Do You Prefer a Deep Parabolic Umbrella or Beauty Dish for Headshots?

Beauty dishes are a traditional choice for a lot of portraiture work, but parabolic reflectors have seen an uptick in popularity in the last few years. Which is better for your work? This awesome video overview takes a quite in-depth look at a variety of different modifiers and the sort of results you can expect from them to help you decide which is right for your style and work.

Coming to you from John Gress, this great video will show you a variety of different parabolic reflectors and beauty dishes and the sort of results you can expect from them. Both modifiers can be used to create harder light than some more common choices for headshots, which can be a fantastic way to add a bit more drama to an image or to bring out more definition in your subject's features. Of course, hard light is not always the best choice, as it can be more unforgiving of your subject's features, but having the option is always good. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Gress.

And if you would like to learn more about lighting, be sure to check out the wide range of tutorials in the Fstoppers store.

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Mike Ditz's picture

Looks like a lot of effort went into this comparo. A lot of measuring going on!
I have always heard that to get the magic light from a beauty dish that it needs to be very close to the subject and the subject needs to be in the transitional area or penumbra of the light. When it gets further away the BD becomes just a big reflector. But I never could get the BD look reliably, my x studio partner had the knack. But using it from 4 or 8 feet awsu is not something I understand.

Other than John saying "this one is good, that is better, I think this shot is great, that shot is ok" everything looks pretty good. If he explained more why the different shots with different modifier were better than the others that would have helped IMO.

TBH I skipped a round the 34 minute show so maybe did offer reasons why A was better than B.

barry cash's picture

The para used in the test isn't exactly a light source that reflects parallel light (like the ones from Broncolor) however Im seeing that the light differnce that is reflected is not that different. That being said with the right bulb (strobe light) and some creative negative fill this setup would do just fine for 90% of the shooters.

Errick Jackson's picture

Actually I think Parabolix is the only one outside of Broncolor and Briese that makes a proper parabolic umbrella. They're just a pain to set up.