Nov 29, 2021

Best Ring Lights

Video lighting is the easiest way to improve video quality and production value.


Video lighting is the easiest way to improve video quality and production value. You can make a cheaper camera feel significantly higher quality by simply adding some extra light. Without good lighting, your image look grainy or underexposed. Rings lights are also great at removing visually unflattering shadows and contrast. 

What is a Ring Light

A ring light is a circular light or flash that sits around the camera and provides soft uniformed lighting from all directions, essentially eliminating shadows on the face.  Ring lights are great for beauty lighting, vlogging, video calls, and social media. From Zoom calls to TikTok videos, ring lights can dramatically improve your video quality. They popular due to their easy of use and the quality of their lighting.

Examples of Ring Lights

Benefits of a Ring Light

  • Easy to use with little photography knowledge.
  • High-quality portrait or beauty-lighting.
  • Eliminates shadows and blemishes.
  • Quick setup, low profile, and portable.
  • Great when the subject is close to the camera.
  • Best at lighting a single face.

Negatives of a Ring Light

  • Can flatten the face due to fewer shadows.
  • Hard to direct or shape the light (shoots light everywhere). May spill to the background.
  • Not much flexibility for diverse video types (outside of talking head, makeup, and TikTok).
  • Not everyone likes the circular highlight in the eye.
  • Will reflect in glasses.

What Kind of Ring Light is Best for You

When choosing a ring light, you typically need to consider five things: portability, brightness, color temperature, softness, and use case.

  1. Size & Portability: Ring lights come in all kinds of sizes. Generally, the bigger the light, the brighter and softer it will be, but at the cost of portability. Larger ring lights can be tall, take up space when not in use, and are hard to transport.
  2. Brightness: How much light do you need? Consider how close to the light you'll be and the room's ambient lighting. You can stand further away from bright lights but need to be up close for smaller, less bright lights. Generally, those with a larger diameter and those powered by AC instead of USB will be brighter.
  3. Color temperature: Color temperature is the warmth or coolness quality of light. If you're using your light with other lighting sources (inside lights, sunlight), you'll need to match your color temperature. Cheaper lights may have limited preset options. Some lights have just a few presets, while others have fine-tuned controls across a broad spectrum.
  4. Softness: Ring lights are generally softer looking, but lights may come with additional diffusion material to make the light softer and more even. Additionally, lights with smaller diameters will appear less soft. The biggest, brightest ring lights tend to have the softest lighting. A very small ring may produce a harder, most contrasted look.
  5. Use case: You want a light that matches your setup. While some may use the light on a light stand or tripod, with a DSLR camera mounted in the middle, others may use it with a phone or sitting on a desk. You'll want to look at mounting and stand options to see how they match your setup. A gaming streamer has very different needs than your typical Tiktok video.

Amongst the most expensive lights, the "best" option depends on your unique use case and needs. There are multiple solid light choices at the higher price points. At the mid to low tiers, you essentially get what you pay for. As lights reduce in price, they tend to be smaller, less bright, and have lower build quality.

With that in mind, here is our list of the best ring lights:

1. Elgato Ring Light ($200)

Diameter: 17 inches

Color Temperature: 2,900K to 7,000K

Brightness Controls: Granular

Stand: 17 to 29 inches (desk clamp, not a tripod)

Phone Grip: Not included

DSLR Mount: Included (ball head mount)

Power: AC

Best For: Streaming, Talking Head, Education, Screen sharing, Video Podcast, Video Calls

What We Like: High build quality. Large-diameter. Very bright. Controlled by computer or app. Wide color range. DSLR mount. Desk mount. Can unscrew and attach to a tripod.

What We Don't Like: No phone grip. The phone app is sometimes spotty. No tripod included and required additional purchase.

What You Need to Know:

Elgato makes high-quality streaming equipment and has developed an excellent ecosystem of products. I use the Elegato key light at my desk and have been pleased with it. I love the computer controls and fine adjustments to color temp and brightness.

Elgato products are geared at streamers, so they work well with desk setups. The clamp system allows for a low-profile configuration (instead of pulling your desk away from the wall or setting the light up to the side). If you record from your desk, Elegato lights are one of the best options.

However, Elegato lights do not come with stand-alone light stands or tripods. You'll need to buy that separately if you're not filming at a table or desk with a squared-off surface.

>> See the Elgato Ring Light

2. Neewer Ring Light Kit ($99)

Diameter: 18 inches

Color Temperature: 3,200K to 5,600K

Brightness Controls: Granular

Stand: 30.7 to 74.8 inches light stand

Phone Grip: Yes

DSLR Mount: Included (ball head mount)

Power: AC

Best For: Vlogging, Talking Head, Makeup, TikTok

What We Like: High build quality for cost. Almost everything you need is included. Good remote. Very bright.

What We Don't Like: Less color temperature range than Elegato. Not as bright as Elegato. Clicky sound when adjusting light. It doesn't work as well with or attach to other gear. No clap for desk setups.

What You Need to Know:

Neewer is known for making professional-like gear at an affordable entry-level price. Many new vloggers and creators started with Neewer gear, myself included. Neewer is cheaper because the build quality and features are usually less than a more professional option. That's not to say they're lacking, though. Neewer is a great value. My first three point lighting kit was from Neewer.

For example, Elegato's color temperature goes 300 degrees warmer and 1,400K degrees cooler than Neewer's. However, you should be fine with Neewers 3,200K to 5,600K range in most cases. Elegato provides just a bit more flexibility, but for twice the cost. For many, those extras aren't worth the extra cost.

>> See the Neewer Ring Light

3. AIXPI 10" Ring Light ($17)

Diameter: 10 inches

Color Temperature: Three color temperature modes: cold white, warm yellow, and warm white. 

Brightness Controls: 10 brightness levels

Stand: Tabletop tripod

Phone Grip: Yes

DSLR Mount: 360 tripod head

Power: USB

Best For: Vlogging, Talking Head, TikTok, Zoom, Selfie

What We Like: While not the brightest or highest build quality, you get a lot in the package for the price.

What We Don't Like: Limited color settings and less bright. Build quality issues. May break after a few months. Small.

What You Need to Know:

This is a solid budget ring light. It's a big jump down in size compared to Neewer. With the AIXPI ring light, you sacrifice build quality, brightness, and granularity of control, but the included tabletop tripod and phone holder give you everything you need to get started.

This is a decent light to consider if you want a complete setup but have a small budget. This is the cheapest light on this list. However, if you have a bit more to spend, check out the SENSYNE ring light below. It's a brighter and higher quality light.

>> See the AIXPI Ring Light

4. SENSYNE 10'' Ring Light ($39)

Diameter: 10 inches

Color Temperature: 3000K, 4500K, 6000k

Brightness Controls: 10 levels

Stand: 15.7 to 50 inches tripod

Phone Grip: Yes

DSLR Mount: Small cameras

Power: AC/DC

Best For: YouTubeVlogging, Talking Head, TikTok, Zoom, Selfie

What We Like:  One of the brightest budget 10-inch ring lights due to AC power. Wireless remote. Great sturdy tripod included.

What We Don't Like: A lower quality build and cheap plastic. Smaller diameter. Not the brightest AC option. Limited color temperature options.

What You Need to Know: This is one of the best mid-range ring lights based on its superior brightness, quality tripod, and extra features. If you're looking for a good 10-inch ring light, this is a solid option. If the Neewer ring light feels a bit too expensive for your budget, this is one of the better alternatives.

>> See the SENSYNE Ring Light

5. Diva Ring Light Super Nova ($274)

Diameter: 18 inches

Color Temperature: 5,400K bulb (3,200K bulb sold separately)

Brightness Controls: 20-100% continuous dimmer

Stand: 6Lighting stand with a gooseneck mount

Phone Grip: No

DSLR Mount: Z-bracket (tripod not included)

Power: AC

Best For: Photography, Portraits, Beauty, Streaming, Talking Head, Education, Screensharing, Video Podcast, Video Calls

What We Like:  Large size. Very bright. Very soft with diffusion cloth. Good build quality. Unique mounting options.

What We Don't Like: Bulbs are a hassle. Limited color temperature. Controls on light (not remote or on the cord). Mounting can be cumbersome. Top-heavy on a light stand. Expensive.

What You Need to Know: 

The Diva ring light is a high-quality and professional ring light. It's very large and very bright, but it's also the most expensive option on this list. That price isn't worth it for most. It lacks many of the control and ease of use features present on even budget LED lights.

I own this ring light, but I use it rarely. I only pull it out when I have a specific use case for it. Given LED lights' simplicity, versatility, and efficiency, I prefer and recommend LED lights for vlogging (and most filmmaking in general).

Why did I include it? It's one of the largest ring lights on the market at 18 inches. It has a higher build quality than Neewer. It's designed for a light stand, or tripod used, instead of a desk mount like the Elegato. For those looking at a higher-end, professional, and studio-centric ring light, Diva is an excellent option to consider. It's pricey, though.

>> See the Diva Ring Light

6. UBeesize 10" Ring Light ($29)

Diameter: 10 inches

Color Temperature: Warm, Cool White, Daylight

Brightness Controls: 10 Levels

Stand: 15 inches to 50 inches included tripod

Phone Grip: Yes

DSLR Mount: No

Power: USB

Best For: YouTubeVlogging, Talking Head, TikTok, Zoom, Selfie

What We Like: 
 Great starter set. Included tripod. Wireless remote control.

What We Don't Like: Lower build quality. Not very bright. Short USB cable. Cheap, lightweight tripod.

What You Need to Know: 

UBeesize is a budget option for those who want a real tripod instead of a table top tripod.

It doesn't excel in any particular area but includes a lot of accessories at an affordable price. The lower cost means less brightness and lower build quality (cheaper plastic pieces). Given the lower build quality, it can have a limited lifespan, especially under heavy use. However, it's still a decent starter set.

While it does come with a tripod, you may have issues with its shorter USB power cable. The cable limit and some phone mount fit problems can lead to some setup headaches. However, for most, it should be a simple and easy setup. The included tripod is a nice value-add. It provides a lot of flexibility in setting up and angling the light.

The UBeesize ring light is $10 cheaper than the SENSYNE ring light. However, the SENSYNE ring light is, in our experience, brighter and has a better tripod. SENSYNE uses AC power instead of USB, which allows it to be a bit brighter.

>> See the UBeesize Ring Light

Top-heavy Warning

Ring lights are often larger and mounted with a camera or phone. The setup can become top-heavy and easily tip over when using a ring light on a tall light stand or tripod. This is a risk because many ring lights come with very cheap and very lightweight tripods and stands. To avoid this, be careful with your height, consider buying a vlogging tripod, or add weight to the stand by using sandbags designed for such issues.

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