Lighting 101 - Light Stands

The "compact" stand we talked about within the kit in the previous post is the go-to starter stand for most off-camera flash photographers, and for good reason. This design strikes the balance between usefulness and portability. They are not expensive, and you can expect many years of service from a light stand. I still have and use compact stands I purchased back in the 1980s.

At left is the LumoPro 7.5-foot LP605 compact light stand, ($40) which I consider to be the best of its kind made today and which you probably by now already have on the way as a part of your starter lighting kit. Compact light stands like the LP605 generally have five sections (so they fold up very small—21 inches or so) and are ideally suited for photographers using lightweight, speedlight-based lighting gear.

The LP605 uniquely comes with folding spikes for extra stability when you are outside in the wind. Umbrellas are never going to happy in the wind, and you'll learn to "sandbag" or otherwise secure your light stands when shooting outside. But the spikes give you a good amount of extra security.

One thing: see that checkered brass nub up top? You probably won't need it. That is for specialized mounting gear that is mostly not used anymore. Feel free to unscrew it and put it in your junk drawer, just in case...
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If you move on to bigger lights, or want more strength and flexibility, you'll probably add a bigger stand later. But this is the one you will use most often, just because of how portable you can make it. It can easily ride in a small roller case when traveling — and pairs very will with the recommended double-fold umbrella.

A light stand is not complicated. Essentially, it exists only to do one thing: oppose gravity. It holds your light at a place in three-dimensional space. Pretty simple stuff. But there are still good and not-so-good choices that you can make. The LP605 is heavier-duty than most, and the ground spikes are icing on the cake.



NEXT: Umbrella/Stand Adapters


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