Friday, March 4, 2011

The Mini Beauty Dish (Flashpoint) Nikon SB800 Review

Recently I read a Forum Discussion about the value of the small Beauty Dishes that can be directly mounted on a hot shoe flash. Opinions of their value were quite divided, with a vocal fraction that came to a "useless" verdict.

A HA!  Time for another strobe-experiment.

For this test I used the Flashpoint (Adorama) Mini Dish and part of its Accessory Kit. The white reflector can be changed against a silver or gold one, and there are three grids with large medium and small grid mesh. The whole set also comes with color filers  which I did not test here as the effect should be obvious.

The Dish comes in two versions. One for smaller flash heads like the SB800 and one for larger flash heads like the SB900. Neither will fit on the Metz 45. One of the big complaint in one other test I read was, that "the Dish (tested) is completely useless because it has a ring of bright light around the center because the Dish and the flash have a very loose fit and there is a lot of light leakage."   If you use the correct version for your flash it will work. If you use the large version on a small flash, you will get a similar result like these testers.  Doehhhh! (Translation for not people who do not speak day to day English: "That result was to be expected as it was bleeding obvious from the beginning.")

So I planted a SB800 on a light stand about 1,50 from a white wall. It was set as remote slave. On the camera I used the internal flash as commander. Set the internal flash to NIL output. and the remote flash to Manual 1/16 output. The camera was also set to manual 1/250 and f 5.6 to start with. I stood about 5m behind the flash.

no flash,

That is the picture with no flash. Ambient light is clearly no factor. The little dot is the ready light from the flash.
flash 24mm setting, 

I do see a nice distribution of light which falls off from center in a nice curve.
Nothing wrong here. Again it helps to select the right size to begin with!
The zoom head of the flash was set to 24mm.

flash 24mm setting, 

The same flash setting  but the aperture closed 2 stops to 11. The picture is underexposed , but one can see the light fall of nicely

flash 24mm setting, 

Same Setting, just a different camera angle to see if there are any hot spots, patterns or rings.

No! All is fine!

flash 50mm setting,  

The zoom of the flash set to 50mm. Not much difference 

1/250, f11, flash 105mm setting, 

The zoom of the flash set to 105mm Again not much difference. The flash seems to loos a bit of power and the fall of seems to be a tad softer. 

All in all I would say when not making pictures of white walls it does not matter which way the zoom is set. I would probably leave it at 24mm. 

1/250, f11, flash 105mm setting, silver insert,

Here I kept everything equal, and just switched the white reflector for the silver one. Surprisingly the silver reflector just seems to eat up a stop of light and do not much else.

1/250, f11, flash 105mm setting, gold insert
The gold reflector gives golden light and eats about 2 stops of light.

1/250, f5.6, flash 105mm setting, gold insert

Opened the aperture to 5.6 and it is about the level of the picture with the white reflector above. So two stops is about right.

1/250, f11, flash 105mm setting,white insert,
large grid

That  gives a nice spot of soft light.

1/250, f11, flash 105mm setting,white insert, 
medium grid

That  gives a very narrow spot of soft light.

1/250, f11, flash 105mm setting, no insert, 
large grid

Here  I removed the insert completely so the flash shoots direct through the grid.

1/250, f16, flash 105mm setting, no insert, 
large grid

Here I lowered the aperture to 16 nice bright spot, And I am  reasonably happy with the light fall off.

1/250, f16, flash 105mm setting, no insert, 
medium grid

A nice spot effect. The dark area has no lights leaks.

1/250, f16, flash 105mm setting, no dish

This is the kind of light pattern the flash produces without the Dish. The form is quite horizontal.

1/250, f16, flash 50mm setting, no dish

This is the kind of light pattern the flash produces without the Dish with 50mm.

1/250, f16, flash 24mm setting, no dish

That delivers even light for large center spot. 

1/250, f16, flash 14mm setting (additional diffuser) , no dish

Quite even light pattern in the center but still a clear falloff in the corners.

1/250, f16, flash 14mm setting (additional diffuser) , flash head turned up 45 degrees, white card out

This is newspaper photogs favorite. It is actually a nice light pattern with a evenly lit center and falling off left and right. good for the typical three to four people group shot.


The Mini Beauty Dish gives a specific pattern of light output. That is exactly what we expect from a light former, not more not less. With the gold insert and the grids it becomes more versatile and can be used in a number of situations. It can not be easily replaced with the on board means from your flash.

Personally I think It widens my possibilities and I have used it at a number of occasions. I am happy with it. I own both sizes and use the one either fits the SB800 or the SB900.

Is it worth your money? That depends on your wallet and shooting subjects.

I find that with the gold reflector it produces  nice skin tones in people with Asian skin tone.

Father and Daughter

The picture was taken in north facing shade and was very cool without flash.

 P.S. Sorry for the baaaaad layout but the "new and improved" blogger editor sucks not only big time but also the will to live out of me. There is a lot of trial and error involved as the stupid editor shows you thing one way and the blog shows it in another, frankly I have given up for today. I will neaten it another time.


  1. Hi! May I know where I can purchase this and what's it's called? Your review is very very useful to me! Thank you.


  2. The flashpoint brand is the house brand of Adorama but in my experience the Chinese brands like Phottix are nearly indistinguishable.