Take your photography to the next level and beyond...

  • NEWS

Why not join for free today?

Join for Free

Your total photography experience starts here

Damian McGillicuddy Beauty Dish Review

Damian McGillicuddy Beauty Dish Review - The ePHOTOzine review of a portable beauty dish that provides top quality lighting. Will Cheung tries it out.

 Add Comment

Damian McGillicuddy Beauty Dish in Portable Flash and Lighting


Click on the image below to view a high resolution image
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.

Click on the image below to view a high resolution image
You get a easily transportable light modifier for your money. You need to budget for a stand and have a hotshoe adaptor to hold the Speedlite. Heads like the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra are held in place by the rear reflector panel.

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.

Click on the thumbnails below to view high resolution images
The speed ring and stand adaptor comes in two sections so that the whole Beauty Dish can be flat-packed for easy transport.
Assembly is quick one you get the knack. Inserting alternate rods is Damian's tip.

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.

Click on the thumbnails below to view high resolution images
The Beauty Dish works with all Speedlites (separate flashguns) as well as units like the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra - but not full-size mains flash units.
Two deflector panels are provided (translucent and silver/white), so too is an overall diffuser for softer light.

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.

Click on the thumbnails below to view high resolution images
The Beauty Dish is at home outdoors as it is indoors. I used two flashguns set to manual output  to provide the light in the above right image.

In Damian's studio. He set the lights up for my photograph of model Charlie using the Beauty Dish positioned directly in front and above her to give butterfly lighting. A reflector (held in place by Lesley) and also available from Damian's website, provided some fill-in to lighten the shadows. The lighting for the image right was provided by two Elinchrom Ranger Quadras, one head aimed at the background. An f/stop of f/5.6 was used on a Nikon D700 fitted with a 105mm macro lens.

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
Well made

Damian McGullicuddy Beauty Dish: Cons
Price - for less committed flash photographers


Damian McGillicuddy Beauty Dish: Specification
Price: £189.99
Contact: www.damianmcgillicuddy.com
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
Join ePHOTOzine and remove these ads.

Explore More


i'm all for Strobist kit but 190 is taking the mickey. You can get equally as good strobist stuff on ebay for a fraction of the cost. Talk about fleecing people

Join ePHOTOzine for free and remove these adverts.

Britman 11 1.7k England
You see I like the design, nice and portable but like RedEyes says, 190, they are having a giraffe. Won't be long before there'll be copies on fleabay soon enough.
Hi Will, I'm a big fan of Damien's work and saw how well the beauty dish performed at his recent bridal portraiture course. Can you please recommend a stand and hotshoe adapter I can pick up at the same time?


p.s: Oh, I'm a big fan of yours as well as I've subscribed to PM for years. Was sad to hear you left but then glad that you popped up on another favourite site of mine.

Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.