The annual Camera Magazine Imaging Awards recognise excellence in the design and execution of imaging products. This year there are ten categories and to be eligible, products had to go on sale around Australia from 1 October 2018 to 30 September 2019. We’ve re-introduced an Innovative Product category because there’s just so much clever stuff happening right now… including in lighting.

 

Innovative Product Winner: Profoto A1X

In reality, there could have been a number of Profoto products capable of winning this category such has been the Swedish flash maker’s remarkable ability to re-invent itself in the face of the changing demands for photographic lighting.

Like all the professional flash companies, Profoto built its business on big and powerful flash packs for multiple heads… for which not much of a market is now left. Unlike its main rivals though, Profoto quickly adapted to making much more compact and portable battery-powered lighting systems and has never looked back. The original B1 battery-powered monobloc was a revelation, dispensing with any connecting cables and providing the convenience of TTL auto exposure control… a world first at the time. It was only logical that Profoto would take the next step and go portable enough to fit on a camera’s hotshoe. That was the A1 and it squeezed all Profoto’s ‘big flash’ know-how into an on-camera unit that still packed quite a punch and can be fitted with a variety of light-shaping accessories.

Now there’s the A1X which boasts a total of 30 updates, including a more powerful battery, faster recycling, more wireless channels and a revised display with higher resolution read-outs. Additionally, compatibility with camera TTL autoflash control systems is now extended to Sony, along with versions for Canon and Nikon.

Like the original, a key design element of the A1X is its round-shaped flash head which is designed to give a more uniform light pool with a more natural-looking fall-off. The zoom head is motorised with a manual override and an LED modelling lamp is built-in. In addition to the ‘AirTTL’ remote exposure control, the A1X also supports high-speed flash sync (HSS) at shutter speeds of up to 1/8000 second. The maximum flash power output is 76 joules – which is a lot in on-camera flash terms – and there’s a nine-stop adjustment range for applications such as balanced fill-in. A USB-C connection is provided to enable firmware upgrades. The A1X is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack – surely the most sensible thing ever to happen to on-camera flash – and it’s good for a whopping 450 full-power flashes.

Quite simply, the Profoto A1X works effectively and efficiently which is why it’s (pun absolutely intended) a little flash of brilliance.