Last updated: August 20, 2021

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Lighting is essential for good photography or filming. For this reason, the professional should invest in a lighting kit with the main equipment used to provide artificial lighting.

It is important that the lighting kit is versatile and compact, so that you can use it for different jobs. To help you choose the best set of equipment, we have prepared this article.




The most important facts

  • You should choose a lighting kit according to the equipment that comes with the set, such as softbox, ring light, beaters, diffusers, lamps, tripod with adjustable height, among others.
  • It is worth investing in a lighting kit that allows you to control the intensity and temperature of the light.
  • The lighting kit comes with a bag to carry this equipment. This bag should be lined internally to avoid possible damage to the equipment.

The best lighting kit: Our picks

Buying guide

Regardless of whether you are a professional photographer or just a photography enthusiast, you should understand that light directly affects the outcome of your images. For this reason it is important to invest in a lighting kit.

With this set of equipment you can promote lighting points, control the intensity and temperature of the light. In this Buying Guide we will present the different equipment that make up a lighting kit.

Imagem de uma sessão de fotos.

The lighting kit will help you to produce even more impressive photographs. (Source: Dean Drobot/ 123rf.com)

What is a lighting kit?

One area of photography where it is worth investing in and buying different types of equipment is lighting, because without light there is no image - still or moving.

A lighting kit is a set of tools used to provide artificial lighting and assist in the production of photographs or filming. The choice of this set of equipment is related to the professional's needs and preferences.

Who needs a lighting kit?

The lighting kit is essential for anyone who works with photography or audiovisual production, no matter if you are starting your career or are an experienced professional.

The set of equipment is also important for anyone working with social media, whether as a digital influencer or youtuber.

What equipment makes up a lighting kit?

There are numerous lighting tools available - we've listed the main ones throughout this section. This equipment can be purchased separately or in a lighting kit.

  • Theparasol can transform a point of light into a light that is pleasing to the eye. When you direct the light through the parasol, the equipment spreads the light and decreases its intensity.
  • Softbox can transform a point of light into diffuse, uniform and soft lighting, so it is ideal for illuminating faces. It is widely used in video recording.
  • Sun Gun produces intense and uniform lighting throughout the studio, leaving your photographs or scenes with a slightly yellowish light.
  • LED panel offers 60, 90 or 120 LED lamps with intense illumination. Some models offer light intensity and temperature control, but most do not. This equipment is battery or battery powered, so it is important to always have them on hand.
  • Ring light provides LED or fluorescent light in a ring shape positioned around the camera. The ring light is often used when you want to highlight an object or a person's face.
  • Reflector and diffuser are used to establish the direction of light coming from a light source. They diffuse and soften the harsh light that passes through them.

For a budding professional or someone learning to shoot photography or film, three light sources is an excellent start. If possible, invest in some external lights to expand your possibilities.

Remember that each piece of equipment brings a different effect to your photographs or audiovisual productions. Learn about the main advantages and disadvantages of a lighting kit in the table below:

Advantages
  • It offers useful and versatile equipment
  • The equipment is compact, so it can be used in mobile studios
  • All models come with a bag for transportation
  • The price is more affordable than if you buy the equipment separately
Disadvantages
  • You cannot select the equipment that will compose the lighting kit
  • It has a high cost

What is the best lighting kit for new professionals?

For professionals starting out, the best option is to invest in a continuous lighting kit, as you can visualise how the light will appear in your image before you start filming or photographing.

The continuous lighting kit allows you to visualise how the light will appear in the image.

This set of equipment allows you to manipulate the lighting manually and not have to place or remove bulbs to adjust the amount of light you need.

Another advantage is the much more affordable price. You can find the continuous lighting kit with fluorescent, tungsten or LED lamps - see the Purchase Criteria section for a comparison.

Imagem de equipamentos fotográficos.

A photographer should invest in a lighting kit. (Source: Randy Fath/ Unplash.com)

What equipment makes up a flash lighting kit?

A flash lighting kit is composed of speedlights, external lighting units that can be used alone or together with softboxes to homogenize and attenuate the intensity of the light.

The speedlight is faster than a normal flash light and the equipment can be very versatile. In addition, this tool is lightweight and portable, ideal for dynamic studio work.

"When buying, evaluate if the tripod has adjustable height and what is the minimum and maximum height that the equipment reaches. Check if it has a firm and solid structure and if it is easily disassembled."

What are the characteristics and purposes of a strobe lighting kit?

A strobe lighting kit is composed of self-sufficient units, in other words, they come with supports, reflectors and power sources in the lamp head. Some have a continuous lighting configuration.

Each lamp has 150W of power. Because it is very powerful, it is often used in studios, but you can find a portable version that can be carried in a suitcase.

Purchase criteria: Factors to consider when buying a lighting kit

Buying a lighting kit is not always an easy task as there are a few options of sets with equipment in different sizes, shapes and features.

Therefore, before buying a lighting kit, establish what the purpose of using artificial lighting is. Then, analyse the features listed below:

These criteria will assist in the moment of purchase. We will detail them throughout this section, read on.

Lamp type

You will find lighting kit options with four different lamp types: incandescent/tungsten, fluorescent, halogen, HMI and LED. All options provide excellent results:

  • Incandescent/Tungsten lamp provides yellowish or orange light at low intensity. Although this type of lamp is cheaper, it is a short life option.
  • Fluorescent lamp is widely used in the studio as it provides soft light, gives off little heat - heating can damage some equipment - and uses little power.
  • Halogen lamp is very common in audiovisual productions. It provides intense, constant light. It has a long life, so it is very economical. But it consumes a lot of energy and overheats. Note: Never touch a halogen lamp while it is on as you could burn yourself. Wait until the device has cooled down before storing it in the carry bag.
  • HMI lamp are versatile as they can be used in indoor studios or supplement outdoor lighting. However, they are very expensive for a basic lighting kit.

It is also important to evaluate whether these lamps are adjustable. That way you can determine whether you want a focused, intense light beam or dispersed and soft throughout the room.

Tip: Regardless of which type of lamp you choose, it is important to set the camera's white balance to "Auto" or adjust it according to the type of lamp you are using to generate accurate colours

Portability

Another feature that should be looked at when buying is the portability of the lighting kit. It is important that the equipment is modular, to fit in your carry bag.

Also evaluate the weight of the equipment. If you're going to be carrying them around a lot, it's important to find the lightest lighting kit possible.

It is also important that the bag has a padded interior to preserve the equipment with glass parts. The padded handles make it easier to carry.

Imagem de um fotógrafo em ação.

The lighting kit equipment should be light for easy transportation. (Source: Sander Dalhuisen/ Pexels.com)

Accessories

The lighting kit can come with some pretty interesting accessories, like the ones listed below:

  • Barndoor: This is a system with two or four metal doors that control the spread of light. You can open or close the doors as per the desired effect.
  • Screens: Made of fabric or metal, they can be placed in front of the lighting equipment to reduce the intensity. You can find options in different thicknesses.
  • Gels: These are artistic accessories for the lighting designer. You can find the following gel options: colour correction, diffusion, neutral density (to reduce the light intensity) and colored.
  • Mounting accessories: These are used to attach lighting equipment in places where it is not possible to use the stand.
  • Tripod: The tripod is one of the most important accessories in a lighting kit. Therefore, when buying, check if the equipment has adjustable height and what is the minimum and maximum height that the tripod can reach. Also check if this accessory has a solid structure and resistant parts.

Features of reflectors and diffusers

Most lighting kits come with reflectors or diffusers, so it is important to analyse the size, shape, texture, colour and portability. We detail these features below:

  • Size: The smaller they are, the closer they should be to the object or person being photographed. Larger models are more expensive and difficult to handle. Therefore, opt for medium-sized equipment.
  • Shape: These cameras can be round, square or rectangular. Round models are easy to store and transport, features that the square model lacks. The rectangular model offers greater light propagation.
  • Surface: The surface can be smooth or rough. Smooth reflectors reflect the light without dimming it, while rough models reflect dimmed light.
  • Shade: You can find reflectors and diffusers in three colour options: white, silver or gold. The white reflector reflects a diffused, soft white light. The silver reflector creates a crisp, sparkling light while the gold reflector helps to warm up the illumination.
  • Rigidity: When choosing reflectors and diffusers, consider whether they can be folded for transport. Solid units should only be used in fixed studios.

(Featured image source: Serezniy/ 123rf.com)

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