Ring lights have traditionally been somewhat expensive. As a result, professional portrait photographers in the middle of the market have tended to only look at them much later in their careers – if at all.
Certainly, fashion photographers with commercial budgets have been using high-end equipment such as the Broncolor Ringflash for years.
So what about the average enthusiast or working pro without a large budget? Luckily the advent of LED technology has brought the fabled ring light into the realm of possibility for a low cost yet high-quality option.
In this review, I use a ring light for the first time ever and give you my honest opinion on whether or not you should consider adding the Westcott 18″ Bi-Color LED Ring Light to your lighting kit.
Table of Contents
Westcott LED Ring Light Specs
- Consistent color temperature
- Reasonably soft light
- All in one unit with accessories included
- Lightweight for great portability
- Battery-powered option
- A unique look that may be polarizing to clients
- Installing batteries onto back panel was somewhat difficult
- 18” bi-color LED ring light with built-in diffusion
- Power with AC adapter or two NP-F750 Li-Ion batteries (both included)
- Adjustable temperature range 3200-5600K
- Flicker-free operation and up to 97 CRI
- For both photography and video applications
- Ideal for vlogging, beauty shots, portraits, stylists, headshots and more
- Offers a bold punch of light with distinguished catchlights
- Minimizes shadows and reduces facial imperfections
- Includes mounts for mobile devices, digital cameras, action cameras up to 10 lbs
- Lightweight design with included 6.5’ stand and carry case
It would be too easy to give the Westcott Ring Light bad marks for build quality because it’s made of lightweight plastic. However, this is all by design and not because Westcott doesn’t care about quality products.
This ring light comes with a handy carrying case and is made for the mobile generation. The company appears to realize that the outside world is now the studio for creators in stills and video and is emphasizing easy assembly with lightweight yet sturdy materials.
I can see a YouTube content creator or an on-location make up artist carrying this ring light from location to location with no problems.
However, this is not an item that should be exposed to elements like rain, wind, etc.
Size & Handling
The included stand can raise the Ring Light to heights sufficient for most people.
There is enough room to shoot through the light with a handheld camera and lens, or you can mount your ILC camera body or mobile phone to the bottom of the light.
As mentioned, the entire set up is extremely lightweight and easy to maneuver around your studio, client’s home or when adjusting for macro photography.
The Westcott LED Ring Light has a built-in diffuser with a light temperature control that goes from 3200 Kelvin to 5600 Kelvin.
My background light was daylight balanced with a blue gel so I chose the tungsten temperature on the light and in my camera to bring out more of the blue.
I took a number of shots at this session, and in post I had no issues with color consistency from image to image. That’s no surprise to me as this product comes from the same folks who created the Ice Light.
This LED ring light isn’t designed to replace the power output of the high-end flash units, but with today’s clean ISO on most cameras it shouldn’t be an issue.
While I’ve shot portraits professionally for years, I’m quite the novice when it comes to using ring lights.
I experimented with the positioning of my subject and found that I like it when the ring light illuminates within the iris. When it lands outside that portion of the eye, it just looks wrong to me.
Take a look at the two portraits below for examples of the placement of catchlights.
Also, ring lights tend to carve out the face for a shadow-less, flat look. So keep this in mind for portraiture.
If you’re a makeup artist looking for great, consistent light to show off your work on social media you will love the quality here. This is far above the quality that I see from many ring lights that the stylists bring to weddings.
For photographers and videographers wanting a unique look in a no-fuss set up, you’ll find the light quality here excellent as well.
It won’t replace a large soft box, but it isn’t overly harsh.
For these in-studio portraits, I used the Westcott Bi-Color LED Ring Light plugged into AC power, but the two included Li-Ion batteries make this a very portable set up.
I did struggle a bit with inserting the batteries onto the back panel as the small area does not have much room. This makes it difficult to line up the pins into the sockets.
Kay was about 3 feet from the light and I had plenty of power to the point where I had to keep it at it’s lower settings.
If you need to stop down your aperture for macro product photography, you won’t have an issue with light output unless you are shooting at f/11 or more and then you may need to raise your ISO.
Video and Accessory Features
Whether you’re using the Westcott Ring Light for stills or video, the package has all of the important accessories you might need.
The built-in USB port will charge your device while mounted, whether secured to the included phone mount or camera ball head mount.
A cold shoe mount is also included for a shotgun mic or other audio recorder.
The Westcott 18″ Bi-Color LED Ring Light is flicker-free for easy video creation.
Here is a list of everything that comes in the box:
- 1 × 18-Inch Ring Light
- 1 × Ring Light AC Adapter
- 2 × NP-750 Battery
- 1 × NP-750 Battery Charger
- 1 × Ring Light Gooseneck Arm
- 1 × Ring Light Swivel Mount
- 1 × Ring Light Mobile Device Mount
- 1 × 6.5′ Ring Light Stand
- 1 × Ring Light Power Cord
- 1 × Ring Light Travel Case
Value for Money
At around US$200 for a high-quality lighting kit with a boatload of important accessories plus an included travel case, I’d say the Westcott 18″ Ring Light is great value for money.
This portable lighting kit would be a great investment for on-location makeup artist as well as other beauty stylists.
Social media images (and videos) shot in consistently high-quality light are going to raise you above the fray and be good for business.
For run and gun videographers or hybrid content creators, this kit is a high quality yet low-cost option that will give you color consistency across your YouTube or Instagram feed.
For pure stills photographers, this is a great low cost option for a unique look for your portraits or on-location headshot service.
It will most certainly up your mobile photography game.
Westcott LED Ring Light Review | Conclusion
The Westcott 18″ Bi-Color LED Ring Light is a great buy if you value quality lighting in the increasingly expensive world of photography gear.
If you are an enthusiast, your significant other won’t blink an eye at this purchase.
For those of you whose business is the arts, this ring light is a great addition to your toolbox…
Unless, of course, you’re in the world of high-end fashion photography, where Broncolor level lighting is expected… alongside something like a Hasselblad H6D-100c Medium Format DSLR.