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Author Topic: Travel light stand suggestions  (Read 549 times)

shadowblade

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Travel light stand suggestions
« on: July 24, 2022, 11:56:42 pm »

I'm travelling to Ethiopia and Nagaland later this year to do some ethnographic photography and will be bringing some lighting gear to shoot portraits.

Naturally, travel brings some restrictions - I can't just lug the heavy stands and booms I would use locally. I'll also have wildlife and landscape gear with me for other parts of the trip, so that has to be taken into account too.

So, I'm looking for a light stand with the following characteristics, to be able to support the gear, get it high enough and fit into luggage:

- Collapsed length 76cm/30" at most - it can be longer, as long as it can be easily disassembled so that no single piece is longer than that length, or a bit shorter.
- Maximum height at least 230cm/7'8"
- Load capacity as much as possible, given the other parameters. At minimum, it will have to support a Godox AD300pro and 42" collapsible beauty dish (combined weight around 3.3kg/6lb)

Weight doesn't matter so much, as long as it's portable and not something ridiculous. I'm expecting to have to use tie downs and tent pegs whenever there is more than a light breeze, too.

(I also have a much smaller, light-duty stand, but that will mostly be used for holding an unmodified speedlight or AD200pro to use as a hair light and isn't suitable for holding a key light with modifier)

Anyone have suggestions for such a light stand? I can see quite a few stands on Adorama and BHphoto, but I wouldn't trust anything rated to merely 6-10lb to actually hold that weight outdoors at full height, when that weight includes a decent-sized modifier (or even a wind-catching umbrella) - probably need something rated for a greater load. I also saw the Kupo Shorty stand, which comes close, but I'd probably want something a bit taller than 7'.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2022, 12:00:47 am by shadowblade »
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TechTalk

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Re: Travel light stand suggestions
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2022, 02:21:38 pm »

I think you will find a Matthews Medium Duty Kit Stand with Brake hard to beat for weight capacity relative to size. Collapsed length is listed as 31", however B&H says package dimensions are 29.3 x 3 x 3". Certainly worth a look.

Base diameter (footprint) is small for outdoor use, but that's one of the compromises that will be neccessary to get the combination of specs you want.

https://www.msegrip.com/kit-stands/kit-medium-duty-with-brake-black

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/Matthews_B389788_Medium_Duty_Black_Kit
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shadowblade

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Re: Travel light stand suggestions
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2022, 09:26:55 pm »

Thanks - I'll take a look.

Do you know if it can be easily disassembled and reassembled if needed, in order to transport it as two or more separate, shorter components? As in, carrying the legs and bottom section as one part and the top three risers as another, each part being a few centimetres shorter than the fully-assembled, but collapsed light stand?

Almost forgot - do you know if it has an adjustable leg, to account for uneven ground?
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TechTalk

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Re: Travel light stand suggestions
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2022, 10:06:54 pm »

It does not have an adjustable leg (aka - Rocky Mountain leg). I don't know if you can easily separate the risers from the base and put it back together for transport.

I have used the stand and found it an extremely good value and exceptional in holding power for a "kit" stand due to the brake mechanism for locking the risers. No rivets and easily user repairable if needed with nut and bolt connection of parts.

I suppose that you could always contact Matthews, or one of the other major grip equipment manufacturers in the Los Angeles area, to inquire about having something custom modified or made. They are basically big machine shops turning, cutting, machining, polishing, and assembling metal stock of various dimensions and types.

https://branding.msegrip.com/catalog2018/2018-matthews-catalog.pdf

https://normsstudio.equipment

https://modernstudio.com/collections/stands

https://americangrip.com

American Grip advertises custom modifications or full custom made products...

https://americangrip.com/about
« Last Edit: July 26, 2022, 03:54:08 pm by TechTalk »
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TechTalk

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Re: Travel light stand suggestions
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2022, 12:31:54 am »

I'm expecting to have to use tie downs and tent pegs whenever there is more than a light breeze, too.

I would suggest taking a look at refillable sandbags which you can carry empty and fill on location with gravel, dirt, sand, etc. You may have already considered these. I've used the Tenba, but there are many brands and types available.

https://tenba.com/tenba-heavy-bag-black

One nice thing about the Tenba handle, compared to a solid handle, is that you can buckle it over the top of a leg brace.
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shadowblade

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Re: Travel light stand suggestions
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2022, 11:21:46 pm »

It does not have an adjustable leg (aka - Rocky Mountain leg). I don't know if you can easily separate the risers from the base and put it back together for transport.

I have used the stand and found it an extremely good value and exceptional in holding power for a "kit" stand due to the brake mechanism for locking the risers. No rivets and easily user repairable if needed with nut and bolt connection of parts.

I suppose that you could always contact Matthews, or one of the other major grip equipment manufacturers in the Los Angeles area, to inquire about having something custom modified or made. They are basically big machine shops turning, cutting, machining, polishing, and assembling metal stock of various dimensions and types.

https://branding.msegrip.com/catalog2018/2018-matthews-catalog.pdf

https://normsstudio.equipment

https://modernstudio.com/collections/stands

https://americangrip.com

American Grip advertises custom modifications or full custom made products...

https://americangrip.com/about

Took a look through these - it seems that everything is either too long when folded up, too short at full height (while fitting into the length constraint with room to spare), doesn't have a levelling leg or doesn't look capable of supporting a strobe with softbox. Nothing around that sweet spot 26-30" collapsed, 7-8' height range.

What about getting a shorter, but sturdy stand, capable of holding much more than the actual load, and putting a light stand extension on top of it? What are these like in terms of stability and load capacity? A boom would be too fiddly to set up, balance and take down while travelling (I'll have a handheld boom and several voice-activated light stands for quick, impromptu shots anyway) but an extension is quick to set up and take down, needs no adjustment and can turn a short light stand into something tall enough for the job - if it's also stable enough.

Never really thought about them in the past, since I haven't previously had to stuff studio gear into suitcases and hiking packs not designed to carry long objects. But, since this is a multi-destination trip, I'll already have a lot of wildlife and macro gear with me, plus a hiking pack and two suitcases with hot weather, cold weather, wet weather, camping and alpine gear (obviously, the suitcases stay at town/hotel/car 'base camps' while I just carry what I need in the pack for each section of the trip) - I can't really add a light stand case to that, and certainly wouldn't want to hike with one, so the light stands will need to fit in the suitcases for air travel and be strapped to the pack while on foot.
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shadowblade

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Re: Travel light stand suggestions
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2022, 11:39:16 pm »

I would suggest taking a look at refillable sandbags which you can carry empty and fill on location with gravel, dirt, sand, etc. You may have already considered these. I've used the Tenba, but there are many brands and types available.

https://tenba.com/tenba-heavy-bag-black

One nice thing about the Tenba handle, compared to a solid handle, is that you can buckle it over the top of a leg brace.

I use similar things around town, but, when travelling, I don't see much reason to carry them. I just load big rocks into the area between the struts and the legs and hang stuff sacks or grocery bags full of dirt (or camera bags) from the lower part of the stand.

Where there's more than a slight wind, guy lines attached to the upper part of the stand are going to provide more stability than weights anyway, and I'm already going to have Paracord, small carabiners and tent pegs.
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TechTalk

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Re: Travel light stand suggestions
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2022, 06:00:25 pm »

Custom modifications are not unusual in the world of grip, so I'm sure you can either find a good compromise or have it made. Well made grip gear is always worth the extra money.

With regard to stands used outside, it's up to you. I always start with weight for safety with maneuverability, add to that lashing down if neccessary, and always have someone with at least one eye and one hand on each stand at all times. If you're traveling and not working with assistants, this is where your charm will become an asset in getting strangers to lend a literal hand.

Best of luck and enjoy your trip.
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shadowblade

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Re: Travel light stand suggestions
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2022, 04:11:12 am »

Have you had custom stands made before? How much does it tend to cost, relative to other light stands of similar size and capacity? How long did it take?

A sturdy, 8-9' light stand with a decent sized footprint, reverse-folding legs, a levelling leg and able to be disassembled for transport would be perfect - at the right price. Or even just a more heavily-built version of the myriad other tripods with similar height and features, but which seem to be built for items not much heavier than speedlights.
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TechTalk

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Re: Travel light stand suggestions
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2022, 05:10:19 pm »

I've never needed a custom modified stand. I've worked with motion picture clients who use grip gear they customize themselves or have modified to their specifications. I also know commercial photographers that have done this as well, including modified stands.

Since this is your project with your own unique equipment desires and specifications, you will need to test and evaluate equipment for your purposes. You will need to talk with manufacturers if you require customization.

Personally, for the type of project that you've described, if I needed grip gear not readily available or thought that I would need to lash down equipment for stability; I would rethink my lighting plan. I would likely be approaching this in a photojournalistic style with only minimal lighting gear. But, this is your project and it isn't my lighting approach that matters it's yours. I don't think that I can offer any more specific advise that would be helpful to you.

I'm sure that you'll work this out to your satisfaction, but it will likely require you testing a variety of gear to find the compromise that works best for your specific needs. Best wishes on your adventure!
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