The best ring lights in 2021
- Ring lights provide an even, soft, and flattering glow — a look popular in YouTube makeup tutorials.
- The IVISII has removable colored panels and comes with everything else you need to get started.
A ring light, as the name suggests, is a donut-shaped light that allows the camera to shoot through the hole in the center. The shape of the light allows for soft illumination of all sides of the subject without producing any harsh shadows, which is why this type of light is so popular for YouTube makeup artists. The circular catchlight in a person's eyes and the halo of light falloff on the background are other signature effects.
A ring light is also unique in how it is positioned. Where standard video lights are often placed at an indirect angle to the subject, the ring light encircles the camera lens and directly lights the subject. This is what provides such an even, flat light, but it's also why ring lights aren't suitable for every type of video. Without shadow, you lose contour and dimensionality — making you look flat in a, say, video conference — but that's exactly what you want if your goal is to show off the effect of makeup in creating contour and dimensionality.
Ring lights can be either flashes or constant lights, but we're only concerned with the latter here as we're looking at lights for video, not still photography. These are almost always made from LEDs and may be powered by batteries, wall power, or both. We're also focusing on lights measuring between 10 and 19 inches. Smaller models are available, like clip-on ring lights designed specifically for phones, and while these can create the classic ring-shaped catchlight, they won't deliver the same light quality as larger ring lights. Find out more about what to look for in a ring light.
Here are the best ring lights
- Best overall: IVISII 19-inch ring light
- Best budget: AIXPI 10-inch LED Ring Light
- Best mid-range: Godox LR120 12-inch Bi-Color LED Ring-Light
- Best for professionals: Westcott 18-inch Bi-Color LED Ring Light
- Best with wide color gamut: NanLite Halo 16C Bi-Color and Tunable RGBWW 16-inch LED Ring Light
The best ring light overall
With swappable color panels, adjustable brightness and color temperature, this ring light gives you everything you need to get started, including a stand.
Pros: Ready-to-go package with light stand included, fun multi-colored diffusion panels, bright output, broad color temperature range
Cons: Batteries sold separately, reports of unreliable wireless remote
Loved by vloggers and makeup artists, the IVISII 19-inch ring light is one of the most recommended options. What makes it such a strong choice is that it includes everything you need at a fair price, with a light stand, camera mount, phone mount, and wireless remote control in the box. There's even a USB port so you can keep your phone charged while using it. The one thing not included are batteries, which are sold separately (the light can also be plugged in to the wall).
Like most LED ring lights, the IVISII features both adjustable power (0 to 100%) and adjustable color temperature (3000K to 5800K; K represents Kelvin). With 60-watt total power available, it can get extremely bright, while the wide color temperature range means you can easily match it to the ambient light, whether that be from warm incandescent bulbs (3200K) or sunlight (5600K). Color accuracy is also very good, with a color rendering index, or CRI, of 97, meaning colors should be faithfully reproduced on camera.
But beyond simple color temperature adjustments, the IVISII takes things a step further with interchangeable diffusion panels. Red, blue, and green panels are included, opening up some creative choices beyond the default white panels. Each panel covers a quarter of the ring light, so you can mix and match up to four different colors. (If you need greater color control, check out the NanLite Halo 16C on our list.)
While the IVISSI ring light seems to be almost universally loved, one relatively common complaint is about the remote control, which does not seem to work as reliably as the rest of the light. Rest assured, you can also make all of the necessary adjustments from the light itself, where the illuminated display makes it clear what your settings are.
The best budget ring light
This simple, easy-to-use light has everything that phone videographers need to get started.
Pros: Tabletop stand included, simple operation, very affordable
Cons: Limited color temperature choices, limited power choices, no battery support
The AIXPI 10-inch ring light is a no-brainer and affordable option that offers three color temperatures ("white," "warm white," and "warm yellow") and 10 brightness levels. It includes a phone bracket and small tabletop light stand, making the entire package relatively compact and easy to set-up and take-down. That's great for content creators working from their home dinner table or countertop. USB power rounds out the feature set, keeping your phone charged while you work.
While this light is very popular, it's important to note that it falls very short of the features and flexibility of other ring lights on this list. With only three color temperature positions, you may run into problems matching the color to ambient lights. Likewise, the 10-step power adjustment doesn't offer the granular control of other ring lights. Battery support is also absent.
On the plus side, the limited choices might make this light feel easier to use for beginners or anyone who finds color temperature confusing. If you're fine with "close enough," then this AIXPI ring light may be perfectly suitable for you.
This is also the cheapest light on the list, below even our budget recommendation above, which is especially impressive considering it includes a stand (albeit, not a full-height one). If you're looking for a ring light you can start using straight out of the box with very little hassle, this one is a good choice. Just know that for a few dollars more, you can get a much more capable model.
The best mid-range ring light
You get a broad color temperature range and you can't argue the price of this ring light, but you will lose out in color accuracy and accessories.
Pros: Inexpensive, wide color temperature range, good for casual phone users
Cons: No battery support, no camera mount, relatively low color accuracy
For a fraction of the cost of some options, the Godox LR120 12-inch ring light gives you an impressive color temperature range of 3000K to 6000K. Ideal for phone cameras, power can be adjusted from 10% to 100% offering 10W peak — well below the IVISII light, our overall pick, but sufficiently bright for most applications. Like many modern ring lights, the LR120 also has a USB port that can charge your phone.
But as we would expect given the low price — only our budget pick is cheaper, but doesn't offer as wide of a color temperature range — this light falls short on many other features. It has no option for battery power, no accessory mounts, and while it does include a flexible phone mount, it does not offer a traditional camera mount — you'll have to use a separate tripod if you want to use it with a DSLR or mirrorless camera. Likewise, a light stand is not included, so that's another accessory you'll need to buy if you don't already own one. Fortunately, light stands can be very inexpensive, so the total cost should still be below most other ring lights.
One other area where the Godox light looks to fall short is with color accuracy. Its CRI is rated at 90. All things considered, that's not bad for the average person, but professional or discerning content creators who want a truthful color reproduction may want to avoid this light.
At the end of the day, this is a fantastic little light for the price, making it a great option for budget-conscious content creators or anyone who just wants to experiment with a ring light to see what it's all about.
The best professional ring light
This 18-inch ring light from a respected name in photographic lighting offers color accuracy and comes with a light stand and batteries.
Pros: Two cold-shoe mounts, comes with batteries and stand, includes camera mount and two different phone mounts
Cons: More expensive than other ring lights
Without interchangeable color filters, the Westcott 18-inch ring light may not be as exciting as the popular IVISII model above, but it offers great light quality and solid build from a respected brand among professional photographers and videographers. While certainly not the cheapest option on this list, the Westcott light includes a 6.5-foot stand and two batteries capable of powering the light for 70 minutes at full power (wall power is also available).
Power can be adjusted in one-step increments from 0% to 100% and color temperature spans 3200K to 5600K, adjustable in small 25K increments. That gives you an incredible amount of control to fine tune the output of this light. Combined with a CRI of 97, the Westcott ring light should have no trouble reproducing colors accurately.
One of the more unique features of this light is in the mounts. You can attach a standard camera using a ball head, or swap in one of two phone mounts, either a basic clamp mount or an interesting gooseneck mount that lets you position the phone more freely. The light also incorporates two cold shoes for attaching other accessories, such as microphones. If you use your phone, you can also keep it charged via the built-in USB port.
The light and all of its accessories conveniently fit into a slim carrying case for portability, making this a good choice for creators working in multiple locations, or just anyone who wants to be able to stow their gear out of the way when not in use.
The best ring light for color
With more than 360 colors to choose from, this ring light lets you set the mood to your liking.
Pros: Full RGB color control, wide color temperature range, touch sliders for brightness and color adjustments
Cons: No traditional camera mount, no battery support, expensive
The NanLite Halo 16C is a 16-inch, 31-watt ring light with a very cool trick up its sleeve: full red, green, and blue (RGB) color control from its LEDs. In addition to a very wide color temperature range of 2700K to 6500K, that means it can create more than 360 different colors, giving you the perfect way to show off your RGB-equipped gaming rig when live-streaming to Twitch.
The Halo 16C is one of the most expensive ring lights on this list, and that price is all wrapped up in those multi-colored LEDs. As far as accessories and other features go, you get a phone bracket, carrying case, and even a mirror — but that's it. There's no light stand, no camera mount, and no battery support. And while it can make a bunch of different colors, actual color reproduction is slightly below the top-rate lights on this list, with a CRI range of 95, which should still be fine for most content creators.
This ring light does have one other unique feature, though. In addition to standard button controls on the back of the light, it has touch sliders on the side designed to be used while you're sitting in front of the light. One slider controls brightness (from 0% to 100%) and the other controls color temperature or RGB color, depending on the mode the light is in. This is a nice convenience feature that means you don't have to spin the light around to make changes, and can see the effect of your adjustments right away.
What to look for in a ring light
When it comes to buying a ring light, there are a number of things to consider. Is it the type of look you are going for in your video, or are you better served by another type of lighting?
Price can vary wildly, so it's important to look closely at the specs. Some lights offer optional battery power, but not all battery-powered lights include the batteries. Some come with light stands, while others do not.
Generally speaking, a bigger ring light is preferable to a smaller one as it will result in softer light from a farther distance, but smaller lights are more portable.
Color temperature, measured in Kelvin, is another important factor. Somewhat counterintuitively, a low color temperature (~3200K) produces a warmer (more orange) light, while a high color temperature (~5600K) produces a cooler (bluer) light. All of the lights on this list are bi-colored LEDs, with an adjustable temperature range that lets you match the color of the ambient light in your environment — but that range varies from model to model, so look at the numbers. Some ring lights go beyond standard color temperature by offering red, green, and blue color control, either through clip-on diffusion panels or with RGB LEDs built into the light itself.
Color accuracy (measured in CRI or TCRI) is another variable in ring lights, but most models easily achieve high enough scores for the majority of content creators. If you're concerned about truly accurate color reproduction, though, look for the highest CRI you can find.
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