The Godox Witstro AD100Pro is Godox’s newest addition to their line-up of battery powered strobes, which means that Godox is currently offering ten different models in the Witstro product range. This new AD100Pro is the smallest variant, both in regards to size and power.
For many photographers, the Witstro series flashes are appreciated for their excellent performance at a very fair price point. At 100Ws and priced US$299, it is one of the least powerful flashes in the Witstro series. Does it make up for it with its small form factor?
(Thanks to Godox and to Pergear for providing sample AD100 units for this review.)
When unboxing the strobe, we encounter a familiar sight. The AD100Pro comes with a hard case in which the strobe, a swivel bracket, the charger and a battery can be stored. Both the swivel and the charger we have already seen included with other Godox products. The charger is a USB charger that is also included with the Godox V1 and the swivel is identical to the ones included with the AD200Pro and AD300Pro.
Without turning the unit on, just based on the specifications of the AD100Pro it is already possible to come to few conclusions. The AD100Pro shares a large part of its specifications with the V1, albeit packed in quite a different body. Both models have comparable weight but the AD100Pro gained some power by removing the hot shoe (100 Ws vs 76 Ws of the V1). You could say that the AD100Pro is a speedlight packed in a off camera flash body.
By removing the hotshoe so to speak the AD100Pro is indeed pretty tiny. The way how the AD100Pro was introduced was by comparing the size of the unit to a soda can to show how small the device was. While the AD100Pro is indeed small, it is not surprisingly small when compared to the V1.
Looking further through the specification sheet you will also find the specified colour temperature of the AD100Pro. All Godox flashes which have been released until so far have a colour temperature of 5600K (+/- 200K). The AD100Pro is the first flash from Godox with a colour temperature of 5800K (+/- 200K). While the change is not very dramatic, it does make me wonder. What motivated Godox to change the colour temperature of this strobe?
The battery of the AD100Pro is similar to the one used in the Godox V1. While the functionality of the batteries is the same, they are not interchangeable while they might look like it. Both batteries have a different modelnumber (VB100 and VB26) and there are some minor cosmetic differences with major effects. The V1 battery, VB26, has some rounded edges so that it sits in smoothly with the rest of the body of the speedlight, but it also seems that it is slightly thicker. This means that it doesn’t slide in the AD100Pro as smoothly as the VB100. In my case this even meant that the VB26 got stuck inside the AD100Pro and it took me half an hour to get the battery out of the AD100Pro again.
Update: newer AD100Pro models are now compatible with the VB26 battery. Godox has slightly altered the design of the battery hole.
Normally I do not spend a lot of time discussing this aspect of a product, but since for the AD100Pro it seems to be one of the unique selling points I think it is fair to spend some more time on it.
The size and shape of the AD100Pro can be compared to a 85mm 1.8, both in regards to length and diameter. This means that the AD100Pro fits in nearly any camera bag and can be packed very easily. For photographers that are travelling with just one bag and want to minimize their kit, the AD100Pro can be very appealing due to the form factor.
However, you should also not forget that in order to use the AD100Pro on a lightstand you will need a swivel. Leaving this attached permanently to the strobe itself will make it substantially bigger, so you are better off leaving the swivel attached to the lightstand instead.
While I do have to admit that the AD100Pro is very easy to pack, I do not see the obsession around the ongoing trend of releasing all strobes with a round case or body. Everyone claims that round shapes are easier to pack in your camera bag, but this might not always be the case. The moveable dividers in my camera bag create square or rectangular storage places, not round. If I want to use all the space that I have available in my camera bag then I would rather have strobes with a square shape.
Since many of you are familiar with the AD200, I have done some tests comparing the power between the AD100Pro and the AD200.
At full power (1/1), a bare Godox AD100Pro provided the following readings, taking at 1 metre distance, Iso-200, 1/250s with a Sekonic L-358 exposure meter:
- f/36 @ 28mm
- f/40 @ 35mm
- f/40–45 @ 50mm
- f/45 @ 70mm
- f/51 @ 85mm
For comparison, in the same environment the Flashpoint eVolv 200 (Godox AD200) with round head measures f/36–40, i.e. roughly the same as the AD100Pro at its widest zoom setting. With the rectangular fresnel head, the AD200 is much brighter, however, at f/64, which is about 2/3 stop brighter than the AD100Pro at its narrowest zoom setting.
From the results you can see that the AD100Pro is performing remarkably well when compared to the AD200 with the round head; the AD200 is only 1/3 of a stop more powerful. This can be explained due to the frosted glass inside the round head on the AD200. It causes some inefficiency and a much wider beam angle (which is also perfectly circular unlike the AD100Pro).
When comparing the output of the AD100Pro against the AD200 with the fresnel (which is fixed at 35mm zoom) we see figures that we would expect. The AD200 is 1-1/3 stop more powerful compared to the AD100Pro at 35mm. The reason why there is a 1-1/3 stop difference and not just a 1 stop difference is because the AD100Pro has a different light pattern, with more gradual fall-off away of from the center.
Again at full power, the AD100Pro in Glow softbox with the light meter 1m away (measured from front of softbox’s diffuser):
- f/20 @ 28mm
- f/20 @ 35mm
- f/20 @ 50mm
- f/20 @ 70mm
- f/20 @ 85mm
And for comparison, the Godox AD200 / eVolv 200:
- AD200 with (rectangular) fresnel: f/32
- AD200 with round head: f/22
- AD200 with bare bulb f/25
In a modifier the differences in beam angle and light pattern are somewhat masked, but we still see the same type of differences. The AD200Pro with round head is not much more powerful than the AD100Pro and the fresnel is again 1-1/3 stop more powerful. In terms of light distribution, we see that the fresnel head is more prone to a hotspot in the middle of the softbox. Both the AD100Pro and AD200 with round head give similiar light distributions on the front diffusor.
Since the AD100Pro also features a fan it was to be expected that the AD100Pro would have less overheating problems. After about 7 or 8 full power pops the cooling fan came on for the first time. Continuing to fire the AD100Pro at full power can be done for a long time before the overheaing sign switches on. For me it took 65 full power flashes and even then the flash would still fire at full power. Be aware that gradually the recycle speed increases in order to allow for more cooling between flashes. When the overheating sign was shown the recycle time slowed down to about 4 seconds.
The battery of the AD100Pro is rated for approximately 360 full power flashes and the recycle speed is 1.5 seconds. From my tests and shoots this number seems indeed reasonable, but I would still advice you to buy a second battery. Due to the low power of the flash it is likely that you will use it at full power, which in that case drains your battery pretty quick.
What surprised me a bit is that this strobe has the Pro suffix and in all Godox models with the Pro suffix we have seen some features present that are not available in the regular versions. However these features, such as the stable colour mode, are not present in the AD100Pro. Perhaps the AD100Pro should be just called the AD100 instead.
The first thing I noticed is that the AD100Pro is turned on in a different way than the other Witstro strobes. You have the press the on button first and then rotate the dial. This way you avoid the problem that the flash turns on by itself inside your bag.
The AD100Pro features a zoomable fresnel lens which can be set on 5 different focal lengths. 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm and 85mm. All the way from 28mm to 85mm the resulting pattern is quite pleasing. While it is not perfectly round, it does feature an even light spread with a nice fall-off. Personally I consider the zoomable function as quite useful since you can light your subject with more precision.
One thing to notice is that the Xpro transmitter works with different focal length settings. Instead of 85mm it has a 80mm setting, but setting the group of the AD100Pro to 80mm on the Xpro results in the AD100Pro set to 70mm. You will need to set the Xpro to 105mm in order to get the 85mm zoom setting on the AD100Pro.
During my shoots I noticed that using the AD100Pro inside a softbox might not be the best solution if you want to travel light. If you don’t use a umbrella or umbrella type of softbox you will need a S2 bracket. This means that you add significant volume to your kit since the S2 bracket is bigger than the AD100Pro itself. An AD300Pro with a Godox mount softbox might be better idea if you want to use a softbox and travel very light. I wouldn’t put the AD100Pro anyway inside a bigger softbox due to the low power. That said, I still wish there was an easier way to mount a softbox to the AD100Pro than using the S2 bracket.
While the AD100Pro works fine as a main light as long as you don’t use a big modifier, I personally think that it is much better suited to the role of a second or even third light. If you do not attach any modifier to it, it is very light and be supported by even the smallest and lightest lightstands. Also on a boomarm you will notice how light it is, when I used the AD100Pro on a boomarm I didn’t even add a counterweight and it was still stable.
The AK-R1 kit that was originally released for the Godox V1 is also compatible with the AD100Pro. This kit consist of several modifiers, such as colour filters, grids, diffusors etc and attaches to the AD100Pro with magnets. It is a pretty versatile kit that works much better with the AD100Pro than with the V1. Unfortunately the AK-R1 does not include a softbox nor is there a softbox that can mount magnetically to the AD100Pro.
When I initially received the AD100Pro I really wanted to like it, because it could have been the ultimate portable strobe. In the end it left me with mixed feelings. This is not caused by the unit itself, because the AD100Pro works very well. It is more because of the steep competition it has and the price for which the AD100Pro can be bought for. And also because in the end the AD100Pro is just 100 Ws, which is not substantially more than most speedlights.
Even within the Godox product range there are already three products against which the AD100Pro has to compete. These are the V1, AD200 and AD200Pro. The Godox V1 is currently available for $259, the AD200 for $299 and the AD200Pro for $329, while the AD100Pro can be bought for $299. For the price I am not sure if the AD100Pro gives you the most value for money. If you are looking for a lightweight and compact strobe then I think you are better off with the AD200Pro which has a stop more power and more features, such as the barebulb. Also the Godox V1 could be a great alternative to the AD100Pro. As I mentioned before, many design elements and specifications are shared between these two, but the Godox V1 is currently $40 dollar cheaper. And as added bonus, the V1 can be used on camera, even as master for other strobes.
What did impress me was how well the AD100Pro handles overheating. It is very impressive that even after 65 full power flashes the strobe was still firing (albeit with reduced recycle speed). The fan inside the AD100Pro is clearly helping a lot. The thermal resistance on the Godox V1 was criticizecd by many users and the AD100Pro solved it. Hopefully the AD100Pro design will also be shared to the successor of the V1.
The overheating protection is not the only thing which is done right on the AD100Pro. In general the device is very well designed and made, but it just overshadowed for me because of the price. And this is not the fault of the AD100Pro, but it is because the AD200(Pro) is such an amazing deal.
I can definitely see people that shoot more with available light would be more interested in this flash. Wedding photographers for instance usually shoot at higher ISO in order to capture more ambient light and since you are using higher ISO the power of the strobe becomes neglectable. For them the AD100Pro is a great option, but I am not sure if they are currently experiencing problems with using the V1 or the AD200 instead.
When the price is not an issue I would definitely recommend the AD100Pro as a portable strobe. The fact that it is so small means that it is very easy to bring. Godox realized that due to the limited power photographers would be pushing the AD100Pro to its max, and Godox designed the AD100Pro around that idea. While this little flash might not have the output to challenge the bigger ones, it certainly has attitude to do so. It really tries to punch above its weight and squeeze every bit of performance out of the 100 Ws.
If you plan on buying an AD200 or AD200Pro to use with the round head attachment, then you may be better off getting an AD100Pro instead. It puts out the same amount of light and adds zoom control, it’s much smaller and lighter in your camera bag, it has a clearer screen, a better light stand mount and a cooling fan to prevent overheating. Unless you get the AD200Pro, the screen appears to be less fragile.
On the other hand, as a general-purpose workhorse, the AD200 is brighter (when used with the rectangular fresnel head), has a bigger battery and also has the option of the bare bulb, AD-B2 and extension heads (or the LED head, though I wouldn’t bother with that). It fits in the original Godox S bracket and other Bowens clamp-on speedlight brackets, but the rectangular head comes with a range of gels, barndoors and a honeycomb grid in the box, and there are a range of legacy Witstro/Quantum type mount small reflectors, softboxes and a beauty dish available for the bare bulb head.
Which is better value depends on relative pricing at your local retailer, and how many accessories you plan to get or if you want to use the flash straight out of the box. Do you want to buy a flash or entry to a system? And is it worth considering a hotshoe flash like the V1 instead?