C Stand vs C+ Stand

Tl;dr - What are the differences between a c stand and a c+ stand for filmmakers? We dive into it in this article.
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What is a C-Stand?

C Stand is a piece of equipment unique to the film industry, and once you see all of the amazing things that you can do with one, you’ll see why c stands are on every single movie set.

Before we get into the difference between a c stand and a c+ stand, let’s talk about what it is in the first place.

Like most stands, a c stand has a baby pin at the top, which means it’s a stand for lights with baby pin receivers on the yoke.

Great! What makes it different than any other light stand?

The difference comes in the design of the base plus the addition of a grip head and grip arm.

The base has three curved legs that fold down flat. Because of this design, there is a tall leg and a short leg. Typically, you’ll put your sand on the tall leg, but the different heights actually mean you can scoot the short leg under low tables and other things to get it really close to certain items.

The grip head attaches to the baby spud and allows the use of an additional arm with an additional grip head at the end. The arm allows for almost endless positions of items and the grip head on the arm can hold flags, lights, branches, reflectors… just about anything you can think of.

C-stand with Grip Head and Arm
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    You may have gone to Amazon or Adorama searching for a c-stand, only to find some other strange options: the c+ stand and the turtle base stand.

    It turns out, these are the same things. A c+ stand is just a c stand with a turtle base.

    So, what is a turtle base?

    It’s the strange name that the industry has given to a c stand base that is removable. 

    So the base separates from the rest of the stand for easier packing, plus they engineered the base in such a way that it will accept a junior pin!

    Clever.

    That means that the base can become its own low junior stand, or even a low baby stand with the addition of a junior to baby adapter.

    Turtle Base C Stand

    The Biggest Pro of the Turtle Base

    By far the biggest pro of the turtle base is packability. Standard c stands are difficult to transport without specialized carts or shelves.

    I’ve had to pack c stands into the back of a car many times and roll them out stacked onto a Rock’n’roller cart. It’s terrible.

    C stand carts are a godsend. But without a truck with a ramp or a lift gate, you won’t likely be using one of those.

    That’s where the c+ stands come in. Companies like Matthews have created special cases that carry multiple stands. And they are a standard rectangular shape which is easy to roll and stack in the back of an SUV or car.

    Matthews Rolling C+ stand Case

    The Biggest Con of the Turtle Base

    The drawback of using a turtle base stand is you lose the “floating leg” of a traditional c stand that makes it so versatile and able to stand on uneven surfaces; steps, curbs and so on.

    Turtle bases essentially have 2 positions, open and closed. Thus, limiting the effectiveness of it in certain situations.

    The Benefit of a Standard C Stand

    Which is Better?

    The short answer here is that they are both awesome in different scenarios.

    There are many turtle base haters out there because they lose the “rocky mountain” functionality that is really handy for positioning stands in tricky situations.

    But, for *most* indie filmmakers, my opinion is that the ease of transport with a c+ stand outweighs the added functionality of a floating leg.

    And, there’s the added bonus that it can convert into a low-boy stand at a moments notice.

    What’s your preference? Are you a die hard c stand user or a convert to the new c+ ways? Let me know in the comments.

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    Alex Darke

    Alex Darke

    Alex is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker located in Los Angeles, who has spent the past 7 years working with the legendary broadcaster Larry King and shooting thousands of episodes of television as a camera operator and director of photography. He owns the motion picture production company Gilded Cinema and co-hosts the No-Budget Filmmaking Podcast.

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