The 8 Best Studio Light Kits for Photographers in 2021

Here's how to light up your photos like a pro

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The Rundown
"With some practice, you can probably get setup and breakdown to about 15 minutes or less."
Runner-Up, Best Overall:
Weifeng Studio Lighting Kit at Amazon
"Stocked with gear, it's the best option for photographers just starting out that want a premium setup."
"The perfect starter pack for your home studio or a nice secondary rig."
"Not exactly a complete setup, but it’s a great standalone light."
"If you’re ready to take your studio lighting to the next level, check out the Honey Badger 320 two-lamp setup from Interfit."
"If you can get it for around $150, this kit is a great value for its quality. It seems like it’s built to last longer than other kits we’ve tried and the boom stand has much better stability."
"This is an extremely versatile piece of equipment that’s bound to be the friend of any traveling photographer."
"This kit from StudioFX is compact and has just about everything you need in the bag."

These days, studio lighting kits are useful to more than just professional photographers. If you want to do your own photoshoots or product photography, you can greatly benefit from a lighting setup. In the era of online platforms, that can apply to anyone with an Instagram feed, YouTube channel, or online store. But creating your own lighting setup from scratch can be a time-consuming and expensive process, especially if you’re just starting out. That’s where kits come in. 

Studio lighting kits come in all kinds of configurations, so it’s good to think first about what you need. Do you want continuous lighting, which refers to lights that remain on during the whole shoot? Do you need a strobe, which flashes only when the photo is taken? What about light reflectors, or a backdrop? Do you want warm light or cool? Many starter kits include two or three lamps for continuous light (usually with an umbrella or softbox for light diffusion) and a variety of bulbs. Others are more complete and can include a wide variety of accessories and other gear. And unless you have a dedicated studio space, you’ll also want to make sure it’s easy to set up and break down.

Best Overall: Fovitec SPK10-037 3-Light 2500W Fluorescent Softbox Lighting Kit

What We Like
  • Very customizable

  • Bright lights

  • Portable

What We Don't Like
  • Boom is tippy

  • Stands could be sturdier

The Fovitec Square EZ Set-Up Softbox Light Kit (SPK10-037) is an affordable and effective lighting kit from a well-known brand. It includes two five-socket softboxes with adjustable stands and one single-socket softbox with an adjustable boom arm so you can enjoy the option of overhead boom lighting. Each socket head has three switches for different light configurations, and the softboxes are made from heavy nylon.The kit also comes stocked with the eleven light bulbs needed to get up and running. According to our reviewer, this kit requires a decent amount of initial assembly (there are 11 light bulbs, after all), but the final effect makes up for most of the weaknesses of its budget build quality.

Beware that while the stands in this kit can extend up to 90 inches, they are quite lightweight and quickly become top-heavy. If you think you’ll need the full height, you may want to invest in something with a wider base. 

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Weifeng Premium Portrait Studio Lighting Kit

What We Like
  • Solid quality for the price

  • Includes backdrop setup

  • Portable full setup

What We Don't Like
  • Not super bright

The ePhoto Premium kit from Weifeng is basically a photo studio in a bag. It includes four adjustable lighting stands with two white and two black umbrellas, four 45W light bulbs, and an eight by ten foot backdrop frame with three backdrops (black, white, and green). If you don’t have any equipment yet, or if you’re a professional photographer looking for a lightweight and flexible travel kit, this is a great option. The whole thing weighs only 26 pounds and is quick to set up and break down. It’s also surprisingly durable for the price. The only downside is that the single-bulb stands don’t put out as much light as their four- or five-socket counterparts. If you need something really powerful, you may need to go for something with extra wattage.

Best Budget: Julius Studio Umbrella Kit

What We Like
  • Very versatile

  • Includes a tabletop stand

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Budget build

If you’re looking for a solid starter kit without investing too much up front, this budget option from Julius Studio is the way to go. It’s also super lightweight at only ten pounds and comes with its own carrying bag, making it a great for travel. This kit includes two 86-inch adjustable stands and one 28-inch tabletop stand that allows for a range of versatile setups. It also comes with two 33-inch umbrellas and three 45W fluorescent light bulbs so it’s ready to use out of the bag. Because each stand has a single-socket head, it won’t get quite as bright as the multi-socket lamps on this list. But as a budget kit for indoor photography, this is an excellent value.

Runner-Up, Best Budget: Mount Dog Softbox Lighting Kit

What We Like
  • Brigh

  • Quick to set up and break down

What We Don't Like
  • Only one stand

The Mount Dog Softbox Lighting Kit is actually a kit for a single stand with a softbox. It’s not exactly a complete setup, but it’s a great standalone light, an excellent addition to an existing studio, or a good piece of starter gear if you want to build up your kit incrementally. It’s brighter than most budget options, so if you don’t need multidirectional lighting, it can probably provide enough light on its own. The tripod stand is adjustable from 27 to 80 inches and has a single-socket 210-degree rotatable head so you can get just the right angle. The softbox itself measures 20 x 28 inches and has a white nylon screen to soften and diffuse the light from the 95W bulb (two included). Setup and breakdown are extremely simple — just fold up the tripod and collapse the stand — and it can be packed away into its carrying bag for easy transport.

Best Splurge: Interfit Honey Badger 320 2-Light Kit

Interfit Honey Badger 320Ws 2-Light Kit Interfit PhotographicModel: HB3202K1 Average Rating:( 0.0 )stars out of5stars Write a review
What We Like
  • 320W flash

  • Lightweight

  • Doubles as a continuous light source

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

If you’re ready to take your studio lighting to the next level, check out the Honey Badger 320 two-lamp setup from Interfit. This kit includes a pair of compact 24” softboxes, two light stands, a remote, and a pair of Honey Badger flash heads. The heads are particularly versatile and make this one of the best premium lighting options out there. Choose between 60W continuous lighting that looks just like daylight (the temperature is set specifically to 5600K) or use them as flash heads with a seven-stop adjustable power range from 5W all the way up to 320W.

Each lamp weighs just three pounds and measures six inches as its widest dimension, making these shockingly compact for their power. If you’re traveling, setting up a small studio, or otherwise need to maximize your lighting while saving space, this pair of Honey Badger lamps fits the bill.

Best for Beginners: Emart 600W Umbrella Lighting Kit

What We Like
  • Full setup

  • Individual bulb switches

  • Feels sturdy

What We Don't Like
  • Not very portable

This umbrella lighting kit from Emart is an excellent starter kit for budding studio photographers, offering a full softbox setup that’s easy to assemble and has enough customizability to accommodate a growing skillset. It features three lights: two adjustable 28-inch vertical stands with five-socket heads, and an overhead boom with a single-socket head. The five-socket heads put out an impressive amount of light (400W combined), and each socket has its own on/off switch so you can adjust the brightness. All of the softboxes measure 20 x 28 inches. Whether you’re shooting portraits, product photos, or videos, this kit is an extremely versatile setup that can evolve with your work. The only downside is the weight. A lot of the other kits on this list are ultra-portable and break down to a single 10- or 15-pound bag. At about 25 pounds (and two bags instead of one), this kit is a better fit for the studio than it is for travel. The added weight also means its a bit more stable.

Best for Professionals: Flashpoint eVOLV 200 Pro and Glow Hexapop Kit

What We Like
  • Extremely portable

  • Cordless

  • 200W flash

What We Don't Like
  • Not rechargeable

  • Does not come with a stand

This is an extremely versatile piece of equipment that’s bound to be the friend of any traveling photographer. This kit combines the handheld eVOLV 200 Pro Pocket Flash with the Glow 24-inch Hexapop reflector diffuser, putting a powerful and high-quality light source into the palm of your hand — literally. The flash is a 200W cordless strobe with a nine-stop adjustable range. It can remotely sync with cameras from all the major brands and measures just 6.8 x 2.1 x 2.9 inches, making it the most travel-friendly lighting option on our list. The Hexapop can also be folded down and easily tucked into a bag. Though this kit does not come with a stand, the eVOLV 200 Pro has a built-in stand mount and can be integrated with your existing equipment. The lithium battery is not rechargeable but can be replaced. 

Best Indoor: StudioFX 2400W Softbox Lighting Kit with Backdrop

What We Like
  • Full setup

  • Includes overhead boom

  • Bright

What We Don't Like
  • Softboxes are on the small side

If you’re looking to set up a complete indoor studio space but don’t want it to take up too much room, this kit from StudioFX is compact and has just about everything you need in the bag. It includes two seven-foot stands with four-socket heads, one overhead boom with a single-socket head, an adjustable backdrop stand, and three backdrops (black, white, and green). The pair of four-socket heads come with 45W bulbs and put out a good amount of light, but they’re on the small side at 16 x 24 inches each. The overhead softbox is larger at 20 x 28 inches. The two vertical stands are adjustable up to seven feet and the boom arm is adjustable to nearly six feet. This isn’t the largest kit, but that’s actually an advantage if you’re working in a smaller space. It also doesn’t impact the brightness of these lamps, which is the main selling point. 

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Fovitec Square EZ Set-Up Softbox Light Kit (SPK10-037), which offers bright light and a versatile setup for a surprisingly affordable price. If you want a more complete kit, we’d recommend the Weifeng ePhoto Premium Studio Lighting Kit that comes with four single-socket stands and three different backdrops.

About Our Trusted Experts

Emmeline Kaser is a former editor for Lifewire’s product round-ups and reviews. She is an experienced product researcher specializing in consumer tech.

FAQ

Who needs a light kit?

Anyone from beginner hobbyists to professional photographers can benefit from a quality lighting kit. Proper lighting can dramatically improve any image, from product to glamor shots, and a great lighting kit is the best shortcut to quickly and easily establishing the conditions you need.


How many watts do I need for my studio/shooting space?

Your needs will vary greatly depending on factors like ISO, exposure, and other modifiers, but generally 2000W of combined light will be sufficient for continuous shooting in a smaller studio, while a larger space may require up to double (or more) that wattage.


Do I need a softbox?

A softbox reduces the appearance of harsh, jarring shadows by diffusing light in an even way that pleases the eye. While they're not a prerequisite, they can definitely lend your photos a professional air of quality that traditional light doesn't impart.

What to Look for in a Studio Light Kit

Experience level - How advanced of a photographer are you? And more importantly, how far do you want to take this hobby? If you’re a pretty experienced photographer who wants to earn some extra cash on the side, you’ll want to purchase a higher-end kit than a beginner.

Portability - Are you planning on shooting mostly at home, or will you be visiting the homes of friends, family, and perhaps even clients with your lighting rig? It’s important to take the weight of the kit into account. Some can weigh over 50 pounds, while others are designed as 10-pound portable systems. If you’d like a kit that’s easy to transport and stow, consider both weight and portability.

Light control - If you’re an experienced photographer, you know how important it is to have precise control of your lighting. But if you’re new to all of it, constant, always-on lighting (that you can easily test) is likely a better fit. Different setups allow for different levels of control — some let you control the lights individually and others are always on or have a strobe setup. If you’re not sure what you need, then going with a kit that has a more basic setup is probably best.

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