RoundFlash Dish - collapsible beauty dish review

Feb 19 2015

RoundFlash is a relatively new company in the world of flash light modifiers. About three years ago, the company introduced its first product, a ring flash adapter, which is one of our favorite speedlight modifiers because of the unique design and qualities. Building on the success of their first invention, the folks at RoundFlash have recently introduced RoundFlash Dish – a collapsible beauty dish. We've been using the RoundFlash beauty dish for a couple of months now, and we are ready to share our thoughts on it.

RoundFlash Beauty Dish: front angle view RoundFlash Beauty Dish: side angle view
RoundFlash Beauty Dish: back view

Beauty dishes are popular light modifiers in portrait and fashion photography. In a studio, they are easy to handle; however, shooting with a beauty dish on location can be a challenge. Indeed, сarrying around a large metal bowl can be quite some hustle. RoundFlash Dish solves the portability issue by being very lightweight and collapsible.

RoundFlash Dish folds down like a collapsible photo reflector, and it fits into a pouch of just 7" x 6" (20cm x 16cm), which is about just as big as your speedlight itself. So, this diffuser can fit into virtually any gear bag.

RoundFlash Beauty Dish: compared to a Nissin MG8000 speedlight RoundFlash Beauty Dish: in a gear bag
RoundFlash Beauty Dish: collapsed vs. open

It takes just a few seconds to get RoundFlash beauty dish ready to use. You just pop it open and pull the bead in the middle to stretch the unit until the internal support tubes click in place. Then, you insert the flash head into the back opening and tighten the strap. We found this design to be very effective in the field.

RoundFlash Beauty Dish: pulling the bead to stretch RoundFlash Beauty Dish: inner support tubes
RoundFlash Beauty Dish: securing velcro strap RoundFlash Beauty Dish: mounted on a speedlight

When mounted on a speedlight, RoundFlash Dish creates a circle of light, which is about 17" (45cm) in diameter. Studio beauty dishes often start at 22" (56cm) in diameter, but 17" is a good size considering how portable RoundFlash Dish is. The images below show how the RoundFlash beauty dish compares to a conventional metal 22" beauty dish.

RoundFlash Beauty Dish: compared to a 22 RoundFlash Beauty Dish: compared to a 22

We like the light quality produced by the RoundFlash beauty dish. Like a traditional beauty dish, RoundFlash Dish does not have a hotspot in the middle and produces donut-shaped catchlights. At the same time, the light is soft, which is more like a light created by a softbox or a beauty dish with a sock.

An important aspect of any diffuser is how evenly the light spreads across the entire surface. The RoundFlash beauty dish is doing really well in this department. The manufacturer recommends using the widest zoom position on your speedlight for best results. We tested the light distribution at various flash zoom settings and found that the light pattern was quite even regardless of the flash head zoom. However, using higher zoom values causes the light output to drop. So, if your flash does not have manual zoom controls (like, for example, Nissin Di700 speedlight when used off-camera), you will only lose some of the light quantity but not quality.

RoundFlash Beauty Dish: even light distribution RoundFlash Beauty Dish: label reminding to use wide angle flash zoom setting

Below, there are a few examples of RoundFlash Dish being used on location as a single light source.

RoundFlash Beauty Dish: full body portrait example, single light source RoundFlash Beauty Dish: behind the scenes, full body portrait example, single light source
RoundFlash Beauty Dish: portrait example, single light source with some ambient light RoundFlash Beauty Dish: portrait example, single light source

In the following photos, a second speedlight with a gel was added for hair accent.

RoundFlash Beauty Dish: portrait example with a second gelled speedlight RoundFlash Beauty Dish: behind the scenes, portrait example with a second gelled speedlight

There are very few collapsible beauty dishes on the market today. Some time ago, we reviewed Speedlight Pro Kit Beauty Dish, which folds flat and also attaches to the flash head. It is slightly bigger (about 20" / 51cm), but almost 4 times heavier (25oz / 700g vs. 6.5oz / 180g). The Speedlight Pro Kit unit is much more portable than a conventional beauty dish, but it cannot hold a candle to the RoundFlash beauty dish when it comes to portability and ease of use.

RoundFlash Beauty Dish: compared to Speedlight Pro Kit, open RoundFlash Beauty Dish: compared to Speedlight Pro Kit, collapsed

Another flash light modifier that performs similarly to RoundFlash Dish in terms of light quality is Honl Photo Traveller 16 softbox. It is 16" (40cm) in diameter, which is a bit smaller than the RoundFlash diffuser, and it is also about 2.5 times heavier. When folded, Traveller 16 is fairly compact, but not as small as RoundFlash Dish. Famous for their quality, Honl Photo products are known for being build to take extreme abuse. The RoundFlash beauty dish is also well-built, but Traveller 16 is almost unbreakable.

RoundFlash Beauty Dish: compared to Honl Photo Traveller 16

So, are there any drawbacks of RoundFlash Dish? Well, not really, assuming that the size of the diffuser fits your needs. The only thing we noticed was related to the internal support tubes, which, on a rare occasion, may get in the way when folding the unit. It is easily fixable, so it\’s not a real problem. Also, when working outdoor in windy conditions, RoundFlash Dish may wobble because of its small weight, but in such conditions, it\’s good to have an assistant anyway.

To conclude, the RoundFlash Dish collapsible beauty dish is a brilliantly designed photography accessory. It is very easy to use, extremely portable, and it delivers great light quality. It seems to be durable and so far served us well. We only wish it was even bigger :). We highly recommend RoundFlash Dish to anyone who is looking for a great portable off-camera speedlight diffuser. At the time of this writing, it is priced between $60 and $75 (USD), and you can check out the latest prices below.

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