tdlavigne wrote in post #18252090
If you have a fairly unlimited budget and want to emulate Ms. Unwerth then I'd start with a Profoto D4 2400 pack, 4 Acute D4 heads, Mola Demi and Euro (Setti too if you can), Fresnelspot, and several of the reflectors. Add some of the best retouchers in the business and you're all set
All kidding aside, the Profoto dish is nice, but most working fashion photographers swear by the Mola's. Buy once, cry once. Or you can do like I did, and buy every cheap dish ever made (including making your own) and spending hundreds of dollars and always wondering "How come my shots don't look like theirs?", before finally coming back around and spending the $$$. With that being said, I'd suggest just ponying up for the Profoto (or Mola), others will tell you you don't need it...but then again most people don't want to shoot the same things you're looking to shoot.
There is much soundness in your advice. Buying many inexpensive Beauty Dishes only to end up buying an expensive one in the end is a waste. But buying an expensive Beauty Dish (BD) only to figure out you prefer the light from a different type of modifier is also a waste.
I suggest buying one inexpensive BD and trying it out. Many people are satisfied with less than a Mola. And, in any case, a Mola is not "magical." A person with skills will create better images with a cheap modifier than an unskilled person will make with a costly modifier. And the skills can be developed with any beauty dish.
The BD I linked to costs about what it costs to RENT a Mola for a day. Buy it. Use it. Learn from it. Rent a mola (or Profoto) once you know how to use it and see if it makes a difference.
And, to be fair, when looking at someone else's pictures, you cannot tell which brand of light modifier was used if that type is made by multiple brands (ok, there are some distinctive catch lights, but these can also be photoshopped in). What you can tell is the skill of the photographer.
I, too, have a strong preference for certain modifiers. But I started out with whatever was at hand and learned the basics of getting a proper exposure (this was on film), how to balance with or eliminate ambient, creating a pleasing lighting pattern (ok, at the start, not making an ugly pattern . ), how to feather, how to fill, how to add supplemental light, why it is better not to (this is personal taste, others will disagree), why sometimes it is better to use supplemental lights again , etc. I only learned what I preferred by having experience.
I think it is kind of like a first car. There is little benefit to owning, say, a Maserati, as your first car.
These are just my opinions. There probably isn't a bad answer. Figure out what you can afford or want to spend and make a choice .