Ring lights are the most common lighting device nowadays. So how to choose a ring light from plenty of models and companies and not make a mistake? Taking good photos and videos requires not only a cool script and video camera but also good lighting. It sets the mood and tone of your content. Without it, you can look dim, out of focus, or even be in the shadows – like an anonymous witness in a crime series.
The ring light is a simple tool whose diffused glow will help make your work more professional. These devices are a must for streamers, bloggers, and beauty professionals. Today’s article tells you what to look for when choosing a ring light.
Types of Ring Lights
Depending on the light source, there are:
- luminescent ring lights;
- LED ring lights.
Advantages of Fluorescent Ring Lights:
- the light tube can be replaced.
Cons of Fluorescent Ring Lights:
- toxic (contain mercury);
- heat up and emit a hum during operation;
- shorter service life.
Advantages of LED Ring Lights:
- last longer;
- less fragile, withstand transportation;
- more environmentally friendly;
- can be portable.
Cons of LED Ring Lights:
- LEDs fade over time and cannot be replaced.
From the list of advantages and disadvantages of both types of ring lights, it is clear that LED models are more popular. It is from the devices of this type that I recommend choosing.
How to Choose A Ring Light?
The diameter of the ring lights depends on the purpose of use and varies from 10 to 55 cm:
- 10-12 CM – Can be mounted on a smartphone, illuminate the subject at close range, not suitable for professional use;
- Up to 25 CM – Compact enough to carry with you, an excellent option for bloggers;
- Up to 35 CM – Illuminate the necessary surface, suitable for manicurists, eyebrow artists, makeup artists, lash makers;
- More than 35 CM – Illuminate a large area without harsh shadows, resulting in a beautiful professional photo. These are suitable for photographers, videographers, beauty salons, bloggers.
For example, this 12cm diameter ring light from UBeesize is great for selfies and comes with a tripod. And this 46 cm version is more versatile – it can be used for beauty blogs, products, portraits, and other types of shooting.
2. Power Type
If you plan to use the lamp only for stationary, options with main power are suitable. The advantage of this model is its long operating time.
If you have location shooting, the lamp must be powered by batteries or via USB (for example, an external battery). The advantages include portability and the ability to use outdoors, for example, in nature.
But there are also universal models, for example, this 6″ portable ring light supports three power options: power network, battery, or USB.
3. Power Uses
The power uses of the ring light depends on the type of device:
- in portable models – 10 to 20 watts;
- in models that work from an outlet – 20 to 96 watts.
The choice also depends on the purpose of use:
- For shooting at a distance of 1.5 m (for example, for streamers), portable models are suitable;
- For shooting a photo or video where a person is waist-deep in the frame, devices with a power of 30-36 watts are enough (for bloggers, makeup artists, eyebrow artists, lash makers);
- For shooting a person in total growth, close-up or a group of people – from 45 watts;
- For capturing movement or photos with lots of detail – 96 watts.
The Laviteo 23″ Professional has a power of 80 watts and is suitable for almost any type of shooting (beauty, blogging, portrait, and subject) and makeup artists, eyebrow artists, and other beauty professionals.
4. LED Quality
Both the power of the glow and the durability of the lamp depends on the LEDs’ quality.
There are two types of ring LED lamps:
- SMD LEDs without lens;
- lens LEDs.
The first type is the most popular; such models shine brighter even with few LEDs (usually 120-480 is installed in the lamp). You can ignore the number of LEDs – sometimes a lamp with 240 LEDs shines brighter than with 480. It is because of the last part of the diodes, and it only works when a specific mode is turned on (for example, cold glow).
SMD LEDs last for at least 50,000 hours (or 5.5 years) of continuous operation.
If accurate color reproduction is essential to you (for example, you work as a makeup artist or colorist), check the Color Rendering Index (CRI) value. To get bright and natural skin tones, it should be 90 and above (ideally 95+). Often this parameter is not indicated in the specifications, so check with a consultant before buying.
In addition, the brightness of the glow depends on the number of lumens (the more, the better).
The Godox LR-120 Ring LED illuminator has 416 SMD LEDs with a CRI95+ color rendering index and a maximum luminous flux of 4800 lumens.
5. RGB LEDs
For shooting Tik-Tok, YouTube and Instagram often use ring lights with RGB LEDs. They allow you to create a creative backdrop for a photo or video with a wide color palette and the ability to create a shimmer, shine, or transition effect.
For example, the GerTong 12.6 has 108 RGB LEDs with multiple modes (color wheel, emergency, SOS, TV, fire) to create a spectacular backdrop.
6. Colorful Temperature
Color temperature, measured in kelvins (K), significantly affects the aesthetics of a photo or video. The room you are in, the clothes you wear, and your skin tone can look different depending on the color temperature of the light.
- Warm – The color temperature range is 2000-3000 K; usually, such lighting is in houses and restaurants; in the photo, you can create the effect of sunset or dawn;
- Cold – 4500-6500 K, corresponds to the lighting of shopping centers and boutiques;
- Neutral – 3100-4500 K, minimal color distortion, close to natural light on a sunny day.
For example, if the light is set too warm, a person’s skin may look orange; it is too cold, lifeless, painful.
It is better to choose models with multiple color temperature settings, such as Sensyne 10. This feature plays an essential role for photographers – when the correct temperature is chosen, better images are obtained, the base light does not need to be further edited in applications.
The presence of a dimmer, like the Inkeletech 60 W, allows you to adjust the power of the lamp’s glow. If not, the light level can only be adjusted by moving the lamp farther or closer to the subject.
A ring lights with a tripod allows you to adjust the height of the glow:
- at the table level – for makeup artists, eyebrow artists, lash makers, and reviewers;
- at the level of the head of the model – for bloggers and photographers.
You may also like to read: The Key Benefits of Ring Light for Photographers and Bloggers
So, when choosing a ring lamp, consider the following points:
Purpose of Use: For lash makers, eyebrow artists, makeup artists – models with a power of up to 30 watts are suitable. For bloggers, tik-tokers, and streamers – from 35 watts. For professional purposes (for example, videographers) – the most powerful models (80-100 watts).
If you plan to use the light for location shooting or makeup, it is better to take a model powered by a battery or via USB (or a universal model that supports different types of power supply).
Dimensions of The Lamp: It should be convenient for transportation and not interfere with work.
LED Quality: SMD LEDs will last longer, CRI should be 95+ for accurate color reproduction.
And the possibility of remote control, setting the power of the glow, adjusting the color temperature, the presence of a tripod in the kit.