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As everyone knows, lighting is essential to good photography. If you can’t get daylight, photography umbrellas can reflect or diffuse light evenly over your subject. Assuming you’re an amateur photographer and not trying to be Ansel Adams, you don’t need a professional kit, which can run up to tens of thousands of dollars. You simply need a basic set of adjustable umbrellas and bulbs, ideally with a few customization functions such as colored bulbs or filters to adjust the warmth and color of the light.
What Are the Best Photo Umbrella Lighting Kits?
The best photo umbrellas are great for both amateur and hobbyist photographers looking to get started on a home photography studio setup. Kits should include a standard variety of basics, including two or three umbrellas, lights, and stands in multiple sizes and adjustments. From there, photographers can build on their studios for more specialized equipment. Here are some things to look for.
Variety and Versatility: All of our kit recommendations include a few different umbrellas, stands, and lightbulbs, which should be all you need for almost every situation. We appreciate extras like blue and orange bulb filters or reflective silver and gold umbrellas which can further customize light temperature and intensity.
Bulbs: All of our recommended kits come with bulbs included, some fluorescent and some LED. While we find that fluorescent lights are often perfectly serviceable, LED bulbs can offer stronger and more energy-efficient light. Adjust the positioning of the lights and umbrellas to cast a warm glow on the subject you’re photographing, or to mimic a daylight setting.
Ease of Use and Assembly: Especially for beginners, it’s important for home photography studios to be user-friendly. We looked for kits with intuitive assembly and breakdown mechanisms. We also looked for lightweight and portable sets including carry bags for when you want to take your studio on the road.
1. Julius Studio Daylight Photography Umbrella
For simple portrait photography and light diffusion, this set will meet 99 percent of your needs, especially considering everything you’ll be able to adjust and edit later.
It includes two 33-inch white umbrella reflectors, three single-head bulb sockets, two tripods, a light stand, a carry bag, bulb bag, and velcro cable ties. Both professional photographers and amateurs alike agree that this set is sturdy, simple to use, and easy to assemble and travel with. It is constructed so well, it should be able to last the average user several years.
While the bulbs that come included with the set are fluorescent, they are easy to replace with LED or colored lights if you find the included bulbs are not bright enough.
2. Neewer Photo Studio Continuous Lighting Umbrella Kit
If you’re looking for a great photography set for home use that does include a few extra features, we like this one because in addition to the high-quality nylon, umbrellas, clear bulbs, and stands, it includes orange and blue-colored gel filters to create warm and cool lighting. Plus, the included bulbs are LED, which are both energy-saving and efficient.
Because of the umbrellas’ wide spread at 33 inches, the light diffuses evenly over the space and provides a great range of softness. Photographers like the warm golden light the orange bulb provides as well as the subtle cooling effect of the blue bulb.
The set also includes two umbrellas and three stands in varying sizes, as well as a convenient carrying case for the traveling artist. We also love the simple set-up mechanism, which uses a simple screw thread and locking function.
3. Emart Photography Umbrella Lighting Kit
Instead of a variety of colored gel filters, this photography umbrella set allows you to customize the warmth of light with different colored umbrellas, including two each of white, silver, and gold. It also includes two height-adjustable tripod stands and one adjustable mini stand.
We were also impressed with the quality of this kit’s stands, which are made from lightweight aluminum while staying super sturdy.
Like our other picks, this set includes a carrying case and separate carriers for the bulbs, so the whole studio can be packed up and transported wherever you need to take it on the go.
4. LimoStudio Photography Studio Umbrella Continuous Lighting Kit
If you’re looking for something sturdy and easy to use to get started shooting right away, we love the simplicity of this set up, which includes the standard three stands and bulbs. We also like that, like the set above, it includes multiple umbrella types. This set has two, 33-inch white umbrella reflectors and two, 33-inch black umbrella reflectors.
Users were surprised at how easy it was to set this kit up and create their own photography studio for the first time. And that includes ease of use when switching from one umbrella to another, which can be cumbersome.
Set up, adjustment, and tear down is easy. Store the stands and bulbs in the included carrying case when not in use. Very light and portable.”