The RoundFlash Dish Hands On Review
In photography, as in all creative expressions of life, it is very difficult to achieve something remarkable.
If, by whatever means, you do, then you’ll be facing an even more daunting task: to figure out how to achieve something remarkable the second time around!
What I mean to say is that your second (and perhaps third, fourth, fifth, etc) “masterpiece” is remarkably more difficult to achieve than your first one.
In my humble opinion, Mr. Bartek Szumilak, RoundFlash CEO, achieved a new masterpiece in the realm of photographic light modifiers.
He recently asked me if I would like to test his new light modifier, the “RoundFlash™ Dish”, a folding, lightweight, easy to carry device shaped as a beauty dish.
Since I had rapidly become a fan of his first invention, the “RoundFlash™ Ring”, I was obviously very eager to test this new device.
Fact is, I love beauty dishes; but they are a real pain to transport: bulky, heavy, they take a lot of space in a car trunk, not to mention the heavy C-stand and sandbags they often require. So, more often than not, I end up leaving my beauty dishes back in the studio, which is a shame…
As soon as the new “RoundFlash™ Dish” arrived, I started experimenting with it. Actually, I decided to first test it in the most difficult and challenging way, a true lighting “odyssey”: shooting portraits on large format (4×5 and 8×10) cameras, not using film in the holders, but very low sensitivity (3ASA) paper negatives instead.
When I shoot paper negatives I usually fire up enormous 2400 Watts per second strobe heads!! Could it be done, I wondered, using just a few household lights, a book-sized LED panel, a small flash, and this modifier?
Well, let me show you some visual answers to this question:
Paper Negative (3ASA), “RoundFlash™ Dish”
with Nikon SB900 at full power (placed just outside the frame),
Tachihara 4×5 camera, Schneider 210mm Symmar-S lens at f5.6, 1/125th sec. shutter
Paper Negative (3ASA), “RoundFlash™ Dish” with Nikon SB900 at full power,
small (5’x7’) daylight LED panel, clamped on the same light stand
underneath the “RoundFlash™ Dish”(to fill the dark clothing),
two x 250 watts equivalent daylight household bulbs behind subject to illuminate background.
Burke and James “Rembrandt” 4×5 portrait camera, Dallmeyer “Pentac” 8 inch lens at f2.9,
1 second shutter speed (well, really…no shutter. I just used the lens cap and my hand,
to open and close this beautiful British Air Ministry fast barrel lens made in 1919 !!)
After passing the toughest test with “light starving” paper negatives (3ASA), I decided to use the “RoundFlash™ Dish”, shooting on a less light-demanding medium. For example orthochromatic X-RAY film I rated at 80 ASA.
Orthochromatic X-Ray film (80ASA), “RoundFlash™ Dish” with Nikon SB900 at full power,
small (5’x7’) daylight dimmable LED panel behind subject (flagged) as rim and background light.
Tachihara 4×5 camera, Fujinon 250mm SF lens at f5,6 1/15th second shutter speed .
Obviously, my hands on review of the “RoundFlash™ Dish” would not be complete without some more contemporary equipment and shooting techniques.
So, pulling it out of its neat, yellow carrying bag, I used it on the occasion of a digitally conceived editorial/fashion shoot in New York City.
While using the “RoundFlash™ Dish” on location I noticed how versatile and easy to position it is: performing magnificently at very close distance and further away from the subject, it is marvelously lightweight, especially when rigged on a pole hand-held by my assistant.
Comparing it to its predecessor, the “RoundFlash™ Ring”, I noticed that it “swallows” less flash power, resulting in a brighter output, even using small strobes.
In the “RoundFlash™ Dish” the light path between flash head and diffusing material is more direct, light doesn’t need to bounce all around a circular reflecting tunnel, as in the Round Flash ring light modifier: while avoiding a central “hot spot”, it delivers a beautifully smooth yet powerful illumination and interesting catch-lights in the subject’s eyes.
I’ll admit that aside from the circular catch-lights, this truly portable beauty dish shares one other main attribute with the original the “RoundFlash™ Ring”: it can be an excellent conversation starter!
After a few days testing the “RoundFlash™ Dish” in a wide range of lighting applications, it has become a permanent fixture in my camera bag (with the added advantage that it actually fits in it).
In conclusion let me say: Congratulations and thank you to Mr. Bartek Szumilak for giving us another truly useful tool to pursuit our photographic vision!!