Project 1

C Stand Model 1
- Galvanized pipe, top to bottom
By Ed Baumgarten
  C Stands or Century Stands are a staple of just about any photo studio. These heavy duty light stands are more stable and able to support more weight than the usual tripod type light stand. Of course, this also means that they cost much more than light weight tripod type light stands. The following project explains how to make your own C Stand like light stands from common plumbing parts found at your home center for a fraction of the cost of buying commercially made C-Stands.

The C-Stands as described below have some limitations. If you can live with the limitations as listed below, then these stands might be just the ticket for you.

This is the first model of DIY C-Stand that we'll present here on DIY Photo Gear. Others will follow, but this one is the most like commercial units.
The Cons:
Number one
-they're not very portable. As described, they don't fold like most light stands and as such, they're best used in a permanent studio.
Number two-they're not quite as adjustable as most C-Stands. Although you can put longer upper stems in them for added height, there's a certain point where they're just plain going to become unstable and the usable range of height might limit you in some setups. (the maximum height you can use in your studio is of course determined by your ceiling height , minus 1/2 the distance of any soft box you might hang on the stand.) I've found that an adjustment of a couple feet is the most that I ever move my commercial c-stands anyway when used in a lower ceiling studio (10' max.)
Number three-They're not the prettiest things in the world. If you're worried that light stands made from plumbing parts might turn your clients off, you're probably better off not making these. I have found that you can paint them flat black, wrap the whole thing in insulating pipe wrap or other covering and no body will ever know they're made of plumbing fittings. Even if you don't use these as your primary stands 'out front', they make great 'backdrop' stands and extra light stands for holding flags, gobos and reflectors.

The benefit - cost. Even on eBay, the cheapest I've seen a c-stand go for is $35.00 or so (which is a steal if you can get them for that) but they're so heavy that you're going to pay an additional $35.00 or so to get it shipped. At $70.00, that's still a great deal on a c-stand as most pro studio retailers sell them from $125.00 to $200.00 plus shipping and even the cheapest buy it now on eBay adds up to $105.00. But what if you could build one for $30.00 (or less if you've already got some of the parts)??? You could certainly build several for the cost of just one from the retailers.

Read all the way through the article before you go out and buy this stuff. Also, be sure to read the 'Mods' section on the last page if you 're looking to save even more money before shopping for parts.

The disclaimer:
If you make these light stands and overload them and a strobe comes crashing down on somebody's noggin', don't call me...... If you're confident that you can construct and use these things like a reasonable adult and are willing to absorb any risk yourself, read on...........

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