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Best LED Lights For Photography 2021: Expert Reviews & Buying Guide

Thinking about buying the best LED lights for photography? Our extensive guide will give you an exact idea of what to look for on the equipment market today.


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    PIXEL
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    GVM Great Video Maker
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Last update on 2021-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API

5
3 ratings

Introduction

Whether you are a professional photographer who has been in the business for a long time or an amateur who is looking to learn more about the nuts and bolts of photography – we all understand how perfect lighting can lead to the perfect photograph. Relying on natural lights is not enough, and external lighting systems have become and remained an indispensable companion with the task of photo shooting. 

In recent years, we have witnessed the meteoric rise of external photographic illuminations using LED lighting. And for photographers out there who are looking for the best LED lights for photography, follow this guide till the end and you will find the option that is suitable for you. Let’s get to it:


Why?

LED lights are considered by the community to be the superior lighting option for photography or videography sessions – for the following reasons:

  • Cost-effectiveness: Although the cost of LED illuminations might be a little bit more expensive up front, they are actually more cost-effective in the long run when compared to other types of light. By using and converting energy efficiently (up to 80%), switching LED lights will bring the immediate results that you can see on your electric bills.

  • Cooling temperature: Whether you work inside or outside, using LED lights will not generate additional heat like their counterpart options. This results in a cool and comfortable working environment for everybody involved.

  • Controllability: The brightness and light intensity level of LED lights can be easily adjusted to suit your needs – making it effortless for you to capture your shots with perfect lighting.

  • High selectivity: The multiple color options are a clear benefit that LED bulbs to bring to the photographers – making for countless creative ideas with different lighting themes with just a simple change in filter. Some advanced options are equipped with programmed modes that emulate specific moods and scenarios – which can come in handy when the photographer needs to keep the creative juices flowing.


Reviews

1. Neewer 160 Led Studio Lights  

Features:

  • Color temperature: 3200-5600K

  •  LED quantity: 160 LED bulbs

  • Output power: 9.6W

  • Luminous flux: 900 Lux/m

Pros:

  • Durable design

  • Lightweight

  • Easy installation

  • Versatile for everyday use

Cons:

  •  No battery system included

2. Pixel G1s RGB Video Light

Features:

  • Color temperature: 2500-8500K

  • LED quantity: 150 LED bulbs

  • Output power: 13W

  • Luminous flux: 1500 Lux/0.5 m

Pros:

  • Useful programmed effects

  • Detailed LCD display

  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Some modes are not so intuitive

3. VILTROX VL-162T CRI95+ LED Video Light

Features:

  • Color temperature: 3300-5600K

  • LED quantity: 160 LED bulbs

  • Output power: 12W

  • Luminous flux: 1250 Lux/m

Pros:

  • High CRI rate

  • Easy to use

  • Simple to set up

  • Detailed LCD display

Cons:

  • Not professional quality light

4. Neewer 2 Packs Dimmable 5600K USB Photography Lights

Features:

  • Color temperature: 5600K

  • LED quantity: 66 LED bulbs

  • Output power: 10W

  • Luminous flux: 1000Lux/m

Pros:

  • Affordable

  • Compact and lightweight

  • Durable

Cons:

  • Too basic build

5. Hatynud 18" LED Ring Light

Features:

  • Color temperature: 2700-6500K

  • LED quantity: 560 LED bulbs

  • Output power: 55W

  • Luminous flux: 900Lux/m

Pros:

  • Adjustable height

  • Soft and glare-free light

  • Sturdy tripod

  • Versatile for a wide variety of applications  

Cons:

  • Quite fragile if knocked over


Buying guide

Our recommended LED lights for photography have certainly given you an advantage over everyone else who has to wander around from site to site. But if you want more specific information about choosing your own LED photography lights, here are what to look for:

  • Output rate: With LED lights, more bulbs do not necessarily result in more lighting output for better pictures or videos. Rather, you would want to look for the right amount of lumens or lux (lighting units) in your option to ensure that you have a decent output rate for your work.

For the number of bulbs needed, feel free to go for more bulbs if your budget allows – but pay attention to the quality and illumination level of those to make sure that you do not compromise the output rate.

  • Brightness control ability: The perfect shots require the perfect lighting, and having the ability to adjust the brightness level of your light is crucial in photography. With a wide control range of both light intensity level and bi-color function (ideally from 2500K to 6500K), you are bound to take your photography to the next level.

  • Device compatibility: In professional photography, you have to work with multiple devices like cameras, camcorders or tripods. And in order to effectively and effortlessly transition between different devices, make sure your LED lights are perfectly compatible with all of your equipment.

  • AC & DC operation: Lighting plays a crucial role in studio work, and your LED lights have to match the power supply that operates. Ideally, battery-powered ones will bring you all the lighting convenience that you need whether you work inside or outside.

  • CRI (Color Rendering Index) rate: For photography, you want the most accurate rendition of colors and details for your subject. And with the ideal CRI rating of about 95-98, you can easily bring true-to-life pictures and footage to your audience.

  • Light types: LED lights come in 3 popular types for different applications

          Ring lights: Best suited for portrait photography

          Light panels: Perfect for studio shoots

          Battery-operated options: Widely used for outdoor scenarios


FAQs

Are there any cautions when using LED lights for photography?

Blue rays found in LED lights and natural lights are unhealthy elements that keep you awake at night. And in order to minimize your exposure to these types of rays – here are what you can do:

  •  Buy bulbs with better CRI rates for less blue light emission

  • Turn the lights off when not in use

  • Keep your distance from the bulbs

How would you decide between a softbox and an umbrella for photography?

In photography, it can be hard to make your final choice between these 2 options. In short, the umbrella is considered to be the more convenient option due to its foldability and compact size. So if you want a balance between performance and ease of use, take a look at some umbrella options – they are easy to find and straightforward to use.

But if you want to stand out with unique visual effects on your work, a softbox can do wonders with its signature window glare effect. This option would be perfect for photographers who regularly work on smaller and more complicated projects.

What are some tips to improve your photography with LED lights?

Choosing LED lights is already a great step to get better at photography – but if you want better pictures out of your investment, learn to use your lights more effectively. Start with the following fundamentals and perfect these techniques:

  • Broaden your light source with a softbox or umbrella

  • Minimize the distance between your light source and subject

  • Utilize front and side-lighting wisely

  • Be playful with your highlights and shadows

  • Pay attention to the color temperature

What is the general guide to choosing the watts for indoor photography lighting?

Small studios will require a lighting wattage of about 200 watts per second. For medium and large studios, it can be anywhere between 400 and 500 watts per second.

How can LED lights help with the transition from photo to video?

With LED lights, you can switch between photography and videography smoothly without having to carry extra gear. As LED units deliver consistent and continuous lighting that sets the scene for your video work, you only have to do a bit of fine-tuning for your photography setup. With a good LED lighting system in hand, you can be sure that there is no point in carrying additional flashes ever again.


Final Thoughts

For modern-day photographers, external illumination is now in the palm of their hands with LED lightings. However, with so many options from so many brands – getting the right option for you is not as easy as it sounds. Hopefully, our in-depth reviews and the buying guide have done a good job of helping you fine-tune your choices. 

For many, Hatynud 18" LED Ring Light is widely considered to be one of the best LED lights for photography use on a daily basis. However, we also understand that some of you do have limited budgets – and do not worry, there are still hopes. Pixel G1s RGB Video Light and Neewer 2 Packs Dimmable 5600K USB Photography Lights can satisfy your needs for solid performance and affordability.

For your next LED photography light shopping adventure, make sure to use our recommendations for the best result.

Pawel Dimitri
Pawel Dimitri
Hey, I’m Pawel Dimitri, creator of BestLEDLightReviews. I’ve been blogging and writing guides/reviews on lighting items for over five years now.