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What Is a Ring Light and What Does It Do?

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If you consume content on social media, you’re already familiar with the effects of a ring light. But what is it, exactly? And what is its purpose?

A man holding a ring light

If you’re into photography or videography, you know that good lighting is essential for shooting amazing content. And to get well-lit images or videos, you can’t entirely rely on natural light. That’s why many professionals use artificial lighting devices while shooting. One of the commonly used devices for lighting is a ring light.

It’s easier to use than other traditional lightning devices, which is the main reason why ring lights are popular. But do you know what a ring light really is and its purpose? Let us fill you in.


What Is a Ring Light?

Small Ring Light

As the name suggests, a ring light is a circular lighting device. A ring light can be one uniform circular fluorescent bulb, or several small LEDs arranged side by side to form a large circular light. Some ring lights allow you to control the type of lighting depending on your setup.

Ring lights come in two flavors; those that you can attach directly to the camera lens, and larger ones that allow you to shoot through them. The second category is sometimes called a beauty or glamour light due to the way it’s used (keep reading to find out what for). Some are versatile, while others target specific use cases.

What Does a Ring Light Do?

Person Taking Selfie With Ring Light

Although ring lights were originally created for hospitals and dentistry, their utility has been realized far beyond the medical field. The key purpose of a ring light is to provide a uniform light source, stepping up where natural light isn’t available or sufficient. It is mainly used to evenly illuminate a subject.

MAKEUSEOF VIDEO OF THE DAY

A ring light places the origin of light closer to the optical axis of a shooting lens. Not only does this eliminate sharp shadows and soften harsh textures, but it also brings more clarity to photos and videos. Ring lights help reduce blemishes as well, which explains why influencers in those Instagram glamour shots always look so perfect.

Example Applications of Ring Lights

A lady in front of a ring light

The first use case we’ll look at is macro photography. In macro photography, an object is shot from a very close distance, focusing on a specific feature. A ring light helps evenly illuminate the target object and makes those tiny details stand out. Check out our beginner’s guide to macro photography for further detail.


Unsurprisingly, ring lights come in handy with portrait photography. It will save you from the struggle of fixing bad lightning in post-production later on.

Video production is another form of content creation where ring lights are used. It smooths out the shadows on the primary subject and makes them stand out from the background. They help achieve that perfect cinematic look that YouTubers fancy, especially product reviewers and makeup artists.

Ring lights are also very prevalent in makeup application. It provides the perfect conditions to ensure the whole process goes smoothly. That’s why a ring light is a must for social media models and YouTubers who shoot makeup tutorials. They’re also great for attending conference calls or online classes as they help you stand out and make your face look brighter.


Illuminate Any Scene With a Ring Light

If you’re a content creator, makeup artist, photographer, or selfie enthusiast, this might be your sign to pick up a ring light. It will produce stunning images and videos by illuminating the subject or yourself and bringing forth the details while hiding imperfections—ultimately making you a better creator.

After reading this article, you might be in the market for a ring light. Well, there are plenty to choose from. They’re easy to use, versatile, relatively affordable, and come with a whole lot of extras.


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