Lighting 101 - Light Stands

So the idea is, you want the capability to light without breaking the bank—or your back. And as you'll soon see, your new portable studio is easier to cart around than even a pricey ultralight tripod.

Above is a (7.5-foot) LP605, which I consider to be the best compact light stand 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. Folded up, they will ride in a small roller case. Or you can add some O-rings and a strap, as detailed below, and throw a whole "portable studio kit" over your shoulder.

I love hacking or modding my gear to make it better, and this little trick is one of my favorites. Throw this strapped stand over your shoulder (with a compact umbrella attached, as you'll soon see) and it it'll ride just as comfortably as a camera. Seriously, you can hike five miles with this setup and bang out a kick-ass lit portrait when you reach your remote destination.

If and when you get further into lighting, you'll likely end up adding to your stand collection. Maybe some bigger stands, or a boom arm to float a light out over someone. But you cannot go wrong with a compact, 5-section stand for openers. This is the one you want to start with. I have a boatload of photo support gear and these things still get used more than any other.

To drill them, pivot one of the spikes (if your stand has them) out and drill a ¼ hole at each end of one of the legs. Then stick in some decent sized O-rings (this will take a little prying) and strap it up. If you carry it upside down, the natural forces will keep it closed nicely.

This piece of gear is not complicated. Essentially, a light stand exists only to do one thing: oppose gravity. It holds your light at a place in three-dimensional space. Pretty simple stuff.

For portability, solidity, price (and 5-year warranty) the $40 LP605 is tough to beat.

NEXT: Umbrella/Stand Adapters


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Anonymous Joseph J. Nemo said...

"O-rings" are made of rubber, and seal things; what you are showing are "split rings".

June 06, 2006 4:43 PM  
Blogger David said...

Sorry bout that. 'Round these parts we had always referred to them as "O" rings and "D" rings, depending on the shape - both being of the "split" variety.

June 06, 2006 6:37 PM  
Anonymous wlai said...

I'm slowly accumulating the starving student kit and trying to save money where I can. Can a tripod be used with an the umbrella holder as a light stand? I've got a few flyweight tripods lying around that aren't good for anything.

June 21, 2006 2:37 AM  
Blogger R. Nurse said...

Hi All,

In looking at the 3373, does it come with a gadget for attaching a hotshoe strobe to the stand?


July 02, 2006 11:59 AM  
Blogger David said...

Nope. Keep reading, the umbrella adapter is a couple of posts down in L101.


July 02, 2006 1:10 PM  
Blogger R. Nurse said...

Ahhh! Found it! Thanks.

July 02, 2006 9:51 PM  
Blogger MagikTrik said...

Has anyone had any trouble with the [modified] stands popping open when slung over your shoulder. I guess I'm just being a whiner but whenever I have to kinda speedwalk or hustle a little bit with them I always feel like the bottom is going to pop open (although I should point out that it hasn't happened yet). I was just wondering if I should bungee them closed or anything because having it open up while I'm running across a city street!

July 06, 2006 10:16 PM  
Blogger David said...

That would be use #579 of the 1,001 uses for a (25-cent) ball bungee cord. Then when you get to your shoot, you can use the ball bungee to fasten a strobe to something high up if you need to.

Get Thee To Home Depot or Wal Mart...

July 06, 2006 10:36 PM  
Anonymous Chris Leck said...

Another stand you might consider is the Bogen/Manfrotto 3320 'Stacker' stand. It folds flat and multiple stands can be clipped together for transport and storage. It has a threaded hole for a Bogen strap, opens to 85", and has a 9 lb. capacity (over double the 3373).

Drawbacks are that it is more expensive ($75 B&H), heavier by 8 oz., and 6" longer when closed -- still fairly small and lightweight.

September 09, 2006 3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the above picture, the top part of the stand seems to have been taken out and inserted into the bottom of the stand, to make it more compact.

Is this possible with most lighting stands?

September 12, 2006 3:11 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

The Bogen 3353 is the same stand as the 3373 but in silver instead of black. As of 9.13.06 it is still in stock at many of the online stores.

September 13, 2006 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't the DynaLite 470 the same thing? The specs are identical according to B&H. Bogen 3373 and DynaLite 470. The DynaLite is $7.00 more expensive, but at least it seems to be pretty regularly available... JeffC.

January 12, 2007 2:34 PM  
Blogger Gordon McKinney said...

Correction, the 3320 has a 9 kg = 20 lb capacity. I received mine yesterday and they work great. I also bought some 5 lb Boa Bags to help weight the bottom.

Re: Chris Leck said... "and has a 9 lb. capacity (over double the 3373)."

January 25, 2007 7:40 AM  
Anonymous Alistair Windsor said...

JeffC wrote

Isn't the DynaLite 470 the same thing? The specs are identical according to B&H. Bogen 3373 and DynaLite 470.

I got the Dyna-Lite 470 stands. They are rebranded Manfrotto stands. They are identical to the Bogen 3373.

If you cannot find Bogen 3373 then you could get a Dyna-Lite 470 or a Manfrotto Nano 001

March 01, 2007 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tend to be shooting outside, where wind is always present, and tends to convert softboxes and umbrellas into sails. Short of the 10lb sandbag, do you ever bring "stand stabilization" with you? I've got little 2lb wrist weights i've used, wondering what others may have devised?

March 02, 2007 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

It appears the out-of-stock issue might be due to the bogen to manfrotto switch in the states. All the Samy's locations in the LA area have them...I just bought one today with a manfrotto name on it but it's still numbered 3373.

March 07, 2007 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For all you UK strobist's-on-a-shoestring; you might like this. I have been searching for cheap light stands, something similar to what we see here...more lightweight than the portaflash offerings, not to mention cheaper...

Check this out, a Hama Studio Lighting Stand - 4082:

£17.99 each, and just £3.95 postage foar as many as you want...

OK, so it's silver and not the sturdiest in the world, but hey it gets your strobes off the camera at the cheapest price I've seen so it's a good thing right?

Also, not seen anyone mention this, but while I'm here, a cheap alternative to the ever increasing in price Vivitars? Try some Canon 199As. OK, so its full manual only, BUT the gel swatchs slide in perfectly into the gap between the WA panel and the flash lens. Get some NDs in there and you're good to go.

Keep making the shots and saving the cash guys...

March 27, 2007 4:18 PM  
Anonymous Duncan Babbage said...

There seems to be a slight difference between the Bogen 3373 and the Manfrotto 001 'Nano' stand. The brass spigot no longer has the little screw thread and rubber cover. Instead, it's just a flat thing. Otherwise, it's functionally identical.

1 May 2007: Just got a Manfrotto 001 Nano and it does have the adaptor that screws onto the top of the stand, which gives it a tripod-sized screw instead of the larger one, and it does have the rubber cover for that. So it essentially appears to be identical to the 3373...

May 01, 2007 4:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those in the UK looking for cheap light stands try these ->

I've just got two for £35 (inc vat), they seem well made, sturdy and aren't too heavy. Delivery is fast and free to the UK mainland.

May 31, 2007 1:03 PM  
Blogger paulcoxphotography said...

These Manfrotto Nano stands are pretty neat - thanks for the tip. This whole series has been a mine of information.

October 14, 2007 9:21 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

the dynalite 470, (here), seems to be the winner for me - folds to 19" and extends to 6'5.

November 29, 2007 4:21 PM  
Blogger Richard Licence said...

Hi Dave

Came across the following clamp/umbrella the other day with building hotshoe - a bit more expensive and i'm not sure about internationl availability but pretty cool none the less.

Cheers for now.


January 10, 2008 12:01 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Lumopro LP604 Strobist Article

January 10, 2008 3:15 PM  
Anonymous Arved said...

For an interesting alternative, how about adding an air cushioned light stand to the list of possibilities? Impact makes 2 8 foot air cushioned light stands in black. They are both 4 section light stands that retract to 27" stored.

I get mine from B&H Photo Video:

I've had the first one listed for about a year, and it works well. I'm not sure what the difference is. From the photos, the only think I can see is the handle that locks the legs.

Hope this helps someone!

February 08, 2008 7:33 AM  
Blogger John said...

I just picked up my Manfrotto kit today. Nano stand (001B), Umbrella Adapter (026) and Flash Shoe (143S). No extra parts needed.

It's a pretty sweet kit now I just need a decent umbrella. Impossible to get Westcott stuff in Denmark.

The whole thing weights in at 1331g and have a collapsed length of 58cm.

It becomes a bit unstable at full extension with a 110cm shoot-through umbrella but You only need to go that heigh if You are shooting seriously tall people.

April 03, 2008 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Shaphill. K said...

Please consider another ultra-compact stand, the Lowel uni stand. 22" 1/4 when folded, but it raises up to 7.5' .

April 08, 2008 12:12 AM  
Anonymous Markus Petersen said...

I just got the Manfrotto 001B and 026 head (and just ordered the 143S flash shoe -- d'oh!), it's a really nice stand. The stand came in at 500DKK (~67€) and the head at 250DKK . Most shops said they couldn't find the stand in their system, but my local one could order them for next-day delivery immediately. Weird.

Anyway, I'm happy now! :D

August 18, 2008 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have NO IDEA how much I'm LOVING these articles!! I am just starting out in the SLR world, and desperately needed someone to walk me through each piece of gear and explain why I needed it. When you have zero knowledge about the subject, everything seems completely overwhelming and there are too many choices. These articles are PERFECT for answering my many questions!

February 19, 2009 3:51 PM  
Blogger Milorad said...

For anyone getting into this now, the Manfrotto 001b Nano has been replaced with the Manfrotto 5001b Nano. Also excellent.

Model names are similar enough for a web search, but your local store will want you to give them the right model.

June 17, 2009 5:29 AM  
Blogger martyn said...

Hi All,

Has anybody use Konig stand?

July 18, 2009 2:16 PM  
OpenID vrillusions said...

Just got the LumoPro 604 (it was sold out for a while and just noticed it was available the other day). Haven't actually tested it yet as I just got it but I'm pretty happy with the stability of it so long as there's no wind.

I wanted to attach a shoulder strap like you did. Where can you buy shoulder straps? And would they also have D rings as well (seems like a D ring would be better than an O ring)

July 24, 2009 11:42 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

For shooting hockey or wrestling (HS or college where big crowds jostling stands are not an issue)what's a common stand height? 10, 12, 13 feet? (I'm going to try this with Canon 580EX units rather than go crazy with Dynalite or Speedotron.) Higher lights won't be noticed by players & fans as much although this puts the units at some risk of flying pucks when they're overtop the glass. Top the glass is typically 8-1/2' sides, 11-1/2' ends.

January 24, 2010 11:39 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

I bought an 8' LumoPro stand (,4727.html) based on the recommendations on this blog. The stand didn't last long and broke today after about 5 outings with it.

The stand is light weight, but that's because the metal throughout the stand is insanely thin. The stand broke when I applied some pressure to one of the legs, trying to dig it into some gravel to get more stability. The pressure from my foot, although not that powerful, was enough to cause the leg to break in the middle. I looked at the part that snapped off and noticed that the metal is really thin.

My second complaint is that the legs on this stand don't provide much stability when you have it anywhere past half-height. The legs need to be longer and could stand a little more weight to anchor the stand down. On every occasion that I've tried using this stand outdoors with a small umbrella I've had it tip over several times. And that's with very light breezes and the stand only 5 or 6 feet in the air. I've learned my lesson after breaking 2 umbrellas and I will start using sandbags to weigh my stands down when shooting outdoors. Although I am now worried if a sand bag might break the legs on this particular stand.

I'm not feeling too bad about losing the stand since I got it on sale a month ago. The quality of the knobs and air cushioning seem to be pretty good. I only wish that the metal were able to withstand a little more abuse.

October 01, 2010 1:12 AM  
Blogger kdeskins said...

As both a photographic sales representative and professional photographer. I take great pride by both selling, promoting, and using LumoPro products. I can only give (and only have heard from others) praise for LumoPro stands- especially the 8' Stand. The stand itself lightweight and made from a rigid alloy metal- it has aided me in many outdoor shoots using off camera flash and umbrella or other modifier. I can confidently say through continuous abuse, natural wear and tear, 2 years of opening closing, folding down compacting down, in and out of vehicles, and other forms of mistreatment the LumoPro 8' Stand has done nothing but provided with me with beyond exceptional assistance. I can't admit that I've ever attempted to put full weight with my body on a single leg of the stand to secure it in the ground, and as a professional freelance photographer my previous experience in studio and in the field has taught me to secure the lightstand with weight or sand bags (which LumoPro has also successfully made.) I don't for a second doubt the quality of metal in LumoPro stands as my continued use of the stands has made me believe the company has taken careful consideration into normal use of stands by photographers and hobbyists. I take great pride in every frame I shoot- and my growth as a photographer and professional has been greatly impacted by, and would not be the same without the exceptional quality, serice, and products offered by LumoPro.

October 01, 2010 5:05 PM  
Blogger Hou Kee said...

Does anyone have experience with Lowel light stands?

The Uni-To Light stands extends to 7.9'(2.4m) and folds to 21.5''(55cm).
How does it compare to the Manfrotto 5001b in terms of build. Any reasons to go for Manfrotto over Lowel?

October 15, 2010 8:35 PM  
Blogger Russell said...

Thanks for the info on the stands! I just purchased the Lumopro compact stand and love it. It has spikes on it that fold out to drive into the ground, but can be easily removed, which means one less hole to drill for a strap! I love Lumopro products!

January 20, 2011 6:00 PM  
Blogger Rad said...

Any more suggestions for compact light stands?

January 02, 2012 7:17 AM  
Blogger Sparkey's Host said...

Does anyone know if the Manfrotto 5001B will hold a Lastolite Ezybox at close to full extension? I'm worried about the weight of the flash and softbox tipping the stand over.

January 11, 2012 3:09 PM  
Blogger Shawn said...

I have two Nano (001b) Manfrotto's and love them...
Has anyone found a solution to using them (with a cross bar/beam) to hold a back-drop? How-so/why-not/what-other?

My thinking is to buy two more (for a very mobile back drop support) that could play double-duty (as sb800 holders) when I DON'T need a backdrop.


January 16, 2012 5:23 PM  
Blogger Thomas Shue said...

I love my Lowell Uni-Stands they had a better fit and finish. Have 4 of the Uni_stand 66's and they are the best lightweight stand I have ever used. I think they invented the design actually.

February 09, 2012 2:33 PM  
Blogger Keith Krygowski said...

You are my new hero. Thank you so much for sharing you knowledge.

October 04, 2012 7:47 PM  
Blogger Michael Why said...

Newish to Strobist and just completed my kit (umbrella, stand, flash, and also a reflector) for a portrait project I'm doing.

I lugged my gear on vacation when I visited friends in Europe and was very glad I did--the advice I got from the Lighting 101 section for equipment and technique served me well for the portraits I shot! And yes, the compact travel stand made a *big* difference.

I also packed it in this bag, which let me easily carry the umbrella, compact stand and the head for the stand (and kept it all neatly together in my checked baggage when en route). I added a shoulder strap and it made for a quick and easy carry. No drilling needed, though that was my original plan before I found this. (Tom makes awesome bags overall, btw).

Looking forward to learning more!


November 28, 2012 1:10 AM  
Blogger vickylou81 said...

Which stand would you recommend for those of us in the UK? Also I have bought a 60cm speedlite soft box, do you recommend an umbrella as well?

February 22, 2013 4:15 PM  
Blogger Abisurd said...

The LP605S is out which includes a strap. No more drilling! Here in NL the difference between the LP605 and the LP605S is only EUR 5, so I guess the difference there in the States would be similar. Well worth it, I believe.

August 06, 2013 5:09 PM  
Blogger Toby Van de Velde said...


the UK links posted above are not going anywhere.
Is there a good source for stands in the UK that anyone can recommend?


August 21, 2013 2:49 PM  
Blogger mga440 said...

For anyone who is trying to decide which stand to buy: a Manfrotto 5001B, the 1051BAC, or the Lumo Pro 605; after too much research and too much agonizing, I bit the bullet and ordered two of LP605s. When they arrived, I couldn't believe how good the quality was. You simply cannot do better for 40 bucks and probably not for twice that amount either.

February 28, 2014 2:28 PM  

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