Profoto’s First Hot-Shoe Flash

Review by Michael Corsentino

Venerable lighting manufacturer Profoto recently announced the Profoto A1. Shipping in November, it’s the newest addition to their family of best-in-class strobes. The A1 is Profoto’s smallest strobe to date and their first foray into the world of hot-shoe mounted flash units. Currently available in two models compatible with Canon and Nikon, the A1 has a lot to offer. This is especially true if you’re in the market for your first strobe system, or if you already own other Profoto digital AirTTL controller compatible heads and would benefit from adding the A1 to your system. Things are a little less clearly defined for those who already own one or more hot-shoe mounted flashes and are considering upgrading. Let’s look under the hood and see what Profoto’s A1 brings to the table.

Right off the bat you get approximately a third more power with the A1’s 76 Ws compared to traditional hot-shoe flashes that typically clock in around 50 Ws. Battery power is another significant differentiating factor. Profoto’s A1 has its own Li-on high-capacity battery that lasts up to four times longer than AA batteries and delivers up to 350 full-power flashes. That means no more external battery packs! Additional batteries are available with a full charge taking 80 minutes. Recycle time is also no slouch at 1.2 seconds at full power—the speed you need.

Built-in AirTTL makes TTL exposures a snap, and because the A1 is compatible with Profoto’s AirTTL controller, incorporating this strobe into your existing Profoto system is turn-key. It’s also worth mentioning that any Canon or Nikon camera equipped with a Profoto AirTTL controller can trigger the same off-camera Profoto A1—now that’s cool!

Other amenities include Profoto’s legendary build quality, signature round flash head for smooth falloff, magnetically attached light-modifier system designed specifically for the A1, operating range up to 300 m (1,000′), eight digital channels, it controls of up to three groups of lights on each channel, USB port for firmware upgrades, and it’s approved for worldwide use. Available accessories include the Gel Kit ($99) and Soft Bounce modifier ($149). ■