Markus Rothkranz, a German-American self-help vegan Guro and photographer recently posted this useful video looking at outdoor light stands. This is a topic that we never covered in the past and if you are in the market for a light stand that can work well on uneven ground plus some really useful tips on how to use those stands outdoors – keep watching.
We will get to the list of light stands in a second but first the problem and some general solutions. When working in a studio most light stands will do the job (some better than others of course). When you are working outdoors especially on rough ground (and this video was shot in some really beautiful locations by the way) you need to be able to have one of the legs longer than the rest so you can balance the light stand (you can try and dig to level your light stand but this can turn ridiculous very fast).
The general industry solution to this issue is using what is known as a “leveling leg” (or “rocky mountain leg”) which is basically one leg that extends further than normal. This can also be used indoors (for leveling a stand on stairs for example but can be super handy outdoors.
Of course, leveling a light stand outdoors is just the first step. Even more than indoors you will need to find a way to stabilize your light against wind and accidental bumps. Rothkranz has some crude but effective ideas – instead of taking large heavy sandbags and filling them with rocks (or gravel/sand) in the field which can take time and get messy very quickly, he simply suggests looking for large rocks and placing them on the legs or the connecting in the middle (that actually gives a new meaning to the term “rock-solid”). If there are no large rock around (by the way always be careful when you lift large rocks some nasty creatures can hide below), you can always take a couple of bags (plastic or fabric) and put smaller stones and use them in more or less the same way (sort of a poor’s man sandbag that doesn’t cost anything).
Now it is time for Rothkranz’s list of stands and there are a few good options at different price ranges that should satisfy almost everybody:
- Norms Medium Aluminum Hefty light stand with leveling leg – heavy duty Holywood style outdoor stand ($300-$400).
- Avenger Baby A0025B Aluminum 25 with leveling leg – another good heavy-duty option – around $200.
- Avenger Baby Alu Stand 40 with Leveling Leg (Black, 13′) – another version from Avenger for around $175.
- Manfrotto Junior Universal Combo – a very heavy-duty option for around $180.
- Matthews Combo Black Aluminum Stand – another heavy-duty option at about the same price range.
- Promaster LS-CT – Rothkranz’s favorite at around $85 (very similar to a tripod).
- Savage Nano-Pro LS-LA6 – sort of an O.K. basic light stand for under $50.
- Impact LS-RL7 7.2′ Reverse Legs Light Stand – a better basic stand for around the same price with a flat leg option.
You can check out more of the videos from our photography gear guides section here on LensVid.