💡 Affordable Smaller Video Light Options for Streaming & Webcam Use 💡
This article is a quick guide I’ve put together from a conversation in our community Discord about which webcam to buy and the challenge of making them look great. Far too many people spend big money on webcams or even use DSLR/mirrorless cameras they have lying around only to be disappointed with the look and blame the camera when more often than not it’s light in the room.
The poorer the lighting the harder your camera has to work to get enough light for an image and in webcams that lead to image stutter or a dark and underexposed image even on the best camera (this is an oversimplified explanation I know).
It used to be that video lighting was either bulky, expensive, or worse, but the cost of nice, soft lighting with colour temperature adjustments or even RGB has plummeted and become far more accessible to everyone.
I’ve pulled together a quick list of some available options that I’ve tried, from more premium options to some great cheaper units.
This Article is a work in progress and I’ll be updating it with more options we’re trying over the next few days, if you have any suggested lights you think we should include let me know over in our community Discord at https://discord.gg/imaflanker or in the comments down below.
💡 Premium Lights 💡
This is a collection of lights that are at the more premium end of the small video lights available in terms of features and pricing but still aren’t bank-breaking.
💡 Elgato Key Light Mini 💡
From “the Apple of streaming gear”, the Elgato Key Light Mini is an 800 Lumens light with a built in 4000 mAh Rechargeable Battery (that can be bypassed in Studio mode to extend the life of the battery if you’re using it all the time plugged in) and has an adjustable colour temperature of between 2900 – 7000 K.
For mounting the Key Light mini has an embedded magnet and a standard ¼-inch thread and can be controlled on the light itself or wirelessly using their app or even a stream deck via WiFi. The nice thing about this light style is that they are already diffused to give you a softer more flattering look.
Elgato Key Light Mini
Dimensions: 1.7 cm x 14.7 cm x 9.9 cm Weight: 290 grams Colour Temperature: 2900-7000k RGB: No Max Brightness: 800 lumens Lighting Method: Edge Lit Panel Surface Area: 250 cm² MRSP: £89.99 (Regularly on sale for £69.99)
Elgato do offer even larger options but to be honest, I wouldn’t recommend them if you’re looking for small lights as they’re comparatively pretty large and heavy and I’d think most people would be better off with two smaller lights than one massive one as it gives you more lighting flexibility if you were going to spend that much.
💡 Logitech Litra Range 💡
Logitech has also entered the video light space in the last year with their Litra Series of lights that are targeted at content creators at a pretty competitive price point. They have two lights in the range at the moment, the Litra Glow and the Litra Beam both of which can be optionally controlled via Logitech’s G HUB Software which allows for controls including On/Off, brightness, colour temperature, presets and G Key assignments.
As with the Elgato lights, both the Logitech Litra lights provide a nicely defused light with Logitech calls a “Proprietary Frameless Diffuser” and “Precision Sculpted Optics Lens” and they claim their TrueSoft technology combines “premium components with an advanced diffusion design to deliver full-spectrum LED light with cinematic colour accuracy for a natural, radiant look across all skin tones“. The short plain English version: this is it’s a nicely diffused light that I think looks pretty natural providing a nice level of light without being too harsh.
Logitech Litra Glow
The Litra Glow is Logitech’s smaller offering with a mount for placing your light on a monitor (which can be removed giving you access to a standard ¼-20 threaded fitting). The Litra Glow is USB powered and includes a 1.5 m USB C to USB A cable in the box, though you’ll need to either plug the light into the device you want to use or provide your own USB plug, and there’s no battery on board which makes this a lighter and cheaper option.
Weight: 99 grams (177 grams including the stand) Colour Temperature: 2900-6500k RGB: No Max Brightness: 250 lumens Lighting Method: Edge Lit Panel Surface Area: 81 cm² MRSP: £59.99
The Litra Beam is the larger of the two lights designed as a desk light rather than something you can take on the go as easily with a nice stand included and three ¼-20 threaded fittings giving you a little more versatility. The are large easy-to-use buttons on the back of the light allowing you to quickly turn the light on and off, turn up and down the brightness and adjust the colour temperature.
The Litra Glow the Litra Beam is USB powered and includes a USB C to USB A cable in the box (though 2m rather than 1.5m), though again you’ll need to either plug the light into the device you’re using or provide your own USB plug, and again there’s no battery on board.
I was really impressed with the Litra Beam and I use it regularly as a video light source that can easily be moved around for our PC building, tech and cooking streams as I can easily place it using the stand.
Weight: 185 grams (1078 grams including the base and arm) Colour Temperature: 2900-6500k RGB: No Max Brightness: 400 lumens Lighting Method: Edge Lit Panel Surface Area: 120 cm² MRSP: £99.99 (Regularly on sale around about £87)
Aputure might be a brand that you haven’t heard of before but they make a huge range of excellent lights that address the needs of everyone from casual users with their Amaran sub-brand that’s aimed squarely at creators and those on a budget to full-blown cinema lighting for the television and movie industry. Even within their professional range, they’re known for providing excellent value for money and the Aputure MC is a great example of this.
The Aputure MC is more on the professional videographer side of the lights on this run down, with some really neat additional features that give you some more creative options including RGB, fantastic app control and built-in special effects. That said at a comparable price to the others on this list I think it’s absolutely worth a look.
The Aputure MC features a 2,600mAh that Aputure claims can give you up to 120 minutes of use at max brightness and up to 15 hours of battery life at minimum brightness. The Aputure MC also features full Hue, Saturation, & Intensity (HSI) colour control with 100 levels of saturation adjustment. The Aputure MC can be controlled on the light directly using the small screen on the side or using the fantastic Sidus Link app that lets you link and control multiple lights together, which I found to be really useful.
With built-in magnets, included magic tape, and standard ¼-20 threaded fittings you have real flexibility on where and how you place your lights and the MC includes a neat carrying pouch a separate silicon rubber diffuser to give you softer light, a USB Type C charging cable, the lights are also compatible with Qi Wireless charging.
Dimensions: 9.3 cm x 6.1 cm x 1.7 cm (3.66 in x 2.40 in x 0.67 in) Weight: 135g (176g including the silicon rubber diffuser) Colour Temperature: 3200-6500k RGB: Yes Max Brightness: 100 lumens Lighting Method: BackLit Panel Surface Area: circa 56 cm² MRSP: $90 (About £109 including VAT in the UK)
If the premium lights are out of your price range, or you just don’t need the features they offer fear not, we have some more budget-friendly options that we’ve tried and liked with fewer bells and whistles but that still give you a nice quality of light.
💡 Ulanzi 💡
Possibly not a brand you’ve heard of Ulanzi describe themselves as a “one-stop photography and videography solution provider” they supply an interesting range of gear at pretty competitive pricing but we’re most interested in their budget-friendly video light the Ulanzi VL49 with an MRSP of just $29.95 (though Amazon UK lists their UK MRSP as £39.99).
Ulanzi VL49 RGB
The Ulanzi VL49 RGB is a very small light with an integrated 2000 mAh battery that Ulanzi say can provide up to two hours battery life at full brightness or 10 hours at minimum brightness and as with the other lights in this list charging/cabled power is provided by a type C USB. The VL49 RGB is far smaller than many of the other lights here making it a great solution for taking with you on the go with a base designed to fit into a camera cold shoe with a standard ¼-20 threaded fitting on the bottom, three additional cold shoe mounting points (which Ulanzi suggest can be “stacked/combined to attach multiples of the same light if have more than one or hold a microphone”) and a built-in magnet on the back. Though versatile this is a bit more of a pain to mount to your monitor out of the box, though this can be solved by picking up a mount/tripod that meets your needs or just balancing the light on the monitor if you’re feeling brave :).
Be careful when you’re buying this light if you are looking for the RGB version as there appear to be two versions of this light one is RGB and one is not and several listings we’ve spotted use the model number interchangeably between the two.
Dimensions: 10.3 cm x 8.6 cm x 4 cm Weight: 101 grams Colour Temperature: 2500k – 9000k RGB: Yes Max Brightness: 800 LUX at 0.5m Lighting Method: BackLit Panel Surface Area: circa 56 cm² MRSP: $29.95 / £29.95 (Can regularly be found for $19.95/£23.99