Absolutely incredible. There isn’t much else I can say about Profoto’s latest creation: the A1 AirTTL Studio Light. This reinvention of the on-camera flash delivers an unmatched quality and feature set in a package that is unbelievably small and intuitive to operate. Packing in a respectable 76Ws of power, this strobe, which Profoto bills as the “world’s smallest studio light,” focuses on creating a beautiful light that blows all competition out of the water.
With an output that is comparable to many speedlights currently on the market, the A1 separates itself from the pack with a 2.75″ circular head that creates a more natural and flattering light. Also, it’s Profoto pedigree shows in its integration of their phenomenal AirTTL system, enabling direct support of your camera’s TTL metering for automatic exposure. This also means the A1 can function as a TTL or manual controller for other AirTTL-enabled fixtures, including other A1s, the B1X, D2, and more. Both the Canon and Nikon variants will be available at launch, with Sony model planned for shortly afterward. It can function as a slave unit as well when used with TTL-C, TTL-N, TTL-S, and TTL-O Air Remotes as well as be manually triggered with the simple Air Sync and Air Remote, which does offer manual power control.
Profoto’s experience in creating easy-to-understand controls and, frankly, beautiful equipment shines here as well, making the A1 a complete package that’s form matches it’s function. The round head tilts and rotates for normal bounce operation and there is a ring on the front for intuitive control over the zoom. And, there is an LED modeling light for previewing how the light will look.
Delving into the nitty gritty of specs the A1 certainly does not disappoint. It will check all the boxes a professional photographer could possibly ask for from a on-camera flash and even manages to fill in many boxes for an off-camera light. It features nine stops of power control, even when using high-speed sync with TTL.
For optimal performance, Profoto decided to go with a proprietary Li-ion battery pack that can be quickly swapped out at a moment’s notice. This pack is even rated to provide 350 full-power flashes before needing to be recharged. There are other advantages to using a Li-ion battery, including speedy recycle times of 0.05-1.2 seconds. The flash, of course, comes with a charger that can get the pack up to full power in about 80 minutes.
We can’t forget about the dedicated Light Shaping Tools, especially since an entire industry popped up around modifiers for speedlights. Profoto choose to go a different route as the A1 features a magnetic attachment method that makes using and removing these tools exceedingly easy. It also comes packaged with the most essential choices, including a Bounce Card and Dome Diffuser. These do exactly what you would expect them to, with the bounce card providing some nice fill when the light is bounced and the dome diffuser helping to spread the light more evenly over the scene. Also bundled with the A1 are a Wide Lens for use with ultra-wide optics, a Flash Stand, and a Carrying Bag.
Optional accessories are available as well, including the Soft Bounce, a small hood-shaped device that helps diffuse and redirect the light forward when the A1 is tilted upwards. This provides a soft, flattering light that is perfect for portraits. Also, a Gel Kit with quarter, half, and full CTOs as well as a half plusgreen can be used to balance the daylight flash to the ambient lighting. All of these tools can be stacked, making it easy to pop on a gel with a diffuser or other accessory for maximizing the A1’s potential.
I really can’t stress the brilliance of this light enough; the A1 is one of the most impressive and significant lighting releases to come out in recent years, an incredible accomplishment for the company that spearheaded the battery-powered monolight movement and took TTL to new heights with their AirTTL system.
Are you excited for the A1? How do you plan on integrating it into your kit?