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What size beauty scale is suitable for your portrait photography?

The post What Size Beauty Dish is suitable for your portrait photography? first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by John McIntire.

What size beauty scale is suitable for your portrait photography?

Beauty dishes are common and popular lighting modifiers. They are especially useful for portraits (beauty is after all the name). They are also often a lot cheaper than soft boxes of decent size. Years ago, your choice of a beauty dish was fairly limited. Nowadays, if you are looking for beauty salons, you will see a large number of options that vary widely in size and even how they are set up.

2 - What size beauty scale is suitable for your portrait photography?

Although the figures don't seem so different, the actual sizes of these beauty dishes vary enormously, and they all have a clear effect on the light in your images.

What do you do if you are faced with this type of choice and how do you know which size beauty kit you should buy? This article discusses three common sizes of beauty dishes and shows you what effect they have on your images. All beauty gifts discussed here are silver and none of them are foldable. As long as they are of decent quality, the fact that a beauty salon can be folded should not affect your images.

What is a beauty salon?

Dishes with three different sizes. Left: 16 "Middle: 20" Right: 27 "

Beauty dishes are bowl-shaped modifiers that are known for the contrast-rich light they offer. The quality of the light is usually somewhere between hard and soft (when brought close to the subject). This distinguishes them from other modifiers, such as umbrellas and softboxes, where the goal is to achieve the softest possible light. This allows you to create well-defined borders and shadows, while still maintaining a flattering light on your subject.

This image shows an unchanged beauty dish on the left. A gridded beauty dish in the middle, and a beauty dish with a diffusion sock on the right.

You will often see that beauty dishes are supplied with grilles and diffusion socks for further adjustment. Grids change and improve the direction of the light, while diffusion socks further spread the light, soften it and change the shape.

What sizes are there?

Every search for a beauty salon should yield a huge amount of results these days. You can find small beauty dishes that are only a few centimeters wide and designed for flash weapons. You will find huge beauty salons that are ideal for lighting groups of people. This article compares three formats that fall more in the normal size category. These are a 27 ", 20" and 16 ".

All three beauty dishes were placed at the same distance from the subject to clearly demonstrate the differences in the effect they offer.

1. 27 "

With a diameter of 27 inches, this beauty salon is located in the upper regions of what you can expect in terms of size. If it is nearby, the light it offers is very soft and comparable to a medium-sized softbox, but with a little more contrast. It also offers great catchlights in the eyes of the subject.

Because of its size, it is easy to move the light farther away from your subject to achieve a similar effect to smaller beauty dishes, while leaving you more room to work. This beauty dish would also be great for lighting several people, while smaller dishes might struggle.

The 27-inch beauty scale provides really soft light when placed in the vicinity. Pay attention to the shadow and highlights transitions and the way the light wraps around the subject.

There are a number of disadvantages to a great beauty gift. The greater the light source relative to your subject, the less bright your subject's eyes will be. If you want clear, clear eyes, a smaller beauty salon might be the best choice. It is also more difficult to remove the light (without a grid), because the larger source sheds more light behind your subject.

2. 20 "

The second beauty dish that we will discuss is 20 inches. This is pretty close to what can be considered a standard size for a beauty salon (if there is such a thing). A few feet (1-4) away from your subject, the qualities of light that it produces are great for all kinds of portraits and for a wide range of subjects.

It's great for male and female subjects, but for flattering portraits of older people you might want to consider not using a beauty salon. Choose large softboxes and umbrellas instead. Because the beauty dish is not much larger than the head of your average person (from a suitable distance), you also have good control over the light falling and you have even more control when you enter a grid.

The 20-inch beauty dish also offers good, soft light, but the edges of the transitions from shadow to highlight are more defined. You also notice that the light wraps around the subject less and results in darker shadows toward the back of the subject's head.

3. 16 "

This last beauty dish has a diameter of 16 inches. This is the format that I have used most since I bought it more than ten years ago. You can see in the images how battered and well used it is.

Because it is quite small, it is easy to operate and great to get really close to your subject. This beauty screen is clearly lit and determines the eyes of your subject. The harder light source also offers clearly defined edges between shadows and highlights, but in a flattering way.

If you want the light to fall off as much as possible, this size is definitely the right choice. However, if you want to increase it, you are better off with a larger modifier. This is because moving this beauty dish at some distance from your subject results in really harsh light that you may not find so flattering for most subjects.

The 16-inch beauty dish also offers excellent light. Here you can see that the transitions from shadow to marker are clearly defined. The fast light also disappears, the areas to the back of the subject's head are more in the shade.

In terms of portability, this scale of size beauty is amazing. It does not weigh very much and only carrying it in your hand takes minimal effort.

When this is used as something other than a key light, this size dish is really effective. Its small size makes it unobtrusive and easy to place anywhere, whether for use as a hair lamp or filling.

What size should you get?

Left: 16 "Middle: 20" Right: 27 "

Some differences between these three modifiers can be subtle and difficult to recognize when you are dealing with lighting for the first time. If you are still wondering what you should choose, my best advice (which is by no means a gospel) is to evaluate what you need it for.

Do you need portability? Buy a small one or consider a foldable one.

Will you often photograph groups of people? Go for the largest you can.

Do you photograph in a small space? Go again for the little one.

Do you shoot in a large room where you cannot get the lights very close to your subject? Again, go for the largest that is possible.

Whichever you choose, make sure that it is supplied with both a grid and a diffusion sock for the best possible operation.

No matter which way you choose to go, you will find yourself with a versatile and useful modifier that will last you years.

Have you used these modifiers? Share your opinion with us in the comments below.

what size beauty salon

The post What Size Beauty Dish is suitable for your portrait photography? first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by John McIntire.

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