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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 06 Aug 2009 (Thursday) 14:52
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DIY Speedlite Beauty Dish -- professional looking and portable

 
JDubya
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Aug 06, 2009 14:52 |  #1

I set out to make a professional looking beauty dish with a removable bracket to make transporting it easier. I went with a 5" convex mirror because I thought it would make the speedlite more efficient.

The hardest part of this project was finding a suitable bowl for the dish. I found an 18″ wooden bowl at a Ross/TJ Max-type store. I would’ve preferred something a little larger but it was all I could find. It performs better than I expected. If you want something a little larger, halfway through the project I found one: a 30 qt. stainless steel mixing bowl, which can be had for about $20 online.


Materials used:

≥18″ bowl
5″ convex mirror
3mm styrene (plastic)
Flat aluminum strips
Various nuts & bolts
Spiked T-nuts & matching thumb screws
Cold shoe

The bowl I used had concentric ridges all over so to start, I sanded it smooth, front and back. I then drilled three small holes for the mirror standoffs. These holes form a centered triangle with roughly 5″ between each point. In the center of the triangle, I cut out a hole for the head of my speedlite. Once you have the speedlite hole you can start working on the bracket. It’s just a basic “L” with a curve on one side that matches the bowl. On the side of the bracket that touches the bowl, I put a strip of adhesive rubber to help cushion, conform, and prevent scratches. To attach the bracket to the speedlite, I used T-nuts and thumb screws so that it could be removed for easy storage/transport. The spiked T-nuts attach from the front side of the beauty dish. To make it look as nice as possible, I recessed the T-nuts then covered them with wood filler and sanded it smooth before I painted. That way they’re completely invisible from the front.

http://www.flickr.com …/17547754@N03/5​022518023/ (external link)

To attach the bracket to a light stand, I used a little socket/spigot piece that came on one of my Manfroto 001B Nano light stands. I used a cap nut to secure it to the bracket. Then I just use a standard swivel bracket/umbrella adapter with spigot to screw into this socket. To hold a speedlite, I used a cold shoe (I prefer the clamp style (external link)).

IMAGE: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4132/5022517721_94c8c8f866.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/17547754@N03/5​022517721/  (external link)
rear with bracket (external link) by Jan Christian (external link), on Flickr

The heart of a speedlite beauty dish is the deflector. I used a 5″ convex mirror for maximum output, which I got from an auto parts store. I removed the actual mirror from the plastic holder and epoxied it to a circular piece of styrene/plastic. The styrene was cut slightly larger than the mirror, just large enough for a small bolt to pass through and nut to fit without hitting the mirror. The mirror needs to be spaced away from the flash head and for these standoffs, I used the thinnest bolts I could find so they interfered with the light as little as possible. They’re actually allthreads, about 3″ long, that [I think] I found at Home Depot. Since they’re allthreadds (no bolt head), I used cap nuts for the rear and nuts everywhere else (three for each standoff). Use one nut to lock them onto the bowl, then another nut to give the mirror some space, and one final nut to lock the mirror on. After lots of testing, a space of 1.75″ between the bowl and styrene gave me the best results. Zooming the flash output in and out didn’t make much of a difference. Zooming in to 105mm produced a very slightly hotter center.

IMAGE: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4087/5023127768_c46640172c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/17547754@N03/5​023127768/  (external link)
Deflector standoffs (external link) by Jan Christian (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4111/5023126312_fce3990718.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/17547754@N03/5​023126312/  (external link)
Speedlite beauty dish deflector (external link) by Jan Christian (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4088/5022517173_e157ef3152.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/17547754@N03/5​022517173/  (external link)
Speedlite beauty dish deflector (external link) by Jan Christian (external link), on Flickr

I also added an extra flat piece of aluminum near the speedlite cold shoe so I could attach a radio receiver via another cold shoe. All bracketry, and the rear of the bowl was painted semi-gloss black. The inside of the bowl was painted white. I coated the thumbscrews in black Plasti-Dip to make them look a little nicer.

IMAGE: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4113/5022516555_bec0af1b61.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/17547754@N03/5​022516555/  (external link)
Speedlite beauty dish angle2 (external link) by Jan Christian (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4144/5022516303_ce74bd90ff.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/17547754@N03/5​022516303/  (external link)
Speedlite beauty dish angle1 (external link) by Jan Christian (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4106/5023127104_c9499a0040.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/17547754@N03/5​023127104/  (external link)
Speedlite beauty dish profile (external link) by Jan Christian (external link), on Flickr

The output is very soft with a smooth falloff. I couldn’t be happier with the results considering how little I spent on this project.

IMAGE: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4152/5023126914_ef2592b319.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/17547754@N03/5​023126914/  (external link)
Speedlite beauty dish output (external link) by Jan Christian (external link), on Flickr

I made this portrait of my friend, and fellow photographer, William, for an article in the paper about elections. The beauty dish was camera-right and the sun was behind and to the right of William.
http://img.photobucket​.com …kerPhreaker/wil​liam-1.jpg (external link)



  
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airbutchie
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Aug 06, 2009 15:52 |  #2

^ Items list and instructions would also help with your DIY beauty dish, JDubya... But from the looks of it, great DIY job...

- airbutchie


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JDubya
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Aug 06, 2009 16:27 |  #3

airbutchie wrote in post #8412235 (external link)
^ Items list and instructions would also help with your DIY beauty dish, JDubya... But from the looks of it, great DIY job...

- airbutchie

In the works. I just wanted to throw up a teaser in the meantime




  
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sonnyc
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Aug 06, 2009 18:16 |  #4

That's cool.

I stopped by a local seller this morning to pick up some stands and boom arm with a friend and the seller mentioned he'll get a beauty dish for speedlight coming next month. The size is about 22". It's one of those China beauty dish you see on ebay but with the adapter and coldshoe for flash.

The price is about $80.


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mufutau55
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Aug 06, 2009 18:55 |  #5

Can you please broadcast it here when this is released.

Mufutau

4x4rock wrote in post #8412965 (external link)
That's cool.
I stopped by a local seller this morning to pick up some stands and boom arm with a friend and the seller mentioned he'll get a beauty dish for speedlight coming next month. The size is about 22". It's one of those China beauty dish you see on ebay but with the adapter and coldshoe for flash.
The price is about $80.




  
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sonnyc
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Aug 06, 2009 19:03 |  #6

mufutau55 wrote in post #8413159 (external link)
Can you please broadcast it here when this is released.

Mufutau

Sure thing. I'll post up once I hear more info about it. I'll check back with him next month.


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Paul ­ Li
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Aug 06, 2009 21:24 |  #7

Looks nice and clean! Sample pics?


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ChadAndreo
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Aug 31, 2009 14:18 |  #8

bump for info


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doubledragon
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Oct 22, 2009 18:16 |  #9

+1 on the info - let's see some shots


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JDubya
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Sep 24, 2010 11:44 |  #10

Sorry for the delay guys, I finally blogged about it lol

http://ambrotosphotogr​aphy.com …diy-speedlite-beauty-dish (external link)




  
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spacetime
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Sep 24, 2010 13:21 |  #11

Better late than never. :) Perhaps you could show how you mounted the deflector as it's an important component.




  
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JDubya
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Sep 24, 2010 16:58 |  #12

Sure thing, I updated the post. Hopefully it makes more sense now.




  
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scottmb3
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Jan 11, 2011 16:46 |  #13

Wow that is really awesome! Well done!


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JDubya
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Apr 02, 2011 08:05 |  #14

Thanks Scott!

Here are a few recent shots in case anyone wants more examples.

The beauty dish was camera-right, about head level, angled down slightly. Camera-left and behind/to the side of the subject was a bare speedlite, flagged to keep light off of the background.

It's definitely not the typical kind of model you guys are used to seeing around these forums :lol:

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(The tactical vest was the main subject of these photos)



  
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anlenke
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Apr 02, 2011 11:03 |  #15

Really informative and well-done blog post; very cool results. I'm impressed how even the lighting is as well!


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DIY Speedlite Beauty Dish -- professional looking and portable
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