The 5 Best Ring Lights for YouTube, Tik Tok and Instagram

If you’re looking for the best equipment to create content for YouTube, Instagram, Tik Tok, or any social media, you need to include a ring light on your list!

It will not only make your videos look great, but it will help you to get fantastic selfies with a professional look, so it’s definitely a must-have.

But, if you’re new to this, you’re probably wondering a lot of things:

What on earth is a ring light and why is it so great? What kind of ring light should I buy to start? How do I use one if I don’t know anything about lighting equipment? 

Don’t worry! We've got you covered.

In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about ring lights, how to get the best out of them, prices, and which one is the best option for you.

So… let’s get started!

What is a ring light?

A ring light is a circular lighting tool that is commonly used for portraits and macro photography.

It’s also great for close-up beauty shots. However, these devices have become really popular these days thanks to makeup artists, YouTubers and vloggers.

Ring lights are truly useful to create professional-looking images and videos for social media at a relatively low price.

So, if you thought that content creators achieve that studio-like aspect on their videos by using luxurious equipment, you, my friend, were fortunately wrong. Their secret (which is now yours to exploit) is this amazing tool!

That being said, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars buying the most expensive camera or lens in the market to create topnotch quality videos at home. You can invest in a very good ring light and I assure you that the quality of your content will go up instantly! Even if you’re filming with your phone.

Now, getting back to the topic, as the name implies, these lighting devices are ring-shaped, and they can be made up of one single fluorescent bulb or many small bulbs (usually LED lights) forming a circle. They come in a variety of sizes and the most common way of using them is to put your camera or phone in the middle of the ring held by a lighting stand.

But… what makes them so great? Well, they create a uniform diffuse light that makes subjects pop up easily. In fact, if it’s the only lighting source, it will create a very interesting halo of shadow around the protagonist that will add drama to the image. It’s perfect to emphasize details as well.

Fun exercise: Do you want to know if someone is using a ring light? Try this:

Whenever you’re watching a makeup tutorial, a product review, or even a super cute selfie, take a closer look at the eyes of the person. If you notice a white circle reflected in the eyes, that’s how you know that person was in front of a ring light.

It’s really effective at dragging the viewer’s attention right to the eyes of the subject in any picture or video.

Why use a ring light?

A ring light is probably the best option for content creators when it comes to lighting equipment, and I’ll give you four reasons to convince you:

1. Easy to use

2. Professional-looking results

3. Makes your skin and eyes look amazing

4. Versatile

Let me explain all of them a little bit more:

  1. Easy to use:

Ring lights are super easy to set up and they are widely used by people that don’t know much (or anything) about photography or lighting equipment. That’s awesome, right?

I know that some people may be scared when they see a studio light because let’s be honest, they seem pretty difficult to understand. But ring lights are simple, and that’s why they are so popular among content creators.

They also take up little space and are usually very easy to carry around.

  1. Professional-looking results

I mentioned this above and I’ll mention it again: a ring light is a perfect tool to achieve professional-looking photos and videos on a budget.

It creates a beautiful and balanced soft light that reduces harsh shadows and makes the subject stand out. 

It also creates those cool catch lights I talked about before. However, you should know that the larger the ring is, the more visible those catchlights will be. So, in this case, size definitely matters.

  1. Makes your skin and eyes look amazing

Our 14" Ring light creating a halo effect in our model's eyes

As you probably have noticed, ring lights make the skin look great, but why? What’s the magic behind them?

LED lights in these devices are often used to imitate daylight, which makes the skin look very natural.

Additionally, thanks to their circular shape, they hide wrinkles and enhance facial features as there are no unwanted shadows. That’s the reason why makeup artists use ring lights so much.

Moreover, these tools don’t emit as much heat as many other lightning sources, so you can stand in front of them for a long time and you won’t sweat. Yay!

  1. Versatile

As I said before, ring lights are used for many purposes. They are great for portraits, close-up shots, food and product photography, makeup artists, and, of course, for us vloggers and content creators.

No matter if you’re a YouTuber, Instagrammer, Tiktoker, or if you just have to produce videos for any social media, a ring light will fit you well.

You can use one for selfies, videos, ads, and live streams. They are perfect to create high-quality pictures for YouTube thumbnails as well.

Prices will obviously depend on the size and power of each model, so you need to think about what you need and what accessories would come handy to you, but you can find very good deals under $120.

How to use a ring light?

We have talked about the benefits of using a ring light and yes, they’re pretty cool and very useful, but… how do you use one?

If you have never used a studio light and you have no clue about how these things work, don’t panic! I’ll show you, in a very simple way, how to understand and get the best out of a ring light.

1) Setting up the ring light:

Ring lights usually come with light stands, so you just have to unfold the stand, extend it to the desired height, mount the ring, plug it into an energy source and turn it on. It’s as easy as that.

Consider that most of these devices are AC powered so you can’t be too far from a socket in your workspace.

Also, when you’re setting up your ring light, make sure one of the legs of the stand is in the same direction as the ring light. This will make everything more stable.

Some light stands may be too thin and when you extend the columns to its maximum height, you probably won’t feel much stability.

So, if you want extra safety (especially if you have the window open or you’re outdoors and it’s windy), you can put a sandbag on the front leg of the stand.

Friendly reminder: when you have finished using your ring light, switch it off before unplugging it. This way you will prevent damages to the equipment.

2) Mounting your camera or phone:

As I mentioned before, the most common way of using a ring light is to place the camera in the center of the ring so you can shoot through it.

That’s why ring lights normally come with smartphone/tablet holders and universal camera brackets as well. If not, you can always buy these accessories apart.

They are easy to find and very simple to use. You just have to screw the pieces to the stand and you’ll be ready and safe to start recording your videos!

3) Adjusting the light:

The vast majority of ring lights allows you to adjust color temperature and brightness.

Wait… what is color temperature?

Color temperature is the property of a light source that controls how warm or cold an image will look. It measures in kelvins (K) and there’s an important rule you have to remember here:

The lower the temperature is, the warmer everything will look.

Keep in mind that daylight is around 5000K and 6500K. This is a neutral white light that looks very natural. Anything above that range will look more bluish and, of course, anything below that range will look more yellowish.

Knowing this is very useful when you want to set a specific mood for a video.

And what about brightness?

If you have a dimmable ring light, you can control how much brightness you want, which is very convenient. Some models have a stepless dimming system which is great if you want to create a smooth transition from dark to bright.

On the other hand, if you don’t have the possibility to adjust brightness, you can always put your ring light a little bit further to reduce the light intensity.

And, that’s it! Ring lights are super easy to assemble and they make your work process very simple because you don’t have to set up heavy and huge equipment.

Things to know before buying a ring light

Understanding color temperature is really important when you work with artificial light (or any kind of light, actually). This way, when you see that a ring light has a 5500K color temperature, you’ll know that’s a neutral white light that won’t make your skin look bluish nor yellowish.

However, there are other technical aspects you should be familiar with when you start looking for ring lights.

I’ll explain two basic concepts that you’ll probably see a lot when you check the specs of a lighting device.

I won’t go too technical, I promise!

  • Color rendering index (CRI):

I’ll try to keep things simple, so Let’s just say CRI is a way of measuring the ability of a light source to show the true colors of objects.

It’s measured in numbers from 0 to 100, being 100 the most accurate color rendering. This means that the higher the CRI is, the more truthful the colors will look. 

Remember this when you’re comparing different lightning tools because you will see CRI numbers frequently.

  • Lumens:

Lumens are a way of measuring the intensity of the light. The higher the lumens, the brighter the light. Pretty easy, right?

Sometimes you’ll see other specs such as the power of the light (measured in W). Nevertheless, you should focus more on the lumens to determine how strong a LED light is.

Additionally, keep in mind that you’ll be using these lights close to your face so you don’t really have to worry about having a lot of power. Most ring lights will fit your needs.

And, btw, don’t be scared with all this technical stuff!

You don’t need to go too deep with this. You just have to understand the basics so when you see a weird feature, you know what they’re talking about.

Also… these are some fun facts you can throw at a party for no reason. Why not?

What ring light size is the best for you?

You'll notice that some ring lights are small and compact, while others are huge.

So, is there any performance difference between sizes, or is it all the same?

A larger ring light (usually from 14" to 18" in diameter), will allow you to set your smartphone or camera inside the ring.

If the ring is too small, the largest cameras and smartphones won't fit in.

On the other hand, a larger ring is better at getting rid of shadows on your face since the larger diameter will be able to reach the edges of your face

However, smaller ring lights also have their own advantage: they're smaller, lighter, cheaper, but they still can light up an entire room pretty easily.

Choose one according to your needs and budget.

The 5 best ring lights in the market for content creators

Now that you have a better understanding of ring lights, let’s move on to the big question: which ring light should you buy?

I’ll give you five great options:

What we like:

  • Versatile size
  • Portable
  • Rotable ring head
  • Shows truth colors

What we don't like:

  • It doesn't have a wide range of color temperatures

Easy to carry, simple and big enough to mount a DSLR on it: this ring light is everything you need!

This is the most complete option for vloggers because it comes with all the basics you need to achieve professional results without any effort.

It includes:

  • A portable black bag, so you can take it anywhere with you. Pretty useful if you travel a lot.
  • A transparent diffuser and a yellow diffuser, so you can use two different color temperatures.
  •  A mobile phone holder
  • A cradle head
  • A light stand, extendable to 210cm (82.7”). But I recommend stretching to 162cm max.
  • Universal adapter and plug
  • A mirror, so it’s great for makeup artists!

Pros:

  • Size: 18” is the perfect size to get a super soft light that will make your face look amazing. It’s also big enough to mount a DSLR on it, so it opens up many possibilities to you.
  • 180° rotatable ring head
  • Stepless dimming with a 10%-100% range
  • Portable: although it’s not a tiny ring, it’s easy to carry around thanks to its portable bag and it doesn’t take up much space.
  • CRI: 90, which will show truthful colors.

Cons:

  • The stand is not very stable when it’s extended to its maximum height.
  • It doesn’t have a wide range of color temperatures.

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What we like:

  • RGB mode
  • Mobile app 
  • Wide range of color temperatures

What we don't like:

  • Expensive
  • It doesn't include a stand

This one is a little bit pricey, but it has many cool features that most ring lights don’t have.

This is a good option if you want to experiment with different colors in your photos and videos.

It includes:

  • 2 NP-F750 batteries and chargers
  • Padded carry bag
  • Metal ball head
  • 9’ AC power cord

Pros:

  • Size (17”)
  • Color temperature adjustable from 2700K to 10,000K + 360 RGB colors. You have a lot of possibilities!
  •  You can use this ring light up to 90 minutes in daylight mode and 150 minutes in RGB mode (or continuous use with AC power cord).
  • LED back panel display controls color temperature, battery life, power level & RGB colors. This way you can see the exact color temperature you’re using.
  • CRI: 90 at 5600K, 97 at 3200K
  • Additional special effects controllable with free Savage Light Manager mobile app

Cons

  • The stand is not included.
  • It doesn’t come with a phone holder.
  • More expensive.

What we like:

  • 3 color modes
  • USB Powered
  • Inexpensive

What we don't like:

  • Small size

This is a smaller option than the previous two, but it’s a great choice to record videos with your smartphone.

It includes:

  • Light stand, extendable up to 51” (129cm)
  • Rotatable phone holder
  • Bluetooth remote control compatible with iOS and Android phones. Operation distance up to 10m.

Pros:

  • Dimmable with a 1%-100% range
  • 3 color modes: Warm Light, Cool White, and Day Light.
  • USB Powered: works with most devices that support USB port, like laptops, power banks, USB charger, AC adapter, etc.
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

Not big enough to fit a digital camera inside the ring.

What we like:

  • 2 light modes
  • 180º rotable head
  • Great quality for the price

What we don't like:

  • It doesn't include carry bag
  • Limited range of color temperatures

This one is pretty similar to the VloggerPro ring light and it’s a very flexible choice.

It includes:

  • Smartphone holder (Horizontal/Vertical)
  • Hot shoe adapter with 1/4inches screw for Canon, Nikon, Sony, and most DSLR cameras.
  • Light stand, extendable up 78.7 inches (200 centimeters).
  • Remote control
  • Power Adapter Supply with Plug

Pros:

  • CRI: 96+
  • 2 light modes: Warm Light Mode and Cold Light Mode (3200K-5600K)
  • 180° rotatable head
  • Dimmable with a 0-100% range

Cons:

It doesn’t include carry bag.

It doesn’t have a wide range of color temperatures.

What we like:

  • USB Powered
  • Portable
  • Inexpensive

What we don't like:

  • It doesn’t include a carry bag
  • It doesn't fit a camera

This 10" ring light will still let you light up your face for your videos and it's more affordable.

It includes:

  • Sturdy tripod.
  • 360° rotatable and universal phone holder

Pros:

  • 3 color lighting modes: warm, cool white, daylight.
  • Dimmable with 11 levels of brightness for every lighting mode.
  • USB Powered: works with most devices that support USB port, like laptops, power banks, USB charger, AC adapter, etc.
  • Small
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Not big enough to fit a digital camera inside the ring
  • It doesn’t include a carry bag

Ready to take your videos to the next level?

I hope this guide had helped you to understand ring lights and why to use them. They are simply amazing, right?

Now, you’re all set to create professional-looking videos easily and at a low cost!

Thank you so much for reading. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below.

Good luck and happy vlogging!

Will A.

Will is the founder of VloggerPro. He's a YouTube Certified partner and has been reviewing equipment and teaching others how to grow and generate real income on YouTube for the last 5 years.

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