Profoto A1, test with difference settings and modifiers (Soft Bounce etc)

October 6, 2017 · 3 comments

After my review of the new Profoto A1, I thought it would be interesting to see how different settings, angles and modifiers would make the light look. So I set up a Nikon D5 with a Profoto A1 on top and started to take a few test shots.

All the example photos in this post has gone through Lightroom with the same settings. I have applied Camera Standard profile and lens adjustments, and set the colour temperature to 5500K.

This it just a quick test to see the difference in light and output with different modifiers such as the Wide Lens, Dome Diffuser, Bounce Card and the larger Soft Bounce. I guess this post might not be approved by scientists, but maybe interesting to have a quick look at?

Settings in this test

I used a Nikon D5 with a 24-70mm/2.8 lens at 35mm on all the photos, aperture f/5.6 and shutter speed 1/200s. The model head was one meter (approx. 3 feet) in front of a light grey paper background and the camera was at the same distance from the head.

The starting point was effect 5 on the Profoto A1.

Click on any photo for a larger version.

Profoto A1 with Zoom setting narrow (105mm)

This is the standard Speedlight-look, but a lot more even spread of light I would say. A bit harsh light maybe, but very effective light-wise. From here everything will steal light in one way or another.

Profoto A1 with Zoom setting wide (32mm)

I have not used the Profoto A1 that much yet, but already I think this will be the zoom setting I will use the most. Maybe.

Profoto A1 with Wide Lens

Attaching the Wide Lens and other accessories is very simple, just click on and the magnets will hold them in place good enough.

Here the same effect settings and zoom as the photo above was used. This lens will take away quite a lot of light, as you can see.

Profoto A1 with Wide Lens + Dome Diffuser

Stacking a Dome Diffuser on top of a Wide Lens is maybe not very smart if you want to save batteries, but I forgot to take a photo with just the Dome. In short, it softens the light as you would guess.

And also steal some light.

Profoto A1, 45 degrees up + WL & DD

Using the Profoto in a 45 degree angle with the Wide Lens and Dome Diffuser would be more effective if the ceiling is lower.

In my studio, the height is about 3,5 meters and the walls are grey, so the bounce effect is barely visible.

Adjusting effect +1 (5 to 6)

Just to get photos that can show how this combination of angle and modifier, I increased the light output. Here from five to six.

Adjusting effect +2 (6 to 7)

Turning the knob to go from six to seven was not enough.

Adjusting effect +3 (7 to 8)

Increasing a total of three steps on the dial of the Profoto A1 got me back to an exposure that looked alright, compared to using it full on with the effect setting 5.

Profoto A1, 90 degrees up + WL & DD

Again, my studio might not be the best place to show how this flash looks when you point it towards the ceiling.

Profoto A1, 90 degrees up + WL & DD + Bounce Card

Attaching the included Bounce Card and holder will get some light straight on.

But it would need a turn on the dial, or two, to get a good exposure. With a white ceiling, it would of course be different.

The only problem I see with the Bounce Card compared to the larger Soft Bounce is that picking it up from its bag and assembling it will not be something I might do.

That is why I bought the latter.

Profoto A1, 90 degrees up + WL & DD + Soft Bounce

Replacing the Bounce Card with the bigger (and better) Soft Bounce makes a lot of difference. The same effect on Profoto A1 gives you a decent idea of how it works.

Again, compared to using it straight on with nothing in front of the lens requires three more steps of light from the A1.

Profoto A1, 90 degrees up + Soft Bounce (no mods)

Removing the Wide Lens and Dome Diffuser and using it straight up with only the Soft Bounce gives you more light and more contrast. This is probably the best option when using the Soft Bounce.

Comparison, usual suspects

These four combination of add-ons and setting will probably be the way I will use the Profoto A1 most of the times.

Again, this is not a really scientific test, more of an approximation to show you a few combinations and how they affect the light.

Hope it helps some at least.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Micha October 31, 2017 at 23:31

Hi Stefan, thank you very much for your great A1 test with the modifiers. I do have the A1 too and used it now to cover two events. As they were held in huge spaces I did use it in combination with the Soft Bounce. The recycling speed and light quality are fantastic, but I do find that due to the extra height and the weight the head tilts easier forward than it should, especially if I point the camera slightly downwards in a hectic situation. I wouldn’t mind it to be a bit firmer. I would be curious what your thought are on that combination? Please let me know, with best wishes, Micha

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2 Stefan Tell November 23, 2017 at 00:53

Hi Mica,
I must agree with you on the stability/rigidness of the tilt head. Exact that same thing has happened to me a couple of time when using the A1 in combination with the larger Soft Bounce. But the light is great, as well as the recyling speed, as long as you remember that it can fall down in some situations.

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3 David Bicho February 2, 2018 at 17:38

Hi Stefan,

Always a pleasure to read your articles! I just want to comment on your comments and use of the Dome Diffuser. The Dome does NOT spread the light like a old school Omnibounce – even though it’s fully understandable that the design implies such a behaviour.

The Dome Diffuser feathers the original light pattern so it is an even smoother gradient from center out. The total diameter is just barely wider. The use for this is to blend the light even smoother into available light. Like making a brush in photoshop even softer without making it bigger. That is the purpose of the Dome Diffuser.

So, when you aim it to your ceiling in a classic omnibounce-manner, it is just a total waste of power since you won’t get a wider light, hence not a bigger indirect light source (the ceiling) and not any softer light than with the bare flash head.

The Wide-lens is the closest to do what a Omnibounce does.

Compare the size and shape of the light patterns with and without the Dome and see for your self.

Personally, I think the name “Diffuser” is misleading and makes you think that it would spread the light more. It feathers the light pattern edges more, so I would call it Feather Dome. But thats just me.

Keep up the testing and writing and thinking! Your’e an inspiration!

/David

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