This is a quick review of the Impact Portrait Kit. The kit includes a snoot and a beauty dish with accessories that include grids and colored gels. All of these modifiers are made to fit onto almost any on-camera flash. I was initially skeptical about how well they would work while shooting portraits, especially considering that on the packaging it only shows examples of product photography.
1) Product Specifications
Mounts to Any On-Camera Flash
Dish Reflector with 3 Interior Discs
Neutral Filter to Reduce Light Output
Three Color Filters
Snoot for Narrow Circle of Light
Snoot has 2 grids
2) Packaging and Field Use
The Portrait Kit is shipped in three boxes: a beauty dish, beauty dish accessories and a snoot. Each box is the standalone retail box that you would receive if you were to purchase them individually. They are securely packaged inside of the boxes.
Each unit comes with instructions that explain how to attach them to your flash, but setup is fairly intuitive. Just attach the big rubber band to the end of your flash, slide the unit over your flash and tighten the velcro strap so it doesn’t fall off. While I was using them, I did find it somewhat difficult to securely tighten the unit to the flash. For the beauty dish, this wasn’t really a problem as aim wasn’t very critical, but it became quite annoying when I was trying to accurately aim the snoot. The beauty dish did fall off once during use because it wasn’t tightened securely enough.
The beauty dish comes with quite a few accessories. It has three interior discs that reflect the light from the flash into the dish, which is then reflected onto your subjects. This reflected light is supposed to be softer than direct flash. The discs are also colored, coming in gold, silver and white. These can either warm or cool the light falling on your subject. While the discs certainly changed the amount of direct light coming from my flash, they didn’t necessarily soften the light. I felt that the photos I took with the beauty dish still looked like they were being lit by a small flash.
The beauty dish also has three colored filters, but I really am not sure what they’re supposed to be used for. Initially, I thought they were gels for color balancing with other light sources, but they’re not. I certainly would never use them for a portrait unless I wanted a blue, yellow or red light on my subject. The only time I’d consider using them would be to change the color of a background light. The clear filter just acts as a diffuser that diffuses all of the light coming from the flash.
The beauty dish also comes with three grids that slip into the dish and control the amount and direction of light coming from it. I found these to be useful in controlling light spill. One thing that I did notice was that they cast a faint shadow onto a solid white wall. Fortunately, the shadow wasn’t noticeable on an irregularly-shaped and colored subject.
The snoot is a very solid piece of gear. It’s metal and feels substantial. Unfortunately, it’s also heavy. I had a hard time keeping it properly aimed, as I couldn’t secure it tightly enough to my flash, so it kept drooping. I also found that my flash (SB-800) had a hard time supporting the weight and sometimes wouldn’t lock into any angle but 90 or 45-degrees. It does do a very good job of focusing light and projects a small beam of light.
If you want a more tightly focused beam of light, simply add one of the two grids that comes with the snoot. These shape the light into an even more focused beam. Similar to the grids for the beauty dish, I noticed a slight shadow while using the grids. One of the grids was slightly bent, which made it hard to attach to the end of the snoot.
I initially tried to use the Impact Portrait Kit to shoot some portraits, but found that I couldn’t get the results I wanted by only using the included accessories. I do believe that the portrait kit would be a great addition to a more complete portrait setup. For example, I think it would compliment the Impact Quickbox quite nicely.
I then decided to try to photograph a product using only the kit. Since this is what’s shown on the packaging, I figured I would get better results. Using two SB-800s, the beauty dish, snoot and accessories, I set out to create an impressive image of my Yashica-D.
Initially, I shot the camera using one flash with no modifiers (top-left image). This gave me a rather flat looking image. I then added the beauty dish to my main light and added a backlight with nothing on it (top-right image). This gave a bit more definition to the main light but washed out the background. Next I added a grid to the main light and a snoot to the background light (bottom-left image). This gave me much more control over the lighting, so I decided to adjust the background light and explore some new angles, giving the the final image (bottom-right).
I personally would not consider the Impact Portrait Kit to be a portrait kit. I wouldn’t use any of these modifiers as the key light for a portrait. I would use them as primary lights, though. They work great for adding controlled light to backgrounds or as accent lights. I think that the images on the packaging tell the entire story. As primary lights, these light modifiers are best suited to product photography.