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Accessories Reviews

Profoto RFi Review

Mike Hagen (Mike_Hagen)


Keywords: lighting, non_nikon, profoto

Show pages (4 Pages)

Profoto has quickly become one of my favorite manufacturers of lighting equipment. More than other manufacturers, they seem to fully understand that lighting gear needs to be functional and durable while also producing amazing light. Profoto is highly regarded in the photo industry because photographers know they can rely on Profoto gear to deliver the best equipment and the best quality of light day in and day out.

 

RFi_Square

RFi Square

 

A few weeks ago, Profoto sent a few of their newest line of RFi light shapers for me to evaluate. The “RF” in RFi stands for “Recessed Front.” This recessed front area serves two purposes; the first is to help prevent stray light by not allowing it to spill over the edges and the second is to allow for mounting optional accessories such as the Softgrid. The deeper recessed shape of the RFi softboxes helps the photographer fully control the direction of light, which allows for more precise light shaping on your subject.

The “i” in RFi stands for “improved.” Profoto has been making top quality softboxes for years under the “RF” name, but the new RFi softboxes are even better due to their improved fabrics, better materials and overall design.

The products I tested were the Softbox RFi 1.3’x2’, the Softbox RFi 1’x1.3’, the Softbox RFi 3’ Octa, and the newly-designed speedlight speedring adapters for use with small strobes. Since I had a limited time with the gear, I used the equipment for three separate photo assignments I had lined up. The first assignment was to photograph a youth soccer team outdoors, second was for a series of headshots for a church’s website, and the third was to photograph some fall leaves in an artistic fashion for a project I’m working on.

 

RFi in the Field

RFi in the Field

 

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Soccer Team Composite

 

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Soccer Team

 

 


Each of the shoots had a different requirement for the gear. The soccer shoot was on-location at a local soccer field, so I needed the gear to be lightweight and easily portable. The headshots for the church required the gear to be able to be set up and taken down very quickly since I was working in an office area. The fall leaf photos required smooth, yet crisp lighting to pull out all the detail in the leaves.

 

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Autumn Leaf

 

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6-Autumn Leaves

 

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9-Autumn Leaves

 

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Lighting

At the end of my testing, I found the quality of light with the new RFi light shapers to be top-notch. One of the reasons for this is that all of the RFi softboxes come with double layer diffusion, meaning that light from the flash travels through two translucent panels to create an amazingly soft effect. The benefit of the double diffusion is that light is evenly spread from corner to corner with no hotspots or darker areas. The inner diffusion panel attaches via Velcro tabs on the inside of the softbox while the outer diffusion panel velcros around the recessed front perimeter of the box. The best part is that either or both of the diffusion panels can be removed to create a harsher, more specular light.

 

 


 

 

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Portrait

 

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Office meets RFi

This ability to remove panels quickly means that the softboxes can be repurposed to become hard light sources or semi-hard lights. For example, the Octa allows you to quickly convert it to a parabolic reflector by removing both diffusers.

The interior of the RFi equipment is coated in silver, which means the RFi boxes are more efficient than their competition. On a practical level, this means I can either operate my speedlights at a lower power output, which gives me a faster recycle time. Alternatively, I can operate them at the same power output as before, but use the speedlights in larger softboxes or Octas.

 

 


Perhaps the most significant innovation with the RFi system is that Profoto has created a total of 19 different speedrings that interface with lighting equipment from other companies. For example, using the appropriate speedring will allow the RFi system to work with strobes and continuous lights from Dynalight, Broncolor, Speedotron, Elinchrom, Photogenic and many others.

 

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Speedlight-Speedring

 

For me though, the best feature of the new RFi equipment is the brand-new RFi Speedring for Nikon and Canon speedlights. Using this means the entire line of RFi equipment is fully compatable with flashes like the Nikon SB-910 and SB-700. As many of you know, I’m the author of a popular book on the Nikon CLS (Creative Lighting System) and am very fond of using compact speedlights for much of my photography. Placing my small strobes in top-of-the-line light shapers is a dream come true and I’m pleased that Profoto now has given small strobe photographers full access to their equipment.

 

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RFi Outdoors

 

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Speedlight

One element I quickly grew to appreciate with the new RFi speedlight speedring adapter is that it allows the softbox to be rotated around its axis by simply turning the softbox like you would a steering wheel. This means you can quickly reposition the softbox from vertical to horizontal in just a matter of seconds. Other competitive systems require you to take the softbox off the light stand to turn it 90 degrees. Paying attention to little details like these makes it evident that Profoto knows what photographers need and that they understand how to make their lives easier.

All the speedrings in the RFi system are color-coded to match with the rods that support the lightboxes or octas. Connecting the rods to the speedring is much faster than competing products since you don’t have to guess which holes go with which rod. This is a huge benefit in the field when you are in a time crunch and need to wrap up a job quickly.

The RFi softbox fabrics are top-notch and will stand up to the harshest conditions. Also, all of the RFi gear is heat resistant, so you can use it with your favorite continuous tungsten or fluorescent lighting gear (maximum 650W).

Profoto has really thought through all the design elements with the new RFi line of equipment. Their accessory line includes Octas, squares, strips, rectangles, grids, diffusers, and just about everything else you need to shape the light for your own purposes. I can’t recommend the RFi gear enough.

Check out more of Profoto’s RFi lighting equipment on their product page, here.

 

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You may also be interested in all of Mike Hagens books on Amazon.

 

(1 Vote )
Show pages (4 Pages)

Originally written on November 15, 2012

Last updated on November 21, 2023

Mike Hagen Mike Hagen (Mike_Hagen)

Expert photography teacher

Gig Harbor, USA
Basic, 149 posts

2 comments

Larry Dumlao (heavydpj) on February 13, 2013

PS GREAT REVIEW!! I plan on picking up a couple 1' x 4' soft boxes.

Larry Dumlao (heavydpj) on February 13, 2013

Only downside that I see is that the ring may not allow the use of a Poccketwizard FlexTT5 (which mounts to the SB's hotshot. It looks as if it may elevate the flashed too high.

G