As a Hong Kong-based professional photographer and content creator, I have great news for fellow vloggers: if you can master the lighting and audio of your videos, you are halfway done producing high-quality vlogs!
Research has shown that viewers will immediately lose attention if the lighting and/or sound of your videos are of low quality.
I wish I could tell you there is a universal set of lights that you can use for all types of vlogs, but the reality is that we always need to adjust our lighting set up according to the locations and conditions we are working with.
Learning how to choose the best lights for vlogging is the first step in setting up the best lighting. The 5 types of lights and diffusers you can consider are: ring light, LED video light, softbox light, umbrella light, and natural light.
Here, I am going to share with you some great insights about the different types of lights that are handy for producing high-quality vlogs, live streaming, Tik Tok and youtube videos.
Why Should You Trust Me?
I have also worked in Hollywood with Oscar-winning artists, as well as being the go-to photographer for major international brands such as LVMH, Four Seasons Hotels, Dom Perignon, and Moet & Chandon. In addition, I was on the 15-yr anniversary photography team at Disneyland Hong Kong, a project which lasted over 2 months and produced over 300+ commercially used images.
Several years ago, I started running photography and social media workshops, both for personal brands as well as corporate clients such as Adobe, Ovolo Hotels and Holiday Inn. Clients found the strategies, insights, and tips that I shared really boosted their social media channels and helped them to generate business leads.
Lighting is one of the key elements to produce high quality videos and photos. Whether you're a photographer, vlogger, wedding videographer, Tik Toker or general content creator, I believe you will find my information and recommendations useful in order for you to choose the best vlogging and live streaming lighting options.
Other than this article, you may want to check out my other articles regarding vlogging equipment and accessories:
Who Should Read This Article?
Any content creator in the areas below who would like to make high-quality vlogs, portraits or general content would benefit from this article:
- live streaming
- product photography
- portrait photography
- wedding photography
- macro photography
- makeup artists
- Tik Tok videos
You should keep reading until the end as I have also included important information on light modifiers as well.
Best Lighting For Vlogging, Live Streaming, TikTok and YouTube Videos
When it comes to vlogging, lights can be divided into 2 parts:
- Light sources
- Light modifiers
Ring lights are usually placed on stands in order to reach the correct heights needed. These stands are part of the ring light kit or come as a combo with the light. Another useful tool that comes along with the light and the stand is a smartphone holder. The smartphone holder is optional, and you can choose not to use it if you are shooting with a proper camera.
What are Ring Lights Good For?
The ring light is one of the light sources I use a lot for shooting videos and vlogs. They are great for travelers, makeup artists, solo vloggers, and live streaming. This is also a great option for beginners because it is very affordable and easy to handle. Ring Lights are the top choice for Tik Tok creators such as Charli D'Amelio and Addison Rae.
With the ring light illuminating you it becomes easier to record a video that is well exposed and devoid of stark shadows.
How to Use Ring Lights For Vlogging, Live Streaming and YouTube Videos
The best way to shoot with a ring light is to place the light directly in front of the vlogger, that is you. This assumes that you are shooting with a single light source.
The camera position should also be directly facing you. We recommend the camera to be at eye level or slightly below the level and the ring light to be firing from just over the camera for the best results.
- A single source gives you all the light you need in small spaces.
- Comes with a light stand for easy set-up.
- Comes with an optional smartphone mount.
- The output of the light source works well for small spaces and closeups
Best Ring Light for Vlogging, Live Streaming, TikTok and YouTube Videos: Phottix Nuada Ring 10 LED Light Go Kit
The Phottix Nuada Ring 10 LED Light is great lighting for fashion vloggers, live streaming, make-up artists and solo vloggers.
It comes with a 90/180-degree foldable design and it can be divided into 2 half-moon shape light sources and used by 2 parties.
This ring light is very easy to use because it comes with a “touch and slide” bar panel which allows you to control the brightness and color temperature of the light source easily.
- It is very light weight and portable: only 7.4 ounces (210 grams)
- Portable: with only 10.24 x 5.71 x 2.6 inches tall (26 x 14.5 x 6.6 cms), and a USB power input port, you can bring it anywhere and set it up with a power bank easily
In case this item from Phottix is sold out or you are looking for a more robust solution, you can consider the bigger Ring Light kit from Neewer.
The LED video light is the perfect companion for you if you are looking for an inexpensive solution for your next video project.
A LED video light is perfect for vlogging in the sense that you can control the brightness and the color temperature according to your needs and creative flair.
Generally speaking, LED lights exist in square and rectangular shapes, and they could be used either mounted on cameras or stands, serving as a continuous source of light.
What are LED Lights Good For?
A one-person vlogging team means a lot of work. Setting up the camera, setting up the lights, making a few test shots to see if the light is correct and the exposure is right. If you have to manually change the brightness of the lights one by one, especially where more than one light is set up, it can take a lot of time.
The best-LED lights come with a remote control that allows you to control the light from a distance. If you are setting up two or more of these lights you can put them all on the same channel and control the color temperature and brightness using a single remote.
How to Use LED Lights for Vlogging and Live Streaming?
LED lights work much like any other light source. The major difference is in size and how you can control them.
LED lights are smaller in size than an average softbox. That is an important aspect to consider because if you are working out of a small studio or room in your home LED lights will serve you better than the big clunky soft boxes.
You can use LED lights just like any other lights. We recommend that you use a classic two-point set-up if you have two lights, or the well rounded three-point set-up if you have three.
One light serves as the key light and the second one serves as the fill light. The third light fires from behind creating what is known as a rim or hair light. This light will create a thin rim around the subject and separate him or her from the background.
- LED lights are smaller in size than softboxes and umbrellas
- You get the same image you see through the viewfinder
- Some LED lights can be controlled using remotes
- You can mix multiple LED lights of the same brand and create your perfect lighting set-up
- The light source is stronger than a softbox and therefore the result is more contrasty
Best LED Video Lights for Vlogging, Live Streaming, TikTok and YouTube Video: Phottix M200R RGB LED Light
I highly recommend the Phottix M200R RGB light because this is so compact and yet with a lot of horsepower. This is one of the cool camera and photography accessories I always pack in my camera bag as well.
It’s super thin, very lightweight, just like a smartphone, and yet it comes with long battery life and low heat LEDs.
Comes with a large range of functions including:
- 21 preset multi-scene lighting effects
- Warm to cold color temperature and brightness (3200k to 5600k) and adjustable color hue and saturation from 0 - 360 degrees, which means you can alter the color of background and subject easily
- 96+ CRI for accurate color rendering
- It can serve as a portable power bank
- The LCD screen at the back which displays color temperature, effects, and the battery level is very handy
Once again, if you are looking for a more complete solution, then please consider the 3-pack kit from Neewer
A softbox is a light modifier that helps you to diffuse the intensity of a light source when you are vlogging. Vloggers always need a softer quality light because harsh shadows tend to impact the quality of a vlog.
As a blogger, your primary requirements are good lighting and audio. Softening the light ensures there are no harsh shadows behind you, under your eyes or around your chin. For that, you need the right type of light. Softboxes fit this requirement well.
What are Softbox Lights Good for?
Natural light does not always work the best when you are vlogging. Plus, a majority of vloggers tend to shoot indoors. Therefore, they need an artificial light source that works for them.
With a softbox, a vlogger can produce beautiful soft lighting that illuminates the scene and eradicates any strong shadows. The idea is to control the effect of the light.
How to Use Softbox Light For Vlogging, Live Streaming, TikTok and YouTube Videos
The key to using a softbox is in its placement. For vlogging, you need at least two softboxes. Three would be best.
The positioning of the softboxes will depend on the vlogger. There are many ways in which a set of softboxes can be positioned. Here is an example –
The main softbox which serves as the key light can be positioned just above the camera, at a slightly higher angle. The light will be pointed down towards the vlogger’s face.
The second light can be placed on the left of the camera position at an angle of 45-degrees to the vlogger. The third light can be placed on the right of the camera at an angle of 45-degree to the vlogger.
This three-point light set-up completely eradicates any strong shadows.
- Produces a soft light that is perfect for vlogging
- Better control over the intensity and direction of the light
- You can alter the light source and use different light heads as per your needs
- Requires additional space to accommodate the big softboxes. If your workplace is small you will have some issues.
- Despite being a softer version of the original light source, a softbox is still directional light.
- More expensive than other types of light sources.
Best Softbox Light for Vlogging, Live Streaming, TikTok and YouTube Videos: Phottix Raja Deep Quick-Folding Softbox 32" (80cm)
The Phottix Raja Deep Quick Folding Softbox is a professional-grade, durable softbox.
It comes with:
- 2 removable fabric layers
- An inner baffle fro easy setup
- A front diffuser(grids), which allows you to customize the most suitable light softness
I love this item from Phottix because it can set up and tear down in just seconds (thanks to the handy umbrella design)
- It works well for lights with Bowens S mount for producing continuous lighting
- The size is not too big when you fold it up, it’s about 30 inches long. You can fold down the fabric and roll it into a compact bundle
- Suitable for both in-studio or on the go location usage
An umbrella is also a light modifier. But when you compare it with something like a softbox, an umbrella is a larger and much broader source of light. Generally, an umbrella light can produce a softer, wider are of light when compared to a softbox.
Umbrella light modifiers can be divided into 2 types:
- Reflective umbrella - this means you point the light away from your subject, so the light hits the inside of the umbrella and reflects back onto your subject
- Shoot through umbrella - this means you point the flash or light into an open umbrella and shoot through it, resulting in the light hitting your subject by going through the umbrella
In general, a shoot-through umbrella will produce a softer light than a reflective umbrella because it can be placed closer to your subject.
Shoot through umbrella lighting is even suitable for outdoor shots under sunny conditions and single portraits, while reflective umbrella lights are more suitable for group shots. On our photoshoots at Disney, we used 2 reflective umbrellas to cover approximately 14 Disney characters.
What are they good for?
Umbrella lighting is suitable for vlogging setups where you need a slightly larger frame to work with. Because the light throw from umbrellas covers a larger area, hence they are perfectly suitable in this scenario.
To give an example, let’s say that you are vlogging with a guest and need your lights to cover a wider area. Softboxes will not do in this situation. You need an umbrella to spread light over the larger area.
How to Use Umbrella Light for Vlogging, Live Streaming, TikTok and YouTube Videos
We can set up umbrella lights the same way we normally set up softboxes. You can of course use umbrella lights together with softboxes or without. If you want to use just umbrella lights, you need at least two.
Positioning the umbrella lights on either side of the frame, pointing at the vlogger (and the guest, if one is in the scene) just out of the frame helps to easily illuminate the scene.
- It is directional and therefore produces fewer shadows.
- Umbrella lights are cheaper than other types of modifiers.
- Another major advantage of umbrella lighting is that they are less heavy and they are easy to set up.
- The biggest con of umbrella lighting is that the throw of the light is much larger than other types of light modifiers.
- When used outdoors, the stand carrying the umbrella must have a weight on it, otherwise the slightest amount of wind can tip the umbrella over!
Best Umbrella light For Vlogging, Live Streaming, TikTok and YouTube Videos: Phottix Varos multi-function flash shoe umbrella holder and a Phottix Shoot Through Softbox Studio Umbrella 102cm
I highly recommend setting up your umbrella lights with a Phottix Varos multi-function flash shoe umbrella holder and a Phottix Shoot Through Softbox Studio Umbrella 102cm.
With these 2 products, you can easily set up an umbrella light with different light softness with your flashes and continuous lights
The holder is strong and 180 degrees tiltable and can support up to 55 - 66 lbs (depending on which model you pick)
- Small and lightweight, only 6.3 x 3.15 x 2.17 inches (16 x 8 x 5.5 cms) and 11 ounces (311 grams)
- Comes with male and female threaded inserts
- The teardrop-shaped umbrella mount accepts 7 - 10mm diameter shafts and is slanted 8 degrees so more light can hit the center of the umbrella
- You can hold a large umbrella with this holder, even 60 or bigger!
Natural Lighting - Light Source For Vlogging, Live Streaming, TikTok and YouTube Videos
Natural light is also named ambient light. In this case, the sun becomes our light source and there are many benefits of using natural lights: it’s free, comes with a lot of variety, and it can be super beautiful during the “golden” and “blue” hours.
- Happens twice per day and most of the time, blue hour may only last for few mins
- Blue hour is the twilight period right before the sun rises, during this period, the sky gradually turns lighter from dark blue. Vice versa, it also happens right after sunset!
- Perfect timing for landscape photography
- Also happens twice per day, golden hour is the short period right after sunrise and before sunset
- The time with beautiful sun light that’s very even, soft, warm (comes with a golden hue)
- Perfect for portraits, vlogs, backlighting and so on.
Best Lighting For Vlogging, Live Streaming, TikTok and YouTube Videos - What to Consider?
Types of Vlogs You are Producing
Think about what type of vlogs you would like to produce and where you will be shooting. Plan your shots and then pick the lights based on your needs.
When it comes to vlogging, I would suggest trying to pick something small and lightweight so they could offer better portability. Even though we may shoot mostly indoors but you want something easy to move around.
Value for Money
In any type of content creation, including vlogging, I realize that there are many options with very low prices, however, I have tried quite a number of them and most of those are just not so durable.
As you can see, most of the options I’ve recommended here are relatively not too expensive while it comes to photography and videography equipment.
I highly recommend you to go for an option that may come with a higher price but also more durable. Lighting is an investment worth every dollar.
Best Lighting For Vlogging, Live Streaming, TikTok and YouTube Videos - Final Words
We have advised the best lights for Vloggers and YouTubers to upgrade your videos. What lights are you using for producing your vlogs? Drop me a message and let me know what you think!
Keep reading for more great articles:
- Best cameras for Wedding Photography
- Best cameras for Street Photography
- Best Nikon mirrorless cameras
- Best mirrorless cameras for beginners
- Cool camera accessories and best photography equipment
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A big thanks to Phottix for the professional lighting equipment provided to Ali G Studios.
All photos are © Ali Ghorbani and Ali G Studios
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