Streaming isn’t just about being entertaining; it’s also about forming and maintaining a bond with your audience. A lot goes into it, but one of the most crucial aspects is looking great on camera, with awesome lighting that ensures you’re always visible to your fans. And that’s why anybody with serious streaming aspirations should consider investing in the best lighting for streaming.
There are many solutions out there, from studio-grade lighting equipment to more compact desktop solutions. However, we’ve focused primarily on desktop setups here, as we think these will appeal to the broadest range of users.
- Best Ring Light for Streaming: Elgato Ring Light is an ultra-high-quality ring light with excellent lighting, build quality, and useful software controls.
- Best Value Ring Light for Streaming: Razer Ring Light has decent specs and a great price, with the bonus of a full-size tripod for extra versatility.
- Best Key Light for Streaming: Elgato Key Light Air is a bright, smartly designed key light with a wide color temperature range and handy software controls.
- Best Value Key Light for Streaming: Logitech Litra Glow is a perfect starter key light, with its monitor mount, excellent diffuser, and affordable price.
- Best Budget Key Light for Streaming: Neeweer LED Video Light isn’t fancy but will do the job if you’re on a budget. Two for the price of one makes these a great deal.
- Best RGB Key Light for Streaming: Razer Key Light Chroma may just prove that bigger is better, with a massive panel and full RGB configuration via Razer Synapse for fancy lighting effects.
Our Favorite Lights for Streaming
The Elgato Ring Light is likely one of the priciest ring lights available. But it’s well worth the price, packing high-quality LEDs, excellent diffusion, and top-class build quality. This is the ring light to get if you’re looking for the best.
Elgato’s 17-inch Ring Light impresses right out of the gate with its 2500-lumen maximum brightness, supplied by fully dimmable OSRAM LEDs. The color range is also excellent, starting at a warm 2900 K and going up to a nearly pure white at 7000 K. Unlike some cheaper competitors, you have full control over the Ring Light’s temperature without being limited to preset color temperatures.
The Elgato Ring Light is an edge-lit light, which has several benefits. For one, the LEDs aren’t firing straight into your eyes, reducing eye strain and fatigue. It also helps direct the LEDs’ heat output away from you, so you won’t feel that typical LED warmth if you have the ring light close to your face.
It has two diffusion layers to ensure that the edge-lit LEDs cast smooth, flattering light onto your face or whatever else you wish to light. The Ring Light also has flicker-free LEDs to ensure consistent lighting throughout your streams. Many cheap ring lights fail here, so it’s good to see that Elgato has spent the time and money to get it right.
The Ring Light’s hardware is also impressive and goes a long way to justify the price. First up is the central camera mount. It has a ball joint that lets you position your camera independently of the Ring Light, which is a great touch. The mount also has metal ¼ threading, which will last much longer than the plastic hardware of cheaper rivals.
The Ring Light also mounts onto the stand with a ball mount, allowing free and precise adjustments. It ships with a telescoping desk clamp mount that goes from 13 to 21 inches, although you can buy an optional desk stand.
Like the Elgato Key Light, the Ring Light lets you change brightness and color temperature from Elgato’s software and the Stream Deck. However, unlike the Key Light, the Ring Light includes physical buttons for increasing and decreasing the brightness and color temperature in small increments.
Elgato’s Ring Light is pricey, but it’s a perfect example of getting what you pay for. It’s a bright, well-designed, and excellently built light that’s almost guaranteed to kick your stream quality up significantly.
Not everyone is willing to spend north of $150 for a ring light, as good as it may be. That’s where Razer’s Ring Light enters the picture. It’s a solid, good-quality ring light with decent brightness, USB power, and a handy tripod stand that allows it to work in multiple situations for under $100.
Let’s be clear: Razer’s Ring Light isn’t some technical tour-de-force with incredible brightness or anything of the sort. But what you do get is a 500-lumen 12″ ring light equipped with 192 LEDs and a built-in diffuser for soft, flattering lighting. It can’t compete with Elgato’s offering, but it’s a solid setup that should work for most users.
Razer’s Ring Light occupies a middle ground between ultra-budget ring lights—many of which aren’t great—and premium units like our previous pick. A good example is the color temperature: where cheap ring lights use external filters, the Razer Ring Light comes with three preset color temperatures you choose via software: 3000, 4500, and 6500 K.
It’s not as good as having a freely adjustable color temperature setting, but it’s still a lot more convenient than having to get up and swap physical color filters. We think Razer chose the preset color temperatures well; they should be fine for almost all users and stream setups.
Razer ships its Ring Light with a tripod, making it much more versatile than pure desktop ring lights. The tripod retracts to 15.8″ inches, too, which means you can use it perfectly fine on the desktop. The downside, of course, is that a tripod takes up a lot more space on your desk than a clamp-mount stand (for example).
We also appreciate that the Razer Ring Light is a USB-powered device. While this undoubtedly has something to do with the comparatively low 500-lumen maximum brightness, it does mean that the Ring Light is a truly portable solution, as it’ll run off of a standard power bank. Need to do some on-location vlogging but need some better light? The Razer’s got you covered.
All in all, we like the Razer Ring Light and think it’s a great solution for the average streamer. Sure, it doesn’t have the brightest light, and the lack of freely adjustable color temperature may be an issue in some situations. However, its keen pricing and included tripod make it worth considering, especially given its roughly $80 MSRP.
Elgato is a household name for streaming hardware, so it’s no surprise that the company makes some top-notch lights. The Key Light Air sits at the top of the company’s key light offerings, with its excellent brightness, wide temperature range, and remote operation, all attached to a versatile stand.
The Key Light Air is a technical marvel, boasting 80 high-quality OSRAM LEDs split between warm and cool temperatures. This combination allows for its impressively wide color temperature range of 2700 to 7000 kelvin. While some lights will go warmer, few can compete with the nearly perfect white that the Elgato can achieve at 7000 K.
You also get an 1800 lumens maximum brightness, which is impressive for a desktop light. Granted, most of you likely won’t need nearly that much light, but it’s a great option to have. It lets you experiment with cranking up the brightness and placing your lights further away, which can provide a subtly different effect to a dimmer light placed up close.
All of this temperature and brightness versatility would be of little use if you had to lean over and adjust the settings manually every time you wanted a change. Thankfully, Elgato has a software control solution—available on Android, iOS, Mac, and PC—that lets you independently adjust the color and brightness of your Key Lights.
We also really like the Key Light Air’s included stand. You get height hatch marks for precise height adjustment, a cable management rail to keep your setup clean, and a swivel mount that lets you angle your light perfectly for your face. The 34.65-inch maximum height and roughly 45-degree kink are also great features, as they help the light clear your monitors while sitting reasonably close to your face.
The Key Light Air is fully compatible with Elgato’s Stream Deck, giving you hands-on control of several lighting options without needing the software. You can adjust brightness and color temperature in steps or set them to specific values. For example, the latter can be quite handy for cranking up the brightness when you’re shouting out subs or donations.
You’re getting you’re money’s worth here, that’s for sure. And that’s essential, considering the Key Light Air’s $130 MSRP. These are pricey lights, doubly so since you’ll likely need two to get truly balanced lighting. But there aren’t many options that offer this level of illumination and build quality in one package, making the Elgato Key Light Air a compelling choice if you want to level up your stream.
Logitech’s Litra Glow LED streaming light is a great option for streamers, especially those just starting out. It has a wide temperature range and solid brightness, all while mounting easily to your monitor without needing extra hardware.
The Litra Glow is a compact key light with a temperature range of 2700 to 6500 kelvin and a maximum brightness of 250 lumens. The temperature range isn’t the widest, but we think it’s more than enough for most setups. You’re only really missing out on pure white, which isn’t a particularly flattering color for lighting a face anyway.
Two-hundred-and-fifty lumens of brightness is low compared to most other options on our list. However, we don’t think it’s a major drawback unless you’re streaming in a dark room. The Litra Glow works best as a fill light with good ambient lighting, so its relatively low brightness compared to other products isn’t an issue.
The frameless diffuser is a great boon here, helping you make the most out of those 250 lumens with soft, balanced lighting that will never cast your face in harsh lighting. This diffuser also ensures that the light retains most of your natural skin tone, which can be challenging with less diffuse lighting. So while it seems like a minor detail, the Litra Glow’s diffuser is actually one of its standout features.
But that’s not all, of course. The Litra Glow comes with a handy monitor mount that lets you attach it to the top of a monitor with no extra hardware required. This ease of installation can be a lifesaver if you’re on a tight budget or don’t have the space for a dedicated stand. And if you do have a tripod, you can simply unscrew the stand to expose a standard ¼” -20 tripod mount.
That said, if you’re looking for a light that’ll compensate for streaming in a dark room, the Litra Glow isn’t it. Beyond that minor issue, however, there isn’t much to complain about with the Logitech Litra Glow. It looks great and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. We think this is a great place to start unless you know you’re after something specific.
If you’re trying to improve your lighting on a budget, then Neeweer’s dual LED lights might just be the product for you. They’re not nearly as fancy as our first two picks, but at less than $50 for two, they’re an affordable way to add balanced lighting to your setup for not much money.
These Neeweer lights output between 100 to 1000 lumens, which should be more than enough for most streaming setups. They’re not the brightest lights ever, but considering the price, that’s not an issue. The lack of a built-in diffuser means you shouldn’t be cranking them anyway, especially not if you’re placing them directly in front of you as key lights.
You also miss out on adjustable color temperatures here, with the lights shipping with fixed-color 5600 K LEDs. However, Neeweer ships these lights with old-school color filters (red, white, blue, and yellow) to help you adjust the lighting to suit your needs. While this might seem like a crude solution, it means you can make or buy your color filters to adjust the color balance further.
We appreciate that the Neeweer lights come with stands, although they’re not the best stands out there. They top out at about 11 inches, so they won’t go behind your monitor(s) like the Elgato lights. But unless you’re rocking some massive triple-monitor display, we think most setups should have enough room to place them beside the main monitor.
Overall, the Neeweer LED video lights are a solid, if imperfect, solution for lighting your webcam feed. You will have to deal with several compromises, some of which will likely turn some users off. However, they’re a great cheap lighting kit for anyone starting out on a budget.
Razer’s Key Light Chroma is exorbitantly expensive for a desktop key light, but you get a lot for your money: a ton of LEDs, class-leading brightness, and 16.8 million colors for setting any mood you desire.
Razer seems to have followed the “go big or go home” adage with the Key Light Chroma. The light panel is 14.1 x 10.2 inches, casting a wide swathe of light across your setup. You’ll still want two light panels for the most balanced lighting, but its sheer size means you could conceivably get away with a single Key Light Chroma behind your monitor.
Maximum brightness is a staggering 2800 lumens, adjustable between 0 to 100%. The Razer’s color temperature range is also impressive, topping out at 7000 K for a pure, brilliant white. The 3000 K minimum is a bit higher than most competitors, but we don’t think most of you will notice unless you’re really after a warm tone to your webcam feed.
Of course, you’re not limited to the traditional color temperature range with the Key Light Chroma. These are full RGB lights, with access to all 16.8 million colors you expect from any modern RGB device. Whether you’re going heavy on the cyberpunk purple to suit your gaming wall lights or just need a hint of color to balance things out, the Key Light Chroma has you covered.
Like any premium light worth its salt, you can adjust the Key Light Chroma via software. You can use Razer’s Synapse desktop program or the Razer Streaming app on Android or iOS. Synapse interaction also opens up several interactivity options, a nice touch that most other lights don’t offer. You can set the lights to change color when you receive donations or subs, for example.
As you may expect for the price, the Razer Key Light Chroma comes with a telescoping table clamp stand. It supports up to 2.95-inch tables and extends from 21.7 to 53.1 inches. So you shouldn’t have any issues with the stand, regardless of your setup.
Overall, the Razer Key Light Chroma is an impressive, if expensive, stream light. It won’t be for everyone, but those who want full RGB lighting, software integration, and a ton of light will be hard-pressed to find anything better.
Before You Buy
If you’re new to lights and lighting, you may have noticed several unfamiliar concepts, such as lumens and color temperature. Both are crucial when buying a light for streaming (or any light, really), as they determine the light’s brightness and color. Let’s quickly discuss both and touch on ring lights vs. key lights while we’re at it.
There are two units of measurement for light or brightness: lux and lumens. Lux measures the amount of light that falls on a surface, while lumens measures the amount of light that emits from a surface. So, since we’re talking about lights, lumens is the measurement to look out for.
The higher the number, the brighter the light. But brighter lights aren’t always the solution, so all our picks feature dimmable LEDs that let you adjust the light output to suit your environment. There aren’t any hard and fast rules about how much or little light you need, so it’s worth experimenting to see how many lumens you need from your streaming light.
That said, we wouldn’t recommend you opt for anything dimmer than the Logitech Litra Glow and its 250-lumen output.
Color temperature refers to how warm (orange) or cool (blue/white) the light is and ranges from 1000 to 10000 kelvin. The higher the number, the whiter your light. So, for example, a 2600 K light will have a significant yellow or amber look to it, while a temperature in the 7000 K range will come across as almost perfectly white.
There’s no “correct” temperature. It all depends on what you’re going for with your stream. That’s why lights with adjustable color temperatures are so crucial for streamers. If you’re trying to create a warm, cozy look for your just chatting stream, you may want to reduce the color temperature and get a warmer glow.
On the other hand, cool lighting often creates a more professional, serious atmosphere. While that’s not always for everyone, it might be just the ticket if you’re a budding Richard Lewis looking to make a name for yourself.
Key vs. Ring Lights
If you’re shopping for the best streaming lights, you’ll likely end up choosing between key lights and ring lights. Both are great options, but they offer slightly different forms of lighting that may or may not suit your setup.
Key lights are usually direct lights designed to illuminate your face directly alongside fill-in lighting. While the built-in diffuser panels on lights like the Elgato Key Light Air make them more versatile and help compensate for the lack of a dedicated fill-in light, they’re still best used in pairs if you want truly balanced lighting. So it can get pricey if you want to build a high-quality stream lighting setup using key lights.
Ring lights offer uniform, diffuse lighting that almost always looks flattering, no matter your setup. The great benefit of ring lights is that they’ll work in most lighting situations; you can use them in a poorly lit room without serious issues with harsh shadows or inconsistent lighting. Many ring lights also come with webcam, camera, or phone mounts in the middle, so you won’t have to worry about a complicated setup with multiple stands or tripods around you.
Figuring out the best lighting for streaming may not seem like a big deal, but it’s crucial for attracting and maintaining an audience. After all, streamers live and die on how well they interact with their viewers, and making sure you look good on camera is one of the best ways to give yourself a head start on that front.
Elgato’s Ring Light and Key Light Air are excellent products that will serve any streamer well, although their pricing means they’re not ideal for casual streamers or those new to the profession. If that’s the case, Razer’s Ring Light or the Logitech Litra Glow are excellent, good-value starter picks that will improve your stream quality immensely.
Visuals aren’t the only crucial aspect of streaming, however. Good audio is also important, so check out our list of the best microphone stands for streaming.