Best video lights in 2023: get better lighting for vlogging and filmmaking

Model posing in front of the bright, lit by a Rotolight Neo II, one of the best video lights
(Image credit: Rotolight)

Using the best video lights will instantly lift the visual quality of your content, whether you're recording footage or streaming live. While natural light is totally unpredictable, these devices will create a consistent and pleasing light for your subject. 

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The best video lights allow you to balance exposure levels in a scene, retaining more detail in shadows and highlights. You can also use them to create effects, using different colours to evoke different moods or even to simulate things like a flickering TV or the blue flashing light of an emergency vehicle. Lights can help you tell a story.

They don't have to be bulky and expensive, either: a video light can be something as simple as an LED panel that fixes to the hotshoe of a camera. In our guide to the best video lights below, we've picked out a range of affordable but capable units that  any videographer can make use of. 

So whether you're working with a DSLR setup or shooting on your iPhone, read on to discover the best video lights available today, and the facts and figures you need to choose the right one for you.

(Image credit: Rotolight)
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The best video lights for versatility

Specifications

Color temperature: 3000-10000K
Output (0.9m): 5443 Lux at 3 feet
Power: NPF-750 24V
Dimensions: 145 x 50mm
Weight: 354g (excl battery)

Reasons to buy

+
Compact and lightweight
+
Constant light and flash modes
+
Wide range of lighting effects

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively expensive
-
Flash power is quite low
-
Wireless flash trigger sold separately

The Rotolight NEO 3 builds on the success of the preceding NEO 2, adding a raft of impressive new features. Both models deliver flash output as well as constant lighting, but the NEO 3 delivers a full range of color in both modes, with full RGBWW options. It comes in various configurations and kits and accessories will vary according to which you choose.

Small but powerful and extremely versatile as a constant LED light, the NEO 3 is a quantum leap forward from the NEO 2. It delivers a full color range in both constant and flash modes, with a huge range of electronic color filters and special effects, all available via a simple and intuitive color touchscreen menu. Maximum flash output is disappointing compared to a ‘proper’ flashgun but, even so, the NEO 3 is a brilliant solution for anyone who needs to shed a little extra light on both stills and video capture. For more details, read our full Rotolight NEO 3 review (opens in new tab).

ZHIYUN FIVERAY FR100C light wand in use

(Image credit: George Cairns/ @Melicitymodel)
The best heavy-duty handheld light

Specifications

Colour temperature: 2700º K to 6200º K
Max power: 20708 lux at 100W
Power source: 2600MAH Li-ion battery
Dimensions: 502 x 46 x 47 mm
Weight: 920g

Reasons to buy

+
Adjustable color temperature and hues
+
Variable intensity
+
100W output

Reasons to avoid

-
Fans can make a little noise
-
Not waterproof

The Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C Light Wand is compact enough to carry in your kitbag but thanks to its 100W output it will illuminate the darkest locations. Its rechargeable battery should keep it shining for the duration of your shoot and the control dial enables you to adjust color temperatures to match the location’s available light or you can dial in neon hues for a more creative look.

Its fans can get a little noisy to cope with that intense light in such a small package, which is something to be aware of for sound recording.

(Image credit: Rotolight)
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The best heavy-duty handheld light

Specifications

Colour temperature: 3000-10,000K
Max power: 11,500 Lux at 3 feet
Power source: mains, optional V-lock 24V 150W Li-ion battery
Dimensions: 295 x 25mm
Weight: 2.4kg (excl battery)

Reasons to buy

+
RGBWW constant light and flash
+
Digital filters and special effects
+
Slim, lightweight construction

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive to buy
-
Some kits lack battery packs
-
RF wireless trigger sold separately

This powerful, hugely versatile yet lightweight portable LED lighting panel is a radical redesign compared with the original AEOS. It gives you 16.7 million colors of light to play with, instead of just various degrees of white. And that goes for both constant lighting and flash, the latter with a high-speed sync option. The interface is also completely overhauled, with the addition of a color touchscreen that makes it quick and easy to access a huge range of lighting options, digital filters and special effects. 

The AEOS 2 is available in several kit configurations: the cheapest 'Basic' kit only includes a mains power adaptor and no battery, although the light does come complete with a good-quality diffuser dome. The Explorer Kit adds a battery and charger, plus a padded soft case. Next up the price ladder, the Masters Kit doubles up on lamps and diffusion domes while also adding light stands and a padded soft case, but this time batteries aren’t included. Top of the range is the Ultimate Kit, which is essentially the same as the Masters Kit with the addition of two batteries and chargers.

Even the cheapest AEOS 2 Basic kit is still a hefty investment, but it’s a joy to use and a top performer, making it worth the money. For more details, see our full Rotolight AEOS 2 review.

Zhiyun Fiveray M40 Video Light

(Image credit: Future)
The best video light for portability

Specifications

Color temperature: 2700K~6200K
Output: 40W
Power: Lithium Polymer Battery (3.7v 2,600mAh)
Dimensions: 137 x 78 x 29 mm
Weight: 320g

Reasons to buy

+
Very bright for its size
+
Portable with good battery life
+
Fast charging

Reasons to avoid

-
Won't light huge areas
-
No effects or colors
-
Not easy to use with light modifiers

For content creators and videographers who regularly shoot on the move, the Zhiyun Fiveray M40 LED light offers a versatile lighting solution that won't weigh you down. It's very small and portable, not a huge amount thicker or wider than a large phone so can be used no matter how small the space you're shooting in. 

On full brightness, this light is seriously bright for its size, but it can also be dimmed from 0-100% to shoot each shooting scenario, it also has a very quiet built in fan for cooling, which means longer shoot times. Unfortunetely, its only pitpall is there are no lighting effects or colors to choose from.

SmallRig RC 220B Video Light set up in living room

(Image credit: Beth Nicholls / DCW)
Great color fidelity for both video and stills

Specifications

Colour temperature: 2700K - 6500K
Max power: 84500 LUX within 1m
Power source: Dual Adapter / V-Mount Battery
Dimensions: 240 x 122 x 237.6mm
Weight: 5.55kg

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful light 
+
Easy to use 
+
Many adjustment settings

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't come with stand
-
Softbox tricky to assemble

With a variable color output from 2700 to 6500K for interior, exterior, and mixed light situations, this video light is a great choice for both location shoots and gloomy studios. Powerful enough to be used as a key light, it allows you to steplessly adjust the brightness of the fixture to get exactly the right brightness level. It's easy to use and operate, boasts the latest in COB light technology, and provides you with accurate colors and well-lit subjects. It's great for shooting stills too: for more details, see our SmallRig RC 220B COB Bi-Color LED Video Light review.

  (Image credit: Lume Cube)
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Small but powerful, and decent battery life

Specifications

Colour temperature: 5600K
Lux (at 1m): 750
Power source: Lithium-ion battery
Dimensions: 41 x 41 x 43 cm
Weight: 99g

Reasons to buy

+
Tiny but powerful
+
Bluetooth connectivity
+
Good battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Original was more waterproof

It was a long wait, but we finally got a proper successor to the charming Lume Cube, the little mountable light. The Lume Cube 2.0 is pretty much everything you could want – a brighter light compared to its predecessor with a larger beam angle and overall better quality. 

Weighing just 99g, it's small enough (and affordable enough) that you could quite easily construct a setup with three or four of them. The battery life is good, and USB-C compatibility is a welcome addition to this version. 

The only real downside is that the waterproofing has been scaled back a little on this iteration – possibly due to the new construction, it's only rated down to 30ft. And if you're not a deep-sea diver, do you really care? For more details, see our full Lume Cube 2.0 review.

SmallRig RC 350D video light

(Image credit: George Cairns)
Great color fidelity for both video and stills

Specifications

Colour temperature: 2700K - 6500K
Max power: 84500 LUX within 1m
Power source: Dual Adapter / V-Mount Battery
Dimensions: 240 x 122 x 237.6mm
Weight: 5.55kg

Reasons to buy

+
149,000 LUX output with special effects
+
Quiet cooling fans
+
Variable light intensity

Reasons to avoid

-
Fixed color temperature
-
Glitchy app experience

The powerful SmallRig RC 350D COB (chip-on-board) LED Video Light is the perfect accessory for a studio or location-based shoot, combining a strong key light output for talking heads style interviews with a collection of special lighting effects to enhance dramatic productions. Its relatively silent fans won’t give your sound recordist any concerns. It's an expensive device that will suit the needs of a high-end video producer rather than a hobbyist vlogger.

If connectivity is important to you, then note there were a few issues with controlling the light using the companion app. The light is also on the pricier side compared to some of the competition, but its features and build quality go towards justifying a higher price.

(Image credit: Profoto)
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8. Profoto C1 Plus

The best studio light for smartphone shooting

Specifications

Color temperature: 3000-6500K
Output: 1700 LUX (1m)
Power: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Dimensions: 79x38x64 mm
Weight: 208g (with dome)

Reasons to buy

+
Innovative design to provide fill-in light
+
Small and portable, ideal for smartphones
+
Plenty of accessories to attach

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for lighting larger scenes

Not everybody uses a DSLR to shoot video and with the latest advances in technology, more and more vloggers are choosing to shoot footage using their smartphones. Why not, when they can capture impressive 4K footage? 

Profoto has the perfect LED for this crowd in the shape of the C1 Plus, which is suitable for both stills photography and video. A built-in rechargeable Li-Polymer battery helps the unit deliver over 40 minutes of continuous light at full power, which is impressive, given the tiny size of the C1 Plus. This also means it can deliver more than 2000 flashes on a single charge too.

The continuous light is flicker-free to ensure smoothly-light footage and the battery takes just two hours to recharge via a USB-C connection, which means you can power up while you’re on the go. Compatible with Profoto’s AirTTL remotes, the C1 Plus can be paired with a number of accessories, including grids to modify the light or a selection of different coloured gel filters to shift the colour temperature of the scene. The accessors connect via a magnetic mount, resulting in a speeded up operating time and no more messing about with awkward screw-on fittings.

The C1 Plus is small enough to be handheld, but there is also a 1/4"-20 mount so it can be secured to a light stand if you prefer. Profoto explains that the C1 Plus returns a CRI (Colour Rendering Index) of above 90, which is impressive and means the quality of the light is good.

Videographers should remember that there is another product in the range called the C1, but only the C1 Plus features the ability to connect up with accessories so sits at the top of the series, making it better suited for video work.

Best video lights

(Image credit: Godox)

9. Godox CL10

A good accent light for influencers and streamers

Specifications

Color temperature: 3000-5600K
Output: 1100 LUX (1m)
Power: USB
Dimensions: 192x192x65mm
Weight: 270g

Reasons to buy

+
Very affordable
+
Highly adjustable colors

Reasons to avoid

-
10W output is pretty low
-
USB power only

Pitched at streamers, influencers and TikTokers, the Godox CL10 is a simple and affordable LED light that provides an impressive amount of versatility for the price. 

With its 10W power output it is quite simply never going to function as a key light for pro video, but as a general accent or ambient light it'll work very well indeed. With 36,000 selectable colours, you can also fine-tune it to pretty much exactly what you want, and there are also some fun special effects to play with like 'broken bulb' and 'police car'. With a great deal of flexibility and control for an extremely generous price, online influencers will get a lot out of the Godox CL10.

Product shot of the NanLite Pavobulb 10C RGBWW LED Bulb, one of the best video lights

(Image credit: NanLite)

10. NanLite Pavobulb 10C RGBWW LED Bulb

The best video light on a budget

Specifications

Color temperature: 2700-7500K
Output: 580 lumens
Power: USB/Mains light
Weight: 170g

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable price
+
Can be used in any screw light fitting
+
36,000 colors to choose from

Reasons to avoid

-
You'll need several to light a big space
-
Battery pack needs to be purchased separately

If your budget is tight but you're in need of some extra lighting, the Nanlite Pavobulb is a ready-to-go solution that doesn't even require a stand. So long as you have a lamp with a screw fixture you'll be able to replace your standard bulb with this color-changing, app-controlled light. 

It can also be powered via USB and a separate battery pack can be purchased for it should you want to use it on location. Even just one light by itself makes a huge difference to your image but when used in conjunction with more than one you can start to create some really interesting scenes with different colors and brightness. A dedicated NanLink app enables you to select different colors, control the brightness and also save your color settings so they're ready to go next time you shoot.

What factors should you consider when buying a video light?

To choose the right video light for your needs there are a number of things you need to take into account. These include: 

Power supply: Can the LED be used by both a mains plug and a battery? This will enable a more versatile set-up and enable you to film both indoors and outdoors

Color temperature: Look out for the LED’s colour temperature range; a wide range is preferable as this will give you both warm and cool light options to match the ambient light you are shooting in or the effect you’re trying to create.

Modifiers: Check to see if the LED comes with any modifiers in the box. These could be diffusers to soften the light or filters to change the light’s color temperature.

Flicker-free: Some LEDs show a fluctuation in brightness, known as flicker. The best lights are flicker free to provide a constant level of brightness.

Bluetooth technology: The inclusion of Bluetooth technology in your LED light will allow you to connect to a smartphone and control adjustments like brightness and colour temperature remotely.

Read more:

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Matty Graham

Matty has worked for a number of photographic magazines including Professional Photo, Digital Photo and Digital SLR magazine. He is an accomplished car and lanadscape photographer, who runs his own video production and content creation business in Lincolnshire.

With contributions from