Roundflash has been creating collapsible and portable light modifiers for years. They started with the original Roundflash Ring flash, then they upgraded the Ring flash to version two. But now, they’re out with their take on the beauty dish. The dish is meant to mimic the look of an actual beauty dish–except that the version from Roundflash provides a permanently attached diffusion sock. That’s totally fine if you prefer your beauty dishes to have extra diffusion besides the bounce and reflection that they already have implemented.
Beauty dishes are best known for their work on fashion shoots and portraiture. But in recent years, they’ve become more popular amongst the wedding crowd for photographers that want their clients to have a swanky, high end look to their images.
And the results? Well, surprising is a really big understatement.
Pros and Cons
– Super, super specular light output
– Collapsible like a normal photography reflector
– In some ways better than a typical beauty dish with a speedlight
– Flops around in the wind
– We really wish that the belt system were a bit more secure
– A couple of rods to keep the dish in place would be nice (just like in the Roundflash Ring Flash)
We tested the Roundflash Dish with the Canon 5D Mk II, 100mm f2.8 L IS, Sigma 85mm f1.4 EX, Phottix Odin and the Mitros+ flash. The flash was mounted on a Manfrotto umbrella stand.
Further testing was done to compare the output of the light to an actual beauty dish. For that, we brought out the Chris Gampat Beauty Dish Hack.
Specs taken from the company’s listing
- Diameter 45cm \ 17,7″ Depth 22cm / 8,7″ (with strap)
- Weight 155g \ 5,5oz Weight w. pouch 181g \ 6,5oz
- Pouch dimension 20cm x 16cm \ 7″ x 6″
- Flash circ. 21,5cm ~ 26cm
- Power output ~ F/22,7 ( Nikon SB910 , 1m distance, ISO 400 )
The Roundflash Dish is designed to look like and function like an actual beauty dish. And for the most part, Roundflash did a pretty damned good job while keeping the unit collapsible.
The front of the unit can be characterized by the characteristic white diffusion sock. You’ll want to keep this area clean because it can’t be changed. The black center area is the built in reflector plate that you can view by taking a peek at the inside of the unit.
The Dish attaches to your flash by using of a belt system that is similar of many different light modifiers. It works well enough, and to hold the modifier in shape the belt has a little rod that keeps the reflector pushed out a bit. It works well for what it is–a collapsible and affordable beauty dish.
The dish otherwise holds its shape by use of the ring-like semi-skeleton exterior that bends into shape to accommodate folding. It works like a photographic reflector.
The Roundflash Dish isn’t designed to be the most study light modifier–instead the company emphasized mobility and image quality. With that said, it is made of cloth overall. In real life use, we found that it should indeed be made sturdier. If it included rods that snapped in place, then it would be a heck of a lot less floppy.
During one of our tests, we played with the RoundFlash Dish on a windy November day. At times, it seemed to flop about but still got the job done.
Additionally, when we used Phottix Mitros+ flashes the head was surely held in place but not by much. A more secure belt system would be appreciated in the next version.
Ease of Use
When you get the Roundflash Dish, all you need to do is take it out of its bag and unfold it. Then strap your flash in, place the flash on a light stand, and shoot. Folding it down works in the same way that a normal photographic reflector works. You can do this option or the taco folding option. Either one works, but we personally found that the traditional method works well enough for our uses.
The Roundflash Dish is an affordable alternative to an actual beauty dish that is collapsible, effective, and delivers some of the most punchy and specular light output of any flash modifier that we’ve tested. The image quality that it can deliver is really, really good. In fact, we recommend it for any photographer that wants the effectiveness of a beauty dish, but doesn’t need the actual dish itself for appearances on a photo set.
Based on the design and the light that comes out from it, the light looks a bit like a combination of a beauty dish and an octabank–but this modifier is designed nothing like an octabank.
What we really like is just how specular the light output is and how it tends to make eyes and skin wonderful. Typically, you’d want to steer clear of silver reflectors for this because it tends to bring out too many details. But we’re rather partial to the output from this modifier.
Using a handheld light meter, we measured around a half stop of light loss. The reason for this has to do with the fact that the interior is silver and very, very punchy. Additionally, the reflection panel inside is made of silver. Combine all of this together and you’ve got something that you really can’t sit there and complain about.
This isn’t so terrible if you’re a light set and controlled manually because you’ll be quite literally setting it yourself. But when it comes to working with TTL, you’ll want to crank the light output up or down accordingly depending on how you plan to blend the artificial light output with the ambient light in the scene.
And if you’re in a studio, feel free to do whatever you want for the most part.
Comparison Against an Actual Beauty Dish
We tried a few different informal scenarios testing the beauty dish hack that I created years ago and Roundflash’s solution. The hack has a white interior while Roundflash’s is silver. Obviously, the silver is heck of a lot more specular. But my hack tends to blend better in with ambient light.
Extra Image Samples
– That light output is fricken’ gorgeous
– Makes your subjects look like a fashion model
– Really wish there a bit more rigidity to the structure and mounting
The Roundflash Dish is an absolutely incredible little light modifer that we believe should be in the kit of every single portrait photographer. Yes! It delivers that versatile of a look or if you want something with a bit more punch, then the Dish is the answer for you. It’s collapsible, delivers effective light output right where you need it, and it functions very well. Build quality aside, we can’t recommend it enough.
The Roundflash Dish receives five out of five stars and earns our Editor’s Choice award.
Lumopro LP-180: This flash is sturdy, simple to use, and affordable. One of our favorite’s for sure.
Phottix Mitros+: The best TTL flashes in the business. Period. And they’ve got radio transmission built in.