Best Lights for Streaming
If you have aspirations of becoming a streamer, or you’re already working hard at your craft, then you’ll know how important it is to have a professional setup.
Even if your content is top quality, your stream will suffer if you don’t have the right equipment to back you up.
One of the most important elements of a quality streaming setup is the lighting.
Without good lighting, you cannot hope to compete with other streamers. If you get it right though, you can expect a significant improvement in the clarity of the video and more followers as a result.
Here’s what to expect in this article:
- Reviews of the best lights for streaming
- A brief buyer’s guide
- Your burning questions answered in a FAQ
Without further ado, here are our top picks…
👑 Our Pick for Best Overall
⭐ Our Other Top Picks for Streaming Lights
Best Lights for Streaming Reviews
Elgato Key Light (👑 Our Top Pick)
The Elgato key light could become an instrumental part of your lighting setup, and we believe it’s one of the best lights for streaming you can get.
As a key light, this piece of equipment from Elgato can be your primary source of light, and it’s packed with 2800 lumens worth of illumination. This means it’s capable of lighting a whole room, and it provides a level of quality unlike many other options. If you’re familiar with the 3 point lighting setup used by many photographers and streamers, you’ll understand the importance of having a brilliant key light. It’s the light which will hold your setup together and the one which needs to be strong enough to provide clarity and crispness of image.
Another standout feature of this light, aside from the power, is its broad color temperature range. Color temperature basically refers to how cool or warm the light is, which determines how suitable it is for different times of the day. At night time you will want a cooler and more subtle light, and vice-versa. The color temperature of the Elgato key light extends from 2900-7000K, which means that you’ll be able to stream at any time of day without needing to switch out to another light. This flexibility gives you options, and allows you to stream whenever you feel like it.
Setup is easy, and the adjustable desk mount makes it an attractive option if you stream at a table. The mounting setup of this light makes it a great alternative to soft box lighting too, since you won’t need lots of space to make it work. Simply set it up on your desk, and you’re free to stream. Ideal for small spaces like a home office or even a bedroom.
Lastly, this key light from Elgato is operated via an app, Corsair, which allows for remote control and easy configurations. From the app you’ll be able to quickly adjust the settings of the light, whether you need to dim it or change the color temperature. This means you can make changes on the fly and mid-stream, which is convenient for both you and your viewers.
- Adjustable color temperature 2900-7000k
- Adjustable desk mount
- 2800 lumens
MOUNTDOG Softbox (🥈 Runner Up)
This softbox lighting kit from MOUNTDOG is both a fantastic option for photography and for streaming, and it boasts a very competitive price.
If you’re looking for a professional lighting setup that isn’t going to break the bank, then MOUNTDOG has you covered with this softbox lighting kit. This lighting kit is ideal for the home studio or living room-cum-live stream space. While it might take up too much space to be considered for the bedroom or office, that option is still open to you if you’re willing to move things around and make it work.
This is the perfect starter kit for anyone new to streaming due to its low cost and the complete coverage it provides. As a softbox, you can expect the light to be evenly diffused around the room, softening out any harsh light or shadows that you’d get if you just used a desk lap. You get 2 softbox lights included, as well as 2 energy saving bulbs, so you will have a lighting setup ready to go as soon as you unpack the box.
The energy saving light bulbs have a 6500k color temperature, which is perfect for general photography and streaming. While you can’t adjust this color temperature for different times of day, you’ll have a consistent illumination which will ensure your stream quality stays the same. In the case that you need to stream at different times of day and compete with natural light, then you can always look into buying different bulbs to use with the softbox lights.
The softbox head can rotate up to 210°, and the stands can be adjusted in height. The lamp holder can also be adjusted up to the range of 270°. This adjustability is perfect for finding the exact configuration that works for you and your style of streaming.
- 2 softbox lights
- 2 energy saving bulbs with 6500k color temperature
- Fully adjustable
Neewer Super Slim (💸 Best on a Budget)
The Neewer super slim is our best budget pick streaming light due mostly to its compact size and great color temperature range.
This super slim light is extremely light weight and as a result incredibly easy to setup, and convenient for taking your streaming setup with you wherever you go. The rectangular design affords you an even distribution of light, which is ensured by the energy-saving LED beads placed evenly inside the light.
The brightness is fully adjustable, but more importantly, this light from Neewer has a flexible color temperature range of between 3200k and 5600k. This helps you find the sweet spot for the time of day you’re streaming, whether you need a cool or warm lighting effect.
To set it up, all you need to do is screw the light onto the mountable stand. This makes it easy to put into place on your desk beside or behind the camera. While this light will provide consistent lighting for your stream as a key light, the one thing to bear in mind is that it is battery-powered so requires you to charge them every so often. If you can get past this, then you’ll love the Neewer super slim light for your streaming setup.
- Adjustable brightness
- Lightweight design
- Color temperature range of 3200-5600k
- Mountable stand
Ultimate Guide to Lights for Streaming
Buying a light for streaming isn’t as straightforward as you might at first think.
You’ll have to ascertain what light is best to optimise the space you stream in, as well as how many you’ll need for the best coverage.
There are different types of lighting too, so you might find that you need one of each in some cases.
Types of Lighting
One of the most important things to consider off the bat is what type of light you need for your streaming space.
Streaming from your bedroom will likely require different lighting than streaming from your living room or garage.
You should also determine the type of lighting you get based on what lighting effect you desire, as not all lighting is the same.
For example, depending on the type of content you produce you may want a more subtle light or you may want to stand out from your background.
If you were playing a horror game versus say a fighting game, there would be an ideal lighting setup for each.
It will also depend on whether you prefer to stream at day or at night.
Largely the type of lighting you use though is entirely down to you, and what you believe comes across best to the viewer.
The two main types of lighting are called softbox and desktop.
A softbox tends to be a large unit that can sit behind your computer and provide great coverage for a small room, and soften out harsh lighting.
Think of the type of lighting setup you associate with professional photography, and you’ll get a clear idea of what a softbox is.
The idea behind it is that it can be used to limit the light coming in from a light source and spread it out evenly. That way, you avoid the harsh direct light of a lamp or overhead light, since they can be offensive to the eyes
By softening the light you not only make things easier for yourself, but you can also better set the mood for your stream and viewers.
There are two lights which work well with a softbox, which are the fill light and the key light.
- Key Light. A key light should be the primary source of light you use with your softbox. Sitting behind the camera, this type of light will be the main one you rely on for streaming. A good example of a key light used by streamers is the popular ring light. The ring light can really help set the tone whatever streams you like to do.
- Fill Light. A fill light works together with a key light to smoothen things out and get over the issues of shadow and glare. If you solely depend on a key light, then you’ll likely find that you have glare and shadows around you, which isn’t ideal. The fill light can be anything from a clip-on lamp you use on the desk or table, to a light fit for a professional setup.
The desktop light option is not for everyone, but it can be ideal if you are on a budget and want something quick and easy to set up.
This type of light is anything small and compact that you can have sitting on your desk, or attached via a clip to the table.
It won’t provide the same softness as a softbox setup would, but it will light your face sufficiently well if you’re not too concerned about showing the background.
It’s best for the streamer just getting started out, and for anyone working in a smaller space that has no room for a softbox lighting setup.
As far as finding your ideal light configuration goes, there are a few different setups that are commonly used by streamers.
You can stick to what works and try to recreate one of the following setups, or go rogue and figure out exactly what it is that creates the lighting effect you want.
Once you get a solid idea of what lighting setup will be best for you, it’ll become clearer how many lights you’ll need to invest in to pull off the perfect configuration.
3 Point Lighting
By far the most common lighting setup used by streamers is the 3 point lighting system.
A common system used by both streamers and photographers alike, as you might imagine, this setup requires at least 3 different lights.
Each light is placed in a different spot in your room, in order to optimise coverage and make sure you are well lit from all angles.
For the perfect 3 point lighting setup, you’ll need a backlight, a fill light, and a key light.
By placing them strategically, you can achieve a 3 dimensional look, that makes you stand out from your background and sets your stream apart from others.
This lighting style is all about illuminating a subject in photography, which in this case is you.
You’ll be emphasising yourself in this setup as opposed to the bookcase in the background, which is ideal if you want people to take you seriously as you talk.
After all, you are the star of your streams, so you need to make it look that way through your lighting.
To really nail down the 3 point lighting system you should adhere to the following principles.
- Maintain a key to fill light ratio of 2:1
This is an important rule to follow, as your key light has to be brighter than the fill light.
By making the key light brighter, you will place focus on one side of the subject which is often known as the ‘smart side’.
- Use the fill light to create depth and detail
The fill light is necessary to bring depth and detail to the subject.
If you just had a key light illuminating your face, you would likely have shadows on the other side which would look uneven and unprofessional.
- Use the backlighting for a 3D effect
The backlight is the finishing touch which creates a 3 dimensional effect.
It’s commonly referred to as the ‘hair light’ since it will often illuminate the top part of the subject’s head which helps create the extra depth that makes a subject really pop in contrast with their surroundings.
Loop lighting is a very simple and straightforward lighting setup that requires a key light and a fill light.
If you’re just starting out or you don’t have space to fit a large softbox or backlight, then loop lighting might be your best option.
To pull this lighting setup off, you’ll need a small key light you can place next to your camera, and a fill light to soften out shadows and glare.
Ideally the key light should be placed around eye level to provide the best coverage possible.
This is a much more affordable option too in case your budget doesn’t stretch to the high quality professional lighting options.
Something a lot of people forget to consider when it comes to lighting, is the color temperature of the bulbs.
Color temperature is something which is worth taking into account before you go ahead and invest in a whole new lighting setup for your streams.
It has a useful application in everything from photography to streaming, as it can have significant implications on how everything appears on camera especially considering natural light and the time of day you record.
Color in this sense doesn’t refer to whether the light emitted is green or purple, but rather whether it is a cool or a warm color. This is measured in kelvins.
Color temperatures that exceed 5000k are considered cool and generally take on a blue color, while colors of 3000k and below are considered warm and will have a yellow or orange hue.
So, which color temperature bulb is best for you?
The best color temperature to use will depend on the mood you wish to create for your streams, as well as the time of day you stream and how much natural light you have in your room.
While a light bulb of 3000k or less will provide a low-lighting atmosphere similar to that of a candle, one of 6000k or more will be more akin to being in the midday sun.
As you can imagine, this will influence how you appear in your stream to your viewers, as well as impacting the ambience.
If you enjoy streaming at different times of the day and want lighting that can adapt to the changing light in your room, then you’ll want to get hold of a light that has an adjustable color temperature.
The best example of such a light is the Elgato key light, which can be adjusted in the range of 2900-7000k.
That means you can achieve exactly the mood you want to create whether you’re planning on talking to the viewers in the middle of the day, or streaming a horror game as the sun starts to go down.
It’s also worth considering whether you need to be able to control the color temperature through an app, since this can affect your ability to adjust the settings on the fly.
Related: Best Camera for Live Streaming
Frequently Asked Questions About Streaming Lights
What lights do streamers use?
It’s common for streamers to rely on the 3 point lighting setup which requires a key light, a fill light, and a backlight.
Specifically, many streamers opt for a ring light, since it provides even coverage and creates a nice ambience for the room.
Do I need a ring light for streaming?
While a ring light is one of the most popular types of lights used by streamers, it isn’t absolutely essential.
There are many different styles of light, and each will provide something different.
Think about which lighting setup best suits your preferences, and then you can buy a light accordingly.
How do I get good lighting for streaming?
To get good lighting for streaming you need to think about the viewer and the effect you want to create for your streams.
If you want an atmospheric stream for playing scary horror games, then lower lighting or even red lighting will add tension. Though a stream in which you simply talk to your viewers requires a different style of lighting with a bright key light and a good backlight.
Related: Best Webcam for Streaming
A Final Word from Run Gun Shoot
If you’re a streamer and you neglect your lighting setup, people might switch your stream off before even giving the content a chance.
Lighting can be a huge part of any successful streamer’s setup, so it should be a big consideration for you if you stream.