I always thought that if I use a grid on a softbox with a diffuser, or beauty dish with the sock on, then it is necessary to put the grid only after the diffuser/sock. Otherwise, the grid has no effect. But actually never tried it in practice. Recently I came across lighting tutorial where the coach put the sock on to a gridded beauty dish. Was it just a shortcut to save a couple of seconds (in order to avoid putting the grid off the dish)? Or does it really have an effect on the light quality?

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Depending on the dish shape and the diffuser material, it could conceivably make a perceptible difference if the light is used in very tight.

"Beauty dish" refers to a whole host of different reflector styles, from the even parabolic Elinchrom to the step-sided Mola to a basic flat-bottomed, high-sided design that looks for all the world like a minimalist Bundt pan that's missing the centre column. There could be a "ring" shape that's preserved at the diffuser when using a grid before that would be smoothed out without.

But, as you may have guessed, that's really reaching for an answer to your question as asked. A better question would be "is there any good reason to take the time to remove the grid before throwing on the sock?" There, the answer is probably no unless the dish was used in very tight (relative to its diameter) with a glossier-than-average subject. If the photographer works in a sort of binary gridded-or-diffused mode with the dish, there's probably no good reason to bother installing and removing the grid over and over (which gets more fiddly, and more prone to dropping or bending the grid, as the size of the reflector goes up). Grids aren't as cheap as they might be, so why risk damage when you don't have to?

  • So you are agree with me that putting sock AFTER the grid will cause grid to have no effect?
    – igorp1024
    Sep 27, 2014 at 19:40
  • @igorp1024 - As I hemmed and hawed above, it's not quite no effect, but it's so close to no effect that you wouldn't notice 99% of the time. And that's only on a beauty dish, because you can get a ring of diffused light with a deeper void in the middle using a grid than without. The grid won't provide much directionality or control on the subject side of the sock — unless it's not a very good diffuser, in which case the light will be ever so slightly "hotter" with a grid than without. Broadly speaking, you're right, but there are nuances that would be important in, say, small product shoots.
    – user32334
    Sep 27, 2014 at 22:42
  • And what do you think about softbox? I mean putting diffuser after the grid on a softbox?
    – igorp1024
    Sep 29, 2014 at 6:49
  • 1
    @igorp1024 - That's usually not possible or practical in any case, but even if it were I can't think of a reason why you'd want to do that. The most it could possibly do is hot-spot the front diffuser, and you can get that effect by leaving out the internal baffle (where one exists). Or you could, you know, experiment a bit to see if there's any interesting effect you can use. Don't rely on "experts", try stuff, make mistakes and learn.
    – user32334
    Sep 29, 2014 at 12:16

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