review: Lumodi beauty dish for speedlights
Light from a Beauty Dish has a distinctive look – an interesting combination of soft light with a pronounced fall-off to the edges. With a softbox there is a lot of scattering of the light, making it exactly that soft light source that it is named after. A softbox is therefore quite forgiving of how you position the light in relation to your subject. The beauty dish in comparison, used as a single light source, will give light that can be both dramatic and pleasing. (Not nearly as hard as video light or direct unmodified speedlight.)
With that, I have used a beauty dish on occasion in the last two years since I bought my Profoto AcuteB 600R lighting kit (B&H) and the Profoto beauty dish (B&H). While interesting enough, I most often just reverted to using a softbox when using the Profoto kit. I like the light from a softbox – soft and easy to work with. But still, there’s the interest in trying out the beauty dish for its specific light type. As much as I love the Profoto set-up for on-location lighting, it does become a specific decision … whereas I always have a speedlight or two with me.
The portability and easy of use of speedlights, have made me wonder about using one of the several beauty dishes on the market that are specifically meant for speedlights. What has kept me from that, is the relatively high cost of some of these speedlight beauty dishes in comparison to the “serious” beauty dishes. So when I noticed the Lumodi speedlight 14″ beauty dish going for a more affordable $69, I was tempted enough to get one.
With such a low level of entry to trying out a beauty dish, I thought that if it didn’t quite work out, then $69 isn’t an unbearable loss. Worth checking out.
The Lumodi 14″ beauty dish is really light-weight. It is designed to strap onto your speedlight and hang from your speedlight. No flash support bracket. For this not to strain the speedlight itself, it therefore had to be lightweight in design. The beauty dish is hand-made and constructed with thin plastic and a velcro strap. It is simple in design and light.
[ edit: the maker of the Lumodi beauty dish contacted me to let me know that my original post incorrectly stated that the back of the beauty dish was made of cardboard. The back of the dish is actually made of the same plastic as the rest of the dish. I had mistaken the paper label for the back. ]
This beauty dish isn’t flimsy in itself, but its light-weight construction means it probably won’t be a long-term durable investment. See it as a lower-cost entry to using a beauty dish and seeing if you like the results before moving up. Check the Lumodi website for more details.
For the photo above of Rachael, I had my assistant just hand-hold the speedlight and Lumodi beauty dish at a distance of approximately 3 feet / 1 meter from Rachel. Quite close! This makes the beauty dish large enough in relation to our model to wrap the light around her features, to give a pronounced but soft-edged shadow. The light in the background is the light coming in through the window of the studio, reflecting on the wooden floor. I specifically shot in this direction to allow that light in the background to give some separation.
I used the beauty dish without the (optional) sock which would’ve given softer light.
Since the direct light from the beauty dish isn’t as soft and scattered as that from a soft-box, I found that skin blemishes show up a lot more than with a softbox. So this portrait had some post-processing and retouching done to it, including a layer at reduced opacity in Photoshop where I tried out some of the DxO Film-Pack options.