Best Lighting For Twitch Streaming (Cheap Elgato Alternatives)

Having good lighting in your Twitch streaming setup is very important, I like to say it’s even more important than having a good webcam or camera. Why? Because good lighting will make even a cheap webcam look good whereas bad or no lighting will make any expensive camera look bad!

Before we get into the best lighting options for your Twitch stream, let’s first look at the basics and learn about the terminology, different types of lights, and the best lighting positions for streaming. Don’t want to read this part? [SKIP AHEAD]

The basics

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Stream Lighting terminology

Key light

The key light is the main lighting source in your lighting setup.

Fill light

The fill light is the light that is being used to fill out the shadows created by the key light.

Hair light

A hair light is used to create texture in the hair and help separate hair from darker backgrounds.

Color temperature

A lineair scale which measures light from warm (yellow light) in lower numbers and cool (blue light) in higher numbers.

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Different types of lighting

LED lights

LED lights are arguably the best possible type of lighting for a streaming setup. These lights are usually set up in a 2 to 3 light configuration in order to make you really pop up from the background.

LED lights are the most popular solution amongst creators due to their simplicity, ease of use, they take up little space and they also look very clean. Popular key lights are the Elgato key light and Elgato key light air which are known to integrate with the stream deck and the Elgato app for full customization. In this article we’ll also be looking into some cheaper alternatives to the Elgato key lights as well.

Soft box light

Softboxes are big, bulky studio lights that come with a light stand. While these are definitely not made for streaming setups, they can be a good lighting source and are used by some streamers out there.

I generally wouldn’t recommend softboxes for a streamer setup because they’ll take up a lot of your space and they don’t look very good set up in your room (but that’s just subjective of course). That being said, they can be a good budget solution and are more versatile compared to LED lights. For example, if you’re into photography and videography, softboxes will be a better choice for you.

Ring light

Ring lights are an all-in-one lighting solution for your setup that can be very cost-efficient. They are exactly as the name suggests, an LED light in a circular form with a hole in the middle, usually this is where you’d put your camera.

When using a ring light, you’ll only need one light source which will light up your entire face without leaving shadows. It will also create that classic ‘ring light’ effect in your eyes if you’re into that.

Ring lights are used by streamers who want just one lighting source on their desk, they are also inexpensive considering you only need one.

The downside to a ring light is that you wind up looking like a 2D character in your webcam frame due to the lack of shadows on your face.

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How to light your Twitch stream

Single light setup #1: Rembrandt

If you only

Single light setup #2: Ring light

The ring light setup is simple, a single right light

Keep in mind that if you wear glasses on stream, the ring light will show up in your glasses reflection and end up bothering your viewers. Stay away from ring lights if you plan on wearing glasses on stream.

Most popular Twitch lighting setup: Key and fill light

Most Twitch streamers have two lights pointed at them: a key light which provides the main lighting and a fill light that fills out the shadows from the main lighting to make the broadcaster stand out from their background.

To achieve this type of lighting setup, the Twitch streamer will have these two lights set up behind their monitors, either on individual legs (if they come with them) or by using affordable microphone boom arms to hold them up (such as Neewer).

You can use a ring light as a fill light

Ideal Twitch lighting setup: 3 point lighting

If you really want to pop out from your background, you can add a third lighting source next to your key and filler light: the hair light. This light will be dedicated to creating texture and help separate your hair from the darker background.

A hair light is used to create texture in the hair and help separate hair from darker backgrounds.


Best stream lighting: Elgato Key lights

For a streamer, the Elgato key lights are the absolute best solution you can imagine having, but they come at a price.

If you came to this article with the idea that you needed the BEST lighting for your Twitch stream, Elgato is the way to go. No lighting kit has the level of customization that Elgato offers in their key lights.

Through the Elgato software, you have full control over the brightness and color temperature of your key lights. This allows you to find the best possible lighting set up for your stream, while you’re sitting at your desk!

On top of that, you can change the settings at any time through the phone app, pc app, or your streamdeck if you have one. Even while you’re live, you can easily change the settings without having to go behind your lighting kit and twist some knobs or mess around with confusing controls.

These snappy, simple, and ultra-convenient customization options make the Elgato key light the go-to for many streamers.

Aside from all that, you get an attractive, sleek-looking key light in a small package. The key light has a 2800 lumen output and is made up of 160 premium OSRAM LEDs. This dimmable light has a color temperature range of 2900k to up to 7000k.

The Elgato key light comes with an adjustable pole mount that you can easily clamp to your desk and save a lot of space.

All in all, the Elgato key light is made for streamers and it shows, but all this comes at a price though and you can definitely get similar lighting at a much cheaper price point.

Elgato also has a smaller, less expensive brother, the Elgato key light air which has a 1400 lumen output, is made up of 80 premium OSRAM LEDs and a color temperature range of 2900k to 7000k. This version is just as convenient as the original Elgato Key Light but comes with a smaller panel, less output, and a fully adjustable table stand instead of a pole mount.

What you will get

  • 1 Elgato key light (Elgato does not sell sets! You will need to buy 2)
  • 2800 lumen output
  • 160 premium OSRAM LEDs
  • Color temperature: 2900k – 7000k
  • WIFI enabled software compatible with streamdeck, smartphones, and Windows/mac
  • Power Supply
  • Adjustable Steel Desk Mount (pole mount)

Elgato key light alternatives

While packed with customization options making them very convenient for Twitch streamers, Elgato key lights are very expensive. Especially when you consider that you need 2 Elgato key lights for the perfect streaming set up which will set you back a pretty penny.

If you don’t mind on-board controls and less customization, there are plenty of much cheaper alternatives to the Elgato key lights. Here are four perfectly fine options for your stream setup.

Viltrox key light set

If you’re looking for a cheap alternative to this lighting, I recommend the VILTROX L116T light set, this affordable two-piece set offers a similar lighting setup to Elgato key lights at a 5X cheaper price.

You can buy a separate Viltrox L116T light, or go for the 2-pack set. The 2-pack contains 2 L116T led lights, 2 hot shoe adapters, 2 folding stands, and 2 power adapters.

What will you get?

  • Two dimmable LED lights
  • LED dimensions: 7.55 inches by 5 inches
  • 2 Non extandable mini-tripods
  • Color temperature: 3300k – 5600k
  • 2 hot shoe adapters
  • 2 Wall chargers

Neewer key light set

A second, even cheaper alternative to the Elgato key lights, is the Neewer key light set. This lighting set comes in at a 10x cheaper price than Elgato key lights.

These are a super-budget Elgato alternative for less than $50!

What will you get?

  • Two dimmable LED lights (10%-100%)
  • LED dimensions: 5.51 inches by 3.74 inches.
  • Color temperature: 5600K
  • 2 extendable tripods that go from 8.85 inches to 45.66 inches in height
  • 8 color filters in white, red, yellow and blue
  • 2 USB wall chargers

Viltrox VL-200T

The VL-200T is a more expensive version of the Viltrox L166T’s we covered earlier. This LED light comes with a larger panel 10.2 by 7.8 inch panel and a remote controller.

You cannot find this version in a set on Amazon so you will have to purchase two for the best setup. This version also doesn’t come with a tripod.

What will you get?

  • 1 bi-color dimmable LED light
  • LED dimensions: 10.2 inches by 7.8 inches
  • Color temperature: 3300k – 5600k
  • 2 hot shoe adapters
  • 2 Wall chargers

Neewer U-bracket set

If you’re looking for big multifunctional LED lights for your setup, the Neewer set is the perfect affordable solution. This set contains 2 square LED panels (10.4 inches by 10 inches) mounted on a U-bracket allowing for a 360 degree adjustment.

This LED set comes in a durable metal shell. A tripod is not included.

What will you get?

  • 2 bi-color dimmable LED lights
  • 480 LED light bulbs (240 yellow, 240 white)
  • LED dimensions: 10.4 inches by 10 inches
  • Color temperature: 3300k – 5600k
  • U mount bracket (360 degrees)
  • 2 soft diffusers
  • 2 AC adapters
  • 2 Carrying bags

Best soft box lights for Twitch streaming

If you’re looking for cheap lighting that can be set up AWAY from your desk (for example if you don’t have a lot of desk space), you can look into soft box lights for your streaming setup. Softbox lights are cheaper and already come with a standing tripod but they do take up some space in your room so keep that in mind!

Here are two common softbox lights used in streaming setups.

Best all around: Fovitech Softbox lighting kit

The Fovitech softbox lighting kit. You can purchase this kit with 1, 2, and 3 softbox lights, depending on how many you want in your setup.

What you get

  • 3 softbox lights, 2 5-socket heads, and 1 1-socket head
  • 3 light stands (7’6″1) 1 boom stand (4.5′)
  • softbox dimensions: 28 by 20 inches
  • 11 45W bulbs
  • 5500k color temperature
  • controls on the back of the lights
  • carrying bag

Best budget: Neewer 700W Lighting kit

The Neewer 700W lighting kit is a budget solution for a stream lighting setup. You’ll get 2 big 24 by 24-inch softboxes that will provide more than enough lighting for your Twitch stream.

What you get

  • 2 softbox lights
  • softbox dimensions: 24 by 24 inches
  • 2 88″ Light Stands (88″)
  • 2 85W bulbs
  • 5500k color temperature
  • carrying bag

Best ring lights for Twitch streaming

Best all around: Elgato ring light

Of course, streaming company Elgato has a ring light as well. Their ring light has the same 2900k to 7000k color temperature, features premium OSRAM LEDs for flicker-free use and a dimmable 2500 lumen output.

Just like the Elgato key light and Elgato key light air, the ring light can be fully customized through the Elgato streamdeck, phone app or pc software. Additionally, onboard buttons let you control the light as well, something that is not possible on the key lights.

What you get

  • 1 Elgato ring light (17-inch diameter)
  • 2500 dimmable lumen output
  • premium OSRAM LEDs
  • Color temperature: 2900k – 7000k
  • WIFI enabled software compatible with streamdeck, smartphones, and Windows/mac
  • Telescopic Steel Desk Mount (pole mount)

Best budget: Neewer ring lights

If you’re looking for a budget alternative to the Elgato ring light, the Neewer ring light will do a good job at less than half the price tag.

What you get

  • 1 ring light (17-inch diameter)
  • 240 dimmable LEDs
  • Color temperature: 3200 – 5500k
  • Adjustable tripod stand
  • carrying bag

Background lights for your Twitch stream (practical lighting)

The majority of this article has been about the stream lighting that is directly aimed at yourself to make you pop off from the dark background behind you. Ideally, you’ll also want to have some type of lighting in your background to make it more appealing.

This can be achieved through a variety of affordable lighting options. Many streamers on Twitch and other platforms love to use different types of RGB lights in their background. Having such an RGB light (or multiple) will immediately make the background look more visually pleasing.

There are a variety of brands that have (expensive) RGB lighting options that are commonly used by Twitch streamers such as the Phillips Hue and Nanoleaf triangles. P.S. some cheap RGB led strips usually do the job!

RGB background lighting options
Nanoleaf triangles
Philips Hue
Cabinet lights
Govee led strips
RGB table lamp

Other types of lights that work nicely in the background and you might even have laying around already are Christmas lights/fairy lights or even just a regular lamp pointed at a corner could help create a more visually pleasing background.


Tips for lighting your Twitch stream

Avoid natural lighting

Natural lighting from the sun will always change throughout the day and mess up your current lighting settings. Therefore you should have shaders that block out any sunlight from your streaming setup.

Having good lighting is more important than a having good webcam

This is a really important fact that not many newer streamers know about. Having a good lighting setup (even a cheap one!) is FAR more important than having a good webcam. You can have the most expensive webcam on the market, if you don’t properly light your setup it will look terrible! Having a cheap webcam with cheap lighting will always look better than having no lighting at all on an expensive webcam.

Use manual settings for your webcam

If you wind up getting a lighting setup for your Twitch stream but you’re using a regular streaming webcam such as a Logitech C920, your shot will look overexposed. To fix this, you can go to the webcam properties in your OBS software and mess around with the exposure settings until you get it right.

If you’re using OBS software to change your webcam settings, you will have to re-apply these settings every time you reboot your PC or unplug your webcam. So keep this in mind!! To counter this, you can change the settings of your webcam in the Logitech capture software instead (this only works for Logitech webcams).

Apply a LUT filter

A LUT filter will help you color grade your webcam (imagine a VSCO or Instagram filter for your webcam). While this isn’t necessary, it can make a big difference when done right.

The video below will help you change your webcam settings in Logitech capture and show you how to apply a LUT filter.

Use your unused monitors as a light source

Do you have a second or third monitor you’re not using during your streams? You might want to turn them into DIY lighting sources without spending a penny! You can easily do this by adding a white background to the monitor (or go to Google, if you’re lazy).

Keep in mind that this should be a monitor that you’re not using as you’ll lose the light source once you use this screen!

Use a phone flashlight as a light source

Don’t want to drop extra money on a lighting source for your stream setup? Why not use the flashlight on your phone as a lighting source! Most phones will let you adjust the brightness of your flashlight and you can use a piece of white paper as a diffuser.


Final Words

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this article about lighting options for your Twitch stream. I’ve included the 3 different lighting options (LEDs, Softbox, and Ring lights) that are used amongst streamers.

LED lights are by far the best possible option for your stream. [Back to LED lights] They don’t take up much space, provide the best possible lighting (in my opinion) and there are some great budget alternatives to the Elgato key light.

Unless you’re going to use them for other things as well (photography/videography), I would not recommend using softbox lighting for your streaming setup.

A ring light is fine if you prefer just one lighting source but keep in mind you can’t wear glasses while using those.

Read also: Best webcams for Twitch streaming

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