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How to Use a Ring Light

Want to learn how to use a ring light? Here are some tips and tricks to help you get started.
Updated on April 23, 2023 2:19 PM

Are you looking for a way to improve your video and photo editing skills? Or maybe you want to add some glitz and glamor to your content creation? Whatever the reason, you should consider investing in a ring light. Ring lights are essential tools used by photographers, videographers, and content creators - they provide beautiful lighting which can bring out the best features of any project you're currently working on. 

In this guide, our experts explore everything there is to know about using a ring light: from how to use a ring light, how to set it up, perfecting its usage, and more.  Let's jump into the light and get started on taking you content creation to the next level. 

How to use a ring light: everything you need to know

A ring light is a type of photography light that creates a circular pattern of light around the lens, typically used for portraits, beauty shots, or video conferencing. Here is everything you need to know to use ring lights: 

  1. Set up the ring light: Attach the ring light to a tripod or stand, plug it in, and adjust it to the desired height. Make sure the ring light is facing the subject.
  2. Control the brightness and color temperature: Most ring lights come with adjustable brightness and color temperature controls, allowing you to fine-tune the lighting for the desired effect.
  3. Choose the right lens: A ring light works best with a lens with longer focal length, such as a 50mm or 85mm lens. Shorter lenses can cause vignetting, where the light source is visible in the shot.
  4. Position the subject: The subject should be positioned in the center of the ring light, facing the camera.
  5. Use reflectors or additional lights: To add more depth to your shots, use reflectors or additional lights to fill in shadows or create highlights.
  6. Experiment with different light settings: Try adjusting the brightness, color temperature, and other settings to see how it affects the lighting in your shots. 

Remember to always work with caution when using a ring light, as they can generate a significant amount of heat and should not be left unattended.

What’s a ring light?

A ring light is a type of lighting equipment used in photography, video, and makeup art content. It is named after its circular shape and consists of a circular array of LED lights or fluorescent bulbs that encircle the lens of a camera or a mirror. The LED ring light source is typically mounted on a tripod or a stand, and you can adjust the height and angle to suit the shoot and your needs.

The circular shape of the selfie ring light creates a unique type of lighting that is ideal for close-up shots (macro photography), such as portrait photography, beauty shots, or product photography.

The LED ring light produces a soft, even, and shadowless illumination that minimizes wrinkles and blemishes, and emphasizes the subject's features. In videography, ring lights are commonly used for video conferencing and live-streaming, where they provide ample illumination and a clear image of the speaker's face.

Ring lights come in different sizes, brightness levels, and color temperatures, and many models allow users to adjust the brightness and color temperature to match the desired lighting effect. Some selfie ring lights also come with additional features, such as built-in diffusers, adjustable tripod legs, or dimming controls.

The two types of ring lights 

There are two types of ring lights:

  1. LED Ring Lights: LED (Light Emitting Diode) ring lights are the most common type of ring lights used today. They are energy-efficient, long-lasting, and produce a bright and consistent light output. LED ring lights are also relatively lightweight and portable, making them a favorite for photographers and videographers on the go. They are available in a wide range of sizes and brightness levels, and you can often control the brightness and color temperature.
  2. Fluorescent Ring Lights: Fluorescent ring lights use tube lights that emit a soft, even light. They are a popular choice for professional photographers and videographers due to their soft, natural-looking light and low heat emission. Fluorescent ring lights are also relatively affordable and long-lasting, making them a good option if you are just starting your photography journey. The drawbacks are they tend to be bulkier and heavier than LED ring lights, and they may produce a slight humming noise while in use.

The type of ring light you choose will depend on your specific needs and budget. If you're looking for a portable, energy-efficient, and bright light source, then an LED ring light is the best choice. If you prefer a soft and natural-looking light, a fluorescent ring light is the better option.

How can you set up and use a ring light? 

Before you use a ring light, it's important to understand the basics and learn how this type of light works.

First, you'll need to mount your ring light onto a tripod or other stand that can be adjusted at the optimal distance from your subject. The ideal distance range is between three and six feet away. The next step is to attach the power cord and plug it into an outlet or power source. Some ring light kits are equipped with battery packs, giving you more freedom for ring light placement.

Once your ring light is securely mounted and plugged in, you can adjust its settings. Most models come with several options for brightness levels, color temperatures, diffusion filters, and other features to help you create the exact look you want. By experimenting with these settings, you will get familiar with how your specific light kit operates and how each setting affects your images or videos. 

One of the most common usages of the ring light is portrait photography,  selfies, and video production. This type of lighting produces an even illumination on your subject's face without creating harsh shadows or glare. It also provides a flattering effect by softening skin tone and brightening eyes which makes it perfect for close-up shots in beauty or fashion photography as well as any situation where natural-looking lighting is desired.

Ring lights can also be used for product photography or makeup application or social media, due to their even coverage over flat surfaces like books or jewelry boxes. Many photographers also use them in macro photography since they provide enough illumination while being close enough to capture tight details like texture on fabric or insect wings clearly. 

Overall, ring lights are versatile tools in both photography and videos that allow creatives to experiment with unique looks while also achieving precise results quickly and efficiently. 

Ring light photography ideas 

Our experts have a few ring light photography ideas you can play around with and explore the different ways to use a ring light:

If you position the subject directly in front of the ring light, it illuminates their face and creates an even, circular catchlight in the eyes. 
This lighting setup can be used for portraits and close-up shots, as it provides a flattering, well-lit subject.

Standing behind and holding the ring light is a photography technique used to control the quality of light in a portrait. It involves standing behind the subject while holding a ring light directly in front of them. The circular shape of the ring light ensures the light wraps around the face evenly and minimizes shadows for smooth, even lighting. 
It creates a more flattering portrait as it enhances skin tones, and the subject looks more vibrant and colorful. 
Additionally, when used with studio lighting equipment such as softboxes or barn doors, it helps create effects by controlling where the light falls off and bokeh-like shapes within photographs.

You can use the ring light at night to provide evenly distributed lighting on the subject of focus, giving better results and making it easier to capture the perfect shot. 
It is also ideal for soft lighting effects when paired with diffusers or other accessories. With adjustable brightness levels and color temperatures, ring lights can create striking photography looks, regardless of the time of day.

The ring light can be used as a prop to enhance the aesthetics of a photo or video shoot. For example, if you incorporate the ring light into your YouTube video, it can become a design element and add interest and draws the eye to the subject. 
You can experiment with angles and distances to see what works best for your creative vision for videos and photos. 

A ring light can also be used as an ambient fill light to provide soft, even illumination to a scene. It is useful when natural light is scarce or too harsh. You can position the inch ring light close to the subject, and it fills in any shadows to get a better final look. 
You can use this in portrait, beauty photography, and other genres, such as product photography or videography.

To drag the shutter with a ring light: You should set the camera to manual mode and adjust the shutter speed to a slower setting (1/30 sec or slower). Keep the aperture wide open (low f-number) and then turn on the ring light and position it close to the subject.
Now, start the exposure and move the camera or subject during the exposure. Check the results and change the setting as needed. This technique creates motion blur and can add a sense of movement and energy to your photos.


Best ring light under $100:

Ring Light 18 Inch LED Ringlight Kit with 73 inch Tripod Stand with Phone Holder Adjustable 3200-6000k Color Temperature Circle MUA Lighting for Camera for Vlog, Makeup,Youtobe, Video Shooting, Selfie
Helpful content ring light option 2

4.6 out of 5 stars
3,382 ratings

Our experts find this kite very suitable for anyone looking to boost their vlogging, makeup, or video shooting game. The adjustable color temperature gets you the perfect lighting for any setting, while the included 73-inch tripod stand provides stability and height. 

The phone holder is a handy addition, making it easy to film yourself or use the ring light for selfies. The kit is also easy to set up and use, making it accessible for amateur and professional videographers.  

Users report their photos and videos look polished and professional, and they love to use this kit for every occasion. It is waterproof, and Bluetooth features make it simple to operate. 

The best ring light:

According to our experts, this Neewer Ring Light Kit is an excellent investment if you wish to improve your video and photography lighting setup and take it to pro-level.

The ring light provides ample, bright, and even lighting suitable for self-portrait shooting, YouTube, TikTok, and smartphone photography. The light is dimmable, allowing you to adjust it to your desired brightness level, and the light stand is sturdy and easy to set up. 

For your convenience, this kit is suited with a carrying bag for portability. Users report they find it easy to use and make the most out of the flexible gooseneck tube, making it possible to reach any angle you desire. 

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Low-cost ring light:

According to our experts, this Sensyne 10'' Ring Light is a high-quality, affordable lighting solution, perfect for you if you're just starting or you are an amateur in videography and content creation. 

The 50'' extendable tripod stand provides stability and versatility, while the phone holder makes it easy to use with any smartphone. The LED circle lights provide bright and even lighting, perfect for live streams, makeup tutorials, YouTube videos, and TikTok content. The ring light is also easy to set up and use, making it a solid choice if you are new to video production. 

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A ring light is a great way to improve your photos and videos. If you are interested in taking your photography to a pro level, then a ring light is a worthy investment. 

We hope this expert guide on the different types of ring lights available and how to use them is helpful to you. Now, all that's left is to turn on the light.