A beauty dish and an umbrella can accomplish different looks due to the way that they diffuse light. While an umbrella will more or less spread the light out in pretty much every forward facing direction, a beauty dish will bounce it off of a plate then reflect it back around a dish area. YouTube User Ticknor Photography decided to do a demonstration of one modifier against the other when it comes to headshots. The only criticism that we have of the otherwise very informal video is that the light modifiers aren’t the same size. Otherwise, you’ll want to turn your speakers up because the sound is a tad low.
His findings are that the beauty dish delivers more texture on the skin–which you’ll either not want if you’re retouching the image or want if you’re trying to get all the skin details. In general, beauty dishes are used more for fashion photography and portraits that are meant to have a very fashiony look. If you want a similar look from an umbrella, you need one with a silver interior.
The video is after the jump.