This is a review of the Impact Master Century C Stand Kit, used for holding studio lights, softboxes, flags, bounce cards and other accessories. Unlike the multiboom light stand that can only hold light reflectors and cardboard flags, C-stands are almost entirely made of metal and are designed to be very tough and sturdy, capable of holding fairly heavy equipment. The shortened term “C-Stand”, which means “Century Stand”, comes from the early days of motion picture production. Back then, filmmakers heavily relied on reflectors to light actors. The most popular one was the 100 inch or “century” sized reflector, so the stand that held this reflector was often referred to as “century stand”.
The Impact Master Century C Stand Kit is comprised of three parts – a nested/collapsible tripod base (also known as a “turtle base”) with a lock system, a riser and a 42″ arm (also known as a “gobo” arm) with a 2.5″ grip head. The stand is made of metal and is chrome finished, with excellent weather protection. The arm and head are detachable from the stand, allowing them to be used with the other stands. Below you will find detailed product specifications.
1) Product Specifications
- Minimum Height: 4.75′ (1.5 m)
- Maximum Height: 10.75′ (3.3m)
- Closed Length: 4.75′ (1.5 m)
- Footprint Diameter: 37″ (94 cm)
- Weight: 23 lbs (10.4 kg)
- Maximum Load: 22 lbs (10 kg) as a stand
- Attachment Size: 5/8″ male stud
- Accepts Wheels: No
- Air Cushioned: No
2) Assembly and Use
Assembling and disassembling the C-Stand is super easy, after-all, that’s why it is so popular. The unit is shipped in three separate parts, so to assemble the unit all you need to do is insert the riser into the tripod base, then slide the arm through the riser clamp and tighten it. The base locking mechanism for the legs is very nice and easy to work with. Just lift the piece of metal towards the direction of the arrows and you can easily expand or collapse the legs:
Once locked, the legs stay in place and do not move at all.
Most studio lights are compatible with the arm, so you should not need to buy separate adapters for the C-Stand. If you plan on using an umbrella with this stand, consider getting the Manfrotto Umbrella Adapter that fits the end of the arm perfectly. Here is how the Elinchrom Ranger RX attaches to the arm:
The Impact Master Century C-Stand is sturdy enough to hold a heavy studio light with a large softbox. Here is a 39″ Rotalux softbox mounted on the head:
The setup is quite stable, although just to be sure, I tend to point one of the feet on the C-Stand towards the direction of the arm. That way there is almost no possibility for the arm to cause the C-Stand to fall (when it gets to heavy). If you shoot outdoors in a windy environment or if you want to add a lot more stability to the setup, you can put some sandbags on the C-Stand legs.
3) Sample portraits with the C-Stand in use
I have been using the Impact C-Stand quite often in studio and outdoor environments when using the big Elinchrom lights. While I have used regular stands for these types of lights in the past, I really prefer the versatility and the stability of the Impact C-Stand. With a traditional stand, the only direction you can freely use is up. Pointing your light down is limited to the size and shape of your light modifier. With softboxes and octabanks, you can only go so far until the back of the modifier starts touching the stand. Being able to angle and move the lights in pretty much any direction is a huge bonus with the C-Stand. You could even have a softbox directly over your subject if you wanted to – something that cannot be done with a typical light stand.
Here is a sample image with a large softbox mounted on the C-Stand to the left of the subject:
And here is another one with the softbox almost directly over my head:
I am very pleased with the Impact Master Century C-Stand kit. It is a heavy-duty and sturdy piece of equipment that every serious photographer should have in his/her arsenal, especially when working with big lights. Best of all, it is cheaper than most other similar high-quality C-Stands you can find on the market. Priced at $128.95, it is ~$50 cheaper than the Avenger A2030D and ~$40 cheaper than the Matthews Century C+.
The only downside of the Impact C-Stand is its heavy weight – at 23 pounds without anything mounted on it, the C-Stand is not something you can easily move around with. While this may not be a big deal in a studio environment, it can certainly be painful for outdoors work, especially when the setup needs to be moved quite often. At the same time, the added weight certainly adds its share to the stability of the stand…