Profoto C1 Plus is the new LED light and flash from Swedish lighting company Profoto, with variable colour temperature (even for the flash this time), and a built-in battery that will last forever. Almost.
This super small LED based light source will come in two versions, I have tested the Plus but there is one just named C1 as well. The main difference is that the basic version will not be modular and work with grids and gel etc, plus it has a weaker flash. But is a lot smaller in size.
App & Air controlled LED light/flash for Profoto
It was maybe not that surprising that Profoto would eventually make a light source based on LED technology? The market for this model might not primarily be their old target group of studio photographers or location photographers with battery powered lights, big or small.
Profoto C1 and Profoto C1 Plus is more of a thing for image creators working more with iPhones rather than DSLRs, but I wouldn’t say that the C1 is not useful for others as well.
Profoto B10 can be controlled via Bluetooth and the Profoto app, and the same goes for C1. But you can also control it with Profoto Air, and that is what interests me the most.
Why a Profoto C1 Plus?
When I borrowed a C1 from Profoto I wouldn’t really know where to begin testing it. I am not a big fan of iPhone photography even if I use it daily for family photos and social media for my business.
Or rather, I almost never light my cellphone photos. At least not in a professional way. The Profoto C1 might change that, even if I still will use my Nikon for assignments.
I always look for simple ways to make my equipment more lightweight and versatile. The Profoto B10 helped a lot, as well as Profoto A1, and for me I think Profoto C1 will continue to make it easier to bring a couple of light sources without adding a lot of weight.
Profoto C1 Plus as rim light
Take the “portrait” above as an example, the main light is a Profoto A1 camera left and the rim light is a gelled Profoto C1 Plus. ISO200, 1/1000s shutter speed and aperture f/2.8 shows that this lightweight setup can work. Maybe not outside in bright sun, but at least in the shade or indoors for portraits.
C1 Plus as background light
This is arguments for me, having an additional light source that maybe not will work as main light for portraits, but could add a little extra without adding to my overall equipment that much.
A splash of light and/or colour can always be useful in portraits, and with a battery that lasts a long time, having that extra light source with me is that cumbersome.
Profoto C1 for light patterns
As luck would have it, Profoto C1 uses the same diameter for the front glass as Profoto A1, so my brilliant DIY prism from a disco bulb fits perfectly.
You can either use it on the background for a nice effect, or on the portrait for something else.
Profoto C1 Plus with gobos
Using anything inbetween your light source and the model can also add something to your portraits. I think time and Instagram will tell soon how much simple solutions can create light that is interesting and easy to achieve.
Size Comparison C1 Plus & A1
Profoto C1 Plus is small, but I would’t say that it will fit in any pocket, a jacket maybe? The impressive thing is that these two light sources was all I needed to create the “portraits” above, plus light stands, of course. A total weight of nearly nothing compared to what I usually drag around.
I wouldn’t use Profoto C1 Plus as my only light source, or probably not my main light even. But having one extra light source that won’t take up more space than a 50mm lens is quite impressive. One that works with my Air system, that is.
Smart stuff for Profoto C1
Having a lightweight light source handheld is not really how I will probably use it. Adding a Nano clamp makes it more useful if I want it on a stand or attach it to something else.
You will probably have something like a Gorillapod flexible stand laying around, and just screw it to the Profoto C1 Plus to make it possible to attach it both here and there.
Gels & grid for Profoto C1 Plus
Clic Creative Gel Kit and Click Grid & Gel Kit are the two kits available for the Profoto C1 Plus from the start. I would say that the creative kit is the most interesting for how I would use the C1 most of the time.
Another good thing is that these accessories have a lot stronger magnets than the ones for Profoto A1, and they will fit that light so you can use it not only for C1. If you own the A1, that is.
Light Painting cheating…
The above image I created from three exposures and combined them in Photoshop. I have never really played around with light painting before that much, but having a bright light source like the C1 plus colour gels made me want to try it.
Battery, charging etc.
Profoto C1 Plus has a built-in battery you will have to charge with USB-C. Two hours of charging of the 1500 mAh battery will get you 2000 LED flashes on full effect, or 40 minutes of bright light from the lamp.
Using the Profoto app with C1
The Profoto app (for iPhone) is easy to start working with, just active Bluetooth and the unit will show up. I think you can control up to three light sources with the app (B10/B10 Plus and C1/C1 Plus).
You can either put the camera app on full Auto or adjust exposure, flash settings and colour temperature as you wish. They have a scale for the flash that goes from “Natural” to “Dramatic” if you want to blend flash/light to your liking.
The white button on the Profoto C1/Plus is the On/off button as well as the trigger for the light. And the iPhone camera in the app as well. That little trick is in fact quite handy, I thought is was easier to hold my cellphone still when I triggered the camera from the light than the other way around.
Know your iPhone camera
I usually use the camera on my iPhone based on its limits, it can sometimes create really good photos but sometimes it is really stupid and hard to work with.
Using a light source like the Profoto C1 together with the iPhone camera will probably follow the same logic. Try to find settings that works well with the camera, and add a splash of artificial light for effect. That is probably how I will use is most of the times, not trying to battle the sun or stuff like that.
Will I buy a Profoto C1?
No, not the Profoto C1 but the Profoto C1 Plus sooner or later. The basic version feels a bit too restricted for me. I would miss the extra light from the Plus version, as well as the colour gels that might come in handy for my Profoto A1 too.
I might not be the primary target group for this product, but quite often I would love to add the extra splash of light or colour to portraits. If I can have a lightweight light source that makes that possible, why not.
It is not the cheapest way of adding some LED lighting to my arsenal of lights working on-location, but it works with my system based on the Air Remote, so it might be worth it.
Will you buy one?