Whether you’re launching your own YouTube channel or just trying to improve your portrait photography, a ring light is a great way to get professional-looking results with minimal expense. Like the name suggests, a ring light is a ring of LED lights that let you position the camera in the center. Most are mounted to tripods (with your phone or camera in the middle), though some are mounted right to your camera’s lens.
The best ring lights work like good professional lights, letting you adjust brightness or color temperature to get the effect you’re looking for—especially the ring-shaped reflection in your subject’s eyes. They’re especially easy for beginners to use because they provide an even illumination around your subject (so there are no tricky shadows to work around), and they’re a constant light source, so you can easily see how your final shot will look.
Just a note that we’re also including macro flashes in this guide, since they’re commonly researched together. They’re similar to ring lights, but mounted to the end of your lens. They provide a similar effect, but they’re flashes (not constant lights) that only work on higher-end DSLRs. They’re mostly used for macro shots where the lens would block other sources of light, but they do provide a ring-like effect in portraits as well.
To find the best ring lights and macro flashes, we dove into thousands of user reviews, professional reviews, and called on our own collective experience using different types of professional light setups. These are the best that we’ve found so far.