Profoto 3′ RFi Octa Softbox Review

While testing out the Profoto B1 500 flash head, I also had a chance to use one of my favorite light modifiers, a 3 foot octabox (also known as “octa softbox”, “octabank” or just “octa”), known as “3′ RFi Octa Softbox” by Profoto. Although Profoto carries a wide array of light modifiers and accessories in its arsenal of lighting equipment, I specifically wanted to get a smaller octa for outdoors photography. The primary reason was portability without compromising too much on the size. As you may already know, the larger the source of light in flash photography, the softer it is on the subject. The 5 and 7 foot octas were just too big and the smaller rectangular softboxes were too small for my taste. Quality-wise, both octaboxes and softboxes produce equally good quality light – the only difference is catchlight. I prefer to have more round catchlight in my subject’s eyes, rather than a square, so I prefer using octaboxes, umbrellas, parabolic softboxes and beauty dishes for that reason.

Profoto 3.0 RFi Octa Softbox

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Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Review

When Profoto announced their first truly portable setup with the Profoto B1 500 AirTTL battery powered flash last year, the news immediately caught my attention and I requested to get a sample unit for a review. The reason was fairly simple for me – I got tired of lugging around a huge and heavy battery pack for my Elinchrom Ranger lights when working on remote jobs. Speedlights are great for indoors and low-light environments, but they just do not have the juice to run big light modifiers or overpower the sun in mid-day lighting conditions (unless you use packs of them like Joe McNally does). For these reasons, I have been using big lights for sometime now, but with the huge inconvenience of carrying a heavy portable battery. Although the Profoto B1 lights have less power in comparison with a total of 500 watts, I realized that I rarely go full power with my Elinchrom Rangers anyway, so the B1 was plenty for most of my work. The biggest advantage that I saw in the Profoto B1 was portability – no need for any external power sources! Just attach a battery on the side of the head and you are ready to go. And with a built-in slave trigger, the head can be controlled with a radio or infrared remote units wirelessly.

Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery Powered Flash

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When to Use Flash

Some photographers oppose the idea of using flash or light modifiers. Sometimes because it does not suit their style, sometimes because they do not feel comfortable using flash in first place. While we as photographers often love the feel of soft, natural light, knowing how to utilize artificial light can be of tremendous value in low-light environments. Not to mention that such knowledge and being ready to overcome challenging tasks in pretty much any environment can boost confidence and give peace of mind when working in the field. In this article, I would like to go over situations when flash should be used and how it can work to our advantage. I divided this article into indoor and outdoor photography to make it easy for everyone to follow. Please feel free to add your use cases in the comments section below. Please note that I am not going over the basics of flash photography here – the article assumes that you understand the relationship of flash with ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture.

When to use flash (13)

1) Indoors

1.1) Lighting Ballrooms, Churches, Wedding / Corporate Reception Areas

As a working professional, one should have at least the basic lighting plan to be able to capture the day with ease. High-end DSLRs may be flexible enough to capture images in poorly lit environments, but it is a game of compromises. If light levels are too low, you will have to deal with blurry images due to motion blur / camera shake, or you will have to increase ISO level too high, which obviously increases noise, messes up colors and greatly reduces dynamic range. In short, you are leaving very few options for post-processing. In order to avoid that and potentially reduce your post-processing time and other headaches, why not use flash instead? You can start out with a simple configuration, with flash mounted on your camera, or you could get more creative and use flash in an off-camera setup to make images appear more dramatic and well-balanced.

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Impact 20″ Beauty Dish Reflector Kit Review

This is a review for the Impact’s Beauty Dish Reflector Kit with an adapter for the Paul C Buff Alien Bee Strobe. The Reflector kit includes a  20″ Beauty Dish Reflector, Honeycomb Grid for 20″ Beauty Dish Reflector, and a diffuse sock.

Impact Beauty Dish Kit4

1) Overview

I have mostly been a natural light photographer.  I believe there is so much beauty in available light.  However, I have been playing with studio lighting to have more control over my lighting environment.  I am a huge fan of light modifiers that create soft light (like a softbox or this parabolic umbrella). Using a beauty dish was new to me and a little different than what I was used to – it is always fun and beneficial to play around with new tools to give you a new perspective on photography.

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Impact 7′ Parabolic Umbrella Review

This review is for Impact’s 7′ Parabolic Umbrella. A parabolic umbrella is a 16 panel umbrella that produces a soft and large light source when used with strobes. When open, the umbrella is huge – this one has a 7 foot diameter – and results in extremely efficient light transfer.

Impact 7 foot parabolic umbrella

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Impact Reflector Panel Review

A reflector is a light shaping tool. When shooting indoors, I often like to have a reflector handy to bounce light back onto my subject. For example, if my subject is standing next to a window there is more light on one side, than the other side. A reflector is helpful to soften the contrast of the window light. Reflectors can be used to bounce studio lighting as well. This is a review for Impact’s Reflector Panel.

Impact Reflector Panel 3

1) Initial Thoughts

I love the size of this reflector. It’s quite large, 35″ x 70″ and is the perfect size for portraits. I used it length wise, and it pretty much covered the entire height of my subject. It folds up nicely for easy storage. There are two different reflective fabrics that come with it– one is white/black combination and the other is a gold/silver combination. I use the white/black combination the most, as that combo yields the most desirable results for me.

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Bolt Battery Pack Review

This is a review of the Bolt CBP-N1 Compact Battery Pack for select Nikon flashes. Whether used during a portrait session or at a wedding reception, a battery pack can greatly improve and extend the usefulness of an off-camera flash. My hopes for this battery pack are two-fold. First, I want it to extend the battery life of my flash’s batteries, giving me more shooting time without having to worry about changing batteries or waiting longer for my flash to recycle over the course of my shoot. Second, I want it to give me a consistently faster recycle time.

Bolt CBP-N1 Compact Battery Pack

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Impact Portrait Kit Review

This is a quick review of the Impact Portrait Kit. The kit includes a snoot and a beauty dish with accessories that include grids and colored gels. All of these modifiers are made to fit onto almost any on-camera flash. I was initially skeptical about how well they would work while shooting portraits, especially considering that on the packaging it only shows examples of product photography.

1) Product Specifications

Mounts to Any On-Camera Flash
Dish Reflector with 3 Interior Discs
Three Grids
Neutral Filter to Reduce Light Output
Three Color Filters
Snoot for Narrow Circle of Light
Snoot has 2 grids

2) Packaging and Field Use

The Portrait Kit is shipped in three boxes: a beauty dish, beauty dish accessories and a snoot. Each box is the standalone retail box that you would receive if you were to purchase them individually. They are securely packaged inside of the boxes.

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Impact Quickbox Softbox Review

This is a review of the Impact Quickbox Softbox. It’s a 24”x24” collapsible softbox that’s made to be used with any hot shoe mountable flash unit. I was pretty excited to use this softbox, as I’ve never had a light modifier for my Speedlights that I felt was suitable for portraits. Would this be an acceptable, more portable replacement for my studio lighting kit?

1) Product Specifications

Size – 24 x 24″ (61 x 61 cm)
Shape – Square
Compatibility – Shoe-mount flash
Removable Front Face – Yes
Removable Interior Baffle – Yes
Accepts Grids – Yes
Required Speed Ring – Included
Weight – 2.8 lb (1.270 kg) [entire system]

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Impact Air Cushioned Heavy Duty 13′ Light Stand Review

This is a quick review of the Impact Air Cushioned Heavy Duty 13’ Light Stand. As soon as I received this stand, I started using it in my studio. I thought it looked great and felt like it would be sturdy, but how would it hold up under actual use?

1) Product Specifications

Minimum Height – 44 in (112 cm)
Maximum Height – 13 ft (4 M)
Closed Length – 42 in (107 cm)
Footprint Diameter – 36 in (91 cm)
Leg Tip – 25mm
Weight – 5 lbs (2.3 kg)
Maximum Load – 10 lbs (4.5 kg)
Attachment Size – 5/8″ stud with 1/4″-20 threaded top
Accepts Wheels – Yes
Air Cushioned – Yes

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