web analytics

Review: Profoto RFi Softboxes (4×3′ & 3′ Octa)

ProfotoRFi

ProfotoRFi

Profoto recently released their new line of softboxes called RFi (which stands for: Recessed Front – Improved) and they are compatible with almost every major manufacturer by using the appropriate speed ring for your chosen brand of lights. 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 Studio Kit, the following is a summary of my thoughts on these light modifiers.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Beautiful Light Quality
  • Extremely well built (as to be expected from Profoto)
  • Easy / Quick to set up (as long as you already know how to set up a typical softbox)

Cons:

  • All of the modifiers are expensive (though you always have to pay for quality)
  • Can be slightly tricky to tear down

Products Tested

For this testing period I was sent both the 4×3′ and 3′ Octa Softboxes, along with 50 deg. Softgrids for each and some D1 studio lights (500w/s) to test them on.

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

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

Nikon F3 Kit

4×3′ Softbox to Camera Right / 3′ Octa up high on Camera Left and behind the Nikon

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 typical 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. On the other hand, while the boxes are extremely easy and fast to set up, the first time I tried to disassemble the boxes I found that I had a little trouble getting everything undone. Again this is because I don’t read instructions and I just jump in to figure things out. The reality is that once you start to release the poles from the speedring it will more or less disassemble itself, I was doing it wrong :).

I do recommend using fairly sturdy light stands when you use these softboxes, as they can get a bit top-heavy on a weak light stand. I also strongly recommend the use of sandbags as a measure of extra support.

Once the lights are setup it is so easy to attach or remove extra diffusion as needed, this is wonderful in my opinion as there are some lights that can’t be adjusted in this way when they are on the light stand. If you need extra diffusion, simply peel back the front panel and velcro in the secondary panel and presto! If you need to cut even more light then Profoto offers the 50 deg. Softgrid for these boxes and I have to say it allows you to pull off some nice wide apertures on the lowest power settings.

Image Quality

4x3' Softbox to camera right,   Umbrella high on camera left

4×3′ Softbox to camera right, Umbrella high on camera left

I was impressed with the light quality that these boxes produced with the D1 monoblocs attached (though I’m sure they’ll work just as well with other types of lights), I did not do any scientific tests or measuring specific output with my light meter, but I felt that they produced nice even illumination on the products I was shooting, and the light was consistent with zero variation in output unless I changed it myself.

When shooting at f8 it’s easy to get everything really crisp and sharp, but with product shots like this, moving the lights is how you shape the feel of your image. You can see that just by moving the softbox from Camera Right in a little bit closer and more directly overhead it completely changes the feel of the light output (even without increasing or decreasing the power.)

Canon Gear

By attaching the 50 Deg. Softgrid onto the softbox I was able to cut the light output considerably at the same power level, reducing output from f8 to f2.8 without even moving the light. I’m impressed with how much light that grid can cut!

Using the 50º Softgrid cut the light from f8 to f2.8

Using the 50º Softgrid cut the light from f8 to f2.8

In this next example I used the gridded 4×3′ box to the right and the 3′ Octa to the left. I matched the output of the Octa to the output of the gridded 4×3 box to keep things fairly even. Exposure was 1/125 @ f8 ISO 100 on an 85mm f1.8 with a 5D Mark II

Empty

Filled

Then by adjusting the power output and by lowering my in-camera ISO to 50 I was able to get a nice shallow effect at f2.8 which gives a very different feel to the image. I may have also had a few sips of the beer in the process too…

Half Empty

Conclusions

I came away from this test wishing I had more time to spend with the gear, as I quite enjoyed working with the whole setup. Profoto has really created a great set of light modifiers to go with their already impressive lighting kits. The RFi softboxes are a well-crafted product and in my opinion worthy of their asking price (though it is certainly not inexpensive). I found them to be easy to setup and use, and produced a really beautiful quality of light.

While these certainly won’t be within everyone’s budget, I would gladly recommend them to those that can afford them as you will get some of the highest quality lights and modifiers available today. Keep in mind that you don’t have use these modifiers on Profoto’s lights, they make speedrings for almost every manufacturer of studio lighting equipment available today; so chances are, if you have strobes, Profoto has a speedring that will work for you.

Please Support The Phoblographer

We love to bring you guys the latest and greatest news and gear related stuff. However, we can’t keep doing that unless we have your continued support. If you would like to purchase any of the items mentioned, please do so by clicking our links first and then purchasing the items as we then get a small portion of the sale to help run the website.

Also, please follow us on FacebookFlickr and Twitter.

 

 

Like what you read? Share

Follow us on

0 comments… add one

Leave a Comment