Regardless of the sort of videos, you’re creating, lighting is an integral part of your viewer’s experience. It can turn an average video into an exceptional one and make your videos appear more professional. Overall, there’s a right and a wrong way to go about lighting your videos that will depend on the look you’d like your videos to have. Here’s our guide to the best lighting for YouTube videos.
TLDR: The lighting you use on your videos will have a significant impact on your overall production, video quality, and viewer experience. Depending on the videos you’re doing and how much detail you need your viewer to see will determine the sort of light you should use.
Best Lighting For YouTube Videos
Lighting is all about adding details to your videos and making them appear more vibrant. The lighting setup you choose will determine how much detail your audience will see in the video and where that detail will be.
Natural lighting is the most direct and natural appearing light, and it enables your audience to see every detail quite sharply. However, it’s also the most unpredictable type of lighting and will force you to film at certain times or on certain days, which isn’t great if you have a specific upload schedule.
Fluorescent light, like from a lamp or overhead lighting, directs light in a very unnatural way and will add shadows, hues, and tints to your video that are hard to overlook and make your videos appear unprofessional.
That said, natural light is superior to the artificial light emitted by lamps and overhead lights. Therefore, if you don’t have the budget for lighting, set up your videos in an area that receives the most natural light and use a sheer curtain to diffuse some of that light as it enters the room. You should, then, start filming in the morning so you have enough time to complete filming before the sunsets.
If you do have a budget for lighting, however, our options below will help you choose the best lighting for YouTube videos.
Why Does Lighting Matter?
Lighting affects the overall quality of your videos. It is more important than the camera you’re recording on, as it affects your video quality. Details, shadows, colors, and contrasts are either be enhanced or changed depending on the light you’re using and can make the video a pleasure or a nightmare to watch. Our recommendations on the best lighting for YouTube will help you create the most realistic appearance for your videos, giving you as close to real-life detail, color, and contrast.
The 4 Best Lights For YouTube Videos
#1: Umbrella Light
Umbrella lights create a very natural and diffused light that is similar to natural lighting. However, unlike natural light, umbrella lights give you control over the brightness of your light and how you want it to diffuse. This control enables you to eliminate shadow and give greater detail to your subject.
It’s important to note that umbrella lights used for videos aren’t the same as the ones used for photography. The difference is that umbrella light used for photography has a reflective interior, whereas umbrella light used for video uses a sheer silk fabric to diffuse the light from the bulb(s) you’re using.
For YouTube videos, you’ll want to use a translucent (shoot-through) umbrella light instead of a reflective one, as this will give you the daylight look regardless of the time of day you’re filming.
Recommendation: LimoStudio Continuous Light White Umbrella Reflector Lighting Kit $33.49
The LimoStudio Continuous Light is an affordable option if you’re starting to film YouTube videos. It comes with a 33” translucent umbrella as well as a 6500K light, which mimics natural light perfectly. It’s portable and adjustable, making it a contender for the best lighting for YouTube videos.
#2: Softbox Light
Softbox lighting – also known as studio lights – illuminate a larger area than their most popular counterpart the ring light, and resemble natural lighting most closely. These lights also eliminate shadows and are brighter than umbrella lights. However, for softbox lighting to be most effective in videos and give greater detail to your subject (you) you should use two softbox lights. Having two softbox lights shine from two different angles, which brightens the area you’re filming in and ensures you’re not casting any unflattering shadows. The best part about softbox lights, and why they’re the best lighting for YouTube videos, is that they’re versatile. You can go from filming a closeup makeup tutorial, to shooting a DIY crafting tutorial and capture the same amount of detail and true-to-life color and definition.
Recommendation: MOUNTDOG Softbox Lighting Kit 1600W $75.99
This softbox lighting kit includes four 5500K E27 Bulbs that emit light similar to natural light. The kit also includes adjustable stands and two softboxes.
#3: Ring Light
Ring lights provide the most direct light to your subject, therefore, making them the perfect option for closeup makeup tutorials or videos where you’d like your face illuminated. Ring lights are also an affordable option that makes it easier for you to film on a DSLR camera or phone, as the center within the ring light is a great location for a camera. Many manufacturers sell ring lights with a built-in stand for a camera or phone. Because of the way the ring light is designed, it’s easier to use than other – more professional – options on this list. You can simply switch it on, set up your camera, and film.
However, the ring light does come with disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage of the ring light is that it causes a catchlight effect. This catchlight effect will appear as light reflecting from the eyes, which can distract your audience. For this reason, the ring light is the least natural appearing of all the lights.
The second disadvantage of the ring light is that it only illuminates for short distances and can, therefore, make the foreground (your face) appear bright and well lit, but make the background dull and dark.
Recommendation: 10.2″ Selfie Ring Light with Tripod Stand & Cell Phone Holder
This ring light is portable and easy to use. It’s the perfect selection if you’re a beginner and looking for an affordable lighting option that already includes all you’ll need for your YouTube lighting setup.
Recommendation: Neewer Ring Light Kit:18″ $95.99
For a more professional appearance, the Neewer Ring light illuminates a larger area and gives even greater detail to your close up shots. Additionally, the kit comes with a stand that you can attach most DSLR cameras and smartphones to.
#4: On Camera Light
On camera lights are attached to the top of DSLR cameras, making them portable and easy to use.
Most vloggers will use these sorts of lights to illuminate themselves or their subject when they’re on the go, as they give greater detail to what they’re shooting.
However, the only benefit of using on-camera lighting is when the filming area is lowly lit or when daylight isn’t sufficient. Other than that, the light isn’t useful for anything else. Because just like the ring light on-camera lighting falls off the subject the further away the light source is, and with certain inexpensive camera lights can create hot spots on the face.
If you’re thinking of filming in different locations, opt for a better quality light to avoid the downsides. Here is our recommendation:
Recommendation: VILTROX L116T RA CRI95 Super Slim LED Light Panel $44.99
This adjustable on-camera light is affordable and customizable. You can make the light dimmer and brighter using the dial at the back of the light and viewing your settings on the LCD. Additionally, this light isn’t only for use on camera; it can be used on its own, making it the best lighting for YouTube videos.