Today I’ll be reviewing the Kupo 40” and 20” c-stands. Before I start, I’ll summarize my main point. If you need a c-stand, I heavily recommend the Kupo c-stand. There I’ve said it. Now let’s get into the review.
The Need For A C-Stand
There are so many things that you don’t think about when you are just beginning your life in the photography. If you are like me, you start out almost exclusively shooting family and friends in natural light situations. Typically, after learning a little bit about light, you learned about posing and composition and other things like that in order to make your portraits look better. Lighting equipment is nowhere near the forefront of your thought process. Once again, if you are like me, you learn that it is possible for your portraits to be improved upon with the use of flash. This realization inevitably leads to hours and hours of research on speedlites vs. studio lights, modifiers, etc. You typically pick up some cheap seven or nine foot light stands that you can throw around, and you don’t look back for some time.
The reason that I first started learning about c-stands stemmed from the need to shoot portraits with a flash pretty much directly over the model, without the light stand in the frame. A stand with a boom arm is pretty much is the only way to accomplish this. I had an extremely light stand with a boom arm attached lying around, and used this for a while. The problem with this set up was that the stand was extremely light, and if I wanted to put a studio light on the boom arm with any kind of modifier on it, I had to use a ton of sandbags both on the base of the stand and also hang them on the backside of the boom arm.
Kupo was kind enough to send me out a c-stand in two sizes. The first was the 40” Master C-Stand w/Turtle Base Kit, and they also sent the 20” version as well. Right off the bat these c-stands made my life much easier. These particular versions came with the Kupo’s patented spring ring locking system, which that allows you to unlock or lock the legs simply by lifting the spring locking system. I found this feature to be extremely handy. It allowed me to open and close the base of the c-stand with ease. You can also completely remove the riser section for easy transportation, which can also be handy. I own a truck, so transporting these was very easy.While you should still use a sand bag as a counter balance when using a c-stand, you really don’t have to in all situations. That is because these things are built like a tank. That may discourage you from purchasing a c-stand, but remember why you wanted it in the first place: security for your lights, and safety for the people you are shooting. I was not fully prepared for how heavy they were, but after seeing how secure they were I was very happy with their weight.
The 40” version extends up to about 10 feet in height, and the 20” version goes up to about 6 feet. I was shooting hot tubs, and at one point needed to just about fully extend the taller c-stand at one point. On the arm I had a Paul C Buff Einstein 640 with an 86” PLM on it. I had two weights placed on the legs, but probably only needed one. It was extremely secure, even at that height. That feature is what will surprise you most about any c-stand from Kupo. Because of their great build quality and weight, they won’t go anywhere. I would recommend putting your weight over the tallest leg, as that will make it most secure.
Extending and lowering the height of the Kupo c-stand is very easy. They aren’t air cushioned, so you need just a bit of technique. When raising or lowering, I pinch the moving part with one hand, and raise it with the other. It glides really well when moving up and down, even with a heavy load attached to the boom arm.
Overall, the build of both c-stands are fantastic. They are by far the best stands that I have ever worked with. All parts are made of metal, even the grip heads. Because of the quality of their parts and their fantastic build, I would feel comfortable going up to their stated maximum load of 22 pounds. On a side note, I also really like the black finish, but they also come in a chrome finish if that is your prerogative.
As The Brotographer, I want to only recommend gear to you that is of the highest quality. I want to give honest reviews, and if I think that a piece of gear is not up to par, I will tell you. The Kupo c-stands are 100% worth every penny. They run about $200 depending on what base you decide to go with. As photographers, there is nothing more frustrating than purchasing a piece of equipment, only to realize that you should have bought a higher quality version. The Kupo c-stand is that higher quality version. It will last you for years; I have no doubt about that. If you are in need of a c-stand I highly recommend anything from Kupo. You can’t go wrong. They are worth every penny.
If you are a photographer who needs to boom a light out over someone without getting in the way of the camera, go out and pick up a c-stand from Kupo. You will own it for your whole career, and you will get a ton of use out of it. While light stands may not be as sexy as a new lens, I would argue that if you shoot with flash a lot, you might end up using the c-stand more than some of your other gear. I would recommend that you learn to love the weight as well, as you can’t put a price tag on the safety of a client that you are shooting.
Fun Fact: C-Stand means “century stand” because they can be used for a variety of purposes, maybe even 100.
Additional Kupo C-Stand Uses
Product photography (hanging products from the boom)
Holding a reflector
Overhead boom for video when shooting overhead