Poor lighting can sap the energy right out of a video clip, making a person look lifeless or washed-out.
Striking the perfect balance is key to getting the lighting just right, and you can really only do this with professional kits. No matter your budget, you can find one that won’t break the bank.
These 18 lights and lighting kits below are a good starting point. Plus, we have tips from several experts on how to get the most out of your lighting kit during a shoot.
Lowel i-light & id-light — $230 to $375
The i-light & id-light by Lowel lets videographers adjust for dimness depending on their needs. Prismatic Glass and a reflector provide full light coverage for any room. The i-light and id-light can be moved at 160-degree angles to capture any shot with just one hand.
Litepanels Astra 1×1 EP Traveler Duo V-Mount Kit — $3,047
If you travel for your video shoots, bring the Astra 1×1 EP Traveler Duo V-Mount Kit by Litepanels. Ideal for capturing video on-the-go, this kit is 42 pounds of lighting power with included bi-color light panels. Keep the kit powered with battery adapter plates and a three-pin XLR-to-Ptap power cable.
Fovitec StudioPRO Premium Bi-Color LED Video Kit — $210
With 600 LED lights, the StudioPRO Premium Bi-Color LED Video Kit by Fovitec illuminates a video shoot at a rate of 6,500 lumens. Each bulb projects light at a slight angle to brighten even more space. Two filters control light intensity, and the U-shaped bracket can be repositioned and angled as needed.
ikan Helia 40-Watt Bi-Color LED Light Kit — $3299
The Helia 40-Watt Bi-Color LED Light Kit by ikan can switch lighting temperature and intensity between 2,700K to 5,600K. If you have a Pro V-Mount Battery, you can use it to charge this kit. Adjust strobe power with a flicker and control light intensity with metal barn doors. There’s a digital display so you can always keep track of your preferred settings.
FloLight Customizable LED Kit — single lights start at $599
FloLight kits are used by BET, Univision, Disney, the Weather Channel, TBS, A&E, BBC and ESPN. You can assemble your own lighting setups with FloLights’ customizable LED kits — up to five lights total.
Thecinecity Proaim Agile 1000 Flood Production Light — $299
Shoot video with a soft orange glow or a sturdy white filter when using the Proaim Agile 1000 Flood Production Light by Thecinecity. These filters are used for “softening hard shadows, glare and controlling the intensity and spread of your lights.” The lights can be adjusted for shutter angle and frame rate without flickering. You’ll never have to worry about burning your hands when dealing with this LED kit, either, because the lights don’t ever get excessively hot.
Westcott Flex Daylight Cine Set — $1,199
An LED mat is the standout accessory in the Flex Daylight Cine Set by Westcott. This kit includes nearly everything required for a video shoot, including a cable wrap, dimmer extension cable, dual-socket arms, studs, frame tubes, corner frame connectors, power cords and power adapters.
Steve Kaeser Video Studio EZ Softbox Kit — $190
The Video Studio EZ Softbox Kit by Steve Kaeser comes with a support system and 6×9 backdrops to make softbox assembly a breeze. “The high-output fluorescent bulbs have more of the color spectrum compared to tungsten bulbs,” the company says of the kit. Use this for photography and videography.
F&V Z180 5600K LED Video Light — $369
Portable, tiny and lightweight, the Z180 5600K LED Video Light by F&V is the illumination equivalent of a 1×1 light panel. Its 65-degree angle beam produces uniform, enveloping light meant for shooting 16:9 video. If you need more light, make sure to look into F&V’s Expandable Link System. You can connect multiple Z180s together for a bigger lighting rig.
Profoto ProDaylight 400 Air Basic Kit — starting at around $4,500
The ProDaylight 400 Air Basic Kit by Profoto can be fitted with a variety of heads on the base of the light to produce different light intensities and shapes. Although the stand comes separately, this kit does include power cables and the ProBallast, a ballast that prevents flickering.
Stellar Lighting Systems Stellar 2 Linear Light Panel Kit — $379
With three stands and a 12-inch Mini Diva ring, the Stellar 2 Linear Light Panel Kit by Stellar Lighting Systems uses a fluorescent 5,500K bulb that produces high-quality results every time. In addition to the lighting ring, the kit includes joint mounts, a stand, the Stellar modeling mirror, a light softener and a dimmer.
Rotolight NEO LED Light Kit — starting around $1,800
The NEO LED Light Kit includes three LED lights and the popular Rotolight NEO. Adjust for 22 total filters such as color FX, magenta, skin tone and diffusion. This kit also comes with a carrying case with wheels for traveling, power supplies, ball head swivels, adapters and a lighting stand.
Fotodiox Pro LED-312DS Dimmable Bicolor Adjustable Video Light Kit — $200
The Pro LED-312DS Dimmable Bicolor Adjustable Video Light Kit comes with Fotodiox’s LED-312DS, which “lets you change the light’s color output anywhere between 5,600K daylight and 3,200K tungsten color temperature. The 312DS is compact and versatile enough for countless shooting scenarios, all while remaining lightweight enough to bring along on every project.” The kit includes metal barn doors.
Photoflex StarLite Small Digital Kit — $359
Don’t have a lot of space to shoot? That’s no problem when using the StarLite Small Digital Kit by Photoflex. This kit is great for shooting small subjects, in tight spaces, or across multiple filming locations. It comes with a light stand, the SilverDome (a vented softbox), a 500-watt StarLite lamp and a StarLite Connector.
Light & Motion Sola Pro 5000 Lumen Air Kit — $700
Light & Motion produces lights for active videographers. The company’s Sola Pro 5000 Lumen Air Kit only takes 90 minutes to heat up to 5,000 lumens. The kit can then be used underwater. “The light head supports all the in-air modifiers of the Stella Pro and allows the light to run directly off of wall power for extended shoots,” the company says. This is compatible with the Sola Video Pro 8000.
Cool-Lux Hollywood Kit I — $499
The combination light in the Hollywood Kit I by Cool-Lux easily lets videographers swap from soft light to broad light depending on what the shoot calls for. This feature “uses a color-neutral, metal bounce reflector to provide soft illumination for interviews and close-ups.” The kit can even erase blemishes and wrinkles so every person involved in the video looks nearly flawless.
LumaHawk Jaguar 1000 Kit — starting around $1,100
LumaHawk produces a multitude of light kits, but the Jaguar 1000 Kit is good for beginner videographers and photographers alike. This is meant for traveling and includes a carrying case with wheels. Although the 8.5-foot light stand is durable and weighty, it’s also portable. Two LED studio lights can be adjusted for amber or translucent diffusion and dimness.
Bowens Gemini 400Rx Kit — starting around $900
The Gemini 400Rx Kit by Bowens is another option for beginners. A 250-watt modeling lamp can be adjusted for light intensity. The kit comes with Pulsar Tx Radio Trigger technology, which “allows flash sync over 24 different radio zones, using four channels and six studio settings, enabling you to trigger individual light sources or combine them to fire all at once without ever leaving your camera.”
How to Get the Most From Your Lighting Kit
Match Color Temperature
Jan Ozer at OnlineVideo.net recommends learning about color temperature before shooting begins. “If you mix lights with different color temperatures, you produce bizarre colors because your camera can’t tell what’s white,” he says. To avoid that, Ozer insists that all lights used during a video shoot “share a similar color temperature.”
Master the Rule of Thirds
If you plan on capturing a shot of someone up close, it helps to understand the rule of thirds. “Ideally, the left or right vertical on this diagram should split the face of your subject right down the center,” Steven Shattuck at media production company 12 Stars Media says. “Among other things, this allows your background to stand out.
“Sometimes the setting of your interview can help tell the story, so don’t limit yourself. Placing your subject directly in the center can give the appearance of a police mugshot, especially if they are speaking directly into the camera.”
Laci Texter at video hosting company SproutVideo says to be extra diligent about preventing flickering, which is a visual distraction.
“Sometimes, the human eye can’t even detect it [flickering], but because cameras capture fewer frames per second, a subtle flicker can become problematic on camera,” she says. “Avoid using dimmer switches, and use diffusers instead, and swap out any fluorescent bulbs for regular bulbs when filming.”
Know the Difference Between Hard and Soft Lighting
Several of the lighting kits above can switch between hard and soft lighting, but just what does that mean? Noam Kroll at music and sound effects company Premiumbeat explains the difference: hard lighting has “direct sunlight and other bright sources to create dramatic shadows” while soft lighting has “loads of silks and diffusion…to create more forgiving, soft light sources.”
Don’t Forget the Camera Stand
Erin Hayes at MediaBoss Television recommends using a good camera stand, some of which are included in the lighting kits above. She says that “they allow you to move the camera angle without moving the lighting setup” and “they give brighter light over a larger area.” Feel free to tinker with stand height to find the perfect setup.
Renowned photographer Ryan Brenizer spoke to Jason Vinson at news site Fstoppers and suggests backlighting when a videographer wants to inject a dose of drama into the shot. “Using backlight is important for dimension and subject separation,” Vinson writes. “…when using this technique, you need to be careful of what is in the scene since walls and objects can bounce light back into your subject.”
Use Fill Lights and Key Lights, Too
In addition to the recommendation of backlighting above, don’t forget fill lights and key lights. Donna Davis at ReelSEO describes difference: Key lights are “the main lights used to film the subject of the video,” and a fill light “‘fills in’ the shadows created by the key light.” Depending on the way these lights are arranged, a video set can be more or less theatrical.