Gadgets

Lights for video calls and taking photos

Studio light for indoor photographs and video recording

In the past, we had our DSLR cameras to take pictures and when coupled with appropriate lenses they can take good photos whether used indoors (with powerful flashlights) or outdoors. Nowadays, many of us are taking a lot of pictures with our smartphones which don’t perform well indoors, often it is due to the poor lighting conditions in our houses. A couple of years back, I realised this need and decided to invest on a studio quality soft light.

Studio Light for Still and Video from Harison
Studio Light for Still and Video from Harison

The one I bought was called “HARISON Trilux Mark II Studio Light” and was Rs.3500 from Amazon India. The spotlight supports fitting three CFL bulbs of any hues (White, Half-White, or Natural) we may choose. It has a white sheet as optical diffuser to avoid harsh shadows. The tripod like stand extends well over 7-feet in height, enough for most situations indoors. The whole setup is easy to carry around inside the house.

Having used the soft light for the last 3 years, I am happy with it. Works well for photographs and video recordings for my limited usage. Like any CFL bulb setup (here there are three) the light does get heated up on extended use (say 30 minutes), so do take care to avoid over-heating.  For professional usage, you will need a pair of these spotlights to avoid dark sports and shadows.

Disclosure: I write reviews about products that I have bought for my usage and paid in full. There were no sponsorship or advertisement, or commission of any sort involved in this post. 

With the ongoing pandemic and the resulting lockdowns, most of us are working from home and for entire day we are in video calls over Zoom or Microsoft Teams. It becomes important to have a good setup at our homes for working comfortably for long hours. And for that we need to focus on three things:

  1. First item to have will be a good table and a chair that are setup ergonomically: In this regard, I had written earlier about a perfect chair I found for myself and about Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard & Mouse.
  2. Second is to be heard clearly by the other party(s) and your words not being mistaken. For that we need a good microphone, a condenser microphone from Rode or Audio-Technica that connect over USB are the best for that, but they cost over Rs.20,000 (USD 300) in India and they won’t work with my smartphone or iPad Pro that I use for video recordings.  I wanted one that will work on my PC (Asus Zenbook Pro ), iPad Pro and my Smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite), so I went with Saramonic Blink 500 B6.
  3. Third is to have a good webcam and bright lighting. Currently Logitech Webcams (say 925e or 930e) are not easily available in India and are overpriced, my laptop’s webcam is decent, so I am delaying my purchase of one. More important is to have good lighting, here I have a problem in my room with little light falling on my face which makes me appearing dark on video calls. I had to fix this situation.  Unfortunately, due to the configuration of my room, it is not going to be easy for me to fix additional lights. And using the above mentioned Harison Studio light for video calls hurts my eyes due to its brightness when used for anything more than a few minutes. I wanted a simple & cheaper solution. After a long search and getting help from my friends, I went with a simple ring light, described below.

Ring Light for video calls

I found this ring light, which I fixed on top of a small tripod that I already had (this ring light didn’t come with a tripod) and put the setup behind my laptop screen.

Backside of the Selfie Ring Light
Backside of the Selfie Ring Light

It powers through any USB port, which was convenient. The brightness can be adjusted through the +/- buttons, and there is an ON/OFF button too – like the ones in our earphones. The colour can be changed from white, half-white to natural.

Half-white hue of the Selfie Ring Light
Half-white hue of the Selfie Ring Light

There is a holder to keep your phone in the centre of the light. The light is not too bright, so your face must be closer to the light. For my usage, the brightness was enough – not too glaring or hurting the eyes. Overall, I am loving it for the price.

Front view of the Selfie Ring Light
Front view of the Selfie Ring Light

When I bought about 2 weeks ago, the Yumato Big LED Selfie Ring Light was Rs.539 at Flipkart, but now it is selling for Rs.480. This is a good buy for the price, go for it.

If you are curious on why in the above picture, I am having my monitor in portrait mode, check this earlier post on the subject.

Footnote:

The above suggestions are meant for casual users like me, pros may need top-end setup including a Condenser Microphone, Two or more Studio lights and a green screen with a stand that retail for about Rs.2000 in Amazon & Flipkart. My background is less cluttered hence I am not feeling a need for a green screen till now.

6 Comments

  1. Let me be clear.

    1) I am not recommending to be artificial in any way or hide your true self. These are individual choices. I choose to be discreet and appear on a less cluttered surroundings.

    2) I am not recommending virtual background for every occassion. They do make you appear synthetic. But, when you call is being recorded for public sharing, then they have a use. If you are professional speaker like my colleagues in Professional Speakers Association of India, it is a good opportunity for you to brand yourself with a virtual background.

  2. Been following your blog for years. Have always enjoyed your reviews – gives us a host of tried and tested options across a wide variety of objects – from chairs to routers to lights to office set ups. Keep rocking the awesome work

  3. While Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other video calling apps now have virtual background features, for them to work fine you need to have a clutter free background. Otherwise, the viewers will see a lot of disturbance around your ears and hair – it may not be pleasing to watch. That’s why a green screen is recommended.

    Also, NVIDIA has recently released their NVIDIA Broadcast App that uses their GPU enhanced AI models to better the above and a few more. I haven’t tried it yet, but it is available from here for free!
    https://www.nvidia.com/en-in/geforce/broadcasting/broadcast-app/

  4. Looks expensive to set up. Just keep a simple white-shade table lamp behind the monitor.

    • I had tried that (table lamp and white dhoti), didn’t work out as well as I wished, and the table lamp was getting heated up if you closed it with a dhoti. Second it was cumbersome to setup and maintain.

      That’s why I had presented two options. First one, the Studio Lights are not for everyone, it is certainly expensive and needs a lot of place. The second is a ring light that connects over USB, cost just Rs.500 and some stand (ideally a small tripod that cost Rs.300) to place it. I found it super easy to manage and move it aside when not needed.

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