The Good Flash That I’d Never Buy. Profoto a10 Review

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It’s not often that I’m baffled by a flash. And that’s not to say that the Profoto a10 is a tough flash to use. But I’m trying to understand who’d buy it. I had to consult with a trusted friend of mine to help me understand, but neither of us could make the case. It’s not because the Profoto a10 is bad: it’s honestly a stellar flash! It even has a few proprietary innovations. However, most photographers probably won’t be able to justify the price to themselves.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Good battery life
  • Solid menu system
  • Switch for TTL and manual
  • Connection via the app, you can update the firmware this way too

Cons

  • I wish you could lock the TTL and manual switch

Gear Used

We tested the Profoto a10 with the Sony a7r III. 

Tech Specs

Taken from the specs on the LensRentals listing

  • Built-in Profoto AirTTL, AirX
  • Powerful flash with 0.05 to 1 second recycle
  • High-capacity Li-ion battery with fast recharge
  • Bluetooth smartphone sync
  • Size dimensions are 3 × 4.3 × 6.5″
  • 1/800 to 1/20000 Second
  • Approx. 1 Second
  • 1.23 lbs.
  • Zoom head is 32 – 105 mm in full-frame

Ergonomics

The Profoto a10 is a really nice looking flash. Everything about exudes Euro design and appeal. When you look at it, you’re greeted by this big, beautiful head. It looks almost like a fresnel, but it’s not. At the front, you’ll find the battery and an AF assist lamp. And just in case you need it, the modeling lamp is also on the flash head.

On the side of the Profoto a10 is a switch, an important one. You’ll set the flash to manual or TTL mode here. On the other side is a USB port. Notice that the head is a tilt and swivel head.

The flash battery comes out pretty easily. It doesn’t integrate as seamlessly as it does with Profoto’s higher-end lights, but you’re also not going to end up complaining about it too much.

The back of the Profoto a10 has a bunch of controls. The white button operates the test and power function. The big dial does a whole bunch of stuff. And the other buttons change depending on the menu.

Build Quality

The Profoto a10 is better and more substantially built than that of a standard flash. It feels pretty solid. As I reviewed the Sony version, though, I’ve got a few qualms. First off, I own the Profoto AirTTL trigger for Sony. That hot shoe foot and the pins have been messed up a few times over. With this flash, I worry that the same thing will happen. I strongly recommend rarely using it on the camera. And when you’re not using it, cover the hot shoe foot.

Besides this issue, the Profoto a10, I’m sure, will be more reliable in other mounts. Comparatively speaking to the Flashpoint R2, it’s a ton more robust. Everything about it feels more high quality. However, I’m not sure it justifies being nearly 10 times the price. Of anything on this list, though, this is where Profoto has a major advantage.

Ease of Use

The Profoto B10 isn’t for the standard flash user. However, you’ll be able to navigate it fairly easily. If you’re used to Profoto’s products, you won’t have much trouble at all. Hold the test button to turn the flash on and off. To ensure the flash comes on, you’ll need to unlock it by turning the dial. The other cool thing is the manual and TTL auto switch on the side. That makes things super easy. However, I wish this switch locked into place more tightly. Further, this flash has features like being able to be triggered by the Profoto mobile app. Updating the firmware is also pretty straightforward.

Overall, I’ve got very few complaints here about the Profoto a10. Compared to the more affordable Flashpoint R2 flash, this isn’t more or less complicated: it’s just a different interface. Flashpoint prefers lots of buttons and switches. Profoto prefers a clean interface that relies on the screen to adapt the buttons accordingly.

Image Quality

The cool thing about Profoto lights that they’ve preached from the start is color consistency. This I really have to agree with. Lock your white balance, and you’ll repeatedly get the same color output. That means that the unit isn’t cheaply built. It also means that if you’re shooting an event, you can edit a single photo and sync the edits easily. In turn, you spend less time editing images. Considering that we’re sitting in front of computers all the time now, this is a nice promise to customers.

Make no mistake, the Profoto a10 is a high-quality light!

High-Speed Sync is also incredibly efficient. I’ve always thought that the output from previous Profoto hot shoe flashes was too weak. But this works pretty well. Of course, you’re going to exhaust the battery. But it will work a lot better than the company’s previous lights. Honestly, I’d trade up as soon as possible just for this feature. 

One issue that you could nitpick about is the zoom head. The widest angle is 35mm. 24mm would’ve made more sense.

With that said, though, lots of more affordable flashes can do the same thing. Flashes are a tough thing, though. I’ve never seen someone look at an image and say, “Only a Profoto or a Broncolor flash could do that.” Our Creating the Photograph series is kind of a testament to this. I highly doubt anyone can tell what’s what. Over the years, the staff and I have featured many photographers and even contributed to the series ourselves. There are Profoto, Godox, Sony, Canon, Lumopro, and other flashes that have been used. Can anyone tell the difference between them?

This, however, doesn’t discount the fact that the Profoto B10 is capable. 

Conclusions

Likes

  • Small size
  • Reliability
  • Battery life
  • Mobile integration is cool

Dislikes

I’m incredibly torn on the Profoto A10. First off, I’ll admit that I own Profoto lights. I also own Nissin, Godox, Flashpoint, and Youngnuo. They’re all good. They all do exactly what I need them to do each and every time. And I’ve also been using the same flashes for years. They’ve never failed me. I’ve purposely played Devil’s advocate with my friends and colleagues about this question too. Is Profoto really worth the money?

At the higher end, I totally think so. The A10 is my favorite light, perhaps of all time. It’s much more compact and easier to use than most others. Flashpoint, Godox, and even Paul C. Buff don’t make anything I like that’s similar enough. One of the best lights I’ve ever used was my Einstein E640, and I donated it to a friend a long time ago. I’ve done some insane shoots with my Profoto A10. It’s the right size, weight, and power. Plus, it just always works. Most of my product photos, portraits, and lots of the site’s sponsored content get shot with that strobe.

But at the lower end, it’s harder to justify it. The argument lots of my friends make is that for the price of a Profoto light, you can buy 10 or so cheaper flashes. And that’s very true. If you need more power, you can just raise the ISO. But the important thing is that they all have fast flash duration. I’d love to make the argument that Profoto has the fastest flash duration, but that’s not the case. At this tier, it makes a lot more sense for a wedding or event photographer to just buy a few flashes and rotate through them.

So what does the Profoto have for it? Ultimately, its build quality is a big thing. Instead of buying a few flashes, you buy this lone one. While your cheaper flashes may break, it’s going to be tougher to break your Profoto. There’s also the sleeker interface. And finally, there’s the cool Bluetooth feature. However, I really don’t know how many people are shooting with a flash and their phones. Personally speaking, it’s a tough sell. It’s a good flash for sure. But it’s very overpriced.

The Profoto A10 receives four out of five stars. You can pick one up for $1,195 on Amazon. Quite honestly though, I’d recommend going for a Flashpoint R2 round flash instead.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.