The Best Lighting for Twitch Streaming

Credit: Tighten.con

When streaming on Twitch or Mixer you’re going to need a reliable lighting setup for your channel. Making your stream look professional is one of the biggest unknowns when starting to stream, and lighting plays a huge role in the quality of the stream.

Great lighting is especially important if you plan to use a green screen or background eraser while streaming. The lighting will help to create a softer transition from body lines to background. There are two types of lighting you can choose from: softboxes or desktop lighting.

The main difference between softbox lighting and desktop lighting is size. A softbox light is traditionally used for photography and can take up a lot of space. Desktop lighting is simply that: put on your desktop or mounted on your webcam, like a LED ring light. They can save you a ton of space (and most likely, money) if you’re working with a small area.

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What lighting setup do I need and how should it be placed?

Lighting is a difficult concept to master. You want to think about all the variables that you are going to be dealing with. Where are you streaming? Are there windows? When are you streaming? Day or night?  All of these environmental factors can have an impact on how your lighting setup will need to work specifically for you.

The goal when deciding on your optimal lighting solution is illuminating your face and shoulders with natural looking light, and minimizing shadows. Without considering existing windows in your room, a 3 softbox set up placed on the left and right side of you desk with one behind your desk projecting light downward is the optimal set up. If you don’t have this kind of space, I’d recommend looking at smaller desktop options that can offer decent illumination but take up far less space.

If your room already has adequate natural sources of light, place your softbox or desktop light whatever uncovered direction you have – usually the opposite angle. Remember, the goal in designing light placement is to reduce shadows.

Best Softboxes for Streaming

A softbox is a light modifier- it reduces dark shadows and softens any harsh lighting using a semi-transparent fabric in front of two bulbs, typically compact fluorescent lamps. They can be pretty big in size, so you will need extra space behind your desk to set up the stand.

If you can only afford one softbox, the optimal place to put it is behind your desk.They can be pretty big in size, so you will need at least a couple feet behind your desk to set up the stand.

1. Best Budget Softbox: MOUNTDOG 20"X28" Professional Photo 1350W Photography Continuous Softbox Lighting Kit

  • 1350 W
  • 1820 Lumens
  • 27 - 80 in adjustable stand
  • 210 Degree Rotation
  • Day Light Bulb

If you have the room, the MountDog Softbox Lighting Kit is the best option for optimal affordable lighting. The price is low for the amount of wattage you’re receiving, and is one of the cheapest prices for a single quality light box. It is easy to assemble, lightweight, and affordable- it’s a great choice for beginners to start streaming. It comes with everything you need and is extremely versatile- 210-degree rotation with a height adjustment of up to 53 inches- you can literally use it anywhere you want to achieve the perfect light for your videos.

2. Neewer Dimmable Bi-Color LED

  • 29 W
  • 3360 Lumens
  • 480 LED Bulbs

The Neewer Dimmable LED isn’t quite a light box, but may be a great space saving solution for perfect Twitch streaming studio. The typical bulbs of a light box are replaced with a panel of bright LEDs. LEDs contrast well with any white lights coming from overhead lights or your monitors, and last far longer than the fluorescent bulb in a typical softbox.  

The Neewer has various adjustable lighting and color temperature settings to play around with to achieve perfect lighting. It’s affordable considering the quality, but you may want to diffuse the light with a softbox to give the light a more natural look. The Kamerar D-Fuse is made specifically for LED light panels and does a great job at diffusing the bright lights.

3. Best Overall: Neewer 700W Professional Photography 24x24 Softbox Kit

  • 700 W
  • 2300 Lumens
  • 41 to 88 inches in height
  • 180 Degree Rotation
  • Incandescent Light Bulbs

The Neewer 700W Softbox is not only affordable, but extremely high quality. It’s lightweight, so after you finish streaming, you can effortlessly store it for future use. It’s a great source for soft, professional lighting and you can easily adjust the brightness to your liking.

The kit comes with two softboxes, which is actually a necessity if you can’t place one behind your desk. Having one on either end can minimize the shadowed effect you’d experience by placing one softbox on one side of your desk. All around, it’s an awesome option for streamers who want a full lighting set up at a decent price. It’s comparable to many of the high-end photography studio softboxes without the price tag. The Neewer 700W is definitely going to give you the most bank for your buck.

4. Most Professional Setup: Fovitec - 1x 20" x 28" Softbox Continuous Lighting Kit

  • 1000 W
  • 1500 Lumens
  • 2.3 to 7.6 feet in height
  • 210 Degree Rotation
  • Fluorescent Light Bulbs

The Fovitec kits are great because they offer a lot of customization for lighting your stream based on your physical set up. The kits can come with one, two, or three softboxes. If you’re looking for the most professional looking stream, the 3 softbox offering will cover left, right hand side, and above for a complete no shadow effect. If you notice in the photo above, the third softbox provided is specifically angled to light from above.

Overall the lights are durable and ideal for everyday use. This softbox can be mounted tall or wide depending on your desk set up (notice the three different telescoping adjustments in the photo above).The bulbs put out a nice daylight color which is ideal if you’re streaming at night or in a room without access to natural sunlight. The Fovitec Kit has 5 bulbs and you have total control over each one-so you can adjust lighting output to match best suit your room and time of day. With so many adjustments- it works well for any of your specific environmental needs.

5. Excelvan Video Studio Lighting Kit

  • 1250 W
  • 3200 Lumens
  • 2.7 to 6 feet in height
  • 210 Degree Rotation
  • Energy Saving Light Bulbs

The Excelvan has a lot of great features to help you achieve perfect studio quality lighting. It softens light while eliminating any overexposure and hotspots. Another lightweight softbox – perfect for storing away when you’re done using it. It’s easy to assemble and easily the closest you can get to full-studio high-end equipment for under $100.00.

Best Desktop Lighting for Streaming

A space saver! If you don’t want huge lamps placed all around your streaming space, it can be a great idea to go with simple desktop lighting. Investing in a high-quality ring light can still give you great lighting for streaming and typically at a lower price than most soft boxes.

1. Highest Quality: Neewer Ring Light Kit

  • 55W
  • 29.5 to 61 inches
  • 90  Degree Rotation
  • Individual LED Bulbs

The Neewer Ring Light is an extremely versatile light. It can be as bright (or as dim) as you need it to be. It comes with an optional orange light cover to create a look most similar to natural sunlight. It’s extremely affordable compared to other name brand ring lights of similar quality. The LED bulbs are not an actual ring- but many small LED bulbs making it less likely to break. If one bulb goes out, you can keep on streaming with awesome lighting.

2. Best Overall: AceTaken’s Webcam Ring Light for Logitech Webcams

  • 10W
  • 360 Degree Rotation
  • LED Bulbs
  • Fits Logitech C920, C922x or BRIO webcams

AceTaken’s Ring Light fits Logitech webcams effortlessly, which is particularly useful for streaming since they’re the most used and recommended webcams. This ring light can be mounted on any of your Logitech C920, C922x or BRIO webcams. This can save a ton of space on your desk and pretty much go completely unnoticed.

It has 3 light settings and temperature modes so you can adjust the amount and color of lighting to your liking. With a 360-degree rotation, you and your light can move around as you much as you need to! It will give you high quality lighting that’s perfect for streaming.

3. Best Budget Desktop Lighting: Mactrem 6in LED Ring Light

  • 58W
  • 60 Degree Rotation
  • LED Bulbs
  • Compact 6 inch width ring
  • USB powered with quick access remote

The Mactrem is an extremely versatile ring light at a very affordable price (like under $30.00 affordable). Similar to the AceTaken’s, it has 3 different color settings- blue-white, yellow, and yellow-white. It has all the accessories you could need to get started- like tripods and adapters. The tripod is adjustable so that it either can be placed on your desk behind your monitor or on the floor.

With 11 different light settings, you can easily use it anywhere at any time of day. If you aren’t really sure of your exact lighting needs you can simply mess with all the settings the Mactrem has to offer to achieve high-quality desktop lighting.

4. WongPong 5.7in Ring Light

  • 360 Degree Rotation
  • 11 to 25.6 inches
  • LED Bulbs
  • Compact 5.7 inch width ring
  • USB powered with quick access remote

The WongPing is a completely adjustable ring light with 360-degree rotation and 10 different light settings. At 5.7 inches it’s small enough to sit unnoticed on or behind your desk, while still providing awesome lighting. This ring light is another with LED bulbs instead of an entire LED light, so it’s much more likely to withstand regular use. Lighting can be adjusted freely, so you can play with all the settings to find the best mode for your space.

5. Most Compact: Lume Cube

  • 1500 Lumens
  • 1.5 Cubic Inches
  • LED Daylight Bulbs

The Lume Cube is the ultimate portable light. It’s considered a “pocket sized” LED light- small enough to attach to your webcam or even on top of your monitor. It has both a Bluetooth feature and an app that make this light extremely easy to use and adjust mid-stream. Even at its small size, the light is still functional and bright enough to use for streaming.

If you have the room, you should go the Softbox route. They are ideal for green screen use and will illuminate your stream reliably. Unfortunately, some of us don’t always have that kind of space for elaborate lighting setups. This is where desktop lighting comes in handy. The smaller ring lights and cubes aren’t specifically designed for streaming but still put out adequate lighting for video and erase any dark shadows.  If you’re just starting out, these might be a great option for you. If you’re going to be making the jump to streaming full-time and possibly using a green screen, a softbox is the better choice.