The 7 Best LED Light Kits of 2021

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The Rundown
These lights work via battery or AC power, making them super portable and versatile.
The color temperature goes from 2300K to 6800K, meaning you can find just the right lighting for your conditions.
Best for Studio Work:
Ikan IB508 Light Kit at Amazon
This is a three-piece set with a fixed color temperature at 5600K, which is good for most photography.
Best for Soft Lighting:
Ikan LB10 LED Light Kit at Amazon
This is a versatile system that can be set to either 3200K or 5600K with adjustable brightness.
Best Remote Control on a Budget:
VILTROX VL-200 Kit at Amazon
In addition to the remote control, one nice extra accessory is hot shoe adapters for the lights.
Best for Tabletop Use:
Emart LED Video Light at Amazon
If you want to add a little color to your shots, each light has four color filters you can put in to adjust the lighting.
You can adjust the lights with the in-line remote to any of the three light modes and 11 brightness levels.

Ask any photographer, and they'll tell you that the most important piece of equipment you can buy is the best LED Light kit you can find. Frankly, aside from the camera, lighting is the most important consideration in photography. Whether you're inside in a studio or outside in the sunshine, the right lighting will make or break your photography project. Inside lighting is the easiest to control, which is why photographers need the right light kit to suit their needs.

We have a variety of light kits here that match all kinds of budgets and situations. Whether you're shooting a product on a table top, or models for a fashion shoot, or even selfies for the influencer crowd, we've got lights for you. These lights will keep your photographs well lit and looking great.

Best Overall: Neewer 2-Pack Dimmable Bi-color 660 LED Light Kit

What We Like
  • Variable color

  • Battery or AC power

  • Included accessories

  • Super affordable

  • Comes with a carrying case

What We Don't Like
  • Questionable knob assembly

Our first contender is arguably the best overall pick because it comes from a reputable company. Neewer makes all kinds of photography accessories that fit all budgets, and the Dimmable Bi-Color 660 LED Video Light set is top notch. It has basically everything. You've got two lights, two stands, four batteries, a battery charger, two power adapters, and a carrying bag. All that's missing is someone to actually set them up for you. These lights work via battery or AC power, making them super portable and versatile.

The only question mark on this setup is in the knob that connects the light to the stand. Knobs are a bit of an Achilles heel for Neewer equipment, as they're not the best. Some users reported that using a simple hex bolt is a good workaround; your mileage may vary, of course. But, overall, this is a great deal on two versatile lights that can up your photography game by quite a bit.

Lights/Brightness: 660 LED bulbs | Color Temperature Range: 3200K to 5600K | Power Options: AC adapter or battery | Adjustable: Yes

Best Budget: GVM 2-Pack LED Video Lighting Kit with App Control

What We Like
  • Wide range of adjustable color temperature

  • App control

  • Easy-to-use controls

  • Included carrying case

What We Don't Like
  • Batteries not included

This setup is a close second in our top pick for lighting rigs. Great Video Maker (GVM) is not just appropriately named—you get two bright variable control lights, stands, software filters, and more. The lights are also very slim. One of the cooler aspects to this light rig is that it's app controlled. While the controls on the back of the lights are easy to use, controlling them via app lets you more easily set up your scene from a distance.

You can control light brightness and temperature to get just the shot you're looking for. The color temperature goes from 2300K to 6800K, meaning you can find just the right lighting for your conditions. The lights can be battery powered, but batteries are not included, which is disappointing. You do get AC adapters for the lights, but we'd like to see more portability built in from the jump.

Lights/Brightness: 480 LED beads | Color Temperature Range: 2300K to 6800K | Power Options: AC adapter or battery | Adjustable: Yes

Best for Studio Work: Ikan IB508 3-Point LED Studio Light Kit

What We Like
  • Lightweight and portable

  • Batteries included

  • Included filters

What We Don't Like
  • Hard to read display

  • Fixed color temperature

If you predominantly shoot inside a studio, then the Ikan IB508 light kit may be for you. The lights are controlled with a knob and readout on the back, which can be hard to see in direct sunlight. That's why this light kit gets our recommendation for inside studio work. This is a three-piece set with a fixed color temperature at 5600K. That's good for most photography, and if you want to change the color, you can use one of two included filters. The first filter changes the light to about 300K, while the other just softens the light at 5600K so it's not as intense. 

The kit comes with everything you need to get started, including stands, batteries, chargers, and a carrying case. It's very lightweight, which means it's ready to go out in the field with you, but it's more suited for indoor work. All the same, photographers can appreciate that kind of versatility when they need to go on location to shoot.

Lights/Brightness: 508 LED beads | Color Temperature Range: 3200-5600K (300K) | Power Options: Battery | Adjustable: Yes

Best for Soft Lighting: Ikan LB10 3-Point Soft Panel LED Light Kit

What We Like
  • Swappable battery plates

  • One knob control

  • Included carrying case

  • 30 degree yoke

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Bulky

If you are looking for some of the best soft-light lighting around, look no further than the Ikan Lyra 1 x 1 LED Lighting Kit.  This is a three-pack of lighting that is great for your standard three-point lighting system for an interview subject or model. This is a versatile system that can be set to either 3200K or 5600K with adjustable brightness. It's all controlled by a single large knob that switches between brightness and temperature. This makes it easy to locate when it's up on a stand and easy to control.

One key feature for these lights is the 30-degree mounting yoke. This allows the light to come off from the stand a bit and gives you more mobility in focusing and aiming the light and barn doors. The stands and case are included in this package, which is good because it also costs a pretty penny. These are also all 1 x 1 panels, which makes them pretty large and bulky to travel with. You're going to want to stick with the studio if you're picking up these lights.

Lights/Brightness: 900 LEDs | Color Temperature Range: 3200K to 5600K | Power Options: Battery | Adjustable: Yes

Best Remote Control on a Budget: VILTROX VL-200 LED Kit

What We Like
  • 3-pack

  • Remote control

  • Hot shoe adapters included

What We Don't Like
  • Batteries not included

  • Does not include diffuser

If you're on a budget but want to have a remote control to adjust your lighting, the Viltrox VL-200 3-Pack of lights is a pretty great deal. You get three LED panels, stands, and power adapters in an easy-access carrying bag. In addition to the remote control, one nice extra accessory is hot shoe adapters for the lights. This allows you to use any number of other hot shoe accessories along with the lights, including mounting them directly to a camera.

Unfortunately, if you mount a light to the camera, you'll need to buy a battery separately, as these lights don't come with them. Nor do the lights come with a diffuser to get a softer light. All the same, there's some great value here and it can make a great mobile lighting studio when you're on the go.  The remote allows you to control one or all of the lights as needed from a distance, so you can take in the scene as you make adjustments.

Lights/Brightness: 192 LED beads | Color Temperature Range: 3300K to 5600K | Power Options: Adapter or battery | Adjustable: Yes

Best for Tabletop Use: Emart LED Video Light

Emart LED Video Light
What We Like
  • Tabletop mount included

  • USB plug

  • Four color filters included

  • Very inexpensive

What We Don't Like
  • Only one ball head

  • Not powerful

This Emart set of two LED lights is great for close-up photography and tabletop photography. You get a complete kit including two lights, two stands, and two small tabletop stands. The lights aren't terribly powerful; you won't fill a room with them, but they'll do very nicely for close up photography. If you want to add a little color to your shots, each light has four color filters you can put in to adjust the lighting.

If you want to use the included stands, they extend from 21 inches all the way up to 54 inches in length. An included ball head lets you aim the lights anywhere you need them. The lights are powered by USB, which means you can plug them into any USB port or wall charger or even a portable battery pack. For the price, this is a nice set of lights that can help you up your product photography game.

Lights/Brightness: 66 LED bulbs | Color Temperature Range: 5600K only | Power Options: USB | Adjustable: Yes

Best for Social Media: Emart 6'' LED Ring Light with Tripod Stand

What We Like
  • Clever stand design

  • Built-in stand

  • In-line remote

  • Two-pack

What We Don't Like
  • Built-in stand seems flimsy

If you're working on the Instagram or TikTok circuit, take a look at these ring lights from Emart. They come in a two-pack, so you can really light up the scene. Ring lights are all the rage on social media, so if that's your aim, this is the right tool for the job. You can adjust the lights with the in-line remote to any of the three light modes and 11 brightness levels. 

The neatest part about these lights are the stands, which are built into the base of the ring light.  Three spring-loaded feet extend down out of the light's bottom to form a nice little tripod. You can rotate the points of the tripod down to get a bit more elevation and/or stability. It's a neat design that we're fans of here, even if some reviewers suggested that the built-in stand is a bit on the flimsy side. While that is concerning, we nonetheless love the design.

Lights/Brightness: 11 brightness levels | Color Temperature Range: N/A | Power Options: USB | Adjustable: Yes

Final Verdict

It's hard to find a better value than the Neewer 660 LED Light Kit (view at Amazon). You've got two large LED panels with all the accessories you could ask for. Barn doors, batteries, power adapters, carrying cases, and more all come in this nice little package. If you're just starting out in photography or videography, or you want to add to your studio, this is a great pick.

The GVM LED Video Lighting Kit (view at Amazon) is also a great solution for your video lighting needs. While this setup does not include batteries, it does allow you to connect to the lights via an app so you can control them from your phone.

About Our Trusted Experts

Adam Doud has been writing in the technology space for almost a decade. When he's not hosting the Benefit of the Doud podcast, he's playing with the latest phones, tablets, and laptops. When not working, he's a cyclist, geocacher, and spends as much time outside as he can.

FAQs

Why do you need lighting for photography?
Lighting is critical for taking great photos and shooting video. Without proper lighting, your subject could be too dark to see, or grainy. Harsh lighting like direct sunlight is no better since it tends to blow out highlights and leave your subject overexposed. Quality lighting rigs will help you get the right balance of light and shadow.

What is the best way to use lighting?
The most common way to light a subject is by using the three-point method. A primary light, or key light, is placed at a 45-degree angle from your subject, with a secondary fill light placed 45 degrees the other direction. A third, optional backlight is placed high behind the subject, often opposite the key light. This fills out the background behind the subject and provides a sense of depth. 

What does bi-color mean?
Some lights can change their light temperature between two different settings, giving you more options on how to light your subject. Bi-color lights usually flip between 5,600 Kelvin (comparable to daylight) and 3,200 Kelvin (comparable to incandescent lights). This is handy because it can give you different looks on your subject, and allows your light to adapt to light already present in the room.

What to Look For in an LED Light Kit

Light Temperature

Light temperature is measured in Kelvins. Typically photographers prefer to use lights in the 5,600 Kelvin range, as they give an appearance similar to daylight. Other color temperatures are possible, and their main purpose is to change the look of the subject for more artistic shots. For a sense of realism, you'll have to look for a light in the 5,000 Kelvin range. If you want warmer tones, look for lower Kelvin temperatures.

Stands

Lights typically need to be mounted on something, so you'll want to look for lighting rigs that have their own stands. Not only will this give you a more complete lighting setup, but it makes your lights an all-in-one solution. Of course, if you already have a way to mount lights, this is less important.

Power/Battery

Powering your lights is also quite important. How your lights are powered will determine where and how you can use them. Batteries provide a more portable solution, but of course, they'll be limited in duration. AC-powered lights will not run out of juice, but of course you'll be more limited in where you can use them.

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