I have tripped and bumped my way through a lot of shooting locations; the act of repositioning the speedlights on stands with modifiers, while not the biggest challenge of any photo session, was an annoyance I didn’t like. Between the umbrella, open or not, and the open legs of an 8ft light stand I have said ‘Excuse me’; Pardon me’ a hundred times.
Indoors; the knocking around furniture, people and doorways is a headache. Outdoors; moving through people, parked cars, shrubs, trees and rocks presents its own challenges. The act of closing the umbrellas and legs every time I want to reposition the lights is both time consuming and then reversing the process at the new position can a bit unprofessional looking. Sometimes while balancing my camera gear too. I’m not as graceful as I used to be.
I’ve been doing the strobist thing for a couple of years and am always looking for a better more efficient way to get the job done. I was shown a Kwik Stand about a year ago by a studio photographer and liked the idea, but soon found out the Kwik Stand Company had gone out of business. Over the past year two companies have come to market with their versions of the folding leg light stand: Denny EZ Stand and Cheetah Stand. I have tried both and chose the Cheetah Stand for several reasons:
There is no real comparison if you take the time to see the differences. The all metal construction of the Cheetah with its slim solid metal legs and rubber rib-footed feet beats out the thin walled tubular legs of the EZ Stand with its flat smooth plastic ones. The EZ Stand feet appear larger but only one edge actually contacts the floor and it slides easily on smooth shiny floors. Maybe it’s a feature and not a flaw; in any case I didn’t care for it.
The legs of both extend on contact with the ground but the EZ Stand does not compress back to its body as closely the Cheetah. Not a huge deal but depending on the space, think church pews, you’re navigating – it just might. The all metal locking clamps and thumb wings of the Cheetah appear to be better suited to hold up over time with field use.
My copy of the EZ Stand did not smoothly extend or compress, the bottom (largest) pole section was very stiff in fact. It’s supposed to be an air cushion stand, why I’m not sure for such a small stand, which may be the reason for the gummed up feel. Fully extended, the EZ Stand is about an inch taller. The tubes are not internally secured (more on this in a minute). The Cheetah on the other hand is quick and smooth without being a hazard to your equipment with common sense and normal equipment care.
In field use neither stand met all my needs. Because of the inherent design required for this type of stand, the center post must extend down to within an inch or so of the surface. This is only a problem, for me anyway, when shooting on very rough uneven terrain like a rocky ledge near Lake Grapevine.(Let me add that neither stand was designed nor intended, as far as I know, to be use exactly the way I describe here.) But this is how I found out that the EZ Stand’s main extension tubes are not internally secured.
During a two speedlight shoot, one Cheetah and one EZ stand, I was unable place the opened legs of either stand on the uneven rocky ground. So, in my get the job done mode, I placed (gently wedged/balanced) the stands in-between some rocks. Worked like a charm; got the pictures; time to move on. When I reached out to grab the EZ Stand by the middle tube, balanced upon another rock, to lift it out of the crevice I had half a light stand in my hand. I did not jerk or twist it; it just ‘plop’ came apart. Ten minutes later I moved on with two complete stands. Good news, the tube went back in as easily as it came out.
Now here is a completely mox nix point I noticed, the EZ Stand could be used as a wind chime with all the hollow metal racket it makes when you walk around with it.
So the Cheetah Stand works for me, I now have four of them and they go where I go. Quite, reliable and built to last.