With the rise of Youtube, Instagram and TikTok, ring lights have become one of the must have photography accessories in 2020. Despite the hype, ring lights have actually been around for quite some time and were actually first used by Dentists. These days, ring lights have seen widespread adoption, from professional photographers, to youtubers doing makeup tutorials to Teens following the latest craze on TikTok.
Wether you’re looking at making high quality videos or just want to take a better selfie – we’ve had a look at some of the ring lights on the market and picked out 4 of the best ring lights for every scenario.
Before you buy
Now before you rush off and buy the first best ring light that you see – you need to ask yourself what is the best ring light for me? While the form factor is basically the same, not all ring lights are the same. There are essentially two different types of ring lights – on camera ring lights and off camera ring lights.
Off Camera Ring Light
An off camera ring lights – as the name implies – is a ring light thats not attached to the camera itself (or vice versa). It’s normally mounted on a tripod, and has the ability to let you mount your camera on it. This lets you shoot through the center of the ring light. Off Camera Ring Lights are almost always continuously lit (aka always on) and create a shadowless light, making them ideal for Videos as well as portrait photography.
On Camera Ring Light
An on camera ring light – as the name says is attached directly attached to your camera. Your DSLR or Mirrorless camera has a hotshoe on the top where a wired connector attaches.
This type of ring light is deal for macro photography, or for the type of photographer that needs a bit more flexibility and freedom. With the rise of mobile phone photography another type of on camera ring light has emerged – the clip on ring light. It’s a small portable ring light that clips on over the camera lens of your phone.
Ring Light Size
When looking for a Ring Light, you’ll quickly notice that they come in different sizes – usually between 12, 14 and 18 inches (in outer diameter). If you’re only looking for headshot type scenarios, then a 12 inch ring light is perfectly fine – but going for a larger diameter ring light like 18 inches will give you more flexibility (and more light).
Why use a Ring Light?
The main advantage of using ring light is that it creates a shadowless lighting thats not flat. The lens (or the phone, or your eyes) is in the center of the light source which means that the light surrounds the optical line of sight.
This has the effect that light falls on the subject from every direction, which has the nice side effect of creating a very flattering portrait that “pops”. Even non-photography pros have caught on to the flattering effects of a ring light.
Using a ring light for a portrait or video with a head and shoulder view creates a wonderful shadow and light effect that creates the appearance like a halo of shadows falling off the subject – but if you go into a close up, you’ll have no shadows at all.back to menu ↑
Shortlist of the best Ring Lights
Wescott 18″ Bi-Color LED Ring Light Best Overall Ring Light
Neewer LED Ring Light 18” Kit Best Ring LIght for Youtube
Whellen Selfie Ring Light Best Smartphone Ring Light
Neewer 10-inch LED Ring Light Best Budget Ring Light
A closer look at our recommendations
Best Overall Ring Light
The Westcott Ring Light is truly the best in class. It’s ideal for vlogging, selfies, cosmetic shots, portraits and more. Thanks to its inclusion of both DSRL and Mobile Phone device mounts, its perfect for anyone wanting a reliable and multipurpose ring light. With a price tag of just under $200, its double the cost of our next best ring light – but its worth the investment if you are serious about photography or videography. If you’re looking for a beginners model, skip this one and check out the Neewer LED Ring Light 18” Kit.
Best Ring Light for Youtube
The Neewer 18″ Smartphone Ring Light Kit from Neewer is the ring light fixture with a daylight color temperature and a convenient dimming range of 1 to 100%. This ring light is directly aimed at Youtubers and is designed to provide an uncomplicated video set-up. It’s got a ball head mount ideal for DSRLs and Mirrorless cameras, but also comes with an adjustable Smartphone mount.
Best Smartphone Ring Light
Clip-on ring lights have become ever more popular, and to be honest, they are all mostly the same. Don’t expect too much compared to the professional ring lights, but in all fairness it gets the job done. The Whellen Selfie Ring Light has 3 adjustable lighting options (2 more than many larger ring lights) – and they do create acceptable lighting options. For $17, its a great purchase.
Best Budget Ring Light
If you’re on a tight budget or simply don’t want to spend more than a few dollars on ring light which youre not sure youll be using a lot – the Neewer 10-inch LED Ring Light is the one for you. Like its bigger brother, it comes with a whole host of features such as DSLR/Mirrorless camera and smartphone holder, and even a wireless smartphone remote. At $35, it’s a solid buy and a great first purchase for the unsure.back to menu ↑
Is a bigger ring light better?
Yes. A bigger ring light, or more precisely a broader ring light produces a softer light and gives you more options (compared to a smaller ring light).
Do ring lights make you look better?
Yes, ring lights make you look better on photos and in videos. This is because there isn’t a single light source lighting up your face, creating a smooth and shadow free image.
How much does a ring light cost?
Depending on your budget, a good ring light will cost from around $100 upwards.
Are ring lights bad for your eyes?
No. The Light from LEDs isn’t strong enough to damage your eyes. But as with everything, moderation is key. It is not recommended to look into a ring light for hours on end.