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This post was most recently updated on January 8th, 2023

Beauty dishes are used to modify the light coming out of your flash head. They are usually made of metal, but some are plastic.

They are either white or silver on the interior and white or black on the exterior.

Beauty dishes are used to create a soft glow around objects. Beauty dishes are a type of container used to store liquids such as perfume or lotion.

A beauty dish is usually made of metal or glass. Some types of beauty dishes come with a collapsible design.

Softboxes are used to soften harsh lighting. They are usually rectangular and come in various sizes. They wrap around the subject providing softer light.

They are made out of fabric and can be either open or closeable. They are available in different sizes and can be gridded too, giving you even more directionality.

You may also see a product called octoboxes. These boxes combine the properties of softboxes and umbrellas.

They also give soft, directional lighting but have circular catchlights instead of rectangular ones.
But how do you decide which one you should use?

Well, keep reading our guide to find out today!

How Do Beauty Dishes Work?

How Do Beauty Dishes Work

Let’s get straight into it! Beauty dishes feature lights attached to the back. The light goes into the bowl and then comes back out.

This type of light modifier creates a very focused light source.

Beauty dishes are popular among fashion and beauty photographers because they produce a bright, even light.

Beauty dishes come in many sizes, usually starting at around 16 inches in diameter up to 32 inches for traditional one-piece discs.

Collapsible types usually range from about 22 inches to 42 inches in diameter.

Light modifiers are used to control the quality of the light coming out of the beauty dish.

Grid-style light modifiers are used to create sharp shadows and highlights.

Sock-style modifiers are used to soften the light.

Beauty dishes can be used in a similar way to a softbox, diffusing the light to evenly brighten and light the subject of your photograph.

How Do Softboxes Work?

How Do Softboxes Work

A softbox works to diffuse the light and soften it, creating a warm and enjoyable light that is popular with photographers.

The diffusion panels soften the light coming from the flash, often with umbrella mounts that direct the light into the subject.

To use a softbox, the flash must be mounted inside the box to bounce the light off the back of the softbox.

Softboxes are used to illuminate the client’s face and upper body, making them a popular choice for those shooting portraits.

What Are The Differences Between Beauty Dishes And Softboxes?

So what are the differences between the two? Well, let’s take a look now!

The most obvious difference between them is their shapes. Most beauty dishes look like an inverted cone.

Softboxes can also take other shapes including square, hexagonal, rectangle, oval, and circle.

Another important distinction between these two devices is how they attach to the bracket.

Beauty dishes use clamps while softboxes use brackets that screw to the wall or ceilings.

Also, the mounting mechanism on beauty dishes makes it easy to remove and reattach. Softboxes require you to unscrew a bracket before taking it off.

Both accessories allow the light to project away from the camera.

How Much Do They Cost?

Beauty dishes tend to be a lot cheaper than softboxes, making them a fine choice for those on a budget.

Softboxes tend to be more expensive, but this can also depend on the mount and accessories you purchase with the box.

For example, if you don’t want a grid, you can cut the cost of a softbox, making it more affordable for those on a budget.

When deciding between a softbox and a beauty dish, it’s worth not only considering your budget but what you want to use the light diffuser for too.

Consider how much flexibility and accessories you need to help make the right decision for you and your photographs.

Choosing The Best Modifier

When selecting a modifier, consider the following:

What Do I Plan To Shoot?

For example, will I use it as a main light or background fill? Will I have another light behind it? Will I place it over my subject’s head?

In each case, choose your modifier based on the above questions. A good rule of thumb is to not purchase more modifiers than what you need.

How Deep Am I Planning To Put The Subject?

If the subject needs to go right against the modifier, a softbox might be too wide.

Do some testing by putting a sheet under the softbox until the sheet touches the subject’s head.

Then, increase the depth of the subject accordingly.

Where Will I Position The Light Modifier?

Choose where you want the light to fall first. Positioning the light close to the subject means that less light bounces off surfaces near her.

Placing the light farther away gives you more options to move the product as needed.

What Shape Should The Light Modifier Be?

You could go for a flat softbox or round beauty dish. Flat ones give you more precise directionality but might get cumbersome if you wish to switch them frequently.

On the other hand, circular ones provide less precision but are easier to mount and dismount.

Rectangular and triangular boxes are great if you intend to diffuse the light along its length, making it softer. They often come with reflective material sewn into them.

Advantages Of Beauty Dishes

So what are some of the advantages of beauty dishes? Let’s take a quick look now!

  • White beauty dishes give a nice even lighting effect.
  • Silver Beauty Dishes give a harsh contrast but also make skin appear much whiter.
  • Beauty dishes can be used on either studio lights or speedlights.
  • They are available in different sizes,
  • They are more budget-friendly than other modifiers, such as parabolics.

Disadvantages Of Beauty Dishes

As with all things, there are some disadvantages to owning a beauty dish. What are they? Keep reading to find out!

  • Not always as effective as softboxes.
  • They produce a fast fall-off of light which makes them unsuitable for portraits.
  • Their hard edges make them unsuitable for softer lights such as flashlights.
  • You need to soften the light by using other accessories.

It is worth considering these disadvantages, along with the advantages of a beauty dish before making your purchase today.

Softbox Advantages

Let’s now take a quick look at softboxes to see what their advantages are!

  • Light doesn’t bounce back as it does with a straight light source, reducing shadows caused by direct lighting.
  • You can work with just one light source.
  • They have a high ratio of light output to the area compared to other modifiers.
  • The reflector inside the box gives more uniformity when shooting in a scene.
  • Using multiple softboxes enables you to create a variety of patterns.
  • Softboxes can be used both indoors and outdoors.
  • You don’t need to worry about positioning.
  • They aren’t affected by ambient light.
  • While they take up more space than beauty dishes, these days some models are almost completely foldable, allowing you to travel with ease.

Disadvantages Of Softboxes

Let’s quickly take a look at some of the disadvantages of softboxes too. After all, you need a fair review to help you make your decision, don’t you?

  • They can be quite expensive, especially when purchasing grids and other accessories.
  • They take a lot of time and effort to assemble, especially when traveling to or shooting in multiple locations.
  • You can’t change the angle easily.
  • Depending on the model you get, they can distort images.

Be sure to keep these disadvantages in mind when considering softboxes today.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best modifier is an important part of any photography project. There are so many options and styles to choose from.

But sometimes what looks like a good idea turns out to be too expensive or limited in use. So make sure to think carefully about what you need for your specific photography projects.