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05-14-2018, 10:15 PM   #1
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Tripod as a Lightstand?

Ok, so I'm currently researching lightstands, both for portable use outdoors as well as studio and what I am noticing is this;
  1. Portable ones are more expensive
  2. Portable ones don't even seem that portable, I mean when comparing to the choices we get for portable tripods they seem to fall way behind in terms of compactness
  3. Studio ones are cheaper (and by in large we don't concern ourselves for packing them down, they pretty much stay out all the time)

Watching videos of portable lightstands, they fold down to something akin to a large tripod, they can often weigh a bit more as well (unless plastically built, urgh).

Then there is the topic of weighing them down, so they don't topple over in the wind. Meaning sandbags draped over a leg (not ideal as it's not the centre of gravity) or carrying weights (literally small gym weight plates) and putting on the legs to keep it steady (via the assistance of 'Stand Daddy's'.

Neither of those options are particularly attractive to me.

As I was browsing youtube videos on lightstands one stood out the most, and it is this one below;


I have to say, what he said made a little sense, more so because I actually have a fairly tall spare tripod kicking about, and what I like the most is that the centre part of it has a hook, somewhere to either hang you backpack from to give your back a rest, or to give extra stability at the centre of gravity to the setup.

Factor in then that the tripod is typically lighter than the 'light' stand (hurrr) I'm quite keen to see if I can mod my own to get a little more height out of it. I'm also noticing that a tripods design vs the lightstand is quite different in terms of how the legs work. Tripod legs allow for better control of setting up the system on uneven ground. This is really important to me as I want to seek locations that are very off track, perhaps near waterfalls and places with uneven ground. The legs themselves may even be submerged, yet I don't think there are too many 'things' in the legs that will rust badly like a portable lightstand could (with its screws, nuts and bolts etc). I mean of course you want to dry out your gear anyway, but you get the point.
Then also the spread of the tripod legs looks to my eyes to be wider than what a lightstand can achieve, are tripods generally more stable than lightstands? (after all they tend to have more expensive equipment up top!).

So then, onto talking about the images I have attached below.

You'll see a picture of three tripods on my front garden path. The middle tripod is my 'main' tripod, it's the one I take out the most with me, it compacts down the most but as you can see it doesn't go too high, but I have found it goes up as high as I need and with the KP or K-1 tilt screens I don't need to bend down with it much, so yeh... that's the one that comes out with me the most.

(there is a little gorilla pod on the left which really serves no purpose here, but just chucked it in to the shot for comparison sake, it has a head that could take a flash unit, so I could hang it from a branch etc if I wanted).

The largest tripod on the right (Promaster XC525) was my first tripod purchase (a bit of a regret) as eventually I sought out something smaller and lighter to take with me (middle), nonetheless it has been handy as I have used it for some indoor flash lighting (can put it on chairs to get more height etc), but also one of the legs detaches and can be used as a monopod (something I actually do find handy and use quite a lot), so I have never sold it because of these two reasons.
I am now thinking that I might be able to replace the middle stem piece with something else to get more height yet still retain the portability and versatility factor. A quick look on B&H and I found this fella;

CAME-TV Q148 Mini Tripod Center Column Extender Q148 B&H Photo

Now if I have understood this gizmo properly it's not actually intended to replace the centre stem of my Promaster, but rather if you take the ball/swivel head off the promaster you can then attach this onto it and get extra height. I mean there may be times I don't need the extra height anyway, I might find a large rock or boulder to put the tripod on that gains that extra height needed, but if on flat ground I could then get this column out and attach on as well and get that extra clearance needed for the shot. All for $15...

Am I mad to consider this as my portable light stand? All that would really be on top is a speedlight and either the gary fong diffuser or a 24x24 softbox etc.

Comments?

Cheers,

Bruce

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05-14-2018, 10:26 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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Say you're travelling, you can leave the light stand at home and just use your tripod.

And a monopod can make for a handheld light boom, too.
05-14-2018, 10:35 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Say you're travelling, you can leave the light stand at home and just use your tripod.

And a monopod can make for a handheld light boom, too.
Yeh, that's essentially the concept I'm coming round to, tho I am using MF a lot these days so holding onto a monopod with one hand isn't likely something I'll do much of, but yeh it's a good point.

So I'm not crazy to consider purchasing an extender rod?
05-14-2018, 11:53 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Say you're travelling, you can leave the light stand at home and just use your tripod.

And a monopod can make for a handheld light boom, too.

I'm using Manfrotto Compact extreme monopod/pole as a light boom.

05-15-2018, 01:22 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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As long as your tripod can get your light where you want it, and won't get in the way in the process, no problem. Where lightstands have the advantage is their versatility in terms of positioning (the height and reach to get overhead a model for example) while not cluttering up the sightlines with legs (they usually have legs that can sit flat on the ground with only a single thin upright and boom rather than three chunky legs). If you're wanting to set up a three light rig around a model with tripods you will end up with a clutter of legs getting in the way and will struggle to get the overhead or hair light in place.
05-15-2018, 01:37 AM   #6
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As it happens, I used a Sirui travel tripod and Gorillapod for two off-camera flashes both yesterday and today.

I like clackers' suggestion of a monopod as a boom too.
05-15-2018, 02:19 AM - 1 Like   #7
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I routinely use cheap tripods for lights.

The only real advantage of a 'proper' light stand is that they tend to go way higher and usually have better fittings if you are using studio lights.

I would add that it's usually more stable to let your bag touch the ground - that way it won't swing in the wind.
05-15-2018, 02:41 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
Yeh, that's essentially the concept I'm coming round to, tho I am using MF a lot these days so holding onto a monopod with one hand isn't likely something I'll do much of, but yeh it's a good point.

So I'm not crazy to consider purchasing an extender rod?
A monopod is excellent if you have someone to hold it for you. Add a softbox and you have a voice activated, mobile light stand. I use a Vanguard Veo AM-264 TR monopod with feet. Here’s a review: Vanguard VEO AM-264-TR reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database

05-15-2018, 03:17 AM - 5 Likes   #9
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Apoligies if I repeat observations made by others.
1) light stands are really designed for studio use = absolutely flat and level floors. with legs far at the bottom and a tall pole above, they can be very tippy on natural surfaces, and are not designed to be leveled. Tripods are MUCH more stable outdoors and MUCH more adaptable to uneven, unlevel ground.
2) tripods far too flimsy for a camera are totally adequate for a strobe
3) the "best" tripod to hold a strobe outdoors depends primarily on the height you need for the strobe. For up to about three + feet, maybe four feet, a tripod with snap-lock legs that collapses to less than 10 inches, comes with a pan-tilt head and can be stuffed easily into your trouser pocket is totally adequate. To get up to 60 inches the "SAKAR" and similar Walmart brand amateur 'pods are more than adequate - - quick flip-lever leg-locks, leg braces, a center column to get the extra height, and a pan-tilt head, much lighter than a tripod you'd want under a DSLR, and they cost maybe $30 dollars.
4) for more than 60 inches or so of height, consider a light-stand extension pole. I have one purchased 30 years or more back. Two telescoping sections with a thumb-strew lock. Its open at the bottom with a a thumb-screw lock, designed to go onto a standard light-stand stud. The other end has a 1/4 X 20 male screw onto which a mini ball head could be attached. You'd also need a light stand stud, little gizmo with a 1/4 X 20 female socket at the bottom.

If you are interested, I can take & post images of my gadgets of this sort, or search down official names so you can search on B&H or Adorama websites.

Last edited by WPRESTO; 05-15-2018 at 09:26 AM.
05-15-2018, 05:00 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Saltwater Images Quote
A monopod is excellent if you have someone to hold it for you. Add a softbox and you have a voice activated, mobile light stand. I use a Vanguard Veo AM-264 TR monopod with feet. Here’s a review: Vanguard VEO AM-264-TR reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database
"voice activated lightstand" was Joe McNally's idea! XD
05-15-2018, 05:38 AM - 1 Like   #11
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I use a tripod as a light stand regularly. I bought one of those cheapo umbrella holders from China and screwed it on a QR plate.

One of the things a light stand does better is get much higher. Another is that it's easier to put a lot of weight on them, closer to the ground, to keep them steady. But at the end of the day, both are just legs and a mast.
05-15-2018, 05:39 AM   #12
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Double post, don't know the reason. Disregard.

Last edited by bdery; 05-15-2018 at 09:53 AM.
05-15-2018, 06:28 AM - 2 Likes   #13
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I guess my bike repair stand would do pretty well as a light stand as well.


05-15-2018, 01:11 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
Apoligies if I repeat observations made by others.
1) light stands are really designed for studio use = absolutely flat and level floors. with legs far at the bottom and a tall pole above, they can be very tippy on natural surfaces, and are not designed to be leveled. Tripods are MUCH more stable outdoors and MUCH more adaptable to uneven, unlevel ground.
2) tripods far too flimsy for a camera are totally adequate for a strobe
3) the "best" tripod to hold a strobe outdoors depends primarily on the height you need for the strobe. For up to about three + feet, maybe four feet, a tripod with snap-lock legs that collapses to less than 10 inches, comes with a pan-tilt head and can be stuffed easily into your trouser pocket is totally adequate. To get up to 60 inches the "SAKAR" and similar Walmart brand amateur 'pods are more than adequate - - quick flip-lever leg-locks, leg braces, a center column to get the extra height, and a pan-tilt head, much lighter than a tripod you'd want under a DSLR, and they cost maybe $30 dollars.
4) for more than 60 inches or so of height, consider a light-stand extension pole. I have one purchased 30 years or more back. Two telescoping sections with a thumb-strew lock. Its open at the bottom with a a thumb-screw lock, designed to go onto a standard light-stand stud. The other end has a 1/4 X 20 male screw onto which a mini ball head could be attached. You'd also need a light stand stud, little gizmo with a 1/4 X 20 female socket at the bottom.

If you are interested, I can take & post images of my gadgets of this sort, or search down official names so you can search on B&H or Adorama websites.
Please by all means link away, if you can keep it to just b&h as I am putting together a largish order on that site anyway =)


QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
I use a tripod as a light stand regularly. I bought one of those cheapo umbrella holders from China and screwed it on a QR plate.

One of the things a light stand does better is get much higher. Another is that it's easier to put a lot of weight on them, closer to the ground, to keep them steady. But at the end of the day, both are just legs and a mast.
My Promaster tripod gets me to about 60 inches/150cm roughly, not high enough. I definitely want to take shots where the light comes down from above, so am definitely needing an extension pole of some sort (but one that can also compress down). This so far I think is the best I have found;

CAME-TV Q148 Mini Tripod Center Column Extender Q148 B&H Photo

As I said earlier, in theory it should attach (and not replace) the centre shaft of my Promaster XC525, thus adding an additional 96cm bringing the overall max height to almost 2.5m. This would be enough I'm sure.

---------- Post added 05-16-18 at 06:18 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by victormeldrew Quote
As long as your tripod can get your light where you want it, and won't get in the way in the process, no problem. Where lightstands have the advantage is their versatility in terms of positioning (the height and reach to get overhead a model for example) while not cluttering up the sightlines with legs (they usually have legs that can sit flat on the ground with only a single thin upright and boom rather than three chunky legs). If you're wanting to set up a three light rig around a model with tripods you will end up with a clutter of legs getting in the way and will struggle to get the overhead or hair light in place.
Very good point, I hadn't though of this before, I shall have to wait and see I guess as to whether it becomes an issue or not. Currently I am 'wasting' only $15 by investing in an extension pole to make my current spare tripod compatible for this setup. Should it not work then I think something like the Vanguard monopod with feet might work better (linked below).

QuoteOriginally posted by Saltwater Images Quote
A monopod is excellent if you have someone to hold it for you. Add a softbox and you have a voice activated, mobile light stand. I use a Vanguard Veo AM-264 TR monopod with feet. Here’s a review: Vanguard VEO AM-264-TR reviews - Pentax Camera Accessory Review Database
Thanks for that. It probably doesn't extent far enough up but that can be work-shopped. The feet look like they bend independently thus assisting with uneven ground. Also it looks like the feet could have bags or weight easily draped over then for additional support. Thanks for the suggestion!
05-15-2018, 05:39 PM   #15
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Isn't a light stand a tripod pretty much with low profile legs and very tall extendable center column?
Any way I use tripods as stands all the time and exactly the way he shows in the picture. That little metal part you can buy in dozens and make everything fit into the ecosystem.
See this set for example. this makes your life easy to make any pod practically turn into a light stand.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07483TXCB
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