There’s no point having a nice camera if you don’t have the lighting to reach its capabilities.
Lighting is a crucial tool in a streamer’s arsenal. Having as much control as possible is key to achieving the best lighting for your stream as everybody’s setup is different. With this in mind, here’s a list of some of the best all-round lighting options to sharpen up your setup.
Stream Lighting: The Best Lights For Your Live Streaming Setup
1. Elgato Key Light
Elgato’s Key Light is super convenient, both in setup and customization. It’s well-worth the price tag if you don’t want to worry about lighting again in the future.
- The stand clamps straight on to your desk.
- Light produced is nice and soft.
- Integrates with the Elgato StreamDeck.
- It’s expensive, considering you only get one light.
- You’ll never want to make use of 2800 Lumens if you’re positioning the light in front of you.
- It requires WiFi to setup & customize.
For those that haven’t encountered Elgato before, they’re a sub-brand of Corsair dedicated to creating products catered specifically for live streamers and content creators. With this in mind, there is a little bit of a brand name premium built in to the price here, but that doesn’t subtract from the fact that it’s a top-notch stream light.
Paired with a good camera, your viewers will be able to see every freckle on your skin if you’re using the Elgato Key Light, offering 2800 Lumens and full control over radiance and color temperature (2900K – 7000K) via an accompanying app. Okay, I’m joking about that first part, but this is a jack-of-all-trades light considered by many to belong in endgame streaming setups due to the high price tag, but it’s a premium experienced live streamers are willing to pay due to the Elgato StreamDeck integration, added control over their lighting (not to mention the desk space they save) and simply – just how convenient they are.
The stand clamps directly on to your desk and features an adjustable ball joint at the top, giving you the option to position the light in either portrait or landscape.
For those looking for stream lighting with the intention of using a green screen, one of these key lights will be enough to sufficiently light your backdrop if the light is placed directly in front of you. This is because sufficient green screen lighting relies on evenly distributed light, however it’s unlikely that this same lighting will be flattering to your person, so in an ideal world it’s best to have two lights placed either side of your desk.
Elgato also make a smaller (and slightly cheaper) air variant of the key light, which removes the desk clamp at the base and instead opts for a more traditional stand. As you’d expect, the Key Light Air also isn’t as powerful as its bigger brother, offering half the amount of Lumens however 1400 is still ample to achieve good stream lighting.
2. Neewer Ring Light Kit:18″/48cm Outer 55W 5500K Dimmable LED Ring Light
Neewer’s 18″ ring light is an ample middle-ground choice for those that don’t want to over complicate their streaming light setup.
- Deeply competitive price for what it provides.
- It’ll come in handy when shooting photos for social media.
- It’s fairly large, so it’s not suited to smaller setups, but it is portable.
- It’s expensive if you need more than one.
Neewer’s balance of build quality and price point is why you see so many of their products featured in tons of streaming setups. This 18″ ring light is a viable alternative to using soft boxes for your stream lighting, as it also serves a double purpose in helping you shoot nicer photos for your social media.
Due to the size of the stand and how wide the actual light itself is, you’ll have to be conscious of where you’re going to position the light and whether you’re going to make use of the lights capability to hold your camera within the ring.
Two snap-on filters are provided with this light – White & Orange. Brightness can be adjusted on the fly via remote control, helping to eliminate any webcam pixelation caused by bad lighting.
Editor’s Note: This product was also featured in our dedicated ring light review page. If you’re considering a ring light for your setup, you can learn more about these in our guide to the best ring light for streaming.
3. Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance 2-Pack A19 LED Smart Bulb
Philips Hue Smart Bulbs are an effective solution for streamers looking to get that subtle neon glow.
- You’ll use them even when you’re not streaming.
- Fully customizable via the Philips Hue app.
- RGB colors will help jazz up plain looking webcam backdrops.
- You’ll need to buy your own light fixtures.
- Not as powerful as some of the usual suspects seen in stream setups, but they weren’t designed with streaming in mind, after all.
Out of all of the lights for streaming, I’d say that this is one of the more underrated setups to go for. If you have a few old desk lamps lying around, you can switch out the old bulbs in place of some Smart bulbs and position them behind your monitor.
They’re also flexible in that you can have one or two bulbs on your desk set to White for the purpose of illuminating your face, as well as some ambient lights around your room set to an RGB color of your choosing, all integrated into one setup that can be controlled by your smartphone.
If you’re into the whole Smart-home thing, you may already have some of these around the house, in which case you won’t need to buy any additional lights for streaming.
4. Neewer 2 Packs Dimmable 5600K USB LED Video Light with Adjustable Tripod Stand/Color Filters
An affordable solution for those looking to get started on their stream lighting setup.
- You get two lights, despite the low price tag.
- The stand is highly adjustable, making it easy to position on your desk.
- Three extra color filters if you don’t fancy using White light.
- They’ll eat away at precious USB slots.
- Can’t be controlled via your PC, despite being USB powered.
- The stand has a wide base, which isn’t ideal for small desks if you’re using two of them.
Whilst they won’t cover as much ground as a soft box or ring light, if you’re starting to get serious about Twitch / Mixer streaming, these LED panels by Neewer will tide you over for quite some time before you crave an upgrade.
They’re a little bit utilitarian in their design, but they will do everything you need them to, which is why they’re one of the best lights for streaming if you don’t want to break the bank.
Brightness levels can be adjusted from 10% to 100% by using the controller attached along the USB cable and the light itself is 180 degree adjustable. Combined with the screw-in light fixture, you’ll be able to position the light in either portrait or landscape.
In the box, you’ll also get x2 of four different color filters, ranging from White, Yellow, Red & Blue. It’s mainly the White filter you’ll be using, in order to soften up the light emitted but of course you can still use the light without making use of the filters if you need the harsher lighting (if you’re bouncing light off of another surface, for instance).
5. LE LED Strip Lights
Streaming from a dark room? Create some ambiance with these cheap LED strip lights.
- They’re an inexpensive way to upgrade your backdrop.
- Choose from up to 20 RGB colors.
- Strip lights are often flimsy to install.
- Not as adjustable or convenient as a Philips Hue Lighstrip, but they’re a fraction of the price.
Good stream lighting isn’t exclusively about lighting your face – it’s also an effective way to dress up the backdrop of your webcam.
That’s where these LED strips come in – you can place them around your room (ideally without the bulbs being directly shown) behind surfaces such as desks or shelves to give your background a nice neon glow to it.
The strips can be cut with scissors, enabling you to fit the strips flush with your surface of choice. On the back of the LED strips sits a layer of 3M adhesive sticky tape for easy application.
Stream Lighting Buyer’s Guide
What kind of lights do streamers use?
There are multiple types of lighting available to streamers however you will typically see broadcasters use soft boxes, ring lights or LED panels.
Soft boxes are typically used in photography setups. They’re designed to diffuse harsh lighting and give off a much softer and more pleasant effect. Due to the size of them, they’re not as commonly used by live streamers compared to LED Panels or Ring Lights.
Ring lights are growing in popularity with streamers that don’t want to over-complicate things. They’re essentially a circle shaped light filled with hundreds of powerful LEDs with room for a camera to be mounted within the circle. This allows streamers to position both their camera and light straight ahead of them, providing evenly distributed light without having to purchase multiple lights for three-point lighting.
LED Panels do exactly what they say on the tin – they’re rectangular shaped lights that are easy to position and are able fit in gaps that soft boxes / ring lights simply won’t.
What are the benefits of good stream lighting?
Lighting makes a huge difference in the appearance of your webcam quality on stream. Having a decent setup will make you look ten times more professional and help you get your moneys worth out of your webcam or DSLR. (Side note: If you’ve got to the point where you’re already using a DSLR as your stream camera, you should absolutely have a good lighting setup in place.)
What to Consider when looking at streaming lights
When choosing the right lighting for your Twitch stream, it’s important to think about whether you’re going to upgrade other areas of your streaming setup in the future, such as your webcam.
If so, think about where you want your camera to be positioned and whether you’re going to be able to position an adequate amount of lighting nearby.
Streaming lights often have wide bases which will take up valuable space on your desk, especially if you’ve already purchased an audio mixer or StreamDeck.
If you’re someone that likes to change up your setup or bedroom a lot, lights which are more portable will be infinitely more convenient to you than something like a soft box.
One of the main factors in deciding on a light for streaming is the cost. If you’re early on in to your streaming career, you will probably be able to get away with some cheaper lights rather than diving into a high-end Elgato setup straight away.
How to use lights for streaming
Whilst everyone has a different setup for their stream, in an ideal world a three-point lighting setup would provide the best lighting for streaming.
Buying three new lights is expensive though, so in order to make use of what you’ve got, you’ll need to position your lights accordingly to focus on your face without casting a jarring shadow. This means placing either one light directly in front of you, or two lights positioned either side of your desk.
Are there any downsides to a stream lighting setup?
Powerful lights have a tendency to get warm, which is going to start diffusing into the room you’re streaming from.
You’re also going to be using more electricity as well as exposing your eyes to more direct light than they’re used to, which will cause headaches after long sessions of usage.
Yellow / Orange filters can help ease some of the aching, however those that get frequent headaches should consider getting both an eye test and some specialized glasses to help with reflecting light.