I recently had the pleasure of meeting Brandon Cruz, the owner of Lumodi while I was hosting the Lighting Essentials Workshop here in San Diego. I was really attracted to the very lightweight Model 14 (14″ beauty dish) and Brandon was kind enough to offer a dish up to use and review. After a few emails, Brandon also sent a Model 11 (11″ beauty dish) with a custom logo and a prototype Speedlight Reflector. I put them all through their paces and I have to say that these are some of the lightest, durable, and most efficient speedlight modifiers available. Keep reading for the full review.
The Model 14 (see photo above) is a 14″ beauty dish and comes in one of two interior finishes – white and titanium silver. In fact, all three of their products are available with both interior finishes. The Model 14 gives off very soft, gorgeous light that falls off quickly, giving you a lot of control over spill. The silver finish is slightly more efficient and the center is just a tad hotter than the edges. The white finish produces a more even light from center to edge. The silver finish would work better in outdoor settings where you need as much out of your speedlight as you can get. Speaking of light, these beauty dishes reduce the output of your flash by approximately 2 stops so you’ll need to keep that in mind. Price: $69.95
The Model 11 is an 11″ beauty dish which is not as deep as the Model 14, making it a little easier to put into your camera bag or backpack. It works well for a key light if you get it in really close, but I like to use it for a little on-axis fill in combination with the Model 14. If you’re working in a tight space, the Model 11 might work better due to size and control of your light. You can also easily hand-hold a flash with the Model 11 and get great off-camera light without the need for a stand or an assistant. Just remember to get in close. Pricing information isn’t available at this time, but I will update this post as soon as I have it.
Back of the Lumodi Model 11 mounted on an SB80DX speedlight.
The Lumodi Speedlight Reflector (SLR) is a prototype modifier, but it’s got some serious potential! With the beauty dishes, the only light that comes out of them is reflected light. The Speedlight Reflector gives direct light that is diffused as well as reflected light, much like a studio strobe would with a reflector mounted on it. This makes the modifier very efficient while still producing a soft and controllable light. One thing that I noticed with this modifier is that I was able to control the softness of the shadows based on how much or little I zoomed my flash head. This gives you even more control over the output of your light. Very cool. I currently don’t have pricing information on this unit, but I will update this post as soon as it’s available.
Back of the Lumodi Speedlight Reflector on an SB80DX speedlight.
Now that I’ve given you a good description of each of the products and what they can do, lets get to the images!
Model 14, camera left of the subject and a little higher, pointing down.
Model 14, camera left (same as above); Model 11 used as on-axis fill.
Model 11, camera left of the subject and a little higher, pointing down. In nice and close too.
Speedlight Reflector, camera left, SB800 zoomed to 24mm, producing soft shadows.
Speedlight Reflector, camera left, SB800 zoomed to 105mm, producing harder shadows.
Speedlight Reflector with SB800 zoomed to 24mm – you can see the soft falloff on the background.
Speedlight Reflector with SB800 zoomed to 105mm – hot spot in the center and fast falloff.
Model 14, directly above and feathered in front of the subject to give a very dramatic feel to the light. Think “back room mafia poker game”.
Why Use A Beauty Dish?
A beauty dish gives you a lot of control over light spill and they produce a very pleasing light when they are in close. That’s why you want to have your beauty dish no further away from your subject than twice the distance of the diameter of the dish. In other words, with the Model 14 which is 14″ in diameter, you would have it no further than 28″ away from your subject. Further than that, it is just a light and it’s not anywhere near as pleasing as it is in close. Beauty dishes work great in small spaces because of the control over spill and size. Try using a big octabox in a 3′ x 5′ office… not gonna happen folks. A Model 14 or Model 11 will work great.
The Lumodi products are handmade, just as they say on the back of each of the units and they are fairly durable. They are subject to warping/melting under high heat conditions, so if you live in the desert I wouldn’t recommend leaving them in your car where they are exposed directly to the sun. If you step on them they will certainly bend or crease and most likely crack. But, this isn’t the type of product that’s designed to fold up and go in your shoulder bag either. Since Lumodi products are made of light plastic, they are extremely light and you don’t have to worry that they will dent or break if one falls or is dropped. Overall these modifiers are well-designed and well-built.
I really don’t have a bad thing to say about these awesome little light modifiers. The fact that they are lightweight means that I don’t have to worry about them putting stress on my flash heads and I love that. They are universal, so they will fit most flashes on the market today and you don’t have to worry about having a specific model for a specific flash. So if you have an SB900 and some SB800s, all three products will fit on both flashes without any trouble. If I needed to travel with them, I would either mail them or pack clothes in and around the dish to prevent pressure and cracking. They are so lightweight that you could mail them for next to nothing and not worry about them being packed away in an airline suitcase.
So if you’ve been looking for a great beauty dish to use with your speedlights, the products from Lumodi are definitely the way to go. There are some other really great options out there, but they aren’t as lightweight as these babies. I’ve been very impressed with the Model 14, Model 11, and Speedlight Reflector and I know they will continue to get a lot of use since I mainly light with small flash.
Currently, the Model 14 is sold online in Lumodi’s eBay Store so you can pick them up there or contact them directly to purchase.
Don’t forget to check out Lumodi’s website and be sure to tell Brandon that I sent you!