Video conferencing has surged in usage since the outbreak of COVID-19. As organizations around the world quickly implemented work-from-home policies to slow the spread of the virus, video conference calls became the ultimate solution to connect the remote workforce. Conference calls have now become so commonplace that many employees who historically never participated in video meetings are now experts at hosting, joining and collaborating with colleagues virtually. However, there is one aspect of video calls that is still often overlooked — lighting quality.
We’ve all been on calls where some participants are hard to see because of poor lighting. Often, they are backlit, giving a silhouette effect; otherwise, they may have harsh shadows on one side of their face, have too much light resulting in a blown-out look or be barely lit at all. Regardless, lousy lighting that interferes with participants’ clearly seeing one another is, at best, a distraction and, at worst, detrimental to the entire experience. That’s why it’s essential to have proper lighting in place before the start of your call, especially if you’re meeting with key stakeholders, leading a team meeting or hosting a company-wide event or a customer-facing webinar.
When looking for lighting solutions for video conferencing, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Dimmable lights: This will allow you to control the brightness of the light to avoid blinding light shining directly into your eyes.
- Color temperature control: Having the option to control the color temperature will help you have true-to-life video lighting.
- Adjustable positioning: To avoid harsh shadows, you need to have the light centered right above your camera or have two similar lights on each side of your camera to balance out the lighting on your face.
In this blog, we test and review five customizable and inexpensive video conferencing lighting solutions to help you look your best on every call.
5 Inexpensive Lighting Solutions
1. Lighting solution under $70
The Lume Cube Video Conference Lighting Kit costs $69.95 and comes with a small LED light panel with an attachable silicone diffuser, a USB cable for charging the built-in battery as well as a suction cup mount to attach the light to the back of your laptop, monitor or smart device. You can adjust the brightness and color temperature of the light with a dial on the side of the panel. A small LCD screen on the back of the panel displays the battery life, brightness level and color temperature.
- Tiny, lightweight and portable
- 1%–100% adjustable lighting output
- Full-spectrum color adjustability
- Long built-in battery life and runtime (up to 14 hours)
- Works while plugged in and charging
- Intelligent LCD screen
- Requires even, flat surface for suction cup mounting
2. Lighting solution under $50
The Neewer Portable LED Lighting Kit costs $47.99 and comes with two small light panels and adjustable tabletop tripods. Ideally, you would adjust the height of the lights to be about eye level and put them on each side of your computer or video conferencing camera. You can power the lights by plugging them into your computer’s USB drive or directly into the wall. Adjust the brightness with a switch on the cord of each light.
- Small and lightweight
- Great price for two light panels
- Extensive range of brightness levels (10% to 100%)
- Powerful lights (50% brightness provides plenty of light)
- Easy to adjust and position the lights to balance out the light on your face
- Tripod and panels feel flimsy
- Takes up more desk space compared to other lights
- Cannot adjust color temperature
3. Lighting solution under $40
The TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp costs $39.99 and plugs directly into the wall. It has a built-in USB port if you want to use the lamp to charge your phone or other electronics. Adjust the color temperature and brightness levels by swiping left and right on the base. The lamp is exceptionally adjustable; you can tilt the head up 135 degrees and swivel 90 degrees, and the base tilts down to 150 degrees and swivels 45 degrees. You can easily center the light above your laptop camera and tilt the light toward your face to be well-illuminated during a video call. When you’re not using the light for a conference call, it can function as a stylish desk lamp.
- 5 color temperature modes
- 7 brightness levels
- Touch sensor for easy lighting adjustments
- Doubles as a desk lamp (good solution for a dedicated home office)
- Adjustable design
- Not very portable
- Not a good solution for tall monitors (max height is 2 feet from the desk)
4. Lighting solution under $20
The UBeesize Duo Ring Light costs $16.99 and comes with two small ring lights attached to a single base. A lot of Youtubers and social media influencers use ring lights because they provide soft, warm and even lighting. You can clamp the lights to the back of your desk and adjust the long, flexible arms to find the right lighting balance. Your computer’s USB drive powers the lights, and you can control both the brightness and color temperature with a single switch on the cord. In case you need to host a conference call from your smart device, it also has a place to hold a phone.
- Provides soft, even lighting
- Great price for dual ring lights
- 3 color temperature modes
- 10 brightness levels
- Flexible and adjustable arms
- Requires desk or table to attach light (not practical for all workspaces)
- Body of ring light is bulky
5. Lighting solution under $15
The Whellen Selfie Ring Light costs $12.99 and is powered by AAA batteries. The small light clamps directly onto your computer or smart device. A hole at the bottom of the light lets your camera shoot through the ring light. It has a single button to control the on/off function and brightness levels.
- Inexpensive lighting solution
- Simple design
- Small, lightweight and portable
- 3 brightness levels
- Cannot adjust color temperature
- May not clamp onto thick monitors (max clamp width is 18 mm)
And the Winner Is …
After thoroughly testing all the lights on multiple video calls, I think the Lume Cube Video Conference Lighting Kit is the best inexpensive video conferencing lighting solution. The credit-card-sized light panel provides even lighting and clearly illuminates my face during video calls since I can adjust the brightness level from 1% to 100% and choose the perfect color temperature. It’s the only lighting solution on this list that has an intelligent LCD screen that displays the battery, brightness level and color temperature. And, unlike some of the other lighting solutions, the cube does not take up any desk space and no cords are running from the light to my computer or wall socket while I’m using it since it has a built-in rechargeable battery (up to 14-hour run time). However, the light also works while it’s charging, so if you have a permanent home office setup, you may want to leave the light attached to your laptop and plugged into your computer to ensure the Lume Cube is always charged and ready to use. Overall, I think it’s the best inexpensive and straightforward lighting solution for video conference calls. For additional lighting tips, be sure to check out our blog 7 Video Conference Lighting Tips for the Perfect Video Call.