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What makes the best key light for interviews and how to set it up?

The key light serves as the main light source in any interview setup. Typically, it is the brightest and positioned closest to the subject, establishing the foundation for how the other lights will function. While there are numerous variations you can experiment with, it should always be bright, clear, and directly focused on your subject. But what can be the best key light for interviews? In this article, we will explore what types of lights are used for this function, what features make it work the best for interviews, and how to set it up properly for professional video interviews.

COLBOR LED studio light is used with a softbox to work as the key light for interviews.

What types of fixtures can be the key light for interviews?

LED, ring, and softbox lights are three commonly used types. Here are their introductions, pros, and cons.

LED Light

The most common lighting setup employs LED lights (light-emitting diodes). LED lights are now widely used in Hollywood films and commercial photography. Previously, they were expensive for individuals, but they have since become more affordable and user-friendly.

LED constant light produces a sharp, bright white light with adjustable color temperature, allowing for color changes from cool blues to warm oranges. Additionally, they consume less power, do not overheat, and offer brighter light. However, the drawbacks include the need for external diffusion and potential flickering if your camera's frame rate does not match the electricity frequency.

Ring Light

Another commonly used key light for interviews is the ring light. This circular LED light produces a bright, white illumination and is favored by streamers, YouTubers, and fashion photographers for its ability to smooth wrinkles and evenly light up the entire face of the subject.

For video interviews, the ring light can be utilized as a key light, positioned either to the side or directly in front of the subject. It generates a soft beauty effect, unlike the harsher and more intense light from a standard LED. Therefore, it's important to determine the desired outcome before investing in lighting equipment.

Softbox light

Softbox lights effectively diffuse natural light to create a beautiful soft glow on your subjects. Although various light sources can be used, softboxes are distinguished by their large, cushioned casings that provide even and bright illumination, reducing the harshness typically associated with spotlights.

It's worth noting that softboxes are relatively inexpensive and user-friendly. However, they do necessitate more setup time and present challenges in terms of focusing and control due to their expansive size.

What features to look for in it?

When looking for the best key light for video interview, consider the following features:

  • Adjustable Brightness: Look for a key light that offers adjustable brightness levels to control the intensity of the light according to your needs and environment.
  • Color Temperature Control: The ability to adjust the color temperature of the light is important for achieving the desired look and ensuring accurate skin tones.
  • Diffusion Options: A key light with diffusers or softboxes can help create soft and flattering lighting for interviews, reducing harsh shadows. Or look for lights for video interviews that come with a standard mount to use with most modifiers.
  • CRI Value: A high Color Rendering Index (CRI) value ensures that the light accurately reproduces colors, which is crucial for video production.
  • Flicker-Free: Ensure that the key light is flicker-free to avoid any issues with on-camera flicker.
  • Portability and Mounting Options: Consider the portability and mounting options of the key light to suit different interview locations and setups.
  • Energy Efficiency: Look for a key light that is energy-efficient to minimize power consumption during extended interview sessions.

By considering these features, you can invest in a key light that enhances the quality of your video interviews and provides professional-looking lighting.

Table: Specs of COLBOR video lights based on the aforementioned factors

COLBOR has introduced several LED studio lights to serve as the key light for interviews. Below we list some specs about some popular COLBOR picks based on the features mentioned above. You can use it as a reference to get your best choice.

COLBOR key light






Adjustable brightness

Color temperature


2700K-6500K (±150)

2700K-6500K (±200)

2700K-6500K (±200)

2700K-6500K (±200), G/R Compensation







Light mount

Bowens-mount adapter

COLBOR C mount (light mount adapter available)

Bowens-mount adapter

Bowens mount

Bowens mount













Three aspects to consider when setting up key light for interviews

The primary advantage of using a key light is to enable the video audience to concentrate on the subject of the interview without being distracted by a brightly lit background and a poorly illuminated subject. Here we will talk about how to set up key light for interviews.


The key light, also referred to as the main light, should be the most powerful yet gentle light in the scene among the three lights. It is positioned directly in front of the subject at approximately a 45-degree angle above and 45 degrees to the right or left. This placement ensures that it illuminates most of the subject's face during the video interview.

Lighting intensity

The key light's primary purpose is to provide the subject with the necessary exposure to stand out from the background, ideally at 1 stop (double) the exposure of the background. Therefore, when selecting your key or main light, it is crucial to choose a light source that is sufficiently strong to achieve this effect.

Light quality

In terms of illuminating your subject, softer lighting is often more flattering. Soft lighting is defined by its ability to prevent direct light from the source from directly hitting the subject. One simple method to soften or diffuse the hard key light for interview is by passing it through a semi-transparent fabric, umbrella, or specialized diffusion material.