Graphic: Eric Ravenscraft

Taking photos—whether with your smartphone or your fancy DSLR camera—is all about lighting. The better the light, and the more control you have over it, the better your photos will be. If you want to improve your pictures without spending a ton, these lighting accessories can give you a lot more options.

VILTROX VL-162T CRI95+

When shooting in low light conditions, an LED light panel like this one can fill in your frame. This one even has adjustable color temperature, which is a must.
Graphic: Eric Ravenscraft

One of the cheapest and easiest ways to get extra light on your subject is with one of these portable LED lights. It can attach to the camera mount on top of your DSLR or you can place it on a tripod. On the back you’ll find a dial that lets you adjust the color temperature of the lights. This can help you match the lighting to the sources you already have. For indoor lighting, you might want something cooler (which, ironically, is more orange), and to match outdoor lighting, you can turn the dial up to a warmer (or more blue) color. The kit comes with red, green, and blue color filters so you add a little bit of color to your scene relatively easily.

GVM RGB LED Camera Light Full Color

For more artistic shots, a full RGB light panel like this one gives you a lot more options, but you probably don’t need it for “regular” photography.
Graphic: Eric Ravenscraft

A slightly more expensive version of the LED panel, this version includes an array of RGB LEDs, which gives you a lot more color options. In addition to being able to adjust color temperature, you can pick from the visible spectrum to highlight your subjects with a color that will make your scene pop. Like the previous model, this one’s battery powered, and can be used on a DSLR, or attached to a stand on its own.

Neewer 48 Macro LED Ring Flash

The secret for most beauty vloggers? Ring lights. These are the ideal lights for taking flattering portraits of a person’s face.
Graphic: Eric Ravenscraft

Ring lights are a special kind of light that attach to the edge of your camera. This gives you an advantage when shooting portraits or anything involving a person’s face looking directly at the camera. In addition to lighting the person’s face from all angles, you get a neat catch light on your subject’s eyes. Depending on your camera, you may need to get one that fits your specific model, like this one for many Canon or Nikon cameras, or you can find clip on cameras like this one that attach to most smartphones.

SAMTIAN LED Video Light Kit

For serious portrait sessions, a full lighting kit like this is actually more affordable than you might think. It’s overkill for most photography, but gives you infinite options for lighting your subject.
Graphic: Eric Ravenscraft

For bigger shoots, you might want more lights than you can reasonably attach to your camera. For that, a full lighting kit like this one might serve your needs. It comes with two adjustable tripods, two LED panels, and color temperature filters. You can move or adjust these as needed around your subject. If you’d prefer to bring your own lights (like the RGB panels mentioned above), you can roll your own kit with lighting stands like these from AmazonBasics.

Neewer Light Reflector Set

If you just want to redirect ambient light onto your subject, a set of reflectors like this is an affordable and easy lighting solution, no batteries required.
Graphic: Eric Ravenscraft

Sometimes the natural light you have around you is sufficient, but just not going where you want it. In those cases, you can use reflectors like these from Neewer. In sunlight, you can use these to bounce light onto your subjects face to fill in shadows, or block out light to dim a subject. They’re extremely versatile, cheap, and best of all you can use them with any camera set up.