For Over-the-Top Lighting Without an Over-the-Top Budget

Pictured above is Joe McNally's assistant Drew Gurian acting as a voice-activated boom during a recent desert shoot (detailed here).

While this boom is perfectly serviceable, one cannot always find a Drew hanging around in the desert when top light is needed. For the Drewless, an excellent and inexpensive speedlight boom solution, inside.

The third cool thing I came across in Paso Robles (here is one and two) was a very slick little boom/stand photographer Sean Rolsen brought along.

It is designed as a flex-reflector holder (it even comes with the clamps) but it does double duty as a sweet little speedlight boom.

It is the Interfit Combi-Boom Stand, and the little joint where the stand turns into a boom is where the magic happens. The boom arm actually collapses into the main tubes of the stand itself -- you can even continue the boom arm straight up for extra height if you want.

But if you pull it all the way out, it rotates. Then you slide it back into its little swivel clamp and you have a speedlight boom. It does not come with a counterweight, so this thing collapses nice and thin. But the opposite end of the boom has a hole where you can hook an improvised weight up to do the trick. A camera bag or something should fit the bill nicely.

The combination pic below shows a detail of the boom joint, and how it operates. Looking at Sean's, it seemed just about perfect for lightweight speedlight use. But I would not consider it heavy duty by a long shot -- and I wouldn't put a lot of unnecessary torque on the clamp, either.

(If you have it set up right, with your scrounged counterweight end extended enough to balance your flash reasonably well, there would be no reason to over torque it anyway.)

There is no way you are gonna hang an AlienBee on this thing. A speedlight is about as far as it is gonna go. And it is gangly enough to not want to stick an umbrella up there in any wind at all. But for top light using speedlights in a nice, small package, it is hard to beat -- and an umbrella would be fine indoors.

The elbow mechanism is pure genius, and the folks at Interfit are to be congratulated for that. (Those are the same guys who just debuted the "Strobies".) Also of interest is the price -- under $100.00. For lightweight, occasional boom use (and a stand when you do not need the boom) it appears to be a great solution.

:: Interfit Combi-Boom Stand ::

(Photo at top courtesy Bobbi Lane)


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Blogger Sean said...

Do note, however that the clamps are on the boom section only, and can't be moved to the other sections. A Home Depot clamp can take care of that, tho. I have two, and make a great background support system on the cheap.

June 15, 2009 12:20 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

They are also branded Impact, and can be purchased from B&H for 80 clams:

I love mine, had it a year now.

Link here:

June 15, 2009 12:40 AM  
Blogger Z said...

i just got one of these a few days ago. was playing to use it for my scrims and reflector but i think im going to try it this way cause i cant get enough tilt using a regular light stand. thanks

June 15, 2009 12:51 AM  
Blogger Ken Mott said...

ct stand that i have had for a couple years.

June 15, 2009 1:35 AM  
Anonymous Nick Masters said...

I picked up a few of these about 2 years ago under the "Impact" label. Not sure who's actually manufacturing them. Impact calls them "Impact Multiboom Light Stand/Reflector Holder" They also sell them bundled with the 5 in 1 reflector scrim combos, not a bad deal. They are pretty cheap, Ive had two of them break on me (I beat the crap out of them) but for the cost and the size they fulfill a lot of functions in a pinch.

June 15, 2009 1:57 AM  
Blogger Stuart Little said...

David, here is a UK eStore that has it in stock for UK strobists

June 15, 2009 3:05 AM  
Blogger Verent said...

It reminds me of drumset cymbal stands. They have an extendable boom arm like that and are much heavier duty, but also heavier. Is there some way to use drumset hardware to mount flashes?

June 15, 2009 3:32 AM  
Blogger Gerald said...

I've been using mine for this very purpose for a little over a year now. It is a little tricky to set up, but its pretty quick once you get the hang of it. The clamps on the boom are not ideal for holding an umbrella though. You will definitely have to play around with the clamps to secure the umbrella at a decent angle.

Also, it can still be used as a standard light stand for an alien bee or similar mono if you collapse the boom arm into the main tube.

June 15, 2009 4:31 AM  
Blogger Charles Verghese said...

Man...this is just what I was looking for. Just wish we could get it here in Dubai. Need one for a protrait shoot I am doing tomorrow!!

Wonder if anyone out there knows where I can get it here....

June 15, 2009 5:53 AM  
Anonymous Martin Sivak said...


How big is the stand?

Because I'm using quite standard microphone stand in the same configuration. and it cost me about $25 + about $5 for the part that holds my flash. It works as 2,5m tall stand or almost 2m tall overhead light holder.

It is not perfect, but since this is strobist, this use-whatever-you-have solution might interrest photogs who have a music shop nearby..

June 15, 2009 6:05 AM  
Blogger SASDALLAS said...

This looks good!

I have the Bogen version of this stand which is more of a "heavy weight" alternative, and will take an Alien Bee and / or larger light modifier as well.

I have found the Bogen version to be a bit "clunky" to use but once practiced with a great addition to the "bag of tricks."

I might consider this lighter version as well for a quick hair light, etc.

June 15, 2009 7:04 AM  
Blogger j.buck said...

I've been looking for some hardware [Home Depot cheap stuff] that can clamp two sections together to make rigs like booms, attach a rod to two lightstands for hanging seamless paper etc. Something quick like on the sections of light stands and swiveling would be a bonus.

Searching for these isn't easy because I don't know what they are called.

Any suggestions/links?

June 15, 2009 7:20 AM  
Anonymous Jonathan Irwin said...

This is a great pointer. For those already owning a suitable light stand (perferrably something heavier duty than the venerable "nano"), the arms are also available stand-alone in a version that will go on a normal stud, under the guise of a "disc reflector arm", e.g. the photoflex "litedisc holder". However at this price I would probably just get the interfit one!

For anybody needing a heavier duty version of the same idea, the Manfrotto 420 is a pretty similar stand (available in aluminum or steel, the steel one will be sturdier but heavier). Avenger make a possibly even heavier (duty as well as weight) version, the A470. Neither of these options are budget of course.

If you can take the weight my personal favorite way of doing modest extensions is a c-stand with grip arm. This will probably run you less than either of the two stands I mentioned. Be forewarned these things are very heavy and very large, studio use only unless you are strong.

June 15, 2009 8:18 AM  
OpenID edhallphoto said...

I've used the "Impact" label of this stand for a few years now. I have actually used a Profoto head on it with boom extended in the studio.

What I have done with it is sand bag the legs and then use a bungee cord from the hole at the end of the boom connected to the leg to serve as my counter weight.

June 15, 2009 9:03 AM  
Blogger James said...

I picked one of these up a few months ago to go with my Apollo 28. The Apollo with a SB-800 seems to be right about the limit of this thing. I love this stand. It also doubles as an extra tall light stand if you don't take the hinged joint all the way out to the pivot point.

June 15, 2009 9:10 AM  
Blogger DaveRe said...

FYI... I broke the snot out of one of these. The ingenious elbow is not able to put tension on the arm - ended up breaking the plastic handle you use to put tension on it... $85 stand ruined by a $.50 part that can't handle the stress... Maybe I'm a gorilla, too, but... ;)

June 15, 2009 10:02 AM  
Blogger Sean "Madman" Sullivan said...

Found this on ebay:


Question I have for the Impact one is will it hold a speedlight with a Lasolite Ezybox?

June 15, 2009 10:17 AM  
Blogger Mats said...


I was looking around for these and then I discover you are blogging about them too David :)

Info for Norwegian readers looking for that interfit combi boom, sells them.


June 15, 2009 10:25 AM  
Blogger David Finkel Photography said...

These stands are great, but have a few issues. I had to return my first one for a replacement as the main leg tightening screw stripped out. While all the other screws appear to be metal screwing into metal, the main screw for holding the legs is metal screwing into plastic. It's probably only a matter of time until this wears out, so be extra careful tightening this. Don't know why they didn't make the main screw metal into metal.
Functionality on the stand is great, but there are a lot of screw knobs - for the sections and the clamps. If you are in a hurry it is easy to mix the two up.
I've also had one of the sections be hard to extend and I've read some other people who have had similar problems.
Bottom line is that there is nothing exactly like this at a similar price point. I know Manfrotto make a similar higher quality stand without the clips for holding accessories, but it is a lot more expensive.

June 15, 2009 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Jazzweezel said...

This is how I like to roll...

If ya already got the stand you can buy this without, and this comes with a swivel more familiar to us Strobists.

You can reassemble the the clips and the sleeve in any order if that makes sense.

June 15, 2009 10:44 AM  
Blogger Heipel said...

"Drewless" You crack me up.

Funny AND so helpful! :)

Thanks for another good post.

June 15, 2009 11:11 AM  
Blogger Nana Kofi Acquah said...

David, for some strange reason, it is impossible to access your recommended vendor's website in Ghana. I have been trying to visit their site since you started blogging about them. Cheers, and do keep the good stuff coming. Nana Kofi Acquah

June 15, 2009 1:05 PM  
Anonymous Achtez said...

Nano stand + superclamp + $13 lightweight aluminum painter's pole gets me by on a Strobist's budget. The bottom end of the pole even has a hole for mounting counterweights. Use a sawed-off paint roller handle with a 1/4x20 bolt coming out the end to mount the flash (extra $4.50).

June 15, 2009 1:13 PM  
Blogger Pete. said...

Two of those cheap HD clamps and a zip-tie for each one works just as well.

As for the voice-activated boom, well, let's just say that good "free" help is hard to find. This past weekend I learned it's like talking through a drive-thru intercom and the order comes out wrong.

June 15, 2009 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Blackey Cole said...

Photoflex has a reflector holder for regular stands that look just like the boom arm here. It uses a swivel connector that fits on the regular stands or even your super clamp with a stud. I been using it since I got it used in 2004. I use angle weights around the base of my stands and have a water bailist that I connect to the end of the arm using a hook from one of the rubber bongie cords for a counter weight.

June 15, 2009 6:56 PM  
Anonymous Blackey Cole said...

My Photoflex arm will accept a regular swivel adapter so you do not have ot use the clamps to hold the umbrella. I use it with my 16"square softbox also. most of the time the counter weight is my Quantum battery powering the speedlight.

June 15, 2009 7:04 PM  
Anonymous Blackey Cole said...

DaveRe, get yourself a 3" grip head to replace the broken piece. I have several and when I use my Photoflex arm with my extra Background stand( larger stand than my normal light stand in footprint and construction) I use a 3" griphead that I got of eBay and nothing will slip with that setup. ankle weights on the base of the stand and a counterweight for balance and use can even put a speedotron 102 out on the end.

June 15, 2009 7:13 PM  
Blogger PhotoGuy said...

I use C-stands with extension arms to hold monolights over a variety products and stabilize them with sandbags on the turtle base. The nice thing about using that is I have full leverage, so angles aren't a problem esp. 90 degrees. Heavy, yes, but then again, nothing is going to collapse. On the other hand, I'm not photographing a subject holding a falcon in the desert!

June 15, 2009 10:57 PM  
Blogger jrrome said...

I have the Impact version. It is definitely a light-duty item. It's pretty wiggly with the boom extended. Plus, I'm always worried I'm going to snap the handles off when tightening the joints. Also, it is a way better light stand than a reflector holder, unless you want to hold the reflector vertically or you have someone to hold the other end of the reflector. With an umbrella holder attached to it, you definitely need to, as McNally says, "bag the $#!% out of it," unless you want to watch your rig topple over.

June 15, 2009 10:57 PM  
Blogger jeremy said...

did you read chase's blog today, you're no.2 on the blog list....nice

June 15, 2009 11:30 PM  
Anonymous photo retouching said...

I have just finished a video production and we actually needed something like this as recording sound was a nightmare.

June 16, 2009 9:24 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

That's pretty interesting. I could see the use in a lot of shots that have that great over the head lighting, strong light for shooting men.

June 16, 2009 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm using a similar setup to rig a north light for shooting small objects. I have a Manfrotto 3333 stand holding a Photoflex reflector arm. I've matched that with a Lastlite 15" EzyBox softbox and an SB-800 speedlight.

It works great!

June 17, 2009 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Chicago photographer said...

Pay attention to the counterweight thing. Even with a small speedlight out there on the end, it'll get unstable in a hurry.
Counterbalance the end of the boom and then sandbag the bottom at the leg supports.

June 17, 2009 2:22 PM  
Blogger Malixe said...

I have had one of these for several years now, ordered from Calumet. They still show up on their website, so I assume they're still available from them.

Serve exactly the same purpose, cost around $50, and can be added to most any good light stand you already own. I use mine on a large (12') Bogen 'Stacker' stand and it works a peach.

June 17, 2009 11:23 PM  
Anonymous Ezra Ekman said...

I use large strobes (Alien Bees, White Lightning, etc.) on booms like this all the time. While I can't speak for this specific one, mine allows me to just hang the right amount of weight from the opposite end of the boom stand to counterbalance it.

You WILL need to be careful of wind, though, and ensure that your boom arm is clamped down sufficiently. You can imagine how obnoxious it can be to have your light slowly twist due to wind or weight. You end up needing an assistant to keep it steady... which defeats the purpose of having the boom in the first place! Bring tightening tools and some sandbags, and you should be fine.

June 27, 2009 3:41 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

We used my one of these to hold balloons for bursting at our photo club night - the clamps were perfect!

Pic here

July 29, 2009 8:23 AM  

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