Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

Best lights for YouTube videos: Top video lights for online content creators

Advertisement

Improve the look of your online videos with our pick of the best lights for YouTube videos

When it comes to creating professional-looking YouTube videos, lighting is key. The best lights for YouTube videos will allow you to create a well-lit, polished look that’s consistent from video to video.

From vlogs to full studio productions, all styles of YouTube video can benefit from a dedicated lighting setup. The best lights for YouTube videos will allow you to film independently of natural lighting, with increased creative control for results that are colour accurate and flicker-free.

Dedicated video lighting is also an excellent investment. While cameras and camera lenses become dated as imaging technology advances, you’ll rarely find quality lighting going out of style.

Video lights come in styles and at price points to suit all levels of content creators. To help you find the best video light for you, you’ll find our brief buying guide below, followed by our pick of the best lights for YouTube videos.

How to choose the best lights for YouTube videos

Video light basics

While most YouTube lighting setups start from a single light, it can be helpful to plan ahead. A three-point lighting setup is the most common arrangement and involves a key light, a fill light and a background light.

The key light is your main light and is usually the brightest. This light is used to illuminate your subject and determines the overall exposure of your scene. How it’s positioned will vary depending on the look you’re going for, but in general, around 45 degrees from your subject is a good starting point.

The fill light is usually a little dimmer and is positioned on the opposite side of your subject, mirroring the key. This light is used to fill in any shadows left by the key light, and its brightness can be varied to taste. Going for a bright, soft look? Turn the fill light up. Looking for something a little moodier? Dim the fill light down a little.

Finally, as the name suggests, a background light is used to illuminate the space behind your subject. This light can set the overall feel of your video and adds a sense of space to your scene. Pretty much any video light can be used to light your background, although dedicated background lights with colour-changing functionality can offer a wide range of creative freedom.

The three-point light setup won’t work for all styles of video, and it’s certainly not essential to go out and buy three separate lights immediately, especially if you’re just getting started. But it can help to bear this arrangement in mind when planning which light to buy first.

READ NEXT: The best tripods to buy

What type of video light is best?

From candid vlogs to full studio setups, no two YouTube content creators are quite alike, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. If you film on the go, then a small, packable, lightweight option will likely suit you best. Ideally, you’ll want a light that can be run off of a battery and potentially one that can attach directly to your camera or phone. Small LED panels and ring lights work particularly well here.

Moving on up, if you’re working in a makeshift studio out of your home, then you may instead want to opt for a mains-powered light. Larger LED panel lights are ideal as they offer decent brightness levels but can still pack down after filming. Larger diameter ring lights are also well worth considering as they can illuminate subjects from all sides, making for a great one-light solution.

For more permanent sets, you’ll likely be less concerned about portability and so a more substantial studio-style light may suit you best. Studio lights tend to offer the most output and the widest range of light modifiers and accessories, allowing you to tailor the light to your specific needs. They do, however, tend to require larger stands and bulkier diffusers and so will take up more space while set up.

What brightness do I need?

Video lights come in a variety of different brightnesses, and your ideal option will be determined by the style of light and how you plan to use it. Most video lights will list an approximate brightness in lumens, with 800 lumens comparable to a 60W incandescent lightbulb, and 1500 lumens a 100W bulb.

A brighter light with a dimmer will provide you with more flexibility as well as the ability to record your videos at a lower ISO for less video grain. Brighter lights tend to be heavier and more expensive, though, so sometimes it can work just as well to position a dimmer light a little closer to your subject.

READ NEXT: The best action cameras on the market

What other specifications should I look out for?

When working with photos or video, you’ll want to look out for a light’s colour rendering index, or CRI rating. The CRI will let you know how true to life colours will appear when illuminated by the light, which is critical for achieving accurate skin tones. The higher the rating, the better, but any light with a rating of 90 or above should work fine.

If you plan on working with mixed lighting, then the light’s colour temperature is also important. You’ve likely noticed that bright sunlight can feel cool and blue, while indoor light can seem warm and yellow. As standard, most video lights offer a daylight colour temperature setting, or a kelvin value of around 5500K. If you plan on recording using only dedicated video lights, then getting all daylight balanced lights will work fine. However, if you plan on filming with a mix of video lights and traditional incandescent lights, you’ll need a light that can be set to 3200K or tungsten setting in order to match the warmer indoor lighting.

The best lights for YouTube videos to buy in 2021

1. Neewer LED panel: Best LED video light panel for YouTube videos

Price: £92 | Buy now from Amazon

Neewer’s LED panel is an affordable, easy-to-use, versatile lighting option that will work for YouTube video makers of all experience levels.

The light is bright, colour accurate, offers colour temperature adjustment and includes a diffusion filter for more flattering results across faces. While cheaper LED panels attach rigidly to a light stand, Neewer’s panel features a metal u-bracket that allows you to easily angle the light, making it significantly more user-friendly.

While the light comes with a UK mains adapter, it’s also compatible with NP-F550/F970 batteries, allowing you to set up remotely or simply avoid cluttered cabling.

Although it doesn’t ship with a stand, the panel is compatible with all standard floor stands and table mounts, allowing you to adapt it to suit your specific setup. If you’re working on a budget, this light makes for an affordable key light. Alternatively, you can pick up a pair bundled with adjustable light stands for a key light and fill light set.

Key specs – Brightness: 3360 lumens; Dimmable: Yes; Colour temperature: 3200-5600K; Advertised CRI: 96; Power source: Included mains adapter or NP-F550/NP-F970 Li-ion Battery (not included)


2. Godox ML-60: Best portable studio light for YouTube videos

Price: £256 | Buy now from Amazon

Godox’s ML-60 light is a lightweight, versatile studio light that’s ideal for both home studios and remote work. Bright, colour accurate and simple to use, the ML-60 makes for an excellent key light on smaller sets and can then be used as a fill or background light should your productions get larger.

Unlike traditional studio lights, the ML-60 is compact and portable, packing down neatly into an included carry case. Compatibility with Sony NP-F550/F970 batteries allows for remote use, while a grip handle makes it great for run-and-gun filming. The light is quiet, too, with near-silent operation, even with extended use and offers a fan-free silent mode when required (although this is limited to 50% output).

As a studio-styled light the ML-60 is compatible with a range of lighting modifiers. As standard, it features compatibility with Godox mount reflectors and softboxes but can be used with all Bowens mount modifiers using an adapter. It’s worth noting that the light only ships with a basic reflector, so you’ll likely need to pair it with the Godox As-s60s softbox or similar before putting it to use.

If you’re working on a tighter budget and don’t need the high level of portability afforded by the ML-60, then the older Godox SL-60W is still a very capable option.

Key specs – Brightness: 4500 lumens; Dimmable: Yes; Colour temperature: 5600K; Advertised CRI: 96; Power source: Included mains adapter or NP-F550/NP-F970 Li-ion Battery


3. Elgato Ring Light: Best ring light for YouTube videos

Price: £190 | Buy now from Amazon

The Elgato Ring Light is an excellent single-light solution for YouTube video makers and streamers. While most ring lights feature LEDs built into the face of the ring, Elgato’s LEDs are installed within the frame. This results in a ring of light free of harsh hotspots that’s significantly less fatiguing on the eyes over long recording sessions.

The light itself, thanks to the large diameter of the ring, is flattering and soft, resulting in a shadow-free look that works as both a key and fill light. While there are physical controls built into the rear, like all of Elgato’s lights, the Ring Light can be paired with a companion app, allowing you to adjust the brightness and colour temperature without having to leave your seat.

As standard, the Elgato Ring Light ships with a sturdy desk-mount stand that keeps floor clutter to a minimum. It is, however, also compatible with standard light stands, too.

Key specs – Brightness: 2500 lumens; Dimmable: Yes; Colour temperature: 2900-7000K; Advertised CRI: 94; Power source: Included mains adapter



4. Godox UL60: Best silent studio light for YouTube videos

Price: £236 | Buy now from Amazon

The Godox UL60 is a solidly built, easy to control, daylight-balanced light that’s completely silent while in use, making it perfect for YouTubers, vloggers and streamers.

The light is set apart from its rivals by its completely fan-less design. This means, even over longer recording sessions, you never have to worry about your microphone picking up any potentially distracting fan noise.

The UL60 outputs up to 60 watts of daylight balanced light, allowing it to handle key light duty on smaller sets and transition into a fill or background light role if your productions get larger. The light can be controlled using the in-line controller or by your phone via Bluetooth. The Godox Light app enables you to take control of the UL60 and other compatible Godox lights right from your smartphone, which is great if you want to adjust your settings without stepping away from the camera.

As the UL60 is a studio-style light it’ll need combining with a suitable light modifier for most use cases. For YouTube work it pairs particularly well with the Godox QR-P120 Parabolic Softbox, but as it features a standard Bowens mount it’s compatible with a wide range of other modifiers.

If you’re looking for something with a similar feature set but in a more portable package then be sure to take a look at the compact Godox ML-60 that also features in this round-up.

Key specs - Brightness: 4500 lumens; Dimmable: Yes; Colour temperature: 5600K; Advertised CRI: 96; Power source: Included mains adapter or V-port battery


5. Rotolight NEO 2: Best portable light for YouTube videos

Price: £199 | Buy now from Amazon

Small but powerful, the Rotolight NEO 2 is a highly adaptable professional video light that works well both fixed to your camera while on location and attached to a stand while in the studio.

The NEO 2 features a set of easy-to-use controls on the rear, allowing you to quickly and accurately adjust its output and colour temperature. It’s also compatible with Rotolight’s range of disc-shaped drop-in filters. A set of diffusion filters is included, allowing you to soften the light for more flattering results on faces.

A mains adapter is included, but the main perk of the NEO 2 is its portability, with its compact design allowing it to slip easily into most camera bags. While on the go, it can be powered using a set of six AA batteries. These are sold pretty much everywhere so you never have to worry about finding replacements should you run low while out and about, although we’d recommend looking into rechargeables.

For content creators that work with photos as well as video, the NEO 2 can also be used as a high-speed sync flash modelling light when paired with the Elinchrom HSS transmitter.

Key specs – Brightness: 2500 lumens; Dimmable: Yes; Colour temperature: 2900-7000K; Advertised CRI: 96; Power source: Included mains adapter or 6x AA batteries


6. Rotolight LED Ring Light Kit for Content Creators: Best for vlogging

Price: £77 | Buy now from Amazon

Rotolight’s small, lightweight, battery-powered LED Ring Light Kit is ideal for YouTube vloggers on the move. The light can be attached to just about any camera or smartphone using the included bracket and can even be fixed directly over the top of a shotgun microphone like the Rode Videomic Pro. The travel-friendly miniature tripod allows you to level and stabilise your shots while out and about and can even be used as a grip for hand-held filming.

The light is quick to set up, easy to use and thanks to its AA battery-powered operation, spare batteries are never hard to find. Although it’s not the brightest light in our round-up and lacks a dimmer control, we found it great for to-camera vlogs and social media clips.

The light is daylight white balanced for shooting under natural lighting conditions but a set of filters are included should you need to match indoor artificial lights. There are also two diffusion filters, allowing the output to be softened for more flattering facial lighting.

READ NEXT: The best tripods for iPhones

Key specs - Brightness: 1000 lumens; Dimmable: No; Colour temperature: 3200, 4100, 5600K; Advertised CRI: 91; Power source: 3xAA

7. Godox CL10: Best background light for YouTube videos

Price: £55 | Buy now from Amazon

Designed as a dedicated background light, the CL10 is perfect for adding ambience, colour and style to your videos. Using the included remote or Godox’s smartphone app, you can dial in your choice of 36,000 different hue and saturation combinations or use one of the built-in effects, such as firelight, candlelight or TV flicker.

While the CL10 is powerful enough to illuminate a background scene on its own, where it really shines is in a stereo pair. Using the Godox app, you can control multiple lights simultaneously and dial in vibrant complementary colours.

The Godox CL10 is powered by a USB-C adapter. This means it can be set up to run from the mains or, for portability, a USB power bank.

While the CL10 offers full control over both colour and saturation, it’s not the most colour-accurate option when it comes to pure white light, and therefore not a good stand-in for key or fill light duty.

Key specs – Brightness: 1100 lumens; Dimmable: Yes; Colours: 36,000 user-selectable colours; Advertised CRI: N/A; Power source: Included USB-C adapter


8. Nanoleaf Shapes Hexagon: Best custom background light for YouTube videos

Price: £180 | Buy now from Amazon

Looking to create your own eye-catching custom backdrop? Nanoleaf’s Shapes light panels can be arranged and orientated however you like: simply connect the individual panels together and stick them to the wall. This allows you to create a unique background to match your YouTube channel’s logo or theme.

Once the Shapes are paired with your smartphone, you can take complete control. Through the app, you can dial in whichever colour you like and apply it to the arrangement as a whole, or to each panel individually. You can also create presets, allowing you to instantly switch between different colour combinations. There are also customisable themes built in that allow you to have the lights change colour gradually, pulse in time with music or react to being touched.

A starter set of Nanoleaf Shapes contains nine hexagonal panels, although you can expand your design through Shapes Expansion packs. Large and small Triangle Shapes are also available, and the different panels are inter-connectable.

Key specs – Brightness: 900 lumens; Dimmable: Yes; Colours: 16,000,000 user-selectable colours; Advertised CRI: N/A; Power source: Included mains adapter.


Read more

Best Buys