Most photography educators will tell you to “take the flash off of the camera” as a best practice when using lighting.
However, what is the best light to do this with?
Is it a speedlight, a high-powered strobe, or one of the compact, more portable options such as the Profoto A2?
I’m about to tell you about this small, off-camera light and other Profoto lights and alternatives from the Chinese brands in this Profoto A2 review.
Let’s find out who this Profoto product is for and whether or not it is worth paying full price for it.
You might also be interested to read the review of the Profoto A1 for comparison.
Table of Contents
Profoto A2 Specs
- Compact design.
- It uses the same battery as the Profoto A series on-camera flashes.
- Easy and intuitive menu system.
- It uses the same Clic system modifiers as the Profoto A series on-camera flashes.
- Consistent light output.
- Convenient firmware updates via the Profoto app and Airx connectivity.
- Not powerful enough for extremely bright outdoor use.
- Constant light is not powerful enough for videographers.
- The OCF modifiers are expensive.
- Maximum Power – 0.1 to 100 Ws
- Power Control – 10 Stops in 1/10-Stop Increments
- Flash Duration t.1: 1/350 Sec (Full Power)
t.1: 1/26,000 Sec
t.5: 1/1200 Sec (Full Power)
- Recycle Time – 0.1 to 1.6 Sec
- Color Temperature – 5800K +/- 100K
- Sync Type – Infrared, Optical, Radio
- Built-In Wireless Receiver – Yes
- Wireless Channels / Groups – 100 / 6
- Wireless Range – 330′ / 100.6 m (Radio)
- Power Source – External Battery
- Flashes Per Charge – 400 Flashes (Full Power)
- Display – LCD
- Mount – 5/8″ / 16 mm Receptacle
- Dimensions – H: 3.1 x W: 3.1 x L: 5.0″ / H: 7.9 x W: 7.9 x L: 12.6 cm
- Weight – 27.3 oz / 773 g, Including Battery
Profoto gear is available worldwide at rental houses because of its durable build quality. The Profoto A2 monolight and the adjustable tilt bracket are no different.
The A series battery attaches to the top portion of the light and sits securely with no gaps. The LCD display is recessed, which reduces the chances of it becoming damaged if the unit is dropped.
Size & Handling
It’s been said the Profoto A2 is about the size of a can of Coke, and this is correct. It will easily fit into a small camera bag or lens pouch.
It can also be held off-camera in one hand while the photographer shoots with his other hand if need be.
Of course, a tilt bracket is included to attach to a light stand. It is not meant to go into a hot shoe.
Profoto is known for beautiful light and consistent temperature, and the Profoto A2 continues this heritage.
The light is very versatile as it can produce softer and harder light depending on the OCF modifier being used.
The above wedding photo of the groom with his Dad had the Profoto A2 magnetically attached to the Profoto Clic Softbox Octa (2′) for soft light.
Alternately, other Clic system modifiers, such as the Clic Fresnel can produce a harder Hollywood lighting effect.
Compatible accessories are vast and constantly growing.
This Profoto light can be triggered off-camera with a Profoto A10 flash, a Profoto Connect Pro, or Profoto Air Remote hot shoe trigger.
The flash head only outputs a daylight color temperature of 5800 Kelvin, but this can be changed with various CTO gels and colored gels that mount magnetically.
The Profoto A2 with no clic modifiers attached is also an option, and this produces a surprisingly soft light due to its frosted glass, as demonstrated by the wedding images below.
I had limited room to place the light on the camera left, so I detached the Profoto Clic Softbox Octa (2′) and photographed the couple with no modifier.
The Profoto A2 is powered by the same lithium-ion battery as the Profoto A10 on and off camera flash and will deliver 400 full power flashes before draining completely.
The recycle time is extremely fast, and quick bursts of shots will still result in this light firing every single time.
At 100 watts, the Profoto A2 sits between the company’s on-camera flashes and larger strobes like the Profoto B10 (see review) and Profoto B1 regarding power.
If you are a current user of the B10, consider that the A2 at full power (setting of 10) equals the B10 at half power (setting of 9).
This means if you use your B10 at a setting of 9 or below most of the time, then the Profoto A2 could do the same job in those situations while taking up less space in your camera case.
This makes this light a great option for the wedding photographer or traveling photographer on the go.
I have not found the Profoto A2 suitable for overpowering the sun, so Profoto lights such as the B10 and B1 series still have their place.
However, to increase the light output of the Profoto A2 by 1.7, the Clic Magnum Reflector magnetic modifier will do the job.
Other Features Of The Profoto A2
The Profoto A2 comes with a carrying bag, battery and charger, and a stand adapter with an integrated umbrella holder.
Light shaping tools such as the click modifiers must be purchased separately, although the Clic Dome and Clic wide-angle lens come with an A series on-camera flash and can be used with this monolight.
A great feature that may not seem apparent is that this light will work seamlessly with the Profoto app, providing professional-grade off-camera flash to smartphone photographers via Profoto Airx connectivity.
This app is also useful for registering the product and firmware updates, once again, using Airx connectivity.
Alternatives to Profoto A2
The Profoto system provides an incredibly easy menu system to navigate. It is something that really differentiates from the complex Godox gear interfaces, an often compared brand that tends to mimic the Profoto lights and light-shaping tools.
Nonetheless, a photographer may be unable to join the admittedly pricey Profoto system so a Godox AD100 Pro would be the apples-to-apples comfortable alternative to the Profoto A2.
The Profoto is a better choice if you value quick and easy repair, the ability to rent the product anywhere in the world, and the easy-to-navigate user interface, which helps beginners get off the ground faster and pros to shoot more efficiently while on assignment.
Value for Money
Profoto prices are consistently under siege in internet forums. However, at under $1000, the Profoto A2 is the bargain strobe in the company’s lineup of off-camera lighting.
For portrait photographers and wedding photographers who want to get into the Profoto system at maximum value and portability, I’d suggest the Profoto A10 on-camera flash to start and then use that to trigger the Profoto A2 and share batteries, chargers, and modifiers.
Other Profoto lights can be added later or not at all if one does not shoot in brightly backlit scenes.
How big is the Profoto A2?
It is slightly larger than a soda can and about the same size as most 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses.
What kind of mount does Profoto use?
The Profoto Clic magnetic mount, although adapters exist for the Profoto OCF mount and other brands.
What is the difference between Profoto A1 and A2?
The A1, A1X, and A10 are on-camera flashes, and the A2 is strictly an off-camera light.
Does the Profoto A2 have a modeling light?
Yes, it is low power with a color temperature of 3200 Kelvin.
How powerful is the Profoto A2?
It is a 100 Ws light, but the Clic Magnum Reflector and Clic Fresnel can multiply the light by 1.7 stops.
What’s a monolight?
A monolight is a self-contained photographic flash lighting unit with its own independent power source. Monolights are usually found in studios.
Profoto A2 Review | Conclusion
The Profoto A2 has already found its way into my wedding kit. Its low power, compared to the B10 series, means it sits at home when I need to overpower the sun.
However, when I know open shade or indoor shooting is in the offing, it is the perfect companion for on-location. I love the small form factor, recycling time, and a plethora of light shaping tools available for it.
I’d love to control the light temperature, and the modeling light’s low power is a bummer, but that is the cost of using such a compact light for maximum portability.
If you are new to Profoto products, this is a great light to have and not break the bank. For those deeply invested in the Profoto system, this light will provide a smaller, lighter option with slightly less power output than the next light up in the range.