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Where Can You Find Slik SDV-20 Tripods to Use as Lightstands?

Published: 19/04/2017

My old friend George in LA asks:

In his Lighting Interiors book, Scott Hargis advocates using Slik SDV-20 tripods for holding the flash guns, but they do not make them anymore. What is a replacement that you guys recommend?

Yes, you are right the Slik SDV-20 tripod is not in production anymore. A replacement that has the same key feature (the support tubes from the bottom of the legs to the center down tube) is the Slik U-8000 Photo/Video Mid-Size Tripod available on Amazon.

Scott recommends this type of tripod as a light stand because you can put all the legs close together so it takes up very little room so they can be put in room corners and other very tight spaces.

Larry Lohrman

5 comments on “Where Can You Find Slik SDV-20 Tripods to Use as Lightstands?”

  1. The brand name is S L I K rather than S I L K, but any tripod of a similar build will work. The Slik model heads are designed in a way that allows for modifying them to hold umbrellas. Scott or Barry have a video tutorial have a build video that lets you see how the rod of the umbrella needs to pass through the head to work properly. There are likely other ways of modifying other tripods. One thing to remember is the flash doesn't have to sit perfectly flat on the top of the tripod to be perfectly functional.

    Most big box stores have these types of tripods in stock if they sell any camera gear. (Target, Best Buy, Wally World, Kmart, Sears, etc) The plastic speedlight foot can be purchased from eBay if you didn't get one with your speedlight. Look for ones with a brass screw fitting to attach the quick release plate from the tripod head. Feet with plastic threads don't last very long. You can also purchase online but you won't be able to get a good enough look to see how easy it will be to modify.

    There is almost no way to list part numbers as these tripods are made by anonymous factories in China under a one shipment only brand name/model number much of the time. If you find one that will work, buy several. The last thing you ever want to do is put your camera on one. Why people will spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a camera package and then buy the cheapest tripod to put it on baffles me. The point of using these as light stands is that they are only holding up something weighing a few ounces and are so cheap that they are disposable (recyclable) when they inevitably get broken.

    Steve Kaeser Photography ( has a good deal on tripod bags to put these in. I just received a pair of the 42", 2 for $22, bags to store some camping cots and they are good value at around $11ea. It might be possible to stuff 4 of these small lightweight tripods in one bag.

  2. I fail to see the advantage of using these tripods over using a good quality stand with an unbrella bracket on top. Anything you can do with the Slik tripods you can do with a light stand and then some. A good, medium light stand can be had for about $30-$50 and can extend to 7-9 feet (if needed) which the low priced tripods like Slik cannot do. Plus the light stand is much more stable if you have to put an umbrella on your light.

  3. I find that lighting equipment for real estate photography takes a beating if you shoot that way - I used three cheap light stands that I got on Amazon along with some generic flash brackets (with umbrella holders). They can be had for less than $20 a set. I also used six Yongnuo 560 IV manual flash units and a Yongnuo 560-TX controller so I didn't have to move to adjust power on the individual flash modules. I also kept at least 3 Yongnuo triggers in my bag and powered everything with Panasonic Eneloop Pro rechargeable batteries. For all this gear it cost me somewhere around $500 and I used the hell out of it. I found as long as you didn't drop the flash units or triggers or slam the light stands in a door this system worked extremely well and lasted a long time.

    However, in order to shoot like that, it added about an hour minimum to each property and I got pretty quick about setting it up. You tend to get used to where the flash units work best and can buzz along quite well after some practice. It still required a little longer set up time and I found that most clients wanted me to get in and out as quickly as possible, so I went back to just shooting standard brackets. It's a trade-off. I will still provide that sort of RE photography if needed or requested.

    I find there is a triangle in real estate photography - the three Q's - Quickness, Quantity, Quality. It is hard to provide all three with consistency. Most realtors are happy if you hit two of the three, but they want to pick which two.

    Back to the subject, though. I think the cheap collapsible light stands worked great and were very easy to work with. They can be leaned in a corner and extended about 8 or 10 feet tall, too, then bounced off the ceiling and wall at the top corner of the rooms.

  4. @Larry, The tripods have the advantage that the legs can be set to fit in a very tight space without needing to lean on something. They are also incredibly inexpensive (along with cheap). They're faster to set up, but the difference isn't huge unless you are folding and unfolding stand legs a lot on a job. The quick release plate is a fast way to mount and unmount speedlights but, again, not that much faster than a typical cold shoe mount.

    I use Smith Victor stands that came in a continuous lighting kit I bought years ago. I do have to admit that it's rare for me to have a light location that I can't use the stand either with a fully spread base or stowed and leaning up against something. And, the legs do need to be spread when mounting an umbrella. I have tilting umbrella adapters that I purchased from DSLRBaby on eBay that are all metal (the round ones) with a cold shoe mount for the speedlights. The stands extend to about 8', which is useful for vaulted ceilings and I have one stand that is very short with a custom horizontal mount so I can point a speedlight straight down to a reflector. I use the short one for the space between a kitchen island and the counter many times and other similar situations.

  5. @Larry,

    To amplify Ken's response, you'd have a very hard time "hiding" a traditional light stand behind a bookshelf, or really anywhere that's close to the edge of your field of view, because of the relatively large footprint. A tripod can stand upright (under the negligible weight of a speedlight) with a footprint as small as 3 or 4 inches.

    Little and light is a pretty big factor, too, when you're working without an assistant. If I had to tote 8 traditional lightstands, even the little 8' Impact ones, into every gig I'd be kind of miserable!

    That said, if you're in the market for a "real" lightstand -- get the stackable Manfrotto AluMaster stands. stand I've ever used!

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