Step Aside, Mola. Enter the Beauty Wok!

Its me, David Griffin A.K.A. “The Prince of Cheap,” and I am BACK AGAIN!

Its time. It’s time! Its time for me to give a another short review of another cheap tool. After months of searching and searching for a beauty dish, I finally found one. It was a 16 inch dish that saved my life and reinvigorated my shooting.

Then I began thinking, “What would happen if I had a larger dish that I could use to cover a larger area? What could I do if I had a way to cover a larger subject or multiple subjects in the same snappy yet soft light that I was getting out of my 16 inch dish?”

Enter eBay and the 28 inch beauty dish for $179! Below you can see the dish without its diffuser or grid.

No diffuser, no grid

Here the dish in all its glory with its 20 degree metal grid attached:

Beauty dish with grid attached

As with any dish, the rules still apply to this one. It’s about the same size as the Mola Seti (the 28″ Wonder beauty dish from Mola that also has a silver interior). Now let me say this right now. In no way and by no how is this dish “better” than the industry ordained and hailed Mola Seti. In my opinion, it’s the only viable substitute if you’re in the market for a beauty dish larger than 24 inches. The dish is yet another Chinese Wok converted with a frontal dish reflector and comes complete with a grid and white nylon shower-cap diffuser (that’s right I said shower cap!).

Light Spread

Here you can see the light spread with the grid attachment on when the face of the dish is 2 feet away from the black background. The light with its grid is soft and VERY directional. It barely reaches out to its sides when you attach its 20 degree grid. As you can see, it’s approximately 12 inches wider in diameter than the 16 inch dish in my previous post! This dish is HUGE. This dish is HEAVY. This dish makes ULTRA soft yet snappy light!

Light spread without gridHere’s the dish without the grid attached. A very wide spread of light with snappy contrast and great falloff! That make this the perfect tool to highlight your subject.

Light spread with diffuser

In this example the light is hotter in the center and falls off more rapidly in the edges. It appears that the nylon diffusion sock seems to enhance the beauty dish light pattern.

For shooting I used my large 28 inch beauty dish for my main light a silver reflector underneath, the AlienBees ABR800 Ring flash for fill and 2 strip lights for rim lighting. No background light was used. Check the setup diagram below.

lighting setup

The Beauty Wok is what lends my beauty images their soft lighting effect. The crazy thing is that the large dish was placed over 5 and a half feet away!! For its size, it’s an amazing tool! Had I used a dish or not used the 20 degree grid, light would have spilled onto the background causing me to have to use flags and many other complex things. This tool is crazy!!

CONCLUSION: You know damn well that that the Mola Dish (as good as it is) just flat out costs too much, unless you work in a $300,000 a year studio! This is the best $200.00 piece of lighting equipment you can buy after you’ve gotten your other necessary tools. If you’re into shooting bands and the likes, this is the tool to use to highlight them. In fact, if you study what tools seem to get the most use, the beauty dish would probably rate very, very high! If you have a few dollars to spare, get it! Its a solid piece of gear. I use it and I love it. My fantasies of one day buying a Mola Mantee Dish have left the room like a bad fart.

Just a thought: I’m not bashing the Mola Setti. It’s just that it’s too posh for my budget. The light that I’ve seen come from it is nothing short of exquisite, but not enough to make me think that I should pass on this for it. In fact, I don’t hate on anybody’s gear, I just hate on the prices… shamelessly, I might add.

Published by David Griffin

The Prince of Cheap I am a "Jesus Freak" and a DIY photography junkie! I'm also the *second* cheapest man alive... but only 'cause my Dad is the first!