Profoto A2 Review | The Perfect On-Location Flash for Destination Portraits
The recently released Profoto A2 is a new tiny flash that packs a punch. Roughly the size of a soda can, the compact design, high-quality build, reliability, and power (of up to 100Ws) make it a tempting purchase for photographers who value portability and versatility. The flash is compatible with the full “Profoto Clic” system of accessories like their gels, grids, and soft boxes, making it usable for almost any type of look and style. But is it worth the $1,000 price tag? In this Profoto A2 review, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of the new flash unit and give you our final verdict.
Profoto A2 Specs
- Max energy: 100 Ws
- Energy range: 10 f-stops (0.1-100 Ws)
- Recycling time: 0.1-1.6 s
- Flash duration: t0.11/350 s (100 Ws) – 1/26,000 s (0.1 Ws)
- Flash duration: t0.51/1200 s (100 Ws) – 1/ 56,000 s (0.1 Ws)
- Color temperature: 5800 K +-100 K
Continuous light Specs
- Lamp typeLED
- Max power2.1 W
- Color temperature3 – 500 K
- Max luminous flux200 lm
- Max illuminance @ 1meter180 lx
- Width: 7.9 cm / 3.11 in
- Length: 12.6 cm / 4.96 in
- Height: 7.9 cm / 3.11 in
- Weight: 773 g / 1.70 lb with battery and stand adapter, 495 g / 1.09 lb without battery and stand adapter
Profoto A2 Review | Pros
Small and Portable – The most noticeable thing is just how small it is (about the size of a soda can). It’s clearly designed for the traveling/on-the-go photographer (i.e. perfect for wedding/portrait photographers).
100Ws of Power – It puts out 100Ws of power at 5800K (a bit warmer than typical Profoto lights) which is up nicely from the on-camera variant that does 75Ws
Uses A-Series Batteries – All the batteries you have from your A10 (former A1) are all usable with this new light
400 Full Power Strobes – Somehow they managed to squeeze extra efficiency out of the same batteries as the A10 getting around 400 full-power pops.
Profoto AirX Connectivity – Bluetooth pairing, so you can use the flash with a smartphone camera using the Profoto AirX App.
Solid Build Quality – This thing is built tough. It’s lightweight but still built in a way that feels like it can take a beating. This is one of the things that Profoto is best known for, and part of the “you get what you pay for” aspect. More on that later!
Profoto Quality + User Experience – As usual, it’s incredibly easy to use and very reliable. The A2 offers the same consistent Profoto user experience which is really my favorite feature of their gear. I don’t worry about whether or not it’s going to work and they can stand up to a serious beating.
Profoto A2 Review | Cons
Price – The only main drawback of this Profoto flash is the same one for other Profoto gear: the price tag. At $1,000 MSRP, it’s not cheap, and some will criticize that they can get other options for less. That said, those other options will not provide nearly the same level of quality and overall user experience or service. Profoto is well-known for its long-lasting durability.
Speaking of price, though: note that if you haven’t already bought into the Profoto system, you will need to buy one of their Air Remote triggers which range from ~$200 to ~$400.
No Hotshoe – By design, this flash doesn’t have a hotshoe which means it can’t be used on-camera or as a true backup for your Profoto A10. This isn’t really a drawback if you’re purchasing the item for its intended use, but it’s worth noting.
No Variable Temperature LED – It would be nice if this had a variable temperature LED like its big brother the Profoto B10. Carrying a CTO gel is easy, though.
More Accessories – I wish more accessories were available within the Clic ecosystem. For example, I still haven’t found a suitable Profoto replacement for my MagMod Sphere, a very popular modifier for on-the-go photographers. (But, again, that’s more of an on-camera lighting tool!)
Demo | See the Profoto A2 in Action
Let’s review a quick demonstration video from our Youtube Channel. As a wedding photographer, the portability of my gear is critical. Combine portability, reliability, and power, and I have the perfect on-location flash for epic destination portraits. In the video below, we’ll demonstrate and review the Profoto A2 on a recent destination shoot.
In this video, I’ll use the Profoto A2 to capture epic destination-style portraits of my friends Olivia and Tyson. Let’s dive in with the C.A.M.P. framework.
Right off the bat, you can see that getting to this exact spot involved a bit of scrambling. Being able to fit my entire kit into a comfortable backpack is already a huge benefit before I even start taking pictures!
Composition & Ambient Light
We’re inside this incredible cave by the beach, which is perfect for a dramatic portrait of Olivia and Tyson. Obviously, with the dynamic range being what it is in the ambient light of this angle, my creative vision absolutely won’t be possible without adding light to the scene.
I had Olivia face the ambient light, and I posed Tyson towards the shadow to create contrast. I used the edge of the cave to split the frame into two zones, and dialed the ambient exposure to 1/200 sec, F/5.6, at ISO 100.
NOTE: The Profoto A2 does have HSS (high-speed sync) and TTL capabilities, but the shutter speed of 1/200 sec just happened to work for this scene.
Adding in the Profoto A2
Let’s bring in the Profoto A2. I snapped on a Profoto Clic Grid to control the spread of the light.
I placed the Profoto A2 facing Tyson. You can see that I aimed it so that Olivia is behind Tyson and won’t catch the light.
Pose & Photograph
The Profoto A2 at full power provides the perfect amount of light on Tyson. I had him turn his face toward the light and captured this incredible shot.
In post-production, the raw image data allowed me to recover just the right amount of detail in the shadows on the cliff walls, as well as a natural-looking amount of detail in the sky outside the cave.
Still, regardless of how much dynamic range a camera has, there is no substitute for adding light on a subject’s face! It totally changes the final result and makes for a much more dramatic image.
[Related Reading: 5 Primary Light Patterns & Their Purposes | Slice of Pye Ep. 13]
The Profoto A2’s size makes it an absolute breeze to carry around, even on a rocky beach where I may need both hands free! At 100 watt seconds, it packs plenty of power to get beautiful portraits just about anywhere. Its battery compatibility with the Profoto A series gives it up to 400 flashes per charge, all controlled by the new Profoto Connect Pro. All in all, the A2 is an incredible piece of gear and essential for traveling photographers anywhere. The durability, simplicity, and portable power make this “pocket strobe” stand out above the rest.
I hope you enjoyed this article & video. When it comes to gear, for me, portability and reliability are at the top of the list now after a decade-plus of full-time work. These priorities are also what make the Profoto A2 so perfect for capturing breathtaking destination portraits.
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