Elinchrom Rotalux Go Recta 55x75cm Softbox Review
by Michael Sewell
I tend to keep my softboxes for years, as I've found choosing carefully in the first instance pays dividends in the long run. Which means I don't often feel the need to shop for a new 'box’, although my wife (also a photographer), will occasionally have other ideas.
Anyway, when putting my kit together for a recent shoot, I realised I hadn't replaced a small softbox I regularly used for smaller product photography. I think it was one of the old 60x60cm wire framed folding softboxes. You know the sort. At the same time, it also dawned on me that almost all my softboxes were generally round, ranging in size from my fairly new Phottix Raja 65cm, right the way through to an Elinchrom 175cm Rotalux Octabox.
My rectangular or square softboxes were another story. Yes, I made use of my Phottix Raja 30x140cm Strip boxes pretty much daily, but my smallest square box is an 80x80cm quickfold job, and my smallest rectangular box is something silly like an old Bowens 4'x3' (122x91.5cm), and it isn't really a location box either.
All this flashed through my mind when Elinchrom announced the launch of their new Rotalux Go range, aimed at the location photographer, and as soon as they were in stock at The Flash Centre, I had one on it's way to me. There are currently three models available, which are the Rotalux Go Strip Softbox 35x75cm, the Rotalux Go Octa Softbox 60cm and the Rotalux Go Recta Softbox 55x75cm, which is the model I'll focus on. (Mainly because it's the one I have).
The first thing I noticed, was the quality of the materials. The second thing I noticed was the fact a honeycomb/grid is provided. I tend to be put off if there isn't at least an optional honeycomb/grid available, as I find it such a pivotal tool in my own lighting style.
The honeycomb grid isn't a cheap add on, either. The fabric is slightly thicker than others I've handled, and it sits well along the walls of the softbox.
The front diffusion panel is a snug fit, and secures really well along all four sides. The material of the diffusion panel is different to Elinchrom's much older models, and feels more robust.
The inner diffusion panel is anchored by velcro straps in each corner, and is of the same material as the outer panel.
The ribs are fixed to the outer ring of the mount, and opened into position when the lock mechanism is pushed down on the central rod and locked into position. Sounds easy, doesn't it? It is!
The system creates a lot of tension in the skin of the softbox as it becomes erect, leaving you with a very rigid softbox once it's up.
This is a close up of the locking mechanism. It's very easy to setup and take down when compared to earlier “Umbrella” type locking mechanisms. To fold the softbox down, with this system you simply reach in and squeeze the release button, and you will hear a very satisfying pop as the softbox folds instantly.
The mount on the Rotlaux Go softboxes is shallow enough that the flashtube is seated fairly well forward, for even light spread around the softbox. This is an ELB 500 TTL head with Elinchrom Q-Mount to EL Mount Adapter Mk II. It's worth pointing out though, that these light weight softboxes, unlike the larger Elinchrom Rotalux series, do have the option for a direct to Q-Mount Adapter for those of you shooting with ELB 500, ELB 400 or older Quadra systems. You can also pick up a Rotalux Go ring for full-sized Elinchrom lights, as well as Profoto, Bowens/Godox and Broncolor.
Whilst the image above was intended to show the open panel (great for dissipating heat inside the softbox should you need to), it also shows just how taut the skin is once the softbox is setup.
The quality of the materials extends to the stitching. I've had some boxes let go along stress points after a few years hard use, so the stitching is something I always tend to take a look at.
I use a lot of softboxes on location, and I certainly tend to bear that in mind when purchasing any softbox. It has to be quick and easy to deploy, deliver the desired results consistently and also pack up quickly and in a compact form.
The Elinchrom Rotalux Go pretty much ticked all the boxes (Ooooh, a pun!).
It's certainly the first softbox I reach for when needing a keylight for smaller products.
Shop with Confidence - Elinchrom 3-Year Warranty
Elinchrom products come with a 3-Year Warranty when purchased through an official UK retailer such as TFC.
Primary banner image copyright Anthony Passant. Product images copyright Michael Sewell.