In the Field: The Profoto Connect Wireless Transmitter

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Upon first glance, the Profoto Connect Wireless Transmitter seems deceptively simple. When I was given a unit to test, it melded into the hot shoe of my Sony a7RII almost too seamlessly—a far cry from the unwanted bulk added by most remotes. The Connect is available for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, and Olympus cameras. Its stripped-down design is rounded out by a zero-button, mechanical operation; the top of the unit twists into three positions: Auto, Manual, or Off.

The Connect’s simplified design aims to woo photographers new to off-camera lighting. To this end it is an elegant tool, allowing users to set the Connect to Auto mode and focus on light placement while exposure is managed by Profoto’s AirTTL technology. Setup was straightforward; I was up in running using a Profoto A1 and Profoto B10 in a matter of minutes.

Fig 1
Profoto flash head, Connect transmitter, smartphone app

A Luddite at heart, I have an aversion to photo gear dependent on smartphones to function fully. Technically speaking, the Connect does not require a smartphone to use; however, pairing it with Profoto’s app opens up a number of features worth detailing. The app is compatible with the iPhone 7 (or newer) with wider compatibility on the horizon. Adjustments made on the app are relayed to the Connect via Bluetooth. Despite my initial trepidation about involving an additional piece of technology into my workflow, the app’s interface does an excellent job of harnessing the near-universal familiarity with smartphones and their menus that characterizes contemporary life. It was exponentially easier to master than the painful LCD menus built into many other remotes.

Working in Auto mode, I was able to tweak the strength of my lights using the app’s Auto Offset control. I found this to be a nice way of inserting an element of control into AirTTL-generated exposures and a useful middle ground between Auto and Manual modes. When working in Manual Mode, I was able to make incremental power adjustments to both lights remotely via the app.

Fig 2: Profoto app paired with Connect and B10
Fig 2: Profoto app paired with Connect and B10

As of the time of writing, the Connect can manage eight channels and one group of lights. During my test, adjustments made via the Connect applied to both lights. Nevertheless, because the B10 has Bluetooth built in, it showed up on the app separately from the remote, allowing me to control its settings independently when necessary. A forthcoming firmware update to the Connect will expand its capabilities to six groups, which will allow an even greater ability to refine lighting ratios when working with multiple lights. The app also allows you to select between 1st sync to 2nd sync, depending on your camera’s capabilities, as well as adjust radio power output. The Connect has an operating range of 1,000' when working with normal flash sync and 330' when using TTL and HSS.

Relying on a smartphone to make remote adjustments has its pros and cons. An ideal use for the Connect paired with the Profoto app would be in the hands of photo assistants who could quickly make lighting adjustments as a photographer shouts commands to them. This keeps the assistant off set and allows the photographer to focus on shooting. On the other hand, a potential drawback is the awkward juggling act required of photographers not blessed with assistants who would have to use a phone to adjust remotely, instead of being able to do so on the transmitter itself. Thus, you have the paradox of the Connect’s minimal design.

Fig 3
Profoto flash head and Connect transmitter

Part of the reason the Connect can have such a small footprint is its Lithium-polymer battery, which frees up a chunk of space occupied by bulkier interchangeable batteries inside other transmitters. Charging is done via a USB cable and a full charge should last up to 30 hours. The unit enters Sleep Mode after 30 minutes of inactivity and turns off after 60 minutes to preserve battery life. Pairing status and power level are indicated by a multi-colored LED on the top of the Connect. Firmware updates are possible via the app or the USB cable.

Although I was skeptical at first of such an unassuming piece of equipment, the Connect won me over in the end. Its ease of use benefits everyone and I was surprised by the level of control offered by such a small package. My apprehension about involving my phone in shoots was quelled by the intuitive layout of the app.

Have you tried the Profoto Connect? Share your thoughts in the Comments box, below!

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