What is a Ring Light?
Ring lighting is an LED Circle light or Fluorescent tube in the shape of a ring. It provides a light circle that has many different applications. Ring lighting can be continuous or strobing depending on the design and there are also ring flashes which mount directly onto the camera. These LED circle lights are much more versatile than a simple studio light.
What is Ring Lighting used for?
Ring lights are an ideal addition for a photographer looking to move up their lighting game or a videographer/blogger who wants better quality light for their videos where their subject is close.
Ring lighting a lot of applications for photographers. It can be used for portraits, macros, and for art shots. There is a difference between a ring flash and ring lighting itself though both have similar applications. Studio photographers often use a macro ring flash to add detail to a subject or for hard lighting. Using a ring light for portraits it can fill in for extra lighting, be used directionally as a softbox, or be used to create a ring of light around the subject.
Ring Flash Photography
Ring flashes are most commonly used for adding fill light into difficult areas (for example when the photographer’s body is blocking the light). Macro ring lights can be strobing and mounted externally or a ring light flash can be attached with a hotshoe. Macro flashes are slightly different than a large standing light because they provide a bright burst of light much like a camera flash.
Top 10 Ring Lighting & Flash for Beginner or Advanced
1. Diva Ring Light Nova 18”
A 65W light ring with a dedicated mount inside for your camera. This makes it the best ring light if you’re using it for fill light or macro. It has a convenient tripod mount so you’re not restricted by a lighting mount, but there’s also a mount for that as well if you want to use the light off camera too. The diva light has an attached cord and uses a 5500K fluorescent daylight bulb which is easy to find at most hardware stores. As it is fluorescent it has a slight buzz to it but it’s incredibly light. This is a continuous light not a flash ring and it doesn’t have any dimming settings so its applications for ring light photography is quite limited, especially when it doesn’t tilt either.
2. Stellar Diva II LED Ring Light STL-232R
Another 18” diameter ring light this fits a similar TB tube design as the Diva Ring Light but uses LED technology. It has two bulbs and two stands. It can be plugged in either side for convenience and used as a background light. One of the biggest bonuses to this design is that it’s dimmable and the color temperature can be adjusted between 3200K-6500K without filters. It also has a padded carrying case and an optional mirror to use it as a ring light for makeup. The ring light mirror makes this so much more versatile than a light for ring light photography alone. It also comes with a case for everything which makes it convenient to travel with.
3. Neewer Camera 14” 600W 5500K Dimmable Ring Flash Light
For smaller ring lighting the Neewer is a strobing tube design that has a reinforced flexible support so that it won’t droop even with multiple uses. It has heavy duty screws, a case, and a long cord. This is a basic small ring light much like the Diva light only slightly smaller which means it gives a more intense ring light and can be used at closer range while still being able to give ring catchlights without having to mount the camera. It provides continuous ring lighting and has an optional ball camera mount too for versatility. It can tilt forwards 90º and back 45º and has a single 5500K color setting.
4. Prismatic LED Halo Ring Light with 6′ Light Stand
A photography ring light that has 240 individual LEDs and an included lightstand that has a matching ball head mount. The circle light has a dimmer but is only 5500K. Using LED lights makes this very reliable as you’re not going to need to replace fluoro tubes frequently. The photo ring light is also big enough to envelope an object unlike the smaller Neewer so it’s one of the best ringlight for portraits if you want to shoot with a ring of white light around your subject or use it as a softbox. The stand is collapsible and made of lightweight aluminum so it’s easy to move.
5. LimoStudio LED 18” Ring Flash Light Kit AGG1775
A complete ring lighting kit which includes the light, camera mount, stand, cables and carry case. Both temperature and brightness are adjustable Like the Prismatic, this has 240 individual LED bulbs but still gives halo catchlights. It has a diffuser included to use the light as a ring lighting softbox and the stand adjusts up to 86”. It’s a good idea to get a sandbag for the tripod as it’s quite flimsy aluminum and easy to jostle around. The ring light tilts forwards 90º and back approximately 30º and the downside is that this isn’t reinforced so it may droop especially if you have a heavy DSLR mounted. Price wise this ring light with stand is very cheap compared to the Prismatic and with all the features included it is an ideal light for camera photography rather than smartphone use.
6. Neewer 14” LED ring lighting kit
One of the most complete kits available this is a great price for everything you get. It has two color diffusers, Bluetooth receiver, stand, phone mount, and camera mount. This is ideal ring light for video for youtubers or for selfies because of the smartphone options. It bends up to 90º which is great for above shots and the head can be twisted slightly too to get even more angle variety. The Bluetooth receiver and hot shoe option means this works ideal for smartphones or DSLR camera, but having the specific phone mount as well is a bonus compared to similar ring lighting and makes this perfect ring light for camera phones.
7. FalconEyes DVR-300 Dual Color 300 LED Ring Light
This is a small choice for ring lighting that is best circle light for photography that uses a DSLR because of the size. It’s very adjustable with 300 LEDs that can be color adjusted from 3000K-7000K. It’s only 10” and fits around the lens much like an LED ring flash. The design has a white diffuser and a bracket for attaching a DSLR. This is only 19W and the colored LEDs do not work at the same time so its not very bright and best suited for a close up macro ring light. It’s not very sturdy and doesn’t tilt which makes it quite limited compared to other ring lights for photography.
8. Neewer 48 Macro LED Ring Light Flash with 6 Adapter Rings
This is a very similar led ring light to the ChromoInc macro ring light. It’s ideal for those on a budget and very simple. This ring flash has continuous light and also hooks onto the hotshoe of the camera but does not strobe. It has an HD LCD display to show modes and 48 LEDs. There are also 6 adapter rings included and it’s incredibly lightweight for a camera ring light at only 125g. It has a battery life max of 1.5 hours and also has a power cord to use it plugged in for studio work. Since this unit does not strobe it’s better for ring light eyes catchlights to get that signature “halo” look where the subject is well-lit. It’s quite limited for ring lighting, but it’s a cheap option for ring light photos.
9. ChromoInc CI55000230 Macro Ring 48 LED Power Light
A cheap macro flash that is one of the best ring lights if you’re on a budget and it mounts directly onto the hotshoe of the DSLR. It’s very budget friendly and uses 2AA batteries. There are three modes so your macro ring light is adjustable with full, and both halves able to work separately. The unit also comes with lens adapters for between 49mm-67mm. It’s not usable as a slave flash and has to be mounted directly onto the camera lens. It’s an ideal ring light portrait flash because you can use only half the flash to give interesting or intense ring lighting but it’s also a good macro ring flash since it only has 48 LEDs which isn’t very bright.
10. YongNuo YN-14EX Macro Ring LITE Flash
While this is a little more expensive than the ChromoInc when it comes to ring lighting this gives you a lot more flexibility. This has a double ring design with a large LCD that allows for 7 different levels of light with 14 different color temperatures up to 5600K. It has a quick recycle time of 3 seconds and uses 4AA batteries. It’s quite heavy and also comes with 4 standard adapter rings (52mm-72mm) as well as a protective storage bag. It also has an external power socket so you don’t have to run batteries out when you’re working in studio. This is the best ring flash for someone who doesn’t want to spend a fortune on a high grade ring flash but wants a lot of functionality. It’s ideal for intermediates and has a built in diffuser so the camera ring light is always soft rather than harsh.