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Tripod vs. Lightstand

Discussion in 'Studio Equipment and Lighting' started by NateS, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. NateS


    Oct 11, 2007
    Just wondering why more people don't use a tripod as a lightstand instead of an actual lightstand (talking more for outdoors)....or is that what people do and I'm just late to the game.

    I have a normal lightstand that I've used for awhile, but it is always a pain outdoors if the ground is unlevel. So...I figured out that I can use my cheapo $30 Sunpack Tripod as a lightstand.

    -The legs are adjustable for un-level ground
    -It came with 2 quick release plates. This lets me mount a straight hot shoe mount to one and a umbrella/flash mount to the other....quick and easy to change.
    -The tripod has a "crank" that will let me raise and lower the tripod/flash head by about 2 feet.
    -Not much (if any) more costly than a normal lightstand
    -Can double as a camera tripod if needed (suprisingly sturdy for the price)

    Am I just late to the game on this? Does everybody else use a tripod outdoors instead of an actual lightstand?
  2. Lurker


    Jul 21, 2007
    Decent tripod: $200
    Decent lightstand: $50
  3. NateS


    Oct 11, 2007
    Wrong. Because a decent tripod used for a flash isn't the same as a decent tripod used for a camera. If it sways a slight amount in the wind....no biggie...it won't effect exposure. You just need something sturdy that will hold up a lightweight SB-600/800 and a really lightweight umbrella (or not). This can be had for $50 easily.

    Tell me what the advantage of a $200 tripod would be (over the 50 one) for holding a flash weighing under a pound that doesn't even need to be 100% still to get perfect exposure. If there truly is a reason, I'd like to know....because i have had huge success so far with my cheapy $30-40 tripod and it's plenty sturdy for me not to worry about it falling over.
  4. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    I have used a tripod before,

    But something about trying to get it up above peoples heads that are standing creates a "tiny" problem with a tripod..... :biggrin:
  5. NateS


    Oct 11, 2007
    Ah, good point and one I hadn't thought of. Most of my outdoor flash is of my 2 1/2 foot tall 2 year old or of bugs and flowers.....so the height I had forgotten about. Of course, with my tripod having the extra 2 foot extension through it's "crank" I can still get above people's heads. It would be harder to setup though...I'll give you that.
  6. I have a $50 tripod that works well as a lightstand - I also have a lightstand, that has a much smaller footprint - so that would be one difference

    Definitely the cheapo tripods will work for lower heights just fine
  7. a.dickens


    Oct 6, 2008
    I've used a tripod for lighting things on a table because my lightstands were packed away. It worked fine. I still prefer a lightstand over a tripod.
  8. Wileec

    Wileec Guest

    I, too, would use the $50 light stand outside over the $600 tripod - for more stability and for more height. I do have a $150 tripod I got used, that is a beast (weight wise) and it would work for some of this - uneven ground and decent height, as it works to 8 or 9 feet tall, but the light stand is a lot easier to use.
  9. I use my ancient (1970's) JC Penny's tripod as light stand! And except for the height issue I have no quarrels with it. What would be nice would be to find an equally cheap (mine was $25 in late 1970's) Benbo-type 'pod; that would give more flexibility!
  10. I have a tripod thats very very sturdy and from the 70s that i use all the time. Its perfect, because like you said it has the adjustable legs and whatnot.
  11. Being somewhat of a cheapskate I'm always on the lookout for "recycling" ideas. I know that I had an old Hanimex tripod around here somewhere, unless I let my son have it. While looking I noticed a couple of projection screens I have and never use anymore, Bingo, a light stand.
    I've pulled the screen unit off and now have a nice lightweight stand that will extend to about 8 feet. All I have to do now is to adapt it for a flash head.

    Thanks for starting this thread, now I just need to find that darn tripod.
  12. ArtScott


    Jul 11, 2009
    YES IT IS NICE to have adjustable legs but as mentioned above a really good light stand is well under $100....and a good tripod is going to be over$100.....well over......

    Also i have yet to have a tripod that will raise my lights to anywhere near 10 feet and with umbrellas or softboxes and to get rid of shadows a 10' height minimum is needed to get proper positioning of strobes and modifiers alot of times.
  13. Frank R

    Frank R

    Feb 18, 2006
    Long Island NY
    I always keep a cheapo tripod in the trunk and just because it's cheap. I have used it as a tripod and as a flash stand, and also as a holder for a reflector. I have used it as a reflector holder the most.
  14. mematsu


    May 2, 2007
    los angeles
    I have a Slik mini that I like because it's less than 15" folded. It only extends to 43" but works just fine for simple cross lighting in daylight.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 2, 2009
  15. Delsorbo


    Nov 19, 2007
    only difference would be the height. cheapo et al. i had to stand the legs a bit straighter up and that reduced the stability 10 fold.
  16. Wileec

    Wileec Guest

    Yeah - it makes sense to be cheap - put a $300-400 speedlight on a cheapy tripod rather than a decent (cheaper) light stand. I see the logic . . .:confused: 
  17. NateS


    Oct 11, 2007
    Yeah...about as much sense as using a decent lightstand on unlevel ground and having it fall over with your $300-400 speedlight...:rolleyes: 
  18. Wileec

    Wileec Guest

    I'd suggest that's what those goofy things called sandbags are for. If you have any kind of wind, and are using just about any kind of modifier, then tripod or light stand, you need sandbags to protect the gear. The light stands wider base will make it easier to protect with wind.

    Clearly, there is room to use either, but most of us need more height than most tripods will provide. And in most instances, the ground is relatively level, so a lighter and cheaper light stand tends to make more sense. For me, I'm typically using my good tripod for my camera, so even with ground that's not perfectly flat, using a light stand, with some added weight works well, easiest to set up, etc.
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