LED lights come in a wide vari­ety of shapes and sizes. Pho­to: DCStudio/freepik.com

Buy­ing a flash is the worst idea of ​​2022. Why? Any mod­ern pho­tog­ra­ph­er once starts shoot­ing video, and there is a need for on-cam­era light. And what kind of illu­mi­na­tor will cov­er all the needs at once? Of course LED!

Pros and cons of LED lighting

Light-emit­ting diode (LED) illu­mi­na­tors are grad­u­al­ly becom­ing the most pop­u­lar type of stu­dio light­ing. And this is not sur­pris­ing, because such a light has many advan­tages:

  • suit­able for both pho­tos and videos;
  • does not over­heat (unlike halo­gen lamps);
  • durable: light bulbs almost do not burn out;
  • low pow­er con­sump­tion;
  • the abil­i­ty to adjust the col­or tem­per­a­ture on many mod­els;
  • some mod­els have built-in RGB light­ing.

LED light­ing also has dis­ad­van­tages:

  • low­er pow­er com­pared to pulsed light;
  • the price is high­er than oth­er types of per­ma­nent light­ing.

This is the most ver­sa­tile and con­ve­nient light source. There is only one weak side — the ratio of price and pow­er. A real­ly strong LED lamp is very expen­sive. How­ev­er, if you don’t need lamps to “freeze” motion (you need fast shut­ter speeds around 1/1000 of a sec­ond and a very pow­er­ful light out­put), LED illu­mi­na­tors will cope with most tasks in both video and pho­tog­ra­phy.

Characteristics of LED illuminators

If you’re shoot­ing a vlog, you’ll prob­a­bly want an RGB lamp. Pho­to: Youtube chan­nel DSLR Video Shoot­er

Let’s see what char­ac­ter­is­tics of LED illu­mi­na­tors to pay atten­tion to before buy­ing.


Every­thing is sim­ple here: the larg­er the illu­mi­na­tor, the more pow­er­ful it is. Hence the dif­fer­ence in the pur­pose of illu­mi­na­tors: large stu­dio and com­pact portable ones.

For a stu­dio, large pan­els and monoblock illu­mi­na­tors with a pow­er of 50 W or more for video, 80 W or more for pho­tog­ra­phy are suit­able as a main light source.

More com­pact light bulbs act as addi­tion­al light: they cre­ate accents, high­light the back­ground. Here the pow­er is select­ed indi­vid­u­al­ly for the task, but 8–15 W is enough for a com­pact lamp for loca­tion shoot­ing, and for addi­tion­al light in the stu­dio.

Colorful temperature

There are two types of lamps. Some shine with a con­stant col­or tem­per­a­ture (usu­al­ly uni­ver­sal day­light around 5500K), while oth­ers can change the “degree” from warm to cold.

Nat­u­ral­ly, tem­per­a­ture-con­trolled lamps are con­ve­nient and ver­sa­tile. But usu­al­ly they are more expen­sive or weak­er than the same sin­gle-col­or lamps.

The point is this. Dif­fer­ent col­or tem­per­a­tures are achieved with dif­fer­ent types of LEDs. For exam­ple, in the Yongn­uo YN-600 L LED 3200–5500K pan­el, there are 300 cold and warm light LEDs each. To achieve a cer­tain col­or tem­per­a­ture, they are includ­ed in dif­fer­ent pro­por­tions. And if you need the most cold or, con­verse­ly, warm light, only one type of LED lights up.

The abil­i­ty to change the col­or tem­per­a­ture is also use­ful if you have sev­er­al lamps in the set­up that shine dif­fer­ent­ly. Then it will be eas­i­er for you to pick up the over­all col­or tem­per­a­ture by align­ing the white bal­ance in the pic­ture.

Color rendering index

The col­or ren­der­ing index (CRI) mea­sures the abil­i­ty of a light source to accu­rate­ly dis­play the col­ors of illu­mi­nat­ed objects. The high­er the CRI, the bet­ter. It is worth tak­ing lamps with CRI 95+. But it is impor­tant to con­sid­er that man­u­fac­tur­ers some­times embell­ish the indi­ca­tors. The ide­al option here would be to com­pare with a “ref­er­ence” lamp like the Apu­ture LS 300D, you can rent it along with the mod­el you want to buy. Well, or just eval­u­ate the test mate­r­i­al — whether you like the col­or repro­duc­tion or not.

RGB lighting

RGB illu­mi­na­tors allow you to use not only stan­dard white light, but also choose any col­or shade (from red to pur­ple). This is made pos­si­ble by addi­tion­al col­ored LEDs.

RGB light­ing is very pop­u­lar on YouTube, and is also used to cre­ate var­i­ous cre­ative effects. But in gen­er­al, this is an option­al option.

Best LED Lights

Con­sid­er the best LED illu­mi­na­tors in terms of price and qual­i­ty. We under­stand that not every­one can afford the “ref­er­ence” Apu­ture Light Storm for 300 thou­sand rubles (accu­rate col­or repro­duc­tion, shines bright­ly, does not make noise, does not break), there­fore, in our top there are not extreme­ly expen­sive options, but more “folk” options.

The best portable light

It seems impos­si­ble to count the num­ber of mod­els of on-cam­era LED lamps — they have so many clones. There­fore, we will choose the clas­sics.

A strong met­al case and a brack­et — for this, “Bol­ing” fell in love with trav­el blog­gers. Pho­to: fstoppers.com

Bol­ing BL-P1 is the gold stan­dard for vlog­gers. It’s a one-size-fits-all RGB pan­el — not too big, not too small. It has light tem­per­a­ture set­tings, RGB mode and light­ing effects.

Charg­ing via USB‑C, inde­struc­tible case and CRI 96+ made it a favorite. A very use­ful “chip” is a brack­et that allows you to install the light bulb at any desired angle.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Bol­ing does not come with a dif­fuser that can soft­en its rather harsh light.

The mod­el has a very decent clone with the same brack­et and a larg­er bat­tery — Ulanzi Vijim R70. Of the cheap alter­na­tives that do the job — RL-LED08RGB. A big plus of the Ray­lab light bulb is the dif­fuser includ­ed.


“Lightsabers” is anoth­er love of video blog­gers. Pho­to: TJ Love­la­dy

Pop­u­lar with YouTube blog­gers and LED wands. They allow you to accu­rate­ly choose the direc­tion of the light flux and look super impres­sive.

We rec­om­mend pay­ing atten­tion to the clas­sic mod­el Yongn­uo YN-360 II LED 5500K. This is a bright wand (19V for nor­mal light and 8V for RGB) that can be placed ver­ti­cal­ly on the floor and pow­ered from the mains, which is con­ve­nient for a home stu­dio. For out­door shoot­ing, it is also suit­able: the bat­tery lasts for 4 hours at 100% bright­ness.

Using the appli­ca­tion, you can con­trol sev­er­al “swords” at once, cre­at­ing neon effects.

ring lamps

A nice fea­ture of the ring lamps is the beau­ti­ful round glare in the eyes of the mod­el. Pho­to: techtudo.com.br

I’m not a big fan of ring lights: the lumi­nous flux is very dif­fi­cult to con­trol, the lamp shines every­where and at the same time nowhere. But for blogs in the style of “talk­ing head” that are unde­mand­ing to the pic­ture and online broad­casts, they are quite suit­able.

The legion of ring light mod­els can com­pete in their vast­ness only with on-cam­era pan­els. At the same time, the qual­i­ty of ring lamps usu­al­ly leaves much to be desired.

You can kill two birds with one stone, hav­ing received both a lamp and a full-fledged video tri­pod in one set, with the Ray­lab RL-0310 RGB Kit. As the name implies, the lamp can work in RGB. It changes the col­or tem­per­a­ture, and thanks to the tri­pod, it can be tilt­ed up and down at the desired angle. Per­fect for smart­phone pho­tog­ra­phy.


Large LED pan­els can be used as the main source of illu­mi­na­tion. Pow­er­ful cin­e­mat­ic pan­els — for exam­ple, Yongn­uo YN10800 — cost a lot of mon­ey, so this time we pay atten­tion to the favorite of YouTu­bers — Neweer RGB 660 Pro.

The pan­el allows you to adjust the light tem­per­a­ture and is equipped with an RGB option, which is con­ve­nient for back­light­ing. The illu­mi­na­tor can work both from the mains and from NP‑F bat­ter­ies, which means that it can be tak­en on loca­tion shoot­ing.

The Neweer 660 RGB Pro has a 50W out­put, which is great for home stu­dio video shoot­ing. In prac­tice, Neweer shines brighter than many com­peti­tors, espe­cial­ly in RGB mode.

The col­or accu­ra­cy of the pan­el is not ide­al, despite the man­u­fac­tur­er’s claim of CRI 97+, but in most cas­es there are no prob­lems with it.

The pan­el has a strong case with met­al shut­ters, which also gives bonus­es when work­ing on loca­tion.

Large pan­els — a lot of light. Pho­to: Youtube chan­nel Mar­cos Rocha

If you’re will­ing to spend more, take a look at the Apu­ture P60c. It is more pow­er­ful (60 W) and more accu­rate in col­or repro­duc­tion. And the brand’s rep­u­ta­tion among video­g­ra­phers is very high — the com­pa­ny’s lamps are tra­di­tion­al­ly of very high qual­i­ty (great col­or repro­duc­tion, strong assem­bly, qui­et oper­a­tion, etc.), but not cheap.


The front ring mount allows the use of var­i­ous light mod­i­fiers. Pho­to: Youtube chan­nel Mamo Air

Usu­al­ly stu­dio flash­es (pulsed light) are called monoblocks, but we mean con­stant light sources.

The main plus is the pres­ence of a bay­o­net (mount) like stu­dio flash­es. You can attach any mod­i­fiers to it — soft­box­es, hon­ey­combs, reflec­tors. Light mod­i­fiers allow you to effec­tive­ly con­trol the light pat­tern: soft­en it, pre­cise­ly direct it.

In addi­tion, monoblocks are usu­al­ly larg­er and there­fore more pow­er­ful than oth­er LED lumi­naires, which makes them a bet­ter option. Monoblocks are equal­ly suit­able for both video and pho­to.

In this cat­e­go­ry, per­haps, the largest range of prices, so we offer three options for dif­fer­ent bud­gets:

1. The clas­sic high-end monoblock — Apu­ture 120D — has been on the mar­ket for a long time, about five years, so if you have about 50 thou­sand rubles, you can stop at it. Like all Apu­ture devices, it boasts per­fect col­or repro­duc­tion, a qui­et fan (which is espe­cial­ly impor­tant for video shoot­ing) and decent pow­er, which is enough for most tasks (the 300D will suit the more demand­ing user).

2. The main com­peti­tor at the mid-bud­get lev­el is Godox. Godox VL150 is prac­ti­cal­ly a copy of Aputure’s “one hun­dred and twen­ty”, but it costs almost 20 thou­sand rubles less. So the man­u­fac­tur­er saved on tri­fles like the qual­i­ty of cables, but in the main char­ac­ter­is­tics of VL — light is of a very high lev­el.

3. In the bud­get seg­ment, there is a decent LED monoblock from Ray­lab — RL-100 Sun­light 5600K. It gives out good pow­er for its mon­ey, but it works nois­i­ly when com­pared with more expen­sive com­peti­tors. Like oth­er mod­els from the list, it is equipped with a super ver­sa­tile Bowens mount, for which there are many light mod­i­fiers.

Life hacks for working with LED lamps

With RGB lamps, you can do neon pho­to shoots. Clas­sic com­bi­na­tions — for exam­ple, blue and orange — always look spec­tac­u­lar. Pho­to: cottonbro/pexels.com

Some use­ful tips for using LED light­ing in prac­tice:

- use lamps from the same man­u­fac­tur­er in the set­up. So you will not have a sit­u­a­tion where the same col­or tem­per­a­ture is set on dif­fer­ent sources, but they shine in dif­fer­ent ways. In addi­tion, you can man­age all sources from one appli­ca­tion (if the man­u­fac­tur­er has it);

– If you are using a small LED pan­el as a key or fill light, place a 5‑in‑1 dif­fuser in front of it. So you get soft­er dif­fused light even from a small lamp;

- Place the light as close to the sub­ject as pos­si­ble to get a soft­er light. This tech­nique works well in con­junc­tion with the pre­vi­ous one. Usu­al­ly small pan­els cre­ate too harsh light­ing, and the far­ther the source, the sharp­er the light from it;

– when shoot­ing a vlog, you can place a square pan­el right behind the blogger’s back to high­light the back­ground. The device will “hide” behind the per­son, and the back­ground will be illu­mi­nat­ed bright­ly and even­ly;

- pock­et rgb pan­els (like Ray­lab RL-LED06RGB) can be used for col­or accents in the back­ground. If you high­light the back­ground with mul­ti-col­ored light bulbs, it will look even more inter­est­ing;

– for neon shoots, there are sev­er­al inter­est­ing and har­mo­nious col­or com­bi­na­tions that are easy to repro­duce with two RGB lamps. From the clas­sic — blue / orange, pur­ple / yel­low, orange / turquoise, bright green / magen­ta. A com­bi­na­tion of blue and red, blue and yel­low will be more dra­mat­ic.


LED light­ing is a ver­sa­tile option for pho­to and video shoot­ing.

When choos­ing a lamp, you need to pay atten­tion to the fol­low­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics:

  • pow­er. For the main stu­dio light, it is bet­ter to take lamps from 60W for video and from 100W for pho­tos;
  • Col­or­ful tem­per­a­ture. Day­light around 5500K is a clas­sic option. Illu­mi­na­tors with the abil­i­ty to adjust the col­or tem­per­a­ture are more ver­sa­tile, they are eas­i­er to “make friends” with each oth­er if your set­up has sev­er­al lamps from dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers;
  • C.R.I. We take from 95+, but it is bet­ter to check the qual­i­ty of light in prac­tice (rent equip­ment before buy­ing);
  • RGB. Blog­gers and lovers of neon pho­to shoots will need one or two of these lamps.

The next choice depends on your goals:

  • pow­er­ful monoblocks (for exam­ple, Godox VL150) are bet­ter suit­ed for stu­dio pho­tog­ra­phy and video shoot­ing;
  • if you shoot video more often, a cou­ple of pan­els (like Neweer 660) will do;
  • for blogs on the go and mobile shoot­ing, an excel­lent option is on-cam­era illu­mi­na­tors (we rec­om­mend the clas­sic Bol­ing BL-P1);
  • a spec­tac­u­lar alter­na­tive is “lightsabers” (for exam­ple, Youngn­uo YN-360 II);
  • if you are broad­cast­ing online with­out spe­cial require­ments for pic­ture qual­i­ty, a ring light is enough (with the Ray­lab RL-0310 RGB Kit you get a video tri­pod in the kit).