Using Profoto A1 Studio Lights for a Wedding, Bye-Bye Speedlights

To capture those memorable moments at wedding parties and other events where lighting isn’t always optimal, many of us bring off-camera lights to help light up the scene. In the past, popular choices have been speedlights due to size, portability, and being able to run off batteries. The game has changed in the off-camera flash market with studio strobes and other flashes increasingly getting better across those three concerns.

Rachel Gulotta and Daniel Inskeep over at Mango Street Lab recently were given a pair of the new Profoto A1 AirTTL Studio Lights, aka the "world’s smallest studio light," to which they were able to use for a clients wedding and loved the results. The video focuses on more about what they like about the new A1 studio light and not a technical review. The studio light is also put to the test for a cardboard box wedding bouquet toss versus their Canon Speedlite both with half-full batteries. Of course, with the price tag of $995 that comes with the Profoto name, they do not recommend this for every photographer as there are cheaper alternatives on the market. However, if you already own Profoto gear, are a professional wedding photographer, or shoot a lot of high-pressure, high-end commercial work you might want to check these flashes out. They are currently available for both Canon and Nikon shooters.

What are some other great alternatives to replace speedlights for weddings? List them below in the comments.

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63 Comments

William Howell's picture

Buff reflectors are a wonderful value. Thirty bucks for a “long throw” reflector versus three hundred bucks for the Broncolor equivalent.
The Buff snoot yields a very precise circle of light, because the snoot comes with an embeded with a 15 degree grid, recessed at the backend of the snoot. The beauty dish is like a hundred dollars, now that’s value!

The VLX battery can power up to 3600 w.s. And it cost 400 dollars. There is no internal remote receiver in the lights, it is component and is separate from the light unit. As a matter of fact everything on Buff lights are component, thus enabling you to swap out a defective item.

As far as generators go I don’t see how Profoto can match Speedotron. As for generators on the go, the Lumedyne pack and head system would be my pick.

Broncolor Scarro is the exception to the rule, one could justify that purchase, with the fact that it is the best pack and head system commercially available on earth, with an infinite way to remotely control the lights.

On the rental front, I must say I don’t know much about that.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Definitely. I use Godox gear for corporate events & portraiture all the time. Totally reliable.

Patrick Hall's picture

To be fair here, no one should be shooting any high end high pressure commercial work with speedlights. Sure you can get the job done but you are doing yourself a disservice by not billing the client for high end lighting gear. I would never have said this before but after working through a big business of photography adventure, I can assure you no one in major markets are going to take you seriously with a few speedlights. And that goes with these Profoto speedlights too.

Felix Wu's picture

A1 certainly has its used though as part of the profoto system. It can be placed in small places...something the B2 should have been. And it's very useful for wedding photographers who likes to fill. I only wish A1 has the ability to adapt to OCF accessories. That it would have justified its cost fairly. Right now? Not so much. ; )

People shoot high end, high pressure stuff with lower end stuff all of the time, be it Godox, Yongnuo, etc. It all comes down to the specific situation and how to use the products.

Joakim Drake's picture

Can someone tell me exactly how much more power they produce than a top of the line flash from canikon?

Felix Wu's picture

More or less the same but they just recycle faster...and can be used seamlessly with their Air system. It's perhaps the only reason that attracts many exciting Profoto users.

Jay Galvan's picture

That is what I have found as well!

Paul Topol's picture

Enjoy your videos.
Just some comments about the presentation. So many videos these days use too much background music which is inappropriate and too loud. Your video is a good example. Softer music and more appropriate would make the watching and listening easier.

May I suggest that you don't end every sentence with the inflection of a question. Hard to change, I know, but hard on the ear.

Otherwise thanks for taking the trouble to inform and teach us

Paulo Macedo's picture

Well, i guess i'll just wait up for the China counterparts. If they are as near as good, i'm sold. Yongnuo has to be reverse engineering these by now lol

Reginald Walton's picture

They don't really reverse engineer, they pretty much copy it, change the name, and put cheaper buttons and knobs on it. LOL

For off camera flash, what makes these the best thing out there?

- I can buy Three Godox ad200 for the price of One A1
- Ad200 has more full power pops than the A1 (520 vs 350)
- Ad200 has more power (200ws vs 76ws)
- Ad200 has the ability to get 400ws using the twinbracket adapter
- Ad200 has a great ecosystem with its 2.4ghz built in wireless system
- Ad200 I can easily use any amount of modifiers due to the bowens mount bracket adapter
- Ad200 I can change the head for bulb or fresnel flash setup
- Only advantage I can see for A1 is better color consistency but that's never been an issue when you're bouncing off of walls and editing wedding photos.

Ad200s are built tough as I've shot over 20 weddings with them since I got them earlier this year, with tens of thousands of pops and having dropped them multiple times without any problems. My old V850s are still working great after 4 years so Godox has proven their reliability and quality to me. My nikon Sb910 is in my bag as a backup but haven't needed to use it for years now.

For on-camera, I don't see the point of having this much power. I've used my Ad360s with battery pack tethered to my belt before for super powerful on-camera flash (360ws vs A1's 76ws) but I stopped doing that since I was always shooting 1/64th or something low like that. I just stuck with my Godox speedlights which are more than enough for weddings and they have the added bonus of being trigger units for my Ad200s so I can have on-camera and off-camera at the same time.

Can any wedding photographers who plan to be A1 users tell me why they plan to purchase one (other than you're already invested in the prophoto ecosystem)?

Robert Johnson's picture

What a real joke, Profoto A1 Studio Light watt output 76, while Godox AD200 has 200 @ $300, while Profoto A1 @ $999, is the A1 worth $700 more? And the remote trigger for the A1 @ $320, while the AD200 @ $46 and sometime $42. The A1 will give 350 full pops, while the AD200 will give 520, Godox AD200 is a winner for me every time.

Jay Jay's picture

I agree that Godox makes some damn fine lighting, but that AD200 is mean for lightstand use, whereas the incredibly overpriced Profoto is meant more as a high powered speedlight. You can bounce it however way you like on the camera, but you can't do that with the AD200.

Remember: "this flash is not for everyone" so "move on" if you don't want to pay $1k.

This is only for those who "shoot high pressure, high end commercial work.... "

You can do more with an A1 at 1/128th power and bounce attachment than 10 of Godox's finest off-camera flashes.

Thank you,

unbiased Profoto user

My troll senses are rusty, it seems...

Jay Jay's picture

I'm more happy that they love a good Game Changer (*gag*)

The game-changing feature is being able to mount it on a stick for off-camera flash. Revolutionary.

Jay Jay's picture

Being Profoto, the stick will probably cost about $500

Can't help but laugh at the title. "Bye bye speedlights." only to replace them with A1 speedlights.

Terry Henson's picture

Shot using a 25$ Amazon speedlight(2 of them). I hate when photographers post their own work in comments because it's basically asking for ridicule lol, however I feel like I am taking crazy pills when I keep seeing people trying to justify a $1000 speedlight.

Weddings are irreplaceable events where the critical shots last a couple of seconds. If you miss those, you blow the entire wedding in which someone may have paid thousands of dollars. If you miss the kiss or bouquet toss because your $25 flash was still cycling and they trash in online reviews or worse, $1000 for a rock solid product starts to make sense.

This is true, but how is the Profoto A1 going to be any more or less reliable than a Nikon or Canon speedlight in this case? $1000 for a speedlight does not make sense at all when we have had numerous products for literally half the price that have been used by professionals as rock solid options for decades now. Even if you forget the Chinese brands for a minute, the Profoto A1's are still insanely overpriced compared to brand name speedlights.

The biggest question I would ask is, what meaningful value do the A1's bring over the top end Nikon or Canon speedlights to justify being twice the price?

It's like Adobe products. You're not just buying an image editor, you're buying the workflow, the ecosystem and the support community. If the A1 doesn't seem worth it to you then it wasn't meant for you in the first place.

Michael Kormos's picture

It's the best kind of advertising. Why would a major brand spend hundreds of thousands on advertising when they can tap into a market of famous Instagram photographers and other bloggers, who already have a large following? These social media tycoons have done all the hard work and built a well-curated audience of follower-consumers. It makes perfect sense from an economic standpoint. You send out your newly released product to these folk, let them review it, rave about it, and maybe even keep it in the end. Nothing like free marketing. Good for Profoto. They've built the sort of brand recognition that most can only dream about.

vic hernandez's picture

ooooooor i could give 3 months of my mortgage lol

I see the “game changer” relating to the existing Profoto user who would like to integrate an on camera flash into the Profoto monolight air remote system. Wedding/event photographers who need the spontaneity of having an on camera flash but would also like to be able to tie into some larger lights as they move around a big venue will find value in the same triggering system. People who are not vested into the Profoto system can in most cases find cheaper/more valuable options but for those of use who are, we do see this as a game changer. We’ll have more options now being torn as to what system will use and at what time. I find myself using Profoto B1’s for wedding ceremonies and formals and then switching over to Canon speedlites for on and off camera reception lighting.

Josiah Mendoza's picture

Pair this with the Iphone and you'll have the ULTIMATE Fstoppers article!

"Et tu, Brute? Et tu?”

Mateusz Antonowicz's picture

for 1000$ you can buy a truck of YN flashes, that are radio controlled, and I am sure that total added output would be much much higher than those flashes. And even if half of those flashes would end up dead, it's still a better option, more light sources IMO is better than less with more power.

I wouldn't think of buying those, even though the specs are really impressive and I am glad that they landed in 'speedlight' territory finally.