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I Built a 22″ Gridded Beauty Dish for $4 Using Dollar Store Foam Boards

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I recently got bored and decided to expand a super-budget project I’m working on. I love gridded beauty dishes for dramatic artsy stuff, beauty, and as a generally very versatile modifier. However, even a cheap one is out of budget for this project. So… I made one.

Artsy (left) and beauty (right) photos I shot with gridded beauty dishes.

I spent just $4 in materials from Dollar Tree: 2 white foam boards, one black board, and a 2 pack of electrical tape.

22″ Ocatagon. Each side is 24cm – Yes, I’ll be mixing up imperial and metric in this build. Crossbeams to make segments to make the gridding easier to make, as well as for support.
First segment of the dome portion. Measurements are 24 x 22 x 4.5cm.
The gridding looks haggard, but in the end it works. Measured the dimensions of each grid segment, and cut 1″ rails, with a cutout halfway through to interlink segments.
Interlinked segments for the center segment.
Center segment taped into place. It’s coming together.
Gridding done. I may go through with the extra tape and clean up some of the edges.
Second dome row in place. The measurements for this row is 21.5 x 16 x 9cm. Curve is coming in nicely.
Placed a 6″ octagon in the center, about halfway up what will be the final dome height.
Final dome segment and center cap. The cap is 6″ across, with each edge being 6cm. Final dome row ended up being 15 x 6 x 12cm. Everything reinforced with more tape.

Many many many hours, a bit of trial and error, and too much math later, BAM! Gridded beauty dish.

Comparison to my regular 22″ beauty dish. Pretty similar.
Side-view. I got things pretty close!

Here’s the final build with speedlite:

It’s surprisingly sturdy even though it’s cheap dollar store foam board. Preliminary trials show a little bit of a hot center, but overall it performs as I’d expect a gridded dish to work. It’s fantastic, and I can’t wait to put it to use. I’ll definitely return to report once I do a few shoots with it.


About the author: Jay Leavitt is a hobbyist photographer who tries to push himself as far as he can go. With many budget constraints around him at times, he does what he can to not let them hold him back at all. Leavitt blogs at Shooting on a Budget.

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