Best Selfie Lights

Updated August 2021
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Buying guide for Best selfie lights

Whether you take selfies to post on social media, shoot extended videos to share on YouTube, or just spend a fair amount of time in video meetings, you know poor lighting can adversely affect image and video clarity and quality. One simple and inexpensive way to fix this issue is with a selfie light. 

Selfie lights are specifically designed to improve the quality of your photos and videos whether for personal or professional use. There are many options available that vary in terms of ease of use, powering methods, and brightness levels, which can make shopping for a selfie light confusing. 

Our buying guide dives into these factors as well as other features like size, tripods, and remote controls. We also examine the various price ranges and what you can expect to find in each one. Finally, we share some of our favorite selfie lights and highlight why we feel they’re some of the best on the market today.

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One of the primary ways a selfie light helps to improve your appearance in photos is by diffusing the light around you.

Key considerations

Size

The larger the selfie light ring, the more illumination it provides, allowing you to light up a larger area. These lights range from about 6 inches to 18 inches, with an average of 10 inches.

Power

Most selfie lights are powered in one of two ways: a wall outlet or USB. Whichever method is used, be sure that your light comes with all the cords required to power it.

Some selfie lights include a rechargeable battery, which adds to the light’s portability. For these lights, check how long it takes the battery to recharge and how long the charge lasts when you’re using the light. 

Controls

Selfie lights are fairly simple to use, and most have a simple touchpad or remote control to turn them on or off and adjust the brightness or color temperature. 

Selfie lights that clip onto your phone or other device tend to be the easiest to use, while those that include a tripod and phone holder have a bit more of a learning curve to use. Be sure that any selfie light that you’re considering includes a user manual to get you started and instructions that walk you through all the settings and how to use them.

Durability

While your selfie light probably won’t be subjected to a lot of abuse, accidents do happen. That said, all parts of a selfie light, from the light bulbs to the tripod, phone holder, power cable, and remote included with it, should be sturdy enough to hold up over time. Selfie lights are one item in which flimsiness in one part can easily impact the effectiveness of the whole.

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Did You Know?
The various color temperatures available in selfie lights refer to the appearance of the light, not its actual temperature.
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Features

Mount

Selfie lights typically use one of two mounting methods: clip or tripod. 

Clip: The simplest mounting method is a clip that easily attaches to your phone or tablet. This is probably best if you’re in search of a quick solution to taking better-quality selfies.

Tripod: If you’re shooting videos to post online, you’ll probably be better off choosing a tripod. These can range from a simple tabletop model to larger tripods that sit on the floor and can extend to more than 60 inches. The tripod should fold up to a compact size for easy transport or storage.

Some tripods have a clip so they can easily attach to a tabletop or other surface. It should also include some type of smartphone clamp or cradle that securely holds your phone in landscape or portrait mode while you’re shooting. 

Rotation: All selfie lights rotate to some extent, so you can better direct the light where you need it. While some of these have 180° of rotation, others have a full 360°, providing you with the greatest flexibility.

Bulbs

Number: In general, the more LEDs a selfie light has, the brighter it is. The average number of bulbs in these lights is 30 to 40 LEDs.

Brightness: Selfie lights give you controls for two primary ways to alter the light to achieve the effect you want. The first of these is for setting the brightness level. These lights typically have three to a dozen different levels of brightness, enabling you to shoot in various conditions and light levels. While it’s uncommon, some selfie lights have a dimming knob, so you can more accurately dial in the exact brightness level you want.

Color mode: With controls for the color mode, you can set the color temperature, which directly affects the ambiance of the photo or video you’re shooting. The modes vary from selfie light to selfie light, but warm, cool white and daylight are common settings.

Remote control

While some selfie lights have a control pad to adjust features like brightness and color mode, others include a remote control to do this. A remote provides you with greater flexibility in choosing settings such as brightness. These remotes use Bluetooth, which works from up to 30 feet away.

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Did You Know?
Selfie lights are also known as ring lights or selfie ring lights.
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Pricing

Inexpensive: Most of the selfie lights in the $10 to $15 range are simple clip-on lights with a smaller light ring, usually 6 inches or less. These have fewer bulbs and fewer choices for brightness level. Selfie lights in this range are geared toward those who take the occasional selfie.

Mid-range: Selfie lights in the $15 to $25 range tend to be more durable and offer a larger light ring, usually 8 to 10 inches. These lights range from higher-quality clip-ons to lights mounted on simple tabletop tripods. Controls for brightness and color mode are operated with a simple touchpad or remote control.

Expensive: If you frequently upload videos to social media or stream on platforms like Twitch, a selfie light that costs $25 to $50 may better fit your needs. Most of these lights have a 10-inch or larger light ring and a longer, floor-standing tripod. Extras, such as a remote, are pretty standard in this price range.

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Did You Know?
Selfie lights are most effective in contained environments where you have little access to natural light.
Staff
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Tips

  • Use warmer light indoors. When shooting photos or videos indoors, a warmer light color provides the best overall lighting effect.
  • Match the light size to the use. If you only take selfies or videos of your face, a smaller 6- to 8-inch selfie light might be all you need. For full-body shots, go with a larger selfie light.
  • Choose a versatile mount. If you’re uncertain whether you want a table-mounted or floor-standing tripod, buy one that’s adjustable enough that it can be used both ways.
  • Choose a light with a carry bag. If you’re planning to take your vlogging on the road, go with a selfie light that includes a carry bag. While not standard, carry bags do come with some selfie lights so you can protect the light on the road or in storage.
  • Look for a good warranty. No matter how careful you are, accidents do happen. To protect your investment, go with a light that has a good warranty. They typically range from six months to three years.
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The word “selfie” dates to 2002, when an Australian man posted an image of his stitched lip with the caption, “Sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”

FAQ

Q. What’s the difference between warm, cool white, and daylight modes?

A. Much like other light bulbs, selfie lights offer a variety of color lighting temperatures, which can affect the whole mood of your selfie or video. While light bulbs tend to only be one temperature, most selfie lights let you switch between different settings: warm, cool white, and daylight. Light temperature is measured in kelvin.

  • Warm: This refers to light that’s generally less than 3,000 kelvin. It’s similar in temperature to halogen or incandescent light and delivers soft illumination.
  • Cool white: At 4,100 to 5,000 kelvin, cool white is more of a blue light.
  • Daylight: At 6,500 kelvin, the daylight setting simulates sunlight. This temperature light is often used to backlight a subject.

Q. Are there fluorescent selfie lights?

A. While you might be able to find a fluorescent selfie light, it won’t be easy. They used to be quite common, but LEDs have become the lighting type of choice for selfie lights for a variety of reasons: they last longer, cost less to run, produce less heat, and don’t contain hazardous materials like fluorescents do.

Q. Should I choose USB or AC power?

A. That depends largely on how you plan to use your selfie light. If you’re setting it up in one location and don’t plan to move it often, you might be better off going with AC power. It’s easier to use, always there, and costs less to run over time.

If you’re in search of a more portable solution, USB might be a better option for you. USB cords can be used with a variety of devices, such as computers or power banks, and are much more useful in areas where there may not be a power outlet nearby.

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