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|The Damian McGillicuddy Beauty Dish sells for £189.99.|
Multi-award winning professional photographer Damian McGullicuddy could not find what he wanted on the market so he came up with his own design for a portable beauty dish.
With the burgeoning interest in strobist photography, portable flash on location, not repeating flash, flash modifiers have become a very big business. Names like Gary Fong, Lastlolite, Interfit, Honl, Sto-fen, Elemental, Lumiquest all have flash modifying products available.
Despite all this, when Damian McGullicuddy wanted a beauty dish he was not happy with what he saw available and got his own made to his needs. It had to be easy to transport, quick to put up and, most importantly, had to deliver great light – even, contrasty, controllable. To keep the story brief, interest from fellow photographers came from Damian’s talks, lectures and workshops and now his Beauty Dish is available to all, selling at £189.99. And more lighting products are in the pipeline – and from what I have seen, they will generate great interest from studio photographers.
Anyway, for now let us concentrate on the Beauty Dish.
Damian McGullicuddy Beauty Dish: Features
It flat packs and will accept any Speedlite flashgun (you will need a hotshoe adaptor – you probably got one with the flashgun) as well as Quantum Qflash and Elinchrom Ranger Quadra.
The actual reflective softbox material, the depth of the beauty dish and the deflector panels have been determined from experimentation by Damian to give the light he wants. “If it has got my name on it, it has got to be good,” he says.
Two deflector panels are available. There is a translucent one which gives a ‘shoot through’ effect with the flashgun while the other is white on one side and silver on the other. The silver side gives the greatest efficiency and greater ‘kick’ or contrast.
An overall translucent diffuser is also supplied if you want more of a softbox result.
Damian McGullicuddy Beauty Dish: Handling
The whole thing packs flat (the bracket comes in two sections) so travelling with it is not a problem, and it only takes a matter of minutes to set up.
Assembly is simple and not too much effort is needed – this is unlike some small softboxes that can get you in a sweat. With the eight supporting rods ready to go, the advice is to start by inserting alternate rods until all eight are in position. This works fine because after four rods the softbox’s basic shape is there so the final four are easy to locate. The eight rods can be left in position within the collapsed reflector during transit and that speeds things up a great deal.
Damian McGullicuddy Beauty Dish: Performance
I tried the Beauty Dish with my Nikon SB900 and Elinchrom Ranger Quadra units – and Damian's Nissin Di866 flashguns. With a GN of 60 (ISO 100/metres) this Nissin is one of the most powerful on-camera units available.
The Beauty Dish does a great job of giving a lovely quality light whether you want butterfly lighting, Rembrandt lighting, narrow lighting, broad lighting, whatever. And all from a separate flashgun. Obviously, the more power on hand the better because it gies you more flexibility with aperture choice and using the zoom head set to its longest focal length gives the most output. Damian himself rarely ventures smaller than f/5.6 for this sort of work.
I also used it for an outdoor shoot using a Nikon SB900. It got blown over complete with my SB-900 and it got slightly bent out of shape by the impact but it was easy to straighten. It was good to know that the dish withstands poor handling.
|Taken in a wood where the light was not great. The Beauty Dish with a Nikon D700 added some much needed fill-in to the scene without dominating.|
Damian McGullicuddy Beauty Dish: Verdict
You get what you pay for and while the Beauty Dish is not cheap there is no doubt that it is a very well made, robust yet portable beauty dish. More to the point, it delivers great light with any type of flash unit you want to partner with it. Thoroughly recommended.
|Damian McGullicuddy Beauty Dish: Pros|
|Gives great light|
|Easy to use|
|Packs flat - and quick to set-up|
|Modular design for easy replacement of broken/lost parts|
|Versatile - for indoor and location use|
|Damian McGullicuddy Beauty Dish: Cons|
|Price - for less committed flash photographers|
Damian McGillicuddy Beauty Dish: Specification
|What’s in the box:||Eight support rods, two deflector panels (white/silver and translucent), softbox covering, speedring mount, stand mount, carrying bag|
|Fittings:||Suits all Speedlite flashguns (Canon 580EX, Nikon SB900, Metz 58AF-1, Nissin Di866), Elinchrom Ranger Quadra, Quantum Qflash|
|Size wxdxh:||45cmx30cmx44cm approx (fully assembled)|
|Weight:||1kg (flashgun not included)|
To order a Damian McGillicuddy Beauty Dish click here