The best light stand is a vital piece of equipment for anywhere you're shooting indoors, whether its a professional working studio or a home setup. So we've brought together the top models on the market, to help you find the right one.
Whenever you're using one of the best photography lighting kits or an off-camera flashgun, a light stand will come in handy. They're also good for supporting reflectors, flash diffusers and backdrops. Plus you can use them to position a ring light when vlogging to cameras, or as a more suitable support for a 360 cameras than your tripod.
In this guide we've included robust, well-made and professional light stands to suit all budgets and usage scenarios. So whether you're just starting out with a home studio lighting, or want up upgrade your existing lighting set-up, there should be something for everyone and every budget.
The best light stands in 2023
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Unless you're going for especially moody lighting, chances are you'll need at least two lights for a typical portraiture shoot, which means you'll need two light stands. Thankfully, this pair of stands costs way less than most individual supports from more established brands, yet they'll still reach a versatile 6.7' at max stretch and will each support up to 7lb/3.2kg of gear.
Don't expect advanced features like air-cushioning. But if you're just after a simple but effective pair of light stands, you can't lose at this price. Note that it's possible to buy these stands individually, but the twin pack will usually work out better value in the long run.
When you need to frequently reposition studio lighting, mounting your lights on wheels can be a huge time-saver. This premium stand from respected manufacturer Impact features three individually lockable casters mounted to its legs, which can fold up in seconds to streamline the stand for easy portability.
Max lighting load is a whopping 26.46lb, and has a height range between 42" and 8.5', you'll have no trouble getting the lighting angle you're after. However, weighing in at 12.45kg, this stand is on the heavy side, so is better suited as a studio stand rather than on location work. A larger, 11' model is also available.
One issue with regular light stands is they're not ideal if you want to cast light downward onto your subject, for things like product photography. This Manfrotto stand solves that problem by converting from a regular vertical stand into a boom arm with just a flick of a lever.
Of course, with this kind of setup you do increase the risk of overbalancing the stand when using a heavy light, but Manfrotto has though of this and includes a sandbag counterweight with the stand to keep everything stable. Also, if you stack the boom arm vertically on top of the stand base, you get a conventional vertical light stand that can reach an impressive 12.8' high.
If you want a simple, effective and versatile light stand which doesn't break the bank, then this 9.5-foot Impact stand is ideal. It'll support an impressive 22lb max load, and as the name suggests, it'll reach a towering 9.5 feet at max stretch, opening up plenty of high-angle lighting possibilities.
With its 52-inch-wide footprint it ensures decent stability even with the stand fully extended, while quipped with air cushioning means the vertical stand sections lower gently to protect your gear and your fingers. Up top is a standard 5/8" removable spigot which has 1/4"-20 and 3/8"-16 threads for maximum compatibility with various studio items.
A C-stand stand can be a more heavy-duty lighting support than the typical light stand, while also allowing for extra extended height. The horizontal leg span also making it easier to hang counterbalancing sand bags to increase stability. The downside is, while the legs will rotate to nest flat for storage, you can't get the same cylindrical folded form as a regular light stand.
This premium Matthews offering is a great example of a C-stand, with its maximum 10.5-foot height, making it extra-versatile. It also includes a grip head which allows the top section to be used as a boom arm - great for top-down lighting, or for hanging reflector panels.
Most light stands are designed for studio work, and while often strong and dependable, they can be heavy and bulky as a result. But Manfrotto's Nano stand stands out by having a ultra-portable design which can accompany you even on remote location shoots.
With a max extended height of 6.2', it can go tall enough for most lighting set-ups, yet it's party piece is that it'll pack down to an incredible 19", thanks to its 5-section design. It is made from lightweight aluminium construction which keeps the overall weight down to 2.2lb (1kg). Its max load capacity is a modest 3.31lb (1.5kg), but if you're already travelling light, this isn't a deal-breaker.
If your most essential criterion for a light stand is portability, then look no further, as this stand from Nissin, made of the latest carbon fiber materials, is one of the most lightweight and compact light stands on the market. Weighing only 815g/1.8lb and folding down to just 60cm/23.6", with twist lock extensions reaching a lofty height of 2.7m/106.3", this stand is very versatile.
Being made of sturdy carbon fiber also means it is deceptively strong, enabling it to take a weight capacity of up to 3kg/6.6lb, with 1/4” and 3/8” screw thread attachments, you can be sure it will be compatible with any of your favorite lighting solutions and accessories.
If you want to use a backdrop behind your portrait sitter, and need to light it accordingly, the last thing you want to see a big light stand and flash head in the back of shot. That's where a backlight stand comes in, as it allows you to position a light far closer to the ground than a normal light stand, so it can be hidden behind furniture or simply low enough to be out of frame.
Backlight stands are simple devices, but this particular stand is from a respected brand and is designed for great stability, while also giving you just enough room to set your desired light angle. It folds flat for compact storage and weighs a mere 2.1lb / 1kg, yet can support up to 15kg.
What is a light stand?
In photography studios, a light stand is a piece of equipment used to support and position various lighting fixtures and accessories, such as studio strobe lights, continuous lights, umbrellas, softboxes and reflectors. Light stands are an essential tool for photographers and videographers to control the direction, intensity, and quality of light in their shots.
How do light stands work?
Light stands are simple devices, similar in design to a regular camera tripod, but with smaller legs to reduce the overall footprint of the stand and therefore reduce the risk of tripping over the stand in a busy studio environment.
To compensate for the smaller legs, the centre column of a light stand is much taller than that of a typical tripod, enabling a light stand to typically reach up to 3 metres tall however, then can go even higher. This kind of height combined with relatively short legs means stability can sometimes be compromised, so light stands are best used with special weighted saddle bags filled with sand, hung over at least one leg to reduce the chance of the stand toppling over if it's supporting a heavy studio light.
How do you attach equipment to a light stand?
A light stand will usually have a 5/8" spigot on the top, which a studio light can clamp on to. Many stands can also come supplied with 3/8" and 1/4"-20 adaptors for mounting flashguns or other studio lighting equipment.
It's not just lights which can be supported by a light stand. Attach a horizontal boom arm to said light stand and you can hang reflectors, diffusers or even small background panels.
Essentially the possibilities are endless. For instance, you could combine two light stands and a large background roll, which can be hung between each stand to form a backdrop for a large group shot.
What are the main types of light stand?
Light stands typically come in three base designs. The standard, tripod-leg set-up is most common. There are also wheeled stands, which make repositioning easier, but are on the more heavier side. Finally, there's the C-stand, which uses an angled leg design for greater rigidity to reduce risk of toppling and can hold a higher load capacity, but at the expense of portability.