3.25.2011

Beauty Dish. Fotodiox Amazes me Again!!!

Earlier this month I posted something about a huge (70 inch) Octagon Softbox (similar to an Octabank) that I ordered from a company that sells on Amazon.com, called Fotodiox.  The octabank/octagon softbox was a whopping $75 and, after I assembled it and shot with it a few times I considered it to be the bargain of the year.  Amazing.  A few of my friends read my little blurb and bought them as well.  We are now a fan club.  Here's a link to the eightsided softbox.  You can pay up to $1100 for a similar light modifier from a well regarded european company.  But even more amazing is that the price included a speedring.

That's background info.  A quick intro into my previous purchase from this online store.  Here's this week's "Oh my gosh!  It costs how much?"  from the same supplier.  I've shot with Profoto for years and in the mid 1990's we shot a lot of stuff with the Profoto beauty dish.  And it did a great job.  But when styles changed I sold it with a bunch of older Profoto stuff and my lighting went off in a different direction.  For almost ten years I did almost everything with giant diffusers and soft lights.  Except for my little forays into battery driven flash and LED mania (which is the future of lighting....).

Now we come to this week.  I've been shooting a ton of portraits outside with my Profoto 600b Acute system and frankly, with any wind at all, it's a pain in the butt to use umbrellas and softboxes outside.  The umbrellas especially have a nasty habit of going "airborne" and messing up the illusion of calm and reserve that I work hard to build.  My clients love the look of the outdoor portraits and I confess that I do too.  I usually try to put a scrim between my subject and any direct sun and then wail away with the 600 w/s seconds at my disposal.  I could do this with my Elinchrom Ranger RX system but it's twice as heavy.  The trade off is battery life.  The Ranger has reserve you won't believe but the Profoto is just the ticket for a one man show.  I bought three new batteries for the Profoto and now I can go thru a full day, shoot tons of stuff and still have back up power.  But none of that seems to help keep umbrellas in place and working.


I remembered reading some rationale for buy a very, very pricey plastic beauty dish being offered for shoe mount flashes and the one thing that rang true was the idea that a beauty dish with a diffusion sock on the front holds together better in the wind than a comparably sized umbrella.  Makes sense.  It's rigid and locked on with a speedring.  I put myself back in the market and started looking at the Profoto version.  My, the price has gone up.....


On a lark I checked in to see if Fotodiox offered one.  They offer two!  A 22 inch and a 28 inch.  Being a soft lighter I always go for the bigger unit.  Unlike the Profoto version the inside is metallic.  The Pfoto is matte white.  At 1/3rd the price I couldn't pass the Fotodiox 28 inch beauty dish up.  It came today and I couldn't be happier on many levels.  First, I saved money and that's critical to the continued happiness of my CFO.  Especially two weeks and change before tax day.  Second, the unit it very well built with a nice interior deflector and an interchangeable speedring set up.  With one inexpensive adapter I'll be able to use this light on both the Pfoto and the Elinchrom lights.  And finally, it comes with a well made diffusion "sock" that fits over the front.  The whole system is a whopping.......$109.

If you buy it with a less pricey speedring, say for an Elinchrom, Alien Bees or Bowens unit the price drops to an even sillier $89.


While I haven't done any exhaustive tests I have put it on a monolight, fired it up and looked carefully.  It's just the way I remembered a beauty dish to be.  Considering that my last Profoto speedring purchase cost more than this whole unit I am very, very satisfied.

Now I'm off to shoot in the wind......

12 comments:

ajcarr said...

I use Fotodiox macro bellows with my Pentax K10D. No auto coupling, but then I usually stick an enlarger lens on the end, via an M39 to M42 adaptor and an M42 to K-mount adaptor, so I don't need the coupling. High-quality enlarger lenses from Schneider and Rodenstock can be picked up for peanuts on eBay as people get rid of their wet darkrooms.

Anyhow, I'm very pleased with my Fotodiox bellows. They're a bit flimsy, but they work, and that's what matters, and the cost of them plus a 2nd-hand 80 mm Schneider Componon is way less than a new Pentax 100 mm macro.

Glenn Harris said...

A beauty dish is great for outdoors portrait work. I bought an Alien Bee beauty dish a year ago for shooting sports team out on very windy fields and it is a great tool when used with the diffusion sock. I sometimes throw a 6x6 scrim in front of it for outdoor portrait work when my two assistants/daughters are available. Does your BD have a grid? The BD/grid/sock combination can be a great light too. I also got a carry bag from Kaycee and that has a sleeve for a grid and makes transportation easier. Looking forward to seeing some of your portrait examples with your new purchase.

John Burridge said...

Looks like a great find. Sounds like you're using the dish purely from a logistical point (ie. wind resistance). Can you speak to the light quality of dishes, or does the diffusing sock render it nearly identical to a softbox/umbrella? I can't seem to import the cheap beauty dishes in Canada without multiple hoop-jumping, and meanwhile, the expensive options for my shoemount flashes don't seem to warrant enough difference, light-wise, to warrant the gamble.

kirk tuck said...

John, once you "sock it" it mimics an umbrella or softbox. And the ones for shoemount flashes.....not so great. Next time I'm in Canada I'll bring you one....

John Burridge said...

D'aww, that's very sweet of you, Kirk. I won't hold my breath, but next time you're in Toronto...

Jessica said...

I prefer when you review expensive things that I absolutely can't justify buying. It's the reasonably priced ones that get me in trouble every time...

Can you just write about Leicas, please?

ericgibaud said...

I agree with Jessica.... I could not miss the opportunity and I just ordered one for my Multiblitz Varilux

Jonny said...

Interesting find.

Do you think it would be possible to hook this up to a speedlite using something like the ring that comes with the Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe?

It looks like it should work, would obviously not get as much power or perhaps as even a spread as you would with a studio strobe but it would be very portable and great for outdoor use when the sun isn't too bright.

Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be as easily available here in the UK either.

ericgibaud said...

waoooo ordered it on the 29th and got it today from the USA to the Canary Islands (Spain) under a week. ¡Great service!

Dave Elfering Photography said...

This unit totally rocks and yep it works superbly in outdoor settings. Does get me some strange looks when I'm shooting downtown.

Nashville Music Photographer said...

Can we see some shots?

Kirk Tuck said...

No. I don't shoot to order for the blog. It's a beauty dish. It does what a beauty dish is supposed to do. Try it out for yourself. If you don't like it send it back.