Best Ring Lights for Video
Adding the best ring light to your computer video in-office set up will help you reduce shadows, amplify yourself on camera, and separate you from the background- all vital things to help keep the audience’s attention which is a key element in having a message with impact.
Ring lights meet a lot of corporate video needs
Oftentimes, corporate communication teams are tasked with filling in the gaps for pretty much every need that arises. You may have a full production studio and team that is too busy to help with a smaller, lower budget office video, or you may not have a video production team in-house at all and still the expectations are the same.
With more and more user based video communications such as Zoom, Instagram Live, Teams, and Google Meets being used in lieu of in-person meetings, ring lights are basic staples every corporate communications team needs to have on standby.
Ring lights were originally desired for beauty and cinematic needs. The reflection of the circular light in the eyes creates a halo effect. This article dives in the creative aspects of manipulating the light reflections in one’s eyes and what it conveys.
The music video style “halo eye” panache is sassy, but for your corporate communications, you want your talent to be comfortable, well lit, natural looking, at ease, and able to focus on your branding, marketing, or heaven forbid, crisis messaging.
Options to consider (and not consider) when looking for the best ring lights for video
Here are some ring lights that will be user friendly to your budget, for you and your talent, and work well in the most common scenarios corporate communication teams face.
When it comes to best ring lights for video, this ring light is my go-to and usually travels with me back and forth for home office video calls and in-office video calls. It’s lightweight, not too awkward to carry if you keep the ring light attached (always make sure all knobs are securely tightened), and has a very nice extension height. You want your ring light to be useful if someone is standing or sitting. At 51” or 4.25 feet, this ring light can easily work for someone standing with a small end table, laptop box,or document box under it.
The three shades of rings featured in the picture are actually three settings for white balance options: cool, warm, and neutral. Depending on the light you already have coming into the room, use the control button to switch between each temperature setting and choose the one most natural to you.
Here are three photos of me showing the different lighting options on many ring lights, warm, neutral, cool.
You should always test turning off any overhead office lights to see if enough window light fills the room and allows you to control all other light from your ring light. Many offices do not have camera friendly light outputs and a neutral option on a ring light can warm up your person’s appearance nicely for their on-video presentation.
This ring light can be powered by USB or wall jack. The power cord isn’t very long so that can be inhibiting. Invest in a lightweight extension cord to keep on the end of it so power outlet access isn’t an issue.
A clip on contraption such as this seems like a good idea. It can go anywhere you can go and bend and move. But more often than not, I’ve experienced the clamp isn’t wide enough to fit on many flat surfaces and the bendy arms don’t have the stability to hold a phone and be erect without tipping over.
The concept of two ring lights design falls short because the two lights are so small and the front of your face will not have the light exposure it will likely need, especially with a bright laptop monitor already on your face. That beam of light in the photo is for illustration only because I promise this light is not shooting down rays on you the way it appears. This lighting fixture would be better served as a bedside reading light but even that would be pretty complicated to set up. At $112 it’s a bad purchase.
If you want to go the route of clipping a light onto your laptop, keep in mind it will have limited use beyond that. Personally, I don’t see many positives to a light that clips on the laptop. Even in the image on the website, you can see that it clips right over where the camera would be. The more you shift the light to the left or right the more chance you take getting shadows on one side of the face- a la Bond villain.
For any clip light that goes on the laptop, keep in mind, it’s very small and won’t produce much illumination. And most importantly, don’t get a battery operated one. Make sure your light uses a USB or electrical outlet power source or you’ll spend more time powering the light than using it.
This light has five white balance temperatures which most likely you will never need so I don’t consider that a bonus feature.
What to know
Indoor lighting temperature is usually around 3200K and outdoor lighting temperature is usually around 5600K. Those Kelvin numbers are commonly advertised on ring light options so buying one that has three color temperatures cool (3200K), neutral (in the 4000K range), and warm (5600K) will cover any needs you have for an office video stream.
If you’re in a pinch, a desk light turned upward toward your face and elevated at just above your eye level and angled downward will fill in lines and shadows and help you separate yourself from your background. The extra light on your person will help the camera iris (just like your own eye iris) open up on you and it will help the focus to pick up on you as compared to the background elements.
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