The Best Lighting for Zoom Calls of 2021
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With remote work on the rise, it’s crucial to have the right gear for your office or home office. Even if you don’t work for a company like Google or Twitter, who have both announced plans to allow at least some employees to continue working remotely, you’re bound to have meetings with people who do. And with many workers having fled the cities with remote-friendly policies in place, there is no sign of Zoom going anywhere anytime soon.
So, if you haven’t already invested in proper lighting for your home office (or your office office), now is the time to do so. As Larry Becker, author of “Great on Camera” explained in an interview with USA Today last year, you don’t want to be subject to what he calls “Shady Face,” in which your face is obscured by shadows. Assuming your house or apartment doesn’t have the layout necessary to position your body directly in front of a window, you’ll want to procure the best lighting for Zoom calls, whether that means snapping up a trendy ring light or a starter set of smart bulbs to supercharge your existing lights.
Best Floor Lamp: Nova LED Tree Floor Lamp ($186)
Best Ring Light Kit: Sunpak LED Bi-Color Ring Light ($100)
Best Smart Bulbs: Philips Hue A19 LED Smart Bulb Starter Kit ($199), also at other retailers
Best Laptop Mount: Lume Cube ($100), also at other retailers
Best Value: Cyezcor Video Conference Lighting Kit ($20)
Best Phone Holder: UBeesize Ring Light with Tripod Stand and Phone Holder ($22), also at other retailers
Best Tripod Stand: AIXPI Ring Light with Tripod Stand ($26), also at other retailers
Best 2-Pack: Neewer Portable Photography Lighting Kit ($34)
Best Floor Lamp: Nova LED Tree Floor Lamp ($200)
This chic Nova LED Tree Floor Lamp serves as sort of an overhead ring light, taking the literal shape of two rings affixed to a vertical metal rod. It has three brightness modes: Low, Medium and High, along with an off button, naturally, controlled by a touch-sensitive button at the base. By integrating into your home’s decor, the Nova LED Tree Floor Lamp looks magnificent and eschews the industrial vibe that many purpose-built streaming lighting solutions give off.
The Nova LED Tree Floor Lamp’s built-in 55,000-hour bulb ensures your Zoom calls will be enhanced by 360 degrees of warm white lighting for at least the decade to come.
Best Ring Light Kit: Sunpak LED Bi-Color Ring Light ($130)
For a proper ring light, the Sunpak LED Bi-Color Ring Light is a mid-range, fully-featured, entry point to the ring light craze. Standing at 70 inches when fastened to the included light stand, the 19-inch light contains 448 LEDs — 224 white and 224 amber — for the ideal balance of white and warm illumination.
An adjustable knob allows users to dim the light when needed, and because the Sunpak runs without emitting heat, you can keep it in close proximity during your calls. For spaces where there’s little to no natural lighting, the Sunpak does a marvelous job providing enhanced illumination. Various knobs let you adjust the angle and size for a flexible lighting solution.
Best Smart Bulbs: Philips Hue Starter Kit ($130)
Don’t want to give up your current furniture setup? No problem. The Philips Hue A19 LED smart bulbs (also at other retailers) are widely considered the best-in-class smart bulbs, and for good reason. For one, the setup is foolproof: just install them as you would normal light bulbs, then download the Philips Hue app to your Android or iOS device and pair it with the Hue bridge (which comes included in this bundle). From there, you can command the Hue bulbs using your phone, or with your voice if you have a virtual assistant.
We like the Hue White and Color LED smart bulbs starter kit. With three standard-sized A19 smart bulbs along with a Hue hub and a smart button, this gives you everything you need to get started smartening up your home with Philips Hue.
Best Laptop Mount: Lume Cube ($80)
Engineered specifically for remote employees, the Lume Cube (also at other retailers) is a versatile office lighting solution that can not only be mounted to a tripod but also to your laptop itself. While the adjustable stand can extend anywhere from 12 to 30 inches, the included computer mount attaches to your laptop with easy-to-use suction cup adhesive. Simply charge it up over a USB-C connection in time for your next meeting and watch as your lighting situation improves.
Because of its versatile installation options, the Lume Cube is ideal for all sorts of purposes. It’s equally well-suited for Zoom video conferencing as it is for tuning in to online classes, recording YouTube videos or game streaming on Twitch.
Best Value: Cyezcor Video Conference Lighting Kit ($22)
Instead of treating the ring light and laptop mount separately, Cyezcor’s Video Conference Lighting Kit combines the best of both worlds by letting you snap a ring light to the bezel above your laptop screen (for just $20 when you clip the coupon on the page).
It’s highly customizable as well. Rather than locking you to one particular color temperature, you can select between White, Warm and Natural light with five levels of brightness to pick from. Composed of 48 LEDs, the lamp delivers good overall illumination. Because of its USB power cable, no external power brick is needed if you’re using the Cyezcor Video Conference Lighting Kit with your desktop, laptop or Chromebook. A small footprint makes it highly portable and easy to tote around.
Best Phone Holder: Ubeesize Ring Light with Tripod Stand and Phone Holder ($20)
While a good camera is ideal for content creation, many phones now have cameras that rival even webcams or DSLRs. Accordingly, the UBeesize Ring Light with Tripod Stand and Phone Holder (also at other retailers) has a spot for your phone, so you don’t even have to be sitting at your desk to take a Zoom call. Just pop the phone into the integrated 360-degree clamp and phone in.
Since the UBeesize relies on a mobile device, it’s an excellent choice for digital nomads. And outside of Zoom calls, this is a terrific ring light for content creators and social media enthusiasts.
Best Tripod Stand: Mactrem R6 Ring Light with Tripod Stand ($19)
As an alternative to the Lume Cube and UBeesize Ring Light, the AIXPI ring light (also at other retailers) is a simple, cost-effective way to step up the quality of your Zoom calls. In addition to sitting on a 59-inch extendable tripod, AIXPI includes a 10-inch ring light. There’s a cell phone holder for using your mobile device for Zoom, Google Hangouts, Instagram Live and other video recording or live streaming.
The telescoping tripod stand is perfect for sitting on the ground or on a desk. It can extend all the way from 13.6 inches to 59 inches. And since the ring light is USB-powered, it’s portable.
Best 2-Pack: Neewer Portable Photography Lighting Kit ($33)
What’s better than one light? Two, as evidenced by the Neewer Portable Photography Lighting Kit. By leveraging the power of dual video call lighting, you can maximize the brightness of your on-screen presence from all angles. Both ship complete with mini tripods and extension rods as well as an array of filters — two whites, two yellows, two blues and two reds — to adjust your color temperature the old-fashioned way.
If you need a more professional lighting solution, the Neewer Portable Photography Lighting Kit is a fantastic choice. The colored filters are a nice touch that let you customize your illumination settings. With stable tripods, set up is a breeze. And with a pair of lights rather than one, you’ll enjoy broader lighting than a solitary ring light.