We Review the Profoto A2: A Speedlight on Steroids or an Underpowered Monolight?


Profoto is busy developing their A series line of flashes. Just look at the recent focus the company has put out on the Clic modifiers, notably, launching the Clic softbox, which we reviewed some time ago. A few users commented that the A1 series flashes will be too weak to be used under certain settings with the Clic softbox, which got me wondering if there is a more powerful flash coming along soon. There was: the Profoto A2.

Introduction

The Profoto A2 is a small, 100 W light that is made for the traveling photographer. Packing the best of what Profoto has to offer currently, the A2 is a comfortable alternative for those who see the B10x as too big. It does almost everything its bigger brother, the B10X, does. The differences are the amount of power it delivers, size, and ability to adust modeling light temperature. The A2 is truly tiny, not larger than a cup of coffee or Swedish Glögg. This does come at a premium. As with everything Profoto you need to be prepared to shell out a decent amount.

Build Quality

The Profoto A2 has traditionally solid construction. It feels and handles like an expensive light. Weighing 27.3 oz or 773 g, it is not too heavy to handhold for long periods of time. Honestly, compared to the B10, I would pick the A2 each day every day if I’m running and gunning. Profoto advertises the light to be the size of a soda can, which is true. It will fit in small camera bags, even the sling bags made for a single camera body with a lens or two. In the absolute worst-case scenario, you can throw the A2 in the water bottle holder on your camera bag. The A2 will stay put. The body of the light is covered in a rubber-like material, which makes gripping the light easy. Compared to the B10, which is thicker and made from plastic, which may be slippery, the A2 wins.

The Profoto A2 ships with a tilt bracket, which you can use to mount the light on the light stand, as well as put umbrellas on it. A few users complained about the knob being hard to work with on the B10 series; However, that problem has disappeared on the new A2, and I did not see any problems with tightening the light in place.

Features

Profoto is going hard at making connectivity between lights easier and better. This can be seen in their new Connect Pro release, which perhaps was overdue, as well as new features. The ability to control the A2 from your phone makes it even easier for photographers who want to carry less kit around. For example, a photographer who is using an A1/A10 on their camera in combination with a bunch of A2 lights will find it easier to simply open the app on their phone and set up the lights. The app itself is being constantly improved, and as of now, you can control nearly any feature of the A2 from a distance.

New connectivity in new Profoto lights enables having absolute power values. In the past, users were not able to see what power their light was set to without walking over and checking that on the unit itself. Now, you can simply check the screen of your remote and know. And yes, this was perhaps a reason a lot of users didn’t use Profoto lights. Connectivity matters.

Personally, I love using AirX, and I secretly wish I owned more lights that support the technology because my current arsenal of strobes has Air-TTL at most. Funny enough, I am searching for a Pro-7a from 1998. But, when I do get to use AirX on demo units Profoto so kindly loans, the experience is second to none. I work faster and focus more on the creative side of the process. Profoto really put a lot of effort into improving the connectivity in their ecosystem, which is where the future of lighting possibly is.

Light Quality

The A2 delivers 100 Ws of power at 5800K, which is slightly warmer than other Profoto lights. The flash duration is excellent, though, with a t.1 value of 1/350s at full power will freeze motion very well. The t0.5 value is even better: 1/1,200s, which is already reminiscent of the D2s performance. Remember that the A2 is a small light made for the traveling photographer. It won’t disappoint those who shoot active sports or freeze motion on events. The recycle time is nothing extraordinary, though: 1.6 s at full power. That’s not too bad, but could be better since it is used primarily in run and gun operations, where the photographer may not have 1.6 seconds to wait for the action. The perfect moment only lasts so long.

Who Is It For?

It stands between the A10, made primarily for on-camera use, and the B10, made primarily for the OCF range of modifiers. In a way, the A2 is simply a more powerful A10, but smaller and without a hot shoe. So, essentially, if you relied on a few A10s in your setup, say a multi-light wedding setup, you can slowly start to phase those out and invest in the A2. The A2 is smaller while being slightly more powerful than the A1. It is a perfect companion for the photographer who has to travel to shoot and often covers events or weddings. That is not to say that you can’t shoot portraits or other work with the A2. While it is not enough to overpower the sun, it is plenty for adding an extra punch of light to your image. So, the Profoto A2 is mainly for the traveling photographer who has the A1/A10 and wants to add extra lights that won’t take up too much space in the camera bag while being compatible with the Clic range of light shaping tools. I’d suggest getting two A2 lights and an A10 as a master light on your flash. That way, you will have a great three-light setup you can take with yourself. But be careful, as there are not too many Clic accessories available as of now, so it would be great to see more softboxes and modifiers made for the A series flashes. For now, there are grids, gels, and a Clic Softbox.

There is a Clic adapter made for the A2, which allows you to put OCF modifiers on the small light. However, it is the opposite of what the A2 tries to be: portable and small. I can’t imagine too many photographers spending $299 on such an adapter. I would hope that this is similar to the original OCF adapter made for the A10 light: a temporary solution to the much bigger problem of lack of Clic softboxes and reflectors.

What I like

  • Size and weight
  • Light quality
  • Future-proof AirX technology

What Could Be Improved

  • Price
  • Variable temperature LED
  • Range of accessories and modifiers

Closing Thoughts

Priced at $1,000 the A2 is a light that delivers above the A1/A10, but below the B10x. It will be a great companion for wedding, street, and outdoor photography projects, but won’t be so useful in the studio because of its low power. Ultimately, the A2 is a brilliant run and gun flash. The competition, such as Elinchrom One, delivers 30 W more light, but it won’t be so compact. Godox has a similar 100W light, the AD100. However, it will be less consistent, and build quality won’t be as good. With that in mind, you can get a three-light AD100 kit instead of one A2.

Ultimately, the A2 is a lightweight portable light that fits very well with the existing Profoto ecosystem and is reasonably priced well for a Profoto product.

What do you think about the new A2? Will you be adding it to your setup? Let us know in the comments!





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