You Should Put a Ring on It: Why the Ring Light is a Must-Have for Content Creators

Ring Lights

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Highlights

Ring lights are circular-shaped lights that sit around your camera
Ring lights produce even, almost shadow-free lighting that is easy to control
Ring lights are a good choice for lighting anything from self-portraits to online calls and YouTube videos

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Last week, I saw a ring light on sale in my local supermarket for £22.50 (that’s about $30 US). Whether or not it is any good, I couldn’t possibly tell you, but the fact that I could pick one up along with my groceries demonstrates how a lighting unit that was originally devised for medical procedures has become a widespread part of our lives.

But what really is a ring light? It might be something that you associate with a visit to the dentist or think of when it comes to vlogs. Still, ring lights come in various sizes and can be put to use in multiple ways. They are also very easy to use. So perhaps a ring light setup is the lighting solution you’re looking for?

What is a ring light?

A ring light is a circular light that sits around your lens, creating even illumination with minimal shadow.

Whatever type of camera you are using, you shoot through the light, making a ring light exceptionally easy to use. You don’t really need to learn how to set up a ring light. Neither do you have to spend heaps of time adjusting light positions as you might with a traditional 3-point lighting setup. But as well as being very simple to set up, ring lights produce incredibly flattering light and reduce the appearance of blemishes and wrinkles in people’s skin. Ring lights also produce distinctive annular catchlights in your subjects’ eyes.

Ring lights were originally developed for medical use. Their even light with little shadow made – and still makes – them excellent for close-up shots and detailed work. So it’s probably unsurprising that ring lights transitioned to the professional photography and film world.

ring light

Ring light is good for detailed work. Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

 

With such even lighting, virtually no shadows and its miraculous blemish-reducing qualities, the ring light is a firm favorite with both macro and beauty photographers. They are so common in the beauty photography world that they are often called beauty or glamour lights. And now, their versatility and ease of use mean that ring lights are a must-have for YouTubers and social media creators. They have also become essential smartphone camera accessories.

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4 types of videos where you should use ring lights?

Since they are so versatile, simple to use, produce great results and are very cheap, learning how to use a ring light will come in handy in many types of videos. And whether you’re thinking of becoming a content creator or need to get a handle on YouTube lighting basics, a ring light will probably be a good buy. You will not find many reasons not to have one for whatever you shoot.

1. Ring light for webcam

ring light for webcam
Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

Let’s start with online calls; a ring light can quickly improve your webcam lighting without a complicated setup or spending too much money. Not only does it make it easier for the people you’re engaging with to see you, but if you are looking a bit tired or your skin is suffering from a lack of fresh air, it will improve your complexion, too.

2. YouTube videos

ring light for youtube videos guitar lessons
Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

A ring light is an easy way to improve your YouTube lighting. With just 1 light, you can create an even light across your scene and help to reduce ugly shadows. In addition, its halo-like look will give a more professional edge to your videos. This is important for views, especially when you are starting out on YouTube and looking to build a following on a tight budget.

3. Social media videos

ring light setup for social media beauty videos

We’ve already mentioned ring lights can be used for macro and beauty photography, but there’s macro and beauty filmmaking, too. If you’re thinking about making TikTok makeup tutorials, you don’t really have to learn how to use a ring light with an iPhone. You simply position your smartphone inside the ring light, direct it toward you or your subject and hit record.

4. Product videos

Ring lights can also be used to make great product videos. They emphasize detail, and you don’t have to wrestle with shadows. In addition, if you’re changing positions to show off the product from varying angles, you don’t have to adjust your lights accordingly.

How did ring lights become popular?

If you’re wondering how ring lights became so popular, apart from them being highly versatile and very simple to use, the answer lies in the pandemic. With so many of us adapting to working from home, teaching from home, and socializing over Zoom calls, ring lights became the simple, effective and cheap solution to better lighting. Learning how to position a ring light for video is easy, and they are inexpensive. There are ring lights for smartphones and tablets and ring lights for cameras. With a ring light, no one has to be poorly lit!

3 tips for using ring lights

You don’t have to use a ring light as a ring light, and if you need to, you can modify one, too. So while ring lights might be great for anyone learning how to use lights, they are even more versatile than they initially seem.

  1. But let’s start with a simple tip if you want to use a ring light as a ring light, but you can’t position it around your camera. For example, you’re using the built-in camera in your computer for webcasting. Just place the ring light on a stand or clip directly above the camera.
  2. Don’t forget that you can usually adjust the brightness or intensity of your ring light so that you are actually properly lit. What’s the point of having a light if you’re still underexposed or wildly washed out? And very often, they have color control, too, so you can choose between tungsten and daylight temperatures.
  3. Ring lights don’t have to sit around the camera. They can be used as fill lights and hair lights, too. You can buy diffusers for them to soften their light, or you can try bouncing it off a reflector or card, too.

Finally

It doesn’t matter if you aim to be successful on YouTube or need a straightforward lighting setup for a macro video, have a look at a ring light. The shape doesn’t exactly vary, but they come in plenty of sizes and at different price points, so there’ll be something that meets your needs.

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About Daniela Bowker

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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