Unlock Extra Portable Power: Profoto B10X Review

With dimensions not much larger than a camera lens, the Profoto B10X packs a lot of power into an on-site light. It’s 250W of flash and 3250LM of continuous light with a weight of only 3.3 pounds. But, the monolight comes at a high price point — $1,995, to be exact. Is the power worth the price?

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The Profoto B10X produces powerful light with consistent color. But, if that’s not enough, it also has decent battery life and is small enough to tuck into a messenger bag. For many photographers, the B10X could become their favorite light, while others may want to spend the extra cash for twice as much power in the B10X Plus.

This review sample was provided by Lensrentals.

The Big Picture

Pros

  • Portable, yet powerful
  • Easy to use
  • Large rear display
  • Powerful modeling light with temperature adjustment
  • 250 Ws of power creates a lot of versatility
  • Better battery life than the B10X Plus
  • Remote access with the Profotro Control app

Cons

  • Power needs to be lowered for consistency in high-speed bursts
  • I wish the Profoto Air Remote displayed more information.
  • High price point

With consistent color and lots of power, the Profoto B10X is an excellent light for both inside and outside the studio. It’s strong enough to create its own shadows on a sunny day. With HSS, it can use fast shutter speeds to nerf ambient light, making the image appear as if the B10X was the only light in the scene. It’s compact and offers better battery life than the B10X Plus, largely because it has half the power.

While the light is powerful and versatile, bursts are best with reduced power. Otherwise, the lighting is inconsistent from shot to shot. I also wish the Profoto Air remote displayed what was on the back of the light itself. But, other than that, the only other thing there is to complain about is that high price point. You can get twice the power for $300 more with the B10X Plus, a big difference in specs for a fifteen percent difference in price.

I’m giving the Profoto B10X four out of five stars.

Gear Used

I tested the Profoto B10X with the:

  • Nikon Z7 II
  • Nikon Noct 58mm f0.95
  • Nikon Z 105mm f2.8 Macro
  • Profoto Air Remote TTL-N For Nikon
  • CheetahStand Light Stand
  • Gravipod Mini light stand weight

Innovations

The Profoto B10X is more of an incremental update than a major overhaul, but there are a few notable improvements to what was already a highly-regarded system. Chief among these is a 30 percent increase in the output of the modeling light, which is now 3250 lumens and easier to use outdoors. The monolight also has faster recycling speeds than the B10.

Tech Specs

Lensrentals lists the following tech specs for the Profoto B10X:

  • Accessory Shoe: None
  • Battery Recharge Time: 90 Minutes
  • Brand: Profoto
  • Color Temperature: 3000 to 6500K
  • Display: LCD
  • Flash Ready Indicator: Audio, Visual
  • Flashes Per Charge: 400 Flashes (Full Power)
  • Height: 6.9”
  • Interface: USB Type-C
  • Item Type: Lighting
  • Length: 3.9”
  • Lighting Type: Strobe Lighting
  • Maximum Power: 250 Ws
  • Mfr. Model Number: 901192
  • Modeling Light Type: LED
  • Power Control: 10 Stops
  • Power Source: External Battery
  • Recycle Time: 0.05 to 1.3 Sec
  • Sync Type: Button, Cable, Optical, Radio
  • Weight: 3.3 lbs.
  • Width: 4.3”
  • Wireless: Built-in receiver
  • Wireless Range: 330’ / 100.6 m (Radio)

Ergonomics

Considering its 250W of power, the Profoto B10X is easily portable. In fact, I fit the cylindrical-shaped light into a lens slot of a messenger bag. It’s almost seven inches long and a little over four inches wide. And it’s not terribly heavy at 3.3 pounds.

The back of the light is dominated by a lovely LCD screen. It’s lovely because the letters are large and clear enough to read from a distance, which is something I can’t say for a lot of lights. Below this are two knobs and a button. The first knob on the left side adjusts the modeling light: a press to turn on, a turn to adjust the power, and a turn while pressing to adjust the color temperature. The middle knob adjusts the flash output. Pressing in on that knob accesses the menu. The white button test fires the light, while a long press turns the light on and off.

The battery slots into the side of the light. The port is still accessible, allowing the battery to be charged while in use. There’s a button on the battery that can be used to check how much charge is remaining without mounting it to the light. On both sides of the B10X, there’s a small, four-point scale used when adjusting the position of some modifiers.

The front, of course, contains the strobe and LED modeling light. It’s covered by a frosty diffusion panel.

Underneath, the light has a USB C port. The B10X has two different mounting ports — both are used in the included mounting bracket. The bracket has a twist wheel to attach so you don’t have to spin the bracket around to attach. It also has a nice big knob to adjust the angle and a spot for an umbrella.

Build Quality

The Profoto B10X is wrapped up in a plastic body. It feels reasonably durable, but I would add weight to light stands to avoid wrecking such an expensive light in a wind-blown tumble. The light isn’t weather-sealed, but that feature is relatively uncommon in strobes.

Ease of Use

In my own work, I prefer using flashes because I can quickly shoot with them on-camera for wedding ceremonies and then mount them off-camera for formal portraits. While I’m not new to off-camera lighting, I consider myself a bit green when it comes to high-end monolight strobes like the B10X.

I was able to jump into using the B10X after watching Profoto’s brief walkthrough video. It explains the controls that aren’t labeled as well as some terminology that’s a bit different than with other brands, like “freeze” for HSS. With a video and a few minutes of practice, the light is simple enough to ease into. (Complete lighting newbies, of course, are going to have to learn more of the general off-camera lighting concepts.)

The Profoto B10X uses stop-based settings, with the power of the light adjustable from 1.0 to 10 in one-tenth increments. Jumping from the fraction-based system to stops is a bit of adjustment. But I find the stops less traumatizing than the memories of fractions in math class. I was still able to jump into the system after a few minutes of learning my way around.

The biggest adjustment for me was using the Profoto Air Remote. The power of the light is first set on the back of the monolight, then the remote can adjust the power one decimal at a time. It’s designed to set the light ratios of three groups. I would have preferred the remote to show the same number that’s on the back of the light. While this number adjusts from the remote, you can’t always see those numbers if, for example, you are using the monolight for backlighting.

The settings can, however, be viewed from the Profoto Control app. I’d prefer to see those settings from the remote without pulling my phone from my pocket. But, the app offers access to more settings that aren’t typically adjusted remotely. You can, for example, adjust the modeling light, or change the group and channel.

Flash

The Profoto B10X is a pretty powerful light. Take a look at this shot with no flash. The sun is high overhead, creating harsh, under-eye shadows. The flash was able to fill in the face nicely (and this wasn’t even at full power).

No flash
Flash

With HSS, the flash is strong enough to create black backgrounds outdoors, lighting the entire subject while a high shutter speed cuts out ambient light. Michigan weather didn’t allow me to test this on a cloudless day, but I had to go down to f10 to use the flash at full power this way, so I’m fairly confident the flash could do the same thing on a sunny day.

With a recycle time from 0.05 to 1.3 seconds, the flash also readies quickly for another shot. Using the high-speed burst on the Z7 II (not the H+) with the light set to around 8, the flash fired seven times in a row before pausing. The light wasn’t as powerful after the first shot. But, the flash paused on shot eight and then fired another at the set power on shot nine.

At half power, the light will fire consistently in bursts, in both low and high modes. Shooting sequences of single shots but not in burst mode also created a consistent light. 

The flash is powerful and fast, but if you want consistent light in quick bursts, you’ll need to cut the power in half.

Continuous Light

The Profoto B10X also has a modeling light built-in. It’s more powerful than smaller lights I’ve tested, but not quite strong enough to notice outdoors in the middle of the day. The continuous light has the ability to change color temperature. This is easy to adjust and adds more versatility to the light.

Image Quality

The power and consistency of this light help create some great images. It’s strong enough to overpower ambient light, but also works just fine as a fill too. Single shots have consistent power, though bursts tend to fluctuate if the light is at higher settings. There’s a lot that can be done with this light, and even more so when you mix it with the wide range of modifiers.

Colors are consistent from shot to shot with the Profoto B10X. Setting the Z7 II’s white balance to flash created some pleasing golden tones. If you set the flash and camera to consistent settings, there are no odd color changes from shot to shot.

Extra Image Samples

Edited

Unedited

Who Should Buy It?

The Profoto B10X is powerful and portable. It will serve many types of on-site photographers well, from portraits to weddings. It’s strong enough to fight the sun, yet small enough to take on-site. Colors remain consistent from shot to show. It’s a great light for photographers with a large enough budget.

While the light is excellent, it’s best at half power where it will perform consistently even for burst shooting. That’s not uncommon; all flashes recycle faster at reduced power. Photographers who tend to shoot a lot of full power bursts may instead opt for the Profoto B10X Plus, which has twice the power but drains battery faster.

Hillary Grigonis

Hillary K. Grigonis is a photographer and tech writer based in Michigan. She shoots weddings and portraits at Hillary K Photography. A mother of three, she enjoys hiking, camping, crafting, and reading.