How To Set Up and Use C-Stands

by planetMitch1 Comment

I've made a new friend… Jay P from theSlantedLens – he deals out some great advice and has a good following. 

For those of us who are noobs and may know about c-stands but really don't know the ins and outs, then this video will certainly help out.

Yea, Jay P is promoting Norm's and his own coaching class, but the content here is well worth the few minutes.

And you'll probably get a smile out of it along the way which is always good.

C-Stands: How To Set Up and Use

C-Stands: How To Set Up and Use Them

Via The Slanted Lens:

Norms C-Stands feature a unique spring loaded feature that helps control the grip head when loosening it. This makes attaching and removing objects hassle-free. Check out each of the stands I highlighted in this lesson. Use “theslantedlens” for 30% off C-Stands at Norms!

A C-Stand is probably the most important piece of equipment that you’ll have on set when it comes to stands and grip. You’ll put up your flags, you’ll put up your lights, you’ll use the C-Stand all the time. This is a great stand by Norms. I’ve got stands back there holding the seamless up that are 25 years old. These are fabulous stands. They work forever.

My favorite is their standard C-Stand. It has two risers and a head on the top. The legs nest with each other with a little lock on each one. If you unlock the stand then it will naturally want to start to roll. As you roll it, each leg will drop and lock into place. Tighten the knob again and it’s ready to go. Now it’s a regular stand.

All the principles we taught in our light stand quick tip apply here. When I set the C-Stand down, I’m going to choose my angle of view on the camera. I’ll set it with the large leg away from the angle of view and the two smaller legs split so that the angle of view passes right past them. That way the legs won’t be in my shot.


Now I have the large leg on the back. I’ll put my sandbag on that large leg. Why do we choose the large leg? Because all the weight of the sandbag falls around the leg, and all that weight is right there holding the stand down. If you put it on one of the short legs most of the weight of that sandbag is laying on the ground and it’s not holding the stand down.

The standard stand is a two riser, as I mentioned. The third knob on the very top, loosens and takes off the gobo head, or the grip head. It reveals a baby pin if you want to put lighting equipment straight onto the C-Stand, which we do a lot. It’s very useful that way.

Now when we loosen the stand we can raise it up. Always start with the top riser. If I raise it from the bottom up then I can’t reach the top one when it’s time when I need to go higher. But don’t twist this knob ten times to raise and lower the stand. I hate that. Just half a turn is all you need. Otherwise you get it up there, it’s heavy, and you’re trying to twist twist, twist. Just a half a turn, tighten. Half turn, tighten. Half turn, tighten. Very simple to do.

What makes a C-Stand so absolutely valuable? It’s the extension arm. It’s the ability to take this, get it out onto the set, and be able to get a flag out there, get a light out there onto set. To cut some light to work on set. That’s what makes it so valuable.

Now there’s an important way to set this up. If you put your weight on the right side so you’re tightening to the right, tight to the right- righty tighty lefty loosey- then you put weight on this and it just, it’s not gonna go anywhere. It’s gonna get tighter and tighter.

But if you put your weight on the other side and you tighten it, now I’m going, tightening to the left. And if I put weight on this it will just make it loose. I can’t tighten it strong enough to make it stay in place. So righty tighty lefty loosey. Always tighten towards the weight that’s out on the arm. That’s the rule.

If some Neanderthal grip gets hold of this and really wrenches it tight and your weights out there and you’re going, “I can’t get this unloose,” then just put your weight on the end back here and that’s going lefty loosey. And it loosens your stand up, makes it so you can undo it. Drop it right into place. It’s very easy.

Read full article at The Slanted Lens “C-Stands: How To Set Up and Use Them”

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)


  1. Something to consider is the finish of the stand. Given the choice, a matte black finish is desirable to avoid reflections..especially in flash photography for product shots.

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