Before I get started – Happy Canada day to everyone back home!
When Profoto announced their range of new Off-Camera Flash (OCF) Modifiers, it was overshadowed by the simultaneous announcement of the amazing B2.
It’s too bad because they’ve done a great job of designing effective, lightweight modifiers to go with their OCF family.
Profoto OCF Modifier Review
Here’s what Profoto came up with:
- OCF Barndoors
- OCF Grid Kit
- OCF Snoot
- 3 different shaped OCF Softboxes (2×3, 1×3, 1.3×1.3) with 50 degree grids
- OCF Softbox 2′ Octa and 50 degree grid
- OCF Speedring for the Softboxes
All of these OCF modifiers were made available to me when Michaels’ hire department loaned me their B2 kit except for the 2×3′ and 1.3×1.3′ Softboxes and grids.
I tried everything I was given other than the OCF Snoot. I’ll talk about the Light Shapers I tried in this Profoto OCF Modifier review.
Pros and Cons
I can see how Barndoors can be useful in certain situations however for the type of imagery I shoot, I can see myself using some of the other OCF Modifiers more. Still I wanted to give the Barndoors a try when I was testing the Profoto B2.
Sure you can see how many degrees this grid is when I crop in, but look at the image at the top of this blog post; not so easy!
It’s too bad that Profoto made their own name and the word “grid” thicker and left the number of degrees a thin outline. Profoto should have asked themselves which of those three pieces of information are most important?
I know which one I think will rub off the fastest (hint: it’s the one that’s the most important too).
It’s not a huge deal for an experienced photographer, but it can make things difficult for an inexperienced assistant.
While reviewing the Profoto B2, I tried both the 2′ Octa and the 1×3′ Softbox with and without grids. Together OCF Softboxes and the OCF speedring are designed to be set up quickly and easily; a big improvement for Profoto.
I remember being at a Profoto dealer (I won’t mention which one) and asking about how quick the regular RFi softboxes are to set up, because I was looking for a quick and easy on-location solution (this was before the OCF modifiers were announced). It took two people and way too much time to break down the 1×4′ Strip Softbox. I imagine an Octa would be even harder/slower.
I ended up getting an Elinchrom Rotalux Octa because they’re know for being great on location. The rods are always attached to the speeding using an easy snap lock system that allows it to be set up quickly.
How does the Elinchrom system compare to the new Profoto OCF system?
Elinchrom Rotalux vs Profoto OCF
|Rod set up speed||Pretty fast and very easy using the new OCF speeding with colour coded rods and 2-step tightening process.||Fast and mostly easy (except with the largest Octas) based on a snap lock system integrated into the speedring.|
|Diffuser Fabric||Integrated for faster set up, but less light shaping capabilities.||Detachable diffuser fabrics make set up take longer, but opens the door to more light shaping possibilities.|
|Speedring||Separate item that is lightweight (218 g) and easy to mount using the Profoto rubber clamp. Since it is a separate item, you only need as many speedrings as you have flash heads, decreasing the overall weight of your kit if you have multiple modifiers.||Integrated, lightweight (263 g) speedring with Elinchrom mount that isn’t as easy or fast as Profoto. Since it is integrated, each additional modifier you have will add this weight. You can buy Elinchrom to Profoto adapters but that adds weight or a Rotalux Profoto Speedring.|
|Size/Shape Options||Four shapes in only one size each for the initial launch. For example there is only one Octa and it is 2′ in diameter. If you want anything larger you’re out of luck at the moment unless you go to the sturdier, heavier and harder to set up Profoto RFi collection.||Elinchrom’s Portalite collection is small, but its Rotalux collection includes many sizes and shapes that are great for on-location photography.|
|Accessories||Easy and quick mounting 50 degree grids for all the Sofboxes. No other accessories at this time.||Hoods, strip diffusers and grids for some Softboxes (not all) and defectors that can be used with all Softboxes. Grid don’t denote spread size (degrees) on their website. Additional grids that Elinchrom doesn’t make can be bought from Lighttools.|
As you can see, it’s not a clearcut decision. You need to decide what is more important based on the work you do.
If absolute speed and weight are the most important considerations, then Profoto is probably your best bet. Elinchrom isn’t that much slower and heavier however so either could be a good choice.
If you need a good on location Octa that’s bigger than 2′ or want to be able to add multiple accessories to shape the light differently, then you have to go with Elinchrom as Profoto doesn’t have a solution for you.
Overall I think Profoto has done a good job designing a set of modifiers (or Light Shapers as they call them) to compliment to new B1 and B2 Off-Camera Flash. They’re lightweight, easy to set up and work great for on location photography.
Of course there’s still room for improvement:
- Larger range of sizes (especially larger modifiers)
- Usability should always trump branding (specifically on the grid kit)
- More accessories to shape light (which may require a re-think on the integrated diffuser)
What I would choose
Based on my own photographic preferences and uses I’d add the following to my kit, in this order:
- Profoto OCF Softbox 2′ Octa and Grid
- Profoto OCF Softbox 1×3′ Stripbox and Grid
- Profoto OCF Grid Kit
I’d look at the other options on an “as-needed” basis. Of course my order may depend on the price for each item, but then that’s a business decision, not a purely photographic one.
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Thanks for reading my Profoto OCF Modifier Review. Feel free to ask questions below.
Now go hug your favourite Canadian!