Bright, consistent lighting is absolutely essential for capturing professional-level video. Unlike filming with flash or strobe lights, continuous lighting allows videographers to see exactly what their shot will look like before pressing record. This gives complete control over the look, mood, and quality of any video scene.
With so many continuous lighting options on the market these days, choosing the right kit for your needs can feel overwhelming. Budget, portability, light quality, brightness output, and ease of use are all factors to consider with investing in continuous photo and video lighting. This guide will walk through the top 5 continuous lighting kits that offer outstanding performance and value for videography. We’ll also overview the key considerations when selecting lighting kits and provide answers to frequently asked questions. Read on to find the ideal continuous lighting solution for your next video shoot!
Key Considerations When Choosing a Continuous Lighting Kit
When researching continuous lighting kits, there are a few important factors to weigh before making a purchase. Thinking through these elements will help ensure you select gear that aligns well with your budget, shooting needs, and preferences.
Arguably the most critical specification to evaluate is light quality. This comes down to color temperature and the color rendering index (CRI). Color temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin and affects the overall tone and feel of the light. Lower Kelvin ratings like 2700-3000K produce warm, amber hues that recreate sunrise or candlelight. Daylight and blue tones come from higher 5600-6500K temperatures. Meanwhile, CRI measures how accurately colors are rendered from 0-100. Look for CRI scores of at least 90+ for true-to-life video lighting. Also be sure lights are flicker-free, which creates distracting inconsistencies during filming.
Consider how much brightness you need for shooting video scenes. Factors like the amount of ambient light in your filming location, distance from the subject, and aperture settings impact what light intensity is required. Output is measured in lumens or lux – higher numbers mean brighter light that can overcome ambient light sources. Make sure output is sufficient for your needs so images are not underexposed or muddy.
Pay attention to whether lights are AC powered, battery powered, or both. AC adapters offer unlimited runtime, while battery-powered options trade off power capacity for portability. Evaluate battery life versus recharge time and whether replaceable battery packs can be swapped out to avoid downtime.
Convenient controls allow you to easily dial in your desired brightness. Manual dials provide quick adjustments, while digital controls unlock precise dimming and custom presets. Some systems also have built-in dimmers to brio lights up and down. Consider whether you prefer physical or digital operation. Also note mounting options like light stands, clamps, and brackets.
For videographers on the go, compact, lightweight lighting kits are a must. But don’t sacrifice too much power for mobility’s sake either. Look for sturdy construction and included carry cases rather than loose components. Make sure the kit is realistically portable for your shoots.
Prices span a wide gamut when it comes to continuous lighting gear. Have a realistic budget in mind and expect to make some investment for longevity and performance – but know that more affordable quality options exist too. Prioritize features and durability over blowing the budget.
Think about your common lighting needs – interviews, YouTube videos, food or product shots, background accents, etc. Then select options suited for those uses. For example, on-camera lights work well for vlogging, while studio lights better equip full productions. Matching specifc lights to uses ensures you get the right kit.
Now that we’ve covered the key factors in choosing lighting kits, let’s look at reviews of the top 5 continuous lighting options available in 2023.
Reviews of the Top 5 Continuous Lighting Kits
Neewer 2-Pack Bi-Color 480 LED Video Light Kit
- Overview: This versatile and bright Neewer LED 2-pack creates pure, clean lighting for video. The pair of panels output 4800 lumens with adjustable color from 3200K-5600K.
- Standout Features: Durable die-cast metal housing and efficient 480 LED chip design maximize light quality and longevity. Convenient touchscreen control with built-in effects and dimming.
- Ideal For: Run and gun shoots, interviews, YouTube videos, product and food lighting. Great for beginners.
- Pros: Very bright output up to 125+ feet, lightweight at 2 lbs each, advanced digital controls, sturdy build quality.
- Cons: Limited light spread without extra accessories, battery packs sold separately.
Aputure 300d II Light Storm
- Overview: A compact yet powerful LED fixture with outstanding CRI and TLCI ratings for true-to-life image quality. Dimming from 1-100%.
- Standout Features: Revolutionary Sidus Link app control allows precision lighting adjustments. Also has efficient bowens mount for modifiers.
- Ideal For: Professional interview lighting, commercial work, streaming studios, mealtime/recipe videos.
- Pros: Beautiful 95+ CRI and TLCI, precise dimming, lightweight under 3 lbs, 5500K temperature.
- Cons: Higher price point, battery and mount sold separately.
Falcon Eyes RX-18TD Ring Light Kit
- Overview: An 18-inch RGB ring light kit with ball head mount, light stand, and case. Unique circular shape for eye-catching catchlights.
- Standout Features: Vibrant RGBWW colors allow color effects and color temperature tuning from 2800K-6500K. Durable, portable design.
- Ideal For: Beauty, fashion, and macro work. Great for headshots, product photos, makeup tutorials, jewelry, and more.
- Pros: Beautiful facial lighting, all inclusive kit, easy dial controls, aluminum housing, under 4 lbs.
- Cons: Limited brightness compared to LED panels, awkward as primary key light.
- Price: $$
Emart 600W Photography Softbox Lighting Kit
- Overview: An affordable continuous lighting kit with 2 softbox lights, stands, bulbs, and carrying bag. Outputs 5500 lumens each.
- Standout Features: Softboxes create flattering diffusion for portraits, YouTube, and products. Full kit for low cost.
- Ideal For: Beginner and hobbyist photographers and videographers on a budget. Great starter kit.
- Pros: Low price point, ample brightness included, portable kit, easy assembly, daylight temperature.
- Cons: Bulbs may need replacing, light quality not as robust as pro gear.
Nanlite Forza 500 2-Light Kit
- Overview: A premium LED studio lighting kit with 2× 500W equivalent LEDs in lightweight but rugged housings.
- Standout Features: High 96 CRI rating and TLCI, full kit includes stands/bags. Dual-voltage power options.
- Ideal For: Filmmakers and full production shoots needing powerful, portable lighting.
- Pros: Phenomenal light quality, bright 6500K output, convenient controls, durable metal construction.
- Cons: High price, battery packs sold separately.
This range of budget to high-end options shows the variety available when choosing continuous lighting kits. Make sure to fully consider your budget, portability needs, and intended shoots to select the best solution. Next let’s go over some frequently asked questions about continuous lighting for videography.
FAQs About Continuous Lighting Kits
What color temperature is best for video?
For most video applications, 5600-6500K daylight balance is preferred to mimic natural light. However, warmer 3000-4500K tones can provide pleasing skin tones, especially for interviews and softer lighting vibes. Cooler blue hues generally aren’t flattering for people.
How much light output do I need for video?
As a baseline, look for at least 2500-3500 lumens for adequate video lighting indoors. Higher output lets you overpower ambient light, create depth, and get cleaner footage. Lumen needs also depend on your camera and exposure settings.
What mounting options should I look for?
Light stands, clamps, and brackets increase mounting flexibility. Standard screw mounts work with third-party stands and modifiers. For handheld shooting, on-camera tops with a cold shoe mount come in handy.
How portable are continuous lighting kits?
Look for kits under 10 pounds including stands and bags for true portability. Individual lights around 3-5 lbs work well. Durable construction and compact shapes allow for traveling without damage. AC and battery power options improve mobility too.
What accessories typically come in lighting kits?
Kits often include stands, wireless controls, power cables, diffusion filters, carrying bags, light domes/softboxes, barn doors, and gels or color effects. Multi-light kits provide the best value.
How easy is it to control brightness and dimming?
Easy-to-use physical dials or digital controls through apps/interfaces enable quick, precise dimming. Having a wide 1-100% dimming range lets you dial in the exact intensity needed.
What power options should I consider?
AC power offers unlimited operation while lithium batteries provide cord-free flexibility. Dual AC/DC power capabilities give the best versatility for studio and location shooting. Fast-charging, long-lasting batteries are ideal.
How durable are continuous lighting kits?
Commercial-grade kits feature metal construction and protective casings to withstand heavy use. Avoid cheap plastic components and look for 2+ year warranties for reliability.
Should I look for any safety certifications?
Check that lights are ETL/CE certified for electrical safety standards. Proper ventilation and heat dissipation are a must. Some kits also boast IP dust and water resistance ratings for durability.
How can I get the best value for money?
Prioritize light quality, brightness, and ergonomic design over paying for just brand names. Multi-light kits provide more value than single units. And don’t overspend on wattage/output you won’t realistically use.
By keeping these tips and FAQs in mind while researching options, you’re sure to select a continuous lighting kit that takes your videography to the next level. Quality lighting elevates production value and makes all the difference for professional videos. Find the right fit for your needs and budget using the recommendations above. Just remember – think through your intended lighting uses, portability requirements, and output necessities. And invest in the best fixture quality within budget. Follow these steps to find a lighting kit that will take your videography skills to the next level!