Best Portable Light for Photography

In photography, there are many elements that influence the outcome of a photo, determining the quality and how professional it looks.

The camera, is of course, one of those elements, as having good equipment is always vital to ensure performance. Talent and skill is also a key element.

But something that is quite easy to achieve and can signify the difference between amateur-looking photos and professional quality, is the lighting. Good light is essential for good photography, which is why photographers will be a pain to make sure they get it just right.

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However, the time for waking up before dawn to get the soft light, or waiting out until the golden hour at sunset, is long past.

You can shoot photos any time of day, thanks to the use of lighting kits and LED lights, used in almost every professional photoshoot, or to get high quality photos. They’re very common in studios, but what if you want to take pictures outside?

With more and more portable lights available, the future of photography is looking very bright. You can now get professional studio lighting, on the go!

The same amount of quality light, designed to be portable and easy to transport, so you can set it up in any location to create the best pictures!

In a hurry?

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NEEWER 160 LED CN-160 Dimmable Ultra High Power Panel Digital Camera / Camcorder Video Light, LED Light for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Panasonic,SONY, Samsung and Olympus Digital SLR Cameras
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NEEWER 160 LED CN-160 Dimmable Ultra High Power Panel Digital Camera / Camcorder Video Light, LED Light for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Panasonic,SONY, Samsung and Olympus Digital SLR Cameras
  • 160-LED lights for optimum illumination and diffuser.
  • There are 2 filters included with this item, with Spotlight effect, Diffuse effect, and for reducing the color temperature to 3200K
  • The light intensity can be changed to offer professional effects.
  • Rotate switch for on/off and brightness adjustment.
  • Compatible Battery (NOT INCLUDED): AA Ni-MH or Alkaline battery; Panasonic SD Series Li-ion Batteries; Sony Li-ion Battery FH, FM and F models. NOTE 1: Sony FW series battery can not work with the LED panel; NOTE 2: Batteries are needed to be taken out if not in use

 

Finding the best portable lighting can be a bit overwhelming, with a lot of choices on offer in the market. You need to make sure you get good quality, and of course, make sure that it’s easy to transport and carry around in a safe and secure way.

If you’re in a rush to get going, we recommend you go straight for our number one top pick in portable light for photography: the NEEWER CN-160 Led Light.  

This product has an overwhelming amount of positive reviews, and the brand is top selling and reliable. The portable light attaches onto the camera, allowing for easy maneuvering and portability.

It’s very easy to use, with a rotate switch to turn it on and off, and adjust the brightness. It has a battery life indicator, so you always know how much life it has left, handy for not being caught with a dead camera all of a sudden.

It comes with two different light filters, for different lighting effects, and the temperature can be adjusted down to 3200k, so it offers a good range of versatile results when shooting!

Here are the main features:

  • High-quality and reliable 
  • Very easy to use with rotate switch button
  • Battery life indicator
  • 2 light filters and temperature adjustment

Best Portable Light for Photography – Comparison Table

Best Portable Light for Photography – Reviews

Our Pick
NEEWER 160 LED CN-160 Dimmable Ultra High Power Panel Digital Camera / Camcorder Video Light, LED Light for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Panasonic,SONY, Samsung and Olympus Digital SLR Cameras
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NEEWER is a top and leading brand when it comes to any sort of photography lighting, and they’re known for providing top quality light rings and portable lights, to make photography more accessible.

The CN-160 is a top selling product with an overwhelming amount of positive reviews, perfect for having professional light on the go.

This portable light is extremely easy to use, with a rotate switch to turn it on and off, and adjust the brightness. The only other button it has is a battery life indicator, so you always know how much more time you have and it doesn’t catch you unawares. 

It attaches on to the top of your camera, so you can shoot freely as you would normally, but with the added professional lighting. It comes with two different light filters: white and orange, to give you different light effects.

And you can also reduce the light temperature down to 3200k, so there’s a lot of versatility in the amount of results you can get, with a very small and portable product!

Pros
  • Reliable, cost-efficient and high-quality
  • Very easy to use
  • Battery life indicator
  • 2 light filters and temperature adjustment
  • Bright and consistent
Cons
  • Batteries are hard to insert and remove

Aputure AL-M9 Amaran LED Mini Light on Camera Video Light, Black
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The Aputure AL-MP LED Mini Light, just as the name indicates, is rather small in comparison to other portable lights. However, don’t let the small size fool you, as it shines just as bright!

It’s extremely portable and is great for any type of shoot, with a very versatile use. It has a built in lithium battery, rechargeable through a USB connection, so you don’t have to worry about fiddling around with batteries that are hard to insert. 

The brightness is adjustable through a plus and minus button, that you can tap or hold to dim the light output to fit your needs.

It’s very compact and lightweight, so it doesn’t get in the way at all when shooting, meaning you also won’t get as tired from holding the camera up and keeping it steady for that perfect shot.

Very flexible in use, and favoured by photographers that need to shoot in rougher terrains, where maneuverability is key.

Pros
  • Small, compact and lightweight
  • Built in lithium battery
  • Adjustable brightness
  • Flexible and versatile use
Cons
  • No filters included

Neewer Dimmable Bi-Color LED with U Bracket Professional Video Light for Studio, YouTube Outdoor Video Photography Lighting Kit, Durable Metal Frame, 480 LED Beads, 3200-5600K, CRI 96+
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The risk of a portable light, is that with all the travelling to different locations and outdoors usage, it can face some damage. NEEWER knows this, which is why their 480 LED portable light has been designed to be extra durable and sturdy.

Perfect for more adventurous photography! The solid construction is made from metal and aluminum, which makes it a bit heavier than other portable lights, but it’s worth it for the high resistance to bumps and drops.

It mounts onto the camera with a U-bracket, meaning it has a lot more flexibility and can be adjusted to various angles, to better suit the lighting the photographer wants. 

With half of the LED lights yellow, and the other half white, it offers versatility of results in the lighting itself, with a high-quality professional finish.

The battery is powered with an AC adapter, and the light is overall easy to use. As an extra, this product also comes with its own storage bag and with a diffuser, making it a very complete and efficient option.

Pros
  • Strong build, resistant
  • U-bracket mount for flexible angles
  • Yellow and White LED Lights
  • Comes with storage bag and diffuser
Cons
  • Heavyweight

Neewer Dimmable 176 LED Video Light with 2-Pack 2600mAh Li-ion Battery and Dual USB Battery Charger Lighting Kit for Canon, Nikon and Other Digital SLR Cameras for Photo Studio Video Shooting
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The NEEWER 176 LED portable light is slightly bigger than other portable lights, and it is better suited to shoots in which you don’t move around as much, although it is of course still perfectly maneuverable and portable.

It offers a bigger and brighter light, so it’s perfect for getting a vibrant daylight effect. Designed to be energy-saving, it’s renowned for having an extremely long-lasting battery life, great for those long photoshoots. 

It comes with two different light filters: an orange and a transparent. A single knob is used to turn it on and off, as well as to adjust the brightness from 10% up to 100%, so you can set it up to the exact right light output.

It’s powered by a DC power adaptor, and it is perfect for any sort of full-day shoot or vlogging.

Pros
  • Extremely bright
  • Very long-lasting battery life
  • 2 different light filters
  • Adjustable brightness
Cons
  • No battery life indicator

YONGNUO YN300 III YN-300 III LED Camera Video Light with Adjustable Color Temperature 3200K-5500K for Canon Nikon Pentax Olympas Samsung
Our rating:

The YONGNUO YN300 LED portable had to make it into our top picks, thanks to its professional appearance, high-quality, and the accessories it comes with.The LED lights are extra luminous, for a prolonged life span and more even lighting.

This gives a studio-level of professional lighting coverage. It’s bicolor, and the light temperature can be adjusted to switch up the results, as well as coming with two light filters, to achieve unique photos.

It also includes a handle, a lamb base, a multifuncional distance remote, and a user manual to help you with the set up and custom settings. Definitely a great option for having high-standard lighting while on the go or shooting at a location!

Pros
  • Professional and durable
  • Extra luminous LED lights
  • Adjustable temperature
  • Comes with many accessories
Cons
  • The mount isn’t as stable and secure

Best Portable Light for Photography – Buyers Guide

Making use of professional and high quality lighting at different locations, be it indoors or outdoors, has never been easier. With portable lights, you can shoot on the go, taking your light with you anywhere you go, without having to worry about the time of day.

More and more people are getting into photography, thanks to the accessibility of professional equipment that allows for good results, and portable lights are a very popular choice amongst people wanting to try out portrait photos, cosplay shoots, or create video content such as vlogging.

There are many options for different portable lights, and it can be tricky to know which one is the best fit for you. You need to take into account the type of photography you’re going to use it with, the type of locations you’ll shoot at, and the type of results you’re after.

If you’re not sure of these things, or you’re just starting out and are searching for your style, then it’s good to go for something that will cover all the basics to a good standard.

In this buyer’s guide, we’ve summarized the features you need to look out for, to ensure you choose the best product possible. 

 

Portability

For a portable light, the main thing you need to look for is portability. Seems obvious right? Most portable lights can be attached onto the camera, so they are very manageable and you can pretty much forget about them and shoot as you usually would.

Quite often, these same lights can also be attached onto stands, so they double up as a double function and it gives you more of an option in regards to the kind of setup you want.

You need to check the type of adapter that the portable light has, and whether it is compatible with your camera. If not, there are plenty of adapters available, but it would probably be an added cost.

Another thing that factors into portability, is the weight of the light. It’s important for portable lights to be as lightweight as possible, without compromising their durability or structure.

You must ensure that the light you choose is comfortable to you. It should mount onto your camera in a way that it doesn’t get in the way at all. If you’re having to fiddle about or it tires your arm out a lot, then it might be a sign that you need a smaller, less heavy, light. 

LED Lights and Brightness

The function of a light, no surprise here, is to light up the area you’re wanting to photograph in. So it really is vital for you to ensure the light you choose has the right amount of brightness and power that you’re after.

Most portable lights have an adjustable brightness, meaning you can dim down the output when needed, but not all lights have an increased amount of brightness with extra luminous LED panels. It depends on the type of lighting you want, but it’s good to check.

Some lights have bicolor LED lights, meaning half the LEDs are white while the other half are yellow, this gives more flexibility in the hue of the light.

You should also check whether the temperature can be adjusted, as this will be a professional feature to have. It’s also a plus if the product comes with one or two light filters, as it will massively increase the versatility of your photography. 

Battery Life

When you’re out and about and shooting on the go, the last thing you want is a dead battery to cut your photography time short.

It’s the same with long days of photos planned out, it’s super frustrating to suddenly have your camera die on you, without having prepared a backup. It’s the same with lighting! You don’t want to be suddenly left in the dark, right?

Something we recommend you always look out for, is whether or not the portable light has a battery life indicator, a button with a flashing light of some sorts to let you know when the light is running out of charge. That way, you can be prepared and get those final shots you want to prioritize. 

Depending on the type of light, it will have either a lithium battery that can be recharged, normal batteries that have to be replaced every now and then, or it will plug into the camera itself.

It’s down to personal preference and the type of usage you’re planning on giving it. However, lithium batteries tend to be one of the nicer options, as you can recharge it before your shoot and then you’re ready to go without having to worry about it. 

Accessories and added features

Like with any other product, the more money you invest the more you’re likely to get. Portable lights can go up and up in price, reaching high-end levels in which the professional features have the photography almost take itself!

For more budget-friendly options, there is still hope. High quality is achievable with the right accessories and features.

One of the most useful accessories, that is always a plus, is a distance remote control, to play around with the settings without having to fiddle with the buttons on the light.  

Another accessory that will come in extremely handy, is some sort of carrier or storage bag for the light. Since it’s a portable light, it won’t be permanently set up in a studio or room.

It will be constantly on the move or packed and ready to go, so having a bag that’s specifically made to fit that light will be great. 

Not many portable lights will come with a stand included, but if they do, that’s another great addition, as it will give you even more versatile usage of your light.

As for any other accessories, they’re not necessary, but they’re good to keep an eye out just in case they can be added to your buy. If anything, you could ask whether or not the portable light you’re considering comes with a manual of user instructions.

But most lights are super easy and intuitive to use, so don’t stress if they don’t!

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Are LED lights good for photography?

LED Lights have quite a short distanced output of light, so they’re really well suited for close-up portraits or still photography. They work great for illuminating smaller areas of a set, or if you’re using a portable lighting method, such as one that attaches onto your camera.

They offer a high amount of adjustable brightness, and they can come with many differently sized panels, as well as being different colours for different photography results.

Overall, they’re a pretty standard method of lighting for photography, that works extremely well for small projects. 

Is portable light effective under any natural lighting conditions?

The short answer to this question is yes. Portable light can be used during any time of the day, no matter whether the natural light is bright, dim, or even if it’s pitch dark.

The results will vary, but you can also adjust your portable light’s brightness to work with the surroundings. The function of a portable light is to support lightning and to enhance it in the way that you want it to be, so it will always become useful, one way or another.

Last Updated on 2020-10-20 //Source: Affiliate Affiliates

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