Ebay Beauty Dish: More Mods

Just a quick update on my ongoing efforts to mod a cheap 16" eBay beauty dish into an ideal close-range key light.

Today, softening the beam with a little spray paint.

If you'll remember, I bought an inexpensive Ebay beauty dish kit (complete with grid) and immediately set to modifying it.

Originally, I bought it as an inexpensive big light mod to bridge the gap between a magnum reflector and a beauty dish. I immediately swapped out the crappy (generic) Profoto mount for a standard drop-in speedring. Shortly after, I added a speedlight cage after finding that I also tended to use it with small flashes much of the time.

Fast forward a year, and I have found that (a) I almost never use it with the Profotos, and (b) while I like the light in close, it was always a little too specular for my taste.

At the same time, I was using my white FTX dish more often than my silver Profoto version, so I decided to convert the mini dish to white as well. Given that it is going to be used in close, efficiency is not much of a worry. So there was very little risk.

A little sandpaper and spray paint later, I now have a white mini dish. (On the inside, anyway, where it counts.) I used a flat white enamel, and remember that you need to rough up the interior with sandpaper for the paint to stick well.

Here is a side view of the beam edge, with the dish fitted with a speedlight and cage and hanging from a suspended ceiling. Looking at the new beam pattern, I much prefer the pattern, falloff and edges to the shiny version.

Also, when using the (included, but not shown here) grid spot, I have been dropping a custom cut sheet of Rosco Tuff Frost diffusion material behind it. It's a sweet combo. And since you are in close it is no big deal to sacrifice a little quantity for quality.

The eye loop bolt, added to be able to hang the light as shown, has also proved to be a good way to transport it.

You tend to use this thing while traveling light (i.e., with speedlights.) Problem is, you need another case just to hold this reflector. But with the eye bolt you can just attach a spare camera strap, throw it over your shoulder and go. No case, no hands, no problem.

I have used it in this new configuration on a couple of shoots lately (OA post to follow soon) and am thus far glad I took a can of spray paint to it.

That's the nice thing about no-name lighting mods—you don't feel bad about hacking them to make them do what you want.


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Blogger Wills said...

Have you tried fitting a diffuser to the speedlight in the beauty dish, I do this for a slightly different light patern

June 21, 2012 8:24 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

Yep, I especially like to use the diffuser behind a grid on this.

June 21, 2012 8:30 AM  
Blogger Larry Wharton Jr said...

This reminds me of when Joe McNally opted for a white interior of the EzyBox. I'll definitely look into this.


June 21, 2012 12:42 PM  
Blogger Joey Buczek said...

I much prefer what the white interior on my 2 beauty dishes output as well. One I created from scratch, the other was bought in the same manner as the one in this post, but it already came white.

June 21, 2012 1:13 PM  
Blogger chase said...

Interesting - I picked up a 36" aluminum thing bowl/ dish but it came with a zipper case. I haven't tossed it into the recycle bin since the first thing I thought of was it would make for a great light reflector. And the case was in great condition.

Interesting to you may be that it came in a case.

It reminds me of a cymbal/drum case. Something like this one: http://www.guitarcenter.com/Beato-Curdura-Padded-Floor-Tom-Bag-549652-i1152692.gc

Now how they protected the bell was rather ingenious in it's simplicity.

They used a styrofoam ring. Like these: http://www.save-on-crafts.com/styrwreatrin1.html

The thickness of the ring (the OD to ID) was beveled to mathe the mouth of the bell of the dish. The whole thing was covered with a very simple removable nylon cover. with enough cloth to allow the dish to nest in it snugly.

This again is the reason I thought it would make for a great large light reflector of some kind. The case and all was in great shape. and it was made for travel.

You might want to consider something like this for yours for travel.

Glad you posted as it reminded me of this dish again... I do need to do something with it. I'll keept this post in mind about the flat white paint for the inner if it is too harsh with out.

June 21, 2012 4:43 PM  
Blogger Fenix Fotography said...

I ordered a X-Mas Wreath storage box on eBay that fits my beauty dish perfectly and was significantly cheaper than a cymbal case.

June 21, 2012 6:19 PM  
Blogger tompappa said...

I too prefer the softness of a white interior. A while back a fellow photo friend helped me construct a beauty dish based on the "Chinatown Special" design. A 30 quart mixing bowl, a disc grinder to cut a hole for an LP (rubber from a bike tube place around hole, snug fit) and a few parts from home depot later voila beauty dish. I painted the interior flat white from the get-go. It was my favorite modifier for quite some time. Even ordered a Paul Buff sock that fits perfect. NO Grid tho!

I love the output:

June 22, 2012 8:39 AM  
Blogger David Shepherd said...

David, Instead of all the mods for this setup, which I still like a lot, I opt for the Bowens Speedlight adapters that works for many modifiers. Just two days ago, I used the Cowboy Studio Bowens adapter with a 60" octa and a SB900 to test some night shots. I love the results and the portability. I used a beauty dish for this also for low depth or field beautiy in a studio and location. Sample Amazon links below.



June 22, 2012 2:03 PM  
Blogger Boon Vong said...

Hi David,

Thank you for all the wonderful knowledge over the years. Long time reader, first time posting anything(!).

I opted for the somewhat expensive Mola beauty dish, partly because I knew we could build our own twin speedlight bracket. Please check it out!


June 22, 2012 3:52 PM  
Blogger Howard said...

David, thanks for the useful post (as usual). It comes as I'm playing around with a DIY dish, so it's especially timely.

That's a great bracket you've fabricated, much more elegant that my attempts (and I have machine shop access as well). But at the moment, I'm trying to decide if I even want or need a beauty dish so my setup is very prototype-ish, primarily so I can test the quality of the light.

Here's my 4 speedlight bracket:


June 23, 2012 7:02 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

I have found it work a lot better with speed lights if you flip over the center disk. The angle of reflection workes better with a direct light source such as a speed light. Rather than concentrating the light right back onto the speedlight, the outside curve of the reversed disk spreads the light a lot more. I would estimate at least a half stop more light comes out of the dish when it is flipped over.

June 24, 2012 10:05 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


That is a great idea. Obvious in retrospect, but I had not considered it. Thanks!


June 24, 2012 10:08 AM  
Blogger Ken Thor White said...

This may be a dumb question, but which brand of white spray paint do you use? Or, what brands will work? I assume some white spray paints aren't pure white and have a tone to them, however slight. Basically, I'm asking which white spray paints do not pollute or alter the color balance of the strobe?

June 26, 2012 4:37 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

Ken - Titanium white is the purest white, followed by zinc white. Both have slightly different characteristics in paint, but colour-wise titanium can be considered slightly 'bluer' than zinc.

Matt paint will diffuse better, and also reflects more efficiently than gloss too. :)

David - Thank for for this excellent blog! I've only just discovered it but already it's been a great help to me as I start out my venture into flash photography. :D Keep up the good work, it's much appreciated! :)

June 29, 2012 8:35 PM  
OpenID 477b8f02-ba1e-11e0-830e-000bcdcb5194 said...

Andy, thanks for the info. I have an FTX beauty dish for my Hensel Porty but a few days ago I adapted it to my Elinchroms. It was extremely easy to do with half of an old Chimera speedring. I found another "dish" in the garage and am turning that into one for my speedlights. I will eventually repaint the interior of them so, again, thank you for the information.

June 30, 2012 1:20 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

I also got an eBay dish set with mounting hardware, grid and diffuser for $80. Mounting hardware also proved to be a weak spot. For details see my full review.

December 02, 2012 1:29 AM  

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