Best Video Lighting Kits

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

22 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
306 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best video lighting kits

Last Updated August 2019

When you’re attempting to shoot video that looks professional, the right lighting is key. Poor lighting almost certainly will make your video look amateurish. If you’re going to shoot video indoors with great lighting, you need to use a video lighting kit.

With two or three lighting stands in each video lighting kit, these tools deliver light wherever you need it, giving you plenty of control over how your video looks. You can then create the precise type of effects you want in your production. While you could certainly purchase an extremely expensive video lighting kit that is appropriate for professional studios, here we’re focusing on kits that are appropriate for home users.

If you’re not sure where to start your search for a video lighting kit, we can help. Our shopping guide includes plenty of information, as well as several of our favorites.

Some video lighting kits are made for use outdoors, others are primarily for indoor use, and some work in both situations.

Key considerations

When purchasing a video lighting kit, you need to choose from a few different types of lighting technologies: fluorescent, LED, and incandescent/tungsten. Each one has some advantages and disadvantages.

Fluorescent

A video lighting kit with fluorescent lighting delivers quite a few benefits. It creates a large swath of light in an area, and it’s especially good for lighting skin color. You’ll find that fluorescent lighting is adaptable, too: the bulbs can simulate daylight or tungsten light. Fluorescent light doesn’t generate as much heat as tungsten/incandescent light, and it doesn’t need much power to run.

Excellent LED technology

With the Neewer lighting kit, you receive both yellow and white LEDs. By controlling which LEDs are lit at any one time, you can achieve a specific color temperature. Each light fits on its own stand, adjustable between 26 and 75 inches tall. You can also adjust the angles of the lights precisely, too.

LED

Kits that use light-emitting diode (LED) lighting are still in the early stages of development. Rather than a bulb, an LED light in a video light kit typically resembles a rectangular panel. It’s lightweight and can be configured in a variety of shapes, with some LED panels configured in a ring. LED is extremely popular for smaller light stands and on-camera lighting. LED lights can be dimmed to a low level, giving you precise control over the amount of light in a scene. LEDs run cooler than other lights, even fluorescent, and use very little power.

On the downside, some LEDs in video lighting kits may cause a flicker effect. This isn’t noticeable to the naked eye, but it might be picked up in a video recording.

Incandescent/tungsten

Incandescent/tungsten lighting kits are among the most cost-effective technologies. This type of lighting should give you an excellent level of performance over time. For large theatrical setups, tungsten is a popular choice. This type of lighting can be dimmed to a very low level, leaving little to no light in the scene if desired.

However, these lights get hot, and they use quite a bit of power versus other lighting technologies.

EXPERT TIP

Complex lighting kits contain many parts and weigh a lot. If you require portability, stick with a simpler kit.


Staff  | BestReviews

Video lighting kit features

When comparing video lighting kits, pay attention to the equipment that’s included in the kit. Don’t spend more than you have to by choosing a kit with extra equipment you don’t need. The following are some of the items you’ll find in video lighting kits:

Light stands: The light stands contain the light bulb sockets or LED light panels. These stands typically are adjustable in height so you can set the position of the light precisely. These stands may accept a soft box or an umbrella. Light stands sit on tripods so they can stand upright on their own.

Bulbs: Kits ship with bulbs that are compatible with the sockets in the light stands. Occasionally, a kit comes with an extra bulb or two, but you’ll usually have to buy extra bulbs separately if one breaks or burns out.

Soft box: A soft box is a pyramid-shaped box with a cover that houses the light. The walls and cover of the box diffuse the light, making it appear softer and creating fewer shadows. The soft box is best used for lighting a close-up scene.

Umbrella: An umbrella encircles the light, reflecting it over a wide area without significant shadows. The light diffuses when it strikes the umbrella fabric, softening the light.

Accessories: Some video lighting kits contain various accessories, such as reflectors, diffusers, colored gels, or scrims. These accessories also can be purchased separately as you need them.

Carrying case: Photographers appreciate a portable kit in which all the gear fits inside a carrying case.

Always choose the proper white balance (WB) setting for the camera based on the type of lighting you’re using and the color temperature of the bulbs.

Video lighting kit prices

Lighting kits for videographers cost anywhere from $20 for a beginner kit to several thousand dollars for a professional setup. Note that kits with LED lights are slightly more expensive than kits designed for fluorescent or incandescent/tungsten bulbs. However, LED bulbs use far less power and last longer than the other technologies. If you plan to use the kit often, it will save you some money in the long run to go with LED technology.

Inexpensive: Beginner-level kits cost $20 to $50 and consist of a couple of small light stands, making them ideal for shooting close-up scenes.

Mid-range: These kits cost from $50 to $125 and contain two or three light stands. You’ll likely find a few kits that include soft boxes or umbrellas in this price range, too.

Expensive: The priciest video lighting kits start at $125 and go up from there. For use at home, the costliest video lighting kits are a few hundred dollars. These contain large light stands that offer precise control of the color temperature.

Premium: Advanced video lighting kits appropriate for professional studios cost $500 and up.

DID YOU KNOW?

Because incandescent/tungsten lighting has been in use for several decades, many older lighting kits use this technology.

Tips

  • Position your subject in shade when shooting outdoors. When shooting video outdoors, placing the subject in shadow helps avoid harsh sunlight. You can then use your video lighting kit to add some light in the shadowed area to create the feel you want in the scene.
  • Carry extension cords with you. Most electrical cords attached to light stands are between four and six feet long, but you might need a longer power cord in order to properly position the light stand. Having an extension cord handy ensures you can place the light stand wherever you want it.
  • Think about portability. If you’ll be shooting video in many different locations, your video lighting kit needs to be portable. Most kit components fold down to fit in a carrying case. On the other hand, if you’ll always be shooting in your home studio, the kit’s portability isn’t an important consideration.
  • Use three lights. With a three-light video lighting kit, you’ll have a primary light, a fill light, and a backlight for significantly better-quality video and more setup options.

Budget-friendly kit

The ESDDI video lighting kit gives videographers great value in a continuous lighting option. Each of the three light stands can be controlled independently, and the angle of the durable, white nylon 33-inch umbrellas can be set precisely. The kit also includes light bulbs and a carrying case.

Other products we considered

Most videographers can use one of the five kits listed in our matrix. However, for those who are looking for different features, here are some other kits that we considered. The pricey GVM LED Video Lighting Kit uses high-quality LED lights that deliver color temperatures between 2300 kelvin (K) and 6800 K. You can control the light intensity with a smartphone app. On the other end of the price spectrum, the simple Emart LED Continuous Light Kit works nicely for close-up video. These tiny LED light stands have adjustable lighting angles for precise positioning. For videographers who need a soft-box-type of video lighting, the LimoStudio Video Soft Box Lighting Kit is a smart choice. Each of the two boxes measures 24 inches across and sits on a stand that can reach a height of 86 inches. If you need a kit with soft boxes and even more versatility, the Mount Dog Studio Lighting Kit delivers. It has three light stands with high-wattage bulbs that create an extremely soft light.

Most light sockets in a kit made for home use are able to pull power from a standard electrical outlet. Professional-level lighting kits might require a special power source.

FAQ

Q. What type of lighting should I pick if I have a tight budget?
A.
Older lighting technologies, such as incandescent/tungsten, have a low initial cost. Newer lighting technologies, such as LED, often have a higher upfront cost. However, the energy use and longevity of the newer lighting technology will save you money in the long run versus the older technology. Think of newer lighting options as an investment in the future even though they cost more at first.

Q. What are the advantages of using lights that run at cooler temperatures?
A.
When shooting video, lights that run hot can leave people in the area feeling uncomfortable. They also can cause people to sweat, which could ruin the look you’re seeking in the shot. Video lights that run cooler keep everyone comfortable and able to work longer.

Q. Do I have to purchase an entire kit for my video lighting?
A.
Not necessarily. If you just need a simple light that’s mounted on the camera, these are easy to find. For those who are shooting video with a DSLR camera that has a hot shoe bracket, on-camera continuous lighting works well for videos. This is an inexpensive way to give yourself an introduction to video lighting. You then can buy a multi-light kit in the future if needed.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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