Comparing Chimera’s Collapsible Beauty Dish vs. Traditional Metal Dishes

When it comes to photographing people, there might not be a better, and more used light modifier than the mighty beauty dish. But when the time comes to hitting the road, this bulky and fragile item is usually the first left behind. Photographer M.D. Welch compares Chimera’s Octa Beauty collapsible beauty dish to traditional metal beauty dishes and shows you that you don’t have to sacrifice perfect lighting for portability.

The beauty dish is one of my favorite light modifiers my work. But the size and weight of the dish makes it one of the first items I have to cut from my travel list.

Beauty dishes are large and fragile, two characteristics that don’t go well with travel and baggage handlers.

I myself have gone through three beauty dishes in my career, and I travel very little compared to many of my colleges.

Cross system compatibility with over 400 speed rings available, easily adaptable to every strobe or speed light combination on the market today

Fortunately, the designers are Chimera have come up with a solution, a collapsible beauty dish, the Octa Beauty Dish. Now full disclosure, when I first saw the Octa Beauty Dish at a trade show last year, I thought that Chimera had fallen into the realm of creating gimmick lighting modifiers that have been popping up lately.

Because there is no way a fabric box can create the same look and feel as a beauty dish made of metal or plastic. Right? To see if Chimera had really hit a home run, or lost a step, I put the Octa Beauty Dish up against my trusted beauty dish for a shot by shot comparison. For this test, I was using the 24 inch Octa Beauty Dish, which was similar in size to my standard beauty dish.

To keep this test as scientific as possible, we locked down our light, with height and angle staying the same between every shot. We also locked down the camera distance and the placement of our amazing model, Emerson. I even used a light meter to make sure the power output of the light was the same when switching between the Octa Beauty Dish and the beauty dish. And no secondary light sources were used, so you can see what each modifier was really adding to the image. As you can see the difference between the two dishes are hardly noticeable. You would think that Octa Beauty Dish would show some major changes in the quality of light, being a foldable box, but the designers at Chimera accounted for this and produced an amazing modifier.

Matches or even exceeds the light quality of a standard metal beauty dish.

Safe to use with traditional Halogen modeling lights, LED, and even Plasma.

Setting up the Octa Beauty Dish is where the power of this modifier starts to really shine. As you can see, next to a beauty dish, the size of the Octa Box when collapsed, is significantly smaller, and of course, the risk of damage is not even a factor. The Octa Beauty Dish sets up like a regular Octabank, using the same Chimera Speedring of all of their Octabank modifiers.

The poles install in the speed ring in a circular fashion, making sure that all the poles are seated flush in the ring. Next you install the diffusion disk with the four attached velcro strips that attach to the inside of the Octa Beauty Dish. You want to make sure that the disk is centered in the Dish. Now you just attach the dish to your light and you are ready to go.

The Octa Beauty Dish also comes with a front diffusion panel, to soften the light and also change the look of the catch lights in the eye of your subject.

Collapses easily to fit into a carry-on camera or lighting kit.

With our scientific test over, I staged a light behind Emerson and started working with this amazing young talent. Location work is where the Octa Beauty Dish shines, with quick setup and tear down, and a small footprint.

For this shoot, I am working with Luke Lippincott, former running back at the University of Nevada, Reno. Luke and I wanted to do work with his café racer, and I picked this great location near the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. For this series of shots, I wanted to focus on Luke’s face, and not really light the area around him, or the motorcycle. Fortunately, Chimera makes an optional grid for the Octa Beauty Dish, and as you can see between these two shots, the grid kept the light off the bright sand on the ground and drew the focus to Luke. As a side note, one problem with working in Northern Nevada is strong winds, especially in this particular location. It is another reason why I prefer using a beauty dish to a softbox. One question about the Octa Beauty Dish was, could it handle the wind? After a few strong gusts, any concerns I had in the strength of the Octa Beauty Dish were dismissed.

As for the work with Luke, all we had to do was wait for the light to get a little lower in the sky and we were able to get the shots. The last thing that sets the Octa Beauty Dish apart from a standard beauty dish is versatility. While a beauty dish is one of the essential tools, it is a one trick pony. But the Octa Beauty Dish allows you to remove the inner counter reflector, and install the front diffusion on the dish and you have a small Octa Bank, or if you have the additional grid, you can turn the Octa Beauty Dish into a reflector with a grid.

The Octa Beauty Dish is not limited to just studio strobes. You can mount either a single of two hot shoe flashes in the beauty dish with the Adjustable Versi Bracket.

Stop leaving your essential lighting modifiers at home when you hit the road or showing up to a shoot with dented or damaged beauty dish. When you are looking for perfect light, look no further than Chimera.

Chimera Versi products allow you to use your hot-shoe flashes to Chimera Octa Beauty, OctaPlus, Super Pro, and Pro II lightbanks! Click here to find out more!

Our thanks to M.D. for his amazing images and in-depth comparison. Make sure to check out more of his work online, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter!

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