Top 5 Best Studio Umbrella Lights
LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION!
1. LimoStudio 600W Umbrella Photography/Video Kit (Editors Pick)
This is a great kit for anyone, not only beginners. It has three lamps, two white umbrellas, two tall stands, one short stand, and bags to put it all in. It even comes with the bulbs!
The lamps accept bulbs with what I call a standard base. In other words, a screw in bulb like what goes in virtually any lamp you’re likely going to find at a garage sale or home depot.
I recommend using the CFL bulbs that come with the kit. These bulbs put out a decent volume of light while remaining relatively cool. Even after an hour long video session, I was able to unscrew the bulbs without burning my hand.
The lamps tilt up and down and have a hole for mounting the umbrellas for extra flexibility. Also the two umbrellas are translucent white, adding no unusual color tint.The auto white balance of most cameras used for video will take care of the color balance easily enough. These umbrellas can also be used for shoot through set ups, but I find you get best results having the light reflect back from the umbrellas. Each of the lights have about nine feet of cord with standard USA plugs, 110/120V.
While this kit is one of the best studio umbrella lights available for YouTubers and other photographers, I still had to ask why only two umbrellas for three lamps?
I guess the kit makers are thinking of using the third lamp for your background or as a back light. Works for me, but I would like to have one more umbrella, maybe a coloured one, like gold for adding warmth.
Hey, I can always buy one cheaply enough. The short stand is what really gives away the purpose of the third light. Sit it behind the subject and it does a good job for back lighting.
The light stands are a light weight, but entirely adequate. You aren’t likely to take this kit on any field trips, I see this as primarily a home or office studio set up.
This kit doesn’t have a background, but at its low price, a background system can readily be added with even a limited budget. See our previous post about some ideas for backgrounds.
Cue next up:
2. Neewer 2.6M x 3M/8.5ft x 10ft Background With 600W Umbrella Kit
Neewer is a brand I’ve come to know as suppliers of good quality photo equipment for low prices.
I’ve been using a Neewer studio strobe set up for several years now, it has held up under a lot of use and travel.
This kit is one of the best studio umbrella lights I found, but is quite a bit more expensive than the first one. Though pricier, the kit has several additional items, including a background system.
Also included are two softbox/lamp combos, two regular lamps with umbrella mounting holes, four full size light stands, clamps and carrying cases. All the lamps are 110/120V and have standard plugs and standard light sockets.
THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS! (Gratuitous Star Trek TNG reference. Required knowledge for many YouTubers.)The background system has the support with three different color muslin backdrops. While they are adequate for a home studio, the support stands are fairly lightweight. I wouldn’t want to use them outside in any breeze. Likewise for the light stands. It’s all good quality, just not very heavy duty.
The softbox lamps are useful, but they feel a little bit under powered with the lower wattage CFL bulbs, but raising the watts might make the softboxes overheat. Use them within their limitations, and just move them closer or adjust exposure (if your camera has that capability). The light quality from the softboxes and the umbrellas is pleasing and with no odd color cast.
The cords on the softbox lamps are a little short, but extension cords are always an option. Overall, this kit provided a versatile studio light and background system.
3. Emart 600W Studio Photography Photo/Video Portrait Kit
This is another nice kit. Though it has no background system, it has four umbrellas, two each of two different colors.
The cords and light sockets are standard, similar to the first two kits reviewed. This kit also has two tall and one short light light stand, and three lamps.
The biggest difference in this kit is the umbrellas. As I mentioned, there are four. Two are the translucent white umbrellas, and two are silver. The silver provide more reflectance for the lamps, but they also add a cooler temperature to the light.
One thing I wondered is why not have one silver and one gold? That way, you could either cool down or warm up the color temperature. Useful for videos of different subjects.
A person might look better under warm light, while certain product might benefit from a cooler look.I keep using the terms standard plug, standard socket. What I mean by standard plug is the two blade ungrounded plug that plugs into 110/120V wall outlets that are used in homes and offices in structures in the USA.
Standard lamp socket is the socket that takes screw in bulbs with an E26/E27 base. I’m sure everyone knows what I meant, but I wanted to cover all the bases, just in case. Overall this is a great affordable kit for a beginner YouTuber or Photographer who admires good lighting conditions.
4. LINCO 600W Photography/Video Continuous Lighting Kit
This kit belongs on my list of best studio umbrella lights because it’s very similar to the first kit in this review. Three lamps, two umbrellas, two tall stands, one short stand.
The umbrellas are white translucent, and are better used for reflecting the light back than for shining the light through. Why shine the light through an umbrella if the light output is reduced? One very good reason is to soften the light.
Certain subjects can really benefit from a softer light. Since we’re shooting video and photographs, we won’t be applying a lot of post processing corrections.So, uneven skin tones, blemishes, et can be softened by using a softer light. Just make sure you are getting enough of the soft light on your subject, since it will be dimmer. Other subjects that might benefit from softer light are objects that are reflective or have a lot of angles.
This kit is another best used inside type of ensemble. Not only because of light duty stands, but because these are all AC powered continuous light sources. They are easily transported, though. If you have to go another indoor area that has AC power, you’re good to go.
5. Emart 1575W Umbrella Lighting Kit With Translucent White & Black/silver & Black/Gold
The last kit I tested in my try outs of the best studio umbrella lights was the Smart 157W kit. This kit has three lamps, comes with bulbs, has two tall stands and one short stand, and three different color umbrellas.
The umbrellas are two translucent white, two silver, and two gold. This allows for a lot of different uses. Use two gold for a very warm warm look, one gold and one white for a slightly warm color balance.
Likewise for the silver. Two silver umbrellas makes for a color balance that will look quite a bit cooler on video playback. Other combinations can be a neutral light on subject and warm or cool on the background. Or warm light on subject, cool or neutral on background, etc… You get the picture.
This kit comes with a bag so it great for taking out on location. The bags of the other kits are useful for storage, though. Especially since all these kits I tested are relatively light weight.In use, you’ll need to play around with just where to position the lamps. Since none of these have any option to vary the power output, position will determine how bright they appear on subject.
Also since the lamps are primarily meant to be used with the physically cooler CFL bulbs, you can actually place lights close to the subject, whether your subject is human or something inanimate.