Profoto has announced a new trigger to control their impressive lighting system and added the smallest flash unit in the range so you can always bring a a flash no matter how light you are travelling.
Profoto Connect Pro
The Profoto Connect Pro is remarkably easy to use. Forget the user manual; the large display is intuitive and straightforward with improved TTL group control matching the latest lights from profoto such as the A10, B10 and B10 plus. Simply slide it on your camera’s hot-shoe – and you’re ready to go.
The Profoto Connect Pro is available in different versions dedicated to Canon, Nikon, Fujfilm, Leica and Sony TTL systems and hot shoe configurations. Also a Non-TTL version is available compatible with all standard hot-shoes.
The trigger allows instant and complete control of each individual flash setting, viewed on the Connect Pro screen in clean, clear numbers, from your shooting position. So, you can fine-tune at will to get the exact effect you’re going for. This high degree of control is thanks to Profoto’s AirX connectivity which allows you to tailor your workflow to your shooting situation.
You can also choose where you receive the information on your phone or smart device because the group controls on the Connect Pro are mirrored in the Profoto Control app on your iPad, iPhone, or Android smartphone.
With up to 100 available channels, there will always be a free channel for your lighting setup – even in the largest commercial studios. Add to that improved battery life and the possibility to use rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries, seamless firmware updates via Profoto AirX, and you have a remote that takes connectivity to new heights.
Control each individual light in absolute numbers straight from the remote
Sync and manually control any Profoto light that is compatible with Air or AirX
Intuitive and easy to use user interface
Sync and remote control 0.5-300 m (1.5-1000ft) TTL: 0.5-100 m (1.5-330 ft)
Up to 100 channels
TTL group control
Switch from TTL Mode to Manual Mode with the automated TTL settings intact – a huge time saver
Wireless updates through the Profoto Control app
The Profoto A2 is small, lightweight, and portable – about the size of a regular soda can, making it Profoto’s smallest ever monolight. Ideal when space is at a premium and time is short. Throw it in your bag or a jacket pocket, and you’re ready to make the most of whatever location you find yourself in.
Like all Profoto lights, the A2 has a great setup interface and connectivitiy with the AIR TTL and AirX system so you’ll go from box to first flash in record time.
With AirX connectivity built-in, you can use the A2 as a part of a more extensive Profoto lighting system, and you can shoot with any camera. In addition, enjoy the freedom of choosing where you adjust all settings. Either via the user-friendly large display on the flash or the Profoto Control app and even shoot with your smartphone with all the benefits of a profoto lighting setup.
The creative possibilities become almost endless when you combine the A2 with the Profoto Clic System – a series of light shaping tools bespoke to A-series flashes. The Clic OCF Adapter II brings entire range of OCF light shaping tools are available to use as well with this handy light.
Authorised Profoto Service Centre
At Fixation we are proud to be an official repair centre for Profoto in the UK. As a repair partner with Profoto we can complete many warranty repairs in-house, our technicians specialise in photographic repair making us the destination for professional photographers. All our spare parts for repairs are supplied by Profoto to ensure all repairs are completed with genuine manufacturer spare parts.
With the support of our in-house workshop our customers at Fixation know they will always recieve the best technical insights when investing in new equipment.
My go to light modifiers in general are a beauty dish or an octabox, which are generally the first types of light modifiers photographers buy after they have experimented with umbrellas and soft boxes, because of the nice quality of light those light modifiers produce. Recently I got to photograph Muay Thai boxer, Lawrence Brown and when I started planning the photoshoot, I knew I would want to light Lawrence with a four point lighting set up, which would include two strip boxes.
Why you may ask… well I knew I wanted to have the side Lawrence’s body illuminated and not lit in a flat way with one big light modifier. So I rented out two Profoto 1 x 6′ strip boxes. The long shape of the strip box, creates a unique light fall-off, which gives a soft, but dramatic light.
In controlling the spread of light and how it falls on the boxer, I created more of a dramatic mood. I did have a grid which I could have used, to control the light fall off even more, but when I did the test shots without the grid earlier on, it seemed to work perfectly. Although I didn’t need to use the grid, I do recommend you bring it on set, just in case you need to contain the spread of light.
When I set up lights for a photoshoot, I always build the lights one by one, so I started off with the right strip box and then the left strip box to get the right exposure for the sides of his body. I had the strip boxes in the boxing ring originally, but found that I didn’t get a nice light fall off, so I moved the strip boxes outside of the boxing ring. Once I was happy with the look of the light on the sides of Lawrence, I then exposed correctly for the back light and then the main light. Below is a photo of just the use of the strip boxes.
I used a reflector as the light modifier on an Elinchrom light for the back light, to add light to his hair, so it wouldn’t get lot when I made the background darker in photoshop. I flagged the light at the bottom of the reflector, to reduce the light that was spilling onto his shoulders. I used a beauty dish, with silver on the inside, for the main light. I choose this light modifier to give a slightly contrasty look. I didn’t want to use a soft box and make the light too soft. Below is a BTS photo so you can see my lighting set up.
The result that I was after, are shown in the photos below. A combination of dramatic lighting, but soft and flattering. The 1 x 6 long strip box, was a great choice as it pumped out enough light that reached some of the shadows, this allowed the transition between light and shade, more soft and gentle.
If you have time and access to a venue where you are doing a photoshoot, it’s always a good idea to check what the location looks like before the day of the photoshoot. Unfortunately I was unable to see the gym beforehand due to lack of time. So when I turned up at 7am, I was faced with a busy gym and a lot of boxers training. This then limited me to using one side of the ring away from people but I faced the problem of having the ropes of the ring next to a wall cluttered with posters and signs. At that point I made the conscious decision that I would darken the background in photoshop, to eliminate the distracting wall. Below are the retouched images.
For the next set of photos, I wanted Lawrence sitting down in the ring, I moved the lights to the other corner of the ring, because I wanted to get the look and feel of Lawrence in a boxing ring that was in a gym. This was the corner that would have me facing the problem of people walking behind Lawrence. I cut the ambient light quite a bit using high speed sync, but I didn’t want to kill off too much light, so I kept an eye to see when I could photograph safely. For this set up, I changed the colour temperature in camera to give a more cooler tone to the image. Again I used all four lights with the strip boxes working their magic on Lawrence to produce a dramatic and contrasty look.
Profoto made a big splash recently when they released the A1 – dubbed the world’s smallest studio flash.
I was fortunate enough to get a hands-on training day with the A1 at Ashridge House in leafy Hertfordshire, where I got to play with the new flash alongside existing Profoto gear. Our tutor for the day was Holly Wren, a self-confessed Profoto fan and user of the brand. I caught up with Holly after the official launch to ask her views on the A1 and how she found working with it during the training sessions.
I understand you were privy to the A1 for a long period before the launch. What were your initial thoughts when you finally got to try it?
When they told me there was a new product they wanted me to try, I guessed that it would be a smaller light, an on camera solution; it made sense as Profoto’s range has become more compact and portable in the last few years with the B1X and the B2. Photographers want to bring the quality of their studio lighting kit onto their environmental shoots, and I think that ‘speedight’ market hasn’t been updated for a while, so I was eager to see exactly how they’d interpreted that.
My initial thoughts when I got my hands on the A1 were about how small and portable it is, and the standard of build quality, plus it’s ease of use – picking it up for the first time I was very quickly able to use it without reading a manual.
You refer to it as a Speedlight, but Profoto like it to be referred to as a studio flash, why the confusion? Where does this product fit in a photographers lighting kit?
Profoto like it to be referred to as a studio light because it has the features and technical sophistication of their location light be it in a smaller package; but in my opinion the fact that it is the same size and performs on camera like a speedlight, it is largely comparable to one. In fact, I think to not compare it to a speedlight is an injustice to just how well Profoto have done in their improvement on the traditional on-camera flash unit. For a lot of photographers it will replace their speedlight as it corrects some of the frustrations that a more traditional speedlight brings.
I see it as a true hybrid between my larger location lights and my speedlights. In some circumstances it replaces my B2 or B1, but in all circumstances it replaces my speedlight. In fact, I’ve already sold both my Nikon SB910’s, which is a testament to this product.
You can use it as you would a speedlight on camera, as a light off camera, or combine it with other Profoto kit such as the B1X or B2.
You’re a big advocate of the B2’s. How do you think the A1 will fit into your style of shooting, given that the output is lower?
What I’ve discovered using the B2’s is often that I don’t use them on anywhere near full power, often they are set on the lowest power. Primarily that’s because I use them to add an extra bit of clean, beautiful light into an already well lit, natural light led set up. So if I’m using them on the lowest setting, I can substitute them for an A1 easily, without being short of power.
In addition, I sometimes use the B2’s to add a hair or rim light or to light something within a scene, the A1’s are perfect substitutes for this, being small and discreet.
Are there any particular features of the A1 that you feel set it apart from other on-camera systems? Do you ever shoot with Speedlights, and if so, will the A1 replace these for you?
Absolutely. I have used speedlights throughout my career. The A1’s key selling points are clear, and in my opinion means the A1 outperforms its competitors in this on-camera market.
The first is its use of Lithium batteries – meaning you can recharge, see how much battery you have left, and expect consistent power to the end. Farewell to piles of AAs in the bottom of my kit bag and the uncontrollable urge to replace barely depleted batteries with new ones before key shooting moments.
Second is the recycle time, you need to see it to believe it but the A1 literally doesn’t miss a shot. Firing at 12 fps on the D4 you will see no drop off in flash (as long as you’re not at full power on the A1), and anyone shooting events will understand the frustration of getting the shot but it not being lit correctly because the flash cannot keep up with the shooting speeds. That really blew my mind.
Thirdly is it’s much softer and gradual light fall off. I’ve shot portraits with this light on camera, with the flash pointing at my model. Something that I think is a pro- no, no! Profoto are known for their beautiful light, and the A1 delivers this.
Finally, my favourite feature is the ease of use. I honestly could not tell you what half of the menu does on my speedlights. But the A1 cuts the out all the unnecessary and goes straight to the important bits; the large wheel dial lets you easy adjust power or relative power in TTL. And the menu is self explanatory.
Off camera, before I owned the B2’s I used to use a speedlight in a Lastolite softbox (of varying forms) to take portraits which I moved away from because of connection issues, poor recycle times and lack of power consistency. But now the A1’s correct those issues I can go back to using the A1 off camera, instead of the B2s.
You demonstrated some interesting setups during the training – some simple and others more intricate. Did you devise these yourself?
Yes. The training was designed alongside the team at Profoto to demonstrate the main features of the product. We wanted to show its strengths, so I designed the set ups to encompass the range of situations that the A1 was capable of performing in, which is why I demonstrated it both indoors and outdoors. I also wanted to show that it could be used on and off camera, as well as for the key light on a portrait or as part of the Profoto system. I think it’s versatility of use is one of it’s key selling points – wedding, portrait, press, event and travel photographers will all have a use for this product for different reasons.
Was the A1 able to deliver the shots you imagined, or did you tailor the setups to accommodate any limitations?
The shots were built to show the A1’s strengths. We didn’t design any of it to show how it would fail!!!! But in terms of it’s limitations, there of course are some. I guess that power is the main one, it’s only a quarter of the power of a B2 so it doesn’t, for example, have capacity to overpower harsh midday sun from a distance, or to replace the flash speed of the D1’s or B1X’s in studio, but that’s not what it’s for. With all photography you have to use the equipment relevant to your needs, will the A1 outperform studio lights? No. But, will it be incredibly useful as an on location flash? Yes.
The best advice I can give, is try it! That’s the beauty of renting before you purchase – try before you buy. Find out if this is the light for you.
You seem pretty convinced that the A1’s will form a key part of your kit bag– what’s the catch? How could Profoto improve on them?
The only gripe for me at the moment is the modifiers you can use with the A1. Profoto have launched a range of magnetic ones that you can use to soften the light but for me it needs to go further. I want to see grids and soft boxes that can be used with this system. Which would allow me to go further with their use off camera.
Manfrotto do a handy little gadget called the ‘Snap Tilthead’ which allows you to use them on a lighting stand with an umbrella. I’ve used that set up on a few occasions and it goes that extra way to soften the light but I want to be able to do more!
It would also be nice to see them sold as a pair, I think that most people purchasing these will want two, or at least one with a TTL Air remote so they can be used off camera without buying the remote separately.
Finally, there is a lot of talk about the price, this is not cheap at £849, do you think it’s worth the extra investment?
Well firstly, when was buying any Profoto gear ever cheap? But in the same way you might choose to buy a BMW over a Skoda, you need to consider what you’re getting for the money, and whether that investment is worth it. If you want to travel from A to B, both cars will get you there, but it’s more the experience of the ride that changes. If you care about heated seats, better build quality and a quieter ride you might prefer to drive the BMW. If those things are irrelevant to you, you’d save the cash and buy the Skoda. Either is the right decision, it comes down to what’s important to you, your purpose of use and budget.
The A1 allows me to work quickly, more efficiently and more professionally. It solves the issues I have with speedlights and provides me with the quality of a studio light in a portable package. I can use it on location for portraits as well as on camera at events.
Those factors for me, make it worth the extra spend, but of course, people will decide how much those features are worth to them, and how much of a role the A1 will play in their kit bag.
Holly was talking to Tim Stavrinou.
For more information on the Profoto A1, contact our sales department, or to try before you buy, visit Wex rental
Profoto have today launched the A1 – the world’s smallest studio flash.
Although designed as an on-camera flash, it’s also very effective off-camera as a standalone unit and works seamlessly with other Profoto lights, even with AirTTL and HSS.
The Profoto A1 resembles a speed light and is designed with light shaping capabilities; it has a unique round head with a soft, smooth fall-off that makes it easy to create a natural and beautiful light. It also includes a smart magnetic mount and three dedicated A1 Light Shaping Tools that click on and off quickly and easily – a Dome Diffuser, Wide Lens and Bounce Card. They can be stacked for more creative options. The A1 also offers a built-in LED modeling light that makes it easy to set the light and understand how light and shadows work together.
Power is provided via a dedicated Li-Ion high capacity battery that lasts up to four times longer than AA batteries with no performance fade, and a facility to recharge quickly.
Round head with soft, smooth and natural fall off
AirTTL and HSS for a beautiful professional image
Smart magnetic click-on mount for A1 Light Shaping Tools
5 dedicated A1 Light Shaping Tools available
LED modeling light integrated to the head
Air Remote built-in
Rechargeable and exchangeable Li-Ion battery
1.2s recycling time
Built in motor-zoom with hand control
Auto focus (AF) assist
Large Hi-Res display
Support for Canon, Nikon and Sony (to follow)
It’s also extremely easy to use with a large, clean and clear user interface. Like all Profoto products, it’s intuitive and you don’t need to read a long instruction manual to understand how it works. It will be initially available in Nikon and Canon TTL fittings with Sony to follow in the near future.
The Soft Bounce and Gel Holder are sold separately; the Dome Diffuser, Wide Lens and Bounce card are supplied as standard
The A1 will be available from the 26th September and pre-orders can be taken now through our sales department: firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7582 3294
Portrait and commercial photographer Holly Wren tests the Profoto B2.
I should start this review by saying that, B2 or B1X, I’m a huge Profoto fan, and the launch of the B1’s back in 2014 literally changed my life. I exaggerate, but you see my point. So when the B2’s launched a year later in 2015 it was hard to prise the B1’s out of my Profoto obsessed paws. I saw the B2’s as a lesser B1, perhaps a cheaper, inferior B1 with less power (250w as opposed to 500w).
Maybe I didn’t like the battery pack, or the wires, or most importantly the stupid on-camera holder thingy that featured heavily in the launch, but the fact is I was wrong. And here’s why.
Specification wise both the B1X and B2 perform with the same signature Profoto functions (with varying abilities on some of the below)
HSS (High Speed Sync), allowing you to shoot up to 1/8000 second and wide open in daylight.
“Freeze” mode, meaning you can freeze action down at shutter speeds as little as 1/200 second (the function uses flash duration as opposed to shutter speed to stop motion).
Wireless triggers that function with TTL (for Nikon, Canon, Olympus and Sony).
Compatibility with Profoto’s range of light shaping tools (or modifiers) meaning we can soften and harden the light in over 120 ways.
Easy to use interface (you probably won’t even need an instruction manual to get going).
And of course, the beautiful and consistent light.
That’s all impressive stuff, and chances are if you are looking to buy a B2 or indeed a B1X these are the compelling reasons to do so. So why choose the B2?
Putting power aside for a second (and that may be the deal breaker for you) the B2 actually gives you the functions of the B1X but with extras. Not specification extras, like, and I’ll say it again, power. But extras that just make these lights a little more user friendly than it’s big brother the B1X.
You see, Profoto are pretty good at location lighting, okay, they’re excellent at it and the B1X is certainly a light to be reckoned with, but my problem with it is, is it truly portable? Like, would I carry it on my back with my camera gear across London portable? And the answer is no. Which is where the B2 wins my heart with its size and portability.
The B2 actually does what it claims to – it’s a portable studio flash. It’s lightweight (just 1.7kg for the battery pack and 0.7kg for the head, as opposed to 3kg of the B1X unit), and it fits in my kit bag alongside my cameras and lenses, meaning that the only extra to carry is a modifier or two, and a stand.
I can take it places without an assistant or a car and the battery pack allows me to plug two heads in, offering me the flexibility of a multiple light set up with very little extra weight or bulk. It’s the kind of light you can take with you “in case” you want or need to use flash, for the times when you don’t know exactly what your location or client has in store.
One could argue also that the head being much smaller and lighter than the B1X makes it easier to handle by an assistant as the weight on the end of the stand is less, given the majority of the weight is in the battery pack, which can be placed on the floor, carried over the shoulder or on a belt (has anyone actually ever done that?!)
The lighter head also means if you’re going solo you can use a more lightweight stand (depending on your modifier) saving yet more trips to the chiropractor. And with modifiers such as grids and the 2′ octa being lightweight and small there is very little needed to create a successful basic set up.
However, the B2 isn’t perfect; it’s battery life isn’t comparable to that of the new B1X. Officially the stats are up to 215 full power flashes which is the equivalent of just over 600 on the B1X. In the real world, in my experience, shooting at around half to full power, with the modeling light on, you’ll probably get an hour or so out of a battery out of the B2, before you need to change it. That said, carrying a spare is essential anyway and charging is quick, at just under an hour, making the battery life a slight inconvenience but not a deal breaker. I should note here how irritating the battery is to change; it’s a faff, not the actual battery, which is easy, but the holding case, which sits a little too snug.
And although the wires aren’t too much of an issue, they do lack length if you want a head raised high up on a stand, so you’ll probably need to buy an extension lead, especially for getting that second light in position.
So, the only real question that remains is power – the B1X at 500w doubles that of the B2 at 250w and so if power really is your requirement, the case for the B2 is redundant.
Although a point worth making here is that although the B1X has double the power, it only equates to around 1 additional stop of light. Technically if you’re prepared to open up, you can deliver almost identical results.
So the question remains, how much power do you need? For me, I hardly ever use the B2’s at full power so they are more than sufficient.
If you want beautiful light, easy handling, portability and multiple heads that can both infill ambient light and overpower the sun, the B2s might just be the light for you. But as with all camera gear, you need to work out how and what you’re shooting before you can decide which product suits your needs best. Which is why it’s especially handy that you can hire before you buy or just rent on demand.
Give the B2’s a go, I promise you won’t regret it.
In the shots below I worked alone to photograph Ayo, on a one light set up, with only the 2’ OCF beauty dish as a modifier, to show what’s possible with minimal kit.
Shot using the B2 to mimic and infill the natural light coming through the window as shown on the left. Using the OCF Beauty dish, the flash blends with natural light.
Nikon D810 | 50mm ƒ/1.4, 1/160 sec, ƒ/4, ISO 400, B2 Power 3.2
Shot using the B2 to create a look of harder light falling onto the image from the right, making the room look darker and creating a higher contrast. Using an OCF Beauty dish and white reflector behind subject.
Nikon D810 | 50mm ƒ/1.4, 1/200 sec, ƒ/5, ISO 640, B2 Power 6.0
Shot using a bare head that was positioned on top of the piano close to the subject, with a white reflector behind. Flash is used to create a low key, high contrast image; back black wall is eliminated to focus on Ayo at the Piano.
Nikon D810 | 50mm ƒ/1.4, 1/160 sec, ƒ/9, ISO 1250, B2 Power 2.2
Shot using the B2 on its modelling light to illuminate Ayo’s face and give the feeling it’s being lit by the candles on the piano. Natural light used to highlight the arm. B2 placed on piano behind vase. Reflector in front to reflect the natural light back into the image.