LED Video Lights: What They Are and when and How to Use Them

led video lights


LED lights are continuous lights ideal for video
LED lighting is versatile, energy-efficient, easy to control and can be purchased at various price points
Unlike other light sources that have to be color corrected using gels, LED lights can be adjusted themselves and don’t emit as much heat
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LED lighting is becoming increasingly popular for vloggers and YouTubers, content creators and filmmakers. But what is it about these continuous lights that make them so appealing? Let’s take a look.

What is LED lighting?

LED stands for light-emitting diode. For the diode to emit light, an electrical current must pass through semiconductor material.

LED light sources are much more energy-efficient and, therefore, physically cooler and smaller than their incandescent equivalents. They are also far more versatile and adaptable than traditional tungsten, fluorescent or HMI light sources.

Types of LED lights for filmmaking

LED lights for filmmaking are available in different shapes, sizes and types.

The panel

First, come panel LED lights. These are rows of individual LEDs arranged to form a single source. They can be large or small and are used to create lots of soft light. Panels are widely available, and some are very affordable. At the top end, you can purchase ultra-thin and flexible LED panels that can be manipulated into small and complicated spaces.

The tube

LED tubes comprise a row or rows of LEDs inside a tube. They resemble fluorescent tube lighting and are great for creating effects.

The ring light

LED ring lights are hugely versatile and come at a wide variety of price points. Ring lights are simple options for vlogging and video calls but also great for beauty work, product shoots and macro videos.

The fresnel

One type of light where LEDs used to fall short was with fresnel lights, but this has now improved. Directional LED fresnel lights are now available and can switch between creating spot and floodlighting without throwing out lots of heat like their HMI equivalents did.

You can apply lighting modifiers, for example, softboxes or barn doors, to LED fixture lights, offering you the flexibility of directional lighting or floodlights.


If you like to use practical lights or small lights as a part of your lighting setup, you’ll find that LED lights are increasing in availability, too. These provide you with lots of color options and are often remote controllable, too.

Pros and cons of LED lights


  • LED movie lights are very easy to use!
  • Easily adjustable: While other cinema lights tend to be warm (tungsten) or daylight and have to be adjusted using gels, LED lights can have their color temperature altered at the touch of a button along the Kelvin scale. You can switch from candlelight to daylight in a flash.
  • Energy efficient: LED lights are more energy-efficient than incandescent lights and can produce far more intense light while drawing down much less power.
  • Staying cool: Incandescent lights convert a great deal of power into heat, not just light. This is wasteful, dangerous and can be uncomfortable. LED movie lights, on the other hand, don’t run hot. So you can focus on lighting up rather than heating up your set.
  • Portable: The energy efficiency of LED cinema lights makes them ideal for shooting on location as they do not require hefty generators and can even run off battery power.
  • Manageable: You can light small spaces easily or create lots of light with small sources using LED lights. They are much more manageable than traditional lighting options.
  • Durable: Traditional light sources can be quite delicate. They are prone to failure if dropped or might explode if they contact oil. This isn’t the case for LED lights that are durable and generally reliable.


  • Flicker: Sometimes, LED light sources can produce a flickering effect in your footage. This tends to happen when you are shooting with a dimmed LED light. You can prevent flicker by shooting with an undimmed light and using modifiers to adjust its intensity instead.
  • Color quality: Some LED lights (cheaper models) can cast disagreeable colors.

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LED vs. tungsten

Tungsten lights are warm in color and can grow physically hot. In addition, they require a lot of energy to throw out the light you need for any kind of filmmaking. And tungsten lights can be fragile.

On the other hand, LED lights can be warm in color, but you can also program them to have a cooler tone. They don’t get hot, and they are energy-efficient and durable.

LED lights come in different fixtures, making them versatile as well as economical. They are also portable, and their reduced power consumption makes them ideal for use on location.

When to use LED lights

You can use LED lights for a simple YouTube lighting setup or a traditional 3-point lighting setup. Their ability to throw out lots of light from a small source makes them ideal for macro projects as well as high-key work. They are also useful when shooting in confined spaces, whether that’s a small set or you want to effectively conceal a small but powerful light source, or when you don’t have the ability to transport lots of gear.

A particular benefit of LED video lights is their reduced power demands relative to other types of cinema lighting and their ability to run off a battery supply. This makes them especially suitable for filming on location when you would otherwise need to organize a generator, as well as documentary and run-and-gun projects.

When not to use LED lights

There aren’t many situations where cinema LED lights won’t do the job you need. However, be careful if you’re shooting off 60hz AC power and your frame rate or shutter angle falls out of sync: you will notice a flicker. You can avoid this by shooting off of DC battery power.

Dimmed LED lights can also create a flicker in your output. Rather than dim your LED lights, use a modifier to reduce their intensity instead.

Wrap up

LED cinema lights are an enormous benefit for filmmakers. Their versatility and portability, combined with being cost-effective and not throwing out lots of heat, make them a huge step forward from combining incandescent, fluorescent and HMI light sources. So if you’re looking to spend some money on lighting, definitely investigate what LED lighting can bring to your vlogging and filmmaking.

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Frequently asked questions

LED stands for light-emitting diode.

It’s always going to come down to your preferences and budget, but overall: Yes! LEDs are versatile and easy to control. They are powerful but energy-efficient and don’t run hot. Plus, LED lights can run off battery power, making them suitable to use on location.

Tungsten produces a distinctive warm light that you might prefer to an LED light’s tungsten “look”, but tungsten lights don’t have the versatility of LED lights, and they run hot, too.

LED film lights are practical and versatile. You can adjust them easily to achieve different effects, and they deliver a lot of light relative to their size. In addition, you can run LED lights off of batteries, making them portable and good to use on location. Unlike other light sources, you won’t need an enormous generator. And they don’t run hot like incandescent lights.

In some circumstances, it is possible that LED lights can create a flicker that’s picked up by the camera. It can happen if the light flicker and your frame rate fall out of sync or if you shoot using a dimmed LED. The latter is easily avoided by not dimming your LED lights and using a scrim, net, diffusion panel or moving the light further from the subject.

Daniela is a writer and editor based in the UK. Since 2010 she has focused on the photography sector. In this time, she has written three books and contributed to many more, served as the editor for two websites, written thousands of articles for numerous publications, both in print and online and runs the Photocritic Photography School.

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