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8 best ring lights to glow up your photos and videos

 (The Independent)
(The Independent)

There’s nothing worse than logging on to a work Zoom call and having to see your sallow, shadowed face staring back at you, especially when everyone else on the call looks pristine. Of course, you can adjust your positioning, or add a filter, but investing in a ring light means you’ll always be spot on when it comes to the lighting.

Ring lights (usually a circular design) are made with small LED lights that can change brightness or colour. They can be attached to your computer, phone or a power source via a USB, and arranged above or next to your PC or smart phone to brighten up your photos and videos.

The pandemic increased the popularity of ring lights, with many of us WFH and wanting to look good on video calls. Some of us made TikTok videos in lockdown, too – and what’s wrong with a bit of added light when you’re trying to perfect the latest dance craze?

How to choose the best ring light for you?

Do you want a high-tech professional setup, tripod and all, or would you just like to look a little better on a Zoom call with a couple of different light options?

The cheaper choices are designed for social media and videos calls, and will often come with small tripods and a few different light settings, though not very high-quality ones. The more you pay, the better light source you’ll get.

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You also need to think about how much space you have. Say, if you have a tiny desk, which barely fits your laptop, a tripod setup may not be wise, as it will take up too much space.

What size ring light is best?

Most lights are between 8in and 16in in diameter and, generally, the bigger the ring size, the better the light. However, depending on how the light is distributed, smaller lights can work well, too.

How we tested them?

As we opened the boxes, we first tested how quick the ring lights were to set up – because who needs a complicated setup, especially if you’re just about to jump on an important video call? We then looked at how easy they were to use and charge, by testing out the buttons and different lights. Ultimately, we were looking for lights that gave us a visible difference when we took photos and used video-conferencing systems.

The best ring lights for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Zumy video conference light: £32.02, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best all-in-one – AirLit multipurpose smart fan, ring light and mirror: £69.99, Robertdyas.co.uk

  • Best for teenagers – Fizz Creations selfie ring light and tripod: £19.99, Iwantoneofthose.com

  • Best for on the move – Juice Social perfect glow ring light: £14.99, Argos.co.uk

  • Best for using with gadgets – JOBY beamo ring light: £44.50, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best for professional photos and videos – Fovitec bi-colour LED ring light kit: £89, Wexphotovideo.com

  • Best for video calls – Kensington L1000 Bicolour LED Ring Light with Webcam Mount: £41.29, Digitaloutlet.co.uk

  • Best for selfies – Smartphone ring light: £6.99, Findmeagift.co.uk

Zumy video conference light

Best: Overall

If you’re bored of faffing around with tripods, Zumy’s clip-on ring light (or rectangle) could be your solution. The US-born creation is designed for easily attaching to laptops or desktops to bring some light to video calls or to make pictures brighter.

The button at the back acts as a switch, but can also brighten the light, by four degrees, while the ball stability on the neck of the light means it’s adjustable to give you just the right position. We found it incredibly easy to set up and attach to our laptop, taking just seconds.

With a softbox design that uses light-source separation and multiple layers of diffusion to create the kind of soft, diffused light you might find at a professional studio, we loved its exceptional effects while we did a quick Zoom meeting. Once we were finished, we simply unplugged it from the USB port and folded it flat to store easily in our drawer.

Buy now £32.02, Amazon.co.uk

AirLit multipurpose smart fan, ring light and mirror

Best: All-in-one

If you’ve already got too many gadgets on your desk, then this 3-in-1 ring light should be on your list. AirLit is a portable ring light, mirror and smart fan – allowing you to check what you look like before you go on that Zoom call, while keeping yourself cool in the meantime. Once fully charged, you can either place it on your desk or in front of it, using its telescopic extension.

Initially, we did find the different modes a tad tricky to change with the touch buttons on the base of the light, but you can also change them via the app. However, we really liked how lightweight and easy it was to pack away – especially when you need more space on weekends. If you want only a ring light, then the AirLit may be a bit pricey, but if you’re after a gadget with all the trimmings, this is a nifty piece of kit.

Buy now £69.99, Robertdyas.co.uk

Fizz creations selfie ring light and tripod

Best: For teenagers

A budget option if you need the light but don’t want to spend a fortune on looking good. The 6in ring comes with its own tripod, as well as a mobile attachment. We liked how easily the selfie ring could be set up – simply plug into a USB and attach to the tripod. We were also able to change the extension of the legs easily.

The three light settings were also easy to set, and although not revolutionary, they did provide different options, depending on the natural light pouring in our windows that day. All in, this Fizz could be a good and affordable option for kids and teenagers who want to play around with videos and photos.

Buy now £19.99, Iwantoneofthose.com

Juice Social perfect glow ring light

Best: For on the move

A very light ring design, we found it easy to attach to the accessories, and found the size of the ring (10in) looked fine perched on top of our printer.

Simply plug it into a USB power point and you can choose from warm (indoor), natural (outdoors) or organic lighting modes, with 10 different brightness settings. We liked the organic lighting modes – especially when it was on the middle setting – as it gave us the perfect glow for video calls and even when filming.

Made of 120 LED individual lights, the ring light can be attached to a 360-degreee rotatable ball joint and extendable legs, which provided great flexibility for using on our desk.

The perfect glow also comes with a smartphone holder, and as the whole package is compact and light, it’s easy to pack in your bag if you’re going on a work or holiday trip.

Buy now £14.99, Argos.co.uk

Joby beamo ring light

Best: For using with gadgets

This attractive-looking ring light will look great next to your desk, whether you’re using it or storing it for later use. The 12in LED light has 10 brightness levels and three colour temperatures to get just the right light for you. It plugs directly into a USB, and the levels can be changed via the small remote on the cable.

If you’re using this on its own, it can be balanced on your desk, but for the best effects, it’s worth investing in one of JOBY’s accessories, such as its gorillapod stand. We loved attaching the light to it and using the flexible legs to achieve different shadows and lights for Instagram pictures. Other accessories include a phone mount and a microphone.

Buy now £44.50, Joby.com

Fovitec bi-colour LED ring light kit

Best: For professional photos and videos

If it’s your job to create professional-looking photos or videos, you may want to splash the cash on this high-tech ring light. The 19in light, with true bi-colour, is heavier than all the other lights in this round-up, but its quality is far better than the average Zoom light.

With a 96 CRI (colour rendering index) rating, the lighting feels similar to what you may find in a photography studio. We enjoyed playing with the colour-adjustment knob to see what type of different lights we could achieve for photos and a video.

The price may be steeper than the normal ring light, but the kit does include an easy-to-attach stand and a phone holder. However, if you’re a beginner, it may be best to start with one of the more basic ring lights and move on to this when you’ve got your first commission.

Buy now £89.00, Wexphotovideo.com

Kensington L1000 bicolour LED ring light with webcam mount

Best: For video calls

If you’re working with a webcam, this ring light allows you to attach it in the middle. The 10in light is also the perfect size for a workspace environment and won’t look out of place whether you have it at home or in the office.

The frosted-lens light has 96 LEDs with a 120-degree beam angle, which gave our zoom calls a very bright look. However, you can easily use the buttons to change between cool, natural or warm, depending on how sunny you want to look that day. You can also change the brightness by between 10 and 100 per cent – we found that 60 per cent created a natural, effortless look while also making our skin glow and eliminating any shadows. Result! The ring light can be used on its own, but if you want some elevation, it can be paired with the desk stand, which easily attaches to the bottom.

Buy now £41.29, Digitaloutlet.co.uk

Smartphone ring light

Best: For selfies

Taking a good selfie really is all about the lighting – too bright and you may look over-exposed; too dark and what’s the point? But you don’t want to have to set up a big ring light every time you want to take a spontaneous selfie – so this clip-on (to your phone) light, which you can store in your bag or drawer, is a perfect gift for a selfie queen friend (or, ahem, yourself).

With 36 LEDs and three brightness settings, you’ll be glowing all day and night long. We love the on-trend gold colour, price point and how easy it is to store. Just pop in some batteries and away you go.

Buy now £6.99, Findmeagift.co.uk

The verdict: Ring lights

We loved the ease of the Zumy video conference light. There was no stress of having to put the whole thing together before we used it – we just clipped it on and plugged it into the USB, and we were ready for a call. Its light settings were easy to change and bright enough for video and photos, giving us just the effect we wanted. Plus, its reasonable price is spot on for most budgets.

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Need a camera to go with your new ring light setup? Read our guide to the best mirrorless models that are compact and user friendly