Ring lights are all the rage these days, and it is easy to understand why. They offer an affordable and very effective way to get attractive, professional looking lighting for videos — they are huge among YouTubers and TikTokers — and are also great for many other uses. In fact, with the enormous rise of telecommuting, working from home and even home schooling, they are even becoming more and more popular.
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This means that there are also more and more different models, sizes, prices and levels of quality available — an absolutely dizzying number, in fact. So I decided it would be helpful to put together a very brief buyer’s guide to the best ring lights available in 2021, and try to answer a few basic questions:
- What Ring Lights do YouTubers use?
- What Ring Light is Best for TikTok?
- What is the Best Ring Light to Get?
- What is the Best Cheap Ring Light?
What Exactly is a Ring Light?
If you’ve ever seen a mirror in a dressing room, or one of those small makeup mirrors, with the circle of light around the mirror itself, you already have the idea. A ring light is, as the name indicates, a ring of light, either a curved single light or multiple individual bulbs, designed to provide light for videos, photography or other purposes.
Instead of surrounding a mirror, a ring light is open in the center, with room for a video or still camera, and often has a mount to affix the camera for more controllable and consistent results and ease of use. The best ring lights also usually have controls for adjusting the brightness of the light, and often filters for changing the light color temperature, from cooler to warmer.
The ring light is quite a simple idea, but it works absolutely brilliantly, giving a clear and even light all across the scene that you are videoing, shooting or even filming. It also gives a warm glow to surfaces and a sense of life and animation to faces, not to mention that characteristic halo “catch light” you often see in people’s eyes when they are illuminated by a ring light.
What Are Ring Lights Used For?
Ring lights are so popular now for videos, but really they are, or can be, used in many different ways, and end up being an incredibly valuable and useful accessory for many different types of creative people. Common, and not so common, uses include:
- Lighting for Videos (TikTok, YouTube, Vlogs)
- Live Online Streaming
- Business Meetings. Conferences and Presentations
- Home Schooling
- Portrait Photography
- Macro Photography
- Product Photography
- Copying Documents and Artwork
- As a Creative Element Itself in Art, Photographs or Installations
- Lighting for Makeup Artists
- Supplemental and Fill Lighting
- Excellent Lighting for Hobbyists and Crafters
There are so many other uses as well, and people who have even one good ring light end up using it way more than they would have imagined or expected.
How Can You Find the Best Ring Light for You?
With all of the uses and inspiration a good ring light can offer, the huge increase in online streaming, working from home and home schooling, and considering the superb quality and consistency of the best ring lights, it is easy to understand why so many people are clambering to get one.
But how can you make sure you are getting the best ring light, with great lighting and good overall quality, and the best value as well? I hope that this article can help!
Based on my own personal experience, feedback from other artists, friends, colleagues and students, and from studying tons of posted reviews from Amazon and elsewhere on the web, I have made a list of what I think are the best ring lights on the market today.
This list is broken up into four categories, with a best overall and best budget choice in each, and then a bonus product at the end — a really ingenious video station ring light. But if you want a bit of a shortcut, here are my recommendations:
Then, in my Final Thoughts section, I will be offering some basic tips and hints on how to get the most use and best results from your new ring light.
Overview: Best Ring Lights
- Rotolight LED Ring Light Kit
- Evershop Dual 8" Computer Selfie Ring Light
- Miracase 8" Ring Light with Stand
- UBeesize Selfie Ring Light
- TaoTronics 12" Ring Light
- QI-EU 12" Selfie Ring Light
- Westcott 18” Bi-Color LED Ring Light Kit
- Mactrem 22" LED Ring Light
- Viozon Selfie Live Floor Stand Set 5-in-1 10" LED Ring Light
Best Desktop LED Ring Light
A superbly made and perfectly designed desktop light from one of the most respected names in lighting. Specifically designed for online content creators, YouTube, video conferencing, telecommuting, home schooling and similar desk-based video use, the Rotolight is simple and easy to use, and includes a desktop stand and four color filters for light color temperature ranging from cool to full daylight.
A really affordable setup, the Evershop desktop LED ring light offers two separate lights for even more even and effective lighting, and is surprisingly high quality – both in terms of the lighting itself and overall material and build quality – for a very low price. With three warmth settings and ten levels of brightness for each lamp, this Evershop ring light actually gives you a lot of control and options, and is a great inexpensive choice for content creators, telecommuters or students.
Best Small Ring Light
There are a lot of really cheap small LED ring lights on Amazon these days, but by spending a little more you can get something that is much better quality and has tons of really great features and options — and this Miracase 8 inch LED ring light is the best example I’ve found. It has three warmth settings, 14 color settings, 10 brightness levels, a simple and easy control panel and a basic remote, and a strong and fully adjustable stand. And there’s a detachable mirror — perfect for preparing for the shoot.
Best Budget Small Ring Light
For a bit less money than the Miracase above, you can get a much simpler LED ring light in the UBeesize Selfie, which doesn’t offer quite as much choice (there are not color options) but still has three warmth settings, a nice basic remote, a very strong and high quality tripod and overall great material and build quality. Great, even and professional lighting on the cheap.
Best Medium-Sized Ring Light
In the medium sized range, the best overall LED ring light I’ve found is made by TaoTronics, a company that’s becoming super well known for brilliantly designed and well made products of all types. Their 12 inch ring light has fifty (!) different lighting settings, including warmth, mode and brightness, a fully adjustable tripod, and the remote is a two-in-one unit, controlling both the light itself and your phone/camera. A nice looking and premium quality LED ring light for a surprisingly reasonable price.
Best Budget Medium-Sized Ring Light
The Qi-Eu 12 inch ring light gives really even, high quality light, with three warmth filters and 10 brightness levels, is intelligently designed and easy to use, and includes a remarkably sturdy and well made adjustable tripod with two phone mounts. With a premium fit and finish you would never expect at this price level, this is an incredible value and a very good and useful ring light.
Best Large Ring Light
This 18 inch LED ring light is in a bit of a different class from anything else on our list of best ring lights in 2021. There is a quality to the light itself which seems more like it’s coming from an ultra-expensive commercial lighting setup – stable, clean and clear, and with great and very precise controllability. But then Westcott has been the choice of professional photographers and videographers for years.
Even still, their big ring light kit, which is incredible in what it includes — a super-strong tripod with camera and phone mounts, both AC and battery power (with two rechargeable batteries), a really nice travel bag and more — the Westcott 18 inch ring light is much less expensive than you might expect, and definitely gets my highest recommendation for any type or level of use.
Best Budget Large Ring Light
A super-big 22-inch LED ring light for a very, very low price, the Mactrem 22 inch still offers very high quality light, full adjustability of color temperature and brightness, a great control panel and display, 2 remote controls (for the light and for a camera/phone), power cord, a 6+ foot tripod and a nice carry bag – really everything you need, and a big, strong and even light source that makes all kinds of lighting setups, from close, intimate shots to larger scenes, look great.
Best Ring Light / Mobile Video Station
Microphone Mount moveable Compatible with 12-17" laptop/7-13 Tablet/3.5-6.7" Phone/Digital Camera SLR&DSLR Online Meeting Recording
A really intelligently designed and useful product, the Viozon 10 inch ring light is also a fully adjustable mobile video workstation, with a strong stand that has multiple fully adjustable arms to hold the light, a camera, a phone or table, and a laptop computer. The stand has sturdy, lockable wheeled feet and is designed to be both stable where it stands and easily moveable. A perfect choice for anybody who doesn’t want to be limited to one location and backdrop, and a really high quality ring light overall, with complete control over brightness and color temperature.
Final Thoughts: How to Get the Most from Your New Ring Light
Once you get your new ring light, you can find many videos and online guides about setting it up and using it, but I still wanted to offer at least a few basic tips for getting the best results, and having the most fun, from your new ring light.
- Avoid the Halo – One of the most distinctive things about ring lights – and a sure sign somebody is using one – is the ring-shaped catch light, or halo, reflected in their eyes. This was super-cool at the beginning, but is actually a bit cliche and unprofessional now, and you might want to consider avoiding it. You can easily get the same rich and animated lighting and avoid the halo by setting your camera / phone and your ring light at different angles – close enough to get full, even lighting, but set apart enough to prevent a direct reflection.
- Use Multiple Lights – A ring light provides such even and complete lighting that many people don’t even think of using supplemental lighting – and mostly you don’t really need to – but it is still nice to experiment with fill lights, background lighting, different colors and other multi-light setups.
- Not for Everything – Again, ring lights give such consistently full and even lighting that people end up using them for pretty much everything. And while they are pretty versatile, ring lights are not always good for larger shots, for very flat subjects (like documents or artwork), for moving subjects or for more complex or busy scenes.
- Quality for Quality – I have intentionally given a few different price points for each size light in this buyer’s guide to the best ring lights, but it is always best to get the best you can afford, and even stretch your budget a wee bit if possible – not only will you have a more reliable product, which you can use even heavily for many years, but the light itself will typically be more stable and even and give better results.
- Larger is Better – If you are doing absolutely nothing but a simple desktop setup for video streaming, like teleconferencing, a small ring light on a tabletop stand is probably all you’ll need, but if you are doing different shots and scenes, longer distances, product or still-life shots or other things besides the most basic statec video framing a larger ring light – even in the 18 inch range – will be more versatile and provide better results. And they will actually look better even for simple close shots and static frames.
- Play Around and Experiment – We creative types can have so much fun with a nice ring light – it can be used for video streaming, sure, and simple photographs and other videos, but a ring light can also be made more colorful, be a part of a multi-light setup, be used at crazy angles, as back-lighting or even moving for all kinds of cool effects, and can even be made a part of a scene – behind translucent material, for example, or peeking out from behind an object and creating a kind of aura. Have fun, and the results will follow!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article – Best Ring Lights for Artists, Content Creators, Telecommuters and Students in 2021 – and I also would love for you to visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for other buyer’s guides, online courses, articles and lots of other resources.