Elinchrom vs Profoto: Why I Own 4 Octaboxes

I found window light nirvana with a Elinchrom Rotalux 74-Inches Octabox Light Bank on a Gravity Backdrop

Text Updated 3/18/20

If you were expecting a side-by-side head-to-head comparison of these modifiers, this review is not for you. Over the course of 10 or so years I have owned 6 different octaboxes made by Elinchrom, Photoflex and Profoto. I will discuss below why I changed horses midstream to arrive at where I am today and how I felt about using each modifier.

Photoflex 7′ Octadome (Large)

I started off with a 3′ and a 7′ Photoflex Octadome and I don’t remember which one came first, but I seem to remember the 7′ was my go to large main light source, plus it had gold and silver inserts and I had a grid for it as well, which I lost somehow one day. Maybe it was the day that I banged it into an expensive chandelier… it was so big and I am so clumsy… lets just say it was a bad combination!

group fashion photo taken at alhambra palace in Chicago

Male model poses for Chicago fashion photographer John Gress

Models pose for Chicago lifestyle photographer advertising campaign photos by Chicago lifestyle photographer John GressAll three images were shot with the 7′ Photoflex Octabox on a Canon 1Ds mark III.

 

Profoto RFi 5′ Octabox

When it was time for me to upgrade my lights from Alien Bees to Profoto, I sold my entry level Octa’s and bought a Profoto RFi 5′ Octabox. Not because I knew it was going to be better, I just thought it would be superior because of the price and thought it would look more professional for those in the know. I can’t say that I remember which one I thought was superior at the time, but based on the photos, the Photoflex 7′ doesn’t look bad or amazing.

However, between 2010 and 2015 the Profoto 5′ was my only octabox and my go to light modifier. I was very happy with it and liked the range of tones that it created from highlights to shadows, especially after I got into Rembrandt lighting and placed the modifier just outside of the frame on the left or right side.

 

behind the scenes Editorial portrait photography of Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jameis Winston by Chicago Photographer John Gress

female hair models pose for Chicago fashion photographer John Gress

Chicago portrait photographer Hyatt Executive Frank Lavey

New Orleans Saints draft pick Michael Thomas by Chicago sports photographer John Gress

chicago bulls denzel valentine poses for a portrait by LA photographer John Gress

Chicago commercial portrait photographer
I also started using the 5′ as a fill when I didn’t have room for anything larger.

In 2016, I realized that Profoto’s D and B series monolights don’t efficiently fill their soft boxes. When wss a big factor in my decision to use Elinchrom modifiers and later Elinchrom lights.

 

Profoto RFi 36-Inch Octabox

Around 2013. I found that the Profoto 5′ octabox was nice, but when I was trying to over power the sun, it took over 1200ws to light a group of six people and I get impatient waiting for 500WS to recycle when using a Profoto D1 Air 500 Monolight with my a Paul C. Buff Vagabond Mini Lithium Battery when shooting one person. So I bought a Profoto RFi 36-Inch Octabox, which works great in these situations and then I also liked to use it as a hair or main light in studio. Madison Portrait Photographer: Dr. David U. Cookson's service to the game of golf includes sitting on USGA committees for nearly 30 years and serving as a Rules official for 25 U.S. Opens.

Chicago wedding photographer engagement photography at field museum portrait

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When I bought an ELinchrom 39″ Deep Octabox, below, I rarely used this softbox and then when I switched to Elinchrom, I sold this softbox.

Elinchrom 39″ Rotalux Deep OctaBox

About a year after I bought the Profoto 3′ octabox, I wanted to buy something that would look like a beauty dish, but could fold up and fit in my SKB ATA Standard Golf Travel Case, so I bought a Elinchrom 39″ Rotalux Deep OctaBox. But I found that even without the inner and outer baffles, it really wasnt that hard. But I did find that it made beautiful light and looked a lot better than my 3′ Profoto octabox.

 

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Headshot of Detroit Fitness Model Sonny James by Chicago photographer John Gress

I used the 39″ Deep Octabox above to light the upper half of the models body only and to separate him from  the background – a 5′ would have been way too big.   _15C9415

 

The Elinchrom 39″ Deep Octabox warms the light source 700-Degrees F when you use both baffles, which helps to match the warm light of the late afternoon sun, above, or it creates a warm and pleasant skin tone during midday like in the image below.

light stand,c-stand,softbox,octabox,sandbag,golf,photoshoot,st. louis,magazinne,photography,behind the scenes,green briar hills country club

 

Similarly the color temp of the deepocta helps when mixing flash with tungsten.   Fashion portrait of Detroit fitness model Sonny James on a Gravity Backdrop

Chicago photographer John Gress photoshoot with Black in Crew Star Katrina Jackson

CheetahStand 48″ RiceBowl RB-120 Deep Para

Next, I decided to buy a CheetahStand 48″ RiceBowl RB-120 Deep Para with a CheetahStand Chopstick zooming rod and this fold up modifier actually did produce light that was like a beauty dish! But technically its a Hexadecabox, so it really doesn’t count or belong in this review.

Elinchrom Litemotiv 120cm Parabolic Softbox

When I switched to Elinchrom I replaced the CheetahStand 48″ RiceBowl RB-120 Deep Para with a Elinchrom Litemotiv 120cm Parabolic Softbox, which is similar, but much better made. The light from this modifier is very soft and directional. It is a great choice for use in your studio, but a little bit of a pain to assemble on location.

Elinchrom Indirect Litemotiv Octa Softbox (75″) 190cm

Because I am never satisfied, I still needed more! When shooting NBA players simulating action, I found that the 5′ Profoto octabox was just too small for their massive physiques and range of movement.

Basketball portraits behind the scenes with Ingram Brooklyn nets Isaiah Whitehead poses for a portrait by Chicago sports photographer John Gress

So I was on the lookout for something larger and the Elinchrom Indirect Litemotiv Octa Softbox (75″) caught my eye. Not only was it 50% bigger than the Profoto 5′, it was closer to their height. And after cruising ebay and Craigslist for months, I finally found some poor chap who was selling one locally for the low low price of $400!   This has to be one the greatest modifiers I have ever owned! It out performs the 5 other octa’s I used over the years. It’s indirect design (the head is pointed away from your subject) creates beautiful matte and extremely even light that is the closest I have seen to window light. This is something I have struggled to achieve ever since I started lighting portraits, even before I had even heard of Rembrant lighting. I have tried different types of diffusion, placement, brands, post processing, everything. Once I bought a Gravity Backdrop, I experimented with different Umbrellas combined with the Elinchrom 39″ Rotalux Deep OctaBox, various fill ratios, Lightroom presets, everything you can think of to get the classic Vanity Fair esc look and I have to say hands down – this modifier is the one. Plus you can remove the outer fabric and you essentially have a 29 square foot of silver reflector pointed at your subject creating a hard, yet soft even light.

Elinchrom Rotalux 74-Inches Octabox Light Bank on a Gravity Backdrop behind the scenes I used a Elinchrom Indirect Litemotiv Octa Softbox (75″) with a Photek Softlighter II 46-Inch Umbrella on a Gravity Backdrop to create the Vanity Fair esc portrait.

2/2 #behindthescenes and finished #portrait from my #photoshoot with @bmgchicago models @jordanhestonwhitney and @kowaliczko, @efitzherbert, and @factorchosen_chi model @chazwes Styling and hair by @italoaussieboy. The main light is my new favorite modifier an @elinchrom_ltd 74″ indirect Octabox. The hair light is a Profoto 1×6′ strip and everything is shot on a @gravitybackdrops. #portraitmood #portraitphotography #gravitybackdrops #factorchosen_chi #bmgchicago #pursuitofportraits #johngressmedia #photostudio #malemodels #headshots #profoto #studiophotography #strobist #igportrait #kdpeoplegallery #portraitfestival #ig_portrait #johngressmedia #chicagophotographer #elinchrom #famousbtsmag #chicagomodel #flashphotography #chicagomodels #profotoglobal #profotousa #bwportrait #iso1200

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Elinchrom Rotalux 135cm Octabox

Once I switched to Elinchrom lights in 2019 and sold the Profoto 5′ octabox, I bought this similarly sized softbox from Elinchrom because in many spaces the Elinchrom Indirect Litemotiv Octa Softbox (75″) would be too large, and for many of those jobs a Elinchrom Rotalux Deep Octabox (100cm / 39″) would be too small. I have to say this softbox is a lot better than I thought it would be.

 

When I shot this images for the Chicago Fire it was too windy for the Elinchrom Indirect Litemotiv Octa Softbox (75″) so I used the Elinchrom Rotalux 135cm Octabox.

 

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Watch out Group G 🇵🇱

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However you count the days, make ‘em count 🇺🇸🇲🇽🇵🇱

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Elinchrom Rotalux Deep Octabox (70cm / 27.5″)

Once I started traveling a lot more, I still needed to find a portable light modifier that would mimic a silver and a white beauty dish. I think the Elinchrom Rotalux Deep Octabox (100cm / 39″)  failed at this task because it was just too large. When I took the diffusion ballels of out the 70cm version and added a deflector disc, it came very close to my Mola Rayo silver beauty dish. WIth the diffusion pannels the 70cm produced light that is very similar to a Mola Setti 28″ Softlight white beauty dish.

The can be seen below without its diffusion panels, simulating a silver beauty dish.

 

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2/2 #portrait and #behindthescenes from my portrait session with @muhammedah at @decoystudioslosangeles. ⏪⏪⏪ swipe for a lighting diagram. Lit with @elinchrom_ltd lights. A 70cm deep octa without diffusion was the main. There was an edge light coming from an indirect strip. A small strip hairlight was boomed above the background. A standard reflector with a 10-degree grid was creating an edge light on his left side and a Nicefoto SN-29 was adding a strip to the background. Plus a @vflatworld vflat was providing negative fill. #phoenixphotographer #orlandophotographer #portrait_vision #5dmarkiv #portraitmood #elinchrom_ltd #johngressmedia #whatsyournextadventure #arabmodel #livinglight #seattlephotographer #blackmodel #softbox #portraits #arizonaphotographer #miamiphotographer #tampaphotographer #johngressworkshops #gravitybackdrops #canonusa #malemodel #lamodel #flashmates #iso1200 #lightshapers #lamodels #filmnoir

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1/2 #portrait and #behindthescenes from my portrait session with @muhammedah at @decoystudioslosangeles. Lit with @elinchrom_ltd lights. A 70cm deep octa without diffusion was the main. There was an edge light coming from an indirect strip. A small strip hairlight was boomed above the background. A standard reflector with a 10-degree grid was creating an edge light on his left side and a Nicefoto SN-29 was adding a strip to the background. Plus a @vflatworld vflat was providing negative fill. #phoenixphotographer #orlandophotographer #portrait_vision #5dmarkiv #portraitmood #elinchrom_ltd #johngressmedia #whatsyournextadventure #arabmodel #livinglight #seattlephotographer #blackmodel #softbox #portraits #arizonaphotographer #miamiphotographer #tampaphotographer #johngressworkshops #gravitybackdrops #canonusa #malemodel #lamodel #flashmates #iso1200 #lightshapers #lamodels #filmnoir

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Conclusions

I wish I could go back in time and buy the Elinchrom Rotalux Indirect 74″ first, but we learn by our mistakes and our journey is our journey. I still use all 4 of the octas I own, but if I could only chose two, it would be the Elinchrom Elinchrom Indirect Litemotiv Octa Softbox (75″) and the Elinchrom Rotalux Deep Octabox (100cm / 39″).

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