Camera Light Buying Guide (2022): Flash, LED, softbox, remote control, video light

Best way to build on your skills as a photographer or videographer is to learn the art of off-camera lighting — how to use flash or continuous lights set up on a stand around your subject take your photo or be held in your hand rather than mounted on your camera.

I wrote an entire tutorial about how to properly light your photos and videos. It’s filled with advice from experts who’ve spent their careers mastering the intricacies of light. And it’s a lifelong process, but with a few basic concepts and a few cheap tools, it’s a surprisingly accessible process.

Below are product recommendations from myself and the experts. We’ve rounded up good picks for beginners, as well as options for seasoned photographers and videographers looking to upgrade to more professional setups.

Be sure to check out our many other photo buying guides, like The best mirrorless camera, Best compact camera, Best camera bagand Best action camera.

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Start with a light

Camera lighting doesn’t have to be expensive. Sure, if you want the best Swedish-made lights in the world, they’ll cost you as much as a used car. But if you just want to develop your skills and start experimenting, you can start with an affordable luminaire.

Photographer and lighting instructor David Hobby says: “With the one-light kit, you can easily create images that are both evocative and more dimensional. “For that reason, I would suggest to any serious-minded photographer that she buys an off-camera light kit — and learn how to use it — before even getting her second lens. two”. Hobby even recommends getting a second light before the second lens: “With the second light (even cheaper than the first, since you don’t need a second wireless trigger) there is the ability to control your subject in layers. Or to create a lighting environment in the absence of any good quality ambient light. “

Hobby recommends choosing a reputable third-party flash — something made by a different manufacturer than your camera makes — as they are generally more affordable. Camera companies enjoy large profit margins on their flash to make up for the slim margins on their bodies and lenses. By purchasing third-party, Hobby explains, you can combine the entire kit including the flash, the stand, the swivel adapter, the light umbrella, and the wireless remote trigger for a fraction of the cost. Basic first-party flash.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you buy a high-end bulb with a proprietary attachment around the bulb to attach different dimmers, not only is the light expensive, but the accessories are also more expensive. If you purchase a device with a Bowens Mount (the standard holder for the vast majority of third-party accessories), it will be less expensive to purchase accessories, which will encourage more people to experiment freely with other accessories. different options.

A good entry level Flash

Photo: Godox

For just $65, this is the flash that David Hobby recommends for a low-end one-light kit. (This flash is also sold as Flashpoint Zoom R2 with US warranty.) You can mount this directly on your camera, or you can buy a stand to use it on a light stand with adjustment tools like umbrellas or softboxes. This is the flash included in the complete Kit $229 Recommended hobby about Strobist website.

Get remote activation too

With an off-camera flash or strobe, you need a remote trigger to make the flash fire from a distance when you press the shutter button. This remote trigger must be compatible with both your flash and your particular camera brand. If you use Godox or Flashpoint, you can easily read your adjustments thanks to the large backlit display. If you use a smaller mirrorless camera like the Fuji, smaller version is what Hobby recommends. It’s the same price.

Flash upgrade option

Photo: Flashpoint

This hybrid flash is also sold as the Godox AD200 Pro, but the Flashpoint version comes with a US warranty. This 250 watt strobe light comes with both a flash head and a bare bulb head, the latter of which provides better light spread for use with softboxes or umbrellas. (See our recommendations for these add-ons below and learn more about them in A comprehensive guide to lighting.)

Affordable and highly portable, this light is much more powerful than a regular flash without adding a lot of volume to your kit. If you’re choosing between this and a regular flash, keep in mind that this won’t mount on your camera like a flash. It includes a swivel stand for a lightweight stand, but $25 Glow S2 . Mounting Bracket (or Godox S2) will allow you to mount this light (or any flash) onto a light holder. The S2 also has the added benefit of having an umbrella holder and a holder for soft boxes.

Continuous light for video

Photo: Aputure

This new 65-watt continuous LED video light from Amaran is ready to plug in or can be run without a power cable if you use a Sony L-Series rechargeable battery (or compatible aftermarket battery). When video recording is plugged into AC power, the locking connector ensures you don’t accidentally pull it out while recording. Using the companion mobile app, you can control up to 100 Aputure and Amaran-branded lights with your phone or tablet, dialing in the entire multi-light setup on your mobile device.

Both 60d and 60x have just been released. The 60d is $30 cheaper and offers more brightness at full power. But the 60d’s color is daylight-balanced while the 60x is bi-color, meaning it can be adjusted to emit light from bright whites of daylight to a more candle-like yellow. . I appreciate that versatility in practice more than 60x’s additional brightness. Both versions come with a standard Bowens Mount, so they’ll work with a range of affordable third-party lighting tools like softboxes.

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