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The Best Light Gel Filters for Photo Shoots

Any photographer or videographer will likely tell you that getting the right lighting is one of the most critical aspects of their job. What good is an image if the audience can’t see what they’re supposed to, after all? Lighting can also help set the mood or tone in a photo or video and portray or invoke an emotion or sentiment that might otherwise not come across. Color can play an essential role in choosing the appropriate lighting; a photo of, say, a swamp or an old house might appear ominous in black or dark blue, but it’ll appear vastly warmer and more inviting in a pale yellow or bright white light. Light gel filters are used in photography, videography, cinematography, and even theater to alter the color of the light onscreen or onstage. The light is shone through the gel to create the desired colored effects. Thus a set of light gel filters is a useful tool for any photographer or videographer to have in their arsenal.

What to Look for in Light Gel Filters

Consider these aspects when purchasing light gel filters:

  • Colors: Having the appropriate color or colors on hand is the primary and most obvious consideration. Almost all colors will come in a set rather than individually. Most will contain, at the very least, the six colors of the rainbow, but there are plenty of kits that have a much wider number of colors if you’re looking for something more specific.
  • Light Source: Most light gel filters will work with typical photography lights, but some are meant for use with certain types of light or lamps. If you want to use strobe or other flashing lights, for instance, you can find filters that were explicitly designed for strobe lights.
  • Size: Many light gel filters come in 12 x 12-inch or 24 x 25-inch dimensions. The size you need depends on your source or sources of light, so make sure you’re aware of how large your light or lights are and which sized light gels will fit them best.
  • Additional Types: Besides your basic light gel filters, you can find some sets that include color correction and diffusion filters as well. If you have multiple light sources, and the colors on them don’t match up perfectly, a color correction gel filter will modify the colors so they match. A diffusion gel filter softens the intensity of studio lights and can further alter the tone of your colors. Neither are absolutely necessary, but you may find them worthwhile additions nonetheless.

Top Choice: Neewer 12 x 12 Gel Filters

This is a set of multipurpose gel filters in eight classic colors. While created with video and photo shoots in mind, these filters can be used for theater and stage lighting, clubs, bars, or even to set a unique ambiance during parties. They can be used on a wide variety of different types of lighting, including LED video lights, stage lights, and the brightest studio flashlights. Not only do these gel filters modify the colors of the lighting in your photos and film, but they double as color correction filters as well. Whether you need to blend more than one color together, filter different types of light, or add or subtract color from your shoot, these light gel filters will serve your needs admirably. Be careful not to attach the gel filters directly onto the modeling lamp, though, as they will melt as a result.

Top Choice

Neewer 12 x 12 inches 8 Packs Transparent Color Correction Lighting Gel Filter in 8 Colors

A set of multipurpose light gel filters that work equally well in a variety of settings.

Best Color Options: Selens Universal Flash Gels Lighting Filter Combination Kit

If a wide array of color options is what you seek in your light gel filters, look no further than this handy kit. With this set, you get 20 filters total; 14 solely for color effects in 14 different colors, five different color correction filters, and one diffusion filter. Whether you’re looking to jazz up an image and set the mood with a new color or balance the ambient light of your flash lighting, there’s sure to be a filter that suits your purpose. As a bonus, a gel-band for securing your filters to the light source also comes included, with extra bands available for separate purchase if need be. The 2.5 x 2.5-inch size makes these filters the ideal size for the external flash heads of all major camera brands, from Canon to Nikon to Sony and more. A small carrying case that fits all the filters is included as well, so you can easily and safely bring all 20 filters along for an outdoor or off-site shoot.

Best Color Options

Selens Universal Flash Gels Lighting Filter SE-CG20-20 pcs Combination Kits for Camera Flash Light Strobe Light, Color Correction Filter Color Gels for Speedlight

A set of 20 different colored filters, some with color correction and diffusion, that are the perfect size for your camera's external flash.

Best for Strobe Lights: Neewer Transparent Color Gel Filter Strobe Flashlight Pack

Here’s a set of thick light gel filters designed to work in tandem with strobe lights, speedlights, and other similar hot shoe or flashing lights. They double as color correction filters as well, so you won’t have to worry about losing color, color adjustment, or focus despite any flashing or changing lights. Though designed for flashing lights, they will work on ordinary studio lighting and lamps as well. The high-quality, lightweight transmission materials and steady color temperature also mean that the colors of the filters won’t fade or dim through use. The set comes in 11 colors, ranging from fluorescent to pastels and in-between. You can easily further adjust your color effects by stacking two or more sheets atop one another, giving you further color options or the chance to experiment and play around with colors if desired.

Also Consider: Initial heart 18 Pack Correction Gel Lights

This kit comes in nine different colors, providing you with two of each shade for a total of 18 gel filters. Six clips for holding the filters onto lights and lamps and a protective storage folder come with the filters to give you even more bang for your buck. The 11.7- by 8.3-inch dimensions make them ideal for most studio and camera lights and flashes, though they may safely be trimmed down or cut into other shapes if need be. The PVC plastic material holds its color well over time, though be careful not to leave them on a light that reaches more than 140 degrees Fahrenheit, as this may cause the plastic to warp or melt. Use these to create ambient or accented light in photos or videos. They can also work for the theater, parties, or even as a decoration in a photo album or scrapbook.

Also Consider

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and How-To Geek and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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