Lighting kits for video and photography are great, but sometimes you find a need to upgrade something from the kit. One item, in particular, I find myself upgrading or getting more of is a sturdy light stand.
While light stands are quite unspectacular when compared to the wealth of other products out there, they really do serve a valuable purpose! Because of this, I have rounded up what I believe are some of the best light stands on the market.
How a light stand can help your video and photography
A light stand is essential for lighting kits, regardless of being on a location or in studio. Besides holding a light or a strobe, a light stand can also be used for holding reflectors, grids, or gels. So, a stand is basically a way to hold something in place, either lights or modifiers.
Putting artificial lights and modifiers on stands lets us create a lighting solution that is perfect for the intended image. Since we are making the lighting ourselves, we also hold a creative edge in regards to the final image. It all starts somewhere, stands are an indispensable element of our lighting set up. You can check out this guide on how to setup a light stand.
How I found the best light stands
Whether upgrading the stands of a lighting kit, or building a kit of one’s own from individually purchased items, there are things that should be considered.
- Height is a primary consideration. We need versatility in light or modifier placement, so being adjustable for enough height is vital. We also need to able to get low enough if that is the need.
- Weight is also vital especially if we do a lot of location photo shoot or videos. We don’t want to ignore weight in studio either. Sometimes it’s more weight that works best.
- Size is more than mere height. We also look at the foot print of the stand, how much room on the floor it takes up. A larger foot print may allow us to hold more weight or a boom arm. A smaller foot print could be necessary for tight quarters, whether in studio or on location.
- Functionality refers to how the light stand works. Mostly the way the legs deploy and if the extending and contracting of the stand segments are cushioned in any way. If cushioned, it could be by springs, air, or some type of dampening fluid.
- Mount type and compatibility are important to know if we are using certain specialty items or may do so in the future.
Top 5 Best Light Stands For Video & Photography
1. PBL Light Stands 10 Foot Kit
First up on my list is the mighty PBL light stand kit. What made this kit stand out to me was the light stands, weight bags, quality and the reasonable price. As an upgrade to an existing light kit, or as a stand alone component of making your own kit, this is a great choice!
Included in this kit is a set of 2 PBL 10ft spring cushioned photo studio professional extra strong photography light stands, with all metal locking collars. Having the metal collars is very beneficial as the plastic locking knobs or collars can crack in time.
Rubber tips on the bottom legs helps prevent movement on smooth surfaces which was a nice touch. They also included 2 heavy duty sandbags.
These 2 heavy duty sandbags are saddlebag designed, which allows you to put the sandbag over your light stand leg making it very sturdy and quite difficult to topple over. The mounting stud is the standard size for most lights and accessories.
That wide footprint and sand bag option also comes in handy if you are likely to extend these stands to their maximum height of 10 feet. Once you start getting over your head with light placement, tipping over becomes a real concern. Which is why heavier duty light stands exist. You don’t want to smash your lights or injure or damage the subject being photographed.
Being spring cushioned is a big plus when using bigger or heavier lighting equipment on the stands. When a stand is extended over your head and holding a large item, having it come crashing down when you release the locking knobs is not advantageous. Springs are used in these stands to enable a smooth descent.
Overall I was very pleased with using these stands for my studio works. They have now been a long addition that I use in almost all my shoots. These are hands down some of the best light stands on the market at their price point!
2. Neewer 2 Pieces Light Stand Kit
Extending up to about 9 ½ feet, these Neewer stands are another great choice for a stand upgrade, and another great product from one of my favorite reasonably priced accessory brands.
This is a very portable stand that extends to a very usable height, the stainless steel finish is both good looking and durable. Stainless steel is also corrosion resistant, making these a good choice for a variety of location shoots. I could even see myself using these at the beach or during inclement weather. Now all I need to find is a weatherproof strobe!
There’s a shorter version of this stand available, but I would keep to this size. The collapsed size of this stand is plenty portable enough for my tastes. Since it’s not spring cushioned, collapsing it for storage or portability is easy. Not having any cushioning also means you will have to exercise caution when lowering any lighting equipment from heights above your head.
As for the mounts, it uses a standard mounting stud, and the one it comes with has a reversible thread in two sizes, ¼” and 3/8”. The topmost column has a 20mm hole in it at the top that could be used to hold an umbrella or grid. A good stand for anyone, and definitely a great choice for upgrading to the best light stands for video and photography.
3. Fovitec – 2 x 8’3″ Photography & Video Light Stand Kit
Slightly smaller, but still extendable to well over our heads, Fovitec makes some very economical stands. I would call these medium duty as opposed to heavy duty mostly because of the plastic knobs.
The price is very reasonable. Plus, if you get the 2 stand kit, it comes with a bag that has plenty of room for other accessory items.
Another thing that makes these medium duty for my taste is that the footprint is slightly small for the maximum height these are capable of. A smaller footprint does mean that you have more flexibility of where to place them when on a location shoot, so you lose on one end but gain on the other.
At this price, I felt these were a good option for anyone wanting to upgrade at a low price.
4. Fovitec – 2x 7’6″ Photography & Video Light Stand Kit
Here is the even smaller version of the Fovitec stands. Extending to a little over 7 feet, you can still be overhead for all but the tallest of subjects.
Upgrading to a light stand like this is probably the least expensive way to add extra capability to your lighting kits.
Very few of the kits I’ve seen have light stands that extend to anything close to my full standing height. So, being able to get over head at all will really add to your lighting flexibility.
Again, the bag or case that the 2 stand kit comes with is really nice. Seriously, I would be happy paying this price just for the bag. I could fit quite a few lighting items in it along with the stands.
5. Neewer 2 Packs 9 feet/260 centimeters Photo Studio Light Stands
Another wonderfully priced product from Neewer, this stand is such a low price, I could almost say you just have to get these if you want any more height out of your entry level lighting kit. Extending to almost 9 feet, this medium duty stands felt secure with most of my own lighting items.
A basic design, this stand is likely to get a lot of use from location shooters, whether still photographers or videographers. The footprint is a little small, but the sturdiness of the columns helps keep things from being in too much danger of tipping. Just don’t put heavy strobes on it without anchoring the legs with a sand bag or something.
Finish is a nice looking black, and the knobs are plastic. A standard mounting stud is included and the stud has a ¼” screw on top for adding a variety of items. One of the things some of my friends mentioned was using a pair of these stands to mount the sensors for their HTC Vive VR system. I’ll have to see how that worked for them.
My personal recommendation for the best light stands.
Any of these! Obviously, you will need to determine your budget and needs, but all of these are worthy to use as an upgrade to whatever stands came in the kit we’ve been using.
Being able to mount larger lights, umbrellas, or soft boxes is another reason for looking into these heavier duty stands. The first time I ever saw something of mine tip over on a photo shoot, I felt horrible. Sick to my stomach almost. Hopefully, you’ll never have to go through that!
Having taller and stronger stands gives us so many more options with our light configurations. These are the best light stands for many photographers and videographers wishing to either upgrade from their kits or wanting to build a kit of their own. To make the best of your light stand, you can see this guide on different techniques for lighting.