Best Ring (Halo) Light
One thing’s certain regardless of whether you’re creating content for Instagram, TikTok, or the main vlogger platform YouTube — you will need a lot of different equipment to ensure that your videos look as professional as possible. This means having a great camera, an excellent external mic, and high-quality lighting.
Of course, the last part isn’t that easy if you don’t have access to a full-blown photography studio. So, how can you make sure that you’ve got the aesthetic you want at home, without blowing a ton of money? You need to get yourself a light ring.
These rings are used to provide a specific kind of lighting — one that doesn’t result in lifeless and sterile content, while simultaneously giving your videos and photos a shadowless environment.
Light rings are just what they sound like — lighting in the shape of a ring, that your smartphone or camera lens can poke through while taking pictures. Light rings have many uses — people use them both for videos and still photos.
And there are other industries where they prove to be useful — like the world of make-up artistry. With that in mind, we’ll take a look at some of the best light rings in the market, and explain everything you need to know while picking the best one!
- Light Ring Uses
- Neewer 18″ LED Ring Light Kit — Best of the Best
- INKELTECH 18″ LED Ring Light — Best Halo Light For Makeup
- Neewer 14″ Inch Ring Light — Best Light Ring For Streaming
- UBeesize 8″ Ring Light — Best Selfie Light Ring
- YONGNUO YN-14EX — Best Light Ring For Video
- Diva Super Nova 18-inch Ring Light — Best Ring Light For iPhone
- Neewer Tabletop 8-inch Ring Light
- Light Ring 101
- How to Use a Ring Light
- Frequently Asked Questions About Ring Lights
- A Final Word on Ring Lights
Light Ring Uses
The most important feature of a light ring is the shadowless quality that it brings to your content. The best light rings out there manage to provide you with a shadowless experience without looking flat or lifeless. You use the light ring by putting it around your phone or camera lens. That way, the camera sensors are found in the middle of the ring — the light is all around the optical device.
Why is this important? Well, it means that there is light reaching the camera sensors from everywhere – because the light source is in the shape of a ring. This eliminates the possibility of any shadows, bringing you a new level of detail that you could never reach otherwise.
As we’ve mentioned before, light rings are useful for make-up too. Having a light source that doesn’t depend on its position and angle is excellent for giving someone a make-up that will work well in any light condition. In order to use a light ring for such purposes, you simply need to position your ring adjacent to the model that you’re putting make-up on. Then look through the ring, and you’ll be able to see without any shadows.
The effect of these light rings depends on your distance from what you’re filming or capturing on photos. For instance, you can use a ring to create interesting photo shadow effects on portraits, like halos.
Of course, this utility has its own limitations as well. It’s important to note that light rings don’t do much good for large distances. Anything more distant than a medium-range portrait won’t really produce the effect you want. If you’re looking to make group photos of people, you’ll probably need to seek a different light source.
Also, if you need some contrast and directional shadows in your subject photography, there’s no light ring that would do the trick. The main point of light rings is eliminating shadows, but sometimes shadows serve as helpful pointers or aesthetic elements. Sure, you could try just covering a specific part and producing a shadow from a light ring that way — but heat buildup is a danger here.
With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at the best light rings out there — the ones used by photographers, make-up stylists, and YouTubers out there.
Neewer 18″ LED Ring Light Kit — Best of the Best
The first light ring we’ll take a look at is the gorgeous Neewer Dimmable LED light ring. This is an entire kit for lighting, bringing you a lot of bang for your buck. Generally, when you start looking at lighting equipment, what you want is to spend your money on a tried and true brand. And Neewer is definitely such a company — a long-standing household name in the world of photography equipment. They make everything from lenses to battery grips and flashes.
Professional photographers often make use of their products. In fact, the best marketing that this company could have is the fact that most photography pros constantly talk about the quality of their products. They offer a variety of lighting sets, and most of them are very high-quality.
This 18-inch light ring provides you with a light temperature of 5500K. You also get two different filters to adjust the color of your light for specific scenes — orange and a softer white.
As we’ve mentioned, this isn’t just a light ring — it’s a small kit in and of itself. Apart from the light ring itself, you get a variety of other stuff too. First, you get a camera mount for use with a video camera, as well as a light stand that’s durable and sturdy. The manufacturer’s focus on practicality is visible from the fact that you also get a bag for your light kit.
Using this product is also quite easy — all of these reasons are why we chose it as the best of the best pick. There’s no fuss with this item — you just insert it into its stand, and mount your recording device — like a phone or camcorder — inside the ring. Once you’ve plugged it in, you only need to press one button to turn it on: it’s as simple as that.
The default settings are extremely bright, so that’s something to bear in mind. You can adjust the levels of brightness to fully suit your needs — there’s a knob for adjusting this on the side. This is an AC-powered device.
It’s got a gooseneck, which is extremely handy in terms of angle variation. If you want to do more than just eliminate shadows in single portrait photos, this is definitely the best light ring for you.
We’re going to take a look at many other light rings besides this one — many of them have more specific uses, like being designed for YouTube videos or TikTok clips. Still, this Neewer model is the best all-around light ring, which is why it’s our top pick .
INKELTECH 18″ LED Ring Light — Best Halo Light For Makeup
Our next pick is the Inkeltech ring light. Just like the Neewer model above, this isn’t solely a light ring — it’s an entire kit containing other stuff you need to make full use of this kind of lighting. For instance, you get a bag for increased portability, allowing you to carry the entire kit around wherever you want. Apart from that, there’s also a mount for various recording devices and a separate stand. Interestingly enough, the package also contains a remote — letting you easily operate and adjust the lighting from a distance, or from inside the shot itself.
It should be noted that the wattage of this is on the lower end compared to other models we’re reviewing here — it’s 60W, but it’s still capable of outputting 6000K. The lighting can be adjusted according to your needs, so you can have a color temperature that’s as low as 3000K as well. Obviously, this increases the aesthetic diversity of your lighting when you use this device.
This is why we’ve concluded that the Inkeltech model is your best option when it comes to light rings for make-up artists. It’s a tad flimsier compared to more durable models such as Neewer. However, it’s also more adjustable in terms of color temperature — making it ideal for precise matching to a wide range of skin tones.
The Inkeltech ring contains almost 500 different LED bulbs. This serves more than to make the ring shine brighter — it also maintains the softness of your pictures. Of course, the pros and cons of LED lighting are fairly obvious these days. Such bulbs are pricier than conventional ones, but they also give off less heat.
One of the problems with this particular model is the inability to replace the bulbs once they stop working — still, that’s why it’s quite affordable. In terms of usability, it doesn’t leave much to be desired. It’s quite simple to set up, and it has a large diameter of 18 inches. Plus, it can be controlled remotely which is a big boon. You can use the remote to dim the lights if you feel there are enough light sources in the ambiance. Besides that, the remote is also used to increase or decrease the color temperature.
All kinds of content creators and artists make use of the Inkeltech model — from YouTubers to make-up artists. As we’ve mentioned before, the model isn’t as sturdy as we’d like — but it offers something in return, in the form of a lighter price tag and more features.
Neewer 14″ Inch Ring Light — Best Light Ring For Streaming
Our third choice is another ring light from Neewer, albeit a smaller one — the Neewer 14-inch Ring Light. This dimmable model is pretty much a smaller version of the 18-inch device we’ve reviewed above — but its smaller size allows for more versatility. This brand is known for its high-quality equipment, and this latest ring light does not disappoint either.
The output of light is a bit lower than on the previous models, standing at 55W. There are specific situations where the light output can be significant, even though it appears to be a minor detail for most users. When it comes to smaller products, for instance, the light output can influence the depth of the field.
These are all minor grievances, though. We have to conclude that, while this is not the best Neewer model, it definitely won’t disappoint the average user. Vloggers who stream online videos use it quite often because it’s smaller and easier to move around. Such versatility is crucial with lighting for streaming, making this the best model for the job.
The temperature of this unit is lower than on the light rings that don’t use LED lighting. This model is ideal for close-up streaming interviews – because they don’t make your face warm from all of the heat.
That being said, we have to notice that the AC power unit does become quite heated. It seems to be something related to the differences between conventional light bulbs and LED lighting, seeing as the non-LED Neewer models don’t have hot ACs after prolonged usage.
While this is a fully functional model, we have to notice that the kit itself bears smaller cost-effectiveness compared to the 18-inch kit. That’s largely due to the fact that there are fewer extra add-ons to the kit — you won’t find any adapters in this one or a light ring stand.
UBeesize 8″ Ring Light — Best Selfie Light Ring
It seems that we’re going down in size as we move to the next item on this list — the UBeesie 8-inch ring light! This is more of a phone accessory than it is a tool you can use for vlogging or professional photography — you can surmise as much from its size.
However, let’s face it — a good ring light can be immensely useful when it comes to taking pictures with your phone as well. This goes double for selfies, where the smaller image sensors of the smartphone selfie cameras require better lighting for high-quality pictures.
This is the best light ring for selfies because of its smaller size and tiny watt output of 8W. People who want to use a light ring with larger devices will find this one a bit lacking, both in terms of size and output. However, it is still great for amateur-hour selfies that require a simple light gadget.
YONGNUO YN-14EX — Best Light Ring For Video
There are many things to take into consideration while choosing the best light ring for your needs. We’ll get into these factors at more length below, but suffice it to say that you primarily have to think about two things: which device you’re going to use the ring light with, and what you’re going to use it for.
These two often go hand in hand. For instance, if you want to shoot long videos, you need to plan things out — how big will the field of view and depth of field be? Are you going to shoot in outdoor locations or inside a studio? All of this dictates the kind of light ring you’re going to use — shooting outside means having to take a more powerful ring, and also one that can be mounted on the right camera.
Many video makers use Nikon and Canon cameras for their shooting needs. Considering that, it’s important to find a light ring that’s going to be compatible with both. If you decide to switch out cameras at some point, you don’t want to be left out in the cold and have to buy another ring.
With that in mind, the YN-14EX definitely doesn’t disappoint.
It supports TTL metering and PC Sync, and it pretty much allows for more light configuration than any model we’ve reviewed so far. Each of the LED lights can be individually configured in terms of color, warmth, and power output. You even get adapter rings for various large lenses and a case that protects the entirety of the kit.
You even get an extra battery pack — all in all, an excellent money saver. It doesn’t have a lower quality than the official Nikon and Canon flash add-ons, making it a great product for content creators on a tight budget.
Diva Super Nova 18-inch Ring Light — Best Ring Light For iPhone
When we discussed what the potential usages for a light ring are, we’ve mentioned quite a few markets so far — fashionistas, make-up artists, photographers, vloggers, etc. Among all of them, there’s one big population that we haven’t discussed yet — Instagram users.
By this, we don’t just mean the casual user who likes posting pictures of their vacation. The market for Instagram influencers who make a living on the network is huge, and many of them utilize professional photography equipment for their work. Still, a huge majority of Instagram users still stick to excellent iPhone cameras — which is why finding a good ring light to accompany you is an excellent idea.
This Diva 18-inch ring is a fine choice in that regard. We’re talking about a well-made piece of equipment, one that’s capable of giving you all of the lighting results that you need with a high-end smartphone. The 5500k bulb can be dimmed down according to your preferences and outside conditions, up to 20%.
There is also a diffusion cloth found in the ring light kit if you wish to make the light even dimmer. Speaking of the kit — you can find a usable stand inside the kit, as well as a gooseneck attachment. The latter is used if you need to hold the ring at an unusual angle during your shoot.
This is a pretty portable package, so there’s no carrying case found in the kit. The contents are all quite small and portable, so if you do need to carry them transport won’t be an issue. The only thing that we found as a problem here is the fact that the Diva brand makes its ring model costlier than competing brands with similar specifications. If you’re looking for quality, though — you won’t go wrong here.
Neewer Tabletop 8-inch Ring Light
Our final pick is another Neewer product — one designed for make-up artists and YouTube vloggers. This is something for people who need such lighting for personal use, or a small scale content operation. If you require a ring light that’s not going to be used in a huge studio, but you want something more powerful than a simple clip-on model — this tabletop will be perfect for you.
Light Ring 101
Now that we’ve given you our recommendations on the best light ring products for various uses, we’ll explore how these things work in more detail — and tell you how to form your own opinion based on valuable criteria.
Basically, a ring light is nothing more than a light that’s shaped like a big circle. It’s an additional “flash” for the camera products that don’t have adequate lighting. This circle has a hole in the middle, which is where your lens are inserted.
The first ring light dates back more than 70 years — it was constructed in the 1950s for dental surgeries. At first, their purpose was to take accurate dental scans and pictures. Soon enough, their usage would spread to the world of fashion as well.
These days, you can get ring lights in three different sizes. First, there’s the tiny ring that can be placed in front of your lens. The other two have larger diameters, in double-digit inches. These are used for professional photography and camera work, rarely in the vlogging and make-up sectors. In the past, light rings required extensive maintenance and set-up, so the smaller amateur rings didn’t really exist because the demand was low. In the past couple of decades, however — their use has expanded in the casual audience as well.
While light rings have become incredibly practical and easy to use, not every product can boast the same quality. That’s why you have to consider a range of factors while choosing your ring light, and we’ll outline some of the most important ones here.
Regardless of what you’re buying, the cost needs to be something you consider. And if you want to start a business in video content, photography, or vlogging — that’s especially important. You don’t want to splurge on premium-level equipment used by industry veterans — but you don’t want to buy something shoddy either.
Sure, ring lights have become less expensive than they were years ago; that’s precisely why more photographers use them in 2020. Just twenty years ago, a quality ring light was as expensive as a quality camera. Today, you can find models that don’t cost more than $100.
Depending on what kind of content you’re producing, chances are you might need to find a portable ring light that’s not too bulky. If you’re going to make tough shooting schedules work and cover long traveling sessions, you can’t bring something that’s going to be more of a chore than a utility. That’s why small-diameter rings are great for this; don’t go for bigger setups you won’t be able to manage.
Regardless of what kind of equipment you’re buying, we’ve already established that considering the costs is important. But the purchasing price isn’t the only kind of cost associated with light rings and other technical equipment — there’s also the matter of maintenance.
There are a couple of replaceable parts in every light ring, and you need to see how much the bulbs for your model cost before deciding which you’re going to buy. Also, see how durable the product is — you don’t want to spend half of your time just fixing it.
Take care to get the best possible materials for your light ring. If you’re going to settle for something like plastic, you can expect it to bend and break after prolonged sessions. There’s a cost-effectiveness balance to maintain here — you may end up paying more for a cheaper product because it needs to be replaced all the time.
A light ring isn’t just about the hardware parts themselves — it’s also about how these come together to form a whole. Rings that aren’t useful in low ISO environments won’t do you much good in terms of versatility. You want a ring that has extensive aperture settings that allow you to adjust each shot according to external conditions.
How to Use a Ring Light
The best way to utilize a ring light is by inserting the camera lens into its middle. Of course, we’ve already mentioned that there are experimental ways to use it — for example, shooting from the camera’s side and achieving interesting shadows. Naturally, this is only used for specific aesthetics — in normal conditions, the traditional method is optimal.
And before you begin experimenting with shadows and different lighting conditions, you definitely need to get the hang of the usual center-focused method. This is due to the variety of ring light equipment as well. Many of these models can be quite bulky and heavy — they may require the use of a vlogging tripod or even a wall mount for bigger diameters. Still, the hassle is worth it because the ring lights allow you to shoot great videos in low ISO environments and across wider focal distances.
When used properly, the ring lights will reduce light distortion that would otherwise occur with your final image. This not only improves the quality of the photo but also reduces the time and effort required to conduct post-processing. Products like these can be life-savers for busy photographers and cameramen. When you’re considering what kind of budget you can afford for ring lights and you’re wagering cost-effectiveness, remember this as well.
Related: Best Tripod for DSLR Video
Frequently Asked Questions About Ring Lights
Are ring lights good for video?
Ring lights are used in pretty much every kind of content creation that has a visual component. In other words, this equipment is used for both video recording and photography. The only thing to consider here is what kind of ring light you’re going to need — you won’t be using the same kind of model for selfies and for long-form videos.
What size ring light Is best?
Professional video creators usually opt for a more robust camera or camcorder set-up — that’s why we recommend bigger rings in this case, above eight inches in diameter. However, this also depends on the type of content you’re uploading to YouTube. Studio conditions for recorded interviews don’t require the same size of light rings as outside action scenes do. For the latter, smaller lens additions will suit you better because of practical mobility.
Which ring light do YouTubers use?
YouTubers pick their ring light according to their equipment and their type of vlog and use all sizes and varieties.
Related: Best DSLR for Video
A Final Word on Ring Lights
At the end of the day, you might ask yourself — so, which ring light is actually the best? As you might have gathered from our article, the answer depends on your specific needs. Once you realize precisely what you require out of your lighting equipment, you can weigh the pros and cons and make a decision on what you need.
The important thing is that each type of light ring serves a specific purpose, and each diameter size has an application — you just need to do enough research to realize which one suits you the best. We hope this guide was useful to you and that you now feel more confident about finding your best light ring and making the purchase. Make sure you’re staying safe and have a good one, guys!