I have found a cool new gadget called StandDaddy that is easy to transport, easy to set up, lets you easily move your stands, and works great as a stabilizer for both light stands and tripods. Have you ever tried shooting outside on a breezy or windy day and had the wind catch your modifier and knock over your light stand? If it hasn’t happened to you – it will. Most people use sandbags, or bags that hold weights, while others use some DIY remedies that really aren’t convenient.
Light modifiers like umbrellas or parabolic reflectors or beauty dishes weren’t really designed with outdoor shooting in mind. We’ve all seen what happens to an umbrella in the wind – add a light stand and an expensive speedlight or monolight with a battery pack and you have a recipe for disaster.
For decades the standard solution has been sandbags draped over the legs of a light stand. More recently, similar bags have emerged that let you add weights, but like the sandbags, these tend to place the weight near the center and don’t really offer much counterbalance. Plus they are awkward and bulky to transport to your location shoot.
A quick Google search shows some solutions that include tying your camera bag to the lightstand with parachute cord… which is great, until you want to move the stand. Another popular one requires tent stakes and rope, which is wonderful if you like camping, have lots of extra time to run the rope, and don’t want to move your stands once you have set them up.
I was recently contacted by a fellow photographer in California who had a cool little gadget that he designed and named StandDaddy, and I wanted to share it with you.
StandDaddy’s creator Pat Green calls it an affordable tripod stabilizer system, and I would have to agree.
This is a StandDaddy. It’s a simple unbreakable collar that uses inexpensive barbell weights to stabilize your light stands or tripods.
Let’s take a second and talk about light stands…. It really does matter what kind of light stand you buy. And that depends on how you intend to use them and how heavy the gear is that you are going to mount on the stand.
The two primary types of light stands are C-stands, which is short for Century stands or tripod stands.
C-stands are the industry standard in the movie and television world and also the high-end commercial photography world. They are bigger, heavier and indeed more expensive than other stands.
C-stands are built to take a beating and pretty much last forever, which means if you have a chance to pick up a set used, you rarely have to worry about their working condition.
C-stands sit low to the ground so they have a low center of gravity. Between the weight of the stand and the low center of gravity, a simple sandbag will generally prevent the c-stand from toppling with a big modifier on it in windy conditions.
On the more expensive end, you can purchase C-stands with removable legs so that you can adjust the risers to get the exact height that you need. C-stands with wheels are also available for studio use.
Tripod stands are more commonly used among photographers because there is more variety in size, features and price points. You can get a heavier stand like this LumoPro that extends to 10’ tall and is designed to handle up to 8.5lbs. To give you a point of reference, this Digibee DB800 is 2.9lbs and this 5’ Photoflex OctoDome is 4lbs which means this stand below is adequate to handle this setup.
By comparison, this 10’ Photogenic Air Cushioned stand begins to flex with the 7lbs of gear mounted on it.
So the moral is: the most important question for you to ask before you buy a light stand is how much weight it is designed to safely support, and the most important question for you to be able to answer before you buy that stand is how much does the gear that you want to put on the stand weigh? After that you look for the solution that meets your needs.
For instance, if you want to shoot on location with speedlights, a travel stand like this 7′.5″ foot LumoPro Compact Light Stand is excellent for handling a speedlight and small to medium-sized modifier on location.
In short, know your weights and your needs before you buy your stands otherwise you are going to be wasting your money. So don’t cheap out and buy stands that don’t properly support your gear.
Back to the StandDaddy
The StandDaddy has a one inch hole that will accommodate most light stands. and it supports any standard barbell exercise weight plate also with a one inch hole. It is made with an industrial grade composite material that renders it virtually unbreakable with normal use and it comes with a lifetime warranty for a full replacement if you break it.
Two and a half to five pound weights are more than adequate in most cases. You can see below that I used 10 pound weights to anchor this 60” umbrella with three speedlights and, honestly, that was overkill.
You don’t need tools to use it. You can just hand-tighten it.
Simply slide your weight over the leg of your stand and slide the StandDaddy on and tighten the thumbscrew.
There is no need to over-tighten the screw and the screw won’t damage or dent your stands – even the cheap ones.
Each StandDaddy collar is less than 10 dollars and you can save money by buying in sets of four or eight.
Great Photography is about great problem solving
These StandDaddys aren’t just for light stands. They make great stabilizers for tripods, too. You can mount them on the legs or the center column. Plus, they are great for boom arm weights. You can use them to balance a video crane or slider as well.
StandDaddy has also just released the StandDaddy Large which has a 2 inch center for bigger stands and tripods.
A little bonus feature is the StandDaddy Carry Handle that lets you carry several weights and the StandDaddy Collars. These handles sell for less than $20.00
Bottom line: don’t let your light stand blow away! EVER! Make sure you have a way to anchor your gear. You know that I am all about DIY projects, but for my money the StandDaddy is an elegant and simple solution to secure my stands, and with the handle, it’s an easy way to transport weights on location.
I hope you find this helpful. Until next time, go pick up that camera and shoot something because your BEST shot is your NEXT shot! So keep learning, keep thinking, keep shooting.