Ring lights have been leading the photography game for quite some time and are a favorite among macro photographers. They are also popular for categories such as selfies, makeup, vlogging, and more. The best thing about ring lights is that they offer beautiful and even spread of lighting.
Some of the ring lights are large and equipped with stands while others are much smaller and can be attached to one’s smartphone. In short, no matter what your needs are, these simple-to-use lights can light reasonably close subjects quite well. However, ring lights are not great for big groups of objects or people.
Why Use a Ring Light?
You might be surprised to know that ring lights were originally made for medical and dental purposes. This is because these lights were great at lighting the area evenly. Therefore, due to their wide potential capabilities, they were adapted for different commercial usages. Following are some of the capabilities of ring lights:
For Emphasizing Details
Due to the special design and structure of ring lights, they are perfect for emphasizing details on videos and photographs. The circular design of ring light allows users to attach their camera in between its hole, enabling it to focus on specific details of the subject.
Generating Color Effects
Another best thing about ring lights is that you can generate color effects by simply switching white LEDs with different colored lights. In addition to that, you can apply colored gels on various parts of the ring light.
A ring light shows its real potential when using it for macro photography. It produces perfectly balanced lighting that is evenly distributed of the object that the users want to focus on. You can create super amazing, high-quality photos and videos without spending a fortune for the shoot.
Since most ring lights can produce daylight color, this source of light is used for makeup applications on an overcast day when natural light isn’t available.
When using a ring light as the primary source of lighting for commercial use or photoshoot, it can produce an attractive halo shadow that can excellently outline the subject of photography or video. For a more professional-looking video, you can also use sidelights or softboxes.
Ring Light Buying Guide
If you are looking to purchase a ring light for personal or business purposes, then you might have a little difficulty choosing the right type of ring light. Following are some factors that can help you buy the right one.
What do you want it for?
To be able to choose the right ring light according to your needs, you must take into consideration how you plan to use it. If you want a ring light for taking selfies on your phone or DSLR camera, you should purchase the one that is big enough to fit inside both.
The higher the lumens and color render index the ring light offers, the better the lighting output and color representation of the object will be. This is important for those who depend on color accuracy, such as YouTubers, vloggers, tattoo artists, makeup artists, and hair colorists. Moreover, it would be great if you go for a ring light that provides you a dimmer knob to control the brightness.
Considering flexibility is important when it comes to doing flat lay photography, filming artworks, or crafts. Make sure to check that if the ring light you are interested in comes with a gooseneck. This will allow you to flex the ring light as much as you need.
This factor depends on your budget. Do you want to go for high quality, durable ring light that is made to last? Or would you prefer buying a cheaper one that is much more prone to breakage? The best ring lights are made of quality materials, which you can easily tell by holding them in your hands.
On the other hand, cheap ring lights are almost completely plastic and use low-quality materials, which may not last long.
Size and Portability
This one is also an extremely important factor to consider before making a buying decision. If you are a macro photographer, then size isn’t going to be much of your concern. This is because macro ring lights mount directly on the lens of a camera and are pretty much similar in diameter. On the other hand, if you want a ring light for portrait photography or videography, then size and portability will be a huge factor. There are two common sizes of ring lights available in the market (14 inches and 18 inches). So, if you want to shoot through, then you will find working with an 18-inch one quite smooth.
However, if you are planning to do closer shots, then you may find an 18-inch ring light to be a bit too big. Therefore, it all depends on your needs. Portability is another factor worth paying attention to. If portability matters to you, then you don’t want to invest in something too heavy.
If you want to purchase portable LED lights, then you can read our article on 8 Best Portable LED Lights for Photography.
Warm color temperature is typically used during filming or photography when you require a warm glow on your subject. The best thing is that most ring lights have the option to change the color with Snap-On orange filters. However, a more convenient option is to have a dimmer on the ring light that can be used to switch color temperature.
Make sure that you are getting accessories with your ring light. Standard accessories that a ring light should come with include a carry bag, gooseneck, mirror, phone bracket, camera bracket, and more. Some ring lights can have more or less than the mentioned accessories, so before buying one, ensure to read the specifications.
Make sure to double-check the warranties offered by the ring light company or retailer. Warranties can vary retailer to retailer. However, as a rule of thumb, ensure you are getting at least ten months for a purchase warranty.
Westcott is known for its high-quality lights. Therefore, if you are looking for a versatile option designed for DSLRs or smartphones, then this 18-inch bi-color ring light kit is a great option to go for. The package contains a 6.5 foot light stand and both mounting options for DSLRs and smartphones.
- Adjustable power and temperature from 3200K to 5600K.
- Offers a high degree of color accuracy.
- Includes two batteries and a charger, as well as a wall outlet.
- Consists of a swivel and mobile mount, enabling you to use one light stand for all your devices.
If you want a mountable ring light for your DSLR and macro photography, then this one by Yongnuo is an excellent option to opt for. It is designed for Canon EOS DSLR cameras. If you want to create a shadow on the subject to make the photo with engraving effect, then you will find this ring light to be helpful as its flash tube A and B can be adjusted together or individually.
- It comes with an external power socket to meet your higher demand for recycling time.
- It is equipped with a standard PC synchronous interface, allowing you to use synchronous flash by using a PC synchronous line.
- Large LCD display.
- Supports the lens of the filter sizes 52mm, 58mm, 67mm, and 72mm.
Neewer is another best lighting company that offers reliable, affordable options to its customers. And this ring light is no exception. This ring light kit contains everything that you need, such as mounting options for both dedicated smartphones and cameras.
- Comes with a stand as well as a carrying case.
- Adjustable from 3200k to 5600k. The light also provides an option to dim the light, which comes in handy when balancing out with other light sources.
- Powered by a wall outlet.
- 360-degree rotation phone holder.
- Light stand constructed from aluminum alloy.
Whether you want to buy a ring light for personal or business use, this one by Diva is a great tool to invest in. If you plan to take pictures of people, this light adds a friendly, touched-up aura to photographs. The best thing about it is that it can be dimmed as low as 20%, making it easy to do better indoor photography.
- Equipped with light-diffusing technology.
- Fluorescent light (5400K bulb).
- Provides minimal heat loss.
- Designed for indoor use.
- Supports 110V-240V power for worldwide use (US plug).
If you want a ring light that offers an ideal mix of price, features, and price, then investing in this one by Auxiwa is an excellent option. This ring light has 36 LEDs that clips over the top of the phone. However, it is primarily designed for use with a front/selfie camera. But you can also attach it to laptops, desktop monitors, or similar.
- Equipped with a non-removable battery that can last up to eight hours.
- Offers three light intensities
- Designed with a scratch-resistant sponge.
Looking for a portable ring light that you can easily carry? This one by ESDDI is one of the best options you can invest in. Equipped with a soft tube, ESDDI 10-inch ring light allows for rotation to all angles. If you worry about it being overheating, then for your peace of mind, this light is made of aluminum that is safe and reliable. Hence, it allows proper dispersal of heat, so the product doesn’t burn out.
- USB Powered & comes with a Bluetooth Remote.
- Offers three colors of lights: white/ warm white/warm light.
- Can be used with multiple devices, such as connect USB charger, mobile power, computer host, and laptop.
- Equipped with an adjustable mobile phone holder.
Since ring lights can help create that soft, even look in your photos, they are perfect for beginners or inexperienced photographers. But they are also an excellent option for professional photographers to create circular catchlights and attractive looks. They work great for indoor photography but are not meant to be used in outdoor settings. But if you want a decent outdoor flash, you can check out our article on Top Portable Battery Powered Flashes for Outdoors.