We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›
Published Sep 11, 2023 4:00 PM
Right lights aren’t a new phenomenon for photographers, but they really came to public prominence in the social media age. Most of your favorite creators probably use one of these circular lights to illuminate their photos and videos. They’re more than just for putting cute catchlights (ring reflections) in your eyes, though. Ring lights can mean the difference between healthy, glowing skin and an ashen, shadow-pocked visage. No one wants to watch a poorly lit TV show or movie, so why would they engage with a piece of washed-out content?
That popularity has caused a surge in new models. There is a bewilderingly large number of ring lights on the market in all shapes, sizes, and price points. The No. 1 thing to keep in mind when shopping for ring lights is how you intend to use one. Professional photographers will have different needs than streamers and TikTokers. There’s also your budget to consider. If photography or videography is your livelihood, you’ll want to lay out a little more than if it’s just a hobby. Here are our picks for the best ring lights on the market now.
How we chose the best ring lights
When choosing the best ring lights, we looked at many products across various use cases and cross-referenced them with trusted consumer review sites and public consensus. We also spoke with Denise Delaney (@deni_dela), a content creator on TikTok with almost 220,000 followers and extensive experience with various ring lights. She provided valuable information on what ring lights are best and how to get the most out of them. Look for her words of wisdom throughout this buyer’s guide.
The best ring lights: Reviews & Recommendations
While every item on this list would make a solid choice, you’ll want to ensure you get the light that best fits your needs. Like with webcams, microphones, etc., there are hundreds of choices, so check out all the options before you purchase to avoid buyer’s remorse down the line.
Best overall: Westcott 18” Bi-Color LED Ring Light Kit
- Color range: 3200K to 5200K adjustable
- Power source: AC or battery (included)
- Weight: 10.5 pounds
- Stand and adapters included
- Adjustable color temperature
- AC or battery-powered
- Includes case
For the professional with a variety of ring light needs—still photography, streaming, content creation—you need reliability and flexibility. That certainly describes Westcott’s 18” Bi-Color LED Ring Light Kit. This 18-inch light features adjustable color temperature from 3200K tungsten to 5600K daylight, making it useful in a number of environments. Adjustable color is one of Denise’s must-have options. You can also dial in the light’s intensity anywhere from 100 percent down to 0 percent, should you need to.
The Westcott 18-inch ring light kit includes a 6.5-foot aluminum stand, swivel and mobile device mounts, and a gooseneck for adjusting the mounted phone position. Power is flexible as well. In the studio, you can use it with AC power. It also comes with two rechargeable batteries (and a recharger) for working in the field. This is something you definitely want.
“The main thing I look for is portability,” says Denise. “[So] I want a light that has the option to be battery operated.”
At 18 inches, this is a relatively large ring light, which makes for flattering light in portraits. It also offers lots of options when it comes to camera or phone placement within the confines of the ring. It even includes a case for off-site jobs. If you’re serious about photography or content creation, this is the one to get.
Best value: UBeesize TR50 10” With Tripod
- Color range: Three tone types with 10 brightness levels each
- Power source: USB
- Weight: 1.19 pounds
- Adjustable brightness
- Remote control
- Tripod stand
For the general hobbyist, it can be difficult to know what the best ring light for you might be. You don’t want to lay out too much cash, but you also want a product that will serve your needs. You need value, and that’s UBeesize’s TR50 10” ring light in a nutshell. With its versatile light, included tripod, and in-light phone mounting bracket, you’ll be set for whatever photography or content creation challenges you undertake.
Ten inches may seem small for a light, but our expert, Denise, prefers this size. “I’ve found anything larger than a 10-inch diameter is unnecessary if all I’m lighting is myself and maybe one other person,” she says.
This ring light is flexible with three light tones—white, natural, and warm—plus 10 brightness settings for each one. A nice bonus is the Bluetooth-enabled shutter remote control, which allows you to take pictures without touching your phone.
Best for streaming: Logitech for Creators Litra Glow
- Color range: Cool to warm, dim to bright
- Power source: USB
- Weight: 13.4 ounces
- Three-way monitor mount
- Color temperature control
- Desktop app control
Streamers cannot live on ring lights alone. Given the extended periods they spend in front of illumination, streamers tend to require softer, more directional lights. Logitech for Creators’ Litra Glow fits the bill perfectly. It’s small enough to mount on the top of your computer monitor (with a three-way mount) but bright enough to bathe your face in a soft, flattering glow.
A clever package, you can make adjustments from the rear of the unit or via the free G HUB desktop computer app. Adjustable brightness and color temperature settings get you from warm candlelight to cool blue to match your environment and skin tone. You don’t even need to be a streamer to benefit from this light. It’s great for illuminating long Zoom calls as well.
The illuminated area is fairly small compared to the larger ring lights on this list, but streamers typically sit close to their monitors where the light mounts. Once this little light is installed, it also takes up a lot less room than most other options presented here.
Best for photography: Neewer Advanced 18-inch LED Ring Light
- Color range: 3200K to 5600K
- Power source: AC
- Weight: 9.43 pounds
- Sturdy construction
- Two remotes
- Carrying case
- Not for on-the-go photography
Sturdy construction is important for ring lights. “You don’t want to be in the middle of a project and have some piece of plastic snap off that renders the light unable to hold your camera steady,” says Denise. It’s even worse if this happens during a stream. “I’ve been live-streaming, and all of a sudden had the whole light just fall over onto my head,” she remembers. “I’d like to see ring light companies use sturdier materials that last longer, even if it means having to charge more.”
If quality is important to you and you can afford to pay the extra money for the best ring lights, look at Neewer’s Advanced 18-inch LED Ring Light. This ring light set is perfect for studio photography and includes a sturdy stand with plenty of mounting options. The light itself is made with 272 SMD LEDs. You can tune the color temperature from 3200K to 5600K with dimming going down to 10 percent. You also get two remote controls and a carrying case.
Best for TikTok: Lipety 13-Inch Ring Light With Floor Stand
- Color range: Three colors with 10 brightness settings each
- Power source: USB
- Weight: 3.16 pounds
- Versatile light settings
- Great price
Denise’s personal choice for the best ring light for TikTok, Lipety’s 13-Inch Right Light With Floor Stand has everything you need for TikTok success in one affordable package. Starting with the light, it offers a versatile 3200K to 6000K color range. There are three color tones—cool white, warm white, and warm yellow—each with 10 positions of brightness and a total dim range of one to 100%.
To hold up the light, the package includes an adjustable stand with heights that can go from tabletop to fully standing. You can mount your phone or a camera on it as well and position your phone and light in a variety of directions. Best of all, it’s available at a consumer price point, meaning it’s perfect for just about anyone, from hobbyists to pros. There are no battery options, however, meaning you have to be plugged into USB power. If you can live with that, it’s a great choice for the best ring light for TikTok.
What to consider when choosing the best ring lights
Here are some key elements to consider when comparing ring light models:
The lights on this list vary between 18 inches on the large size and 10 inches on the smaller end. A larger light will illuminate a bigger area, so if you plan to light up more than one person, go bigger than you think. The bigger lights also produce a more pronounced halo effect, which ring lights are known for. Smaller lights are more portable and work better if you’re going to be shooting very close to your subject or with smaller objects.
All “white” light is not created equal. The best ring lights offer adjustable color temperature to produce everything from warm hues to cold tones. You may see this variable indicated in Kelvin. For instance, 3200K is a warm light miming a typical incandescent light bulb, while 5600K-6500K mimics cooler midday light. Some models rely on a simple knob to change color, while others come with interchangeable filters that go over the bulbs.
Even the best light isn’t worth much if you don’t have a camera to capture it with. That means you’re going to need a mount. Some models offer built-in mounts that center the camera in the ring. Others offer more flexible options like a gooseneck, which can flex to provide the perfect viewpoint.
Q: What is the most popular ring design?
By far, the most popular ring design is circular. This fits both the contours of your face and makes an arresting reflection—a catchlight—in your eyes. “Your eyes will reflect whatever shape light you’re using,” says Denise. However, non-standard shapes could be exactly what you want. “I only regularly use round ring lights, but … I bought a heart-shaped one for (my daughter’s) birthday. If you use it as a ring light, you’ll have hearts reflected in your eyes!”
Q: Is a 10- or 12-inch ring light better?
The size of the ring for the best ring light depends entirely on what you plan to use it for. Larger-diameter rings cast more light and are good for product photography or groups. Smaller rings work well for selfies, makeup tutorials, and close-up TikTok videos. According to Denise, 10 inches is the perfect size for single subjects or perhaps a small group.
Q: Which is better, a ring light or an LED light?
Both ring lights and LED panel lights are lights specifically made for photography. Ring lights are excellent choices when you want to illuminate a single person’s face. They also make catchlights in the eyes. LED panel lights are usually arranged in an array and often appear in portrait photographer’s studios. Which one is best depends on your use, but ring lights are probably better for selfies and TikTok.
Panels are also often better for more experienced creators. They create more directional light, which can be more interesting but isn’t always as flattering if not done correctly.
Q: How long can a ring light last?
The LEDs (light emitting diodes) in a ring light will last a very, very long time. How long your ring light will last overall, however, depends on the product’s build quality. If you’re serious about photography or content creation, spending a little more to ensure you’re getting a ring light that will stand the test of time is best.
Ring lights have become indispensable to social media, content creation, and streaming. They’re even useful in other areas of life, such as video conferencing, hair and makeup styling, and even as decorations. The one that is right for you, however, will depend largely on your use case—specifically, how many people do you need to illuminate? Smaller diameter lights are more suited to single people, as for selfies and TikTok, while larger lights work well in photography studios or with groups. Ensure your light has adjustable color and brightness settings to help create flattering and natural skin tones. By keeping these in mind, you can find the best ring lights for your needs.
Why trust us
Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.
Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.