Texxas’s Weblog

17 January, 2009

DIY Beauty Dish light for under ten dollars.

Filed under: DIY — texxas @ 7:02 pm

Hi there gang,

This is the first of a two part piece on the making of a Beauty Dish.  For the uninitiated a beauty dish is a wide diameter light modifier that softens shadows and diffuses strobe flash giving a fine soft shadow and interesting ‘donut’ shaped catchlights in the subjects’ eyes.

For this you will need a large diameter dish, a convex reflector, a plastic jar with lid, matt white paint, glue and the usual tools. (Craft knife, cordless drill, marker pen, duct tape some cable ties (or pop rivets) and cutting mat)


I found these salad bowls at the local $2 shop for $2.50 – how ironic.  Whilst they are not as wide as I would have liked, they are very cheap and made of a very nice vinyl which cut and drilled well.

A large diameter flat bowl is the best shape and I urge you to look out for something at least 30 – 50 centimeters in diameter.  For the reflector, I have used a convex mirror $4.50 at the local Auto-Pro store.  The clear plastic jar is a peanut butter jar – but a large plastic Vegemite jar will also suffice.  Whilst I have some Silicone adhesive here, hot melt glue will also work.


The tapered nature of the plastic jar means that you can get a nice fit to the convex lens with a little cutting and measuring.  Cut the base of the jar off and glue it to the mirror.  The lid of the jar will need to be significantly larger than the head diameter of the flash.  I am using my trusty SB600 here and I suggest making a template from some card to help get the hole just the right size the first time.  Remember, measure twice, cut once…. Thanks Mr Wilson from shop class 1975…  You have to cut identical holes in both the jar lid and the dish – so a template will help.

Fix the lid of the jar into the dish by drilling a couple of holes and with either cable ties or pop rivets (test a small piece of the discarded hole plastic first to ensure that the rivets don’t split the plastic, otherwise use cable ties.)

Test fit the flash into the hole and let is poke through about 1 1/2 to 2 centimeters.

Once the fit and fixing is done, paint the interior of the dish and jar lid with the flat white paint.  ( I have used a vinyl dye that I had left over from another project.)

Allow to dry and thats about it…. screw the centre reflector into the dish and fit the flash unit.  Give it a few test shots with and without the reflector to see the difference between the flash shadows.


Direct Flash

Direct Flash

Beauty Dish Shadow

Beauty Dish Shadow

1 Comment »

  1. Sounds like a great idea. What about a shot of the finished product?
    I too am a D700 owner with a 50mm 1.8 and 24-70mm 2.8. Top gear.

    Comment by Ron Cork — 15 June, 2009 @ 3:33 am | Reply

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