Photography News | Issue 49 | photographynews.co.uk
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JohanWiberg, Profoto A1 product manager
“We solved the power anxiety issue with a high-capacity Li-ion battery, with 350 full power flashes and recharges in 80minutes from empty. It is easy to have a spare in the pocket, too. “We have designed the A1 to be easy to operate – anyone can use it without having to a read a 30-page instructionmanual first, and there is a user-friendly interface. Push the set button and the menu looks the same as the menus on our other products, so it is easy and comfortable to go fromone piece of kit to another. It won't take long tomaster, especially when using the A1 in conjunction with our lighting system. “You will never miss a shot with the A1 and it will change the way you photograph – forever!”
“First of all, the head is round, like the sun, so looks natural and is ideal for light shaping. Speedlights were designed for maximum efficiency to fill the frame with an even light from edge to edge because you don't want dark corners, but they are not made for light shaping, only for exposure. “The A1 is not about power, it’s about the quality of light. We wanted a head for light shaping with a wide light spread and a soft fall-off. Why is that good? Well, if you shoot natural light and just want to blend a little bit of light into the image it is much easier than having a beamof harsh light. “We needed light shaping tools so we added a magnetic mount, so you can easily click on tools and even stack them together.
photographers, we met customers, talked to retailers and did online research, and I read page after page of reviews. “We found in the wedding and portrait market, where on-camera flash is often used, that the harsh quality of light was not liked – it was not easy to shape and did not look natural. Yes, there are modifiers to help, but these are flimsy and not easy to use, and often fell off. “Also, most of them said they never wanted tomiss a shot and were worried about the batteries. There was no time to change them, often it was dark and it was hard to put them in, and the old and new cells got mixed up. It all added stress to an already challenging situation. So, we decided to get it right from the beginning and that is the A1.
“Back in 2013, when we launched the B1 and AirTTL Remote trigger, we got feedback from the market. One thing we were told by wedding photographers was that capturing the happy couple on the dance floor needed fill-in flash, but that was not possible because the AirTTL Remote trigger was fitting in the camera hotshoe. “So we did qualitative research, conducting deep interviews with 20 photographers from four countries, a selection of Profoto customers, those considering going into the Profoto system and non-Profoto users mainly using on-camera flash, going into detail to understand their needs and their problems with existing gear. “We also did focus groups with wedding and portrait
The A1 is supplied with a multi-purpose dome diffuser, wide lens for wide- angle shooting and bounce card when a neutral-coloured surface is not available for bouncing light.
Zoom, tilt and pan head
The head features an integral zoom head that can be adjusted manually or automatically as the lens is zoomed. Five zoom presets are also available. The head itself can be tilted at various angles for bounce light (or rotated when shooting upright format pictures) or when using light modifiers such as the supplied bounce card or dome diffuser.
In AirTTL Remote mode, four groups of lights can be controlled with a working range of up to 300m, giving wireless control whether you are shooting in TTL or manual modes. Just push the button for the relevant group of lights you wish to adjust output for, and then use the control dial to adjust output.
This display keeps you fully up to date with the A1’s set-up. Flash mode, output, light spread, battery state and output are all shown. The output is shown in large numbers, from 2.0 to 10.0, in 1/10EV steps.
The back-illuminated on/off button is easy to see in the dark. When switched on, a push of this button fires a test flash.
Modelling light control
The A1 has a modelling light, so you can use the continuous light to see the effect on the scene, which comes in especially useful when shooting off-camera, to ensure the flashhead is aimed correctly. It helps with composition in very low ambient lighting levels, too, and with a high ISO setting can even be used to shoot stills with. The LED modelling light can be controlled in the menu, including the option of a proportional setting which relates to the flash output.
Set button and control dial
Push the button at the centre of the control dial and the two-page menu is revealed, and this is navigated with the dial. Item selection is confirmed with another push of the button.
The Profoto A1 is available in Canon and Nikon dedicated settings now, with other brands including Sony and Fujifilm to follow in the near future.
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