A few years ago I had the opportunity to test the Profoto B2 flash with the AirTTL trigger. Although I loved the flash, I had some doubts about the shutter release. Now there is the new Profoto Connect Pro trigger. Is it worth the upgrade?
If you use the Profoto flash system, you are probably familiar with Profoto’s choices when it comes to remote triggering. Currently, four different triggers are available, each with its own characteristics.
There’s the simple Air Remote which only works with the X-sync, but lets you change the flash output remotely. The AirTTL offers TTL metering and has a simple LCD display. A while back, Profoto announced the Connect, a simple trigger with nothing more than a switch to go from manual to TTL.
Now there’s the Connect Pro, a sort of successor to both the Connect and the AirTTL. It features something many photographers using the Profoto system have been asking for. It offers the possibility to read the flash power directly from the trigger.
The Profoto Connect Pro in detail
When the Profoto B2 flash came out, the AirTTL trigger that came with it seemed somewhat outdated. It felt flimsy, especially compared to well-constructed flashes. It could only handle three groups of flashes, showed no battery levels, and most importantly, it lacked the ability to read the actual flash power. The only thing you could set was the relative power change, after which it read zero again.
The Profoto Connect Pro compensates for a lot of the drawbacks of the AirTTL trigger. Its design is more in line with Profoto flashes, with the same great build quality and screen similar to screens found on modern Profoto flashes.
It has four buttons, the first three of which address flash groups A, B, and C. The fourth button allows you to switch to the next three flash groups, D, E, and F. While the first three groups support TTL , the next three groups are manual only. The Connect Pro has no less than 100 channels available.
The buttons are used to activate a group, after which you can use the dial to change the flash output. It’s also possible to mute a group by holding down a button for a second or two. Or you can double tap a group, after which you can change the flash power of all groups at once.
A button in the middle of the dial gives access to the menu. Its design is similar to all other modern Profoto flashes. There is a dedicated auto button to switch between manual flash and TTL and a button to activate the model light of the selected flash group(s). A white button on the side of the Connect Pro serves as a power switch and test button.
At the bottom of the Connect Pro, you’ll find the battery compartment, which accepts three AAA batteries. The lid detaches completely, leaving plenty of room to access the compartment. This makes it easier to change the batteries.
Using Profoto Connect Pro
Since the interface is similar to all other Profoto flashes, it will not be a problem to use for those familiar with the Profoto system. Everything works the same, with a large and clear screen that offers all the necessary details. It also displays a battery level indicator, so you won’t run into an empty battery without warning, which happened to the old AirTTL trigger more than once.
The Connect Pro has a range of 0.5 to 100 meters, although I haven’t verified if that claim holds. This connection is called AirX, which allows two-way communication between the flash and the trigger. This way the Connect Pro displays absolute flash power and is not limited to relative power change.
For this to work, your Profoto flashes must be compatible with AirX. And you need to set the Connect Pro protocol to Air2. If your flash doesn’t have AirX, like my old Profoto A1 flashes, you can still use those flashes in your lighting setup, but you can’t change the settings.
The Connect Pro can also be set to the Air1 protocol. In this case, the trigger works exactly the same way as the AirTTL, with only a relative adjustment of the flash output. This way you have access to the relative power settings of your old flashes again.
Connect with the Profoto app
Just like modern Profoto flashes, the Connect Pro will also work with the Profoto app. It allows you to remotely change the settings of the remote control. I know that sounds a bit silly, because you can also change the settings for these Profoto flashes right from the app. But even if you don’t see any practical benefit to this, it’s great that Profoto has added this capability. You don’t have to use it, but it is possible, and maybe in the near future new functions will give this option practical use.
Changing the settings in the app is transferred via Bluetooth without delay. Settings can be changed on a flash, on the Connect Pro or in the app, and the change is supported by each device at a time. The only advantage of the application that I have found so far is the ability to update the firmware. In fact, you have to use the app for this because the Connect Pro doesn’t have a USB port.
There isn’t much to add on the use in actual shoots. The Connect Pro works perfectly. The flash power setting works great when the shutter release is set to Air2. You can see the absolute power of the flash, which greatly facilitates the work. It is no longer necessary to reach a flash in height on a flash support.
As the interface is similar to all Profoto flashes, you can remove the Connect Pro from the pouch and use it without ever consulting a manual. Buttons feel good.
The only slight downside I found is the dial itself. It’s made of a rubber material and I found the grip to be poor, especially when your hands are a bit sweaty. The menu button in the middle of the dial is pressed too easily by accident when trying to spin the dial. But again, that’s just a minor drawback to this otherwise great new trigger.
What I liked
- Design and construction are up to par
- Clear and simple reading on the screen
- Menu system and interface similar to all other Profoto flashes
- Read absolute flash power
- Works same as AirTTL setting in Air1 for older Profoto flashes
- Six flash groups available, three of which are both manual and TTL
- Has 100 channels available
- Battery level indicator
- Works with the Profoto app
- A beautiful case is provided
What could still be improved
- The battery cover completely detaches
- The dial doesn’t have enough grip, leading to accidental pressing of the menu button too often
- Unable to change settings on non-AirX flashes in Air2 setting
The Profoto Connect Pro is available for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, Leica, and there is also a non-TTL version. I used the Canon version for this review.
Compared to AirTTL: should you upgrade?
The big question is, should you upgrade from the AirTTL trigger? It mostly depends on your own preferences, of course. The construction of the Connect Pro is much better compared to the AirTTL. Also, the battery level indicator is a welcome improvement, as is the improved interface. On top of that, you have twice as many flash groups available on the Connect Pro should you need them.
Perhaps the biggest reason for an upgrade is the long-awaited absolute flash power reading. If you missed this feature, I would definitely recommend upgrading. If you’re happy with AirTTL’s options, you may have less reason to upgrade.