Beauty dishes are very popular light modifiers among portrait and fashion photographers. Many studio strobe manufacturers offer beauty dishes that fit their own lines of products but not the lights from other brands. LumoPro, a U.S. manufacturer of high-quality lighting accessories, has recently introduced LumoPro Multi-Mount Beauty Dish LP955 that addresses some of these compatibility issues. Not only the LumoPro Beauty Dish fits monolights from a number of brands but it also works with portable hot-shoe flashes (speedlights) when it is coupled with LumoPro Double-Flash Speedring Bracket.
According to LumoPro, LP955 Multi-Mount Beauty Dish fits strobes from Profoto, Photogenic, Alien Bees, Bowes/S-Type, and some other brands. For example, we tried it with Orion strobes made by Aurora Lite Bank, a Korean manufacturer of lighting equipment, and the LumoPro Beauty Dish turned out to be 100 percent compatible.
So, if you have a softbox that you use with your strobe already, you can simply take the speedring and detach the ring part first. (It usually takes removing 3-4 screws. We recommend putting the screws back into the ring once the ring is detached, so you don't lose them.) Then, you take the fitting and attach it to the LumoPro Beauty Dish with the 4 knobs/nuts that come with it. We found the size of the knobs to be large enough to make the assembly nice and easy. (The whole thing should not take you more than a couple of minutes.)
The images below show how we did it with an Aurora Orion monolight. Note that in the images the fitting is shown to be always on the strobe, but we recommend taking it off during assembly in order to avoid the possibility of damaging the bulb.
For use with speedlights (up to two), the assembly procedure is virtually the same. The only difference is that you remove the ring from LumoPro Double-Flash Speedring Bracket rather than a monolight speedring. In the image below, you can see LumoPro LP180 Manual flash installed onto LP955.
LumoPro Beauty Dish has a white finish, so it produces nice soft light. It is 22 inch (56 cm) in diameter, which is a popular size for this kind of light modifiers. The included beauty dish sock can be used for further softening the light. Basically, the sock turns LP955 into a round softbox (similar to Honl Photo traveller16, but larger), which can produce circular catchlights that some photographers really like.
You can also buy an optional grid to narrow the light beam of the beauty dish. Additionally, we would like to see LumoPro start selling a carrying case for this unit some time soon.
The center deflector is adjustable, and it can be set closer to or farther away from the bulb/speedlight. We tested this feature quite extensively. However, we could not see a lot of difference in the light quality: there is some variance in the light spread, but we believe, it's not something that have a lot of practical use.
The image series below show the effect of the two different center deflector positions. The images on the left are taken with the reflector set deeper in, while in the photos on the right, the deflector was set farther away from the middle of the dish. All following images were taken with a single LumoPro LP180 speedlight, set to 14mm zoom value (by using the built-in wide-angle diffuser).
The most noticeable difference between the two columns above can be seen in the grid photos in the light fall-off pattern around the edges of the light spot. We performed similar tests with monolights, and the differences there were even less noticeable.
Please note that the light spread can vary depending on the strobe you use. When you useLumoPro Beauty Dish with speedlights, we highly recommend setting the flashguns to the widest zoom position possible (14mm or at least 24mm) or use a StoFen-like diffuser; otherwise, the lighting may be uneven and the light loss may be severe.
In the outdoor photos below, we used LumoPro Multi-Mount Beauty Dish with two Canon 580EX II speedlights triggered by Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 radios.
In conclusion, we were pretty impressed with LumoPro LP955 Beauty Dish design and performance. A similar sized Profoto beauty dish can cost you up to $400, and a Photogenic one can set you back about $200. This LumoPro product is just under $100. (You can use your existing fitting or buy an additional one for convenience, which will add to the cost, however.) We believe that the ability to be able to use the beauty dish with both, studio light and speedlights, is a very cool feature (especially for a photographer on a budget). Even if you are using either speedlights or monolights, it's still comforting to know that, if you start using both types of light, you don't need to re-invest in a beauty dish. So, LumoPro Multi-Mount Beauty Dish is a great choice for anyone looking into buying a beauty dish. Just make sure it's compatible with your monolights, if that's going to be your main use of this product.
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