Purchasing a Light Stand
When purchasing a light stand, most stands will seem alike until you check out the specifications and find out what makes one stand differ from the next. Here is a list of specifications and their definitions to help you decide which light stand is best for your needs.
Risers – Each section that extends above the main section is called a riser or riser section. You can tell how many risers a stand has by how many knuckles (knobs) it has.
Sections – When a stand is collapsed, the risers all fit inside a main riser section. When extended, each riser that extends is considered another riser section. So counting the main riser section as the first one, a stand with two additional risers sections has a total of two risers and three sections. This is also known as a double riser stand.
Weight – This is the physical weight of the stand. This is good to know if you are going to travel with your stands. Steel stands add up quickly in weight, and carrying a cart or a case with wheels or finding some burly grips is always a good idea!
Load Capacity – This is how much your stand can physically support. This is fairly straightforward in most cases, however in the case of a boom, you have to account for the weight of the light fixture, the boom itself and its counterweight. The load capacity is a combination of the maximum operating height, the material the stand is constructed from, the diameter of the risers and the size of its base.
Closed Length – This is the longest dimension of the stand when collapsed and is necessary to either allocate space on a grip truck or other vehicle not to mention selecting the right equipment cases to transport your stands.
Minimum Operating Height – This is generally shorter than the “Closed Length”. It is the minimum height that you can mount a light fixture or accessory.
Maximum Operating Height – This is the maximum height that your stand can operate at. The load capacity is usually calculated at this height.
Footprint Diameter – If you were to draw a circle on the ground around the legs when the stand is fully opened, and measure the diameter across the circle, this would be the area that the base of the stand occupies. This is good to know, especially if you have limited floor space.
Leveling Leg – This is a feature that allows one leg’s height to be adjusted independently from the other two allowing the risers to remain vertical while on an incline or uneven terrain. This is extremely handy when you have to place a light on a flight of stairs. Other terms you may encounter to describe this feature are sliding leg and rocky mountain leg.
Stand Adapter – This is the type of mount the stand has at the end of its top riser section. This is important to know if your stand is compatible with whatever mount the fixture or accessory has that you mount on top of it.
Casters Available – This tells you if there are casters (wheels) available for your stand. If you are moving heavy loads around, casters are an indispensible feature.
Special Features – Some stands have special features such as Wind-Up stands.