Making the right lighting setup can add incredible value to your YouTube channel.
The lack of good lighting might even be a reason for having lower views and subscribers than you want. Without the proper setup, viewers will get the feeling that your channel isn’t as a professional as it could be.
However, creating a great lighting setup can be tough if you have no experience doing it.
How many lights should you use? Where should you position them? Should you invest in other pieces of gear like umbrellas or softboxes? What sort of lighting equipment best content creators on YouTube use?
This guide aims to explain the best lighting for YouTube videos. You’ll find out more about lighting your scene, how many lights you need, what other gear you can get, and some of the best setups available on the market.
How To Set Your Lighting With Different Amounts Of Gear
Having multiple lights works best for making your scene look great.
However, finding the budget for such an investment isn’t easy. So, here are some tips for lighting your shots with no dedicated lights, one light, and multiple lights.
Using Zero Lights
If you don’t have any lights for filming, you can take advantage of what you do have.
If you have a window, position yourself at the best point to light yourself well. Directly in front of it will work best as your face will be lit in about the same amount on both sides.
Sitting sideways to the window will create harsh shadows on one side of your face.
This can work well in some cases if you want to look more dramatic. However, for the most part, it won’t look very professional.
You should have lights built into the room that aren’t part of a rig, but can light the space. Use these to your advantage too. Make sure they light you from above and in front. Straight above will cast unflattering shadows and hot spots, so try to sit slightly back.
Lamps are also great as they can be moved around for the best results.
They can also add good color to the background if you want to create some separation. They are also a lot cheaper than professional lighting setup.
Using One Light
If you have enough money for one light, finding the best position will make a huge difference to your setup.
Above eye level and slightly to the side works best.
You’ll have a well-lit face but won’t be blinded from staring straight into it. If you wear glasses, this is extra important. If the light isn’t slightly above you, the reflection in your glasses will show up prominently in your camera.
You also want to keep it at a distance from the camera. It doesn’t have to be by much. Just enough that it doesn’t appear in the shot or create any glare.
If you want to look a bit more dramatic, move the light further to the side. One side of your face will be well-lit, while the other won’t. Make sure the shadows on the dark side of your face aren’t too harsh though.
Having a diffuser can create a better look by reducing shadows as the light will be spread out more evenly. If you don’t have one, use a pillow case or some baking paper.
Using Multiple Lights
Using two lights will work even better than one. You’ll have a primary light and a filler.
The primary should be set up similarly to how you would only use one light - slightly above eye level and off to the side.
The second light is to fill in the shadows on the other side of your face. It doesn’t need to be as bright as the primary.
It just needs to reduce the shadows on the dark side. Having the primary and filler at different levels can make the shot more interesting and natural. If you can’t reduce the brightness, try putting it a bit further away.
You can also choose to keep the primary in front of you and the filler for the background. By shining it dimly at your back wall, you can create extra separation between yourself or the subject of your shot and the rest of the scene.
If you have a third light, you can take this setup to the next level. Use all of the suggestions mentioned above: a primary for your face, a filler to reduce shadows, and a background light for separation.
Extra Gear To Invest In
A good lighting setup isn’t just made up of lights. You can upgrade your rig with some of these gadgets:
- Barn doors
- Smart light bulbs
Quick Lighting Tips To Keep In Mind
- Lighting is a creative process: you don’t need to stick to a lighting setup that everyone else uses. If you find an effect that you feel adds value to your videos, use it.
- Prioritize the subject: the presenter or subject of the video should be lit first. They’re the most important part of the shot. If you have enough gear for the background, go for it. Just make sure you don’t waste resources where they’re not needed.
- Match color temperatures: when using multiple lights, try to match the color temperature of the primary and filler. If they are very different, they will create a strange effect on your face.
Best Vlogging & Streaming Lighting Setups
Now that you know how to light your room efficiently, here are some lights that are versatile and can enhance your lighting setup.
LED panels are innovative lighting devices which tend to be a lot less heavy than traditional lights and use less energy.
The Neewer NL480 Bi-color LED panel is no exception. It comes with 480 LED pieces that only need 28W to function.
The reason for the high number of diodes is that it can be used for white and yellow coloring.
There are 240 beads for each color. You can use each group individually or blend them together for different color temperatures, from 3200 to 5600K.
Most of this panel is made of aluminum, so it’s sturdy and light. This makes it perfect for bringing with you on shoots. Another bonus is that it can take two batteries or be plugged in.
Finally, it has its own diffuser, so you won’t need to worry about buying extra gear. You can already work with different combinations of colors and diffused light.
The RX-8T model from Falconeyes is a compact light made up of 90 LEDs. They are connected to a soft pad which gives it its versatility. You can bend it in many directions. Closing it in on itself can focus the beam, or you can open it up and get 360º light.
It comes with an AC power adaptor, but can be used with an F-mount battery. This means you can use it in your studio or take it with you for outdoor shots. The size of the pad adds to its transportability.
You get stepless dimming from zero to 100% and a 5600K color temperature. It can work well as a primary or filler light, and can be accessorized with a softbox.
Rotolight NEO 2
The Rotolight NEO 2 is the perfect light for both filmmakers and photographers. It has a large range of color temperatures, from 3150 to 6300K, which can be changed easily with the knob on the back.
If you buy a set, you can group them together and control them 10 at a time. This makes it really simple to set up your rig and quickly correct your lighting conditions. No matter if you need a primary light or several fillers, the NEO 2 is versatile enough for both.
Photographers can take advantage of the high speed flash sync. If you’re shooting bursts of photos, these lights won’t miss a shot. Or you can keep them on continuously for a “shoot as you see” vibe.
The Godox SL-60 is a part of a great line of lights that are perfect for vlogging and streaming. It works best as a studio light because it needs to be plugged in. There isn’t a battery option.
You can group several of these together and control them at the same time. There is a remote control for changing the settings and this also works for the groups.
It can work as a primary light if your video has one subject.
However, it is better as a filler if you have more subjects on screen as the output is relatively low. You can choose between white (5600K) and tungsten (3300K) models.
This is another reason to decide beforehand if you want one as a primary or filler light. White tends to work best as a natural vibe, while yellow is warmer and can work well as a filler.
It comes with a reflector and is easy to add accessories, like diffusers, to.
If you’re looking for a large LED panel, the Raleno PLV-S192 is a great choice.
This brand makes panels of all sizes which can be mixed and matched for perfect lighting setups.
The 192 LED beads are housed in a sturdy metal frame. The whole panel can be adjusted back and forth up to 90º, making it easy to light different areas of your space. The color can also be adjusted, from 3200 to 5600K.
There is an LCD display on the rear of the panel for changing the settings. You can quickly change color temperature and brightness from here.
You will also find the charging input on the back. The batteries can last up to one and a half hours and can be charged while the light is in use.
What You Need To Keep In Mind Before Buying
- Color Temperature: if you are planning on buying two lights for lighting your face, aim for ones with similar color temperatures or adjustable levels.
- Brightness: being able to change the brightness of your lights can make it easier to find the perfect setup.
- Cooling: lights can heat up quickly, so make sure they have a good cooling system. Some come with fans which are efficient but can make noise which might be picked up by your mics.
- Power Source: if you need to take your rig with you for outdoor shots, battery powered lights are best. Check if the gear you’re interested in has AC power, batteries, or a mixture of both.
Vloggers, streamers, and other YouTube creators should pay careful attention to their lighting setup.
The better the lighting, the better your channel will be, and the more viewers you will attract.
Knowing how to light your workspace is crucial. No matter how good your lights are, they won’t be enough if you don’t use them correctly. And figuring out how many lights you really need can make a big difference to your budget. If you have good natural light coming through your window, maybe one fill light will be enough.
With a bigger budget, you can fill in your background with colors for extra separation. But keep in mind that lighting is only one part of the puzzle; if you do have an extra budget, think about other important equipment for your YouTube channel.
All of the lights mentioned above are great options for YouTubers with different budgets and needs.
They are versatile, so can be used as primary or filler lights, and most can be used outdoors.
Now that you know more about lighting, you can create a great setup to enhance your videos.
What kind of setup do you have? Feel free to share your tips with other readers.