The 4 Best Studio Light Kits for Photographers in 2020

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

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The Rundown
Best for Beginners:
StudioFX 2400-Watt at Amazon
"The lights are designed to work great with DLSR cameras no matter the level of expertise of the photographer."
"The extra few hundred bucks will get you a more robust lighting system to kickstart your studio setup."
Runner-Up, Best Budget:
Julius Studio Umbrella Kit at Amazon
"The perfect starter pack for your home studio or a nice secondary rig."

Best for Beginners: StudioFX 2400-Watt

Geared specifically toward beginners, the three-piece StudioFX 2400 lighting kit includes three main softbox units, three light stands and three light heads. The softboxes can fit a total of five bulbs, each with their own separate on/off controls, making them perfect for portraits, product shots and even video shooting. The lights are designed to work great with DLSR cameras (compatible with Nikon, Sony, Canon Olympus and more) no matter the level of expertise of the photographer. If there’s any downside (and you may not call it a downside), it’s that the StudioFX weighs 29 pounds, making it slightly less portable than some of the competition. If you can overlook the weight, this 10-bulb set with its overhead boom adds all the professional performance you need while still being beginner friendly.

Best Splurge: Fovitech StudioPRO 3000W

The StudioPRO lighting set is the step up from the 2500W set and it has a bit of a price jump. But the extra few hundred bucks will get you a more robust lighting system to kickstart your studio setup. The kit comes with three different muslin backgrounds -- black, white and green -- to make sure you’ll have a professional backdrop at the ready for even the simplest shoots.

The light stand is 7’ 6” with a 5/8th-inch stem mount, so it will fit most standard lighting rigs and systems. Each included stand is built from di-cast aluminum, so they’ll be super sturdy while only weighing about 2.5 pounds each. Each softbox is 20 inches by 28 inches and even includes a removable inner light diffuser for ultimate control over the softness of the light you’re putting out. Each of the lights puts out 3000W, so it gives you a good base level of brightness to go with the diffusing softboxes, and the manufacturer has designed the whole 50-pound system for use with studio interviews, portrait shooting and more.

Runner-Up, Best Budget: Julius Studio Umbrella Kit

The Julius Studio umbrella-based kit is the perfect starter pack for your home studio or a nice secondary rig. The two 33-inch diameter umbrellas make up your standard reflector diffusion system that will let you redirect light perfectly for studio purposes. There are three different lighting systems that accommodate the three included CFL, 45-watt lightbulbs, so you won’t have to purchase additional bulbs to get your studio off the ground.

There are two included 86-inch floor-oriented stands and one 28-inch tabletop light stand that will allow you more versatility for setting up an array of lighting, particularly for formations that diffuse through the umbrella system. The bulbs are fluorescent and offer an energy savings up to 80 percent, according to the manufacturer. The whole bundle weighs just over 10 pounds and it comes in a sturdy carrying case, so you can leave it as a studio setup or make it a more on-the-go system.

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.