C-Stands - A Detailed Look - By Mark Ratcliffe


The Century stand, more commonly known as the C Stand, is used both in Photography and the Film industry. It is one of the most flexible and usefully pieces of kit to have in the Studio or on location, not only used for light positioning it also has other uses, that maybe not everyone takes advantage of.

The basics of the stand.

They are heavy stands and therefor will carry larger lights easily and you can rest assured your lights will be safe and secure. There are two types available, and they have specific benefits for each.

Fixed Feet/Legs

So, these stands have fixed legs that allows the main foot to be raised so you can set up the stand on uneven ground, on a step for example, which is a big advantage. However, for transport that can be tricky, certainly not a problem when you have a reasonably sized large OPEN booted vehicle, so to alleviate that issue you can also buy the removable Foot / Leg version.

Removable Feet / Leg Version

Everything the fixed foot does, but the ability to remove the feet may well outweigh the benefit of the adjustable leg for some photographers.

Another advantage is the large, wheeled C Stand case that is available. I can get 3 Full C stands in mine, plus 2 sets of wheels.

Attaching Lights etc to the C Stand

There is a right and a wrong way to attach a boom arm and lights to the stand, do it wrong and your light will slowly slip downwards and out of position, do it correctly and your light etc will be rock solid.

So, the locking wheel on the C stand tightens to the Right / Clockwise.


So, when inserting the boom arm, the LONG length should always be to the right on the locking mechanism, so the weight of the arm and any attached light etc will only lock and tighten the boom arm in position.

Correct Boom arm fitting - The boom arm extends out to the Right following the tightening rotation.


Incorrect - You can see the boom arm extends out to the left so any downward pressure / weight will actively loosen the boom arm.


There is also a dual option for tightening the arm onto any spigot on different stands.


An Essential Accessory

One of the best accessories for the C stand, well any stand really is a Set of Wheels. Allowing the stands to be moved easily and quickly.

The wheels simply slip onto the C stand legs.


They continue the slick lines of the stand foot and have a heavy-duty rubber wheel, both good in the studio and also on rough concrete for example at a location shoot.


I specifically use them for photographing children on a large white sweep stage, letting the children roam and play anywhere on the studio set and I just pull the stand around with me shooting freely.

Exposure wise as I have the main studio illuminated and metered to read the same over a wide area, the C stand and attached Light now becomes my fill light, so exposure wise as long as I keep the light approximately the same linear distance from the children the exposure is pretty much spot on, certainly nothing a minor adjustment in LR cannot sort.

They have a quick lock and release foot operated mechanism again that lets you move and lock the stand into position anywhere in the studio area.


Word of warning, always place a protective cap on the end of the boom arm, they do stick out and sometimes at head height so a little bit of lateral thinking you can use, Tennis Balls, Squash balls or thick foam pipe lagging, just as a precaution to keep the pointy bits all wrapped up and safe.


I also use C stands for Gobo / Flag holders, the sheer height reach and super flexible positioning available with the C stand makes them perfect for this use and indeed they are used a lot in the Film Industry for this type of placement.

So, everything is attached to the grip head directly on the stand or the boom arm. You will always get TWO grip heads with each C Stand.

Simple Flag / Gobo attached to the Grip Head.



Large Gobo


Now, using the Boom arm and grip head, this allows you to position the Gobo in many positions easily .



Last, but by no means least, C Stands in use as a Tabletop Camera Rig.

I use 2 C stands and a single boom arm attached at both ends, it is more than sturdy enough to just use a single C stand and boom arm as well, this set up works perfect for a solid above table shot rig. It is such a simple and very quick set up.

So, we have the Boom Arm with the grip head with a standard spigot in it, to which I screw in a simple ball head with quick release plate and then mount the camera onto that.

Again, I have used this for simple stop motion photography.




The C stand on location


Image from the shoot


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