Let's say between a Profoto B1 flash and a Nikon SB-910 flash. I understand flashes have TTL, HSS, Output power, etc., that makes them different, but let's say in a completely equal scenario that a SB-910 is fully capable regarding how much light we need, what speed we need it, etc... does the result of a cheaper flash like SB910 differ from the exact same settings on a Profoto B1 or more expensive flashes for that matter? Is there any pictures I can see shot with two different flashes in equal settings to compare the result?


Higher end studio flashes tend to be (in order from most to least amount of impact on a typical studio shoot):

  • More powerful. They can output more light than their speedlight/speedlite couterparts.

  • Capable of higher quality light. The light they output is more evenly distributed along the visible spectrum in the way natural light is and even at different power settings the light tends to be closer to the light put out at other settings in terms of temperature and width of spectrum.

  • More consistent. They are built to higher tolerances in terms of allowable shot to shot variation of intensity and light quality at the same settings.

  • More standardized. The results from one unit to another of the same model line will be more similar than speedlights. This is measurable, but not necessarily noticeable to any degree by the typical user.

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    I'd like to see a citation for "fuller spectrum". Xenon flashes are in general full spectrum, aren't they? – Please Read My Profile Jul 24 '15 at 2:44
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    @mattdm : flashes mostly differ in metrics like CRI and CCT. Sekonic C700 or X-Rite i1Pro allow to capture and compare SPDs and derived metrics. Flash SPDs differ in how close they are to blackbody. More expensive flashes sometimes are closer and thus allow for lower metameric error index. Only a comparative measurement will tell, price is now indicator. In photography "full-spectrum" often is used for light sources and capture media capable of UV and near IR; which is a different matter. For this particular discussion I would avoid using this term. – Iliah Borg Jul 24 '15 at 3:39
  • @mattdm : Sorry for the typo. Meant to say "price is no indicator" – Iliah Borg Jul 24 '15 at 4:07
  • Thanks, so let's say I want to take an outdoor portrait and I know that small flash is all the light I need but you mean still if I take the studio light with me, it will be a better quality of light... – Brandon Jul 24 '15 at 4:45
  • Outdoors during daylight the ambient light will be dominant. In that scenario power is everything. Very subtle differences in the distribution of their output across the visible spectrum will make little to no difference. – Michael C Jul 24 '15 at 10:07

Is there any pictures I can see shot with two different flashes in equal settings to compare the result?

Yes! Prompted by your question, I tried testing two different flashes: a cheap one and a pricy one, so find out if the light itself is any different.

My experiment is detailed on my blog post.

To summarize:

  • The spectra is different, but it shouldn't matter
  • The color temperature/tint is different!
  • The diffuser lenses and beam forming are different, which is a "problem" on both, but different between them.

Although different from each other in unexpected ways, both worked well giving the same result.

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