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How To: DIY eBay Beauty Dish Speedlight Mount

As noted last week, the 16" eBay beauty dish kit I got has seen much more time on a speedlight than on a big flash. It is small, and thus ideally suited to lighting from in close -- especially when using the included grid spots.

Today, how to securely connect it (or any thing else with a speedring mount) to a speedlight.

This DIY speedlight bracket will send you to the hardware store for some very common items. But at ~$9, it is a great mount -- rock solid and very versatile. If you have a speedring-equipped softbox (i.e., any of the current Paul Buff models) you'll be able to use this mount, too.

Important note: A speedlight in a softbox of any kind is going to be suited for low light levels -- indoors, twilight, etc. It will not be able to compete with sunlight, so probably best not to go there.

First-off, you'll need some aluminum bar. I got mine at Home Depot for ~$5. This is the expensive part. One 36" bar should do you fine.

If you have a vise, you will not even need to cut it in half with a hacksaw. But otherwise, cut it in half and bend it as shown. You'll need two pieces, of sufficient length to place your domed flash head just inside the beauty dish or soft box.

These do not need to be an exact length. In fact, if they are a tad different from each other this is a good thing, as one will rest upon the other in the final mount.

But do measure and drill holes for the bolts that protrude from your speedring assembly. I found that my dish and my soft box had different bolt offsets. So I ended up drilling a second set of holes in the ends of the bracket. This was far better than bending it to fit.

Also, you'll need to drill a hole to receive the extra stud that comes with just about any umbrella swivel you buy. (If you do not have one, you have to improvise with a large bolt.)

Also, use the female-threaded stud with a decent-length 1/4 x 20 bolt. It will be much stronger than the male version, which has a exposed thread short enough to strip with any pressure after you account for the thickness of the aluminum bar.

Here's how it goes together. I also used a couple of ball bungees to stabilize the flash in the center, but this is not really necessary.

My SB-800 can mount with a standard cold shoe to a 1/4" x 20 eye bolt with a couple of washers and a wing nut. But you might need to mount your flash in a different place due to some having an offset between the head the the mount when in full bounce position as shown. A LumoPro LP160, for instance, would need to be mounted about an inch away from the intersection to line up right.

Also, use a dome on your flash. You'll need that to get the spread for the dish or box. It will cost you some light, which is kinda what I was talking about above with respect to using it in full sun.

Even if your flash does not line up in the center, you'll want to drill it for the eye bolt anyway. Result: Add a carabiner as shown, and you can hang it from (decent) fishing line, or any crossbar in a suspended ceiling. This has turned out to be a very sweet setup for me on a couple occasions already.

Again, to mount the DIY bracket on a soft box or anything else that has a different 4-bolt spacing, drill a second set of properly spaced mounting holes. If you have to bend it to fit, the angle will change and you will use up all of your protruding bolt room for the thumb screws.

This mount is cheap, can collapse for travel, and is absolutely rock solid. Anyone with a drill and a vise (or set of vise grips) should be able to make it in 15-20 mins.

What you'll need:

(1) 36" 3/4" Aluminum bar
(1) 1/4" x 20 bolt (for stud)
(1) 2", 1/4" x 20 eye bolt
(1) 1/4" x 20 wing nut
(4) 1/4" washers


Carabiner, for hanging
Ball bungees, for added flash stability


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