This is a review of the Mola Demi Beauty Dish, but more specifically, how it performs with speedlights and the Lumi Bracket and Lumilux diffuser. The dish on its own is built for monolights and other studio flashes but Mola offers the Lumi which includes a speedlight bracket and custom Lumilux diffuser to allow better transfer of light from the smaller speedlight heads.
The following test shots were taken with a Canon 550 EXii set on 1/4 power. Photos were taken with a Canon 7D, iso 100 250th sec at f5.6. The photos were taken agains a white wall to show the light intensity and fall off. These photos are purely to show the difference between using the Lumi diffuser and the stock diffuser as well as the diffuser sock. The speedlight is mounted on the Lumi bracket.
Here is a stock image of the Mola Lumi (bracket and diffuser). The special diffuser is called the Lumilux.
Below is the stock diffuser called the Pad.
Here are the images with the descriptions below them. You can see the differences yourselves.
Taken with the Lumilux diffuser. ↑
Taken with the Pad diffuser. ↑
Taken with the Lumilux diffuser with stofen diffuser on the speedlight. ↑
Taken with the Pad diffuser with stofen diffuser on the speedlight. ↑
Taken with the Lumilux and the Mola nylon diffuser (sock). ↑
Taken with the Pad diffuser and the Mola nylon diffuser (sock) ↑
Taken with my Prolinca 250ws head set at 1/2 power. Aperture closed down to f16 to match luminosity. Without and with nylon diffuser. ↑
The Lumilux diffuser does a great job at allowing more light through while providing a good level of diffusion. The shots taken with the Pad diffuser is a little harsh and the fall off is not as subtle but it was improved when shot through the Stofen on my speedlight. The only problem with the Stofen was that it lost quite a bit of light.
Would I buy the Lumi kit from Mola? If you find yourself using your speedlights often, then yes. The bracket is well built and the diffuser offers almost the same quality of light as shooting with a proper monolight, just less power. If you are happy with shooting with wider apertures / high iso or have no need to overpower the sun, just using the Stofen with the Pad diffuser is sufficient, as long as you can find a way to mount your flash to the beauty dish. Kacey Enterprises sells a very nice looking bracket for a fraction of the price of the Mola Lumi bracket.
The Mola Demi beauty dish is a terrific addition to my light setup. The light is focused but soft; a very unique look compared to umbrellas and softboxes. Short of shooting in direct sunlight, I would be happy to use my speedlights with it as long as I have the Lumilux diffuser. Clever people out there could easily fabricate a similar diffuser from some type of white semi translucent plastic (for speedlight use only as most modelling lights would melt the plastic). The steep price of the Lumi kit is the only discouraging factor. For a bit more money, you can buy a cheap monolight setup. I’ll save up for an Elinchrom Ranger kit one day but for now it is comforting to know that my speedlights are up to the task.
Update: You will notice that, when shooting without the diffuser sock, there is banding the areas where the light starts to fade off. I have also noticed this in the shadows against the wall of portraits that I am shooting. I’m not really happy with this. I have read that this can be rectified with stacking the Pad diffuser with the Opal diffuser, or just shoot with a grid and the diffuser sock. Not a great compromise for such an expensive piece of gear. I’ll persist and post back when I find a good solution.
Update 2: I’ve been in contact with Mola and they were extremely helpful. They said that the banding was due to Elinchrom (same flash tube in the Prolinca) use bare flash tubes rather than a frosted type and this is the cause of the uneven diffusion. They recommended the Opal glass diffuser stacked on the Pad diffuser to rectify this. I’ve also read on some forums that the combination of a grid and Mola’s nylon diffuser would achieve a focused effect with smooth transitions at the edges of the shadows.