Fstoppers Reviews the Phottix Luna Collapsible Beauty Dish

Fstoppers Reviews the Phottix Luna Collapsible Beauty Dish

Phottix has been steadily working its way up the ladder when it comes to reliable and affordable photography equipment. Much like Yongnuo, Phottix started in the marketplace as somewhat unreliable, but in recent years has done a lot to turn that around. Introduced a few months ago, the Phottix Luna collapsible beauty dish caught many an eye as a perfect answer for beauty lighting on the go. But the question remained: does it produce the same results as a real beauty dish?

Before we get to that, let’s talk about the design and build quality. The design is really smart, using interlocking plastic joists that easily lock together and force the box into the dish shape. The box then easily collapses when the joints are bent inwards, much like how a ladder joist functions. I've seen a couple ideas for collapsible dishes like this, but I have to say Phottix's design makes for one of the fastest set-up and break-down speeds of any lighting modifier I have ever put together.

phottix beauty dish in bag

phottix beauty dish next to bag

phottix beauty dish unpacking

I think only an umbrella could be faster. For run-and-gun photography, this box is a gem. I unpacked and mounted the dish in under 10 seconds with extreme ease. There is no fiddling with metal rods with this design, which I really love.

phottix beauty dish bending joint

phottix beauty dish locking joints

The box is also incredibly light. Packed inside of its cinched bag, it weighs about a pound, which is nothing when I’m used to carrying an excess of 25 pounds on my back when on the go.

The quality of the pieces is pretty impressive for the most part. The material of the box itself is comparable to the more expensive soft boxes on the market, and the plastic joists that keep the box in shape feel surprisingly sturdy. The dish on the inside of the box is aluminum and held in place by three metal rods. You rarely have to touch this part of the box, but if you do you might be a bit unimpressed with the quality here. It’s basically the only place I wish felt more reliable. The way the metal rods hold the dish in place doesn't feel particularly tough. I just felt like the rods had the center dish slightly off kilter, but there was no way for me to really repair them without feeling like I would cause irreparable damage to the rods by permanently bending them out of alignment.

Phottix beauty dish interior metal rods plate

Aside from my slight beef with the center rods, I really like the quality of this product. I would classify it as both solidly and smartly built.

If you were to look at a traditional beauty dish beside the Phottix collapsible one, you would immediately notice how shallow the edges of the Phottix box are. A traditional beauty dish has very steep edges that scoop up dramatically. The Phottix box splays out on the edges, and this is important to note as it greatly affects the kind of light you will get out of the modifier.

phottix beauty dish compared to normal regular beauty dish

Below is a photo I took with a traditional beauty dish. You can see how constrained the light is, allowing for a nice shadow gradient that gives her cheekbones definition.

regular beauty dish fstoppers test

Now bear with me, as it’s pretty obvious how different her pose is, but it should help illustrate the point I’m making. Below, you can see how much broader the key light is.

phottix beauty dish test fstoppers

That is because I have replaced the traditional beauty dish with the Phottix, which has much less light constraint due to the shallow edges of the box. Also, the Phottix box produced brighter light than a traditional dish by about one stop. This is certainly something to be aware of when shooting.

The light that the Phottix produces is actually quite pretty. It has the same balance of softness that beauty dish fans look for, which is kind of a hybrid between an unmodified flash burst and a soft boxed light. That said, the quality of the light isn't quite the same due to the angle of the edges on the Phottix.

Also note that there is not an easy way to mount a grid on the Phottix. Though it does come with a diffusing sock you can place over the front of the box, doing so would just make this into a small octobank (not as though that is a bad thing!). I'm pretty sure those of you who are DIY savvy could find a way to mount a grid on it, but for those looking for a turnkey solution, the Phottix lacks in that department.

Also note that the box ships with only a Bowens adapter. If you want to use this with speedlights, you will have to buy the Phottix speedlight adapter that will allow a Bowens connector. You can also buy several different speedrings for the beauty dish, including the ever-popular Paul C. Buff adapter (known as the Balcar).

phottix beauty dish back

By itself, the dish is relatively inexpensive at $75. However, if you don't use a Bowens mount and/or you want to use it with speedlights, you could be looking at a larger investment here. That said, buying all these parts is actually quite a bit cheaper than many other lighting modifiers on the market. Just know what you're getting yourself into.

What I liked:
Great portability
Speedy setup and teardown
Sturdy design

What could use improvement:
Edges are too shallow to produce true beauty dish light
Rods holding center dish don’t feel as sturdy as the rest of the box
Doesn't come with built-in solution to mount a grid

Let me be straight with you: this box doesn't really produce true beauty dish light. The shallow edges of the box preclude it from being one, but that doesn't mean you should ignore this modifier. It sets up faster than nearly any other modifier on the market, and though it’s not really a beauty dish, the light it produces does look pretty great. With the included diffuser sock, you have yourself a lightweight, easy to assemble soft lighting solution for portraits on location. The size is perfect for half-body and headshot poses. If you can ignore the fact it’s touted as a beauty dish, you can find yourself pretty darn happy with the quality of light for what is a pretty minimal investment.

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Great review! Thanks for bringing up the thin metal rods. That is one issue that I can't live with (prior experience). I guess I'll be purchasing the Westcott Rapid Box system.

Thanks for the review. I could very much use a collapsible beauty dish, but it looks like this one isn't quite there yet. I wonder if Phottix could improve the fall off simply by making a black baffle that extends forward around the edge. It were adjustable inward or outward, you would be able to adjust the fall off, giving it an advantage over a traditional beauty dish.

I wonder how it compares to the Westcott Rapid Box, (I know its more of octa) but this is a similar design....

Isn't it easier/more portable/cheaper to just just an umbrella?

yes, i agree. And I can emulate a beauty dish with a speedlight with a diffuser on it then point to the inside of a standard umbrella. A lot cheaper and totally portable.

I know that eventually someone would have said it, so I might as well be that guy: You should have used a light meter to match up the two modifiers. The example shot with the Phottix is a little overexposed. I was looking forward for someone to put them side by side, so thank you for that.

I'm doing open photo booths at events. I've been using a single
strobe with an umbrella behind and above me to light my subjects. It
seems people are always bumping into the umbrella so I've been
considering different modifiers. Now that you have tested it, do you
think this would be a good option for lighting groups at events in place
of an umbrella?

Jaron Schneider's picture

I do not think so, no. It has more drastic spread than a beauty dish, but is more constrained than an umbrella. I think a pair of umbrellas would be better than this for group photos.

Looks like a small octa without the cover :$

The whole point of a beauty dish is it's round shape... Don't see the point of this at all.

the point of this that it's a portable solution. You are right thou. A beauty dish is really a cheap version of a ring light. Its that doughnut light that is desired. this will mimic it like every other would be portable octa out there with a dish in the middle.

I recently used the Chimera collapsable beauty dish and it worked pretty well.

You are the only ones that did a review. Thank you. I bought one before the review. It was $75 for a portable box. The only other option out there are the umbrella types with the baffle in the middle. Sorry am not a baffle fan.

I was impress with the quality. It is pretty decent for the price. Thou I would have prefer a thicker material and tighter stitching. Other then that, the rods are fiberglass and the plastic ring thing to expend is pretty strong, thick and not hard at all to use. I didn;t have any issues with the metal rods that holds the dish. They are pretty strong and you can easily remove them too.

I did notice in the pictures you guys have the deflector dish backwards. If you flip it so the round part is facing the light...the light should distribute more evenly and stronger. Well at least that has been my experience so far.

As for the fall out. I never used a traditional beauty dish before so I had a hard time understanding what you meant by it not being shallow enough. I believe I get it now. Am guessing a round, deep and shallow traditional beauty dish gives more of a spot light look with a hallow middle. The phottix's light is more expanded. But I don't see the problem thou. I guess I do head shots mostly so the fall out on the edge isn't a real concern to me.

You guys really nailed it thou. One thing I would definitely say...in the end this is a 28" softbox with a deflector dish in the middle. I would skip this and recommend to buy the 43" version instead. Unless you need a 28" softbox. ALso, Manny. I have rented the Westcott Rapid Box beauty dish. It's the same thing as the phottix but with the baffle in the middle of your light source and cost is twice as much.

Well, anyways. I hope my rambling has help someone. Thank you guys. This is by far my fav site to visit.

Looks like they improved the rods that hold the center deflector. Just bought mine a couple weeks ago and it came with much beefier rods that look very durable. Please update the review since this review is the top hit when searching for Luna reviews.
Overall the construction and set up time are great, but I'm not crazy about how bulky it is compared to some of my other modifiers.