Ring Light vs. Softbox: What Is the Best Lighting?

4/10/2020 9:49 am

As a photographer or content creator, you’ll know the importance of good lighting. Whether you are interested in product photography or creating eye-catching YouTube videos, you have probably realised that natural lighting, although often beautiful, is not always the best, nor the most reliable choice to create consistent content. 

Two of the most popular types of studio lighting for content creation are a softbox light and a ring light. But what is the difference between the two, and which one should you invest in? Read on to find out which one offers the best lighting.

The benefits of softbox lighting


Softbox lighting, as the name suggests, is a great way to achieve a softer light effect, ideal for still life photography, for taking flattering portraits or for recording YouTube videos.


Here are some of the benefits that the best softbox lighting kit will provide:


  • It provides a gentler and softer quality of light, with an even spread throughout the frame. 
  • As it diffuses light so successfully, a softbox also reduces harsh shadows. 
  • The light from a softbox will often emulate the look of an open window, so it is beautiful and looks very natural. 


Softboxes come in different shapes and sizes, and you can get different results by adjusting the positioning of your light. The closer the light source is to your subject, the softer and more even the spread will be. Moving the softbox further away from the subject will produce some shadows and light falloff.

Ring Light vs. Softbox: What is the best lighting?

The benefits of ring lights

Ring Light vs. Softbox: What is the best lighting?



Ring lights use a ring of LED lights to illuminate the subject, with the camera mounted in the middle of the light to ensure the most even lighting. It’s a particularly popular and affordable light for YouTube videos, TikTok videos, taking selfies, as well as portrait shots.


Some of the benefits of ring lighting include:


  • A ring light will provide a very even spread of lighting. 
  • Due to this spread of light and the positioning of the camera, ring lights are great for exploring the minor details of subjects. 
  • Ring lights are usually height-adjustable and portable, making them ideal for shooting in different locations.


Ring lights are great at wrapping a subject in light, so they are best used for subjects that are not too distant. Modern ring lights have adjustable outputs, and in some cases, the intensity and warmth of the light on each side can be adjusted independently for creative purposes.

Ring light vs softbox: which one should I use?



Both softbox and ring lighting produce similar quality of lighting, making them both a great lighting option for shooting content. Both options are commonly used by videographers and photographers, though depending on the type of content you’re producing, you might pick a favourite.


Studio and portrait photographers will agree that softboxes are the best lighting equipment. If you are setting up your home studio for still-life, portraiture and similar purposes, a softbox is a must-have. When it comes to ring light vs. softbox for product photography, you’ll most likely get the most pleasing results with softbox lighting.


Softboxes are also the best choice for those wanting the most natural look possible from their artificial lighting. This extends to their catchlights, or the shapes a light makes in a subject’s eyes, which in the case of a softbox are rectangular or square - which could just as easily be from a window.

Ring Light vs. Softbox: What is the best lighting?
Ring Light vs. Softbox: What is the best lighting?

On the other hand, ring lights have been used with overwhelming success for close-up work, including macro photography, unboxing videos and makeup tutorials. Because it tends to be more affordable than a softbox light, it’s great as YouTube lighting on a budget. As well as vlogging on the go, ring lights have become increasingly popular for high-quality selfies, with compact clip-on ring lights for smartphones becoming available.


The only negative argument we could find about ring lights is that some photographers might consider the ring-shaped catchlights produced by ring lights as a disadvantage, which portrait users should consider before making their purchase.


Whether lighting equipment you decide to go with, here are our top tips to get the best results when using softbox and ring lights:


  • Try using different sized lights to create different effects - using light sources bigger than the subject will create a softer light.
  • Positioning can also make a difference - the sweetest lighting spot comes from placing the light source above the subject and angling it down slightly towards it.
Ring Light vs. Softbox: What is the best lighting?
Ring Light vs. Softbox: What is the best lighting?
Ring Light vs. Softbox: What is the best lighting?

Upgrade your lighting equipment today

Using a ring or softbox light can elevate your photography and help you maintain a consistent look on your content. At Ted’s Cameras, we stock everything you need to help you find the best lighting for YouTube videos and take beautifully lit photos.


Take a look at our full range of photography lighting and enjoy free click-and-collect from any of our stores.


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