Whether you do it as a business or as a hobby, photography is an art that often depends on lighting conditions.
The wrong lighting can either over or underexpose, or ruin the atmosphere of what could otherwise have been an incredible photograph. This is why many photographers, commercial or not, use lighting kits.
A photography lighting kit will include everything you need to take high-quality photographs, usually including bulbs, lighting stands, and umbrella reflectors, amongst other features.
If you’re a photographer looking for the best lighting kit to enhance your art, then look no further, because we’ve compiled a list of the best photography lighting kits on the market, along with a buyer’s guide to help you choose the perfect combination of equipment for your needs.
In a hurry? Check out our top choice:LINCO Lincostore Photo Video Studio Light Kit AM169 - Including 3 Color Backdrops (Black/White/Green) Background Screen
- 4 day-light CFL bulbs
- Ergonomic light holders
- White umbrella and black/silver umbrella softbox reflectors
- 3 muslin backdrops included
- Adjustable background stand support
- Includes water-resistant carry bag
Best Light Bulb For Photography – Comparison Table
Best Light Bulb For Photography – Reviews
Best Photography Lighting Kits – Buyers Guide
Finding your perfect photography lighting kit can be a tricky process.
What suits one photographer may not work for another, depending on variable factors such as photography style or location.
This buyer’s guide will take you through everything you should think about prior to purchasing a photography lighting kit, to make sure it meets all your requirements.
Since the primary function of a photography lighting kit is, of course, to provide light, it makes sense to consider the types of lightbulbs included as a priority.
Light bulbs need to be approached from a few different perspectives for a complete evaluation.
First, it’s important to be aware of how much light your bulbs will put out. The power of the bulbs included in photography lighting kits will be stated in Watts.
As a general rule, the more powerful the bulb, the higher the Wattage. You’ll need to have an idea of roughly how much lighting your photo shoots will require, so you can decide on your preferred Wattage and number of bulbs.
Photography light bulbs also come in different color temperatures. The higher the number with these temperature ratings (in Kelvin), the cooler the color is. Around 5000 or 6000K is a neutral rating, while lower numbers signify a warmer color, and higher numbers indicate cooler tones.
If you want more control over the lighting produced by your bulbs, you may wish to opt for adjustable light bulbs that can be dimmed or brightened, or even adjusted in terms of color temperature.
You may also have noticed a pattern in the product reviews above regarding the use of CFL lightbulbs.
Now, it’s important to note that CFL bulbs have a lot of really great features that make them ideal for studio photography. They last a long time, put out a good amount of light, and cost less to operate than other types of bulbs. They also produce less heat, which means they aren’t so much of a fire hazard.
For all these reasons, CFL bulbs are especially ideal for commercial photography, when bulbs are likely to be used for many hours at a time.
However, CFL bulbs do have one disadvantage. Because they contain a small amount (usually about 4 mg) of mercury, these bulbs come with a risk of radiation.
Whilst this is not something you need to worry about while the bulbs are actually in use, it can present a problem if the bulb is broken.
Although the risk is very minimal as long as the broken bulb is immediately and thoroughly cleared up before being safely disposed of in a sealed bag, many customers understandably might be wary of these bulbs.
As you can see, CFL light bulbs do feature in most of the lighting kits on our list of products. This is because they do not cost much more than incandescent bulbs, but are much more energy-efficient and produce the clear, fluorescent lighting that many photographers favor.
Therefore, they are the most common choice for inclusion in photography lighting kits.
As we’ve mentioned, CFL bulbs present a very minimal risk of radiation or mercury poisoning when used and disposed of carefully.
However, if you do not feel comfortable using bulbs that contain mercury, don’t despair – we have also reviewed an LED softbox lighting kit that may suit your needs.
Alternatively, many of these bulbs use universal sockets, so you can easily replace them for an affordable price whilst still benefiting from the high quality of the rest of the lighting kit.
The heads to which your bulbs will be attached also merit careful consideration before purchase.
Ideally, you will want the lighting heads to be adjustable so that you can control the lighting angle more easily. This adjustability should be as ergonomic as possible for ease-of-use.
If you’re worried about your bulbs overheating, some lighting heads include a fan cooling system to extend bulb longevity and reduce fire risks.
Light modifiers come in different shapes, sizes, materials, and colors, all of which will have an impact on your photography lighting.
The most common types of modifiers are umbrella reflectors and softboxes. Typically, umbrellas are more effective at diffusing light, while softboxes provide more focused lighting.
Color is a significant factor that should be considered when purchasing a photography lighting kit. Umbrellas tend to either be white or black with a reflective inner surface, which may be white or metallic.
White umbrellas (also known as shoot-through umbrellas) diffuse light for a soft and natural effect, while black umbrellas absorb light, eliminating excess glare. A black umbrella with a metallic interior will produce harsher light than a white interior.
Softbox and umbrella designs can be combined – for example, umbrella softboxes are available as part of certain lighting kits.
The style of reflector that suits you best will depend on the style of your photography as well as the natural lighting conditions you need to work with.
The bulbs and umbrella reflectors of a photography lighting kit are vitally important components in and of themselves, but they rely on lighting stands for positioning and angling.
In lighting stands for photography, the three most important factors are durability, stability, and adjustability.
Of course, you want your stands to last you a long time and be resistant to the light impacts that are likely to occur during transport or set-up. For this reason, you should choose a lighting kit with stands made from a durable material.
The most popular choice is an aluminum alloy since this material is both strong and lightweight.
In terms of stability, you’ll want your light stands to have a wide enough base and a low enough center of gravity to remain stable while you work.
You certainly don’t want your light toppling over in the middle of a shoot. To ensure stability, your best bet is a stand with a 3-legged stage. The triangular structure of the stage will provide even support all around the stand.
Finally, you will probably want your light stands to be adjustable. Depending on the pre-existing light conditions wherever you are shooting, and the subject of your photo shoot, you may need to adjust the angle of the lighting, which will involve either lengthening or shortening the stand.
This can usually be done either using a mounting stud or various forms of locking mechanisms. If you don’t feel enthused by the idea of using tools and hardware each time you need to adjust your stand, locks may be the best choice for you.
Some photography lighting kits include backdrops. A backdrop isn’t a feature that all photographers will need, but it can be a very useful addition for some.
If you do simple portrait photography, it might help you to have a plain backdrop to work with. Similarly, if you plan to edit the backgrounds into your photographs, a ‘green screen’ style backdrop will probably be high on your list of priorities.
If you do choose a photography lighting kit with backdrops included, it’s important to ensure that a support system is also included to hold up the backdrop.
Because there are so many components included in a photography lighting kit, portability can sometimes be an issue. If you need to transport your kit to and from your studio or take it to location shoots, it’s important to have a practical method of doing so.
Thankfully, most photography lighting kits include carrying bags. You may receive a single carry bag that is large enough to contain the whole kit, or two bags, in which case the smaller will be for bulbs only, and the larger for the rest of the equipment.
We recommend having a separate bag for your bulbs, especially if they are CFL bulbs, to minimize the risk of breakages.
Ideally, these bags should be made of water-resistant, durable material.
Last Updated on 2021-12-02 //Source: Affiliate Affiliates