Since photography is all about good light, one of the most important things you can have in your camera bag is a top-notch light.
Now, I know what you’re thinking - using artificial lights is expensive and time-consuming and difficult to learn.
And maybe that was true back in the day when you had to invest in big, heavy lighting gear to get the job done.
But these days, there are all kinds of small, portable, and affordable lights for photographers that make it far simpler to get just the right light for your photos.
That being the case, let’s check out the best lights for photographers that we’ve tested in 2019.
Hakutatz Pocket Size RGB+AW LED Light
As its name indicates, this little light fits in your pocket, but don’t let its small size fool you…
With amber, white, and RGB LEDs, you can come up with virtually any kind of light you need for your photos.
Add visual interest and drama with any color of the spectrum using the RGB lights or get the perfect white balance using the amber or white lights.
Editor's Note: The Hakutatz Kickstarter campaign was a huge success! Their Amazon store will be open and ready for orders in early December.
Whatever the case, you can fine-tune the settings using the companion app. That means that with a simple touch or swipe of your finger, you can adjust the RGB color, the color temperature, special effects, and even control multiple lights at the same time.
You can adjust saturation and brightness, too, so you don’t need to invest in other lighting gear like diffusers or softboxes. All you need is in this one little portable light!
PilotFly AtomCube RX1 RGBCW LED Video Light
When considering what lights made this list of the best lights of 2019, one of the first to come to mind is the little guy shown above.
The AtomCube RX1 from PilotFly is another excellent example of how far lighting for photography and videography has come in the last few years.
Not only is this a key light in your pocket, but it’s also packed with features that will help you achieve your creative vision.
For example, it has nine common lighting scenarios built right in, that way you can quickly and easily implement a lighting scheme. Likewise, it offers tons of adjustments, from the color temperature to the brightness to the color saturation.
This light is also fully dimmable from 0-100 percent, so you can truly get the precise level of light you need for the shot or video sequence you’re working on.
If you need to create a more elaborate lighting setup, PilotFly has you covered because you can link up to 255 AtomCubes together via Bluetooth. And don’t worry about the light not being consistent - these lights are calibrated so you get color tone and brightness that looks the same across multiple lights, especially when they’re mounted together using Magic Cubes.
You can then control all those lights using the AtomCube smartphone app. Literally with just a few taps of your phone, you can adjust brightness, change the color temperature, and create an unlimited number of groups of lights, all in real-time. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that when you’re multitasking at a photo shoot!
The high-strength, all-aluminum frame makes this light super lightweight, yet incredibly durable, so it’ll be a solid companion and workhorse for you for years to come.
Add in a three-hour battery life on full power, a CRI of 95+, a TLCI of 97, and a variety of lighting accessories to expand your creative possibilities even further, and you begin to see just what a high-quality, reliable light this thing is!
Weighing in at just 33.5 ounces and measuring 5.5" x 3.9" x 2.9", this light is ultra-compact for easy transport, yet is capable of producing up to 3,000 lumens of continuous light and up to 6,00 lumens of flash. Nice!
Better still, the light is fully dimmable, tunable, and offers CCT, HSI, RGBWW, gel presets, flash modes, and effects as well.
It CCT mode, the light gives you 2,000-10,000K adjustable bi-color lighting with a green and magenta color shift control to allow for tunable blue and green screen optimization.
It also offers flicker-free lighting at all shutter angles and features a 97 CRI and TLCI color accuracy.
With a rugged, waterproof design, efficient passive thermal management, and up to 20 hours of battery life on the lowest setting, this light is one of the best lights for photographers this year, hands down.
Andycine Boling P1 RGB Pocket LED Light
Designed for video use, the Andycine Boling P1 is pocket-sized for easy transport and has a 360-degree mount to make manipulating the direction of light a quick and simple task.
In RGB mode, the light gives you 360 unique colors so you can get just the right light for each situation.
Color temperature is adjustable - from 2500-8500K - giving you the ability to match any ambient light sources. There are also nine built-in special effects, including candles, car lights, and lightning.
The rechargeable battery will give you over two hours of continuous use and has a built-in feature that prevents overheating.
This light is fully dimmable, has a CRI of 96 and a TLCI of 97, and has a ¼-20” shoe mount for easy mounting.
iLED 144 Bi-Color Flood Light
Another option for an affordable light for your photography work is the iLED 144 Bi-Color Flood Light.
This unit is just over 5 x 3 inches in size, so it offers excellent portability while also offering high-quality LED lighting.
Its solid construction means you get a light that's durable and reliable, and that will offer professional-grade performance for the long-term.
It utilizes energy-efficient bi-color LEDs and a 60-degree angle that gives you the reliable, consistent lighting you need to elevate the quality of your photos.
You can quickly and easily adjust the dimmer as well as the color temperature (from 3200-5600K) so you can dial in just the right lighting too!
This stackable on-camera light is also an affordable option that won't break the bank. What's not to like about that?!
Litra Torch LitraPro
As I noted in my LitraPro review, this little light is one of the smallest you can buy at just 6 ounces and measuring 2.75 x 2 x 1.2 inches.
But Litra has packed 60 LEDs into this light, which gets you 1200 lumens of light for your photos.
The light is flicker-free, crisp, even, and very clean, which is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to getting high-quality light for your photos and videos!
The LitraPro offers bi-color light and has an adjustable color temperature of 3,000-6,000K so you can customize the lighting for each specific shot.
It has a 70-degree beam angle, is waterproof up to 90 feet, and has a 10-hour battery life on low output.
Add to that MIL-SPEC 810 durability, a bright OLED display, and Bluetooth control, and you have the makings of one of the best small photography lights you can get your hands on!
Aputure 120D II
If it’s a powerful studio light that you’re after, the Aputure 120d II performed very well in our review.
With a 1000-watt tungsten equivalent, fully dimmable light, and a CRI & TLCI of 97+, this light gives you beautifully clean output.
It comes with many different built-in lighting effects that enable you to create a more custom and interesting look in your images.
It has an integrated power and control box, which helps minimize clutter in your studio, and with an 18dB quiet fan, you won’t have to listen to a loud fan as you try to work with your clients.
I had the original 120d and while it was an excellent light, this one takes its spot on this list of the best lights for photographers because it’s 25 percent brighter than the original. It’s color temperature is also slightly warmer (5500K rather than 6000K) which I particularly like.
Add in a wireless remote, DMX controls, and good portability, and you have a light that ticks all the boxes for a quality addition to your studio.
This is yet another light I’ve reviewed this year that left me really impressed.
Not to be outdone in the smallness department, the LitraTorch 2.0 is by far the smallest light on this list, measuring 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.65 inches and weighing just 3.17 ounces.
In terms of portability, that’s hard to beat!
This light has 16 LEDs that offer 100, 450, or 800 lumens depending on what you need for the shot.
Regardless of the lumen output, you’ll get clean, crisp, flicker-free light with a 70-degree beam angle. As you’d expect from one of the best lights for photographers in 2019, this one offers a CRI of 90+ and a TLCI of 92.
You can use the light on its low setting for up to four hours or get about 35 minutes of output on the maximum brightness.
It’s also waterproof to 60 feet in case you need to do a little scuba diving, has a magnet for easily attaching to metal surfaces, and two ¼-20 mounts too.
Like the other lights on this list, the LitraTorch 2.0 is simply a versatile, do-anything light!
Aputure Amaran AL-M9
Rounding out my list of the best lights for photographers in 2019 is this little guy, the Aputure Amaran AL-M9.
This daylight-balanced LED light offers surprising brightness for such a small fixture.
It has a color temperature of 5500K and comes with a removable diffuser, CTO, and CTB filter. There are 9 steps of dimming as well.
The integrated battery gives you about two hours of runtime on full brightness when fully charged, and it can be charged quickly using the optional USB charger.
There are multiple mounting options as well, including as a cold shoe accessory or on a ¼-20 mounting point.
And at $45.00, it’s the cheapest light on this list!