In this article we will take a closer look at the Mola Setti Soft Light reflector and compare it to a few images taken with a Silver Deep Parabolic Reflector. The goal of this article isn’t to choose a winner, it is more of a comparison of different types of light modifiers that are available to you. I will leave it up to you to decide which one of these light modifiers best fits your style of photography.
I will note that the results of this comparison are subjective and that this was not an extensive lab test closely monitored by NASA engineers.
The image below was taken with the 28-inch Mola Setti with the perforated pad disk and the opal glass diffuser installed, without the diffusion sock.
The Mola Setti Soft Light reflector, also known as a beauty dish to some of you, is 28 inches in diameter and has a white interior. It comes with a perforated pad diffuser to soften the center core of light and a white diffusion sock to spread the light. It is primarily designed to be used with studio strobes and you can obtain speed rings for various brands of strobes. In this test, we used a Einstein E640 and we did not have the diffusion sock installed on the Mola. Here's a closer look at the Mola Setti pictured with the Opal Glass Diffuser installed.
Before we go any further, here is a look at a behind-the-scenes video from this shoot. It will give you a better idea of the light placement and the distance of the modifier to the subject. The camera used for this series of images was the Nikon D810 with the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 prime lens.
We will be comparing the Mola Setti to the Westcott Deep Parabolic Zeppelin which is 35 inches in diameter with a silver interior and two layers of diffusion. Now I know that the Mola does not have diffusion and is a smaller modifier, so by that very fact the quality of light from the Mola Setti should be a little harsher. Again this isn’t a scientific test but more of what might actually happen on a real shoot with two different modifiers. You may be wondering how the quality of light differs from a softbox, or in this case a Silver Deep Parabolic Reflector, to the Mola Setti. Below is another image taken with the Mola Setti.
Below is an image taken with the Westcott Zeppelin. Unfortunately I don’t have any shots of the same model with each reflector, but the images below were taken during the same shoot with the same camera and lens setup. I myself don’t see a huge difference in light quality and I would happily use either modifier. Hopefully this comparison dispels any rumors you may have heard about beauty dishes versus parabolic reflectors. The shot below was taken with the Westcott 35 Deep Parabolic Zeppelin with two layers of diffusion installed.
To be honest I like each modifier for different reasons, and either modifier will help you to create a beautiful quality of light. What you choose is more based on your particular style, price, and convenience. Some people swear by beauty dishes especially when shooting outdoors on windy days. I will let you be the judge of what you prefer and I am sure this article will lead to a heated debate from both camps.
In closing, I would say it isn’t necessarily the light modifier or strobe light that you choose to use but more importantly where you place the modifier in relation to the distance of your subject. My advice regardless of the modifier you choose is to practice with it until you can predict the outcome of your shot before you take it. That will allow you to envision the image beforehand and allow you to unleash your creativity.