LED Ring Lights: What’s All the Buzz About?

Have you ever joined in a conference call or Zoom Meeting and noticed folks with a bright white circle in their eyes (that is, if anyone has the video turned on – we all know most people prefer to work from home in their PJ’s). What about noticing a colleague looking very professional and well-lit? That is the wonder of Ring Lights!

Contrary to popular belief, Ring Lights are not exclusively used by Instagram or TikTok stars. They have made a huge resurgence amidst the times of COVID-19, and there’s a valid reason: they provide exceptional, smooth lighting for any live video call or stream, and are an affordable way to up the quality of your meetings.

Part 1: What are Ring Lights and What are they Used for?

Desk Ring LightA ring light is a circular light used predominantly in portrait photography and live videos to provide even distribution of flattering light across a subject’s face. The light

emitted is pleasing and soft, and erases shadows uniformly to create bold contrast in the subject and their surroundings. They are available as Fluorescent ring lights and LED lights, the former of which produces a very bright white light while the latter has a soft light that gives a more natural effect. 

For a very simple lighting setup, a ring light is ideal and easy to use especially for work from home situations. Usually they can be set up with a simple stand or tripod, with a camera or Smartphone shooting through the hole in the center of the circular light. This allows the lens to focus on specific details of the shot.

Ring Lights have a variety of uses as they are excellent at emphasizing details and creating clarity. The most common application is for macro photography, video production, and makeup application, but thanks to lockdown a lot of folks are using them on conference calls and presentations for sharp and professional video quality.

One example we’ve had at Bolt was surprisingly with a lawyer! To conduct their cases, they needed quality video and lighting in an affordable manner. During their Zoom meetings to argue cases, they would set up a small ring light in their home office to shoot through. Sitting in front of a solid backdrop, they were able to conduct their cases live online. Their video quality was significantly less grainy and uneven, which made it less distracting when watching the cases.

Part 2: How to Position, Adjust, and Setup a Ring Light for WFH Use and Professional Photography

Portable Ring LightBecause of their size and versatility, ring lights are pretty easy to set up, some even being plug and play and some coming as part of a ring light kit. Ring lights typically come with the circular light itself, as well as the power cord and either a flexible arm for desktop application, a phone holder for quick setup, or a tripod stand and mount for studio shoots. 

To set up, first assemble your arm or tripod with the necessary screws. You can then mount the ring light to your choice of light stand and tighten to ensure it is stable. Set up your camera lens and attach your camera with an additional mount based on the size, which is different for phone vs DSLR camera applications. Plug in your power cord at the connection point, typically at the bottom of the ring light, then turn it on! If you have a ring light with a dimmer switch, you can control the light intensity per your needs. 

For positioning your light, it is vital to make sure it is set up directly in front of the subject’s face. If the angle is slightly too high or low compared to the subject, you will get uneven and unwanted shadows that will skew the effect of the light in your shoot. Consider the distance of the light source, and place it about two feet in front of your subject. You can play around with the placement and color filters if you are trying to get a unique lighting setup, but we recommend straight on for standard and well-lit videos.

Part 3: Ring Lights at Bolt

At Bolt we have two key LED ring lights available for rent: the F&V Z720S Bi-Color Ring Light and the F&V R-300 Ring Light

FV Z720S Bi Color Ring Light

The  Z720S has a lot of benefits to offer, as it can be used for live streams and work from home video meetings, as well as a standalone LED fixture. This unit is portable, powered by two, NP-F Li-ion batteries which means you can take it anywhere you go. The Z720S is a large sized LED ring light, which creates a scenic advantage as it creates gorgeous catchlights in the eyes of the talent and also wraps around the face with even, beautiful illumination. A 5/8″ mounting option allows you to attach the Z720S to a stand which is ideally suited for photographers. This Lighting Fixture is also compatible with both HMI and Tungsten light sources.

FVR 300 Ring Light

On the other hand, the R-300 is a smaller, more lightweight option for LED ring lights. It is equivalent in power to a conventional 1×1 light panel, and features variable dimming, battery power, as well as snap-on magnetic filters. This light also comes with a camera stand and mount included in the rental, which makes it great to test out with your remote work setup. Like the Z720S, the R-300 fixture is compatible with both HMI and Tungsten light sources.

Part 4: How to Know Which Ring Light is Right for You

So which light is right for you? To properly consider which product to rent or buy, you need to thoroughly consider how to use it. For larger applications like professional shoots on location or in a studio, it is recommended to pick a larger ring light with higher color temperature rendering index and lumens. This will enhance the lighting and color of the subject or object being lit, and is especially useful for hair and makeup artists and their models. They often have customizable brightness levels using remote control to add convenience to your shoot.

For smaller applications such as a work-from-home setup, you may prefer a smaller model of ring light depending on the size of your camera. Ideally, for computers, phones, and tablets, we recommend a 18-19” diameter LED light.

Part 5: See it in Action!

Spook and Wes from Bolt Productions demonstrate set up, use, and how the lighting affects video quality for iPhone and Video Conference calls.

In summary, Ring Lights are not only for content streamers and celebrities like Kim Kardashian. They are effective for work from home use on Zoom calls and other video streaming, as well as in professional photography applications. So make sure to try before you buy, just in case your TikTok channel doesn’t take off like your kid’s did. Bolt Productions rental house is open for business, where you can stop in to see our ring lights in action or take one home to test it out yourself. We hope to see you soon!