for those who want to be able to shoot continuously in a studio environment.
The B10 has a standard 5/8″ receiver on its bottom and it does not come with an integrated umbrella adapter, which is great for a number of reasons. First of all, if you have tight space in your camera bag, you can leave the stand adapter detached and store it separately. Second, if you bring a tripod, a superclamp or a C-stand with a 5/8″ male thread, you can attach the head directly on those without using the adapter at all. And lastly, if you shoot in a studio environment, you can attach the head on all kinds of stands and accessories without adding the weight and the bulk of the stand adapter. At the same time, I personally found the stand adapter to be quite useful as a simple handle when hand-holding the flash, which turned to be very useful when I took portraits of Lola in New York:
For remote work, I ended up leaving the B10 case at home, since I wanted to pack everything nicely into my camera bag. And that’s certainly where the B10 shines – it is so compact and small, that it easily fit in the center section of my MindShift Gear Backlight 26L Backpack. Take a look:
And here is the full list of gear that I brought with me to New York:
- Profoto B10 with battery and stand adapter
- Profoto 3A charger
- Profoto OCF speed ring
- Profoto 2×3′ OCF softbox
- Profoto Air Remote TTL-N for Nikon
- Nikon Z7
- Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S
- Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S
- Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S
- Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S
- Nikon MH-25A charger + extra EN-EL15b battery
- RRS Multi-Clamp Kit with BC-18 Head
- Bose QuietComfort 20
- Gitzo Traveler Tripod
- FLM CB-32 F Ballhead
- Basic umbrella light stand
That’s quite a bit of gear I was able to pack in a relatively compact backpack. The light stand, along with the Profoto 2×3 OCF softbox went into my suitcase, while he rest of the gear was packed into my backpack. The best part is, the B10 only added approximately 1.5 kg of weight to my shoulders, which is roughly the weight of a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. And size-wise, the B10 is shorter, but a bit wider than a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. If I were to try to pack a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens with me, both the B10 and the Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S would have to come out from this bag…
As expected, the build quality of the Profoto B10 is superb. Its tough plastic shell is useful in protecting the unit against occasional bumps and scratches. Although Profoto made sure to protect the front of the flash with a protective rubber grip, the LCD screen that sits on the rear of the unit is protected by a slightly extruded piece of plastic, as well as the two large buttons / dials on the bottom:
This means that while the B10 could take a hit without much damage on its back if it falls on a flat surface, if you manage to drop it on an uneven surface, you certainly risk damaging the LCD screen, which could turn into a costly repair. Ideally, if you are planning to use the B10 with a large light modifier, you should make sure to secure the head on a solid light stand that you can either hold, or protect with a heavy sandbag, especially in windy conditions.
The three buttons on the back of the Profoto B10 serve different functions. The white one on the right is used to power on the unit and test flash. The main button / dial in the center is used to change flash power, as well as access and navigate through the B10 menu. Pressing the button once opens up the menu, then you can rotate the button to select a menu setting, then press it again to change values. The left button / dial located on the left is used for turning on modeling light and adjusting its power, as well as its color temperature. Simply rotating the dial will adjust the power, while pressing the button and rotating it will adjust the color temperature. I personally love this feature of the B10, as it can be used not only as a powerful flash, but also as a decent video light!
It is clear that Profoto engineers put quite a bit of thought into the design of the B10 to make it as small, and yet as functional as possible. Its unique, compact design with a signature Profoto display on the back of the unit, as well as a very minimalistic, and yet functional button layout definitely make it stand out from its competition. The intuitive menu system is icing on the cake – even if you have previously never used a Profoto flash, you will have no problems understanding the menu (I never even bothered to use the Profoto manual). Unfortunately, the same cannot be said with most other flash units on the market that have too many buttons and a hard to understand menu system.
Compatibility and Firmware Updates
Similar to other Profoto units, the B10 is compatible with most camera systems on the market today. I was initially worried about compatibility with Nikon’s mirrorless system, but it turned out that Profoto provided a firmware update for both B10 and the Air Remote TTL-N remote that brought compatibility to both Nikon Z6 and Z7. The firmware update process was simple and intuitive. After I downloaded the latest firmware from Profoto’s website and connected the B10 to my iMac Pro with a USB Type C cable (had to turn off the unit and remove the battery first), the software recognized the flash and took a few minutes to upload the firmware:
After the upload is done, you disconnect the cable, mount the battery and turn it on – that’s what starts the actual firmware upgrade process. The firmware transfer process with the utility is simply there to transfer firmware files.
From there, I performed a similar update to the Profoto Air Remote TTL-N. The process was a bit different for the Air Remote TTL-N. After I connected the micro USB cable to the unit, I had to press the “+” and “C” buttons together until the word “USB” appeared on the display:
After that I pressed the “Click to start firmware update” button, which upgraded the firmware on the Air Remote TTL-N. I was then shown a “Firmware updated completed” message on the software. I then disconnected the cable, mounted the Air Remote TTL-N on my Nikon Z7 and tested the B10 – it was able to fire the flash without any issues.
Profoto B10 vs Godox vs Other Flash Systems
Over the years, I have tried a number of different flash systems on the market from Elinchrom and Paul C Buff to Godox. For many years, I was a big fan of the Elinchrom system, because it delivered superb and very consistent results, especially in a studio environment. However, it was a beast of a system to carry around with me, so I ended up selling it. Ever since Profoto released the B1, I realized that big flashes and battery packs are just not for me, so I wanted to move to a more compact radio system. I looked at a number of options on the market, but none of them were as portable and lightweight as I wanted them to be.
A couple of years back, I had a chance to visit and photograph Israel, and that’s where I had my first encounter with the Godox system. I was shooting a model in the desert with a bunch of other photographers, and since I did not have a flash with me, I had to use a Godox flash with its remote trigger. I was using the Fujifilm GFX 50S in bright daylight conditions and after spending about 10 minutes with the Godox flash, I simply gave up. I am not sure if there was anything wrong with the trigger or the unit itself, but the flash would only engage every 4-5 shots, which was very frustrating. I tried swapping out batteries, recycling the power on both the trigger and the flash, but it would still fire inconsistently. Perhaps it could have been a firmware incompatibility or some other problem, who knows. The other frustrating bit for me was changing the settings – I remember I had a hard time understanding how to adjust Godox settings, so I had to ask someone else in the group to help out. Others had similar issues that day, and they ended up shooting portraits without a flash. All this left a bad taste in my mouth, so despite the price appeal of the Godox system, I decided that it was not for me. Since then, Godox released a number of new flash heads that seem to be much better in comparison, but I have still been hesitant for a number of reasons, including quality control issues and support (which seems to be non-existent in the USA). But above all, none of the Godox flashes are as portable, as powerful and as lightweight as the B10, which is a pretty big deal for me.
When it comes to cost, it is absolutely true that Profoto charges a premium for their products. At $1,699, the B10 is one of the most expensive flash heads on the market. Add the cost of the Air Remote TTL ($429), as well as a flash modifier and a speed ring, and you are looking at spending close to $2,500, and that’s for a single flash. In comparison, the Godox AD400Pro is without a doubt something I would take a close look at, especially at its low $650 price tag. For the same budget of $2,500, you could easily get a few of the AD400Pro units, flash triggers and modifiers, so the price difference is certainly significant.
However, for those of us working in the field, cost is not always the determining factor. I am personally willing to pay a premium for the high quality product that is lightweight, portable, easy and intuitive to use, and I know that if anything happens with my unit in the field, I can get professional support from Profoto, something I cannot count on with the Godox system. In fact, if you ask about Godox support from its fan base, you will mostly hear that it is easier and better to just replace a broken Godox with another one. Godox flashes are so cheap – why not get a few of them? This certainly makes sense from the budget standpoint. Budget is something you should definitely weigh on your end before deciding on a flash system. In fact, I would argue that if budget is an issue, Profoto is not for you. The way I look at Profoto vs Godox or other cheap flash systems on the market, is similar to how I look at iOS vs Android or Mac vs PC debates. There will always be those who will argue that buying the latest Mac Pro or an iPhone is downright idiotic, because there are better, faster and cheaper options out there. Despite all this, there are many people out there who are willing to pay a premium for that Apple logo. It does not matter whether it has to do with the perception of higher product quality, familiarity / comfort level, or simple willingness to support the company by purchasing its products. Having owned an iPhone in the past 10 years or so and having tried a number of high-end Android devices, I personally cannot see myself moving to Android – I simply did not enjoy the Android experience, and I absolutely hated the fact that most Android devices come pre-packaged with crapware I cannot easily remove. Others have different arguments and experiences, but at the end of the day, we can all agree that the purchasing decision of an individual does not solely depend on price alone. Those who buy Apple devices are likely to continue to buy them, no matter how great their Android and PC equivalents are.
Lastly, as a business owner and seller in the USA, I do have a personal issue with supporting Chinese manufacturers who have zero shame in copying products and producing copycats. Having been ripped off many times in the past by Chinese manufacturers who copied the Sensor Gel Stick and sold it on Amazon and other outlets, my revenue from sales has declined to the point it almost makes no sense to continue selling the product. Someone even had the guts to set up a “sensorgelstick.com” domain to redirect sales to Amazon for earning commissions from a product I originally named. I am not necessarily suggesting that Godox and other similar companies copy products from other companies, but we have seen Godox release the V1, which looked too similar to Profoto’s A1 (heck, even the names of the products are similar). These sort of practices hurt companies in the long run and the sad part it, there isn’t much we can do to stop these copycats. R&D costs a lot of money for manufacturers, so any time someone just rips their product off, it hurts their business in the long run.
Flash Consistency and Reliability
Unlike my previous experience with the Godox system, I found the Profoto B10 to be a consistent and a reliable flash unit. No matter how close or far I got to B10 with my camera, it fired every single time with high accuracy. For example, when shooting a model, I set the flash output to be at 5.0 and took a number of images with the same ambient light and exposure settings – every image came out looking exactly the same, with the same amount of light on my subject. I can say the same thing about the consistency of color output from the B10. This type of consistency and reliability are important in the field for working professionals and it is something you might not be able to get from a cheap flash system, so keep that in mind.
TTL and HSS
The Profoto B10 has built-in TTL support for a number of different camera systems. While I purchased the Profoto Air Remote TTL-N for Nikon, you can buy a similar remote for Canon, Sony, Fujifilm and Olympus systems. With the TTL capability, you don’t have to worry about manually controlling flash output and the system will automatically determine the best flash power output. I tried out TTL on both Nikon Z6 and Z7, and I am happy to report that it worked flawlessly. Setting up TTL is super easy – all you have to do is press the button to the right of the “Mode” screen in Profoto Air Remote TTL-N trigger and once it switches to “TTL”, you are all set. If you press the button again, it switches back to Manual. Here is an image captured in TTL mode:
While TTL is nice to have, the feature that is a lot more important for me personally is High Speed Sync (HSS). When shooting in bright daylight conditions, lugging a variable ND filter just to keep the shutter speed below maximum flash sync speed (typically around 1/200-1/250th of a second) is not always ideal and sometimes I just forget about it. In such cases, instead of ending up with images that are only partially illuminated, or instead of forcing myself to use smaller apertures, it is nice to be able to switch to HSS and still get great results, even wide open. That’s what I did with my model shoot when shooting in daylight conditions – I used the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S at maximum aperture of f/1.8 and with HSS on, I fired away without paying attention to my shutter speed. The results were amazing and HSS worked flawlessly! Here is a sample image captured with HSS:
The Profoto B10 was able to handle 1/800th of a second without any issues and I was happy to keep my aperture at f/1.8 to isolate the model from the busy background.
Air Remote TTL
While I really love the Profoto B10, I cannot say great things about the Air Remote TTL – at least not at its steep $429 price tag. With Elinchrom pricing its triggers at around $250 and Godox pricing its flash triggers at just $69, $429 seems like a lot of money Profoto wants its customers to pay for a simple radio trigger. The worst part of the Air Remote TTL is its inability to read the flash power from the Profoto B10, which is a rather serious oversight. When shooting in manual mode, you have no idea what flash power is set on the Profoto B10 – you will have to look at the back of the LCD. Pressing the “Energy” plus and minus buttons pushes the power up and down, but after about two seconds the adjustment resets and if you will have no clue what it is set to on the flash unit. Profoto should have found a way to read the flash power from the B10 and report it on the Air Remote TTL, or at least not reset the adjustments, so that you know whether you added more or less flash power.
In addition to this, the Air Remote TTL has no built-in AF assist IR beam light that can help significantly when shooting in low-light conditions. See my article “How to make autofocus work in extremely low light” to understand the benefits of AF assist IR beam. For $429, Profoto should have added this useful feature to the Air Remote TTL in my opinion.
The Profoto B10 comes with a powerful Lithium-Ion battery rated at 43.2 Wh / 3 Ah. In terms of flashes per charge, it means that you can fire the B10 up to 400 times in full power before the battery is fully drained – and that’s at 250 Ws of maximum power. It is pretty incredible that Profoto was able to squeeze that much juice into such a small battery. Just to give you an idea of how much power you can get from a single full charge, when I did a model shoot locally in Colorado, I came back with roughly 250 images, all taken with flash at different power levels. My battery indicator on the LCD, as well as the battery itself (yes, you can check battery level by pressing a button on the battery) showed that I only consumed one bar – I had a lot more battery life left! So 400 flashes at full power is indeed a lot of battery life. I personally do not see myself shooting at full power that many times on a single shoot.
If you are planning to use the modeling light a lot for shooting video, keep in mind that the battery does get drained faster this way – you can expect to have about 75 minutes of continuous run time in full brightness. So if you are a professional portrait or wedding photographer, you might want to add another battery to your arsenal.
The only negative thing about Lithium-Ion batteries is that they tend to die when they are not used and when their charge levels drop too low. If you find yourself shooting very rarely, then I would recommend to charge these batteries every once in a while to keep the battery running.
Ease of Use
I have already pointed out that I never even bothered opening the Profoto B10 manual and that shows how easy it is to use the B10. Everything is designed to be extremely easy to operate – from buttons to the menu system. The only thing you have to remember is how to turn the B10 on and off (which is just pressing and holding the white button)…the rest you can figure out by just looking at the LCD.
Profoto did a phenomenal job with the LCD screen. Unlike most ugly LCD and OLED screens we see on other speedlights and flash units, the Profoto LCD screen has plenty of resolution to be able to fit all the information, including the menu system. Speaking of the menu system, you are not going to get shortened menu options that require you to look things up – everything is spelled out in full words like “Continuous Light” and “Exposure Warning”, which is very nice. To date, I have not yet seen a flash system that is this organized and so easy to use!
iPhone App for Remote Control
The Profoto B10 comes with a Bluetooth functionality, which allows it to connect to the Profoto app, which is available for the iPhone. Once you download the app and login with your Profoto account, make sure to enable “Bluetooth” from the settings menu on the B10. As soon as you do that, the iPhone app will detect the B10 and ask you to connect to it:
Once connected, the app will ask if you want to register the device. If you have not already registered the device, it is a good idea to do it now, so that you can get all the firmware updates in the future. Once connected, unlike the Air Remote TTL, you will be able to get the full flash status using the app. It will display the current power level, as well as give you all the features, including the full flash menu:
Personally, I love this connectivity option and the app, which so far seems to be very stable and bug-free. I love the ability to change flash settings using the app and knowing what my power is set to. The only downside is compatibility – I wish Profoto developed a similar app for Android.
What can I say, Profoto has done it again! Having used the Profoto B1 in the past, I fell in love with the system, but I was not ready to commit to a big and heavy flash unit. But with the release of the B10, I knew it was a matter of time until I acquired it to use for my portrait photography needs, especially when traveling. So far I have only been able to take it with me to a trip to New York, but with my upcoming trips to Uzbekistan, Jordan and other countries, I am planning to bring the B10 along me whenever I can. Having shot so many portraits in Uzbekistan a few months ago, I often struggled with challenging light conditions and wished I had a powerful flash with me. I am happy to know that I can fit the B10 along with the Air Remote TTL-N unit in my small travel backpack without adding too much weight on my shoulders. With its TTL and HSS support, its superb ergonomics and minimalistic, yet functional design, as well as all the bells and whistles pointed out in this review, the Profoto B10 proved to be a superb flash unit that earns our highest award.
More Image Samples
- Build Quality
- Battery Life
- Size and Weight
- Packaging and Manual
- Ease of Use
Photography Life Overall Rating