Source: aliexpress.ru

Look­ing for a stu­dio stand for lights or oth­er equip­ment? At first glance, this seems like a sim­ple enough task, until you go to the rel­e­vant sec­tion and dis­cov­er that there is a huge vari­ety of options, each with its own spe­cif­ic set of fea­tures and char­ac­ter­is­tics. In this arti­cle, we will look at the main cri­te­ria for choos­ing stu­dio stands and their types, suit­able for solv­ing dif­fer­ent prob­lems. Whether you’re a begin­ner or an expe­ri­enced pho­tog­ra­ph­er, choos­ing the right stance comes down to answer­ing the same set of ques­tions.

How much does your equipment weigh?

The most impor­tant task for any rack is to pro­vide a strong, reli­able sup­port for what is attached to it. Car­ry­ing capac­i­ty is one of the very first char­ac­ter­is­tics that should be con­sid­ered. It rep­re­sents the max­i­mum weight that the rack can safe­ly and secure­ly sup­port.

Ray­lab LS003 with­stands loads up to 7 kg.

It is impor­tant that the rack com­fort­ably sup­port the weight of the main equip­ment and option­al acces­sories. So, in addi­tion to the light itself, you need to take into account the weight of mod­i­fiers and oth­er acces­sories — soft­box­es, reflec­tors, etc. It is worth cal­cu­lat­ing this para­me­ter with a mar­gin, since the rack should not con­stant­ly work at the lim­it of its capa­bil­i­ties. All oth­er things being equal, always choose a stand with a high­er capac­i­ty because it will be more reli­able and sta­ble even with lighter equip­ment.

What mount is required for your equipment?

The top mount of the stand must match the mount of the light­ing so that you can fix it secure­ly. The most com­mon way to mount flash­lights and con­tin­u­ous light sources in small to medi­um sizes is the 5/8” mount. Heav­ier fix­tures may require a 1–1/8” fix­ture.

Racks can be used not only for the lamps them­selves. If you are going to use it to sup­port mod­i­fiers and oth­er light­ing acces­sories, there are mod­els with grip­h­eads (disc clips for attach­ing acces­sories) and addi­tion­al han­dles.

Some stands also allow the rod to be mount­ed both ver­ti­cal­ly and hor­i­zon­tal­ly, expand­ing the range of pos­si­ble light­ing posi­tions.

Start your search by check­ing the mount­ing of your illu­mi­na­tor. The most com­mon types of mounts that pho­tog­ra­phers and video­g­ra­phers encounter are:

  • 5/8” is the most com­mon mount­ing sys­tem used by pho­tog­ra­phers.
  • 1–1/8” mounts are more com­mon when work­ing with light­ing fix­tures used for film pro­duc­tion.
  • Less com­mon fas­ten­er types are 1/4”-20, 3/8”, 1/2”-13 and M10.

How high and how low should the lighting be placed?

There are no racks that can rise too much high or low too much low. But you can very eas­i­ly run into those who can­not climb. enough high or low enough low. There­fore, when mak­ing a pur­chase deci­sion, con­sid­er the max­i­mum and min­i­mum height you need. You def­i­nite­ly don’t want to use a mod­el that can’t place light­ing where you need it most.

Source: dpreview.com

While the need for prop­er posi­tion­ing of the light is prob­a­bly para­mount, be aware that the extra sections/extra height can make the stand less sta­ble than short­er mod­els. There­fore, you should not buy the high­est rack you can find — pro­ceed from your real needs and tasks.

Should the rack be portable?

If you often work in dif­fer­ent loca­tions or take equip­ment with you on trips, porta­bil­i­ty can be one of the main cri­te­ria when choos­ing a mod­el. You will need a light­weight mod­el that will be as com­pact as pos­si­ble when fold­ed. It should be borne in mind that light racks may be less sta­ble.

Here are the main points to con­sid­er:

  • Weight: Choos­ing the right weight for your rack can be a real dilem­ma. For max­i­mum porta­bil­i­ty, you need the light­est stand pos­si­ble. How­ev­er, before look­ing for the light­est mod­el on the mar­ket, be aware that they are often infe­ri­or in sta­bil­i­ty to heav­ier racks. If you still choose too light, you can add weight — a sand­bag or oth­er sup­port to sta­bi­lize the entire instal­la­tion.
  • Closed Length: While most racks can be fold­ed down to some degree, the length of your rack when closed will deter­mine whether it can be car­ried in a back­pack, crammed into car­ry-on lug­gage, or requires a spe­cial case.
  • Sec­tions: When choos­ing a portable rack, you will find that the most com­pact mod­els usu­al­ly have more sec­tions. Note that this usu­al­ly means less sta­bil­i­ty.
  • Stand area: The size of the space you work in can also impose cer­tain restric­tions on the size of the stand. If you’re going to be shoot­ing in a con­fined space, it’s impor­tant to con­sid­er the foot­print of your stand—that is, how much floor space is required to set up your booth.

Are additional features needed?

Out­ward­ly, most racks look quite sim­ple, but man­u­fac­tur­ers offer a vari­ety of addi­tion­al options to make their mod­els more con­ve­nient and ver­sa­tile.


Makes it easy to move the rack, espe­cial­ly when using heavy equip­ment. The rollers can also save the floor from dam­age due to the rack being dragged across it.

If you would like to make the stand mobile after pur­chase, cast­ers can be pur­chased sep­a­rate­ly. For exam­ple, the Ray­lab RL-WL22 and RL-WL25 stand cast­ers are suit­able for stu­dio stands with 22mm and 25mm leg diam­e­ters, respec­tive­ly, and can sup­port loads up to 10kg.


Gen­er­al pur­pose racks often use an air damp­ing sys­tem. This pre­vents the equip­ment from falling quick­ly when the clamps are released, reduces the pos­si­bil­i­ty of pinched fin­gers and oth­er injuries, and dam­age to the equip­ment.

The Ray­lab LS004 3m stand is equipped with an air cush­ion­ing sys­tem, thanks to which the clamp does not fold instant­ly, but smooth­ly low­ers. The sys­tem uses spe­cial rub­ber pads that cre­ate a cush­ion of air that elim­i­nates the risk of acci­den­tal fold­ing and dam­age to installed equip­ment. The stand itself, with a weight of 2 kg, can with­stand a load of up to 10 kg of weight.

Ray­lab LS004 3m with air cush­ion­ing

Anoth­er type of depre­ci­a­tion is spring. Spring damp­ing occurs due to springs that are installed inside the sec­tion. Such devices are not as effec­tive in sav­ing from impacts as air-cush­ioned struts, as they slow down the move­ment only at the very end.

The Ray­lab LS001 2.2m spring-loaded stand is best for mount­ing light stu­dio or cam­era flash­es. With a weight of 1.4 kg, this light­weight alu­minum alloy stand can with­stand loads up to 2 kg. The design uses clips made of high-strength poly­car­bon­ate, which ensures the reli­a­bil­i­ty of light­ing instal­la­tion.

Adjustable feet

Some stands are equipped with height and posi­tion adjustable feet that are used to secure the stand when installed on uneven ground. They are espe­cial­ly use­ful when work­ing on loca­tions with uneven floors, when shoot­ing in con­fined spaces and on the street.

Fold­ing legs

Can be fold­ed inward towards the cen­ter col­umn, mak­ing the rack more com­pact when fold­ed. This is a use­ful fea­ture for pho­tog­ra­phers who need to save space at home/studio or when trav­el­ing with a stand.

Combined/universal heads

Universal/combo head stands com­bine sev­er­al types of mounts so that they can be used with a vari­ety of light­ing fix­tures and oth­er equip­ment. They are par­tic­u­lar­ly well suit­ed for stu­dios that use dif­fer­ent types of light­ing.


If you want to light your sub­ject diag­o­nal­ly from above or down, a crane stand is the way to go. The crane boom allows you to move the light source up or down, and the stand itself can be rolled back and forth on rollers. All this will help to posi­tion the light­ing exact­ly where you need it.

The boom of the crane can also be low­ered with a lamp to the floor and the mount turned over, then the light will go down to illu­mi­nate the back­ground or diag­o­nal­ly up for var­i­ous light­ing effects. How­ev­er, not all crane mounts allow this.

Remem­ber that when using the crane, you need to bal­ance the weight of your lantern with a sand­bag or oth­er object.

Crane Ray­lab BS02

Thanks to the angled beam, the Ray­lab BS02 crane allows you to set the light at the right angle and in the right direc­tion. The max­i­mum work­ing height of the device is 1.9 m, and the length of the hor­i­zon­tal bar is 2 meters. One of the advan­tages of this mod­el is its high porta­bil­i­ty: the crane is dis­as­sem­bled, and its weight is 3 kg (while the crane itself can with­stand a total weight of up to 3.2 kg). This allows you to eas­i­ly move the mod­el with­in the stu­dio, as well as take it with you to field ses­sions.


Dif­fer­ent types of racks use dif­fer­ent types of clamps to secure the slid­ing parts. With their help, legs and sec­tions in tele­scop­ic racks are fixed in height.

There are two main types of clamps — screw clamps and clamp clamps. Clamps clamp the rack in a cir­cle, and the screw fix­es the rack on one side, screw­ing inward.

On the left — screw clamp, on the right — clamps. Source: fotogora.ru

Clamps can be adjustable and non-adjustable. Accord­ing to the mate­r­i­al, the clamps dif­fer in plas­tic and more reli­able met­al. For light racks, plas­tic clamps are suf­fi­cient, but if you need to hang heavy equip­ment on a rack, it is bet­ter to find a mod­el with met­al clamps.


At first glance, it seems strange to choose a stu­dio stand based on its col­or. How­ev­er, if you’re wor­ried about the rack being able to reflect light, then a paint­ed cab­i­net can have prac­ti­cal advan­tages over an unpaint­ed, reflec­tive met­al sur­face.

Types of racks for different tasks

Now that you know the basic char­ac­ter­is­tics, you can deter­mine which type of rack is best for your needs. Pho­tog­ra­phers who often work on loca­tion, stu­dio pho­tog­ra­phers, and film stu­dios rely on dif­fer­ent types of light­ing and, accord­ing­ly, use dif­fer­ent types of stands. They can be rough­ly divid­ed into six cat­e­gories: gen­er­al pur­pose stands, C‑stands, wind-up stands, back­ground light stands, and over­head stands for mount­ing devices at the top lev­el.

Gen­er­al Pur­pose Racks

They are used every­day and often have a fold­ing design for easy stor­age and trans­porta­tion. The base racks are ver­sa­tile and well suit­ed for han­dling lighter equip­ment. Many of them are light enough to be tak­en out­side the stu­dio to shoot on loca­tion. It can be con­ve­nient to install not only light­ing on such racks, but also oth­er equip­ment, such as cam­eras.

Ray­lab LS200B

The Ray­lab LS200B is suit­able for installing small lights, cam­eras or oth­er acces­sories weigh­ing up to 2.5 kg. The work­ing height varies from 70 to 200 cm. The mod­el is very light, so it can be used in the stu­dio as a uni­ver­sal stand, and thanks to its com­pact size when fold­ed, it is well suit­ed for on-site ses­sions.


More advanced si-stands (C‑stand) are usu­al­ly used for film pro­duc­tion, as well as in com­mer­cial pho­tog­ra­phy stu­dios. Their pop­u­lar­i­ty is due to their strength, sta­bil­i­ty and ease of stor­age (thanks to their stan­dard­ized shape and design). The flip side of the coin is a rather bulky design, too heavy to get out of the stu­dio.

C‑stand Avenger A2033F C‑Stand 33

C‑stands are often equipped with addi­tion­al fea­tures, adjustable legs, hor­i­zon­tal booms and grip­h­eads.

wind-up racks

Man­frot­to Wind Up Stand. Source: manfrotto.com

These mod­els are designed for mount­ing and adjust­ing large light­ing fix­tures on set. They are equipped with a col­umn with a lift­ing mech­a­nism, which is reg­u­lat­ed by a han­dle. The han­dle allows you to safe­ly raise and low­er heavy light­ing fix­tures.

Stands for back­ground light

Fal­con Eyes L‑150/B

These low stands can be installed at a min­i­mum height from the floor, which is often required for back­light­ing or, for exam­ple, table­top prod­uct pho­tog­ra­phy. The most impor­tant fea­ture of such racks that you need to pay atten­tion to is the min­i­mum height. These machines may not even have a cen­ter col­umn, so they can sink very low to the ground and usu­al­ly have a very low max­i­mum height.

Racks for instal­la­tion of devices on the upper lev­el

Avenger Over­head Steel Stand 56. Source: manfrotto.com

Unlike racks for back­ground light, such devices are used to install light­ing at a max­i­mum height. They have the look and strength of a Sea Stand, while still pro­vid­ing high load capac­i­ty and max­i­mum height. Such mod­els are intend­ed, first of all, to sup­port large back­grounds, large light­ing fix­tures and install light at max­i­mum height. Many of them are equipped with wheels, heads for attach­ing cross­bars and oth­er acces­sories. The name of such mod­els often con­tains the word “over­head”, mean­ing that the light­ing can be installed “above the head”.


Source: premiumbeat.com

So, there are a num­ber of fair­ly sim­ple cri­te­ria for choos­ing the right rack for stu­dio equip­ment.

First of all, the choice will depend on the weight of the lamp, acces­sories or oth­er equip­ment that you will mount on the stand. Next, you need to look at what mount your fix­ture uses: in pho­tog­ra­phy, the most com­mon mount is 5/8”, in cin­e­matog­ra­phy 1–1/8”. The height of the fix­ture will affect how the light is placed. For back­ground light­ing, you can choose low stands, and for max­i­mum height — over­head-stands. If you often get out on the road, light­weight fold­ing mod­els will do, but you need to remem­ber that the lighter the stand, the less sta­ble it is.

Var­i­ous addi­tion­al fea­tures can also be use­ful — cush­ion­ing (the best option is air cush­ion­ing), adjustable and fold­ing legs, rollers, etc. For a more flex­i­ble arrange­ment of light­ing, crane stands are suit­able.

Depend­ing on your needs, you can choose a lighter and more portable gen­er­al pur­pose stand or a stronger and more reli­able (but heavy and bulky) ce-stand.

Do you use stu­dio stands in your work? We’d love to hear about your expe­ri­ence in the com­ments. Also, if you have any ques­tions, our experts will always be hap­py to answer them.

* when prepar­ing the arti­cle, mate­ri­als from the resources bhphotovideo.com, fotogora.ru and onfoto.ru were used.