The Ultimate Guide to Buying LED Video Lights for Beginners (2024 Free Version)

Introduction

Creating an engaging and compelling video relies on one crucial element: lighting. While natural light is ideal in certain situations, it’s inconsistent and unreliable. A video light is essential to produce content that looks professional, inspires trust, and is appealing to watch.

However, there are many types of video lights on the market. Which one is best for you? This blog post explains the benefits of choosing an LED video light for your videography and tells you how to choose a great led video light.

We based our list on lights that were flexible for various situations and affordable for enthusiasts or those who were starting their journey as professional videographers. We specifically chose lights that used LEDs as their light source because LEDs are energy-efficient, have a long lifespan, and emit minimal heat, making them ideal for continuous use in video applications.

We also wanted lights that could be adjusted to produce a range of color temperatures to allow you to match the ambient light or create specific moods in your videos. And we insisted that the lights offered some form of light control, such as dimmers to adjust the light output and/or diffusers to soften the light.

    What are the Types of Led Video Lights?

    LED Lights

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    An LED, which stands for Light-Emitting Diode, is a semiconductor device that emits light when an electric current passes through it. LED lights are highly energy-efficient. They convert a much more significant portion of their energy into light than traditional options, leading to lower electricity bills.

    Unlike incandescent bulbs that generate significant heat, LEDs are ideal for continuous use and won’t overheat the environment. This is a considerable advantage, especially during long shoots, as it avoids discomfort for your talent and crew.

    Since LEDs come in various sizes and configurations, they are suitable for diverse applications, from tubes to large lighting panels. Whether you need a compact light for run-and-gun shoots or a powerful panel for studio setups, there’s an LED light to suit your needs.

    Additionally, many LED lights are lightweight and portable, making them easy to transport and set up on location. Maintaining consistent color temperature is crucial for achieving a polished, professional video look. LED lights offer exceptional color consistency, ensuring your footage maintains the desired color temperature throughout the shoot.

    HMI Lights

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    An HMI, which stands for Hydrargyrum Medium-arc Iodide, is a metal halide gas-discharge lamp specifically designed for video and entertainment lighting applications. HMIs provide robust and consistent lighting, which is ideal for large studio setups and outdoor filming. The emitted light resembles natural daylight, reducing the need for additional color correction in post-production.

    They are usually used for key lighting, providing the main source of illumination for a scene, but they are also helpful in backlighting (separating the subject from the background and adding depth) and fill lighting (reducing shadows and creating a more even lighting distribution).

    The HMI lighting comes with three types, including HMI kits and single HMI units, Fresnel lights and Par lights. It could produce more efficient than tungstens when they are compared against each otherHowever, they are less energy-efficient than LEDs, and HMIs generate significant heat.

    Tungsten Lights

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    A tungsten light, also known as an incandescent light, is a type of lighting fixture that uses a tungsten filament to produce light. The advantage of tungsten lighting is its smooth and seamless dimming capabilities, allowing for precise control over the light’s intensity. This flexibility is crucial for creating different lighting effects and moods within a scene. The warm color temperature of tungsten lights is also considered more flattering for portrait and close-up shots, as it can soften facial features and create a more inviting atmosphere, but you have to remember to set your white balance to ‘tungsten,’ or you will not produce natural skin tones in your subject.

    Basic tungsten lights can be relatively inexpensive to purchase; however, they generate heat and make it uncomfortable for subject when in use. They are less energy-efficient than LED alternatives, and the lifespan of a tungsten filament is generally shorter than that of LEDs.

    Fluorescent Lights

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    Unlike incandescent bulbs that rely on a heated filament, fluorescent tubes, like Godox TL60 RGB use mercury vapor and phosphors to generate light. Once found in many homes and offices, fluorescent lights have found a niche application in video lighting. Although less widely used than LEDs, they offer unique advantages for specific situations. They produce diffuse and widespread light, similar to natural daylight, which can be beneficial for creating a soft and even light distribution on your subject. This is particularly helpful for close-up shots or interviews. This light could also offer users better dimming performance than fluorescent lamps.

    Fluorescent lights come in various color temperature options, ranging from warm white (around 3000K) to daylight (around 5600K). This allows you to choose lighting that complements the scene and your desired mood.

    Fluorescent lights are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs, but LEDs offer lower running costs. While some fluorescent lights offer decent color rendering, LEDs are generally better. Traditional fluorescent lights can also produce flickering, which can be problematic when attempting to capture video.

    How To Choose The Best Video Light

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    Navigating the market for video lights can be daunting, with options ranging from budget-friendly to professional-grade equipment. To choose the perfect video light, it’s essential to consider budget, features, and functionality. Here are some tips for buying led video lights to consider when buying an LED video light.

    Price

    Price is the first consideration you should check as a beginner. Higher-priced lights often have more features and functionalities than entry-level options. This can include adjustable color temperature, higher light output, more comprehensive dimming ranges, built-in diffusion, various lighting effects, and remote control capabilities. Budget-friendly options may lack some of these features, requiring additional equipment or limiting your creative control. 

    Quality

    Quality is one of the most important tips for buying led video lights. Generally, expensive lights often come with better build quality and use more durable materials, allowing them to withstand frequent use and harsh environments. Budget-friendly lights might be made with cheaper materials, potentially leading to faster wear and tear or being more susceptible to damage.

    Direction

    The direction of a video light dramatically impacts the final look of your video. Harsh light creates deep shadows and emphasizes texture. Soft light is all about gentle diffusion. LED panels and tubes wrap your subject in an even glow, softening shadows and creating a more forgiving, youthful look. When you need to separate your subject from the background, a small directional light or LED panel positioned high behind the subject works as a backlighting source.

    Color Temperature

    In terms of the color temperature, it is a little difficult for some beginners. Color temperature, measured in Kelvins (K), refers to the ‘warmth’ or ‘coolness’ a video light emits. Warm Light (2700K-3500K) mimics incandescent bulbs and indoor lighting, creating a warm, inviting atmosphere. It’s ideal for interviews, portraits, and creating a cozy feel.

    Daylight Balanced (5000K-5600K) resembles natural daylight, making it perfect for replicating outdoor environments or achieving a neutral look. It’s widely used in product demonstrations, documentaries, and professional shoots. Cool Light (5600K-6500K) creates a more modern, energetic feel.

    When shooting indoors with existing lights, choose a video light with a similar color temperature to avoid color casts. If you plan to shoot outdoors in various lighting conditions, consider a bi-color light with adjustable color temperature.

    Output

    Light output is critical to achieving proper exposure and a well-lit scene. The output of a video light, measured in lumens or lux, determines how much light it emits. A video light’s output must be strong enough to overpower ambient light or create a well-lit scene, especially in low-light conditions.

    A lower output light might be sufficient for close-up shots or filming in small areas. A higher output light is necessary to illuminate a more extensive scene or when shooting far away from your subject. Look for lights with adjustable brightness to control the intensity and achieve the perfect exposure for your shot.

    Power

    For studio setups, AC-powered lights offer unwavering strength for long shoots. But if you work on location, battery-powered lights are necessary. Be mindful that battery life is shorter when working with powerful lights at full output. Consider hybrid options for the best of both worlds.

    Beam Angle

    Beam angle is your tool for shaping light and directing the viewer’s focus. Lights with narrow beam angles are perfect for highlighting specific subjects or creating pools of light. Wide beam angles disperse light over a larger area, ideal for bathing an entire scene in even illumination.

    Edge Color Distortion

    Edge color distortion occurs when the light emits slightly different colors at the edges of the beam than the center. While some color casts can be corrected in post-production, severe edge color distortion can be time-consuming and tedious to fix.

    For portrait and beauty shoots, edge color distortion can be particularly problematic. It can cause uneven skin tones, making your subject appear blotchy or discolored. If you are a professional videographer relying on accurate color reproduction, edge color distortion is a major concern. However, it might be less critical for hobbyists who may prioritize affordability or basic lighting needs.

    To avoid edge color distortion, choose lights with a high Color Rendering Index (CRI), which indicates a light’s ability to reproduce colors accurately. Purchase lights with a CRI of 90 or higher to minimize the risk of edge color distortion.

    Accessories

    The availability of compatible accessories can significantly impact your purchase. A light with a wide range of attachments, like softboxes and barn doors, lets you achieve various effects without needing multiple lights.

    This versatility stretches your budget and adapts to different shoots. Look for a lighting system with a range of accessory options to expand your photographic style and explore new techniques.

    You can transform your footage from flat to fantastic with the right video light. If you are a budding videographer, any of the LED lights listed above will help you unleash your creative vision. So, power up one of these lights, grab your video camera, and start illuminating a cinematic masterpiece! 

                LED Video Lights Recommendation

     Godox ES45 Key Light

    Check it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/49dx8uT

    Adjustable Light and Color Temperature: The Godox ES45 has 2500 lumens, which is bright enough to illuminate your face in a dimly lit room. The color temperature can be adjusted between tungsten and daylight, so you can match the lighting to your environment or create a specific mood.

    Wireless Control: The ES45 can be controlled wirelessly using the included remote control or the Godox Light app. This allows you to adjust the brightness and color temperature of the light without getting up and touching it.

    Extendable Desk Stand: The ES45 has an extendable desk stand that allows you to position the light at the perfect height and angle. The stand is also foldable, so it’s easy to store when not in use.

    Soft Light Quality: The ES45 uses a diffuser panel to create soft, flattering light that is easy on the eyes. This is important for video conferencing and live streaming, where you don’t want harsh shadows on your face.

    Pros

    Versatility: The ES45 is suitable for various content creation needs thanks to its adjustable brightness, color temperature, and soft light quality.

    Convenience: It offers the convenience of adjusting light settings remotely using the included remote or a mobile app, allowing for more flexibility during use.

    Portability: Its lightweight and compact design makes it easy to carry around for on-location shoots or content creation outside the studio.

    Easy to use: The extendable desk stand makes it easy to position and is generally considered user-friendly, making it a good option for beginners.

    Affordable: Compared to other LED panels, the Godox ES45 is a budget-friendly choice.

    Cons

    Limited Color Options: Unlike some pricier models, the ES45 only offers adjustable light (from 2800K to 6500K). If you’re looking for colored mood lighting effects, this light won’t provide that functionality.

    Limited Power Options: The ES45 relies on a power adapter for operation. This means you’ll need to be plugged into an outlet, which might limit your usage.

    Limited Output: While bright enough for creating close-up content, the ES45 might not be powerful enough to illuminate a larger space effectively.

    Best For

    The Godox ES45 is a versatile LED light panel designed for content creators, especially those who do vlogging, live streaming, and video conferencing. It is an excellent option for content creators looking for a portable, easy-to-use light source in a small studio.

    Godox TL30 Tube Light

     Check it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3TOKdX1

    Lightweight Design: The Godox TL30 is a compact and versatile LED light tube designed to be easily set up and used. It’s only 30cm long and easy to carry around. While softboxes are popular for studios, tube lights are a space-saving alternative with similar soft light qualities.

    Bi-Color Temperature Range: With a rating of 2700 Kelvin to 6300 Kelvin, this light allows you to adjust its color temperature to match the ambient lighting or create a desired mood.

    Color Range: With a full RGB output of 36,000 colors, it offers various lighting options.

    Thirteen Special Effects: These include flash, lightning, and color cycle effects.

    Bluetooth Control: You can control the light wirelessly using your smartphone (requires a separate app).

    Overall, the Godox TL30 is a versatile LED light tube that is well-suited for various photography and videography applications.

    Pros

    Accurate Color: With a very high CRI and TLCI rating, you can be confident that colors will be reproduced faithfully under the light.

    Built-in Battery: This allows you to use the light for extended periods without needing an external power source. It can be charged via the USB-C port.

    Beam Spread: With a 180-degree beam spread, this tube provides broad and even lighting.

    Dimming: Being variable from 0 to 100% means you have precise control over the brightness of the light.

    Magnetic Mounts: These allow you to easily attach the light to metal surfaces.

    Cons

    Lower Power Output: Compared to larger and more powerful lights, the TL30’s light output might not be suitable for illuminating large scenes or situations requiring very bright light.

    Low Battery Life: This tube may require frequent charging over long shoots.

    Best For

    The Godox TL30 Tube Light is most valuable for videographers who need a portable and versatile light source for various situations. It's suitable for run-and-gun and MoJo work, specific content creation like interviews or social media videos, and is a helpful tool for beginners or as a supplemental light in a studio setup.

     

    Godox LC500R Mini RGB Light Stick

    Check it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/4cov31Q

    This compact light is a portable, 18-inch wand that is perfect for on-location shoots. The Mini is comfortable to hold in your hand and can be used in tight spaces for subtle background lighting or creative effects. It combines tungsten and daylight LEDs for bi-color temperature control.

    Pros

    Compact: At 18 inches and 1.2 pounds, it’s incredibly compact and lightweight, making it handy in a studio or on location.

    Color Range: With its spectrum of RGB colors, you can achieve various moods and effects in your shots.

    Creative Control: The Godox LC500R Mini RGB Light Stick has adjustable brightness and color temperature, so you have the power to fine-tune your lighting to perfectly match your vision.

    Special Effects: The built-in special effects add another layer of creativity, allowing you to simulate real-world elements like fire or lightning.

    Cons

    Limited Power: The built-in battery offers only around 50 minutes of power at full brightness. This might be insufficient for longer shoots, requiring an external power source or extra batteries.

    Light Output: While bright for its size, the LC500R Mini's light output might not be strong enough to overpower sunlight or illuminate large scenes.

    Harsh Light: The smaller size also means a smaller light source, leading to harsher shadows than larger lights.

    Best For

    The Godox LC500R Mini is an excellent choice for portability and quick setups. It would suit videographers who shoot on the go, capturing events, weddings, documentaries, or fast-paced situations. The adjustable color temperature and RGB functionality allow YouTubers to achieve various lighting effects. It’s also ideal for videographers on a budget.

    Godox R1 RGB LED Video Light

    Check it on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/3ISY2gN

    The Godox R1 RGB LED Mini Creative Light is designed for creative lighting effects. It can be handheld or use its magnetic side against any metal surface. It’s a highly portable and versatile tool that allows videographers to add creative lighting effects.

    Pros

    Versatile Lighting Modes: For ultimate control, there are three lighting modes. Choose from a full spectrum of RGB colors for creative flair (RGB Mode), adjust the color temperature from warm (2500K) to cool white (8500K) to match ambient light (CCT Mode), or utilize various special effects (SFX Mode).

    High Color Accuracy: It boasts a CRI (Color Rendering Index) and TLCI (Television Lighting Consistency Index) of 98 and 97, respectively, ensuring natural and accurate color reproduction in videos.

    Adjustable Brightness: Dim or brighten the light to suit your lighting requirements.

    Cons

    Limited Output: The R1’s battery life is limited to around 1.5 hours at full brightness. The light output might also not be strong enough to overpower ambient light or illuminate large areas.

    Limited Light Modifiers: While the R1 has an integrated magnet for attaching to metal surfaces, compared to larger Godox lights, there aren’t many dedicated light modifiers available for it. This can limit your ability to control light spread or achieve specific lighting effects.

    Best For

    The Godox R1 RGB LED Light would be a great fit for videographers on the go. This light’s pocket-friendly design makes it ideal for interviews or behind-the-scenes footage on location.

    The R1’s versatility also shines in product videography because its adjustable color temperature and RGB modes allow for creative product highlights, color accents, or background moods. YouTubers and social media content creators will like the R1’s ability to do product demonstrations or to create an innovative backdrop.

    Godox ML60II Bi

    Check it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/43FSU9l

    Godox ML60II Bi, released in 2024, is a super compact and capable of fulfilling a wide range of functions. With their vast experience in creating numerous iterations of lights, Godox has truly demonstrated their expertise in the design and intricate details of this particular model.

    Godox ML60II Bi Review

    Pros

    Two press-able dials and a distinctive power switch:  could help users to adjust the Led light easily and quickly.

    Come with 11 customizable special effects: Offer additional customization options for special effects

    Best For

     the Godox ML60II is an excellent lighting solution suitable for studio photography, on-location shoots, video production, product photography, and creative lighting. Its compact design, powerful output, and adjustable settings make it a reliable and flexible tool for photographers and videographers.

     Conclusion

    You can transform your footage from flat to fantastic with the right video light. If you are a budding videographer, any of the LED lights listed above will help you unleash your creative vision. So, power up one of these lights, grab your video camera, and start illuminating a cinematic masterpiece!

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