A comprehensive guide to ring lights for product photography

Product photography has become increasingly popular recently with the rise of e-commerce and social media platforms. Whether you are a professional photographer or looking to improve your online presence, having the right lighting equipment is…

A comprehensive guide to ring lights for product photographyA comprehensive guide to ring lights for product photography
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Product photography has become increasingly popular recently with the rise of e-commerce and social media platforms. Whether you are a professional photographer or looking to improve your online presence, having the right lighting equipment is crucial to capture the best shots.

One tool that has gained significant popularity among photographers is the ring light. In this article, we will explore some inside knowledge on choosing the best ring lights for product photography.

What is a ring light and why use it

What is a ring light and why use it
What is a ring light and why use it

A ring light is a versatile lighting equipment that can help you achieve professional-looking photos.

Ring lights are usually compact and easy-to-transport LED lights which, as their name suggests, are circular. Originally they were used in other areas such as cosmetics or dentistry, but thanks to their ease of use they’re becoming increasingly popular. 

They come in different sizes, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

There are also several reasons why you should consider investing in one. Thanks to its circular shape, it evenly illuminates the subject, reducing harsh edges. Thus, it creates a soft, natural-looking but professional image. 

Additionally, it was designed for increased convenience, so it’s easy to set up and adjust as you see fit. It provides flexibility in your photoshoot, allowing you to quickly change the angles and create more dynamic, eye-catching results. Even more, you can use it when shooting images of both small and large products.

All in all, a ring light is a perfect addition to your photography inventory, as it will transform any photo into a professional-grade one with just a few adjustments. In the following section, we will tell you what features to pay attention to when choosing ring lights for product photography.

How to choose a ring light

How to choose a ring light
How to choose a ring light

There are several models on the market, so, to make an informed decision when acquiring a ring light, there are a factors you should pay attention to. The most important ones include the following.

  • Light intensity. Measured in lumens, the brightness of a ring light is the first aspect you should consider. What brightness will you need for your photoshoot? How large are the items you plan on photographing? If your products are small, like jewelry or watches, you might want to choose a powerful ring light to illuminate all details.
  • Color temperature. Another important factor for any type of product photography is the color temperature. Some ring lights have this function, whereby the LEDs change color from a cold, bluish light to a warm light. This will help you achieve a natural-looking image, making the product more realistic. So check whether the ring light you want is equipped with this function.
  • Size and portability. While a ring light is smaller than a studio light, it can still take up some space, especially if you set it up some distance away from the product. If your product photo shoot takes place in a static environment, such as a room or studio, and you have enough space for it, a ring light with a tripod is a worthwhile investment. However, if you’re on the go or moving around, a smaller device that you can clip to your phone is a better choice.
  • Flexibility. In product photography, your subjects and their angles will vary. Therefore, lighting equipment that can be adapted to your needs is a good choice. Before buying, always check the angle and height at which the ring light can be set. Remember that you might need to photograph the products from above. It is therefore useful if the light has a 90-degree angle.
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  • Compatibility of the equipment. If you want to use a camera, make sure that the light ring is wide enough for the lens to pass through it. It will create an evenly-lit image, with natural shades. Also, use a tripod for your camera to keep it stable. If you are using your cell phone, check that it is compatible. You may need to buy a separate cell phone mount and attach it to the ring light.
  • Robustness. The materials used to construct the equipment should also be compatible with the requirements of your photo shoot. For example, an aluminum ring light frame is always more durable than a plastic one. A metal tripod will therefore last longer, no matter how rough the conditions are when taking photos.
  • Additional features. Although these features are optional, since you obtain professional-looking product photography without them, they do come in handy. Some of these include a remote control for the lights, the ability to dim the lighting intensity, or even configure the LEDs from your phone.

Although it may be difficult to decide on an option from the multitude of offers on the market, you should consider the above factors when choosing your circular light. They will help you choose the best option for your product photography.

Now that you are familiar with the choices, we’ll discuss how to use the ring light in your photo shoot to get those professional, well-lit images.

How to use ring lights for product photography

How to use ring lights for product photography
How to use ring lights for product photography

Reflecting surfaces, color complementarity, and bouncing lights are technical aspects you should keep in mind to boost your photos and obtain that professional product look.

Lighting is a very important aspect of photography, but so are reflections. A ring light should be placed at an optimal distance from the product to avoid reflections or glare, especially if your subject is a timepiece or jewelry. Reflections cause shadows, and for products that require good light, these shadows are crucial for customers. 

You should also pay attention to the background against which your product is presented. While most product photography uses a white background, some images require a different one. So when using the ring light, make sure that it harmonises with the surroundings. For example, if you are taking a picture with warm tones, you should set the LEDs to warm tones and vice versa. 

Also, make sure that your camera is calibrated for any changes you make and take some test shots before starting the photo shoot.

Professional photographers use three types of lighting for their studio setup – main light, indirect light and occasionally backlight. 

Although your setup may be different, ring lights are perfect as a main light source, especially if you want to photograph your products directly. However, you can also use them as indirect light if you place some panels around your product to reflect the light beams. This will give you beautiful, detailed images that will fascinate your customers.

In short, ring lights are great as a primary light source for product photography, but pay attention to the distance between them and your subject. If possible, avoid glare and strong reflections and adjust the light to the background and camera settings.

Wrapping up

To summarize, ring lights have different features and benefits depending on the model you choose. It is therefore important that you consider your specific requirements before making your choice. Factors such as budget, product size, desired lighting effects, and compatibility with your existing equipment will help you find the perfect ring light for your product photography.


Is a ring light good for photographing products?

Yes, it is, especially if it has a high color rendering index – CRI for short. This setting helps the light emulate the natural sunlight so the photos look realistic.

For what types of products are ring lights good?

Ring lights are perfect for shooting macro photography, food, or other types of products that require a close-up. If you wish to illuminate more, you can opt for LED panels.

Which one should I choose – a small or a large ring light?

Technically speaking, the larger the light, the brighter it will shine. So, if you plan on using it for product photography, a 14 to 18-inch ring light is perfect. It’s even better if it comes with a tripod since you can set it standing, and place it at a reasonable distance from the product.

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Martin Pitonak

Martin Pitonak is a creative professional and entrepreneur with nearly 20 years of experience in the creative industry. His passion for helping businesses in all areas of visual marketing sets him apart in a variety…