The $995 Profoto A1 speedlight is now official and here’s the first review

Sep 19, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

The $995 Profoto A1 speedlight is now official and here’s the first review

Sep 19, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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The Profoto A1 speedlight we told you about a few days ago is now official. And yes, it’s just as expensive as we expected. At $995 buyers will have a pretty high level of expectation from this little flash. But it looks like it will stand up to the job just fine, and fits nicely into the existing Profoto ecosystem.

It looks to be about what you’d expect from a speedlight made by Profoto. But, what’s particularly interesting about it, is the shape of the head. But not only the shape, it appears to essentially have its own built in MagMod style accessory system. This review from photographer Neil van Niekerk walks us through the unit, its specs, features and capabilities.

Right now, the Profoto A1 is available to preorder for both Nikon and Canon, and each is priced at $995. It works as both an on or off-camera flash, as well as a transmitter for other Profoto lights. So, you can use it instead of the Air Remote.

Even if you already have an Air Remote trigger, once you factor in the $419 cost to acquire a backup trigger, the A1 speedlight’s $995 price tag doesn’t look so bad. Minus the cost of a backup Air Remote, you’re essentially paying $576 for the non-trigger flash components. Price-wise, this brings it more in line with something like a Nikon SB-5000. So, it makes sense for existing Profoto users get at one of these if you’re looking to pick up a speedlight and need a backup remote.

On the Specs, it’s about as we expected.

  • 76 Watt seconds
  • 9 stops of power adjustment
  • 0.05-1.2 second recycle time
  • 2.75″ round tiltable, rotating, zoomable flash head
  • Auto-zoom from 32-150mm
  • Wide lens attachment for 14-24mm coverage
  • 350 full power flashes on a single battery charge
  • Removable Lithium Ion Battery
  • 80 minute charge time
  • Flash sync up to 1/250th of a second
  • High Speed Sync mode
  • Front & rear curtain sync modes
  • LED Modelling light

It does seem to offer a whole lot for the Profoto user looking to expand their range to include an on-camera flash. Many may not see the point of putting a speedlight on the hotshoe these days. But, for things like events and weddings they can be a life saver. You can bounce it off walls, the ceiling, or use one of the magnetic bounce attachments.

The A1 unit comes with a diffusion dome, wide angle adapter, and a flippable bounce card & flag included. All of these attach to the end of the flash head using magnets. And it looks like some of these items are stackable, too. There’s also a set of gels, available separately.

The bounce card & flag combination attachment is a nice idea. It sure beats the little flippy out one that’s contained within the head of most traditional speedlights. And it also beats having to gaffer tape cinefoil or something to your flash head to flag it off. The Gel Kit (again, sold separately) includes one holder, one hard case, a full, 1/2 and 1/4 CTO as well as 1/2+ Green for shooting under fluorescent lighting.

As well as this, there’s a sort of diffusion canopy type thing. Profoto call it the “Soft Bounce“. Essentially, it’s a shaped reflector that sits on top of the flash head, to bounce light forward when your flash is pointed straight up. It creates a larger light source than the bare head, so it should make the light a little more pleasing. It also gets the light source much further away from the lens to prevent potential red eye.

After the rundown of the features, Neil takes the A1 for a spin in the studio and on location. He shows off various different ways to use the on-camera flash to make it not look like on-camera flash. We also see how it works in place of an Air Remote with larger Profoto strobes.

Overall, it seems to handle extremely well. And if you need to buy anAir Remote anyway, then the $995 investment on the A1 doesn’t seem so high.

The Profoto A1 and accessories are available to pre-order now. No word on shipping dates yet. Also no word on when Sony, Olympus or Fuji versions may appear.

For me, it’s still more than I’d want to spend on a speedlight. I’d rather just pick up a couple more Godox AD360II for that kind of money. They just suit my shooting requirements better than speedlights. But, if you’re already heavily invested into the Profoto ecosystem and need a speedlight, then the A1 may be just the thing you’re looking for.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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14 responses to “The $995 Profoto A1 speedlight is now official and here’s the first review”

  1. Anthony Guerriere Avatar
    Anthony Guerriere

    Kurt Knapp Justin Starr

    1. Anthony Guerriere Avatar
      Anthony Guerriere

      Kurt Knapp well aren’t you the party pooper….?

    2. Anthony Guerriere Avatar
      Anthony Guerriere

      Totally…if it were in the $4-500 range I might be a player.

    3. Kurt Knapp Avatar
      Kurt Knapp

      Ill stick to my flash units

  2. Hugh Mobley Avatar
    Hugh Mobley

    A TOTAL 1 GEE FOR A SPEEDLITE!! not for me

  3. James Jackson Avatar
    James Jackson

    Hmmmm no. I’ll stick with godox.

  4. Kevin Stallard Avatar
    Kevin Stallard

    It’s on the Christmas list……

  5. JP Danko Avatar
    JP Danko

    Love the fact that it has a dedicated li-ion battery instead of AAs…but 1K for a speedlight!?

  6. iphoto27 Avatar
    iphoto27

    Just an overpriced Quantum QFlash T2, but with a candlelight power & they want over $1,000.00 USD without the overpriced $500.00 USD Air Remote TTL?

    Great Profoto never heard ATG/Godox system.

    ATG has approved the claimed “Awesome” TTL/M radio transmitter for Godox’s lover, the Xpro transmitters. Will arrive in major camera stores by November.
    The Godox Xpro transmitter will make the Canon, Profoto, Interfit and Phottix transmitters look bad.

  7. Vic Tucker Avatar
    Vic Tucker

    I have been signed up with Vimeo for a number of years and find it frustrating as hell.
    Vimeo locks up frequently.
    I have reasonably powerful Mac computers Mac Book Pro and Mac Pro tower. I have high speed internet and Vimeo is still a pain in the neck. Can’t we agree to post through another service.

  8. Paul Lo Chi Ching Avatar
    Paul Lo Chi Ching

    In comparison iPhone X is cheap

  9. Stefan Tell Avatar
    Stefan Tell

    Thanks for the review,
    I did a similar blog post yesterday if anyone is interested in more details and photos:

    http://www.stefantell.se/blog/2017/09/review-profoto-a1/

    Regarding the alternatives and the price, this must be the best time to start out as a photographer. Never before has there been so many good products and systems that are easy to use and quite affordable.

  10. David Shepherd Avatar
    David Shepherd

    This is certainly cheaper manufactures forcing the legacy brands to innovate. In fairness, Profoto is forced to pay a premium for doing business the right way while Chinese companies knock off and steal the technology to offer a lower price because they do not invest in R+D. While that is a longer and separate conversation, Godox has certainly made innovations that make this product unnecessary for my working needs at this time. There is no way I’m paying $1000 for a speed light, especially when there are better options available. The round head would have been a welcomed innovation if it received the light shapers of the B2, but it doesn’t look that way. Also, the radio trigger is not worth a $400 premium. With such a crowded market, I am not sure how this product fits into any model of success.

  11. Roland van Bezouw Avatar
    Roland van Bezouw

    I’m confused…..This Profoto A1 is presented as a new hybrid which fills the gap between speedlights and strobes. But Falcon Eyes had this area covered with the SG-100BK around 2011. A very modestly priced “strobe/flash-inbetween” unit which was pretty well accepted by a small gathering of enthousiasts. Why was the FE equivalent ignored? I can imagine that the price indicates that we are comparing two different qualities, but why aren’t there more companies in this section of flashes?