On November 1, Profoto released the RFi softboxes. The RFi softboxes come in twelve models and four shapes: rectangular, square, octagonal and strip. To ensure full control for the photographer, they have a deeper shape, a recessed front, double-layered diffusers and a highly reflective silver interior. Optional accessories such as Softgrids and Stripmasks are also available for even more precise light shaping.
Stockholm-based photographer Tobias Björkgren was one of the first to lay his hands on the new RFi softboxes. Tobias, who appreciates the variety that comes with shooting everything from fashion and portraits to products and food, decided to complete his photographic toolbox with the RFi 1×1.3’ and the RFi 1×6’.
“I choose those two models because they are a little bit extreme,” says Tobias. “The RFi 1×1.3’ is a super small softbox. I used to use the Zoom Reflector or the Softlight Reflector for those kinds of assignments, but this is a lot better. It also takes up far less space. I don’t even need a special bag for it. I can just fold it up and put it with the rest of my gear.
“The RFi 1×6’, on the other hand, is a strip large enough to cover the entire length of a person. This is great if you want to do full body shots. As I shoot a little bit of everything, I think I’ll use it for product shots too. It should be really useful for creating long, beautiful highlights with soft edges.”
The images in this article were actually shot the very same day that the RFi softboxes arrived at Tobias’s studio. They are, in other words, the result of Tobias testing and familiarizing himself with his new tools.
“The images were shot using just the softboxes,” says Tobias. “I wanted to see what the softboxes could do by themselves. I also wanted to play around a little and avoid the most obvious solutions. For instance, the images where the model is wearing a black dress were shot using just the RFi 1×6’ with the Stripmask attached. I wanted an evenly lit image with distinct and interesting shadows, and I think the RFi 1×6’ was a great help in achieving that result. The fact that you can not only slide the softbox back and forth on the head but also turn it 360° is extremely useful. Add the possibility of using the light fall-off and the optional accessories, and you have a wide range of alternatives with just a single softbox!
“I also did a couple of close-up shots with the same set-up. If you take a closer look at the catch light in her eyes, you can actually see the RFi 1×6’. I think it’s an interesting catch light. It looks a little bit like a cat’s eye, but not so much that it seems silly.”
Tobias also tested the smaller RFi 1×1.3’. Again, he went for a simple one-light set-up to see how his new tool performed on its own.
“The images where the model is wearing the fur were shot using just the RFi 1×1.3’,” says Tobias. “The softbox is placed almost right in front of her about a meter away. As it turned out, this was the perfect distance to get an even light with just the right amount of depth in the shadows. The light in these images is actually quite hard but has soft shadows. I really like it.
“For the final set of images (the ones where the model is wearing a spangle jacket) I used the RFi 1×1.3’ together with an older 2×3’ RF that I have in my studio. The RFi 1×1.3’ is standing in almost the same position as before, just a little bit further back and to the right. The 2×3’ is standing camera left and is used to light up the shadows.”
Now that Tobias owns both RF softboxes and the new RFi softboxes he is in a good position to compare the old with the new. here is what he has to say:
“It’s definitely an improvement. The Velcro attachments that are used to attach the diffusers are much more convenient than the hooks that the older softboxes have, and the color-coded speedrings are just great – incredibly helpful if you’re new to softboxes or if you’re giving directions to an assistant. I also have to say that the softboxes feel better. The material is obviously of higher quality and the rods appear to be a lot sturdier. I won’t throw away my old RF softboxes and buy new ones. That’s a little bit drastic. But this is an important improvement, for sure.”
If you want to know more about Profoto RFi softboxes, please visit our dedicated RFi website.