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Studio Lighting - Autopole vs. Light Stand
Old 06-27-2006, 06:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question from a studio-lighting newbie. Given a choice, do you prefer to use a light stand or an autopole, and why?

Obviously, there are plenty of situations in which a light stand will work, but use of an autopole is not a physical possibility. I can envision situations (though not as many) in which a light stand would NOT be physically-possible to use, but an autopole would work just fine.

Setting aside those scenarios, I'm asking about the situations in which either device would work fine (from the "is it possible" perspective), but you might have a preference for one or the other. I await the opportunity to absorb your knowledge.
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Re: Studio Lighting - Autopole vs. Light Stand
Old 06-27-2006, 06:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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For me the light stands are easier to move and in general more convinient. Also a little easier to set up and tear down and by far easier to use on locations. If you have a permanent studio and don't tend to move your lights much the autopole's may work fine for you. However in that situation setting the lights on ceiling rails is the real luxury.. nothing to trip over!

Good luck

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Re: Studio Lighting - Autopole vs. Light Stand
Old 06-27-2006, 07:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Do you like Ford 4 door sedans or Chevy pick up trucks? Do you drive a large family around or do you haul 'stuff' around? Both are great but they are intended for diffferent purposes. If you have a permanent studio with solid ceilings and permanent lights, ie a portrait or commercial type studio, then autopoles are great. they can be a tremendous time saver and prevent accidents caused by tripping over cords on the floor. But if you have to break down the set up after shooting or if you shoot in a variety of settings and locations, then stands are by far easier and better, not to mention a lot easier on the wallet.

Both are good, both are intended to hold lights and both do it well. I once knew an outstanding shooter who had a grid of auto poles covering all of his sutdio. In fact they were electronic and controlled by remote control, the light sere very easily and quickly adjustable. But when he went on location, which he did often, he used eparate stands. I knew another guy who had them and shot in his livingroom. His livingroom ceiling was covered by a network of the things, He's divorced now.

If the auto poles work for you, go for them, but without a permanent set up, you may well regret the added expense.
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Re: Studio Lighting - Autopole vs. Light Stand
Old 06-27-2006, 08:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Matthews C stands... preferrably black.
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Autopole vs. Light Stand
Old 07-02-2006, 10:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Each has its application. For example, putting up stands in a typical hotel room doesn't leave much manuevering room, especially if you are using them for both the background paper and the lights. The small footprint of auto-poles can make a significant difference, and let you push the background right up against the wall. Try that with lightstands...

But there's a cheap way to have both. Truckers use "load stabilizers" to hold loads in place in the big rigs. They are made of steel and not as pretty as the genuine auto-poles, but they do the same job in the same way. And they cost about 25% of what the real thing costs.

I think someone posted a link to a truck supply outfit in the past. You might check that out. A can of spray black matte and who's to know...

Also there are several types of auto-poles. I have some of the regular size poles (about 2" diameter) and some that are about an inch in diameter. The latter doesn't have a lever lock and are not quite as convenient. They have knob locks like light stands, but they do have spring loaded ends to hold them in place.

Back 10 or 15 years ago there was an outfit selling something called a timber topper. Basically it was a spring loaded metal cap that you could put over a 2X4 or 2X2 and jam against the ceiling. Did the same thing as an auto-pole but cost a tiny fraction of them since you could get cheap 8 foot 2X2's at a lumber yard. You could drill holes in the 2X2 to hang stuff off, or make them longer if necessary. But I haven't seen a timber topper for sale in years...

Someday someone is going to realize that the center column of a 10 foot light stand with a simple mod could be used as an auto-pole, and they'll make a fortune. Guess I shoulda filed a patent notice before saying that...
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Years ago. . .
Old 07-03-2006, 09:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
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We bought a heavy duty boom in an auction. Something that we'd never gotten otherwise since they are so expensive. At first it wasn't used much but over time it became the main support for a big 4 x 6 softbox main light in the studio. Like anything else this important we wonder what we'd do without it now. It doesn't travel well but then neither does that big a light.
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Re: Studio Lighting - Autopole vs. Light Stand
Old 07-03-2006, 12:22 PM   #7 (permalink)
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For backgrounds: I prefer autopoles, but also have Manfrotto light stands, huge alligator clips and even a length of parachute cord on hand for hanging muslin, canvas or paper.

For lighting (especially with large & medium softboxes) I prefer C-stands in the studio and the Avenger 635 stands on location. But I wouldn't be caught without a couple of super clamps. Autopoles work well in tight places for lights w/a super clamp & extension arm, but you have to make sure you've got a good solid ceiling. Autopoles and ceiling tiles just don't imbed me with confidence.
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Autopole vs. Light Stand - a link to the truck thingy...
Old 07-03-2006, 09:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Here's a link to an aluminum truck load stabilizer.

I think the steel ones are rather cheaper. Sure looks like an auto-pole don't it! Well, it doesn't have the round rubber feet that the auto-pole has. For the difference in price, I can live with rectangular feet.

Arghhhh... the tiny link doesn't work. So try this. Go to

http://www.globalindustrial.com/gcs/...emKey=30011565


This is just the first one that came up on a Google search for "truck load stabilizer." You may find somewhat cheaper ones...
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Re: Studio Lighting - Autopole vs. Light Stand
Old 07-03-2006, 09:45 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveB
For me the light stands are easier to move and in general more convinient. Also a little easier to set up and tear down and by far easier to use on locations. If you have a permanent studio and don't tend to move your lights much the autopole's may work fine for you. However in that situation setting the lights on ceiling rails is the real luxury.. nothing to trip over!

Good luck

SteveB
Nothing to trip over? What kind of a studio are you running? If you don't injure at least one ankle, it ain't a real studio shoot!

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