The Best Ring Lights

For many of us, work-related meetings and even what were once in-person social interactions are now taking place virtually. Services like Zoom, Google Meet, FaceTime and Facebook Messenger have become indispensable video calling and virtual meeting tools. The best ring lights and key lights can amp up your video quality and make you look great during video calls or virtual meetings.

If you’re a YouTuber or social media influencer, the right lighting will help to increase audience engagement and generally enhance your overall production quality. It’ll also help all your coworkers see your beautiful face more easily during virtual work meetings.

Luckily, instead of having to use expensive studio lighting, there are a wide range of low cost ring lights and key lights that’ll shine a steady and even array of light onto your face and upper-body—and in some cases, your surroundings as well. When the focus is on you, make sure you’re properly lit. To accomplish this, consider grabbing one of these 12 best ring lights.


Best Ring Light Overall

This 18-inch Kit Will Brighten Up Your Shooting Space

Ring lights in the 18-to-20-inch range are pretty common for a very good reason. They are very versatile. For example, they’re able to produce an attractive glow from as close as 18 inches or as far as about five feet. This Neewer 18-inch ring light kit has a reflective layer of silver behind the 240 LEDs. This creates a brighter but more diffused glow. It’s fully dimmable from 100% down to 1%. This lets you dial in exactly the brightness you need. A small, two-button remote control lets you control the light from afar.

This kit is ready to go right out of the box. It includes a light stand, filter set and smartphone adapter. Use the adapter to mount your smartphone in the center of the light for straight-on vlogging, selfies or when engaged in video calls. You can also stand the light to the side of the camera and use it as an off-axis key light or side light.


Best Ring Light For Smartphones

Brighten Up Your Mobile Live Streams

Rotolight makes some larger ring lights, but this package is sized ideally for smartphones. In fact, the package includes the light, mini-tripod and a mounting bar that holds both the light and smartphone. If you’re a vlogger who broadcasts from your smartphone, this super-lightweight kit (the ring light weighs about five ounces) is perfect for adding just the right amount of extra light from the convenience of a tabletop. If you don’t want to use the light on its mounting bar, it can also be mounted to a camera’s hotshoe or slid onto a shotgun microphone.

The 80-watt-equivilent bulb will run for about four hours on a charge. It uses three AA batteries and throws a beam of soft light that’s great for illuminating your face. Also in the box is a four piece filter set. This lets you adjust color to direct daylight, indirect daylight, mixed or tungsten. You can’t lose the filters (at least not easily), because they’re stored in the back of the ring light’s housing when not in use.


Best Ring Light For Vlogging

ESDDI’s Ring Light Will Help You Set Up A Small Production Studio

While the ESDDI 18-inch ring light is similar in some ways to the Neewer model—they’re both 18-inch LED lights with phone mounts and light stands—they’re also quite different. Most importantly, this light is equipped with 432 LEDs, which makes it significantly brighter despite being the same size.

The ESDDI 18-inch Ring Light has a color temperature range from 3200k to 5600k. The light intensity is dimmable from 100% down to 10%. While there’s no remote control, both settings are easy to adjust via a pair of knobs at the base of the ring. There’s no need to install color or neutral density filters; just dial in the setting you need.


Best Ring Light For Laptops And Tablets

This Ring Light Clips Onto Your Laptop Computer Or Mobile Device

MOST POPULAR

The Whellen Selfie Ring Light is designed specifically for delivering illumination to videos made from your smartphone or laptop computer. It also works great for brightening up your face during video calls or virtual meetings. The 3.5-inch diameter ring is small and portable. At only half an inch thick, you can slip it into almost any bag.

The ring light slips over and straddles your mobile device or computer’s camera, so the lower part of the donut covers part of your screen. The upper part curves above the top of the display. Meanwhile, the smartphone or laptop’s camera lens pokes through the middle of the ring. You only lose a little of the screen behind the light.

In operation, the ring light takes about an hour to charge via USB. It’ll give you around 90 minutes of illumination before needing to be plugged back in again. The light unit has a single button which is used to turn on the light, cycle through the three lighting modes (warm, cool and a combination) and vary the brightness.


Best Ring Light To Brighten More Than Your Face

Lume Cube Mini Brightens A Broader Area

Best Features

Lume Cube’s main focus is on designing and selling lighting products for a wide range of videography and photography-related applications. The company also offers several products specifically for use with mobile devices or computers that’ll light up someone engaged in a video call or virtual meeting, for example. This 12-inch ring light system is rather versatile. It’s large enough to nicely light up someone’s face and upper body using a full-spectrum, bi-color light that offers a 3200K to 5600K adjustable temperature.

The light easily adjusts between 100% and 1% brightness and can be powered using the supplied battery pack or an AC adapter. Both a smartphone mount and camera mount are included, as is a 6.5-foot tripod stand and carry case. Due to the size of the ring light, it’s better suited for video production or portrait photography, but it works perfectly fine as a primary light source for video calls or virtual meetings.


Best Ring Light For Photography

Brighten Up Your Photos

The Rotolight NEO 2 LED Camera Light is round like a ring, but it’s really a key light— lacking the donut shape, you won’t get the signature circular catchlights common with rings. However, if what you need is the ability to shine a lot of light on your face or some other subject using a compact and portable light, the Rotolight will likely be perfect.

Powered by six AA batteries, it runs for about two hours. You’re able to adjust color temperature from 6300K to 3150K and generate 2000 lumens worth of light. Mount the light to a desktop stand and use it while vlogging or streaming, or use it in conjunction with any camera for continuous lighting or as a sync flash (up to 1/8000 of a second).


Best Ring Light With Stand

Clamp This Light To Your Desk

It’s always nice to encounter a lighting kit that’s designed from the ground up for desktop video applications, like participating in video calls, vlogging or video streaming. The Elgato Key Light is a compact lighting panel with a desk clamp. The light puts out a substantial 2800 lumens via 160 OSRAM LEDs. This is more than enough to provide bright light to a subject that’s between three and five feet away.

The Elgato Key Light is app-controlled from your smartphone or computer. You can adjust the color temperature (2900K to 7000K) and brightness without turning away from your streaming camera. Even better, this light nicely integrates with Elgato’s popular Stream Deck, so you can turn the light on and off, or adjust color temp and brightness from the tabletop panel.


Best Budget Key Light Kit

Shed Light Without Shedding Dollars

The Neewer Dimmable USB LED Video Light Set doesn’t output a huge amount of light—just 1000 lumens. That said, you can arrange this pair of lights to serve as a direct key light on either side of your streaming camera. Alternatively, set them off to the side for off-axis lighting. The lights come with their own tabletop stands. Use this as a low-cost standalone lighting kit or as an accessory to another key light or ring light.

Each panel has 66 LEDs. They’re adjustable from 100% down to 10% using the in-line control on the power cord. Speaking of power, the lights plug into USB ports. But don’t get too excited—these lights draw too much power for most laptops and tablets, so you should plug them directly into a PC or into a USB power adapter. Need to adjust the color temperature? The lights come with four color filters.


Best Ring Light For Zoom Meetings

This LumeCube Light Attaches To Your Computer’s Monitor

Although it has a circular design, this light serves more as a key light (as opposed to a ring light) that attaches to a computer’s monitor. That said, the Lume Cube Video Conference Lighting Kit is designed to light up your face and upper body when you’re participating in a video call or virtual meeting, or sitting in front of your computer while hosting a live stream, for example.

You’re able to easily adjust the light’s brightness and temperature to complement your skin tone. The mount for attaching the light to the back of your monitor is included. This light can be powered using its own rechargeable battery or be plugged into the USB port of your computer. The dimensions of the light are small (3 x 1 x 6 inches), so it’s easy to transport with your laptop computer. An optional stand for the light is sold separately.


Best Ring Light For A Home Office

Lumecube Offers A Light That’ll Brighten Your Desk Space

Editor’s Pick

This circular light is a larger version of the Lume Cube Video Conferencing Kit. It comes with an adjustable arm that clamps onto a desk. The stand has three separately posable joints, so you can set it at whatever angle it’ll serve you best. Instead of a switch or dial, the light is controlled using a touch sensitive slider (located on the arm) that you run your finger along.

You’re able to adjust the light’s brightness and temperature, although it must be plugged into an electrical outlet to function. Thanks to the light’s brightness (despite the relatively small diameter of the circular LED fixture itself), it has the ability to light up your entire work area. You’ll discover that this light kit is exceptionally well made—with a sturdy desk clamp and an arm that provides for endless positioning possibilities.


Best Tabletop Key Light

Set Up This Key Light On Any Flat Surface

This is a smaller, scaled down (less bright) version of the Elgato Key Light. It’s designed to be positioned on a desktop using its own stand. When turned on, it’ll light up a single person as they’re sitting at their desk and engaged in a video call or virtual meeting, for example.

Despite its relatively compact size, the light uses 80 Osram LEDs and generates up to 1400 lumens. The brightness and temperature (2900K to 7000K) can be controlled from the light fixture itself or from a mobile app. The kit comes with the light, ball head mount, power supply, telescopic pole and base.


Best Oversize Ring Light

Light Up A Larger Space Using A Larger Ring Light

A smaller size ring light (up to 12-inches) will do a decent job surrounding your face and potentially your upper-body with light. However, not a lot of light will reach the areas surrounding you. So, if you want to brighten up a larger area (as well as most of your body), you’ll want to use a ring light with a larger diameter.

This Mactrem ring light offers a 22-inch diameter and comes with a 75-inch adjustable tripod stand. The temperature of the light can be adjusted between 2500K and 8500K, while the brightness is adjustable between 1% and 100%.

So, if you need to shed light on more than one person, a larger area or on products you’re photographing, for example, this larger and more powerful ring light will prove to be rather versatile.


Does Using A Ring Light Really Make A Difference?

Yes, adding a light source that directly shines on your face and upper body will help to eliminate unwanted shadows and make it easier for people to focus on you. Using a ring light or key light is particularly important if the preexisting overhead lights create shadows across your face.

They’re also useful if you’re positioned in front of another light source (such as a window) and that other light source is behind you and shining directly into your camera or webcam. In this situation, without a ring light or another light source positioned in front of you and shining on your face and upper-body, you’ll appear on camera as a silhouette.


What’s the difference between ring lights and key lights?

The difference between a ring light and key light is their shape. Both come in a wide range of sizes and can be used for making yourself look great when you’re in front of a camera.

A ring light provides a hollow ring of light that’s designed to surround your face (the camera can be positioned in the middle of the ring). A key light is typically a solid square, circle or rectangle shape. It disperses light across a broader area. In most cases, like when you’re engaged in a video call, virtual meeting or live stream, these lighting options can be used interchangeably.


What Are Ring Lights Good For?

A ring light should be used any time you’re standing or sitting directly in front of a camera and the primary subject in the shot is you. The ring light will shine light evenly around and across your face and upper body to balance exposure and eliminate unwanted shadows. One of these lights will also make your eyes shine brighter and allow you to show off your facial features with better clarity.

Use a ring light when participating in a video call, virtual meeting or livestream to ensure the people you’re communicating with will see you clearly. The same ring light can also be used when taking portraits or shooting video. Obviously, the larger the ring light (in terms of its diameter) the wider area the light will cover. The brightness, intensity and temperature (color) of the light will also impact how you look on camera.

Since you’re be positioned in front of a ring light (which will be your primary light source), you’ll want to avoid unwanted glares on your eyeglasses, jewelry, or any nearby reflective surfaces. If you tend to sweat a lot on camera, this will become more obvious if the light bounces off your sweat. Keep in mind, these unwanted glares can often be avoided be dimming the light, altering its temperature, or repositioning the light.

The goal of a ring light is to make you appear as clear and natural as possible when you’re on camera. Use the light to prevent shadows appearing under your eyes or nose (caused by overhead lighting), for example. The size of the ring light you need will be based on how much of your face, body and surroundings you want the ring light to brighten up. The positioning of the light and camera, as well as the light’s distance from the subject, will also help determine the ring light’s impact.

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