Is it possible to achieve a good lighting setup with only a AB1600 and a beauty dish? Im a recent photography graduate and am on a severe budget. If so, which beauty dish would you suggest?
Of course you can. You can shoot gorgeous images with a 1600 and a beauty dish. You can shoot horrible photos with the same set up. It’s all in how you use it. You could trade out the 1600 for an old Vivitar flash and change the beauty dish for an umbrella and get awesome results and bad results.
The point I’m making here is to point out your statement “Is it possible to achieve a good lighting setup with only…”
Don’t think about photography or gear like this. Don’t let this be your mindset.
Now then, is the beauty dish a good tool for lighting 15 people in one shot? No. Is it great for very soft light on a portrait of 3 people? No. Is it a good light though? Yes. Is a screwdriver a good tool? Yes. Until you need to loosen a bolt. Then the screwdriver sucks. Is a truck a good thing for hauling lumber? Yes. Is it a good thing for taking 4 kids to the park? No. Does that make the truck bad? No. The truck is still good. Just not for what you need it for at that moment.
An AB 1600 and a dish are great. You can do a lot with those two things. I’d suggest adding a $30 umbrella to the mix (60” convertible to be exact) and you’d have a pretty decent set up there.
I have the old Alien Bees 22” white beauty dish and I love it. I think the new ones aren’t quite as nice but they still work and will get the job done. I’m just glad to have the old design. You can’t beat the price on them either.
I HIGHLY suggest getting something like a Kupo C-Stand for this rig. The dish is heavy and you’ll want a good stand for it.
The other thing you’d really want is a Vagabond Mini battery to run the light on location. You’re getting close to $800 or more bucks for this rig. Do you have Pocket Wizards or Cyber Syncs yet? There’s more money. You’re at $1,000 now.
You could get an old Nikon SB 80Dx for about $150, a lighter stand, an umbrella and a Westcott Apollo 28” soft box, some cyber syncs, and some rechargeable AA batteries and have spent half that amount of money and have a good rig. Will it limit you? Yes. Will you have as much power as the AB? No. But those limits will push you as a photographer to figure it out and make something happen. Then when you’re making a little money you can start to upgrade your lights.