The Beauty of the Beauty Dish

From the Best of Mark Toal

Lumodi Did you ever buy a piece of photo gear that you read about or somebody mentioned and then wonder why the heck you bought it? I’ve had a Lumodi Beauty Dish that I bought a while ago but was still in the box and sitting in my office.

A beauty dish is a metal reflector that uses its parabolic shape to distribute light towards a focal point and is an alternative to a softbox. It wraps light around a subject producing an effect somewhere between direct flash and a softbox. It can be used in portrait and fashion work to generate a concentrated pool of light and produce its characteristic round catch light in the subject’s eyes.

When Joe called and said he was having trouble getting a radio flash trigger to work with his Panasonic Lumix G5 I went down to my local camera store, Pro Photo Supply and got him a Phottix Aster radio trigger, which somehow inspired me to take the Beauty Dish out of the box.

Lumodi beauty Dish The photograph of Jasmine was taken using a Quantum T5D speedlight mounted in the Lumodi Beauty Dish and wirelessly triggered with a Phottix Aster transmitter mounted on the hot shoe of a Panasonic Lumix GX1 with the new Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 lens attached. The bright sun was behind and to the left of Jasmine with the beauty dish placed directly in front of her.

I determined the exposure by setting the camera in manual mode with a shutter speed of 1/160 second to match the camera’s sync speed. I set the aperture to f/2.5 since I wanted shallow depth of field and her whole face to be in focus. I then set the ISO as low as I could at 160 and took a test shot with the flash set on ½ power. The image was very overexposed so I tested until the flash was at 1/64 power which best matched the ambient light to the beauty dish light.

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Something to think about: If you’re interested in shooting portraits and how Joe uses cameras, lenses and lighting, in his in-home studio, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere” from, who is selling used copies for less than $9.