Stupid Question on Beauty Dishes

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by ben_hutcherson, Feb 16, 2018.

  1. I feel strange asking this, but here goes.

    I had been under the impression that "beauty dish" was synonmous with "reflector", but I realize now that I was quite wrong. I thought I had virtually every modifier Norman cataloged, but this is one thing I'm lacking.

    I know that there are a LOT of options out there at various price points, but it seems as though the closest Norman actually catalogs is a white reflector with a "snap on center diffuser"(which looks and sounds a lot like one to me).

    Still, though, I don't particularly care to pay new Norman prices, so I'm back to looking at generic options.

    My two questions are:

    1. The modeling light on Norman heads extends probably 1" past the flash tube. Does a generic dish exist that has enough clearance for the center to allow for this, or would I need to remove the modeling light completely?

    2. I THINK that specific Norman head attachment system is different from a lot of other strobes. Does an adapter ring exist that would allow me to buy a $20 B&H dish and use it on my Norman heads?
  2. What is your budget?

    eBay and Adorama have solutions for less than half the price of a new Norman dish.

    The NYC Craigslist has a Norman setup for sale including a Norman beauty dish. You could think about offering the seller a price for the dish only.
  3. No, you're underestimating the Norman 5X (I presume this is what you're looking at).

    If you look into the face of such a pan when it shoots, you'll you'll see a smaller bright spot near the center and a larger light surrounding it. So it's a combination of a large soft source giving soft light (limited by the smallish diameter, compared to soft-box), plus a smaller one to give a little "specularity" to skin.

    It's a fairly subtle effect, probably not worth the money for a hobbyist to buy one new. But there ought to be a lot on the used market in the US. (Check with people selling used P-800 packs.)
  4. As a long-term report on this, I thought I'd mention that I picked up the Norman dish for ~$80 on Ebay-$60 for the dish and $20 for shipping.

    I haven't had a chance yet to play with it(despite getting it nearly a month ago-I ended up having to take down my "studio" for guests at Christmas, and didn't have a subject/situation that warranted using it in the weeks before) but I'm looking forward to it. Like all the Norman modifiers I've used, it certainly seems like a quality piece and is much nicer(and also larger) than the cheap dishes I've looked at.

    I'm guessing it could be used without the snap-in center dome too as a gentler(white) reflector than the standard polished parabolic one, but of course that also kind of defeats the purpose of it.
  5. What size was the Dish.?
  6. Wow...Good For You.!
    B&H lists it at (almost) 200 bux.
    You got a great deal my friend.
    It even LOOKS like a cool Dish :)
  7. Yes-that's why I jumped on the Ebay one for under $100(shipped).

    I've not used it without the center reflector, but it looks like it would make a nice shallow white reflector if used without that.
  8. Might as well try and see if you like the effect.

    A good way to find "characteristics" of a new light setup is to hold your hand, with fingers splayed out, in front of a lightish background, then photograph the shadows. With the Norman 5X you should see two superimposed sets of shadows, one larger (and softer) than the other. With portraits this can give an overall "softish" light with some extra "specularity" to it.

    If you remove the center deflector I imagine that these shadows will be strongly overpowered by hard light of the bare flashtube. One caution I'd make about this: if you shoot people, especially kids, this opens up the possibility of someone blistering their finger on the hot quartz halogen modeling bulb. I personally wouldn't go there without good reason; kids are now growing up without the experience of blistering-hot bulbs, so may not know to be careful.

    As a note, I'd guess you'll lose a slight amount of light, perhaps a couple tenths of a stop (?) if you remove the center deflector. This may not seem immediately obvious, but I'm guessing it will happen since some of the light from the bare tube can now escape from the normal coverage zone of the 5X. Again, it's just a guess, but if you're going to do critical comparison tests with and without, you should double check the exposure.

    Ps, congrats on finding a 5X. Hope you're having some success with it.

    Pps, sometimes people will put a white diffusion "sock" over the front of the 5X. This will make the effect more like a round soft box, without the normal little protrusions that could poke someone in the eye.

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