Profoto claims that the A1 is not a speedlight, but the world's smallest studio flash. In fact, they mention that the only thing it has in common with a speedlight is the ability to be mounted on top of a camera, but here at pictureline, we still refer to it as a speedlight just with more bells and whistles.
The Profoto A1 is 4x faster than a normal speedlight, has a recycle time of 1.2 seconds, can fire up to 20 frames per second and can take up to 350 full-power flashes. With TTL and high-speed sync, you'll never miss a shot. We offer the Profoto A1 in our rental department and out of our flash options, the A1 is always our top recommendation. If you’re a wedding or event shooter, the A1 is the perfect lighting companion. It comes with light modifiers like the dome diffuser and the wide lens attachment that provide a soft, beautiful light.
Below, we will go over how to use the Profoto A1 as an on-camera flash as well as an off-camera flash when used with the air remote.
Using the A1 On-Camera
When using the A1 as an on-camera flash, the first thing you’ll do is make sure the A1 is set to TTL mode. To power on the A1, you simply hold down the on button and turn the dial to unlock. This helps prevent the A1 from accidentally turning on while in transit. When ready to use, the camera will make exposure adjustments based on the settings within your camera. If you want to adjust from there, you can compensate using the wheel on the back of the A1 or by using your flash exposure compensation inside your camera.
For manual control, just simply flip the switch on the side of the A1 to manual. To set the unit for high-speed sync, go to your menu options by pushing the center button and navigate to the SYNC setting and select HI-S on a Canon or select HI-S Boost on Nikon. This allows you to fire above your camera’s sync speed. The A1 also has the capability to act as a TTL remote and connect with other Profoto lights, all you need to do is make sure they are on the same channel.
Using the A1 Off-Camera with the Air TTL Remote
To use the A1 as an off-camera flash, we’ll first power on the air remote and set it to the appropriate channel. Within the Groups option, set the A1 to the same group as the air remote. It's that easy! When the air TTL remote is on top of your camera, it's the boss and works a little differently that using the air remote function within the A1 itself. Flash exposure compensation is done inside the camera and the air remote is only a ratio controller. If you are only triggering one A1 off-camera, and you're using TTL mode, you would use flash exposure compensation in your camera to power it up and down.
When you add a second Profoto A1 to the equation, the air remote can ratio each light off one another. Then, you can use the built-in flash exposure compensation in your camera to maintain the ratio between the lights as you raise and lower the power.
The A1 utilizes Profoto's proprietary air TTL language. This means that a Sony paired with a TTL-S or an Olympus paired with a TTL-O, can take full advantage of using the A1 off-camera whether it's Nikon or Canon specific and allows you to use both in TTL and manual modes.
Now that you know how to use the A1, go out and try it for yourself. Come on down to the store and rent it from our rental department. You won’t be disappointed.