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Ring light vs softbox - which is better?

When it comes to getting the perfect lighting for your photos, will a ring light or a softbox be the best option for you? Let's find out.

ring lights vs softbox

Getting the lighting just right for a photo can be hard at the best of times, even with the best ring lights or softboxes, it can feel like a challenge to get things perfect. Both of these lighting accessories are crucial in capturing the perfect shot but which one is right for you?

It’s often going to come down to what your environment is like but in situations where you are in control, you have the power of choice. We’re going to look at ring lights and softboxes to see which is the best lighting solution for you.

Ring lights – pros and cons

Ring lights are by far the more popular lighting option especially when compared to softboxes. Not only is their availability a bit better, but the wealth of brands that product ring lights is beyond compare, this also helps ring light prices sit at a very affordable level. Granted, this can also lead to some suspect products ending up on the market that are poorly manufactured.

The range of ring light sizes is huge and you can really go from those that comfortably fit on your smartphone to something that couldn’t look out of place stuck on top of a skyscraper.

If you’re willing to invest a little more in your ring light, you should have access to a suite of features such as remote control over the brightness and color of the light. Without this, cheaper ring lights tend to only have one setting and if it’s too bright, you have no option to change it.

Ring lights are more versatile than a softbox in that if you have the right product, you don’t have to be confined to a tripod and you can find clip products that can mount just about anywhere to have full control over your lighting.

ring light vs softbox - amaran boxlight

Softboxes – pros and cons

Softboxes are a great ring light alternative for many reasons, but primarily they’re great if you’re not after a light that is quite so harsh and pronounced and instead you are searching for something more muted.

You’ll find that softboxes typically come in three primary shapes; octagonal, rectangular and square. This helps as you can match up the shape you need to your desired effect.

Softboxes to to produce a much softer light which leaves less of an impression on the subject of a photo, that being said, you can still manually move a softbox closer to your subject to alter the reflection of the light.

If weight is an issue, moving a softbox around is simple as like for like sizes should always see it being far lighter than a ring light. If you run into any issues with your bulb/LEDs, it’s also far easier to replace the bulb in a softbox, offering it a big advantage when it comes to general longevity.

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Ring lights and softboxes have their ups and downs but in most situations one one of these lighting solutions will be the right choice. We’re inclined to point out that if you’re shooting in a studio environment, a softbox is almost always going to win out.

For less professional settings or casual use, a ring light is far more portable and gives you a world of choice for size meaning the risk of buy a product that isn’t of use is far lower.

It really does come down to the setting that you’re shooting in as both ring lights and softboxes are so similar when it comes to price and size.