What is a ring light? The best way to use ring lights for photography


Ring light

You may have been wondering how so many people online are taking photos and videos with amazing lighting. You might have thought that some people have all the luck with natural light in their homes. Or they just have extra special lightbulbs. Actually, they are most likely using a ring light. 

A ring light is a lighting tool in the shape of a ring; either a circular fluorescent bulb or a ring of LED lights. Ring lights are useful lights for photography and video production as the ring shape distributes light evenly over the subject; making the subject well lit, no matter what camera angle they are shot from. 

If you’re interested in learning more about ring lights, we will be covering advice on how to use them, and product recommendations for different uses. Read on to learn about:

    • Types of ring lights
    • How to use a ring light for photography
    • How to use a ring light to take pictures
    • How to position a ring light for video
    • How to use a ring light with a phone
    • How to use ring light with a laptop
    • Ring light for webcam

Ring light photography


Types of ring lights

Before we get into the ins and outs of producing photography and videography using ring lights, it’s beneficial to have an understanding of the different types to see which one is most suitable for you.

Off-camera ring lights

These are large ring lights that are designed to be used independently from the camera and are attached to an external light stand. Off-camera ring lights produce continuous lighting, and are great for

On-camera ring lights

These ring lights are designed to be mounted to your camera and produce a smaller area of light than off-camera ring lights. Unlike off-camera ring lights, on-camera ring lights work similar to flashes, producing a short burst of light for photographs.


How to use a ring light for photography

A ring light will produce an even distribution of light on its subject, making them well-lit from all angles. This flat lighting is perfect for things like makeup photography – as the luminous glow makes skin look flawless and even – or product photography – as it shows all the details of your product. 

However, the lighting may be too flat for creative portrait photography, where photographers prefer interesting highlights and shadows produced by Rembrandt, butterfly, and loop styles of lighting. Ring lights may be suitable for other forms of portraiture, such as selfies and headshot photography. 

You can also use off-camera ring lights as ambient lights by experimenting with angles; try placing them off to the side instead of head-on. To use them as fill lights, try angling them upwards towards your subject. You can also use coloured ring lights for creating special effects.

As we mentioned, on-camera ring lights work great for smaller subjects shot at a closer distance; such as macro photography, scientific photography, and product photography.


How to use a ring light to take pictures

Using a ring light for taking portraits is a simple process. 

  1. If you are using an on-camera ring light, mount it to your lens. If you are using an off-camera ring light, place your camera through the centre of it. Before shooting, place the ring light in front of your subject.
  2. Set your exposure values on your camera. As ring lights are bright, you need an aperture of approximately f/5.6, at 1.160s, with an ISO of 400 or 800.
  3. Take a photograph and see how it looks. If you’re not satisfied, either adjust your camera settings or adjust the ring light’s brightness.


How to position a ring light for video

For videography, we suggest using off-camera ring lights as they are more versatile, and can be placed wherever is convenient. Perhaps more importantly, they produce are greater width of light, which is necessary for larger subjects. In addition to this, they produce continuous lighting, which is important for videography. 


How to use a ring light with a phone

If you’re struggling to get good lighting for selfies, a ring light is a perfect solution. If you’re using an off-camera ring light for smartphone photography, all you have to do is simply place it in front of the subject to provide lighting for the photograph. 

If you want to buy a ring light specifically for selfies, we would recommend the Smoovie Flexi Selfie Ring Light (currently available for £11.40 on Amazon). This ring light holds your phone, which negates the need for you to carry a tripod with you, and it can clip on anywhere. It’s portable so you can carry it with you, and flexible, which means you can bend it to whatever angle you need. You can adjust its brightness and tone settings, and it is powered by USB.

If you want something even more portable, opt for the Xinbaohong Clip-On Selfie Light, which is currently available on Amazon for £13.99. This small ring light is made up of LED lights and simply clips onto your phone, tablet, or tablet to easily take photos.


Photographing with ring lights


How to use a ring light with a laptop

As with phone photography, we would advise you to place your off-camera ring light in front of you, but behind your laptop, for an even cast of light on you. If you don’t have a ring light, but need some good lighting for online video calls, we recommend the Xinbaohong Clip-On Selfie Light. Simply clip this small ring light onto your laptop for great lighting. This is especially useful if you’re someone who has to make video calls on the go, as this small light can be carried anywhere.


Ring light for webcam

For those who are frequently live streaming, using video while gaming, or just want amazing lighting for online meetings, it’s worth looking into a webcam with an inbuilt ring light. One great webcam is the Angetube Streaming Webcam with Ring Light, which is currently available on Amazon for £57.13. 

This webcam has an impressive HD video capture resolution of 1080p and a prime lens. It also has 3 lighting settings and is activated by touch to adjust brightness easily. The Angetube Webcam with Ring Light is compatible with Windows10/8/7 and above, Mac OS 10.6 and above, Chrome OS, and Smart TV Android 5.0 or higher versions.


We hope you found our ring light guide useful!

If you require a photographer or videographer, book with Splento. At Splento, we provide you with professional, on-demand photographers and videographers at an affordable rate. Contact us today to speak to a member of the team about your requirements. 

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