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Published Sep. 22, 2021

Ring lights used to be the province of Youtubers and makeup artists, but with Microsoft Teams and Zoom making up so many people’s work day, they’re now an essential accessory for any telecommuter.

A great ring light washes your subject in a flattering light while allowing you to make adjustments on the fly. You’ll want to look for an LED light with adjustable temperature settings and remote/Bluetooth control as well as an adjustable, well-constructed stand that has attachments to hold your phone or camera. We’ve rounded up the best options to suit a variety of needs.

How We Picked the Best Ring Lights

Methodology 

Not everyone wants the same ring light but there are certain qualities that make any device stand out. To arrive at our choices we evaluated over fifteen brands looking at the following: I personally put ring lights to use during portrait sessions, during streaming/podcast/YouTube productions, and even for the occasional product shoot. I often find myself working in odd spaces (basements, concert venues, historical buildings) that lack full lighting and ring lights are an easy way to make sure my subject is lit beautifully. 

LED Output: While newbies might not notice diffusion, light strength, and color saturation, pros want to know their videos will look evenly lit and be free from flicker. 

Structural Integrity: While looking at devices to be used in multiple settings we examined how the stands were made to ensure they could bear the weight of expensive cell phones, cameras, and lights. 

Convenience: Pros know that torturous setups and finicky gear can delay, interrupt, and even derail a shoot. We put a premium on ease of use on both professional and amateur picks.

Brands: When choosing options for professionals we recommended brands that have proven over time that they produce premium, well-made, reliable gear. These brands have shown that they understand the world of photography and videography, and their designs reflect the knowledge of the craft. For amateur gear, this was less of a consideration. 

Value: When it comes to photography and videography equipment there’s a point of diminishing returns. Paying an extra $200 for touch controls likely doesn’t do much for professionals or amateurs. Instead of focusing on bells and whistles we looked at packages and products that provide consumers with good value. 

The Best Ring Lights: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall Ring Light: Neewer Ring Light Kit 18”

Bright and Reliable

An 18-inch dimmable LED light with Bluetooth controls. Neewer

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Why It Made The Cut: This Neewer model offers consistent lighting, Bluetooth controls, and a durable aluminum alloy stand you won’t soon have to replace. 

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 20.1 x 4.3 x 24 inches
  • Color Temperature (K): 5500K (fixed) or 3200K with filter
  • 61-inch Aluminum alloy stand
  • 55 watts

Pros:

  • Strong construction
  • Bluetooth controls
  • Phone and camera adapters included
  • Case and dimmers included

Cons:

  • Fixed color temperature 
  • No touch controls

The Neewer 18-inch Ring Light Kit has won praise from photographers, videographers, and YouTubers alike for its professional construction, versatility, and durability. While more expensive ring lights come with a simple desk clamp, the Neewer’s 61-inch adjustable aluminum alloy stand can be put to use in a variety of situations. For example, you can easily adapt it for use during photo shoots then bring it home and snap it together in time for a Zoom call. 

This light might not be the right choice for you if you don’t have a lot of space and/or you aren’t planning to use it for more than brightening up your face during video chats. In addition, the Neewer’s fixed light temperature is a drawback and some more expensive competitors offer brighter lights, but overall you can’t beat this package at this price. 

Best Ring Light For Streamers and YouTubers: Elgato Ring Light Premium Edge-lit Ring Light

Easy on the Eyes

This elegant lighting solution promises light that doesn’t falter or hurt your eyes. Elgato

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Why It Made The Cut: This ring light is designed with streamers and YouTubers in mind. Its high-quality LED lights project a steady stream of multi-layered diffuse light to make sure your video isn’t marred by flickering. And the lighting removes shadows and adds a sparkle to your eyes without making you squint. 

Specs:

  • Brightness: 2500-lumen output and completely dimmable
  • Color temperature: 2900 to 7000 K produces warm to cold white
  • Lights: Premium OSRAM LEDs ensure flicker-free video
  • Padded desk clamp keeps light in place

Pros:

  • Smartphone controls
  • Intuitive design
  • High-end lighting
  • An array of light temperatures 

Cons:

  • The stand’s desk mount design is restrictive
  • Expensive 

Elgato’s products practically beg to be set up next to a high-end MacBook thanks to their sleek white design. The Elgato Ring Light Premium Edge-lit Ring Light is known for delivering the kind of lighting that video-game streamers, makeup tutorial YouTubers, and stationary vloggers live for. If style is your primary directive, this light is for you. However, just as with Apple you pay for design and branding. Other ring lights (like the previously mentioned Neewer) offer more flexibility of use and more resilient design (like, for example, a PC). 

Best Ultra-Portable: Auxiwa Clip-On Selfie Ring Light

Selfie Queen

A clip-on ring light that requires zero setup. Auxiwa

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Why It Made The Cut: This cheap and convenient ring light slips easily onto your phone to brighten your photos and then can be easily stashed in your bag. While other models offer stands and other paraphernalia, this Auxiwa best matches the free wheeling, spur of the moment spirit of selfie life. 

Specs:

  • Weight: 1.5 ounces
  • Color temperature: 5600K
  • Lights: 36 LED lights

Pros:

  • Take it anywhere
  • Lightweight
  • Snaps easily onto your phone
  • Makes selfies shine
  • Rechargeable

Cons:

  • Limited to selfies and phone Zooms
  • Relatively weak light

The Auxiwa Clip-On Selfie Ring Light isn’t the kind of tech you’re going to brag about to your friends. It’s quick, easy, and portable and makes taking selfies on the fly less of a guessing game. The 36 LED light is more than enough to light your face for shots in any background lighting. You can easily recharge it with a USB cord and that’s something you’ll find yourself doing a lot if you choose to use it on video chats of any length. 

Best or Studio Work: Godox LR150 18″ LED Ring Light with 78” Extendable Tripod Stand

Pro’s Best Friend

A great choice for studios and homes. Godox

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Why It Made The Cut: Godox is known for quality lighting products and this ring light and stand are no exception. Great adjustability and features like a built-in USB port to charge your phone are icing on the cake. 

Specs:

  • Color temperature: 3000K to 6000K and dimmable brightness
  • 78′-inch extendable tripod stand
  • 80°rotation angle
  • Universal phone mount

Pros:

  • Bi-color LEDs provide 3000K to 6000K and dimmable brightness
  • The 78′-inch extendable tripod stand offers 180-degree rotation
  • Multiple holders for phones and cameras

Cons: 

  • Need outlet for power
  • Pricey 

This Godox ring light gives you a lot to work with and leaves you with plenty of options. If you like to play around with lighting in the studio this will only add to your enjoyment. If you’re just starting to learn the ropes it will make it easier for you to experiment. Included brackets allow you to mount multiple phones and a camera at the same time. A built in USB charger adds extra convenience. 

However, charging is an area where the Godox becomes less convenient. A DC power supply keeps the unit going but the lack of batteries relegates this great light to home and studio use. 

Best Value: UBeesize 10″ Selfie Ring Light with Tripod Stand & Cell Phone Holder

Small but Fly

Great for budding streamers, Grammers, and personalities. UBeesize

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Why It Made The Cut: There’s a lot of value in this 10-inch ring light. It comes with a stand, a Bluetooth control, a sturdy table top tripod, and, of course, the three-color light itself. This is a great deal for folks just starting out in video content creation or for students trying to brighten up their remote classes. 

Specs:

  • Weight: 1.72 pounds
  • Light: 10-inch light
  • Bluetooth controls 
  • Works with smartphones and cameras

Pros:

  • Great for neophytes 
  • Easy to use
  • Tripod fits in your pocket

Cons: 

  • Not for professionals
  • LED doesn’t provide the strongest light for its size

If you’re just getting into video content creation or you know your child or parent needs a little help making their videos a bit more professional you can’t go wrong with the UBeesize 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light with Tripod Stand & Cell Phone Holder. With light use, this affordable option should last for some time. It’s great for dorm rooms and small apartments. The downside is you’re getting what you pay for. If you’re planning to shoot at more than just your desk, or even expecting to create videos that demand a certain professional look, you’ll want to search elsewhere. But as an entry level purchase you can’t do much better. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Ring Light

Light

Are you planning shoots in wide open spaces? Will you be shooting at all times of day without foreknowledge of the weather? Or do you expect to be in the same room, with mostly reliable lighting during every shoot? If you’re a stationary streamer odds are you aren’t going to need a stand that can accommodate complex shoots. 

Commitment

Are you having a brief flirtation with selfies and nature shots or are you diving into a long-lasting hobby? You don’t have to commit to professional-level gear before you need it. A value-level ring light can show you how lighting can change the game. From there you can decide how committed you are to the craft. 

Compatibility

It’s rare these days for ring lights to come without universal cell phone clamps but it does happen. Some lights also come designed only to hold phones, without the kind of ball clamp you need to keep your expensive camera in place. Always check to make sure the light you’re considering works with your device.

FAQs

Q: What is a ring light used for? 

Ring lights are round, donut-like lights that can be used to remove shadows and highlight facial features during video shoots. They add detail and definition to photos. You can also use them during makeup application. 

Q: Why do Youtubers use ring lights? 

Youtubers know that ring lights make their faces look brighter. Eyes shine and facial features appear more defined in photos taken using ring lights. 

Q: Why do people use ring lights to apply makeup?

LED ring lights provide consistent and diffuse lighting that allows people to judge how makeup actually appears on their skin. Applying makeup in the shadows or in a poorly lit room can lead to over-application and mismatched tones.

Final Thoughts

Good lighting is an essential part of photography and the best light rings are an important tool to creating bright and defined images. If you’re looking for a kit to get started, the Neewer Ring Light Kit is a great all-around choice. 

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