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What is a Ring Light?

What is a Ring Light?


A ring light is a lighting accessory that photographers and videographers typically use for close up photography and vlogging style videos. Ring lights are great for this type of content as they provide an even distribution of light across the subject's face, which is flattering and easy to use. 

Read our guide and discover how ring lights work, the different uses of a ring light and which ring light is best for you.



What exactly is a ring light?

A ring light is a versatile circle-shaped piece of lighting equipment that gives you professional looking content and is most commonly used in the photography industry. It consists of a single circular fluorescent bulb or a combination of bulbs or LEDs formed in a circle. 


Why use a ring light?


Makeup Application


Ring lights are perfect for applying makeup, especially when natural light isn’t available. The lights show the true colours of the products and the skin whilst enhancing facial features. 


Many makeup artists who post content on social media use ring lights because the light produces an incredibly flattering light, reducing the appearance of blemishes and wrinkles.


Portrait Photography


Lighting rings are one of the best tools for portrait photographers because they create soft, diffused light, which will reduce harsh shadows. Ring lights enhance the subject's facial features without overexposing them, giving you the perfect shot.

Video and Social Media Production


Using a ring light is a popular choice for content creators. There are ring lights with smartphone holders, making it easy for you to shoot content on the go. Using a ring light will give you professional looking content at an affordable cost, whether you use it for YouTube, Social Media (TikTok, Instagram), Twitch, or product videos.



Macro Photography


Ring lights help you to achieve evenly balanced lighting in every image by hiding shadows and putting more focus on the detail. It is perfect for distributing light around a small subject, such as insect photography.



Working from home video calls


Working from home has become very popular, resulting in poor quality video calls that look dull and grainy. A ring light can improve the quality, making your video calls look more professional and clear, without a complicated setup and is accessible at an affordable price.


Some ring lights are suitable for plugging into a laptop or PC, but before you do, you should always check with the manufacturer before doing so as it can cause damage to your laptop or PC. 


Once you have set your ring light up, do a preview video to ensure it is positioned correctly and isn’t making you look washed out.




The benefits of using a ring light

1. Evenly distributed lighting


When using a ring light, the lighting will be more evenly distributed than natural lighting or flash from a camera, resulting in high-quality images.


Some ring lights have controls to adjust the tone of lighting you want by changing colour temperature, such as cool toned or warm toned. High colour temperature (cool toned) makes the shot look more like daylight, whilst lower temperatures (warm toned) give you a softer and golden hour look. 


2. Eye catchlight in portrait photography


A catchlight is a reflection of the ring light in the eyes of the subject you are photographing. They are a beneficial way to create dimension, depth, and emotion with the viewer. 


Here are a few tips on how to get an excellent catchlight in the eyes:


  • Wear darker clothing as you're less likely to see the reflection of the clothing in the eyes

  • Use a round catchlight as this is more natural than a rectangular catchlight - they are round like the eye, complimenting the eye better

  • Make sure your subject is facing the light source (ring light)

  • The closer the lens and ring light is, the bigger the catch light will be

  • Ensure the eyes are in focus and are sharp 


3. Perfect close-up lighting

A ring light is circle-shaped, and you can put your lens through it, which will eliminate shadows and glares that land on the subject. Many ring lights come with a smartphone holder or are designed to mount to your camera. Due to the ability to be adjusted, you can get a good angle whilst the camera is still, so you do not have to worry about blurry shots.

4. Eliminate any harsh shadows


The harsh shadow occurs when the contrast is harsh, which means there is a hard line between light and shadow, revealing a flat and unflattering look on your shots, especially when taking portraits and Marco photography. Using a ring light would be beneficial to avoid harsh shadows on the face since it illuminates the whole face in every direction, creating an even and soft illumination.

5. Colours stand out more


Using a ring light in the make-up industry enhances the make-up, making the colours more eye catching than natural light. 


If you’re a beauty/make-up influencer, grabbing your audience's attention is key to growing your online presence. Beauty influencers tend to make popular types of videos, such as ‘Get ready with me (GRWM) ’ and glam make-up looks. However, these videos can take a lot of time and hard work. So, if the results are not visible on camera, this could prevent you from attaining your full potential and may lower your ability to stand out on social media. 


This is where a ring light would be highly beneficial for you when capturing your audience's attention by enhancing your make-up looks and making the colours pop on camera.


How to set up a ring light


Use the mains power


If the ring light uses a USB, the best option is to use a phone charger plug or a USB power bank if you want to use it on the go. However, you must check before plugging it into a laptop or PC as the power draw can exceed what most USB ports can deliver, which could cause damage to your laptop or PC.


Place the camera lens/smartphone in the middle of the ring light


Place the camera or smartphone in the middle of the ring light; this is a significant step because the light won't be as effective if the lens is not in the centre. Most models of ring lights will come with either a tripod or a smartphone holder, making it easy for you to set up and use. If you haven’t got a tripod or holder, you could always use stackable items. 


Check the positioning and reflections


When positioning your ring light, make sure that you try out various distances directly in front of your or the subject's face. Doing this will ensure you get the best lighting.


If you or your subject are wearing glasses or sunglasses, try positioning the ring light at a slight angle so that the light isn’t shining directly onto the lenses. 


Which is better: LED Light or a Ring Light?


A ring light is more affordable and better for portrait photography, YouTube videos, social media content, and vlogging. Many ring lights have smartphone holders, making them more convenient to use.


Additionally, an LED light is used better for landscape and outdoor photography and tends to be more expensive than a ring light. 


What Ring Size Do You Need?

Before investing in a ring light, you need to consider which size will suit you best and how you will use it.


A smaller ring light would be perfect for vlogging, travelling, and Marco photography. For Macro photography, you would typically use a ring light which attaches to your camera due to the subject being so small, making it easier for you to get close to the subject. A smaller ring light is usually between 10 and 12 inches. 

When you use a larger ring light, such as DORR SL-480 STUDIO RING LIGHT there are more LEDs, which means it produces a greater amount of light, making it perfect for shooting content that includes larger objects and multiple people. If you are shooting on a DSLR camera, then you would be better suited for a larger ring light so that the camera can fit inside the ring light. A larger ring light usually comes between 14 - 18 inches.


How much does a ring light cost?


There is a range of different ring lights with varied qualities and price points. There are cheaper options which would be great for people who want to start vlogging, make-up videos, streaming etc. Instead, you might want to look at a high-end range for more professional photography, which would be best used for Marco and portrait photography. 


Budget ring light

If you’re a beginner or want a ring light on a budget, this option could be excellent for you. The Door LED Selfie Ring Light starts from £26.99.

If you’re trying to make it as a beauty vlogger and looking to take your videos to the next level, a ring light could help. Even the most affordable ring lights can help to even out the lighting for the video and create the classic catchlight in the eye.

Most budget ring lights easily sync up with your mobile device, are compact, lightweight, and easy to use on the go, ensuring you always get the perfect shot, regardless of your budget.

Mid-range ring light

A mid-range option could be perfect for you if you’ve got a little extra to spend on a ring light. The KAISER R60 RING LIGHT starts from £79. This ring light is lightweight and is attached to a camera lens, and it is dimmable continuously down to zero without changing the colour temperature. So it is excellent for taking professional photos using a professional camera. 

High-end ring light

If you’re looking at spending more on a ring light, then a high-end option would be better suited for you. The DORR SL-480 STUDIO RING LIGHT starts from £149.99. This ring light includes a mirror, smartphone holder with a flexible arm, mini ball head, power supply, and bag. This high-end ring light has 480 LED bulbs, whereas the low-end ring light has 64 LED bulbs, resulting in higher light output and professional quality content. You can adjust the colour temperature, making it perfect for achieving the desired tone.


Looking for a ring light?

If you’re looking for a ring light, Harrison Cameras has a range of ring lights available for your every need. So whether you’re a beginner, professional photographer or content creator, there will be something for you!

by Harrison Cameras on 07/06/2022


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