best continuous lighting kit

Best Continuous Lighting Kits | Get the right photos in 2021

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Is the light okay? Are there any reflections? This picture looks grainy… because the ISO shot over 9000! Well, these are just a few of the colossal list of troubles we as photographers have to face.

From amateur to professional, proper lighting is the bread and butter of any photographer. Even my best DSLRs have failed to provide good results when the lighting is not proper.

I realized that the aging lighting kits I relied on for years needed change (especially since I was moving to a new location where space was at a premium). So, unfortunately, I couldn’t just haul all my old gear and try what works.

So off I went to look for the best continuous lighting kits I could find, and I was genuinely surprised. You can get a lot at a reasonable price so long as you pick a suitable lighting kit.

I would have saved a lot of time if I didn’t have to sift through 100s of mediocre options. Now that I already put in the work, I’ve decided to curate a list of the top photography lighting kits I found to help other photographers find the best kit for themselves as well.

Best Continuous Lighting Kits with Umbrella Reflectors

There are many types of continuous lighting kits in the market. Which one you pick would depend on whether you need soft light, natural light or a full fledged four light setup.

For continuous lighting I find umbrella kits to be the most effective and budget friendly. The kit includes silver reflector umbrellas which are great at containing light (although white umbrellas are also often included).

LimoStudio LMS103

A complete 700w kit to start with at an affordable price point.

Reflector Type: 2 x 33” Black Silver , 2 x 33” Translucent Soft WhiteBulbs: 3 x 45W CFL Bulbs (3 x bulb sockets)
Light Stand: 1 x 28”, 2 x 82”Light Head Type: E26, E27
Color temperature: 6500KLighting Tone: Daylight
Carry Case: 1 x photo equipment carry bagIdea Use Case: Portrait photography indoors

No matter if you are a professional or an amateur, this is one of the best continuous lighting kits available in the market. If you are looking for a simple, trouble-free experience, this is probably your go-to.

While the price tag is cheap there are no obvious compromises on the material quality. By using the umbrellas to diffuse the light, this kit offers a daylight lighting experience.

The shadows will be natural and the neutral color of light allows you to capture the most realistic portraits. That said, since the temperature is 6500K you may not be able to do much if you were trying to capture a particular mood.

I find this LMS103 kit best for most types of portraits and product photography. The complete kit is easy to carry and comes with a carry bag for portability.

The kit is ideal for all kinds of photographers, especially for beginners who want to get their hands on a complete lighting set up without breaking the bank. Professionals too, will find good performance out of this if they require a portable and cheap kit they’d like to travel with.

Pros
  • Sturdy built
  • Lightweight
  • Value for money
  • Energy efficient
  • Easy to carry
  • Simple and comfortable for both amateurs and professionals
Cons
  • Higher voltage bulbs could have been better
  • The positioning of the umbrellas and lights could cause problems

Emart 600W Continuous Lighting Kit

5500K with 8000 hours of average lifetime.

Reflector Type: 2 x 33” Black Silver , 2 x 33” Translucent Soft WhiteBulbs: 3 x 45W CFL Bulbs (3 x bulb sockets)
Light Stand: 1 x 33”, 2 x 83”Light Head Type: E26, E27
Color temperature: 5500KLighting Tone: Daylight
Carry Case: 1 x All in one bagIdea Use Case: Portrait photography indoors

This is a complete photo studio lighting kit for both portrait photography as well as shooting videos. The kit comes with three 45W CFLs, providing a full spectrum of light with its 5500K temperature.

The natural lighting does not eat up any extra energy though. These lights are more energy-efficient as compared to any other bulbs or incandescent lamps. It comes with 2 black/silver reflector umbrellas and 2 translucent white soft umbrellas for emanating the perfect soft lighting.

Apart from the stand and other bits and bobs of the kit, it also comes with two separate carry bags – one for the bulbs and the other for the entire kit. The carry bag makes portability easy as it is heavy-duty.

The biggest drawback that I could find in this kit is that the 45w bulbs (while good quality) simply don’t get bright enough. Why this is exactly I am not sure but you may want to use a brighter bulbs if the need arises.

Pros
  • Easy to assemble and dismantle
  • Strong and sturdy umbrella stands, but not very heavy
  • Good quality bulbs
  • Umbrellas in two separate colors provide for more depth in and clarity in the stills or videos taken
  • Long-lasting
Cons
  • Awkward fitting inside the carry bag
  • Wear and tear might happen within a few times of use, if not taken care of properly
  • Plastic sockets
  • Threads used in umbrella screws might start wearing soon

Kshioe 1350W Continuous Lighting Kit

Going above and beyond! A complete lighting kit with background cloth and stand.

Reflector Type: 2 x 33” Black Silver , 2 x 33” Translucent Soft WhiteBulbs: 2 x 135W Bulbs , 2 x Single Head Lights
Light Stand: 1 x 33”, 2 x 83”Light Head Type: E26, E27
Color temperature: 5500KLighting Tone: Daylight Balanced
Carry Case: 1 x All in one bagIdea Use Case: Portrait photography indoors

This is one professional kit with everything you need, quite literally. Well, up till now in this listing for the best continuous lighting kit for photography, we have seen almost every kit comes with different styles of lighting equipment, light stands, and umbrellas.

Some even had sandbags for support. But I have not seen anything quite like this.

This particular lighting kit comes with all that you need and also all that you want. It comprises background stands, which you have not seen in any of the kits previously mentioned. It also comes with 2 single head lights.

The best part about this is that all of this and more are available at budget costs and the kit is as professional as it can get. Truly one of the best continuous lighting kits for photography, especially indoors.

Pros
  • Everything you need at an affordable price
  • Background stand and backdrops included
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Sturdy equipment
Cons
  • Backdrop material crinkles too easily and has to be ironed again and again
  • Clothes not of the finest quality, seem transparent
  • Sturdy, but not sturdy enough
  • The height of all the stands is not enough for an adult even after adjustment

Best Softbox Continuous Lighting Kits

Umbrella reflectors are great at what they do. However, if you need a solution that gives you a better control on the shape and direction of the light then softbox is the way to go.

Basically, softbox lighting projects the light directly on the subject rather than having to use an umbrella as a reflector.

HPUSN Softbox Lighting Kit

The best option to get those product photos right!

Softbox Type: 2 x 30” HexagonalBulbs: 2 x 85W CFL Light Bulb
Light Stand: 2 x 75”Light Head Type: E27
Color temperature: 5400KLighting Tone: Daylight
Carry Case: 1 x All in one bagIdea Use Case: Product photography indoors

HPUSN’S Softboxes offer some premium quality lighting for all kinds of camerawork. They are made of high-quality durable materials. The main purpose of this beauty of a product is to provide for bright and soft light, making the photos detailed.

This kit can be used for all kinds of photography and videography, including commercial photography, fashion photography, children photography, food photography, animal photography, and of course portrait shoots.

I do recommend this kit specially for product photography as the direct light offered by the softbox kits is perfect for such use cases.

The HPUSN Softbox Continuous Lighting Kit is easy to adjust and adapts to almost all the possible situations. Thanks to the 210 degrees rotatable head, it is a child’s work to set up this equipment for all your needs.

Now you can shoot from multiple angles and positions as per your requirement, with comfort and ease. This kit is highly recommended as it is affordable and very effortless in adjustment and setting.

Pros
  • High-quality material
  • Great for closed-door photography and videography
  • Easy to set up
  • 210 degrees rotatable head with an adjustable stand
Cons
  • With a heavy top and lighter legs, it might fall over at times, making it difficult for it to balance

Other Direct Continuous Lighting Kits

Umbrellas and Softboxes are a great way to up your photography game but I would like to introduce you to another option as well.

Direct lamp based options can be useful for multiple scenarios , especially when you need a particular color tone in the lighting.

Emart 60 LED Lighting Kit

The ideal 60 LED option if you need color filters.

LED Count: 60 LED LampBrightness: 1600 Lumen
Light Stand: Attached to LEDLight Head Type: E27
Color temperature: 3500K, 5500KLighting Tone: Daylight
Carry Case: Nothing included.Idea Use Case: Product photography indoors

If you are a beginner in the field of photography or you are a vlogger and are interested in YouTubing, then the Emart 60 LED Continuous Portable Photography kit is your go-to lighting set up. This particular lighting kit is a tabletop set up, making it an ideal choice for product photography.

With a variable light temperature between 3300K and 5500K, this kit provides quick adjustments for more than one environment. It offers the perfect daylight temperature for natural photography and the double temperature color allows more variety.

The quadrilateral heat dissipation system ensures that your lighting setup does not over-heat and hamper your progress towards exceptional results.

The SMD technology ensures that these LED lights are more energy-efficient as compared to your standard CFLs and incandescent lamps.

Pros
  • Perfect for recording videos and creating vlogs
  • Does not heat up quickly
  • The AC/DC adapter protects your setup while you adjust the brightness of the lights
  • Easy to set up and assemble
  • Value for money
Cons
  • Small set up, suitable for only small to medium-sized products
  • Filters are not very diffusing
  • No switch to control brightness hence it seems too bright for certain scenarios

What To Look For When Buying Best Continuous Lighting Kit

Various things have to be taken into consideration before putting in huge sums of money into a lighting kit. The best continuous lighting kits have certain specifications that make them stand out from the rest.

Here is a list of the things you need to consider before buying.

1. Equipment Type

It is important to understand the various types of equipment that are available in the market before you invest in one. It is usually advised to buy a single piece like an umbrella or a softbox first.

You then need to check if it works for you, then buy another piece. Usually, a reflector is bought along with the first piece, to minimize the shadows.

2. Type Of Light Source

Since we are looking for the best continuous lighting kit, our focus is only on continuous lighting sources. These usually include lamp bulbs and halogens.

They are the key to making any kit the best continuous lighting kit for photography and the best continuous lighting kit for video.

3. Temperature Of The Light Source

Usually called White Balance in the world of photography, the best light source, i.e., natural light, has a temperature of 5500 Kelvin.

So, before buying a kit, it becomes obvious that if you want the best pictures, you need to invest in a kit that has a white balance closest to natural light.

4. Wattage

Looking at the wattage offered by the light kit is essential. For those who might not know, brighter light can be achieved by higher wattage of the lighting kit.

When a combination of bouncers and reflectors is established, the best continuous lighting kit must offer a wattage between 500 to 750 Watts. That is considered to be optimal for the best results.

5. Intensity Of Light

Nowadays there is no shortage of equipment in the market that aids a lensman in adjusting the intensity of a light source. A Diffuser is the most common one that is used to adjust the power.

Controlling the intensity of the lighting kit is essential for getting the best pictures.


Pick The Best Continuous Lighting Kit Now!

All the kits mentioned above are great if you ask me. Yes, there are differences here and there, but that is what forces you to choose. Remember, if something resolves your problems and aids in all your needs, it is right for you. No matter how wrong it may be for any other person.

Lighting is an essential ingredient in cooking up the best snaps and videos. But the right kind helps you add that extra spice to your final outcome that makes it different, unique, and your style. It is what helps the end result to gather an audience and receive appreciation.

Your pictures, vlogs, or videos must reflect your personality and thus, your choice of lighting becomes as important as your choice of subject. Add that little oomph to your content by sprinkling some magic dust, i.e., great lighting, and create magic.

Remember, no product here is better than the other, but one might just be better for you. So, what are you waiting for? Go grab your camera, buy some lights, and start unleashing your spirit into your photos and videos.

Happy Shopping everyone!


FAQs on Continuous Lighting Kits

Q1. What Kind Of Lighting Is Better For Studio Photography – Continuous Or Strobes?

Continuous lighting heats up a lot more than strobe lighting. However, it is also cheaper. It eventually boils down to how much money you are willing to invest.

Q2. Does The Carry Bag Hold All The Contents Properly?

Well, it does. However, you will have to arrange everything properly for it all to fit in.

Q3. Which Lighting Is Best For Beginners – Flash Or Continuous?

Continuous lighting kits are cheaper and easier to set up for a beginner.

Q4. How To Get Almost Natural-Like Lighting?

Pick your light bulbs with a temperature rating as 5500K, which is closest to natural light.

Q5. Which Bulbs Are Better – CFLs or LEDs?

LED light bulbs save upto 80% more energy as compared to standard CFLs.

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Mathew Daly

Mathew Daly, is a 32-year old photographer from Boston. Mathew has been intrigued by photography from an early age ever since he was given his first camera. He started wandering his neighbourhood to capture the beauty in the most mundane of things. He curates interesting buyer guides on cameras and helps buyers make an informed choice. 

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