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Your favorite videos make a lot of things about videography look easy. If you’ve got enough sunlight and a decent camera, why shouldn’t you be able to get the best lighting for video recording that looks just as good as any YouTuber on the planet?

But when you get into the weeds, you quickly discover that there are a few tricks that you’ll need to know to get expert-quality lighting for video. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to set up lighting for video as well as a few pieces of gear that you should have at your disposal.

How to Set Up the Best Lighting for Video

If you’re like me, you might have searched for the definitive guide called “How To: Lighting for Video.” And if you’re like me, what you found is that experts agree that a three-point lighting system is the most basic, but also one of the most essential, set-ups you’ll use. 

There are three keys to this photography lighting setup, including:

  1. A key light. This produces the most light and shines on your subject.
  2. A fill light. This fills in any shadows that the key light can’t grab.
  3. A backlight. A soft glow lifts the image from the back of the subject’s head or shoulders.

Let’s dive into each facet of three-point lighting and how to set up lighting for video a little further.

Step 1: Find Your Key Light

guy with camer
Skillshare instructor Fynn Badgley showcases how a portrait photographer uses a key light to illuminate a shot.

Since these key studio lights shine on your subject, you should just place one directly at that person, right? Not exactly. Instead, place the strongest light off to one side of your subject. This will create a slight shadow on the opposite side.

Step 2: Add the Fill Light

These studio lights shouldn’t be quite as strong as your key light. However, they should be placed on the opposite side of the key light. This will help add some dimension and soften the harsh shadows created by the key light.

Step 3: Place Your Backlight

While it might go without saying that the backlight goes behind your subject, play around with the placement and angle of this light. This light should separate the subject from the background and help distinguish your subject from the features around them.

What Lighting Do YouTubers Use?

Want to know how to set up lighting for a video shoot? You won’t need an expensive studio, but you should have some of the following photography lighting options. As you get started, these camera lighting tools are ideal regardless of whether you plan to publish your videos on YouTube or elsewhere. 

We’ll dive into them in further depth later in this guide, but here’s a quick breakdown of the best lighting for YouTube video.

  • Softbox lights
  • Umbrella lights
  • Ring lights
  • LED on-camera lights

What Is the Best Lighting to Use for Video?

Not only are these tools essential for aspiring YouTubers, but they should be part of any video or photography lighting kit. Let’s take a closer look at each one. Here are some of the utilities you’ll need to get the best lighting for video recording.

Softbox Lights

These are square or rectangular lights that are made of reflective internal material. These help you get the best lighting for YouTube videos because they create a natural lighting environment in a single area, which is ideal for cooking videos or product reviews.

For new videographers, the Fovitec Softbox Lighting Kit is one of the best lighting kits for video under $200 and tends to be popular among studio videographers.

Umbrella Lights

Umbrella lights tend to be more affordable, but that doesn’t mean they’re not useful camera lighting. They create softer lights than the other light sources on our list, but they give you a more controlled and directional light. Videographers tend to use them when they want to add some complexity to an interview subject or during a personal vlog.

umbrella light
Skillshare instructor Angel David Weatherston shows students how to set up an umbrella light.

Experienced videographers and beginners alike want the best lighting kit for video. An affordable yet high-quality option is the LimoStudio 600W Umbrella Kit, which includes several lamps and stands, plus a gear bag to store it.

Ring Lights

Ring lights have become more popular among everyone on the planet during the pandemic. These lights surround a subject’s face and eliminate shadows, which is critical when you’re figuring out how to get good lighting for a YouTube video. When your coworkers aren’t using ring lights to improve their Zoom appearance, you’ll often find the best ring lights used by makeup artists.

A good ring light might set you back a few dollars, but you’ll likely use it very often. Tom’s Guide put together a comprehensive list of the best ring lights, including the versatile Westcott 18-inch Bi-Color LED Ring Light Kit.

LED On-Camera Lights

LED on-camera lights are mounted on top of cameras and provide a continuous source of light for whatever happens to be in front of the camera. They can be mounted on stands and tend to be more affordable than softboxes or umbrellas, making them a great solution for anyone learning how to get good lighting for a YouTube video.

You can get a high-quality on-camera video light like the Genaray LED-7100T for less than $170.

Grab The Best Video Lighting for Your Project

Introduction to Lighting for Videography