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Kira: a ring light that will take your selfies to the next level

The Kira ring light is bulky and looks awkward, but it fixes this issue very well and will result in some of the best selfies we have seen coming from a smartphone's front-facing camera.

Published onJuly 21, 2015

Manufacturers have managed to improve front-facing shooters, but there is one issue surrounding them – lack of lighting. Unless you are in a well-lit environment, that tiny camera sensor won’t be able to do much to create enticing photos, hence users continue to flip their phones to take a selfie and gamble on their image composition. The Kira ring light is bulky and looks awkward, but it fixes this issue very well and its shape will result in some of the best selfies we have seen coming from a smartphone’s front-facing camera.

As you can guess from the name, the Kira ring light comes from Japan. The project was started by Julie Watai, a photographer aiming to help you shoot great selfies, regardless of your surroundings. Her frustrations sparked a light in her mind that would later materialize into this odd clip that attaches to your smartphone and emanates light directly into the subject.


This product still hasn’t arrived its final stages and Watai is seeking funding through a Japanese website Kibidango. There’s no word on pricing or availability, but I, for one, would love to see it come to market, as it will provide an option we have yet to see come at large scale, in the mobile market.

Manufacturers have been coming up with solutions for these dark, grainy selfies for some time. Samsung recently launched the Galaxy J5 and J7, a couple phones that, beating the hassles that come with a handset’s limited space in the front, manage to feature an actual front-facing flash. LG was a bit more creative when they introduced the G3 and decided to use the screen as a front-facing flash, turning most of the screen white while taking a selfie.

Samsung Galaxy J7 & J5

Will these work? LG’s was OK, but needed more work. I am sure Samsung’s application will suffice – but what about the rest of us, who don’t want to stick with a specific phone (especially considering these “J” phones have limited availability and are not exactly great devices). Not only is something like the Kira universal, but having a ring light will prove to be beneficial in many ways.


The benefits of using a ring light/flash

RHS gardens Wisley ring flash help me buy
RHS gardens Wisley ring flash help me buy

There’s a reason why photographers happen to love ring lighting for specific types of shots. Due to their circular nature and their position (usually surrounding the lens), this type of lighting can help create great photos when the subject is close to the camera. It’s my favorite type of lighting for macro photography, for example, as it creates a uniform light that surrounds the subject and gets rid of strong shadows.

Such is also the case with selfies, in which the subject is usually at arm’s length from the camera. A regular, one-directional flash can create a striking lighting contrast, while these ring lights will output a more even lighting effect.

Ring flashes can also be used for displaying interesting effects if your subject is close to its background. You can simulate a halo-like shadow effect behind the subject. This illusion is caused by the direction of the light, which is set to shoot straight into the subject from a multi-directional source.


Are you in need of a front-facing flash?

Many of you may believe I am going to deep into my photography enthusiasm, which I really can’t deny. I will say the Kira has one thing going for itself, and that is that it should work with any phone. It’s universal nature is what makes it valuable, but I have to say it does look a bit ugly and might be a hassle to carry around.

Other than that, it may be considered an overkill for many casual users. This is why I now turn to you to see what you think. Do you want a front-facing flash? Would you get a smaller one-directional flash over the “superior” Kira ring flash? Share your thoughts in the comments below!