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Impact has recently introduced a full line of beauty dish reflectors and accessories to help control the light output of a studio strobe unit. These tools are compatible with a wide array of studio strobe lights and each piece is modular to enable use of the same beauty dish with a variety of different lights.
A beauty dish is a favored lighting tool for portraiture, fashion and namely, beauty work. The light quality created by a beauty dish is between that of a direct flash bulb and a softbox; it offers softening to a degree since the light is being spread across a wider surface, but it is more directional than a softbox. Impact offers beauty dishes in four different sizes: 16”, 20”, 22”, and 27”. The larger the beauty dish, the more coverage it will provide, and the light will be softer than that from a smaller one at a shorter distance from the subject. These dishes feature a smooth, all-white interior that provides clean, neutral colors with balanced highlights. The beauty dish is also known for the unique quality of light shadow that it produces, due to its construction.
A beauty dish’s shallow construction also differs from a softbox in that it is a circular reflector, like an umbrella, but with less light spill. Its rigid metal construction can also be beneficial when working on location in windy settings since it will be less affected than a large, lightweight and flexible light modifier such as an octabank, softbox or umbrella.
A light is inserted into the middle of the dish and, when fired, the light strikes an opaque, convex deflector that then disperses the light about the larger, concave reflector. Because of the opaque circle in the middle of the dish, catch-lights take on a distinctive donut shape and the light output has a wrapping quality that still maintains its directionality.
For even greater control and modification of the output from a beauty dish, there are two distinct accessories that allow you to further alter the shape and quality of light: honeycomb grids and diffusion coverings. Honeycomb grids clip onto the front of the beauty dish reflector and alter the shape of the light by concentrating it through small honeycomb-like openings. This tunneling effect narrows the beam angle for improved directionality. The light also increases in contrast to provide richer shadows, which are ideal for lighting techniques such as Rembrandt lighting.
On the softer end of modifying light output, there are also Diffuser Socks available to further diffuse the light from the beauty dish. These white nylon fabric softeners are available in 16”, 22”, and 27” (the 22” sock is also compatible with the 20” beauty dish reflector). They fit snugly around the outside of the beauty dish reflector and reduce the light output by one stop. They can also be “stacked” for even greater amounts of diffusion or further decreasing light output. In addition, they can also serve to protect the interior of your beauty dish and help keep dust or marks off the white surface during transport and storage.
The Impact Beauty Dishes can be adapted for use with most studio strobe types for extended versatility across numerous lighting systems. Adapters simply slip into the back of any size beauty dish, and a thumb screw secures the adapter in place. Once attached, the beauty dish is then compatible with various strobes, commensurate with the adapter type in use.
B&H sells eight different adapters for Impact beauty dishes, as follows.
BDA-IMP Adapter: Compatible with Impact, Bowens, Calumet, Travelite, Cowboy, Interfit Stellar, JTL, Photoflex, Rime Lite and Westcott strobes
BDA-ALI Adapter: Compatible with Paul C. Buff Alien Bee, Einstein, White Lightning, Zeus, Balcar and Flashpoint strobes
BDA-COM Adapter: Compatible with Comet, Dynalite SH and Dynalite AH strobes
BDA-ELI Adapter: Compatible with Elinchrom, Impact EX, Calumet Genesis and Interfit EF strobes
BDA-HEN Adapter: Compatible with Hensel strobes
BDA-PHO Adapter: Compatible with Photogenic and Norman Monolight strobes
BDA-PRO Adapter: Compatible with Profoto strobes
BDA-SPE Adapter: Compatible with Speedotron Black and Brown M11 strobes