The Difference Between White and Silver Beauty Dishes

You might not think there is a huge difference between the way a white and silver beauty dish will render your subject, but they can make quite distinct looks in your portraits, and it is important to know which look you want before you choose one to use. This great video explores the differences between the two. 

Coming to you from Lindsay Adler Photography, this helpful video discusses the differences between white and silver beauty dishes. Beauty dishes are a popular choice for many portrait and fashion photographers, and depending on whether you use white or silver and choose to use diffusion or not, you can get a wide variance in the results. A white beauty dish will tend to produce a softer, less contrasty light, while a silver dish will create a light with more contrast that shows more detail and tends to be brighter than a white dish at the same settings. It's important to consider these details when you're deciding whether you want a more dramatic light or one that's a bit more flattering for the subject. Check out the video above for more. 

And if you really want to learn more about lighting people, check out "Illuminating The Face: Lighting for Headshots and Portraits!"

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8 Comments

Michael Jin's picture

I love the look of the silver beauty dish when it works, but outside of professional models or something, it's so difficult to find subjects that it really works on. :(

Leigh Miller's picture

Light is light....learn how to use it.

I've gone for silver exclusively for about 10 years. Especially for shooting food/drinks/products...the sock is an easy way to change it's properties on the fly though.

Michael Jin's picture

I guess my question would be if you're going to diffuse the silver dish with a sock, why not just use a white dish from the start?

IMO, BD with a sock is a replacement for a softbox. Reflection from white supposed to give you different light compared to diffusion through white.

Lee Christiansen's picture

With the Profoto sock, it is a very lightweight fabric, so you almost get a half BD and a half soft box.

Lee Christiansen's picture

I'm more intrigued by the little red cover she has over the Air remote. :)

Jared Wolfe's picture

This is also true of white vs silver umbrellas. Silver is more specular with higher contrast. I have both and use them accordingly. I usually go for a softer more ptainterly look and so I tend to use white. But for some actor headshots the silver adds a nice punch.

Dennis Williams's picture

When she comes up with results that are actually beautiful what modifier she used might be relevant but since most likely the results will not port to even a marginally different set of parameters ... probably not.

Bloggers gotta blog though.