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Best ring light in 2021: beautiful lighting for vlogging, video calls and selfies

Best ring lights in 2020
The ESDDI PLV-R432 is one of the best ring lights you can buy (Image credit: ESDDI)

The best ring lights might just be the most versatile and useful lights you ever buy. Historically they have been the pricey preserve of glossy editorial photoshoots or slick music videos. Thankfully, these days they're much more than just special effects lights – you're just as likely to use a ring light with your phone or laptop as you are with a camera!

The clunky fluorescent bulbs seen in years past are gone as, the best ring lights today are powered by LEDs – making them much cheaper, more compact and more versatile. Of course, LEDs can't match the output of the best flashguns or the best strobes, but some ring lights have flash and High Speed Sync modes that boost their power by up to 500% (with no recycle time). This makes achieving that soft, even illumination with sparkling catchlights in your portraits easier than ever. 

And since LED ring lights produce continuous lighting, they're perfect for all kinds of videography. This makes them the preferred light for many vloggers, YouTubers and content creators – particularly those who produce makeup and beauty tutorials. Indeed, ring lights are great just for applying makeup! 

Ring lights are also invaluable for our working from home 'new normal' world, making them great companions for the best webcams. When taking part in meetings or attending job interviews via apps like Zoom and Skype, ring lights turn dim makeshift office spaces into professional-looking work environments – making you look your best, rather than dialing in from what looks like a darkened closet! 

So whether you're looking for beautiful portrait illumination, flawless video light, or you simply want to maintain a professional image when attending virtual meetings, there are the best ring lights around – and if you want to shoot a different kind of close-up, check out the best ringflash for macro photography.

Best ring lights in 2021

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. ESDDI PLV-R432 18-inch Ring Light

Best ring light for YouTube – big, bright and bicolor

Color temperature: 3000K-6500K | Power source: Mains power | Dimensions: 458mm outer dia / 318mm inner dia

18-inch diameter with 48W power
Includes light stand, case, phone clip
Requires lots of space
Phone holder isn't great

The ESDDI PLV-R432 is a beefy 18-inch ring light that kicks out 48W of power from 432 LEDs. It's big and bright enough to work as a key light for sumptuous portraits with that unique "ring light look", producing soft illumination and circular catchlights. It's also ideal for videos and vlogs, providing useful key or fill to soften shadows and even out lighting when presenting to camera. Its sheer size makes it perfect for beauty and makeup work, too, giving you plenty of room and abundant light. 

This kit includes everything you need to get going, with a 6-foot light stand and padded travel case. Prominent dials adjust brightness and temperature, and the light can even rotate 180°, making it useful for shooting flat lays or macro work. Sadly the bundled phone holder isn't terribly sturdy, and you can't mount a camera to the light – so you'll need to set up a separate tripod to use a DSLR or mirrorless body if you're filming yourself.  

(Image credit: Rotolight)

2. Rotolight Neo 2

Best ring light for webcam video calls

Color temperature: 3150-6300K | Power source: 6x AA batteries, D-Tap port, AC adapter | Dimensions: 150x45mm | Weight: 354g (504g with batteries)

Bicolor lighting
Temperature adjustment
Powerful HSS flash mode
Not a true ring light

Okay, so the Neo 2 is technically a ring-shaped light – though for most people it will do exactly what they want it to. Since it isn't a truly donut-shaped light source, it won't achieve the same sculpted softness or circular catchlights for portraits. What it will do, however, is deliver a whopping 1,840 lux (a little lower than the claimed 2,000) at a distance of 3 feet, making it an ideal key or fill light for both stills and video (especially when it can be modified with everything from barn doors to softboxes). Powered by six AA batteries, the Neo 2 can also be powered by a mains adaptor for up to 500% more power in flash mode. 

(Image credit: Rotolight)

3. Rotolight Ultimate Vlogging Kit

Best ring light for streaming with a smartphone

Color temperature: 6300K, 5600K, 4100K, 3200K (using filters) | Power source: 3x AA batteries | Dimensions: 130mm outer dia / 38mm inner dia | Weight: 170g

80W equivalent power
Ultra compact
Includes filters to adjust temp
Changing filters is fiddly

The Rotolight RL48-B Stealth was one of our favorite portable ring lights in years past, but disappeared from the market a while ago. Now it's back in an all-in-one kit, which also includes a Rotolight mini tripod, stand adapter, phone clip and accessory bar – making it the perfect partner for a tabletop smartphone setup. While this kit is geared towards phones, the RL-48 is also an ideal on-camera light for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. The Neo 2 is a bit heavy and unwieldy for the hotshoe, but this smaller model is just the right size (though this kit doesn't include a foot for the shoe), and the hole in the middle is perfect to poke a microphone through! 

(Image credit: Neewer)

4. Neewer 20" Dimmable Ring Light

A ring light so big, it could sit around Saturn

Color temperature: 3200-5600K | Power source: 1x NP-F battery, mains power | Dimensions: 530mm outer dia / 420mm inner dia

Best ring light for makeup tutorials
Huge 20-inch diameter
Mains or battery power
Takes Sony NP-F batteries
ESDDI is more powerful

If bigger is better then Neewer's 20-inch option is the way to go! While it's the largest ring light on offer here, with 44W of dimmable output from 352 LEDs, it doesn't have quite as much power or temperature range as ESDDI's 18-inch 48W model. However, larger light sources are softer – and the Neewer offers the option of battery power in addition to mains, compatible with the versatile NP-F550 / F970 family (two batteries and a charger are included, though you'll lose about 10W of output compared to mains power). Also bundled are a 6'5" light stand, ball head adapter and vertical / horizontal phone holder, wireless remote and carry case. If you're looking for a true ring light with the largest light spread and wire-free shooting, you've found it. 

(Image credit: Mayhem UK )

5. Smoovie LED Colour Stream Ring Light

Best color ring light – add a splash of fun to stills or video

Colors: 16 RBG colors + 3 white tones | Power source: USB | Dimensions: 6-inch or 8-inch

16 RGB colors with 8 light modes
Tabletop tripod
USB powered
Can be used for mood lighting, too!

If you're looking to add a splash of color to your images or videos – or if you want a ring light that can double as a cool mood light to perk up a room when not in use – the Smoovie LED Colour Stream will be right up your alley. It features 16 RGB colors and 9 light modes, from pulsing colors to cycling through the spectrum. It also features Natural, Soft and Warm white lighting, which mimics traditional color temperates for use in natural and artificial light conditions. Available in both 6- and 8-inch options to suit your needs, it also comes with a collapsible telescoping tripod and also (at the time of writing) includes a free 3,000 mAh power bank as well.

(Image credit: ESDDI)

6. ESDDI PLV-R120 10-inch Ring Light

Best buy ring light – tailor made for the tabletop

Color temperature: 3000K, 4000K, 5600K | Power source: USB | Dimensions: 260 x 390mm

Tripod stand, remote, two-way phone grip
USB powered
Adjustable through 360°
Not as powerful as Rotolight RL48

If the Rotolight Ultimate Vlogging Kit is too pricey, then this tabletop equivalent from ESDDI is a pocket-friendly alternative. Just bear in mind, though, that while it's much less expensive, it's also much less powerful, at just 10W output compared to the equivalent 80W of the Rotolight RL48. That said, it's more powerful than the similar 10-inch model from Neewer (which produces 8W of power), and while not dimmable it has three levels of brightness. The ESDDI 10-inch ring light is Ideal for smartphone shooters, with a two-way grip that holds your handset both horizontally and vertically, along with a Bluetooth remote for stills and video. And since it's USB-powered, you can run it from a power bank and use it anywhere. 

(Image credit: Amazon)

7. Xinbaohong Clip-On Selfie Light

Best ring light for iPhones and laptops

Color temperature: 6000K | Power source: USB (internal battery) | Dimensions: 85 x 28mm

Brilliant all-purpose light
USB and battery power
Bright and dim modes
Small battery dims after about an hour

Sometimes you only need a little light – and sometimes, you need a literally little light that you can throw in your laptop bag or handbag for when you need illumination on the move. This is where the handy Xinbaohong Clip-On Selfie Light comes into play – a brilliant mini ring light that clips onto anything 18mm or thinner. That means you can attach it to your phone for perfect selfies in a nightclub, or put it on your laptop to give you a key light when you're working on the road and need to dial in from a hotel room or coffee shop. Stick it on your tablet, your monitor, even clip it into the sun visor to give you better light in your car – it's so cheap that you should definitely get one to keep in your bag!

(Image credit: Mayhem UK)

8. Smoovie Flexi Selfie Ring Light

Best mount-anywhere ring light that can also hold your phone

Color temperature: (Three white light settings) | Power source: USB | Dimensions: 6-inch

Flexible clip arm mounts anywhere
Second flexi arm can hold smartphone
3 tone settings & adjustable brightness
USB powered

Ring Lights are fantastic but, unless you're sitting at a desk or table, you might struggle to find a surface or enough space to erect a tripod. The Smoovie Flexi Selfie Ring Light solves this problem by providing you with a flexible clip arm, which means that you can mount your light virtually anywhere – the edge of a shelf, a window sill, a radiator, the interior of your car… it goes where tripods can't! The clip also has a second flexible arm that can hold your camera phone, so this can either be used strictly as an adaptable ring light or as a dedicated smartphone setup. The light can be adjusted to three tones of white to match daylight or artificial conditions, and the brightness can be adjusted too.

More buying guides:

The best LED light panels: portable lighting for photography and video
Best video lights: continuous video lighting for vlogging and filmmaking
The best photography lighting kits: for studio, location and video
The best webcams for home working
The best camera for streaming