Forget lighting effects. These compact flashes bring pro light to iPhone portraits.

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With light in hand, the Profoto C1 flash brings studio power to your iPhone photos.
With light in hand, the Profoto C1 flash brings studio power to your iPhone photos.
Screenshot: Profoto/YouTube

Apple is trying to bring the advanced lighting of a photo studio to your iPhone without actual lights. And while featured effects like High-Key Mono and Stage Light can bring a studio-like finish to your iPhone portraits, software and algorithms can’t beat the real thing.

Profoto, makers of highly regarded and expensive studio lights, introduced this week two compact studio flashes designed for mobile photography.

The C1 and C1 Plus work through the Profoto camera app, which lets you adjust power and color temperature via Bluetooth. They are small and round, making them easy hold with the free hand. A frosty-finished dome spreads a softer light.

The built-in Li-polymer battery in both models provides 2,000 full-power flashes, according to the company. Or it can deliver 40 minutes of continuous light for video shooters. The recycle time between flashes comes in at just one second.

No need for technical understanding. The Profoto C1 flash senses the light you are shooting in and delivers the amount you need.

Profoto C1 flash: Pro results, with pro pricing

While the demo video below suggests the new compact flashes are a breeze to use, the price may keep them out of reach for most iPhone photographers. The C1 lists for $299 and the C1 Plus costs $499.

The less-expensive Profoto C1 flash packs a maximum power of 1,600 lumens and can only be controlled through Bluetooth. The C1 Plus fires 4,300 lumens and adds a built-in receiver compatible with Profoto transmitters.

If that’s too rich for your budget — especially after spending $1,000-plus for an iPhone 11 Pro with its game-changing three-camera array — you can find cheaper external LED lights and flashes designed for smartphones. They can effectively serve as a substitute for the tiny flashes built into the handsets.

However, with the C1 flash, Profoto is likely trying to capture influencers and the growing number of professionals using iPhones for their work. Regardless of the cost, an iPhone 11 Plus with the Profoto C1 Plus makes one hell of a kit.