With Zoom calls and apartment selfies as the new reality for the immediate future, our friends, family, and co-workers are seeing us in the most unflattering light on a daily basis. Whether your face is poorly lit, overexposed, backlit, or low-resolution, you're not showing off your best self to others or to yourself. The fact is, most computers have terrible webcams, and the best way to photograph or film yourself is to use an adjustable tripod with built-in lighting and a mount for your Android camera — setups that several of Android Central's video editors use.
If you're looking for a professional-quality setup that everyday photo amateurs can afford, consider the TaoTronics Ring Light CL025. We were shipped one from TaoTronics for a hands-on, and were immediately impressed by the results. Thanks to its adjustable height, varied color modes that work well with different skin tones, and a simply effective remote with Bluetooth camera tech, it has all the tools you need to make you look and feel like a professional indoor videographer.
Built for (almost) any indoor environment
Setting up the TaoTronics Ring Light took just a couple of minutes. You simply screw and tighten the top ring attachment into the tripod, while the phone holder came already attached in position. From there, you can pull out tabs on the legs or main rod to unlock and extend them to different heights, anywhere between 17 and 78 inches. That made it tall enough that it could work well for a 6 foot person at a standing desk or for anyone seated at a desk.
Even at its shortest, the tripod legs are too wide to sit on a surface other than the floor. So depending on the placement of your desk in relation to the wall, the Ring Light may only fit on one side of your desk or the other, which would affect the angle of the video and the lighting. But you can certainly make that setup work, and for general selfies and filming in your home, anyone from a toddler to a short NBA player has a height setting that will work for them.
Wherever you place it, the ring itself can turn a full 360 degrees or tilt 90 degrees straight upward or downward, giving you total versatility for whatever photo creativity you're aiming for.
Let there be (multi-colored) light!
Most of us aren't getting enough sun these days. Shine a light in your face with the wrong color temperature, and you'll look a bit too much like a shiny, pale Twilight vampire for your shots. The TaoTronics Ring Light has different light and color saturation to satisfy the pickiest and most self-conscious of selfie-takers.
It uses a 24W bright LED bulb capable of hitting up to 2700 Lux that could practically serve as a flashlight at full power, but you'll likely never need that setting. Instead, you can adjust down from 100% to 10% power, then change the color between five different settings. Don't think this is a Philips Hue bulb or anything, but you can adjust from a cool, blinding white to a warmer whitish-yellow. After testing different lightings on multiple people with different skin tones, we're confident that there's at least one setting that will make your face glow in the best possible way.
Effortless control options
Do you prefer tapping away directly on a device, or do you prefer the convenience of a remote even if it means keeping track of it? Well, the TaoTronics Ring Light supports both, so don't fret either way.
After you plug in the Ring Light into an outlet, tap your finger lightly against the power button and hold it there for a couple of seconds to turn it on — don't press too hard, or it may have trouble registering the touch. Once you turn it on, you can briefly tap the power button to change between color modes, press the up or down button to raise or lower the intensity, or tap and hold the power button again to turn it off.
The remote control gives you a few extra options, however. For one thing, the Ring Light's front buttons only let you cycle between the first, third and fifth color temperatures; the remote lets you stop at five different modes between 2700k and 6500k. It also lets you tap the dedicated power button to turn it off more quickly. And most significantly of all, it allows you to remotely take a photo with your connected smartphone via Bluetooth. You simply need to enable Bluetooth on your phone, press and hold the Bluetooth button on the remote, and "TAOTRONICS Selfie" should appear in the list of devices. Then you'll be able to remotely take photos or start and stop videos.
You can also charge your phone with the USB port on the back, so it doesn't die on you while you shoot 4K video or endless selfies. When charging the Pixel 3a, it registered as "Charging slowly" and didn't seem to rise very much percentage-wise, but at least didn't drop while we were testing it out.
Do you need a TaoTronics Ring Light?
In our guide on how to take better smartphone photos in any conditions or lighting, two bits of advice should stand out. In low light situations, never use the flash and rely on a tripod. You can't get natural lighting indoors unless you have great windows, and even then direct sunlight can be problematic. If you want a tool for taking pretty indoor photos, or need studio lighting for better videos and zoom, a Ring Light fits the bill.
You may think you don't know where to put it or that it's too big, but it's actually fairly compact for what it accomplishes. One of our editors picked up this massive studio light, which is probably great if you're only ever going to film or shoot in one specific place. But with the Ring Light, it's also actually quite lightweight, so you can carry it anywhere to frame shots with better composition.
Then there's the simple but compelling evidence that everyone who has bought it seems to love the Ring Light. It currently has a 4.9 rating across over a thousand reviews on Amazon, which we genuinely haven't seen before. No one has had any trouble with setup or getting the features to work, and seem to be as happy as we are with how we look with the Ring Light shining on us.
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