Strobist – DIY Beauty Dish

Posted: August 31, 2009 in Strobist
Tags: , , , , ,

(Part 1 of Strobist – DIY Beauty Dish)

Beauty Dish….well, its not a bowl of soup which is good for one’s skin. But ‘Beauty Dish‘ is an expensive flash accessory widely use in photography studio as part of the lightning set up (along side soft box and reflector) A commercial Beauty Dish (sample here) can cost between US$150-US$300!

So what is the different between a softbox and a Beauty Dish? Imagine bare bulb at one end of the spectrum which give you one directional light with dark & deep shadow and at the other end, the softbox with non-directional diffused light, Beauty dish is right in the middle of the two.

…..the beauty dish produces a more abrupt shadow edge transfer(contrasty light) than a soft box. Also, the degree of abruptness is more noticeable with a silver beauty dish than a white one. Whether white or silver, a beauty dish produces a more difuse quality of light than a standard reflector. I guess you can think of the quality of beauty dishes as being in the middle of specular and diffuse, in between a standard reflector and a softbox….. (DIY photography.Net)

So today since i have a whole stack of soup bowl left unwanted in my cupboard, we gonna make our own Beauty Dish.

So, here are the ingredients:

  • 1 x soup bowl (must have deep wall to reflect the light)
  • 1x cardboard
  • 1x aluminum foil, glue or double sided tape
  • 1x white or silver paint spray
  • 4x wire (10cm each)
  • you will need craft knife, scissors and a pair of pliers

1) First of all, cut a hole through the back of the soup bowl, with the size of your flash head (the hole must be able to fit your flah head)

2) Next, we will continue to make a reflector using  the cardboard & the aluminum foil. Wrap the cardboard using the aluminum foil and make sure the shape end up as round.


3) make 4 holes at the back of the bowl as well as the reflector (which is now covered in aluminum foil).

4) insert the wire through the reflector and later to the soup bowl. I find this not very secure and later i realised a better way to handle this. Wires should be tie further out to the edge of the bowl and not the inner of the bowl. I will show some pictures soon.


5) the final DIY look something like the above. Due to the set up of the reflector, it allow you to move the reflector either closer to the flash head or further away.


6) The beauty dish in action, trigged by built in camera flash.



the one on the left is fired without any diffuser while the one on the right fired with the built in diffuser.The later diffused the scene (the left one is very directional and harsh) while the one with Beauty Dish produces a softer & non-directional light. (above)

So now, tested on a live human (my lovely wife) The homemade Beauty Dish is not perfect, you can see a number of hot spots…more test is needed….



I noticed the back of soup bowl allows small amount of light fall-out to the surrounding when the flash fires. I believe this is due to the cheap & translucent materiel used to make this bowl, this can be easy solve by spray painting the back of the bowl with black. Additional to this, the inner soup bowl need to be spray painted with silver or white to give more reflection to the light.

To reflect more light back to the bowl, a mirror is required, as the aluminium foil stopped some of the light bouncing back to the bowl…will drop by local hardware store and pick one up.

And Before you leave, check out these sites…they have written article about DIY beauty Dish / Building a DIY beauty dish.

So stayed tune….will do some minor adjustment and give you an update on my next post.


  1. Nikolas says:

    I have played around with custom made diffusers as well, but I consider them rather poor economy. The problem is that the materials, be it white plastic or aluminium foil used are not balanced to white, or worse do not absorb uniformly across the visible spectrum. This can introduce tints which may or may not be correctable in Ps and in any case degrade the image quality.

  2. […] Strobist – DIY Beauty Dish […]

  3. […] card, the hinge and the diffuser) And I have been wanting to get my hand on this after trying the Beauty Dish, bouce flash, built-in bouce card & diffuser and box […]

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  6. What tamplate do you use in your blog? Very interesting articles

  7. fajerwerki says:

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  8. […] natural sunlight on right side with DIY Beauty Dish on tripod above the camera slightly towards the left. Photo was then PP in Photoshop CS with Retro […]

  9. […] area coverage when you bounce the light. Softbox has to wait…Further more, I still have my DIY Beauty Dish that i half complete, maybe its time to whip them out and make some […]

  10. […] Strobist – DIY Beauty Dish | Painting with light – Aug 31, 2009 · The unique thing about a Beauty Dish is the way that it diffuses light – unlike a softbox or a reflector which has an “illuminating” surface the beauty …… […]

  11. […] Strobist – DIY Beauty Dish | Painting with light – Aug 31, 2009 · (Part 1 of Strobist – DIY Beauty Dish) Beauty Dish….well, its not a bowl of soup which is good for one’s skin. But ‘Beauty Dish‘ is an expensive …… […]

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