Hands-on Review of the Profoto A1X – Shaping light can be Professional, Simple and Beautiful.

It is rare that I start a review with a disclaimer, but necessary so this time to provide credit where due. 

  1. This review is a collaboration between Fujifilm X-Photographer Derrick Ong (or simply whom I refer to as “the multi-awarded and really humble and talented guy”) 
  2. For this review, Derrick worked with the newest Profoto A1X TTL-F on the X-mount system and credits for the images here go to him where stated, with the behind the scene shots, formatting and writing part done by me. 
  3. All equipment from Profoto was returned at the end of the loan period and our appreciation to Srishti Singapore for the loan of the Profoto A1X TTL-F and accompanying accessories. We were not paid for this review (the only person who got paid was Viku, our model talent).
  4. Any Fujifilm equipment used belongs to either Derrick or me. 

Now let’s get to the main content. 


The Profoto A1X TTL-F (for Fujifilm), Profoto Connect-F remote, which works on iOS devices with Profoto’s app. 

Launched as an upgrade to the original Profoto A1, The A1X is billed as the superior sibling, and in Profoto’s words: “The A1X is every inch a Profoto light and a little more of everything over the A1”. 


by Derrick – X-T3, XF56mm f1.2, Profoto A1X with Profoto Air Remote. 

So in the world of Fujifilm users currently dominated by the pocket-friendly Godox on-camera flashes, why Profoto? One reason is that there’s usually quite a jump in performance quality between the type of battery-powered on-camera flashes and the more powerful and costlier professional flash systems like Profoto’s B10 but very few in-betweens and the original Profoto A1 bridged that gap very well, and the new Profoto A1X improves on this in a host of ways.

*I do not plan to spend a 2000 wordcount on copying and pasting a spec sheet, which isn’t how a review should be. For the full specs, here you go

Profoto has ambitious plans moving forward with its product portfolio development starting from the Profoto C1, and even although the A1X looks very much like the original A1, the improvements come in the ways that matter (Profoto says its 30+ improvements but let’s focus on what really matters):

  1. Battery life. The A1X now offers up to 450 full-power flashes on a single charge from its rechargeable lithium-ion battery, pretty neat for a pocketable flash. 
  2. Recycle time: We are now looking at fast 1-second recycle times – the time it takes to ‘recharge’ the flash ready for the next flash.  It may not have the power of the larger studio kits, but note that the A1X is way small enough to fit in a camera bag and light enough to handle quickly and easily on location.
  3. The A1X is actually powerful and consistent enough to do a 20 frames per second series shot with Fujifilm cameras, something other competitors like the Godox V1 lacks the ability to.  
  4. Improved Usability – A revamped user screen adopted from the B10 monolight.
  5. Improved Connectivity – Integrated AirTTL functionalities and an LED modeling light, setting up and running the connection was really simple and consistent. 

Power-wise, like the A1, the A1X delivers 76 W/s of flash output and supports Profoto’s AirTTL and HSS. Power is adjustable over a 9-stop range. 

And true to the concept of shaping light, the Profoto A1X has a unique to it’s large, circular flash head designed to offer softer and more even illumination with gentler light fall-off. (unique until Godox of course).


by Derrick – X-T3, XF35mm f1.4, Profoto A1X with Profoto Air Remote. 


behind-the-scenes, X-Pro3, XF56mm f1.2

You may not need to use any kind of flash modifier to soften the light, but if you do the A1X comes ready with a magnetic click-on mount system for attaching one of its light-shaping tools – and they can be used both individually and in combination, the whole kit is well built and easily used in different combinations. 


With the snap-on ‘Peacock Blue’ color gel attachment from the Clic Creative Gel Kit


by Derrick – X-T3, XF35mm f1.4, Profoto A1X with the ‘Peacock Blue’ clip-on.  

With flash, it’s not always easy to predict the lighting effect and outcome and you won’t always have the opportunity to re-do the shoot. As such, the Profoto A1X now incorporates a modeling light to simulate and preview the flash effect before you shoot, and this can be especially useful if you’re using the flash off-camera. 

A huge plus we experienced was the maturity of Profoto’s own Air Remote radio control system for Off-camera control. This now features a 20-channel communication to reduce the likelihood of conflicts with other photographers nearby, and the system supports HSS and AirTTL.

With HSS (high-speed sync) you can shoot at shutter speeds higher than the camera’s normal maximum flash synchronization speed, and AirTTL allows simple point and shoots automatic flash exposures – plus, for those seeking maximum control, you can also swap to manual mode for setting the flash power level manually.


by Derrick – X-T3, XF35mm f1.4, Profoto A1X with Profoto Air Remote. 


for those wondering, this is what happens without the support of a flash. 


behind the scenes, X-Pro3, XF23mm f1.4


by Derrick – X-T3, XF16mm f1.4, Profoto A1X with Profoto Air Remote.

which brings us to an important point in photography and what I learned after self-reflecting upon seeing how a true professional like Derrick go about doing the shoot, which is:

Be the One in control of light, not the one controlled by light. 

Conclusion

Obviously, if you are a Fujifilm user, the first more professional flash model that comes to mind should be the Fujifilm EF-X500.


The Fujifilm EF-X500 is an excellent flash in terms of build and consistency, but competitors have since caught up and in some aspects, taken over in functionality. 

Another very popular brand is Godox, with its superb value for money models offering full TTL support too and of course, which works, but note that there is ONE key reason why someone will choose a Profoto over other competitors, which is…

Consistency. 

For example, the A1X can do a 20 frames per second shoot in succession, with perfect lighting consistency across the 20 images and this is incredible, while it is likely or simply factual that an on-camera flash from another brand will struggle to produce the same consistency from the 3rd or 4th shot onwards.

Against what some may suspect, It is not snobbery that makes the Profoto variant a heavier financial investment, it is simply the guarantee of quality and consistency in output that will NOT ever let the professional photographer down.

For starters, imagine if you are someone tasked with 200 products to complete shooting in a day, consistency here is a necessity that you will pay for. 


behind the scenes –  look forward to a reliable, powerful yet truly portable light system. 

Of course, for current Profoto system owners, compatibility with Profoto’s highly regarded Air Remote wireless control system are neat touches that will appeal. 


The A1X to the left and A1 to the right. Note the improved screen. 

As mentioned, in our time with the A1X on the Fujifilm X-mount system, one part of the user experience stood out, the A1X simply works whether as an on-camera flash or an off-camera flash, and this is largely in part due to Profoto’s work in the software behind the hardware.

Of course, buying into the A1X is not an easy financial decision, but as simply explained by a friend, “a Geely and a Bently both gets one onto the road for sure, but what differs is the journey and the experience one gets”, having shot the Profoto A1X, the Fujifilm EF-X500 and the Godox variants, I feel I can understand this better.  


behind-the-scenes, X-Pro3, XF23mm f1.4

Thank you for reading.

You can contact:
Derrick at: derrickong76@gmail.com, https://www.instagram.com/derrickongphotography/

Viku Li at https://www.instagram.com/viku_li/

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