Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024


With all the options out there, choosing a lighting setup for photography can be intimidating. Whether you need a flash kit, a studio setup, or something you can take on the go, we have the best lighting kits for you.


UPDATE: 05/03/2024

We’ve reviewed our recommendations and updated our picks for the best kit overallt.

How to Choose a Photography Lighting Kit

The lighting kit you choose will depend on how you work and what you shoot, so start by narrowing down those criteria. If you need something small you can take with you on location, for example, you won’t want to carry around a massive multi-light kit. If, on the other hand, you shoot mostly studio fashion work, a bulkier setup with accessories like gels and modifiers might be perfect.


Your level of experience with photographic lighting is another factor to consider. If you’re starting out, avoid dropping thousands on a massive kit—you’d be better served to buy something simpler while you learn the basics. You can always upgrade later, and too much gear can be so overwhelming you never use it to its fullest potential.

It’s also important to consider whether you shoot stills, video, or both. Strobes work great for still photography, but you’ll need a continuous light if you’re looking to shoot video. This list will focus on strobe lighting for still photography, but it’s something to bear in mind.

When shopping for lighting equipment, you want something powerful enough to get the desired result. Some cheaper kits look like a good deal on paper, but the continuous LED lights they often come with won’t put out enough light to get you a good still image. Check the wattage and read reviews for the kit you have in mind before you buy.


Speaking of purchasing—cost is also a factor. There are innumerable cheap options for lighting kits you can find online, some for less than $100. You won’t see them on this list. That’s because while they may work all right as a stopgap, they usually don’t have the necessary power for professional work and are not built to last.

With all that in mind, here’s our list of the best photography lighting kits. From beginner to pro, there’s something here for everyone.

Godox Lighting Kit Product Shot showing all components such as the lights, stands, and travel case
Godox

Pros

Cons

✓ Very reasonable price

✗SL60IID model limited to 5600K

✓ Modern touches like Bluetooth app control

✗70W may be too low for some projects

✓ Lighting simulation effects are a useful bonus


If you’re willing to shell out well over $1000 for your lighting kit, you’ll find no end of excellent options from big brands. However, you don’t need to buy such an expensive kit to hit the ground running, and the Godox SL60IID LED Light Kit offers a great balance between features, build quality, and price.

The first thing you should know is that this kit uses the Godox SL60IID model of light, which is locked to 5600K to simulate daylight. You can adjust pretty much everything else, but that’s the color temperature you’re working with. If you need variable color temps, you should look elsewhere. Godox sells a kit with the adjustable SL60lIlBi light instead, but as of the time of writing, we couldn’t find it in stock.

This kit comes with three lights, adding up to 210W of lighting. The lights have remotes, but you can adjust them using a smartphone app via Bluetooth. Interestingly, there are also several built-in effects to simulate lighting sources such as a broken bulb, a TV, or a thunderstorm. These might be useful for some projects, but it’s not a make-or-break feature.


The rest of the kit offers all the practical stuff you need to mount, adjust, and transport your lights. So, when you add all of these utilities together, the price is truly great. Build quality may usually be a concern at this price, but some How-To Geek staff members use Godox lights for photo and video studio setups for hours a week, and they have yet to let us down.

Godox Lighting kit on a white background showing the lights, stands, travel case and various accessories

Godox SL60IID LED Light Kit

Best Photography Lighting Kit Overall

Coming in at a sensible price with quality and features that don’t disappoint, this Godox lighting kit is exactly enough to hit the ground running with your photography projects.

Neewer on pink and yellow background
Neewer

Pros

Cons

✓ Great value for the price

✗ No TTL mode for the strobes

✓ Portable and easy to carry

✗ Stands not included in the kit

✓ Made by a recognized brand in budget photo gear

✗ Longer recycle time

✓ Can be battery powered for location and outdoor work


At over $500, Neewer’s Vision 4 Double Strobe Kit doesn’t look like a budget option at first glance. It isn’t the cheapest lighting kit, but it does offer great value for the money.

The Vision 4 has almost everything you need to set up a basic photo studio at home, outdoors, or in a small studio space. That means flash heads, remote triggers, carrying cases, and modifiers to get you started.

The strobes put out a respectable 300W of power, strong enough for studio work. They’re also compatible with any modifier that uses a Bowens mount, so you’ve got more options for attachments like umbrellas, softboxes, beauty dishes, and more to help shape your light. The strobes are lighter and easier to pick up and take with you than other options on the market.


But, you do have to make a couple of sacrifices for the budget price if you go this route. The recycle time (how long it takes the flash to recharge and be ready to fire again) is a little longer than more expensive strobes. These Neewer strobes also don’t let you use through-the-lens (TTL) metering, which is important for some shots. You’ll have to adjust exposure by shooting and checking your exposure manually. Light stands aren’t included in the kit but can be bought for not much additional money.

Overall, though, the Neewer Vision 4 is a solid budget or beginner kit despite its limitations.

Neewer 600W Battery Powered Outdoor Studio Flash Strobe Lighting Kit

Neewer 600W Battery Powered Outdoor Studio Flash Strobe Lighting Kit

Best Budget Photography Lighting Kit

If you need lighting but don’t have a big budget, Newer offers a solid, inexpensive option for your first photo studio setup.

Elichrom ELC on green background
Elinchrom

Pros

Cons

✓ High quality, inexpensive kit from a reputable manufacturer

✗ Remote upgrade needed for high-speed flash sync

✓ Everything included, from strobes to stands

✓ Consistent light output from shot to shot

✓ Lot of modifiers within this brand to play with


Elinchrom’s D-LITE RX 4/4 SOFTBOX TO GO kit is a fantastic balance of cost and quality. It includes two 400W flash heads, a wireless trigger, softboxes, stands, and a deflector for a beauty dish effect—everything you need to get started.

As with the other Elinchrom pick in our buying guide, buying into the company’s ecosystem lets you pair its wide range of modifiers with these strobes. Unlike many other kits, you get a few modifiers to start you off.

Since it’s fairly compact, you can also take this kit with you without too much trouble. The included flash trigger also gives you precise control of your power output remotely, so you can adjust the lights from your camera when shooting. If super-high speed shooting with flash is important to you, you’ll need to upgrade your remote trigger to take advantage of that fully.

While not as nice as higher-end strobes, the D-LITE flash heads included with this kit are still high quality. Cooling fans are built-in, and the controls are simple to use—a plus if this will be your first lighting kit.


Elinchrom D-Lite RX Studio Flash to Go Kit

Elinchrom Lighting Kit D-LITE RX 4/4 SOFTBOX

Best Flash Kit

This flash kit is a great entry point into the world of pro flash photography at a good price.

Westcott on blue and purple background
Westcott

Pros

Cons

✓ Fits in a backpack for easy travel

✗ Could be too pricey for some

✓ Fast recycle time and high-speed flash sync

✗ Doesn’t come with a stand

✓ Accessories like softbox, gels, and trigger included

✓ Runs on battery or AC wall outlet power

Whether you’re a photojournalist on assignment or a fashion photographer that needs an extra pop of light on location, this kit is worth a look. The Westcott FJ400 Strobe Kit fits a high-end strobe and modifier in a backpack that’s easy to take with you on remote shoots, or if you’re just looking for a portable lighting kit.


The strobe included with this kit is 400W and has a superfast recycle time—ready to fire again in as little as half a second. It’s powerful enough to out-flash direct sunlight and would be just as much at home in a studio attached to a light stand as out in the wild.

Westcott’s kit includes a few colored gels for changing the color of the strobe’s light and a universal flash trigger that works with most major camera brands, eliminating the need to buy something brand-specific.

This kit is a bit pricey, but it’s not the most expensive travel flash. If the $880 price tag is more than you can afford, though, the Flashpoint eVOLV 200 Pro TTL Pocket Flash Kit is about half the price and holds its own pretty well.

Westcott FJ400 Strobe 1-Light Backpack Kit

Westcott FJ400 Strobe 1-Light Backpack Kit

Best Location Photography Lighting Kit

Westcott has a high-quality pro lighting option that’s easy to take with you.

Broncolor kit on grey background
Broncolor


Pros

Cons

✓ Super high flash sync speed

✗ Will be too expensive for most people

✓ Super fast recycle time

✓ High end studio lighting made very portable

✓ Includes everything you need to shoot

A super high-end setup with impressive features, the Broncolor Siros 800 L Battery Powered Outdoor 2-Monolight Kit is best suited to professional photographers who need to take their studio with them. This kit provides two flash heads with all the accessories, and it can all be battery-powered, so you can shoot pretty much anywhere you can set it up.

Broncolor’s strobes have a flash sync speed of up to 1/19,000 of a second, so no matter how fast the action you’re shooting is, you can catch it. At the fastest setting, these flash heads will fire around 50 times a second.


Several accessories, like umbrellas and flash tubes, are included in this kit, and you can control the strobes via Broncolor’s BronControl app for Android and iPhone. You’ll also get accessories for extra portability, like stands and a rolling backpack.

Because of all its high-end features, this kit is extremely expensive—like, “down payment on a car” expensive. If you aren’t ready to shell out around $6K, the Neewer kit listed above provides a serviceable degree of studio lighting and portability. It won’t be the same but it will get the job done.

Broncolor Siros 800 2-Monolight Kit

Broncolor Siros 800 L Kit 2

Best Photography Lighting Kit for Outdoors

This lighting kit from Broncolor has everything you need to set up a pro studio pretty much anywhere.

FAQ

How do I set up photography lighting?

The setup process for your photography lighting ultimately depends on the kind of lights you have, what you’re trying to shoot, and where you’re shooting it. For instance, if you have a softbox, you may want to place it close to your subject for lighter shadows—perfect for a head and shoulders portrait. For a full picture, it’s best to consult user manuals and tips for the specific type of equipment you’re using.


Do I want to use light reflectors with my photography lighting?

Reflectors are useful for balancing and redirecting light sources in your environment. If you want to reduce the shadows that result from a single, prominent light source, reflectors are a solid go-to option. If you’re after hard lighting and strong shadows to create contrasting elements, you can probably do without reflectors.

Why is lighting important in photography?

Lighting is important in photography for a number of reasons; it changes how we view colors, creates or snuffs shadows, sets moods, and reveals details otherwise muddled by darkened edges and shaded crevices. Light is one of the most versatile tools in all of photography, and learning its ins and outs will improve every shot you take.

Can I use photography lighting to fake natural light?

Absolutely. It may not look 100% accurate, but mimicking natural light for a photo is easy enough with the right tools. You’ll want umbrellas and softboxes to create the largest well-lit area you can (this will also help eliminate hard shadows).



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By John P.

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