As you know from reading this site, Impact makes a number of excellent products that offer quite a bit of bang for your photography buck. The Impact 22″ Beauty Dish Reflector Kit represents a solid value for those that want to engage in portrait photography, but don’t want to pay more for a beauty dish kit than they paid for their portrait lens.
1) Initial Thoughts
This is one well-built kit that will satisfy demanding professionals and amateurs alike.
2) Product Specifications
Finish: Black exterior, neutral white interior
Mount: Most major brands (requires purchase of adapter)
Dimensions Diameter: 22″ (56 cm)
Depth: 6.5″ (16.5 cm)
Weight: 3.15 lb (1.4 kg)
Finish: Matte black
Dimensions: Diameter: 22″ (60 cm)
Size 22″ (55.9 cm)
2) Features And Construction
Beauty Dishes are not terribly complicated pieces of gear. Almost all are made of aluminum and painted white or silver on the inside and black on the outside. They have a dome on the inside that reflects the light around the edges of the bowl-like dish. The fit, finish, and paint are top notch and as fine as any other I have seen. The black aluminum grid is very lightweight. Three thick aluminum connectors allow you to easily snap the grid securely onto the beauty dish. The grid also comes off easily enough without a lot of pressure – a very solid design. I like the 22″ models for their versatility. They can easily mimic a large softbox, but are easier to setup – no quirky wire rods and the risk of snapping them and/or driving them through your softbox. Unless you run over you beauty dish with your car, the most damage you are likely to inflict on it is scratching the paint on the outside. And that can be easily fixed with a quick spray of black paint.
You also need to purchase an adapter ring for your specific brand of studio light. This unit cost approximately $25. I ordered one made for my Bowens’ Gemini series light.
My Bowens adapter ring snapped into place easily enough, and with a few turns of the locking screw, the Impact 22″ Beauty Dish was ready to go. I noticed that the Bowens adapter ring had a bit of play when attached to the Bowens Gemini studio light head. After taking the dish off and comparing the Impact adapter ring to one from Bowens, I noted that the 3 cube-shaped connectors of the Impact adapter were just a hair smaller, which introduced a tiny bit of movement. I consider this to be a minor issue, and have seen similar behavior in other adapter rings I have used.
I asked my lovely assistant, Svetlana, and her beautiful twin sister, Olga, to help out, which they agreed to do (beautiful ladies, but not terribly talkative…). I set up three tests – 1. Beauty dish with diffusion sock. 2. Beauty dish with grid, and 3. Beauty dish without diffusion sock or grid.
1. Beauty Dish With Diffusion Sock
This produced a very soft, flattering light that spilled over to the background. The beauty dish was approximately 2 feet from Svetlana’s face at a 45 degree angle. The background was approximately 5 feet behind her. Here’s the first photo of Svetlana:
Here’s Olga photographed with the same set-up:
2. Beauty Dish With Grid
The grid better directed the light toward the models’ faces, reducing the light’s spill on onto the background, and producing deeper shadows. The grid sucks up quite a bit of light. I had my Gemini studio head set at 5, its lowest setting, in the previous test. In order to approximate the same amount of light on my model’s faces, I had to up the power to 6. On my light’s scale, this represents a 20% increase.
Here’s the first photo of Svetlana:
As you can see, the grid introduced a bit more of what call the “40s Glamour Style.” This is a classic look which provided striking contrast, dark shadows, and a style often associated with many famous Hollywood actresses from that era.
3. Beauty Dish Without Diffusion Sock or Grid
The photos for this series were hard to discern from those that I took of Svetlana and Olga with the diffusion sock, so I didn’t post them. This was probably a function of having the beauty dish so close to the models’ faces, resulting in softer light. Moving the light farther away from the models’ faces would likely result in more contrast when using beauty dish without the diffusion sock.
I didn’t focus much on catchlights, as all beauty dishes produce similar catchlight effects in the models’ eyes.
4) What Is In The Box?
– 22″ Beauty Dish
– 22″ Black Aluminum Grid
– 22″ Nylon Diffuser Sock
Not Included But Necessary:
– Adapter Ring for your specific brand of studio light
This kit is very well made and should stand up to just about anything, short of being dropped from of a 10 story building.
At $245, this kit may seem expensive – until you consider the competition. You can easily spend between $330 to $850 for the brand name beauty dish kit equivalents. If your style of shooting calls for a beauty dish, you would be hard pressed to find a better deal.
7) Suggested Improvements
The only suggestion I have is for Impact recheck its tolerance for the Bowens adapter ring, and modify the ring just a bit to reduce the amount of play between the beauty dish and the studio light head. For all I know, however, this may only be an issue unique to the Bowens’ adapter ring, or perhaps even for the specific ring I received.
I highly recommend this kit. Buy the Impact kit and put the savings toward that new lens you have been considering.
9) Compared To
This Impact 22″ Beauty Dish Reflector Kit is on par with brand name manufacturers’ units costing significantly more.
10) Where To Buy
You can find the Impact 22″ Beauty Dish Reflector Kit at B&H Photo. You can also find the Impact Beauty Dish Adapter for Elinchrom, Impact EX, Calumet Genesis, Interfit EX Flash Heads at B&H as well.
Impact 22″ Beauty Dish Reflector Kit
- Build Quality
- Size and Weight
- Packaging and Manual
Photography Life Overall Rating
I love Mola and Profoto Beauty Dishes. It’s worth the investment for high quality engineered products
It must comment on the “plasticky” look of the models skin. Yes the hair and mask are very appealing but the skin has been modified to such an extent it diminishes using a beauty dish. I do like the review of the beauty dish, these images are not showing it’s uses effectively.
I have indeed made the same comments to these models. I told them if they looked any more artificial, someone might actually accuse them of being mannequins! ;)
Ha ha ha ha. I was thinking the same thing about how overdone the photoshop was. Somehow the subtlety about the comment of the “twin sisters” not being terribly talkative slipped right over my head. I must be getting old!!
Admittedly it would have been a better demonstration with real models.
Thanks for the review tho
Indeed, but live models are never quite as cooperative! ;)
I’m use Profoto lights (Acute2 1200 and 600R) and generally like the Profoto modifiers. Their beauty dish gets raves but I’m a Mola Demi fan too. I prefer it to any other, and I’ve tried a few. I will be forking out the shekels for a silver version next. I love using the grid, the diffuser, and just the dish. Its probably my favorite thing to hang off a light – well I also dig the Elinchrom 39″ Deep Octa with a Profoto adapter ring. And any super sized octa softbox.
Seeing this review on studio gear is sort of refreshing….thanks!
Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate high quality gear that provides a serious edge over the competition. It is just that with some items, such as beauty dishes, I have to question how much additional value people will get by spending significantly more money.
The Strobist, David Hobby, regularly demonstrates that you can take great photos with budget equipment. Despite its bargain price, the Impact 22″ Beauty Dish is a quality made item.
Bob, I have several beauty dishes, two are the same ones David Hobby uses. Maybe you can’t tell the difference when you light. I can. My models can and the other photographers who are part of my co-op can. Maybe it’s the lights, maybe my studio is more magical. But there is a difference. They all give good results, but as it is with most things, some results are better than others. It’s funny no matter what product or technology, someone always will tell you that their cheaper product is as good if not better than your higher price item. Or any item. I don’t look at price as much as I look at results. If I could get the Demi’s results with a paper bag, I would use one. I dont buy equipment to impress people. I buy stuff that works. I’m sure there are other dishes that are better than the Demi but I’m okay with where I’m at. I thought the Impact did a good job. I don’t have any complaints but I prefer my choice.
It’s about time I sign off this RSS feed. It’s getting too much like dpreview around here.
“It’s getting too much like dpreview around here.” – Ouch! That is a pretty low blow! ;) And actually, that is not true by any measure.
That is not to say that the other manufacturers don’t make fine products. My simple point is that this beauty dish offers quite a bit of value and will meet the needs of many people of varying abilities. The $100-$600 difference between this Impact model and the higher end models may also be difficult for some to justify given their limited budgets.
The challenge is always the same – how do we maximize the value we get from our collection of gear in light of our needs. I think this Impact beauty dish goes a long way toward providing premium results at a not-so-premium price.
Love the first picture with golden brown colors!!! How were you able to get those colors? Is there a Lightroom theme for that? Would love to get that theme or settings.
Thanks, Vipul. I used Nik Silver Efex, but you can easily replicate this look in Lightroom using a B&W filter and the Split Toning adjustment. You can also get a similar effect with Photoshop’s B&W adjustment layer and clicking on the Tint check box.