Make Your Own Beauty Dish

by Mike on March 17, 2008

I have included a video to this post. The original post is just below the video.

Original Post

Beauty Dish 01

Here is what you need to make a simple beauty dish; white plastic bowl, foam board, zip-ties (zap straps), aluminum tape

Beauty Dish 02
Trace around the front of your flash. Make sure it is centered on the bottom of the bowl.

Beauty Dish 03
Make 2 diagonal cuts to make the flaps

Beauty Dish 04
Fold the flaps back 90º.
(Trick – once the flaps are cut, fill your sink with hot water from the tap, let the bottom of the bowl sit in the hot water for about 5 min. to heat up the plastic making it easier to fold back)

Beauty Dish 05
Check to see how your flash fits.

Beauty Dish 06
Front view of fit.

Beauty Dish 07
Draw circle on foam board, about 1/2 the diameter of the bowl.

Beauty Dish 08
Apply aluminum tape on other side of foam board, making sure the aluminum tape covers a larger area than the circle on the other side.

Beauty Dish 09
Cut out circle with sharp box cutter knife.

Beauty Dish 10
Cut slits just big enough for the zip-ties to fit through every 90º.

Beauty Dish 11
Bend the zip-ties (you’ll see why)

Beauty Dish 12
Insert zip-ties through the holes you cut into the circle so the bends in the zip-ties face outward (radiating from the circle)

Beauty Dish 13
Front view

Beauty Dish 14
Cut slits into the plastic bowl just big enough for the zip ties to fit through every 90º
(Trick – you might have to insert a small flathead screwdriver into the slits to stretch them just enough to get the zip-ties through, the zip-ties should be held in place by the friction from the slits)

Beauty Dish 15
This is how it looks finished.

Beauty Dish 16
With an omni-bounce on the flash.

Beauty Dish 17
Front view.

Beauty Dish 18
Illuminated (with omni-bounce on flash).

Beauty Dish 19
I might not be beautiful, but the light from the beauty dish looks good!

Any questions or comments please post them in the comments.

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Jean-François March 25, 2008 at 4:07 pm

Why did you use an omnibounce in your beauty dish?

And completely out of topic but I completely digg your wood tabletop.

Michael Zahora March 25, 2008 at 5:14 pm

@jean-francois – I used an omnibounce as a starting point. I knew that the light would be very even. I will be experimenting without the omnibounce and different center reflectors to see what the light looks like.

From what I understand, the table is made from reclaimed wood from an old ski chalet.

gordon August 31, 2008 at 4:22 pm

where did you buy your bowl? Thanks.

Michael Zahora August 31, 2008 at 7:22 pm

I got the bowl at Home Hardware (a Canadian hardware chain). You probably can find a similar bowl at a dollar store or some sort of department store.

Rob V. January 3, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Made your DIY Beauty Dish. It works like a charm! The results in my initial testing — nice, bright lighting that produces very well-exposed images with high contrast, yet amazingly without any “hotspots” or blown highlights. The Dish should complement my other Nikon Speedlight portable, wireless studio setup, which includes an Alzo softbox (great product), a snoot, a gridspot, as well as umbrellas (both reflective and shoot-through translucent).

Drew January 14, 2009 at 5:08 am

In reply to Jean Francois: The stoffen or omni-bounce replicates a ‘bare-bulb’ light, which should work best with your beauty dish…which looks great btw.

Kristina Moraru March 17, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Thank you!!

This is the best beauty dish how-to article I’ve seen yet.

Keep them coming!! =)

nate flickinger March 29, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Just made your beauty dish, works very well. Thank you for the in depth tutorial.

Rick Potter October 11, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Nice Hack! I followed your advice but used a CD and covered it with foil tape, then used 20 pound test fishing line to almost invisibly attach it. Spray painted the dish with flat white to eliminate any flare. Works great!!

iSavor October 16, 2009 at 4:46 am

These are the BEST directions yet!! (believe me I’ve been lurking sites for months and I KNOW!) Simplistic, no extras, no super tools (that NO one has just lying around) just straight to the point. Thank you. This a definite MUST try and it looks fun too!

Thank you sooo much!

Tom Rinard December 8, 2009 at 11:57 pm

Do you happen what type of plastic was used to make your bowl? I have a bowl that appears very similar to yours and it is made of polypropylene. When attempting to cut the opening the plastic splits and when attempting to fold the flaps back (even after the hot water treatment) they simply snapped off. Any suggestions? Thanks!!

Michael Zahora December 9, 2009 at 9:16 pm

I’m not sure of the exact name of the plastic, but it the same or similar to the plastic used for tupperware. I hope that helps. The plastic is not rigid or brittle.

Martin Englund January 9, 2010 at 7:39 am


Awsome, i like what you made and i will som how find a big bowl in sweden somewhere and make my own beauty dish. Thanks

Aun March 25, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Hey Mikey (if thats your name)!

this is seriously the most simplified approach i’ve seen on youtube for the beauty dish! two thumbs up!

btw, did yod try adding one of those mirrors under the piece of foamboard? will it be more effective or will it throw our too much light?
i’m about to buy a flash and have been thinking of the Vivitar 383… suggestions ?

(i plan on buying a canon 550d/t2i, though i have been using nikon d80 since early 2007 but higher resolution for printing is the reason i’m opting for the 550d… any thoughts ?)

Michael Zahora March 25, 2010 at 10:03 pm

The reason I didn’t use a mirror is quite simple. I wanted the light to be soft. The mirror would make the light a bit harsher and more directional. I could have used the foamcore without the silver tape for an even softer light. The best part is I can make three different centre disks (white, silver and mirror) for a larger variety of light options.

The 550D/T2i has the same sensor as the 7D! I have the 7D and the image quality is stunning. The other thing to consider is the 550D/T2i also shoots full HD video. The video quality from these cameras is nothing short of spectacular. Do a search for 550D video samples and you’ll be blown away by what you find. Regarding the flash… if you plan on using the flash on camera I recommend getting a canon flash. But for off camera Nikon SB800 (discontinued) and SB900 are the way to go.

Joe Pellicone April 9, 2010 at 10:04 am

Regarding a Mirror, if you used a convex mirror do you think the light would be as harsh as a flat mirror?

Attila January 17, 2011 at 5:40 am

Thanks for this cheap and great solution! Works like charm :)

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