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The best lights for streaming on Twitch, YouTube, and TikTok

Having the right lighting setup can take your streams and videos to the next level by giving them a more professional look. And while you don't need to have a full studio's worth of lights, having a key or fill light will go a long way towards boosting your production values.
Written by Taylor Clemons, Staff Writer

If you're new to streaming, the right lighting setup can lend a more professional look to your videos. And established content creators know that different video types need different kinds of lighting. There are three basic types of lights for filming, photography, and streaming: key, fill, and ambient. Key lights are your main sources of illumination on set, meant to highlight your subject and direct focus. Fill lights are used to eliminate harsh shadows for more consistent colors. And ambient lighting is usually an RGB panel or lamp used to add a bit of visual flair to your videos or to tie in your branding to your set. 

Also: The 5 best streaming mics: Start that podcast or Twitch channel

Many lighting options for streamers integrate Bluetooth, 2.4GHz wireless connections, and Wi-Fi which allow you to connect companion apps, control decks, and remotes for more precise control over brightness, tone, and lighting patterns. To help you decide which type of light you need for your streams, I've put together a list of the best lights you can buy. I've chosen options from the three main categories as well as some others to help you find the right fit for your budget and your needs.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Quick and easy to set up and adjust
  • CFL bulbs included
  • Can be used as key and fill lights
Cons
  • Not for outdoor lighting
  • No dimming option
More Details

Light type: Key/fill | Bulb type: CFL/LED | Light tone: Variable | Indoor/outdoor: Indoor 

I personally use this Neewer professional softbox lighting kit for recording videos, live streaming, and doing photography, and they are some of the best key and fill lights you can get. They come with everything you need to set up, including tripods, reflective soft boxes, diffuser sheets, and CFL bulbs. You can also switch out the bulbs for LED ones for longer-lasting lights and a more eco-conscious lighting solution. 

The included carrying bag makes it easy to take both lights with you for off-site filming and photography and better protects your equipment while it's in storage. The tripod mounts extend up to 83 inches, which means that you can use them as fill lights to eliminate harsh shadows or as key lights to make you the main focus of your video. The lights are also incredibly easy to adjust with a quick turn of a knob, letting you adjust angles, tripod width, and stand height in seconds. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Magnetic mount
  • Cool and warm lighting options
  • 4 hour battery
  • Compatible with Stream Deck
Cons
  • Steep learning curve
  • A bit pricey
More Details

Light type: Key | Bulb type: LED | Light tone: Variable | Indoor/outdoor: Indoor/Outdoor 

The Elgato Key Light Mini is another light that I personally use, and it's an incredibly versatile key light. Not only does it have a threaded mount for use with a tripod or desk mounting arm, but it also has an integrated magnet in its backplate so you can stick the light to any magnetic surface for more placement options. It also has an integrated, rechargeable battery that lasts up to 4 hours, so you can take the Key Light Mini with you for outdoor events and vlogs, collaboration projects, and whatever else you need. 

The Key Light Mini also lets you switch between both cool and warm lighting tones to suit your environment, and the dimming wheel on the side lets you quickly adjust the intensity of your lighting. The unit uses edge-mounted LED bulbs to provide plenty of light without washing you out or creating harsh shadows and flat colors. And if you have the Elgato Stream Deck or control app, you can connect it to the Key Light Mini for better control and on-the-fly adjustments.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Mount for webcam, phone, or DSLR camera
  • In-line controls
  • 10 brightness levels
  • 3 light modes
Cons
  • No tripod included
  • No wall plug included
More Details

Light type: Ring | Bulb type: LED | Light tone: Cool | Indoor/outdoor: Indoor 

If you're a make-up or visual effects artist, you know how important a ring light can be for filming. And streamers can find them very useful as well. The Joby Beamo Ring Light is a versatile option for vloggers, podcasters, streamers, and other content creators as it can be mounted on a traditional or desk tripod. And it also has an attachment for mounting your webcam, phone, or DSLR camera in the center of the light for optimal placement. The in-line controller lets you turn the light on and off, change the lighting tone from warm to cool, and adjust the brightness without any fuss. It uses a USB plug to connect to your computer for power, though you could also use any USB wall plug as well. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • 7 or 10 panel sets
  • Unlimited customization options
  • Non-permanent installation
  • One app controls multiple kits
Cons
  • Kits are expensive
  • No extra adhesive pads included
More Details

Light type: Ambient | Bulb type: LED | Light tone: RGB | Indoor/outdoor: Indoor 

A lot of established streamers use RGB lighting in the backgrounds of their videos to add more visual flair, and the Govee Glide Hexa light panels are some of the coolest you can get. You can buy them in sets of 7 or 10, and I highly recommend springing for the 10-pack because you'll be able to create more patterns. The companion app has an easy-to-follow video guide for creating a layout and setting up the panels, and installation takes maybe 10 minutes in total. 

The lights stick to any flat surface with an adhesive pad, which is great news for renters or anyone else who doesn't want a permanent installation. Once installed, you can either use one of the dozens of preset colors and patterns or create your own custom scheme to match your branding. The companion app also lets you group lights into rooms so you can set up multiple kits and control them from a single device. There's also an in-line power button for when you want to quickly turn the lights on and off without changing any colors or lighting patterns.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Versatile lighting
  • Bright LED bulb
  • Internal cooling fan
  • Wireless remote
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Steep learning curve
  • Light shaping attachments sold separately
More Details

Light type: Key/fill | Bulb type: LED | Light tone: Cool | Indoor/outdoor: Indoor/Outdoor 

Established content creators have specific lighting needs for a variety of projects, and the Neewer CB60 is an excellent choice for both indoor and outdoor filming. While it looks like a traditional fresnel light, it uses an LED bulb for bright, continuous light without causing the unit to create a lot of waste heat. And with an internal fan, any waste heat is quickly and quietly dissipated to protect electronics without ruining your take with loud noises. 

 An LCD panel and knob on the back of the light let you adjust brightness and give you temperature information at-a-glance, though you can also use the included remote for more control options. The light also has a Bowens mount, which allows you to attach a wide variety of reflectors, diffusers, and shaping tools for truly versatile lighting. You can even use gel filters for tinted ambient lighting. The light weighs just over 4 pounds, making it lightweight enough to carry with you to off-site shooting or outdoor filming.

What is the best light for streaming?

My pick for the best light for streaming is the Neewer professional softbox kit. It comes with two 85W lamps that use compact fluorescent bulbs as well as softbox diffusers to provide bright, consistent key and fill lighting. You can also use any bulb that is compatible with E27 threading, so you can replace the stock CFLs with LEDs, flash bulbs, and more to suit your needs. The tripod mounts are fully adjustable for custom heights and positioning, and the entire kit also comes with a handy carrying case for storage and travel.

Light for streaming

Price

Light type

Bulb type

Neewer 700W professional softbox kit

$112

Key/Fill

Compact fluorescent

Elgato Key Light Mini

$80

Key

LED

Joby Beamo ring light

$33

Ring

LED

Govee Glide Hexa

$200

RGB ambient

LED

Neewer CB60

$140

Key/Fill

LED

Which is the right streaming light for you?

Which type of lighting solution you need depends on your space. If you have a smaller room, a large softbox light like the Neewer Photography Kit can illuminate the space without adding harsh shadows. For bigger spaces, you'll need at least a key light and one fill light. Make-up artists, artists, and makers would benefit more from a ring light since they specialize in up-close filming and need consistent, flat lighting that doesn't wash out details. 

Choose this streaming light

If you need…

Neewer 700W professional softbox kit

Dual-purpose key and fill lights

Elgato Key Light Mini

A dimmable and portable key light for streams and vlogs

Joby Beamo ring light

An affordable ring light for make-up tutorials, vlogs, and art videos

Govee Glide Hexa

RGB lighting for ambience

Neewer CB60

A high-end key light for professional productions

How did we choose these lights for streaming?

I chose lights that serve different purposes for content creators: fill lights, key lights, ring lights, and ambient lighting options. I also chose lighting solutions that would be easy for both streaming newcomers and seasoned creators to set up and operate as well as capable of indoor and outdoor filming. 

What light color is best for streaming?

Color isn't as important as tone. Studio lighting can either be "cool" (with a slightly blue tint) or "warm" (with a slightly yellow tint). Choosing the right lighting tone for your space can go a long way towards raising your production values since it won't wash out details and colors. Lighting solutions marked "daylight" are often on the cool spectrum, using very bright, flat white, or very slightly blue-tinted light. These are good for nighttime filming and dark spaces. Warmer lights are often labeled "soft white" and are better for daytime filming since they blend better with natural sunlight. 

If you want to add a bit of visual flair to your streams, there are tons of RGB lighting solutions on the market, like the Govee Glide Hexa panels. These lights can be set to virtually any color and often use different lighting patterns to make your backgrounds more interesting.

How many lights do I need for streaming?

You need at least one major light source to properly illuminate your space. If you're just starting out, your room's overhead light or even a table lamp can be good options. But if you want better production values, it's worth investing in at least one key light and using a combination of existing lamps and ambient light to eliminate harsh shadows. More experienced content creators may want to consider buying a key light as well as a fill light, especially if they plan to use 4K cameras for face cams or secondary filming since improper lighting will muddle details and colors. 

Another trick you can use to mimic professional lighting is to turn your monitor into a key light. You can do this by pulling up a blank document in Word or Google Docs. The bright light will help illuminate your face for streams. You can also search for specific color swatches and make them fill the whole screen for a bit of DIY RGB accent lighting.

What is the difference between key lights, fill lights, and ring lights?

Different types of lights serve different purposes for photographers, videographers, and streamers. A key light can be any sort of lighting option but is usually the main lamp used to illuminate a space. Fill lights are secondary lamps that are used to "fill out" the rest of the space and eliminate harsh shadows. Ring lights are special lamps designed to provide consistent, flat lighting for close-up filming like make-up tutorials and vlogs.

Are there alternative lights for streaming worth considering?

As live streaming on Twitch and creating videos for YouTube and TikTok have become more popular career choices for creative professionals and eSports pros, it's possible to find a multitude of quality, affordable choices for more professional looking lighting. Here's a short list of other lights I thought were great:

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