The ProFoto A1 flash has made headlines for its small size, portability and power. ProFoto has become a master of powerful and portable studio lighting with the insanely good B1’s that enabled high-quality studio lighting to finally break free from the studio.
As good as the B1’s are, though, the price just edges them out of the bracket of affordability for even many professional photographers. And although they are portable, it is still advisable to employ an assistant to lug them around.
However, the Profoto A1 has now arrived at a sub £1000 / $1000 price tag, and it’s small and light enough to pack into a backpack with the rest of your kit. However, can such a small lamp produce the quality needed, and will you still be taken seriously with lighting that looks like a hotshoe flash. In short: will this light really appeal to pro photographers?
I hooked up with professional photographer Jo Plumridge to get her thoughts on Profoto’s new flash.
What do you think the biggest hang-up is for people using flash?
The answer to this is two-fold. People have a hang-up about using speedlights because of the harsh results they often get from them – hard light and strong shadows. This is generally because a lot of people only use their flashguns on auto mode without any diffusion, and that can obviously give a hard result.
I think people are also often not aware how to angle flashguns or use them off-camera. When it comes to studio lighting, I think people are often daunted by the sheer amount of knowledge needed to use studio lighting successfully.
However, in my opinion, studio lighting is well worth getting to grips with because nothing else gives you so much control over artificial light.
Do you think the ProFoto A1 will make location photography easier?
Definitely. The sheer portability of the A1 makes it ideal for use on location and the style of the light (round, diffused etc) will mean that a photographer will have greater control over the style of lighting.
What type of situation or subject would you opt to use the A1’s over your usual choice of lighting?
I can definitely see using the Profoto A1 over my existing speedlight on many occasions. So, primarily for events (I don’t shoot weddings but if I did, I’d definitely use it for those), corporate or portrait shots on location – things like that.
What benefits do you get from using off-camera flash?
Control! It’s all about being able to control the light. If you’re using a flashgun on-camera, you have limited abilities to control where the light is aimed.
You can’t get the light angled to the side of a subject or up above a subject and looking down, for example. The minute you use lighting off-camera, you open up a whole world of possibilities.
How would you feel about turning up to a shoot with the Profoto A1 rather than a full studio flash kit?
Hmm – interesting. I’d be happy to turn up to location shoots or events with the A1, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to use it in a situation where I’d usually use a two- or three-head studio kit.
I would, however, be happy to use the Profoto A1 in conjunction with my other studio lighting – even having to carry two instead of three normal monobloc heads would considerably cut the weight!
Would you use the Profoto A1 over a standard hotshoe flash?
Yes! A million times yes! You can see how much more flexible the Profoto A1 is just by looking at it. Round light, more power control – you are immediately giving yourself far more control over the style of light and getting a far softer and more flattering light in return.