The large Rogue FlashBender XL Pro family has been available for some time now. The first generation saw white and silver surfaces included, while the second came with a white surface only, a soft box and strip grid. Now there’s a silver FlashBender XL Pro with a new kind of silver reflection surface. Rogue calls it Super Soft Silver and that’s more than just a marketing term. The company also released a silver/natural white 80cm reflector and a white grid insert.
The Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro has been around for some time now, but the lighting system lacked a silver attachment. That was odd, because the first generation included it. Instead, ExpoImaging chose to develop a whole new silver backing for the XL range. It’s called “super soft silver” and Frank Doorhof, one of the most prominent Rogue lighting products evangelists, helped create it. Doorhof is a well-known fashion photographer whose signature now figures on the outside of the newest $59.95 (approx. €54) Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro.
Super soft silver refers to a silver backing that appears to be woven differently when compared side-by-side with normal silver backings. The effect is a more subtle, softer reflection than the rather harsh one ordinary silver creates, without sacrificing the extra light you get from the surface. Portraits of women will especially benefit from this new silver. I found the new flashlight modifier also works brilliantly as a wrinkle softener. And even when you’re shooting objects like in product photography, you’ll find the super soft silver works well with grey areas or with chrome metal, for example. The effect is less outspoken than with a traditional silver reflector, but it’s undeniable and very pleasing to the eye.
It’s not the only new product ExpoImaging has released and it’s not the only one that is aimed at creating softer, more subtle light effects. Only a couple of weeks after it got announced, the Rogue 2-in-1 collapsible reflector 32” – Super Soft Silver/Natural White had already sold out. There is a good reason for that. At a low price of $29.95 (approx. €27.00) this reflector offers two differently coloured surfaces and packs in a 12in small package when folded. In addition, its soft silver surface does the same great job as the FlashBender 2 XL Pro Super Soft Silver.
Because of its size, portability and different surface colours, I found the Rogue 2-in-1 collapsible reflector to work well with video as well. Especially when you interview someone and have little control over where the light comes from, the reflector is just big enough to make a difference, while the Super Soft Silver coating does a great job of softening your subject’s facial contours.
A third new product the company has just released is the white grid insert. This one creates a softer falloff. It closely resembles a halo that’s drawn around the light circle you’ll get with the black grid inserts. What’s more, I tested the black and white inserts with one of the gels ExpoImaging makes for the Rogue 3-in-1 honeycomb grids. Contrary to my expectation, the halo falloff isn’t affected by the coloured gels when used with the white grid insert. The insert costs $19.95 (approx. €18).
Finally, ExpoImaging made a battery pouch with a battery indicator. No, it’s not sensor-driven, but it’s a nice addition to your tool chest nevertheless. It’s a pouch with two reversible red/green inserts. The pouch is subdivided in two compartments that can each hold two 9V block batteries, four AA batteries or six AAA cells. The idea is to fill the pouch with freshly charged batteries and hang them on your tripod with the hanging tab or on your belt with loops.
When you need to switch batteries, you take them out of the pouch and switch the green side of the tabs to the red. That way, you know how much power you have left. It’s a nice way to organise your batteries and a surefire way not to lose any of them, and it costs only $9.95 (approx. €9).