Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Beauty Dish for SB-800

I was researching on line for light modifiers for speed lights and ran across Viewfinder Photography based in England. They sell a kit containing several attachment for speed lights, the kit includes a snoots with grids, a beauty dish with grids & colored gels and a diffusion globe.

The complete kit sells for 139.99 pounds, with today's current exchange rate that equals to $275.00. dollars U.S. That's a bit to much to pay for in my book. I did find just the beauty dish for sale on there web site at a cost of about $175.00 dollars U.S. still to much.

I was digging around the Flickr and found 2 photographers who had build their own beauty dish, Nick Haskins and Tyler Burk. In building my beauty dish, I followed Tyler's design how ever I added a mirror inside of the return.

If you want to make your own beauty dish, follow Tyler's instructions except add a convex mirror inside of the return. I'm including photos here showing more of the process I took in making my beauty dish. This project only took an hour, easy and fun to do.


These are the parts you need to make your beauty dish.

Here I used the gutter part from H.D. to mark my cut.


Here you are seeing the CD case as it will appear in the dish prior to cutting a hole in it.

Here I am aligning the gutter devise on the back of the CD case to mark where I need to cut my opening for the strobe head. I should caution you on the cutting of the openings on your dish, I used a utility knife which worked very well. As you know, sometime those things can get away from you-be careful.

I drilled a hole in the corner of my markings in order to start my actual cuttings, you may not need to do this.




In the above photos you can see the hole in the bottom of the bowl has been cut out and the gutter devise is pushed through in order to check fit.


This is a view of the face of the beauty dish with gutter devise and than the cut CD case over the top of the gutter thing. In the photos below you can see the fasteners in place, I used the holes in the gutter thing as a guide for drilling holes through the bowl and CD case.

The photo below show the inside of the CD case, the end which the strobe fires into. I glued a CD to the inside/top of the case and than put a convex mirror on top of that. It was my thought that the mirror would help to disperse the light more evenly. I pick up the 3 1/2 inch mirror at a local auto supply store for $2.39.

The image below shows you what the dish looks like finished and painted. I have also attached additional images of the light for your review.

This was a fast and easy DIY project, it took no time at all.





Some additional information regarding dish light: It seems I lose about a stop and a half of light. I am also attaching the photos below so you can see the velco strap around the back of the flash head.

Here are two photos to compare the light quality using the dish. The first is of Ian with bare flash and the second using the beauty dish.



96 comments:

Brian said...

Great post David, thanks! A lot of the DIY stuff out there looks pretty rough, but yours turned out looking great as well.

If you are looking for snoots/grids at a better price, I'd recommend www.honlphoto.com. They have some great products at a fairly reasonable price. I use their setup and really like the quality and professional look.

Addison Geary said...

HI David, best D.I.Y. dish I've seen yet. What's holding it on to the speed light, friction? Now let's see you make a grid for it!

Curtis said...

I did the same thing with the CD spindle and mirror a couple months ago. My dish is very disposable though, simply using a foil roasting pan (JustFab's idea on Flickr...)

http://www.knick-knack.com/howto/camera/diy-beauty-dish.html

Joe said...

Thanks for better and easier design of the beauty dish, however, something I didn't quite get is the mirror, where did you place the mirror exactly?? I can't seem to see it in the final finished shots, is it glued to the back of the translucent cover??

David Tejada said...

Joe : Thanks for your comment. Yes the mirror is glued to a CD on the back of the translucent cover.

Giles said...

Very neatly done, David. And I agree - this is the cleanest D.I.Y. dish I've come accross so far.

Any chance you could post a couple of test pics so that we can see just how well your dish works?

Many thanks.

Pichan said...

Hi David. This is such a great idea.
I'd love to know what zoom position do you set on your SB800 when you use this beauty dish?
It's a great weekend project for me.
Thank you for sharing.

Daniel said...

This is a great DIY tutorial. I plan on making my own this weekend. I was hoping you could direct me to where I can buy the connectors for attaching the flash to the light stand. Obviously some sort of shoe is needed, but what connector are you using to mount the shoe to the stand. Thanks David!

ososumi said...

How does the flash attach to the dish? Using velcro?

Can you post some images of it attaching to the flash please?

The mirror seems to be attached to the cd inside the cd case facing the flash head.

Joshua said...

Hi, this is really cool. I want to do this with my sb-600. It looks possible, is it?

And what are you using to hold the actual speedlight? Is their some sort of stand I could use?

tandaburk said...

Hey David,
Nice design! :)
Really though props go to Haskins. Anyway, glad to see others making this thing. I have since installed the mirror which was the original plan but I wanted to see if the reflective paint would do the trick first. Actually, I can't tell any difference between the cd and the mirror. Glad to see some example shots too (haven't got around to that part yet). The final product looks great.
Take it easy.

tandaburk said...

Hey David,
Nice design! :)
Really though props go to Haskins. Anyway, glad to see others making this thing. I have since installed the mirror which was the original plan but I wanted to see if the reflective paint would do the trick first. Actually, I can't tell any difference between the cd and the mirror. Glad to see some example shots too (haven't got around to that part yet). The final product looks great.
Take it easy.

Pingui75 said...

Thank you for this very good article. It is extremely interesting to know manufacture a homemade dish.

I have a question. I'd like to translate your article in french (for no-English-speaking readers), I would it be possible to use your images to illustrate my translation?

I will of course a link to your blog.

Thanks again.

Bruce said...

Man, this is exquisite. Thanks for sharing.

Sebastian Kubatz <<#...aka...#>> L.E.Photogrpaher said...

Hey David,
how do you fasten the dish on you flash?
Is there anything that holds the dish on the flash? I can't see it on the photos.

David Tejada said...

I use velco to attach the dish to the flash. I placed a small piece of the hooky side of velco on the dish and ran a strand of it across the back of the flash head.

As far as the mirror go's, it's attached on the top "inside" of the CD case cover. The flash fires into it and the light is directed out into the dish.

Pingul75- Yes you may. DT

Andrew T. Sullivan said...

David,

How many stops of light do you lose with this setup? Along those lines, would you recommend one CD spindle cover over another based on how clear it is... or is a little translucence giving softer light?

Matt Gholston said...

If you have a store in your local area that sells to the Heavy Duty trucking market like "TruckPro"...you should be able to buy those convex mirrors up to 6" in diameter, possibly larger. You might be able to match one up to the full diameter of the CD case.

RMG

Living Story Photography said...

Smple, aesthetically pleasing, brilliant. Thanks for sharing.

Harry said...

Here's my version with a link to instructions. I went with a suspended CD shiny side to the strobe.
DIY beauty dish back by LightStamp, on Flickr
Link to original instructions that I modified with mine.

Noah said...

Is it just me, or does it seem like a lot of light is lost by the light that hits the center of the mirror / reflective object? All that light would bounce right back towards the center of the flash, and would have to be reflected again before (if) it hits the side of the dish.

It would seem to me that a better solution would be more of a cone-shaped reflector, with a steep angle at the tip and a shallower angle at the base. This would make sure that all light is directed away from the flash and towards the sides of the dish, and hopefully would reduce light loss.

Or, maybe a small "short" cone could be placed on center of the mirror and redirect just the light that would have been bounced back at the flash.

Something like this may be able to be scupled out of stryrofoam and covered in reflective aluminum HVAC tape, (or someone might find something similar at a Dollar Store that could be wrapped in foil tape and repurposed...)

TiMpWeB said...

Goin to HD tonite... who's with me?!!

Strangetastes said...

I apologize for my ignorance but what do you mean by gutter devise from H.D.? I'm clueless. By the was, I shoot Canon, not Nikon, usually with an EX 580.

The Trout Whisperer said...

It appears to me that you all missed one point, including David! A ring flash surrounds the lens of the camera! Here we have a very good and simple solution to change the shape of a square light output into a round light output. But the camera-lens is NOT in the center of the light to make that nice macro shot or distance shot which was originally shown on Strobist.
We haven’t invented a new mousetrap at all; we only have changed the ‘mousetrap’ from square light to round shape at the cost of two stops. The end result is a more diffused light from one direction with a marginal improvement in shadow casting.
There are just too many questions ask about the placement of the mirror, the location of the CD, the reason for the CD base etc. So a few more detail pictures would be handy David.

john j. henderson said...

I would think the semi-clear portion of the CD case is causing some light loss, maybe it would help to cut out portions of the clear sides to give a sort of tripod for the reflector but still providing sufficient support and better light transmission

Ronald Carlos said...

I'm going now! Hopefully that gutter thing shows up fast! I hate it when they try to hide!

john j. henderson said...

Strangetastes

H.D. is Home Depot; massive discount hardware store

Gutter devise is a piece of rain gutter sold in the hardware section of home hardware stores. Best to take your Canon flash with you to the hardware store to find a suitable device to use to support the flash head in the plastic dish.

Justin said...

Does anyone know the actual name of that gutter thing? I went to home depot and found something that looks similar but its made out of metal and way to big. The one shown in the photos look like its made out of plastic. Can someone possibly find it on the Home Depots website so it will be easier to find?

Oatmeal said...

The gutter "thingy" is called a "drop out" or an "outlet."
It is what connects a downspout to the gutter.(No stealing!)
Also was wondering if the velcro was the only thing holding the dish to the strobe...?

fibernode said...

thanks for sharing, david - the usage of using the cd case is excellent. im gonna try it.

whats the diameter size of the dish?

i made a similar beauty dish and i use a styrofoam cup - an example of the results - http://www.flickr.com/photos/potatoe/870660957/in/set-72157600984619342/

Chris said...

@the trout whisperer

ummm...correct me if i'm wrong...but i think YOU missed the point. it's a DIY "beauty dish" tutorial..not a "ring flash" tutorial. anyways..you probably just misread it.

thanks for the tutorial david!

Andrew said...

Thanks for posting this - your design is really cool. I've looked at all of the dishes and rings on Strobist, and yours is likely the best in terms of light and looks.

I think I might be making one like yours this weekend :)

w3photos said...

great idea using the mirror...gotta try something with this

Carlos Porto said...

Great idea, very creative, I will gonna try it, Thank You for sharing it.

Carlos Porto

www.flicr.com/photos/carlosporto

Wade said...

Great looking DIY project.

I was able to source the mirror from McMaster-Carr as well. They deliver the next day on almost everything.

Catalog Number: 9208T46

keith said...

Hi David,
Does this type of light diffusion actually affect the depth of field? Looking at the pictures , it seems the plaid is so much more defined in the bare flash picture. As if the f/stop between the two were different. Is this the case?

David Tejada said...

The beauty dish takes light strength away from the strobe, requiring me to open my f/stop for the loss of light.

Doing so reduces the DOF.

Krallen814 said...

Thanks for the idea. I am in the process of making mine now. Only one gripe: I could only find a 17" plastic terra cotta bowl. I hope it works out OK. I will post shots later.

scubajunkie said...

David,

First, brilliant idea using the mirror.

Second, what sort of finish was the white paint? Flat, glossy, satin, other?

Bud said...

nice tutorial...
while browsing through the paint isle, i found some "Reflective Paint".
i wonder what effect that would have on the white paint

Cathus said...

Does anyone know if the gutter attachment is available in the UK? I tried Focus & Wickes & couldn't see anything similar.

Giles said...

Cathus...

I've not looked, but I'd be surprised if B&Q didn't stock them. At a push, you could also try Home Base. Or... you just might get lucky at an independent shop - they can often throw up some suprises and, if not, may well have a similar suitable item.

Cathus said...

I checked out B & Q - we have a new really massive one locally - couldn't see anything like this in the guttering department, most of it was rounded, there were some square joints but narrower than the width of my flashgun (3").

I also tried Homebase with no joy.

Nikhil V. Shah said...

David, Thanks for the post.. Great post. I've got all the material to make my beauty dish but facing one problem on downspout.

I have Canon 580ex flash and the flash head is little wider than the downspout. I've got exactly same downspout you used here on the post. Also tried another type from home depot also but same size issue.

Any suggestion please I would appreciate that.

regards,
Nikhil

Timothy said...

I was looking at the downspout, and realized something. Go to http://www.harbordigitaldesign.com and you can order the flash head adapter to fit your particular flash. Their price is 12.95 plus shipping....and they are pretty quick. I got mine in Alaska in 2 days.

Grant said...

Hey David,
I was not able to find the same gutter piece you seem to have...with the flange and four holes in it. I picked up what is called a "gutter connector" which has no flange and is about 3/8" too big for the SB-800. Is there another part somewhere else in a different section? I have an older SB-24 and it fits the gutter connector perfectly! I would like to be able to use my SB-800 though. I appreciate any help you can give me with this..or someone else? This is really a fun project.
Thanks, Grant

Nikhil V. Shah said...

hey Grant,
The gutter connector (called Downspout) that David used for Nikon flash is available only at Lowes. I couldn't find it at my local Home Depot. Check your local Lowes and asked them for Downspout. Its a gray color with 4 holes on it.

Good luck.
Nikhil

Grant said...

Nikhil,
Thanks for the lead. Just happen to have some coupons for Lowe's!!! Can't wait to complete this fun project.
Grant

Shaun said...

I bought and used an 80mm round gutter down dropper that was slightly to small for my Canon 580EX, however, if you give it a slight squeeze then the 580EX slots in nicely and when you release it holds the flash in place nice and solid. I also made a mount so a light stand mounts directly to the beauty dish, rather than adding stress to the hotshoe of the flash, and makes it more manouverable.

Guy Rhodes said...

Nice, I wonder how this would look with a shiny salad bowl for the reflector instead?

stefanus photo's blog said...

Thanks for the tip...I can't wait to try it on my own...

Joey said...

@ Timothy re: harbordigitaldesign.com

Thanks for the tip. I live the desert so both Lowes and Home Depot doesnt have these in stock. Price is $12.95 with $3.95 shipping.

They stock adapters for most popular flashes. For the Nikon SB-24 you'll have to call in as the web designer did not include this but it is available.

Also this way you will have an adapter that will actually fit the dimensions of your flash.

Good call Timothy

Ken Rahaim said...

Just completed my DIY beauty dish. Aside from shipping for the mirror, the total cost came to $9.48 for these parts:

- Black trick or treat bowl from Target
- Electrical junction box & white spray paint from Home Depot
- Mirror from truck supply store

Very satisfied with the results. Thanks for taking the time to share your design David!

David Franzen said...

I built one of these this weekend for my Vivitar 285HV. I had to use a different gutter part that the other examples I've seen on the web.

I've posted photos and info here:

http://pixel-and-ink.blogspot.com/2008/11/my-version-of-strobisthome-depot-diy.html

Thanks!

Antonio said...

I've just built my own dish. It's surprising how well a dish softens the light. I made an adjustable mirror which can move from '0' inches to 2.5 inches from the flash head. I've taken photos of the light source at three distances and I find the 2.5 inch distance fills up the dish completely with light. Any thoughts on mirror distance?

Cesar said...

too bad i only have a digital camera...those professional cameras are too pricey...but are awesome for taking pics!

deborahwolfe said...

Fantastic idea, really clear instructions and a great looking final product. Glad I stumbled upon this. I have passed it along to my readers, with due credit, of course. Great blog.

http://www.studioonashoestring.com

mathewm said...

great post, thanks. just finished mine and im waiting for my flashes to get here so i can have some fun.

just for your readers' clarification, the 50-CD spindle cover is what you want (i had a 25 too and was at a loss for a minute), and Home Depot has little packets of machine screws and nuts for like 2 bucks. I grabbed the rounded head slotted but whatever your preference is go with it. anyways, the fasteners that will give you the best results are the ones in the package labeled #4-40 x 1/2" .

Ap said...

Very nicely done, and a neat and easy DIY. Plan on trying this out tomorrow!

Derek Shane said...

David, Great post. How can I get an invitation to the 'small stobes' blog. I tried to view it and it's invitation only. Thanks...derekshanefotos@gmail.com

seo expert said...

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Paco Romero said...

David, thank you so much for sharing your design. I built my own this afternoon and I really like the light it produces. And it's so lightweight compared with my metal one!

Neil said...

I like this post and this will help me to understand this snoots with grids. So keep adding and share more information regarding this beauty dish.
web design quote

danielchang said...

I wasn't able to find the exact same gutter part at home depot, but found one very similar and fits my SB-600 perfectly, it was something called a Box Extender (sold in a 2pack) in the electrical section.

Thanks for this DIY, hoping to finish it soon once I can find a mirror and paint the whole darn thing.

Eric said...

Thanks for the sharing this website. it is very useful professional knowledge. Great idea you know about company background.
web application development

Gage said...

Thanks for the post. When I made mine I spray painted it silver it gave me an extra stop in exposure. I also put tin foil behind the mirror and on the bottom of the CD holder. Also for a tight fit for my flash I added padding so it would fit snug.

Donguido said...

Very useful and ingenious.
thanks!

website said...

Nice post mate




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NotYourAvgJoe said...

The gutter thing is called:

Amerimax 2" x 3" Gray Plastic Gutter Outlet
Item #: 11577 Model: 85051

Sold at LOWES Online.

It does not appear to be on the Home Depot website

Dave-0 said...

Any ideas on how a longer or shorter CD spindle top would effect the light?

because the 100 cd 50 cd and 10 cd tops are different lengths. would the 10 cd (short) top give more or less light compared to the 50 (medium) or 100 (long) cd tops?

Tauseef said...

Very nice; thanks for sharing.

pjvanallen said...

I built one of these. Very easy to build and I love the light from it.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pva1964/3800329457/in/set-72157621976611915/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pva1964/4121869041/

Thanks for the time and instructions.

rene said...

Sir, Im rene palaya from the philippines, thank you for your beauty dish design, it really helps me a lot in my portraiture's, its great... :)

Christian said...

hai david, great beauty dish, i want to know what is the gutter things u use, because its quite hard to find it in indonesia... what we usually call it..thanks before

dwdmguy said...

Thank you much for this.
Just as an FYI, I just made mine, it came out awesome and works perfectly.

The FYI is that the smaller Gutter thing, the more Round one at Home Depot fits the SB-600 perfectly snug, could not ask for a better fit. No velcro needed. Just bring your SB-600 to HD to see.
Thanks again.

TenisD said...

Excelent post. Thanks man :)

Mark said...

OK...GREAT RESULTS HERE! So here is my 2 cents. If your rocking the SB800, dont get the gutter pipe piece. Go to home depot or ace hardware and buy an Arlington BE1-2CS. Its an Electrical outlet box extender. Unlike the rain gutter, it fits the SB800 like a glove. In fact I don't even use velco to keep my dish on, no matter the angle. Just slides right on like it was made for it.

I bough mine at Home Depot and it looks a little different than this..

http://www.acehardwareoutlet.com/productDetails.aspx?SKU=3050440

just take you flash with you.

Ohad said...

thanks for sharing !!!

LakerFan said...

Can someone recommend a good "affordable" light stand and boom that can be used for this dish?

Also, what is the best way to connect the hot shoe of the flash to the boom?

Thanks!

rickdallasphoto said...

This is the best DIY beauty dish I have seen for speedlights. I've been looking for something that doesn't look so chopped up and taped together. Great post David. Looks like I'm off to the hardware store...

Palookavlle said...

Nice protrait. Really like the amount of falloff & control. Can you comment on the difference between the portrait and the test shot, in your DIY demo. The test shot has a soft shadow, but it looks blasted, totally lacking in falloff, modulation. etc. Would be grateful if you could comment on the difference.
Thankx

Palookavlle

David Finkel Photography said...

David: I've been meaning to make one of these for a while and after the recent Strobist post to this site, I decided to go ahead. There are a few things I learned and a couple of mods that I think improve this:
a. I am a Canon shooter. The 580EXII doesn't fit the drainspout you showed, but there is a white PVC plastic spout connector that I have used for other projects. It is a little large, so I pad the sides with fun foam (available at craft stores such as Michaels) which gives it a snug fit.
b. When I bought the convex mirror and looked at it, I suspected that it wouldn't be much of an improvement over the CD alone and that was my finding. When I did testing with a light meter, I found it made less than 1/10 stop difference. My undergrad was in physics, so I started to think about what might work better and figured a spherical mirror. However you can't just buy one of these perfectly sized to fit the CD case, so I went to Michaels and bought some mylar (silver) coated cardboard ($5.99 for a sheet that would do about 6 of these). Doing some thinking and a big of geometry, I realized that what I needed to do was set a compass for about 3.8" and draw a circle on the cardboard then cut this out. Cut a radial line from the edge to the center, then curl the piece into a cone. Using double sided tape I stuck the cardboard to itself and made a perfect conical mirror that fits exactly inside the CD case. Easy to make and increased the light output over the mirror.
c. I've seen a number of beauty dishes with an extra diffusion sock over them. You can get cheap plastic curtain showers at Ikea (I think they are 99c each) and these work great as diffusers. Cut a circle about 2 inches wider than the circumference of the dish, then fold over an elastic loop. You could probably staple the seam, but I have a heat sealer in my kitchen for vacuum packing food and 1/2 cycle seems to weld the plastic together. Could possible try and iron really carefully.

The Photophile - Lanthus Clark said...

Just made one and it works great! You can see it here: http://thephotophile.blogspot.com/2010/10/diy-beauty-dish-on-cheap.html

I also linked to this post from there, and a couple more I looked at along the way.

tim said...

I made one similar, but was a bit concerned about the dead spot in the center. So I used a Mylar balloon and acetate paper to make a semi-transparent center cone to reflect part of the light outwards, letting the rest go forwards.

If anyone's curious, details are at www.linearconcepts.com/?p=1598

TIM

Charlie said...

AWESOME tutorial! I just made a beauty dish from a turkey pan and stove burner "dishes". Worked like a charm... and cost all of $3.00 to make. I also bought parts to make your version. THANKS for the tips!

Howard said...

I finally got around to doing this and I found that a shorter CD spindle cover gives me more even light than a taller one like was used in the original. I haven't mounted the mirror yet since I'm not sure I want to block the hole in the CD that's letting a little light spill forward.

Anyway, thanks for the images to illustrate the process.

P.Dieter said...

made mine today and love it
I went with the "cone" version and used some AL flashing I had laying around, works great.

Also my Canon 550ex doesn't fit the downspout adapter but like others have pointed out worked with the electrical box size. I opted for a junction box single gang cover
http://web.me.com/riverwader/Canon/bdish/flange.jpg

some were asking about paint finish and I have a visual. I primed with flat white and then used up a can of appliance paint (white) but it ran out before I was done. You can see the difference in the top of the dish in this shot.
http://web.me.com/riverwader/Canon/bdish/bowl.jpg

Great design david!

Bryan Alldredge said...

I made one based off this design after reading the post. Has worked really well. Just yesterday I picked up a diffuser for the front and it makes a really pleasant light. Just thought I'd share the specs in case someone else out there was thinking of diffusing it. It's called the RPS Studio 16in Diffuser (RS-4015D). I bought it for $9.95 from Glazer's Camera in Seattl but I'm sure you could find it online for cheaper. Nice snug fit and the diffusion pannel is flat over the opening. Hope that helps add to the discussion.

Tony said...

Any thoughts on building this without a CD case? I'm thinking to try a 4.5" diameter plastic plate with a 3.5" convex mirror glued on to the plate and then the plate suspended over the flash with three 3" screws.

Kevin Photographics said...

instead of a mirror use a cd make natural reflector just put duct tape on one side so it wont shine thru

Firman said...

nice. it's very creative. Simple but very creative.
Berita Terkini

mmarko said...

Where I can find this part to buy, what is in real life that part for?
I think of this silver part. Thanks, Marko
http://bp2.blogger.com/_ePYlfF599aE/SAZb_-xXkRI/AAAAAAAAAck/VTIdWkbMSek/s200/_DXT0566.jpg

David Tejada said...

MMarko: That piece is part of a gutter down spout. Available is most hardware stores in the States. Your just looking for something that will allow your flash head fit through as well as fasten to the bowl. DT

jeff said...

The different big box stores get their stuff from different suppliers, so if the adapter from Home Depot is too loose, try Fleet Farm.

I think if you went with some sort of highly reflective chrome paint the imperfections of off center would show up more.

Luis Filipe Cunha said...

Does the still IR communication works or its blocked by the dish?
I use a Canon ST-E2 transmitter and a Canon 430EX flash. Will I loose my IR communication?
Thanks.

David Tejada said...

The IR communication works fine with the dish. DT