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Profoto A1 vs. Godox V1 Review & Full Comparison

By Robert Hall on April 17th 2019

The announcement of the Godox V1 brought with it a load of controversy. Profoto publicly accused Godox of stealing patent pending designs. Godox fired back saying their design was original and Profoto used “scare tactics” in an attempt to discourage retailers from selling their product. We’re still not positive if any of Profoto’s original claims are true, but as of this moment the Godox V1 is being shipped to retailers, ready for sale. There’s a valuable discussion to be had here regarding the similarity of the products, but I’ll leave that to the legal experts. I rented the Profoto A1 to compare to the Godox V1.

Quality of Light

We published a blind test to see which light pattern readers thought was a better starting point. At the moment of writing, 89% chose the Godox as having a more desirable quality of light. While I think the light pattern from the Godox V1 is significantly better, I don’t think it’s very useful. 99% of the time my speedlight is either off-camera with a modifier or on-camera bouncing. Once the light is modified, it will take on the characteristics of the modifier, blurring inconsistencies of the bare light pattern. It is interesting that Godox was able to achieve such an even quality from a fresnel head, especially when Profoto leaned their marketing on the “natural” quality of the A1.

Light patterns created by the Profoto A1 and Godox V1

Godox V1 (top) light pattern compared to Profoto A1 (bottom) at widest, middle, and max zooms.

Features shared by the Profoto A1 and Godox V1

  • Identical max light output
  • Similar light output consistency (at max these lights moved 1/10th stop at a consistent power setting)
  • HSS (with similar efficiency loss)
  • TTL
  • Magnetic modifiers selection and quality
  • Recycle time
  • Size
  • Switch-lock
  • Unimpressive modeling lamp
Photo of woman near railing wearing white shirt, skirt, and sunglasses.

PSA : Neither of these lights will create soft/natural light when left unmodified. Both the Profoto A1 and Godox V1 are small, harsh light sources.

Advantages of the Profoto A1

  • More accurate daylight white balance
  • Perfect 9 stop light output range
  • Sustained use of high outputs
  • Higher contrast display with overall sleeker style
woman wearing sunglasses with red lipstick and white shirt holding onto metal stairs.

Profoto A1 in Shoot-Through Umbrella camera right (Note : This photo was captured using a 6 stop ND filter, not HSS)

Advantages of the Godox V1

  • Shorter t.1 flash durations (shorter flash durations have more action freezing potential)
  • 35% more 1/1 flashes and less standby battery drain
  • More consistent color temperature across power range
  • Reverse-tilting head for bouncing light backwards without twisting head 180 degrees.
  • Standby time does not significantly drain battery
woman leaning on wall in white shirt and dark skirt.

Godox V1 camera left in Shoot Through Umbrella (Note : This photo was captured using a 6 stop ND filter, not HSS)

Finer Points

The Profoto A1 is currently only available for Nikon and Canon. You can control and use TTL/HSS features off camera with other camera brands so long as you have the appropriate Air Remote, but you will not have access to those features on camera. My biggest pet peeve in using the Air Remote is that it doesn’t show your power level, merely the adjustment in integer fashion. I like keeping the recycle beep sound off, so having the power level without looking at the back of the flash lets me know if I’m approaching a limitation. I do appreciate Profoto’s massive display of the power level on the back of the A1 to ease this issue. I also enjoy the simple integer-based energy level. While I’m well-conditioned to stops of light represented as fractions, it’s far simpler to think “I need to drop the power 1.5 stops” and then reduce the number by 1.5. Perhaps I’m just haunted by teaching photographers the lack of difference between 1/128 +.7 and 1/64 -.3.

The Godox V1 was originally shown with a new LED AF-assist illuminator. Think of it as your cameras built in orange AF-assist on steroids. I tested it at WPPI and instantly became worried. While I never use an AF-assist beam, I recognized that this beam would be extremely distracting in dark areas, and lacked any pattern to create points of contrast for the camera to pick up. Thankfully Godox chose to revert to the AF-assit grid that you would find on their V860II. I still think this is a shortfall of the Godox speedlights and a brighter, more intricate pattern similar to first-party flashes would be appreciated. Godox also made the Sony version of the V1 with a plastic hot shoe again, which is unsettling given the amount of Sony photographers who experienced issues with the V860II’s plastic shoe.

Conclusion

The Godox V1 and Profoto A1 are extremely similar flashes in terms of capabilities. Both have the same light output and hss capabilities. They share similar features, modifier selection, and recycle time. They both have excellent base light patterns and action-freezing flash durations. You would be hard-pressed to create an image with one that couldn’t be done with the other. The primary issues facing the Godox V1 are it’s slightly blue color temperature, and thermal protection limit of 30 full power flashes. But, if neither of those will affect your shooting style it’s hard to ignore the quality the Godox A1 delivers at 1/4th the price of the Profoto A1.

A common frustration with Godox equipment is their lack of centralized support and repair. This is why I recommend any purchasing of Godox go through a reputable retailer. In the U.S., the Godox V1 is sold through Adorama as the Flashpoint R2 Zoom Li-on X and other retailers as the Godox V1.

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About

I’m an editorial and portrait photographer in Southeast Michigan. That still feels weird to type considering I spent the first decade of my career as a wedding photographer. If there’s no camera in my hands, you can find me enjoying a quiet life with my wife and dog, exploring a new country, or making overly-technical videos on YouTube.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Motti Bembaron

    I have had the V850 and the V860 since 2015 (I believe it was January) and they always worked, no issues. One battery gave me some problems and the Ebay retailer just sent me a new one for free. Since then no problems.

    I have the ASD200 (two of them) for about two years now, I bought them a couple of months after they were in the market, I do have an issue with one battery but it’s after I shoot lots of party shots. 

    In a typical reception (wedding, Bar/Bat Mitzvah etc.) I shoot an average of about 600-700 shots per hour. Although the flashes are usually on 1/4 power, it seems to give me some problems. 

    I am now waiting for the AD200 Pro to replace the 200’s.

    I also had issues with my Nikon SB910 AND my D750, no equipment is free of trouble. The Godox system is excellent and only getting better.

    In Canada we do not have a retailer version like Adorama’s Flashpoint but I did not need support so far.

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    • Francisco Hernandez

      Have you checked out StrobePro? To my knowledge, they sell the Godox products under their own brand and I want to say they support and warranty what they sell.

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  2. Pye Jirsa

    Great write up and video Rob. Curious about some of the other items that weren’t discussed. Some of these are more of the intangibles and will probably need to be tested over time. Here’s what I’m curious about. 

    1. Consistency/quality of the radio system

    2. Modeling light comparison (usability and CRI)

    3. Overall menu design and simplicity of each device

    4. Long-term reliability (1 year in, how do they each hold up)

    5. Service and support, when things go wrong

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    • Francisco Hernandez

      Commenting on number 5 because it’s seriously a non-issue at this point. If you buy through Adorama which Rob stated in the last paragraph you get great support and service. Same with other US retailers. Not sure how he could even give you an answer about long term reliability but going off the other Godox products I’m sure the V1 will be fine in the long term.

      I still use my 3 year old Godox AD600B, sold by Adorama as the xplor 600 TTL, and it works as great as when I got it. Same for my V860II and other Godox products. Again, order through Adorama, B&H, or other retailers when ordering Godox products for the support & service. 

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    • Pye Jirsa

      Great to know Francisco Hernandez. I missed that note at the end of the article. Yeah, there’s no answer to #4 yet, this will take a bit of time to see. But, good to see that your gear is holding up. 

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    • Many Salazar

      I’ve been using Godox products since 2016 and now own 6 lights from Godox/Flashpoint, I never had any issues with any product.   My favorites are the 600B and 200, but none have ever failed me.  Very reliable radio transmission, they are robust enough, I don’t go around hammering nails with my lighting equipment, but they have taken a few falls (wind), and they continue to work just fine. 

      1. Very reliable 

       2. I don’t care about the modeling light’s CRI, I don’t try to use them as a  continuous light source for photos,  I just use the strobe and that light has been very consistent. 

       3. Not as pretty as Profoto and not as easy to use.  But its easy to figure out without looking into the instruction manual. 

       4. 3+ years and tens of thousands of pops later, they are still going strong. 

       5. Not one has gone bad yet, if one did I would only be out $300 or $650, probably about 1/2 the cost of a typical Profoto/Broncolor repair.  

      I have had one modifier that I bought from Adorama go bad a few weeks after the warranty expired and Adorama replaced it free!    They stand behind their store branded products. 

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    • Francisco Hernandez

      Yeah, my friend Roland also had his 600B smash the ground and it broke. He contacted Adorama and even though it passed his 2 year warranty they sent him a brand new one.

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