Profoto A1 is a high-end studio light for the top of your camera

Calling it the “world’s smallest studio light,” Profoto introduced its first on-camera flash, the  Profoto A1. The flash is available in both Canon and Nikon hot shoe configurations and offers both manual and TTL (through-the-lens metering) automatic modes. At just 1.2 pounds, it is considerably smaller than Profoto’s off-camera lights, such as the powerful D2 monolight, and only about five ounces heavier than first-party flashes. The A1 is available for pre-order now at a price of $995.

Unlike most on-camera flashes, the A1 uses a circular flash head, which Profoto states leads to a more natural light quality. The light can be shaped further via dedicated accessories, including gels, a dome diffuser, and a bounce card, all of which attach to the flash head magnetically.

Profoto decided on a bespoke battery for the A1, which is both rechargeable and replaceable. The company says a single battery can power the flash through 350 full-power shots at 76 watt-seconds and can recharge in 80 minutes. The A1 also has an impressive nine-stop adjustable power output, so using it to add a soft fill light when shooting at a wide aperture should be no problem. It also supports high-speed sync (HSS), so photographers have a full range of shutter speeds available to work with.

Designed with event photographers in mind, everything about the A1 is built around efficiency, with an interface designed to keep users engaged without diving into a menu. It features fast recycle times from 0.02 seconds to 1.2 seconds, depending on the power setting. And when bringing the studio to the location, the A1 can act as a wireless TTL trigger for the larger Profoto B1 or B2 lights, thanks to the built-in AirTTL module.

Profoto clearly has professional users in mind, particularly wedding and location portrait photographers. At $995, the A1 is close to twice the price of a Nikon SB-5000 or Canon 600EX II-RT, the highest-end first-party flashes. But with full TTL compatibility, remote triggering of other Profoto strobes, simple manual control, and easy-to-use modifiers, the A1 probably makes a lot of sense for the right user. If you’re looking for a much more affordable solution to improve your flash photography, you might want to give the old white balloon trick a try.

For more information, see Profoto’s A1 product page.

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