Best Lighting for YouTube Videos
The Internet has ushered in a completely new era of video content. More specifically, platforms akin to YouTube have allowed pretty much anyone who wants to stream their videos to a worldwide audience to do so easily. You don’t need complex equipment to put out a rudimentary video to your fans.
However, this ability has led to the development of a new industry, and a new niche — being a YouTuber is no longer a hobby; now it can be a profession as well. And if you believe you’ve got what it takes to earn a living through YouTube, with content that’s interest enough to be monetized — you should definitely try to do so!
Still, approaching YouTube from a professional angle takes more than a simple camera phone. You’re going to need more equipment to keep up with the professional quality touted by most YouTubers these days. For instance — you’re going to need some excellent lighting for your videos. But how do you choose the best piece of lighting equipment for your channel? Don’t worry, we’ve got an excellent guide right here.
- Why Lighting Is So Important
- Types of YouTube Lighting
- Key Artificial Light
- Aputure 120D II — Best of the Best
- Godox SL60W
- Neewer 2 Pack White Translucent Soft Umbrella — Best Cheap Lighting
- Mountdog Softbox Lighting Kit
- LimoStudio Ring Light — Best Ring Light
- What Type of Lighting To Use?
- Combining Different Lighting
- Frequently Asked Questions About YouTube Lighting
- A Final Word From Run Gun Shoot
Why Lighting Is So Important
In many situations, amateur video creators are disappointed by the output of their supposedly high-quality cameras. You begin to doubt the merits of 1080p quality once you see a crappy and fuzzy video that you’ve recorded with a piece of expensive recording equipment. However, what you need to realize is — it’s not all about the recorder itself. It’s also about the lighting.
As you know, people aren’t that well-adapted to seeing things in the dark. And human eyes can discern things in the dark more easily than the sensor of a camera. The latter is just a machine that’s designed to record the light signals that it gets at a precise moment. In order for that to happen and for the result to be a clear picture, what your camera needs is just the right amount of light.
There are many different types of camera sensors out there, and each of them bears a different level of light sensitivity. This sensitivity is otherwise known as ISO. Your camera’s ISO factor impacts the number of things, but in general — the higher this factor is, the worse your quality of images and videos will be.
If your camera is not exposed to enough light, its ability to truthfully record videos is reduced — the image you receive as the output won’t be satisfactory.
Types of YouTube Lighting
When it comes to lighting for your videos, there are two main categories of lighting we can differentiate from:
● Natural light
● Artificial light
Natural light is probably self-explanatory, but we’ll still cover it. If you’re on a low budget, you may not have the resources to set up expensive professional-grade lighting. In that situation, you will have to resort to the natural light that your home and studio receive. That means only recording during the day, and it also entails setting up your home studio in accordance with the sources of natural light in your room.
So, why do people resort to buying artificial light at all, if this is an option? The answer is simple — uniformity. When you’re a professional YouTuber, you want all of your videos to look the same in terms of studio conditions; including lighting. And if you only use natural light, every single video you make will look different. Even if you record at the same time each day, there are lots of external lighting conditions that you simply can’t account for — cloudiness being chief among that.
This is the main reason we recommend finding artificial lighting for YouTube videos.
Key Artificial Light
As you’ll see from the products we’ll review below, there are quite a few types of artificial lighting for YouTube. However, every type of lighting contains three basic elements:
- Light modifier
- Light stand
- Light bulb
Its main objective is to manage to produce controlled lighting conditions in your studio — ones that also give your lighting a natural, but flawless look. Besides giving a more professional look to your videos, this sort of setup helps with long-term logistics and scheduling as well. For one, you don’t need to worry about night and day when you’re thinking about when to shoot a video.
With all of this in mind, we’ll examine our recommendations for lighting for YouTube videos below!
Aputure 120D II — Best of the Best
We’ll start this list off with the best kind of light you can get for your YouTube videos — the Aputure 120D II. So, what kind of lighting is this? It’s a huge LED light, that’s definitely the highest-quality lighting you can find. When you shoot videos of yourself, or you’re making a video podcast with guests, this professional-grade lighting will ensure that there are no shadows on anyone’s face, obscuring their features and expressions.
This is an incredibly powerful light source because it’s designed to be the main light that you’ll use. If you use a huge diffuser with this, you’ll be able to produce a gorgeously subdued shadow that looks as natural as it would outside at noon.
The problem with this type of light is that it’s far from cheap. Don’t worry, though, we’ve got some recommendations on cheaper light options as well. However, if you’ve got the money to spend on such a LED setup, the Aputure 120D II is definitely the way to go. Most of the high-grade YouTubers that have their own studios use this light or an equivalent in the same price range.
It’s hefty, at more than 16 pounds, but it’s also very powerful — and perhaps most importantly, it’s utterly silent.
With the Godox SL60W, what you get is pretty simple — the same level of quality as with the Aputure model we’ve outlined above, but at a far cheaper price. Unfortunately, there are a couple of compromises to be made if you want to save the money you’d pay for a more expensive option; mainly, the fact that this lighting for YouTube makes some noise compared to Aputure, thanks to its external fan. However, most regular microphones won’t pick up this noise as it’s pretty low, so you don’t have to worry about interference a lot.
If you want to use lighting equipment like this, you will also require a diffuse softbox as well as a stand that can support it; there are more than a few kits on Amazon that contain all of this.
Neewer 2 Pack White Translucent Soft Umbrella — Best Cheap Lighting
Apart from your key lights that we’ve showcased above, a truly professional setup that includes lighting for YouTube includes the fill lights as well. This type of lighting is far less intense than the previously described models. It doesn’t serve as the main source of light in your shots, but more as a modifier that changes the shadows and shapes; altering the look and feel of your videos.
Among these, umbrellas like the ones produced by Neewer are the most common tool. They are far easier to set up and carry about compared to other types of light modifiers. The spread of light that they achieve is much more natural than what you can get with a softbox. They also don’t require as much knowledge and hands-on experience to use and achieve a natural look in terms of lighting. Basically, they’re pretty much ready to be used as soon as you plug them in.
The Neewer model is an excellent example of a high-quality translucent umbrella for lighting. Besides this, there are also silver and black bounce umbrellas; though, for YouTube shooting, you will mainly use the see-through ones like this product.
Using this kind of lighting is quite simplistic — you put the inner surface of the white umbrella near the bulb and point it at the object or subject that you’re filming for YouTube. Overall, this one is our clear pick for the best cheap lighting for YouTube videos
Mountdog Softbox Lighting Kit
Apart from umbrellas, there are other types of lighting that you can use as supplemental lighting for your YouTube videos. Softboxes are good examples — these are translucent figures that come in various shapes. The rectangular ones are used most often; like the Mountdog model. These try to replicate the light that would reach your studio via a window.
In order to use these, you need to apply a larger degree of control compared to umbrellas. On the other hand, this type of lighting is definitely more versatile, and it can allow you to produce the precise look that you’re aiming for. Of course, you will need more knowledge and experience in order to operate it — but it’s definitely not rocket science.
The most elementary way to use a softbox like the Mountdog one is to put a lightbulb inside it and point it towards the subject. However, as you will soon discover, there are countless ways to use this type of lighting. It can definitely provide your videos with the most unique visual style.
LimoStudio Ring Light — Best Ring Light
If you’re not in the mood for comprehensive lighting setups for YouTube — there’s always the option of using a simpler ring light for your entire shoot. In reality, plenty of YouTubers don’t use a professional studio to create their content — nor do they opt for turning a huge chunk of their homes into a studio with huge lighting rigs and cameras.
That’s a situation where you might still want to use artificial light, but you don’t want to go through a huge ordeal to utilize it. In such a situation, a ring light like the LimoStudio one is an excellent option.
Firstly, it’s incredibly simple to set up. It’s only a single light, and it will provide an even amount of light to its subject with ease. On the other hand, this can’t be used for huge sets, as the bulbs found inside are less powerful compared to key light models that we’ve talked about above. However, people who use ring lights aren’t much inclined to big spaces anyway; opting for a more intimate atmosphere, the kind you’d use for an interview.
Ring lights are also used for specific types of content that focus on the subject’s faces — such as makeup tutorials. It should be noted that even professional-grade ring lights like the high-quality LimoStudio product won’t give you the level of light that you’d get with a more complicated setup.
A combination of fill light for softer tones and a big key light will almost always produce a more professional lighting environment for your shoots. Still, someone who’s not as familiar with the ins and outs of lighting for YouTube might want to start out with a ring light first and then move to more complex models. Not to mention the fact that ring lights are usually cheaper than other types of artificial lighting — bearing a smaller load on your budget as well.
Ring Light Basics
If used properly, ring lights could be quite powerful in a small-scale environment — which is why it’s crucial to learn how to properly utilize them. Before delving into that, you should know how a ring light looks. Basically, it’s a big light bulb (or a collection of smaller bulbs) shaped like a ring, with a huge hollow part in the middle.
You can use it to shine a light around the subject’s face without additional light sources in the environment. Its shape is used to create a light source that does not cast any shadows on its subjects. While this sort of lighting setup works great when it comes to stuff like makeup videos, bear in mind that it may appear less natural than other lighting setups — this is due to the fact that there’s no shadow on the recording.
Still, this is an extremely practical piece of lighting equipment; the camera that you’re using goes through the middle of the ring, meaning that it is also something akin to a stand for the recording device that you’re using. Among all of the other lighting setups, ring lights are probably the simplest for carrying around.
How To Use LimoStudio Ring Light
So, now that you know all about how the LimoStudio (and other similar models) functions, the question is — how do you best make use of it?
Our advice is always keeping the light ring bulb in front of the person that you’re filming. Otherwise, you may find that the ring creates distorted images or light shadows; if it’s behind a person’s face, it may produce an unnatural black halo. Plenty of advanced YouTubers utilize ring lights to play around with their image and create stylized distorted videos. For beginners, however, sticking to the tried-and-true methods is more advisable.
What Type of Lighting To Use?
So far, we’ve covered many different types of lighting for YouTube that you can use — and you’re probably wondering which of them serves your purposes the best. The answer to this question depends on the kind of content that you’re creating, and on the setup that you’re looking to create.
For instance, umbrella lighting is the easiest to use if you’re a novice, and it requires the least knowledge to successfully utilize. On the other hand, softboxes are there to help you create a more professional lighting environment, and they can help you come up with a specific unique look in your home studio. However, their setup can be tricky, and they do entail plenty of trial and error.
Ring lights are the most versatile in terms of lighting that needs to be movable; you can easily carry it wherever because it only consists of a single stand and a ring-shaped bulb. However, this is the least versatile type of lighting when taking the different effects it can create into consideration. You can’t create natural-looking artificial light with this beyond the immediate area surrounding your subjects.
Combining Different Lighting
There’s nothing that says you can’t combine the different pieces of lighting equipment that we’ve described above into one expansive lighting set. In fact, there are plenty of lighting kits sold out there, containing both ring lights, softboxes, and umbrellas. Naturally, these are more expensive; but they also give you the option of creating the most professional environment for your YouTube imaginable.
Using different pieces of equipment for lighting can be both good and bad — it’s only something professionals who know what they want should aim for. First and foremost — remember that all types of artificial lighting cast some sort of shadow. Of course, shadows are not bad in and of themselves, as long as they don’t obscure what’s actually going on, on the screen.
What you need to do is to learn how to manipulate the shadows to your advantage, and create a unique style for your videos in the process. If you cast your shadow from an inappropriate angle, you might end up looking more like a movie villain than a regular interviewer or podcast host. In most cases, your goal should be to achieve something that looks natural, while also not being dependent on natural light.
The type of shadow that you can expect your lighting rig to produce isn’t constant, and it depends on a wide variety of factors. For instance, if you’re using an umbrella, the distance between the light source (the bulb) and the umbrella plays a huge part — as well as your own distance as the subject.
If a softbox is a part of your setup, you need to use one that’s of the right size, and with a proper angle. Also, something that we haven’t touched on is the relationship between natural light sources in your environment and the artificial light sources that you’re using.
At the end of the day, regardless of what you’re going to use for your YouTube videos — you will need to go through a period of trial and error for each new environment.
Frequently Asked Questions About YouTube Lighting
Now that we’ve gone over all of the different types of lighting for YouTube in extensive detail, we can answer some of the most frequently asked questions that newbie YouTubers have regarding their lighting setup!
What Lighting Do YouTubers Use?
As you can see, YouTubers use all kinds of setups. You should try out as many different ones as you can, and try to find the one that suits your YouTube content the most. Be prepared for some experimentation before you can produce a video that you’re satisfied with.
Don’t wait for the perfect lighting to post your videos if you’re sure that your content is of sound quality; many professional YouTubers have subpar lighting in their first videos, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
How Do I Get The Best Lighting For Video?
You need to try varying amounts of light from your artificial and natural sources, different combinations of light sources, and perhaps most importantly — a variety of angles. Once you’ve done enough experimentation, you will come up with a setup that you truly like. This is the only way to get optimal lighting.
If you want to get the most natural look, utilize umbrellas. More complex aesthetics and artistic styles require more complicated equipment, such as a softbox. Just make sure that you’ve thought your environment through while setting up the lighting.
How Do I Get Good Lighting for Tik Toks?
TikTok videos are usually filmed using a fixed camera and a subject in motion; meaning that a ring light wouldn’t be the best option in terms of lighting. On the other hand, these are low-budget videos, usually recorded with nothing more than a phone selfie camera. In that situation, using natural light seems to be the best course of action.
A Final Word From Run Gun Shoot
And that wraps things up! We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide and that you’ve learned something new on what makes the best lighting for YouTube videos. Make sure you’re staying safe in these times we’re going through. Have a good one, guys!