The best light stands of 2022

Updated on August 10, 2022 at 12:26

A basic lighting stand can open up a ton of new creative options for photographers by giving them the control that on-camera flash and natural light can’t match. They can also be used to mount reflectors, hang backdrops, or even provide more flattering lighting for YouTube videos. They’re simple, durable pieces of gear and buying the right one now can keep you geared up for years to come. Our list of the best light stands focuses on high-performance models that will stand the test of time and keep your expensive lighting gear from slamming to the floor.

Best overall: Impact Air Cushion Light Stand

Why he made the cut: A simple and versatile light stand that can handle studio lights while still being reasonably priced is what makes it our pick for the best overall light stand.

Main characteristics

  • Air cushion
  • Maximum height: 13 feet
  • 5.8 pounds

Advantages

  • Affordable price
  • Air cushion design
  • Versatile height capabilities

The inconvenients

The Impact Air Cushion Light Stand is a simple and versatile tool for supporting lights in the studio or on location. It has a maximum height of 13 feet, making it easy to get a high angle on your lights. And the air-cushioned design means the gear will lower smoothly, which is good news for your gear and your fingers. It has a standard 5/8″ stud with a 1/4″ – 20 threaded top that is compatible with all types of photography equipment. Plus, it’s extremely reasonably priced.

Ideal for various lighting angles: Manfroto 420B Combi

Manfroto 420B Combi is the best light stand for various lighting angles.

Why he made the cut: The boom arm of this light stand provides more versatile ways to position the lights, ideal for taking product shots or other flat shots.

Main characteristics

  • Comes with sandbag
  • Maximum height: 12 feet
  • 5.95 pounds

Advantages

  • Boom arm provides versatile lighting angles
  • Includes counterweight for balance
  • High load capacity, ideal for large studio lamps

The inconvenients

A light stand with a boom arm like this makes it much easier to project light downwards while shooting, which is great for product photography or flat poses. You can use this particular model as a traditional light stand or as a boom arm stand with the flip of a lever. It even comes with a counterweight to keep your heavy lights balanced while shooting. It’s more expensive than some of the other mounts on the market, but it’s essentially two tools in one.

Best Heavyweight: Support Matthews C

Matthews C Stand is the best lightweight stand for heavy duty work.

Why he made the cut: A versatile stand that can support extremely heavy lighting equipment.

Main characteristics

  • Spring base
  • Maximum height: 10.5 feet
  • 25 pounds

Advantages

  • 22 lb load capacity
  • Arc welded feet
  • Boom arm for versatile lighting angles

The inconvenients

The Matthews C Mount is a sturdy option that can hold lights up to 25 lbs, making it a great choice for shooters who work with heavy lights. The T-handle and rotating handles have an ergonomic design that facilitates quick tightening. And you can use it as a vertical stand or pole for more versatile lighting angles. Plus, it has a spring-loaded base, 1mm receivers for 16mm pins, and 2 1/2″ grip heads. For maximum stability, you’ll want to add sandbags or counterweights.

Best compact: Manfrotto Nano Light Stand

Manfrotto Nano Light Stand is the best compact lighting stand.

Why he made the cut: A lightweight light stand ideal for the photographer on the go.

Main characteristics

  • Compact 20 inch length when folded
  • Maximum height: 6.5 feet
  • 2.2 pounds

Advantages

  • Compact and lightweight construction
  • Relatively high maximum height
  • Portable

The inconvenients

A great choice for the photographer who likes to travel light, the Manfrotto Nano Light Stand has a maximum load capacity of 8.8 lbs. As a result, it’s a great option for flash units or small LED panels. It has a maximum height of 6.5 feet but is only 20 inches long when collapsed, making it easy to slip into the side pocket of a camera backpack. It even has a leveling leg if you’re shooting over rough terrain.

Best budget: AmazonBasics Light Stand

Amazon Basics Light Stand is the best for the budget.

Why he made the cut: These low cost light stands are simple, effective and come in a set of two, making them a great option for a photographer on a budget.

Main characteristics

  • Come in pairs
  • Maximum height: 6.7 feet
  • 3.66 pounds

Advantages

  • Cheap
  • Come grouped in a pair
  • Lightweight construction

The inconvenients

  • Low load capacity
  • No air cushion

In most situations it helps to have two lights – a key and a fill – which also means you will need two light holders. These budget light stands from Amazon Basics come in pairs and cost a fraction of brand name stands. Plus, they have lightweight aluminum construction and a decent maximum height of 6.7 feet. Unfortunately, they can only hold 7 pounds of weight and lack high-end features like air cushioning. But their affordability makes them a steal if you’re looking for something simple and using smaller lights. We suspect they won’t last as long as some of the other options in this guide, but they’re a bargain.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Light Stand

A light stand is an essential but often overlooked tool in your photography kit. On a professional set, they are used for a variety of reasons: to hold lights, to add diffusion or flags, or even to support backgrounds. But amateurs can also enjoy it. Having a few light stands available when filming will help you get more creative with your lighting setups, do classic three-point lighting, or even create a more flattering light when vlogging.

Types of light stands

Light stands generally come in three varieties, and the right light stand for you will depend on both where you are shooting and the types of lights you are using. The three basic designs of most light stands include a standard tripod style, a C-bracket style, and a wheeled style. Tripod style light stands are the most common and usually the most affordable. They are also suitable for a wide variety of lighting, such as LED ring lights, and accessories.

C-brackets have a sturdier design and are suitable for mounting extremely heavy lights, making them a good option for heavy continuous lights, large strobes, or even hanging seamless backgrounds. The wheeled style is most commonly found in studios and is a good choice for shooters who need to be able to move their light source easily while they work. C-brackets and wheeled light stands are generally more expensive than tripod-type stands.

FAQs

Q: How much do light stands cost?

Lightweight stands can cost anywhere from $30 to a few hundred dollars. The price of the light stand will vary depending on the materials the light stand is made of, the type of arm it has, the maximum height and load capacity. Generally speaking, light stands designed to hold heavy and expensive lamps will be more expensive as they have a sturdier build quality. Keep in mind that in most situations you will need at least two light stands to support your key and fill the lights.

Q: What do you use to keep the light stand from falling off?

A counterweight or sandbags can be used to help secure your light stand and prevent it from falling. If you are using a vertical light stand, you will want to put sandbags on the feet of the light stand to help stabilize it. If you are using a light stand with a boom arm, you will want to add a counterweight to the end of the boom opposite your light – a sandbag can be used, but a backpack or other gear can be used strictly.

Q: What is the best way to transport a light stand?

The best way to transport a light stand depends on the size of light stand you are using. For example, a nano compact light stand will likely fold up small enough to fit on a backpack where you can stow a tripod. Medium-sized light stands can often be carried comfortably in a tripod bag or in your hands. If you are transporting the light stand with a light attached, be sure to remove all sandbags from the bottom of the stand first. Light stands with lights attached to them should be carried carefully with both hands. Finally, in most situations, we recommend reducing the height of the lamp base before attempting to move it.

Final Thoughts on the Best Light Stands

Ultimately, the best light stand for you depends a lot on the types of lights you use while shooting. If you mainly shoot with fast flashes or small LED panels, a budget light stand will probably suffice. If you’re using expensive strobe lights, you’ll probably want something a little sturdier to support the weight. If you are using large, heavy continuous lights, a C-bracket that can hold up to 22 pounds of weight is the ideal option.

Methodology

When selecting the products that appear in this buying guide, we considered light stands that would suit a variety of budgets, but also work with a wide variety of lights and other device accessories. Photo. It was important to select products that would work to support small lights, but also include options capable of handling larger studio strobes or continuous lighting options.

The products that appear in this guide were selected through a combination of hands-on experience, reviews, and user feedback.

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