Best Lighting Equipment for Vlogging and Photography
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Besides story and audio, lighting is one of the most important considerations when making movies, and it can help to dramatically improve your image quality. Today I’ll show you how to assemble a lighting kit to make you the envy of YouTubers all over.

Photo and Video Lighting Basics

Before jumping in and loading up your Amazon basket, an understanding of lighting basics helps. One of the most popular approaches to lighting talent is with three-point lighting. As the name suggests, this uses three lights at different angles.

YouTuber Kriscoart has a detailed rundown in this video lighting tutorial:

The basics of three-point lighting are:

  1. Key light: Used to create depth and shadows, this can be considered your main light. It creates a 3D look.
  2. Fill light: This light fills in some of the shadows, placed on the opposite side of the key light.
  3. Back light: Positioned behind and above the subject, this light illuminates the hair, and makes them stand out from the background.

Note: Not all of these lights have to be purchased and positioned by you. You can (and should) take full advantage of your environment and natural light!

The Key Light

As this is your main light, the key light is where you should spend the majority of your budget. The Neewer Bi-Color LED panel represents excellent value for money, and it comes with a mains power adaptor, travel bag, and swivel bracket.

Neewer Dimmable Bi-color LED with U Bracket Professional Video Light for Studio, YouTube Outdoor Video Photography Lighting Kit, Durable Metal Frame, 480 LED Beads, 3200-5600K, CRI 96+ Neewer Dimmable Bi-color LED with U Bracket Professional Video Light for Studio, YouTube Outdoor Video Photography Lighting Kit, Durable Metal Frame, 480 LED Beads, 3200-5600K, CRI 96+ 480 LED BULBS: With 240 White and 240 Yellow LED long lasting bulbs, this light illuminates a variable white balance from Tungsten-Daylight 3200-5600K Buy Now At Amazon $77.99

This light contains 480 LEDs in white and yellow. You can adjust the balance to simulate sunset or broad daylight, and total brightness adjustment allows you to get the perfect balance.

A light on its own isn’t totally useable just yet, however. You’ll also need a stand to mount your light on. While cheap stands can be purchased for about $20, I recommend you spend a bit of money here.

Cheap stands can be very flimsy. They might not be able to support the weight of any lights you purchase in the future, and you don’t want your light falling onto yourself or any other talent you may be filming. A good stand will easily outlast your lights and probably even your camera.

For that reason, you’ll want to purchase a C-Stand. These stands can be expensive, and heavy, but the ruggedness and stability they provide is well worth the cost.

The Neweer 2-Piece C-stand Set represents excellent value for money compared to other, premium models.

Neewer 2 Pieces Heavy Duty Max Height 10 feet/3 meters Adjustable Light Stand with 4 feet/1.2 meters Holding Arm and Grip Head Kit for Studio Video Reflector,Monolight and Other Photographic Equipment Neewer 2 Pieces Heavy Duty Max Height 10 feet/3 meters Adjustable Light Stand with 4 feet/1.2 meters Holding Arm and Grip Head Kit for Studio Video Reflector,Monolight and Other Photographic Equipment Kit includes: 2 pieces light stand, 2 pieces holding arm and 4 pieces grip heads; Adjustable center stand height ranges from 4 feet/1.2 meters to 10 feet/3.05 meters; Holding arm length: 4 feet/1.2 meters Buy Now At Amazon $279.99

Whether you’re shooting in high winds, unstable ground, or simply lighting overhead at home, you won’t regret investing in high-quality stands. You’ll need the second stand later on for your back light.

Once purchased, make sure you watch this C-stand tutorial from YouTube channel The Slanted Lens:

The Fill Light

Now that your key light is all sorted, it’s time to purchase a fill light. These lights are used to fill any shadows from the opposite side to the key light, but you don’t have to purchase a light!

This may seem counter-intuitive, but hear me out. A 5-in-1 110CM Reflector can be used to bounce existing light instead of generating new light. This saves you time, money, and electricity.

Neewer 43-inch / 110cm 5-in-1 Collapsible Multi-Disc Light Reflector with Bag - Translucent, Silver, Gold, White and Black Neewer 43-inch / 110cm 5-in-1 Collapsible Multi-Disc Light Reflector with Bag - Translucent, Silver, Gold, White and Black 43" 110CM 5 in 1 Collapsible Multi Disc Light Reflector Buy Now At Amazon $16.99

This reflector has five different surfaces, so you can achieve that perfect look. You’ll need a stand for this (or employ a friend to hold it), but fortunately, you don’t need to splash out on another C-stand. Neweer also sells a reflector stand.

Neewer Photo Studio Bracket Grip Holder 24"-47"/60-120cm Swivel Head Reflector Arm Support + 6Ft/75" Photography Light Stand Neewer Photo Studio Bracket Grip Holder 24"-47"/60-120cm Swivel Head Reflector Arm Support + 6Ft/75" Photography Light Stand This 3 section extension arm was designed to hold reflect disc and panel of different sizes and shapes. It is stretch,and easy to carry. Buy Now At Amazon

A cheap stand is more than adequate for a reflector — they barely weigh anything (just remember not to use it for your real lights).

YouTuber Jared Polin, otherwise known as FROKNOWSPHOTO has an excellent video tutorial on using a reflector:

The Back Light

The third and final light needed is a back light. This doesn’t need to be big, or expensive, and if you always film at midday by a window, you may not even need one (but you probably should buy one anyway).

The Viltrox L132T is a small but capable video light, with adjustable brightness and color temperature. This light can be considered a bit of a bargain. You’ll need to purchase a power supply, but these can be had for very cheap.

VILTROX L132T 0.78"/2cm Ultra Thin CRI95 5600K/3300K LED Video Light Dimmable Flat Panel On-camera Light Pad for Canon Nikon Pentax Olympus Samsung Panasonic DSLR Cameras DV Camcorders VILTROX L132T 0.78"/2cm Ultra Thin CRI95 5600K/3300K LED Video Light Dimmable Flat Panel On-camera Light Pad for Canon Nikon Pentax Olympus Samsung Panasonic DSLR Cameras DV Camcorders Using knob button , press it to switch brightness and color temperature .when rotating it , the brightness (20%-100), or color temperature (3300K-5600K) parameters will be increased or decreased . Buy Now At Amazon $36.59

You don’t need any extra stands for this light — one of the dual stands listed above with the key light can be used.

The cool thing about this light is its size. Measuring 13.4 x 4.9 x 1.6 inches, you can easily throw this light into your bag or on top of your camera for quick on location vlogging or filming.

If you want to know more about the specifics of this light, then check out this review by YouTuber Ditch Auto:

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Accessories

Now that you have everything you need for your dream three-point lighting rig, there are a few accessories that can come in handy.

First, sandbags. A pack of four studio sandbags may not be the coolest thing to buy, these can be used to weigh down your C-stands for extra stability. You can never be too safe, and you can always use them to peg down your gear when filming outdoors in windy weather.

Neewer Heavy Duty Photographic Sandbag Studio Video Sand Bag for Light Stands, Boom Stand, Tripod -4 Packs Set Neewer Heavy Duty Photographic Sandbag Studio Video Sand Bag for Light Stands, Boom Stand, Tripod -4 Packs Set 2 zipper pouches each. Buy Now At Amazon $16.50

Next up is a bag. While dedicated C-stand bags cost almost as much as the stands, a simple lighting bag measuring 36 x 9 x 9 inches is more than suitable for all of your other equipment. This sturdy bag leaves plenty of room for future expansion.

Neewer Photo Studio Equipment 36x9x9 inches/91x23x23 centimeters Large Carrying Case with Strap for Tripod, Light Stand, Photo Lighting Bundle Kit, Padded Compartments, Big Cushion Storage Neewer Photo Studio Equipment 36x9x9 inches/91x23x23 centimeters Large Carrying Case with Strap for Tripod, Light Stand, Photo Lighting Bundle Kit, Padded Compartments, Big Cushion Storage Large Sized Storage: 36x9x9"/91x23x23cm; Big enough to carry light heads, light stands, tripods, boom arms and other photographic equipment and accessories Buy Now At Amazon $35.99

All your lights come with mains power adaptors, so don’t forget to pick up a 40-Foot Extension Lead, so you can run power to wherever your lights may be. If you’re going to be filming somewhere without easy access to electricity, you may wish to buy some batteries for your lights. Video lighting notoriously gobble power, so the Sony NP-F970 style batteries (which fit both lights) are an excellent choice.

DSTE 2x NP-F970 Battery + DC01 Travel and Car Charger Adapter for Sony DCM-M1 MVC-CD1000 HDR-FX1 DCR-VX2100E DSR-PD190P NEX-FS700RH HXR-NX3 Camera as NP-F930 NP-F950 NP-F960 DSTE 2x NP-F970 Battery + DC01 Travel and Car Charger Adapter for Sony DCM-M1 MVC-CD1000 HDR-FX1 DCR-VX2100E DSR-PD190P NEX-FS700RH HXR-NX3 Camera as NP-F930 NP-F950 NP-F960 Battery Type: Li-ion DC 8.4V(max) DC 7.2V(mean) Buy Now At Amazon $43.69

You get two batteries along with a charger, so it’s not that bad value. Make sure you buy a few sets to keep your running all day!

YouTuber Caleb Pike from DSLR Video Shooter covers everything you need to know about these cool little batteries:

Finally, you’ll want to pick up some metal spring clamps, which cost less than a dollar each. These clamps are super useful. Not only can you use them to tidy up cables, but you can even secure your reflector to a stand in a pinch if you forget your reflector stand.

What Will You Film With Great Video Lighting?

Now that you have a photo and video lighting rig you can be proud of, what are you going to film? Are you into making vlogs or are cinematic masterpieces more your thing?

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The best part about photo and video lighting is that you don’t have to purchase all this gear at once. Start with the basics and what you have. Shoot near a window or outdoors. Buy a reflector if you’re on a tight budget. As your skills progress and you make more and more videos, you can slowly purchase more equipment as and when you need it.

What lighting rig do you use? Do you have a favorite brand? Let us know in the comments below!

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