The best ring lights for Zoom, YouTube and streaming in 2023

The best ring lights
(Image credit: Ирина Мещерякова on Getty Images)

The best ring lights are a vital tool for many creatives, whether it's for filming social media videos, doing interviews, Zoom calls and video conferences or even for product photography. They might seem like simple products, but there's a huge range on the market, so it can be difficult to choose and the array of specs and advanced features like RGB, dimming controls and colour temperature can be baffling.

We've compared the specs, features, brand reputation, value and customer reviews for a wide selection of options to compile a list of the best ring lights that meet different needs. We've included the best small ring light for desktop use as well as options that offer more creative flexibility. See the questions section at the bottom if you need more help choosing. If you're looking for other ways to improve the look of your videos or video calls, see picks of the best cameras for YouTube, the best webcams, or the best monitor with webcam.

The best ring lights available now

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Why do people use ring lights for video calls and social media?

There are several qualities that make the best ring lights so popular for filming to-camera social media videos or for making video calls. Firstly, they're quite affordable and their size makes them handily portable and easy to set up on a desk or on the floor, without the need for a lot of space. 

But another reason is the arrangement of the light. The ring creates a dispersed light that’s much more flattering on the face. Depending on the position of the light, the ring will usually be reflected in the subject's eyes, and if you look very closely you'll probably see that telltale halo in many videos online. However, this can also be advantageous, with the glint adding life to the eyes.

If you're looking for more pointers on creating videos for social media, check out our primer on how to start vlogging. We also have a guide to how to edit a video on TikTok.

How do I choose the best ring light?

At first glance, most ring lights look pretty similar. However, there are a few criteria we've looked for when making our pick of the best ring lights above to make sure that they're each worth the investment.

The most important things to consider are the size of the ring and the number of LEDs, since this will affect brightness and thus how close you need to be to the light source. Generally, the more LEDs, the further away you can place the light, which makes it softer, more diffuse and usually more flattering as a result because it reduces the prominence of skin blemishes and spots. 

In our list above, we've also looked for options with dimming/brightness controls, versatility (i.e. whether the ring lights can support different types of camera) and reliability, which is what often influences the reputation of a brand. Another measurement to look out for is CRI (colour rendering index). This is a measure of the ability of the light to show colours faithfully in comparison with natural light. The higher the CRI, the more accurate the colour rendering. A light with a CRI of 80 to 90 is good, while 90+ is excellent. 

Which is the best ring light brand?

The popularity of ring lights on platforms like TikTok has meant that there are a lot of cheap ring lights out there, and it can be tough to sort through. For this list, we've stuck with reputable, well-regarded brands like Joby, Neewer and Rotolight. And the Joby Beamo 12-inch Ring Light is our top pick. Joby, Neewer and Rotolight all make well-priced lights, but you can rest assured they'll still offer a decent level of quality, and won't be flimsy pieces of equipment that simply fall apart after a short length of time. 

Is a bigger or smaller ring light better?

The larger the ring light, the softer and more pleasing the quality of light it provides. When making our picks for our list of the best ring lights, we generally looked for a minimum size limit of at least 12 inches in diameter as we believe this provides the required balance of light quality and price. There's one exception – the little 6-inch light from Mactrem, which is a solution for those who want something ultra-portable for making videos on the go, but otherwise, every product is at least 12 inches in diameter, and in some cases considerably more.

Apart from size, another thing that sets apart one LED ring light from another is the amount of LEDs, which affects how diffuse and possibly how bright the light is. We've made sure to include products with plenty of LEDs for this reason.

What controls should a ring light have?

Most people will benefit from choosing one of the best ring lights with a dimming/brightness control: Having a ring light that allows you to control the brightness will make life a lot easier – if the brightness is fixed, then your only option if the light level is wrong is to move the light closer or further away. A dimming control allows you to place the light where you want it and change the strength of the light as required.

Do I need a ring light with changing colour temperature?

Most users can get by with just white LED ring lights, as this is the easiest way to get accurate, true-to-life colours. However, for those wanting to balance other available light, like tungsten light bulbs, or refining light based on skin tone, then a ring light with colour temperature control might be something to consider. They come either with snap-on filters or are controllable with onboard knobs, depending on the model.

Some sophisticated models have options for altering RGB colours, making them ultra customisable, whereas others have filtered gels that sit over the LEDs themselves. Professional-grade LED lights may also even feature creative lighting effects to mimic natural lighting such as lightning, gunshots or campfires.

Are battery-powered ring lights worth it?

It really depends if you need to be able to take the light outside or on location. Some models are mains only and as such can be a little less expensive because of the extra connections and electronics required to accept batteries, but there are models that offer both.

By having the option to both plug-in to the mains or draw power from a battery on a ring light is the most flexible option as it allows both studio and location lighting. But ring lights with both are often pricier than models that stick to just one or the other. If you're filming for long periods inside, stick with a mains-powered ring light. But if you're going to be outside and can film in shorter bursts then opt for a battery-powered light.

Can ring lights hold different cameras?

A useful feature to look for in the best ring lights is support for different cameras. The best ring lights are not only good for lighting up a subject, but can also be modified with ease to support different types of camera, or interfaced well with other useful video accessories like microphones. Part of the reason we rate so highly the Joby Beamo, our number 1 pick as the best ring light overall, is because its built-in cold shoe supports make it easy to add other accessories for a do-it-all video setup. 

We've also included products that will work well with different types of video setup, like the Ivisii 19 inch Ring Light, which is a particularly good choice for those capturing video on an iPad. Note that many ring lights can hold small DSLRs and mirrorless cameras but will not be stable enough to hold a full-frame camera.

For tips on making videos, see our primer on how to start vlogging our guide to how to edit a video on TikTok, or our Instagram Reels tutorial.

Jason Parnell-Brookes

Jason Parnell-Brookes is an Internationally award-winning photographer, educator and writer. He won Gold in the Nikon Photo Contest 2018/19 and was named Digital Photographer of the Year in 2014. Jason is a qualified teacher, Masters graduate and works with many high profile international clients. For Creative Bloq, he writes about cameras, photography and video and photo editing. 

With contributions from