USING A BEAUTY DISH WITH SPEEDLITES
Back in October 2013 i purchased a Beauty Dish and since this date i have read lots of information about how to use these light modifiers. I, like many photographers, only use small speedlites and not the usual studio lights. There is very little information about the use of beauty dishes with these type of lights and what there is i found confusing and contradictory. For this reason i thought i would share with you my findings and how i like to use the dish with my current set up and work flow.
THE CAMERA GEAR
- Canon 5D mark iii
- Canon 24-104 F/4.0 L USM
- 16 inch Silver Beauty Dish
- Kaavie T bracket
- Canon 580 EXii Speedlight
- Youngnuo YN622-C Radio Triggers
HOW I SET UP THE TEST
I had a grey seamless background setup on a stand and positioned the beauty dish on a lightstand 2 feet from the background and the camera was on a tripod which was 6 feet away from the background i used the Youngnuo triggers to fire the speedlites and a ir remote to fire the camera.
- The camera was set to 1/125th @ F/13 ISO 400
- The Speedlite was at 1/4 power
- Lens was at the 24mm end
BD Bare Speedlite at 24mm zoom baffle out
What i mean by baffle out is on the inside of the beauty dish is a disk that can be moved into two positions Out, furthest away from dish, and in, closet position to the dish. The disk is dome shaped and can be tuned round so the dome is facing in or out but for simplicity i kept the dome facing out. As you can see there is a fair amount of light leakage from the rear of the dish and this is something i may look at in the future but it will be the same for all these shots.
As you can see its not a even light pattern with a dark circle , i am not positive what causes this dark circle but i guess its the outer flat ring of the inner baffle disk. This is what a lot of photographers are having problem with is the light spread.
BD Bare Speedlite at 24mm zoom baffle in
In This shot with the baffle in you can see the darker circle has got larger in size as with the baffle disk in it focuses the light to a tighter point making the light worse in my opinion. You could just try and work with the subject only in the center of the light produced but this is not practical or desirable.
BD Bare Speedlite at 14mm zoom baffle out
In this shot the wide angle panel of the speedlite was pulled out to give a wider 14mm spread of light and as you can see the dark ring is still visible although the light seems to be evenly spread
BD Bare Speedlite at 14mm zoom baffle in
Again here with the baffle in you can still see the dark circle and the ring is wider as the baffle focuses the center spot
BD Bare Speedlite at 105mm zoom baffle out
Here i have manually set the zoom on the speedlight to 105mm which does seem to have evened out the light far better
BD Bare Speedlite at 105mm zoom baffle in
Here again at 105mm with the baffle in the light seems to be even and no darker circle
BD with Sto-Fen Speedlite at 24mm zoom baffle out
Here now with a Sto-Fen diffuser attatched to the speedlite we see the light is even and much more pleasing in my opinion
BD with Sto-Fen Speedlite at 24mm zoom baffle in
Again here with the Sto-Fen and the baffle in the light is more focused but also no dark circle and even
BD with Sto-Fen Speedlite at 105mm zoom baffle out
Again nice light even and no circle
BD with Sto-Fen Speedlite at 105mm zoom baffle in
Final test shot also produced a nice light and perfectly usable.
In my opinion the better results where from the images WITH the Sto-Fen diffuser attached and i think this is because the Beauty Dish was originally designed to be used with a bare bulb strobe such as those used in studio lights and the Stof-fen replicates this bulb by throwing light in all directions as the bare bulb would. The light produced i think is very nice and while i have never used a Beauty dish with a studio light , so i cant give a accurate comparison i think the light produced here is very good.
Here is a image i took with this beauty dish as the main key light and a second speedlite in a softbox for fill
I hope this helps someone out, certainly helped me. If you have any experience with this or have any thoughts or comments i would love to hear them .