The best ring lights are among the most overlooked peripherals. In fact, outside of the vlogging and content creating communities, most people can’t even imagine needing one. But, one of the many, many things the COVID-19 pandemic has taught is that one can’t simply sit in front of a webcam for a work meeting and hope for the best. And, if we’re going to continue this work from home trend post-pandemic, we have to find ways to stop looking like zombies during video conferences.
That’s where the best ring lights come in. These light halos are designed to make any subject look good in front of the camera by illuminating it softly and evenly – and yes, that includes any human who’s just stumbled out of bed mere minutes before a Zoom meeting or a hardcore game streamer who may or may not have skipped a shower. We’ve gathered the best ones for you right here, from a webcam with its own mini ring light to a premium one with all the trimmings.
TL;DR – These are the Best Ring Lights
1. Best Ring Light
There’s a lot to love about Neewer’s 20-inch LED Ring Light. The ring light itself is a massive 20-incher that makes it just as great for studio-quality photographs as it is for vlogging and streaming.
It’s got a decent color temperature range and over 97 CRI that helps keep things natural yet vibrant. You can plug it into a wall outlet or pop in batteries that last 50 minutes or less at full charge in case you need to take it outdoors. It also comes with accessories like a heavy-duty light stand with an adjustable height of 36 to 79 inches to a smartphone holder. Most importantly, the price is right, which makes it among the best value ring lights out there.
2. Best Budget Ring Light
The Qiaya Selfie Ring Light is more for casual users and budding content creators with a tight budget and aren’t too savvy at making videos. At less than $50, this is definitely in the economy class of ring lights, but don’t let that price fool you.
There’s a lot of value in this ring light, touting an adjustable color temperature range of up to 6,000K, two power solutions, 10 levels of brightness, a highly adjustable lighting angle, and a decently sized ring diameter. Its stand is solid and has four different levels. It’s still very much for novice users, however, with only three color modes and a CRI of less than 90. Still, this is a very capable ring light for beginners and those who just want to look good during video calls.
3. Best Streaming Ring Light
Elgato’s ring light is, for lack of a better word, elegant. This RedDot award winner boasts up to 2,500 lumens and an impressive color temperature range of 2,900 – 7,000 K. But, it doesn’t just make you look stunning with its two diffusion layers; it also does it while looking just as good with its bezeled look and large setting buttons, which are strategically-placed to be easily accessible and blend seamlessly with the design
Its operation is just as elegant. While the aforementioned buttons adjust the ring light’s brightness and color temperature. It also comes with its own app that allows you to make those adjustments from your smartphone or computer. That means you can toggle the ring light setting without needing to physically touch it. Ideal for everything from game streaming and video conferencing to full-on photoshoots. Plus, it comes with a rubber-padded clamp and Elgato’s robust and highly expandable Master Mount S stand.
Go for gold and purchase the whole affordable expandable system that includes a heavy base, a solid arm and a flexible arm, as well as the longer Master Mount L so that you’ll never feel the need to upgrade to another lighting system again.
4. Best Webcam with Ring Light
If you’re more of a minimalist, you can keep things simple and uncomplicated with the Razer Kiyo. While this is more of a webcam than a ring light, it’s a nifty 2-in-1 device is perfect for those who want to look good jumping on a video call with friends and colleagues. The ring light itself is just as simplistic and easy to handle, with just a dial around it to adjust the brightness.
The light looks tiny but it’s more than good enough to make you look flattering in front of your audience, especially if you’re on video calls with colleagues. And, that versatile clamp-style mount makes it effortless to attach to any display. As for the webcam, it’s 1080p at 30fps and 720p at 60fps video resolution should be more than enough to keep most users happy, and is an incredible upgrade to whatever is on your laptop.
5. Best Ring Light for Camera
The Yongnuo YN-14EX is not so much a continuous ring light, but a ring flash best used for still photography. It’s a vital tool for those looking to up their macro and modeling photography game.
There are a lot of ring flashes out there, but if you’re looking for something that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, Yongnuo is the brand for you. The Yongnuo YN-14EX supports exposure compensation, rear-curtain sync, and FE lock to start, and yields just as good results as its pricier rivals for less. It’s also compatible with 52mm, 58mm, 67mm and 72mm filter size lenses – though you’ll have to invest in a set of adapters for larger lenses, and fitted with the standard PC synchronous interface and an LCD display. This is a great addition to your beginner photography set, especially if you plan on doing a lot of macro and portrait photos.
6. Best Selfie Ring Light
Not everyone needs a pro-level ring light. For many users, a simple and portable clip ring light is good enough, something you can simply clip on to your smartphone, tablet or laptop. If that sounds ideal for you, you cannot go wrong with the Qiaya Clip Selfie Ring Light, which is probably the best clip ring light on the market.
It has a built-in rechargeable battery, three different light settings, and good clamping power to keep it in place. What’s more surprising here is that it’s powerful enough to light up your selfies in a dark room. The best part might just be the price, as it’s less than $20, which means it’s affordable for pretty much every one.
7. Best Portable Ring Light
Not all ring lights have to be massive, at home lighting solutions, the Rotolight’s Ultimate Vlogging Kit is a portable option for your smartphone. This nifty little tool comes with a smartphone clip, a mini tripod, and an accessory bar that lets you mount your smartphone and the ring light at the same time.
Speaking of that ring light, it’s Rotolight’s award-winning RL48-B Stealth ring light that comes with its own calibration filters – seven of them – so you can adjust the color temperature, as well as apply dimming, minus green and diffusion. It’s got everything to make you look good on camera. The best part is that everything is portable and travel-friendly, and you won’t have to worry about being weighed down by heavy equipment when you’re on-the-go.
8. Best Multi-Use Ring Light
Every multifaceted content creator on the budget needs something extremely versatile yet also incredibly affordable. For that, we recommend the UBeesize 10-inch Ring Light. This kit lets you mount practically every smartphone or portable camera kit up to 1kg, has 360-degree rotation for every lighting angle possible, and a color temperature range of 3000K to 6000 K. It even has a Bluetooth remote so you can easily operate that shutter without needing to go back and forth, and a tripod with a height range of 15.7 inches to 50 inches.
Another feature we love about this ring light is its touch operation for adjusting brightness and color temperature, as well as toggling on and off. The only thing missing here is the option to be battery-operated so you can still use it when there’s no outlet on hand. Still, for something that’s under $50, it already offers a whole lot for a low price.
9. Best Outdoor Ring Light
For a ring light that costs as much as other mid-range brands, Lume Cube’s 18-inch wonder sure boasts some uniquely premium features. It has a built-in diffuser, a backlit display so you can visually see the settings you’re on, and can run on battery power– two batteries are even included – that lets you utilize it for about an hour at full power without being connected to a power outlet. To keep with that portable nature, it’s surprisingly lightweight and comes with its own carrying case.
Of course, that flicker-free operation, adjustable temperature range 3200-5600K, and 97 CRI keeps that light as bright and natural as you need it to be. That 6.5-foot stand is easily adjustable yet also robust at the same time, allowing you to mount both the ring light and up to a 10 pound camera. Meanwhile, its small collection of accessories that comes included make it an even better value for your money.
In fact, this is a definite contender for the best overall ring light title had it not been for the fact that we absolutely recommend this for outdoor shooters – even though it’s just as impressive to use indoors.
10. Best Ring Light for Small Devices
Shooting primarily with smaller devices such as smartphones and action cams? The Vabogu Selfie Ring Light might just be perfect for you, especially if you want a ring light that’s decently-sized and still capable.
Despite being only 10-inches in diameter it’s plenty bright and offers three lighting modes – white, natural, and warm. You can adjust between 11 different brightness levels for a plethora of lighting scenarios, as well as a 360-degree rotation for all sorts of lighting angles. And, just because it’s meant for smaller devices, doesn’t mean it can’t go high. With a height range of 18 to 63 inches, that tripod will let you shoot all sorts of subjects from different angles. And, true to its “perfect for beginners” nature, it’s also very easy to set up. It’s a fantastic value for less than $30. Just bear in mind that if you do upgrade to a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you’ll have to upgrade to a more robust setup as well.
Choosing the best ring light
If you haven’t owned (or used) a ring light before, choosing one can be a tad tricky. You probably already know that you can’t just get the first one that pops up in your Amazon search, but did you know there are other considerations beyond quality and price?
When choosing the best ring light for you, you should consider the size or diameter of the ring, first and foremost. Usually, the larger ring lights produce softer and more diffused lighting. However, smaller ones should be good enough for close-ups. It’s the same with a ring light’s Color Rendering Index. The higher the CRI, the more natural the light is and the more vivid it will make the colors look.
Most ring lights are dimmable, but the cheap ones don’t often offer adjustable color temperatures. Keep in mind that if you’re looking for something with a wider color temperature range, you might have to spend a bit more. It’s worth it, however, especially if you need extra versatility for different shooting scenarios.
Speaking of versatility, you’ll find that some ring lights are both AC- and battery-powered, making them ideal for outdoor and remote location use by being battery-powered. Again, they’ll probably cost more, so if you’re shooting everything indoors, you should just go for an AC-powered option.
Lastly, consider the type of bulbs being used. Some use fluorescent lights while a few others utilize LED lights, which are more energy-efficient, more robust, and better for the environment.
Michelle Rae Uy is a freelance tech and travel writer, part-time production editor, and a full-time traveler from Los Angeles, California. She currently splits her time between Los Angeles, London and the rest of the world. Follow her on Instagram @straywithRae