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First Impressions: Profoto RFi Softboxes

by Abram Goglanian on 12/23/2012

Profoto RFi Softboxes

Profoto recently launched their new line of softboxes called RFi (which stands for: Recessed Front – Improved) and they are compatible with almost every major manufacturer. They also come in 12 different sizes and four separate models: rectangular, square, octagonal and strip. Profoto has designed these new boxes with a recessed front which allow the photographer to better control their light output and use additional accessories such as grids, diffusers, and strip masks. I’ve had a chance to spend some time with two of the new RFi softboxes and the D1 monoblocs, the following is a summary of my first experiences.

Tech Specs

Taken from Profoto’s Product Page

Specifications – Softbox 3′ Octa RFi (90cm)

Output in 2 m at 2400 Ws @ ISO 100 f-stop 32 8/10 both diffusersf-stop 45 front diffuser only
Possible to use as a reflector

Compatible heads

Heads Profoto flash heads and monolights (speedring not included)

Measurements

Diameter 90 x 40 cm36 x 15,7 in
Size - cm- in
Weight 1,6 kg3.5 lb

Specifications – Softbox 3×4′ RFi (90x120cm)

Output in 2 m at 2400 Ws @ ISO 100 f-stop 32 9/10 both diffusersf-stop 45 1/10 front diffuser only
Possible to use as a reflector

Compatible heads

Heads Profoto flash heads and monolights (speedring not included)

Measurements

Diameter - cm- in
Size 90 x 120 x 52 cm36 x 48 x 20.5 in
Weight 2,4 kg5.3 lb

Products Tested

Ergonomics

Color coordinated dots help speed up assembly process.

Color coordinated dots help speed up assembly process.

The Profoto RFi lighting modifiers start with their new speedring which has colored dots around its perimeter. The purpose of these dots is to match up with the metal ribs uses to assemble the various softboxes. Each box has a set of colored dots which match up to a specific hole on the speedring.

Color coding system for support ribs (3' Octa shown)

Color coding system for support ribs (3′ Octa shown)

Larger rib shown for 3x4' Softbox

Larger rib shown for 3×4′ Softbox

Once the metal ribs are inserted into their appropriate slots you can then mount the softbox onto your light.

3x4' Softbox shown attached to D1 light

3×4′ Softbox shown attached to D1 light

Next, you can attach the diffusion panels to the recessed front. I found this easy to do when the light was mounted on a stand, however, I am 6’3″ so that may be working to my advantage, if you are short you may want to completely assemble to box on the ground before you attach it to your light.

3' Octa Shown

3′ Octa Shown

3' Octa Shown

3′ Octa Shown

If needed, you can easily assemble the entire box on the ground before you mount them on your lights, as shown by the two following images.

3x4' Rectangular Softbox Assembled 3' Octa Assembled

 

Lastly, you can also utilize a soft-grid to focus the light coming out of these softboxes, the grid itself fits right into the recessed front, and over the top of the white diffusion panel. Very easy and quick to attach.

Soft-grid shown mounted on 3x4' softbox

Soft-grid shown mounted on 3×4′ softbox

Build Quality

3' Octa

Every Profoto product that I have ever encountered has been produced with top notch quality and leaves no doubt in my mind that it will withstand heavy use from any level of user. The RFi softboxes are all made with heavy stitched fabric and strong velcro that inspires a lot of confidence in the product line. Same goes for the speedrings, support ribs, and even the carrying cases. Everything screams high quality to me. Realize though that this does come at a cost, quite literally in fact, Profoto equipment is at the top-end of the pricing scale, but as the age-old adage says, “you get what you pay for.”

Heavy Duty Stitching & Velcro

Heavy Duty Stitching & Velcro

Thick stitching on the mounting pockets for the ribs

Thick stitching on the mounting pockets for the ribs

Everything is solidly constructed

Everything is solidly constructed (3′ Octa shown)

Outer shell

Even the softgrid is extremely well made

Even the softgrid is extremely well made

Ease of Use

This is an area where I feel Profoto should be commended for their efforts in good design. If you have any experience with assembling soft boxes, you know that they can be a potentially frustrating experience and even dangerous (I won’t name names, but I’ve seen someone get a support rib smacked right in their eye because they didn’t assemble a box correctly). As a stereotypical male, I like to figure things out on my own and only rely on instructions if I get truly stuck. I am very happy to say that I didn’t even need to glance at any instructions for these softboxes. Profoto had told me before-hand that the new RFi system uses color coordinated support ribs which match up to specific mounting holes on the speedring. This system takes out all of the guesswork in figuring out “which pole goes where”, and as a result of the color coordination, you are able to set up these softboxes very quickly and that’s a very good thing.

First Impressions

When I first opened the boxes that Profoto sent to me I was really pleased with the quality of the materials they used to make the softboxes. It’s clear that this is a high quality product, and lives up to Profoto’s long-running standards of excellence. The setup of the boxes was very quick and easy which I really appreciated. So far, the quality of light output has been nothing short of impressive, but I need to do some more in-depth testing with my typical process. I plan to utilize the boxes in a product & studio oriented nature, but if you guys have certain scenarios you would like to see, by all means, leave a comment and let me know.

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