You might have heard of Canon E-TTL or Nikon i-TTL. Now Profoto, the Swedish studio lighting maker, has introduced AirX Smart-TTL, providing automatic flash exposure with Android cameraphones.
The feature is part of the Profoto Camera Android app, a beta version of which is now available. Compatible with the Profoto A10, B10, B10 Plus, C1 and C1 Plus flashes and selected Samsung phones, the Profoto Camera app will synchronise flashes with mobile cameras, and provide ‘through-the-lens’ automatic exposure control via Bluetooth.
Settings within the application provide support for raw format image capture, manual exposure and ‘smart mode’, giving a simplified selector for how ‘dramatic’ the lighting in a photo should look. Though you can control multiple flash units simultaneously in ‘pro’ (manual) mode, it’s not clear how many lights you will be able to use with Smart-TTL at the same time.
During the beta phase, the app only supports the Samsung Galaxy S8, S9, S10, S20 and Note 9 series smartphones, but the plan is to roll out to more Android devices in the future. Limitations of the iOS operating system mean it’s unlikely that the full suite of features will make it to iPhones, which will have to settle for manual control only.
Though some other solutions exist for synchronising flashes (LED or xenon) with Android phones, this is the first one offering automatic control of flash exposure.
It remains to be seen whether Profoto will bring out a dedicated smartphone flash or implement all of the features mentioned in their recently-published patents. There is currently a high barrier to entry for would-be phone flash photographers: the cheapest xenon flash, the A10, retails for a cool $1,095. But existing Profoto shooters may find the capability useful for snapping behind-the-scenes pics for quick sharing.