Lighting is a vital component of photography, which is why there is a sea of lighting options out there. For amateur photographers and videographers, the selection can be overwhelming. That’s where lighting kits come in, supplying a range of basic tools that will work well together. Continuous lighting kits, as their name implies, emit constant light, allowing photographers to easily make adjustments before snapping the shot. Continuous lighting is best for still life, studio work, and portraits, and obviously, it’s what you need for video as well. Beyond bulbs, most kits offer umbrellas or softboxes for evenly distributing light; these can make an immediate difference in your shots, even if you have little technical knowhow. If it’s time to shine a light on your photographic projects, take a look at our top five recommendations for kits below.
1. Mountdog Photography Lighting Kit
Mountdog’s impressive set includes two softboxes and two umbrellas, four bulbs, four light stands, a backdrop support that can be extended to 6.5 feet tall and 10 feet wide, three colors of backdrops, two empty sandbags, and a carrying case. The LED bulbs for the softboxes are 85 watts and are adjustable to three modes of color temperature (between 2,700 and 6,700 degrees Kelvin) via remote control—an advanced feature at this kit’s price point. Lightweight but strong, the stands and light diffusers can create convincing outdoor light and dramatic portrait lighting alike.
2. Emart Photography Umbrella Lighting Kit
If the time isn’t right to spring for a full studio setup, this pair of umbrella lights are an excellent option. Umbrellas can instantly improve even the most basic photographs, and they are easy to set up and transport. The kit includes two translucent umbrellas that are 33 inches in diameter (a fairly standard size), two 45-watt compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, two sturdy aluminum alloy light stands that are adjustable from 30 to 83 inches, and two E26/E27 lamp holders to work with a wide range of bulbs. If you’re going into the field to shoot, rest assured that the light stands break down to an easy-to-pack size but are still a breeze to set up quickly.
3. Neewer Continuous Lighting Kit
Like Mountdog’s kit, this one from Neewer includes all of the basics including umbrellas, softboxes, bulbs, light stands, backdrops, and a backdrop frame. While it does not include sandbags or allow control of the light color temperature in the softboxes, it does provide added height: the light stands go up to 7 feet, and the backdrop frame can be extended up to 8.5 feet, which is a plus when shooting people. Another difference is the square shape of these softboxes, which provides a more focused light that is well suited for shooting items on a flat tabletop.
4. Aputure C300d Mark II
For professional-level lighting, the Aputure C300d Mark II is an excellent compact LED. It rides the cusp of high-end lights by offering extra-bright illumination (5500 degrees Kelvin) that can be concentrated even more using the 55-degree Hyper Reflector, which is included in the kit. With a high-caliber light like this one, though, brightness is only the first consideration. The innovative cooling system is very quiet and the aluminum body can withstand up to 220 pounds of pressure. Control is easy through the control box (which comes with a smooth light-stand clamp to keep it accessible and secure), the included remote, or Aputure’s intuitive Sidus Link app. The elements of the kit come in a rugged and long-lasting carrying case that makes transport easy and worry-free.
5. HPUSN Softbox Lighting Kit
HPUSN offers an impressive introductory softbox set. This gear is more expensive than translucent umbrellas and also more direct, so it can take more skill to use. The result is more dramatic lighting and a greater ability to play with shadows, which is greatly valued in enterprises like portrait photography. This set contains two rectangular softboxes measuring 50 by 70 centimeters each, two 85-watt CFL bulbs at 5400 degrees Kelvin, two standard E27 sockets, and two aluminum tripods.