May 21, 2024
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Your Guide to Lighting for YouTube Videos

Your Guide to Lighting for YouTube Videos

Lighting for YouTube videos is a critical part of creating impressive shots. It can make or mar your content.

This guide will give you the basics of adequate lighting to get you up and running in no time, whether you are new to creating YouTube videos or not.

Let’s get started!

YouTube Lighting

Types of Lighting for YouTube Videos

Key Light

As you probably may have guessed, your key light is the most important of all your lighting setup when shooting your video. It can come from a natural or artificial source.

We’ll get into that in a bit, but the vital thing about your key light is that it has to be soft. This gives you a beautiful and slow fall off between your brightest and darkest areas.

On the other hand, a hard light creates distinct shadows that might ruin your shot, especially if you’re shooting at an angle. You don’t want to shoot the human face and have hard shadows around the nose or highlighting wrinkles.

Let’s take a look at the sources of your key light.

Natural Light

Rays of light from your window are one of the biggest natural gifts you can ever get as a YouTuber, especially if you’re new to creating videos or vlogging.

A natural light source is soft and doesn’t cost a dime to setup. All you need is a wide window to let in the light, and you’re good to go. While natural light is the most beautiful lighting for YouTube videos, it does have a few drawbacks.

First, it is random. You do not have full control over it, so shooting for a long time might result in variations in the exposure and color of the light.

If it rains on the day that you plan to shoot your video, or if there is a cloud in the sky, you will have to wait until the day gets brighter.

If  your recording time is limited to only during the day, you might also have to move your furniture around to find the angle where the light is coming from.

Artificial Light

You can try to reproduce the soft and beautiful effects of natural light using artificial light sources. Typically, this involves the use of a light stand, a bulb, and a light modifier.

Artificial light sources give you more control, letting you record just about any time of day. You can always take note of the settings and replicate them at any time to have the same exposure every time, even if you’re not shooting your video in one session.

Best Artificial Key Light Source

Not every bulb will do when it comes to appropriate lighting for YouTube videos. Even if you buy the most expensive types of light, you still need the basic know-how to set them up for the best-looking videos.

The go-to artificial key light for many YouTubers is an LED light. This is typically used with a diffuser to achieve soft and beautiful lighting with natural-looking shadows.

An excellent example of an LED light is the Aputure 120D. Many YouTubers prefer this key light source together with a dome diffuse softbox for interviews, headshots, and portraits because the combo achieves proper lighting for the best videos.

However, the Aputure 120D doesn’t come cheap. A more affordable alternative is the Godox SL-60W. It works great, too, and you’ll hardly notice the difference.

Other Artificial Key Light Sources


Softboxes come in different shapes, with the rectangular options being the most common. They are a translucent light source that can act as your window light.

There is no one best angle to position a softbox. You need to play around with different distances and angles to find the most appropriate lighting that works for your video.  


Umbrella lighting is the most hassle-free light modifier because it is portable. Umbrella lighting spreads light more naturally than softbox lighting, making it easier to use even if you’re new to creating YouTube videos.  

For YouTube videos, you will need the shoot-through umbrellas, which are white and translucent. To use an umbrella, position its inner part in front of the light bulb while the light bulb is directed at your subject.

Background Lights

To give your shots some depth, you need to add secondary or background lights to your set up. For this, you have several options.

Pocket LEDs

Battery-powered pocket LEDs are great for lighting different areas of your background. If you have colored ones, you can achieve an array of different beautiful mugshots.


Lamps are low-budget options and can be added to a few spots in the background to add depth to your scene.

Fill Lights

Fill lights are not must-haves when it comes to lighting equipment, but they are useful for lighting up any remaining shadow on your face or background.

Any soft light can be used as a source of fill light. You can place dimmable pocket LEDs at strategic spots to softly cancel out shadows. You might even position your artificial key light at an angle to let the light bounce off a solid surface, such as a wall. This will serve as both your major source of light and a fill light.

One-Light Setup: The Ring Light

Finally, you can use a one-light set up to achieve strikingly sharp video lighting for YouTube videos. This is done with the right light.

A ring light is essentially a light bulb in a ring shape. It doesn’t require diffusers or several background lights. Simply light it up and shoot your video.

The light is even all around your face (or your subject), leaving no shadows. However, you don’t want it pointing directly at your face because the light is so powerful it can get really intolerable. Bounce it off a wall or some other surface for best results.

The ring light is your best bet if you’re shooting makeup videos. Also, if you’re tight on budget or if you’re not too sure about using too many lights, you might want to start with a ring light.

Final Thoughts

There is no one ultimate setup for good lighting. Try different angles and experiment with a different light source until you achieve what you want. You’ve got the basics; now it’s time to explore!

Written by
Jamie Keet
Verified by MonsterInsights