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Review: Impact Strobros Beauty Dish

by Chris Gampat on 03/27/2011

The Impact Strobros Beauty Dish is a bit of a weird item, but it’s still very useful for what it does. Primarily used in portraiture, beauty dishes mimic the look of a softbox. What’s special about them though is that it is easier to change the color temperature of the light: which is easily done by switching out the disk in the middle of the dish. With that said, it isn’t an item for everyone and this review was actually a very big learning experience.

Video Demo

 

In Use (Off-Camera)

Here’s a quick strobist setup for you: the Strobros is set up on my 580 EX II upside down with my Gorillapod stuck around some scaffolding around NYC. My model is on the left. These were some quick tests (the whole shoot happened in probably 15 mins) for me to get used to using the Strobros and get an idea on how I could use it creatively. Here’s what the photo came out looking like.

I told her to put her iPod on and just feel the music and dance like no one was there. This was shot with my 7D and 35mm F/1.4 L. It was all done through wireless flash control. Notice how it gives the look of a giant light: which is evident in the shadows.

Here’s another strobist setup (yes I’m aware that her eyes are closed.)

And here’s the photo. Here it looks like more a softbox.

Once again, you wouldn’t necessarily want this look at a wedding, concert, or events when shooting candids. Formal portraits though: that’s a different story.

In Use (On-Camera, and some off)

When using the Strobros on-camera, you can get some different looking results that are very pleasing. For this shoot, I used the Strobros on and off camera.

Gear Used

Canon T3i

Canon 35mm F/1.4 L

Canon 580 EX II

Impact Strobros Beauty Dish with silver disk

For the above photo, the strobe was placed on the T3i and I shot straight on. I was around maybe four or five feet away from Will, where I feel this flash-modifier does the best. I made this mistake the first night that I tested it out.

Most beauty dishes are supposed to be large, but the Strobros is small and so retains the advantage of being portable. In fact, it fit in my messenger bag along with the camera and strobe.

When you see the light in Will’s glasses, you’d think I was using a ring flash. Indeed, it is a beauty dish.

For this photo, the Strobros Beauty Dish was placed to the left and the light iluminating Will’s other side was diffused sunlight. The strobe was triggered using the Canon T3i’s wireless flash control and provided nice illumination on the left side. It also delivered more depth to the image with the shadows you see.

Oh by the way, here are the final edits:

And the other photo was cropped quite a bit.

Conclusions

If I was purely a portrait or studio photographer, I’d purchase the Strobros in a second. Indeed, I’m still even considering it. My only complaint is that I wish that it collapsed down for even easier transport. It is also a bit more difficult to use than other diffusers I’ve handled, but I actually feel that it was more of a learning experience than anything. The Strobros made me really like beauty dishes and appreciated what they can do for my portraits.

So when would I use one:

– At a wedding or event where I was setting up a photo booth

– As a fill light for corporate headshots on another strobe

– With a reflector on the other side of my subject for portraits in general

– For product photography with the strobe placed above the subject

– For creative portraits

If you’re interested, you may want to look at the Orbis, Gary Fong Lightsphere Collapsible, Ray Flash, and this piece on how faster lenses work best with flashes.

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