Here is a quick studio portrait (view larger) lit by my new “Chinatown Special” DIY beauty dish and taken with the Nikon D3 and the new Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII (my review).

The “Chinatown Special” is a new DIY speedlight beauty dish design by Todd Owyoung. As you can guess from the name, the majority of the parts came from a Chinatown restaurant supply warehouse. 100% crop, strobist info and shooting notes after the jump.

Strobist Info

Subject is seated roughly 5 feet in front of a set of white cotton curtains.

  • Nikon SB900 into “Chinatown Special” DIY Beauty Dish close to the subject, high and camera left just outside the frame
  • 42″ photoflex reflector positioned low camera right, just outside the frame
  • Background – Snooted Nikon SB-600 behind subject pointed at white cotton curtains.

Shooting Notes

This photo was taken with the new Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II lens at 200mm and f/3.2 at ISO 640 and a shutter speed of 1/60 using the Nikon D3. Considering that I’ve come to depend on the new 70-200 down to 1/10th of a second, the shutter speed of 1/60 was more than fast enough given the new VR II image stabilization and the stopping power of the SB900.

ISO640 enabled me to use far less flash power for the key light and the background light than the same shot taken at ISO200. As you can see from the 100% crop below, the noise at ISO640 is pretty insignificant.

Catchlight Characteristics – 100% crop

Despite costing about $20, the catchlight produced by the Chinatown Special is very similar to what you’d expect from a commercial version costing hundreds of dollars. Notice how even the distribution of light is around the center of the dish.

100% crop from the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II lit by the "Chinatown Special" DIY Beauty Dish

100% crop from the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II lit by the "Chinatown Special" DIY Beauty Dish

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  3. Dida

    The technical things of photography went over my head. I am really interested to know more about what you called “Chinatown Special” DIY beauty dish.

  4. G’Day Chris the Chinatown beauty dish is fantastic the light looks beautiful so soft I saw your band group shots they were great and the portrait shot of the girl with the dish and the 70-200 mm VR lens I have one and I love it. I am going to make two dishes as the light here in Australia is so harsh I will use them all the time on location and in the studio and also I will save around 600 Australian dollars to make them myself. Thanks for the design Chris, that you did with your brother. Have a patent on it mate and you could be a wealthy man like Bill Gates.

    Good luck with the photography, and the great work.

    Paul Trezise, Photographer
    Melbourne, Australia.

  5. Michael

    Awesome, I was in the mood for making my own beauty dish and your tutorial is the best I’ve seen, I wonder if the wife will notice some of her mixing bowls go walkabout!

    • Hi Michael, thanks! I hope your dish turns out, well… beautifully!