I was finally able to take the Golf Cart Light Stand out for a little testing yesterday.  Perfect testing environment — a no-pressure model shoot on a typical summer blistery cold and windy San Francisco beach.

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Here’s a pull-back shot of me with the light stand.  Sand doesn’t quite make for an even surface, so I was able to stress the light stand at various non-level angles.

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  1. Portability — great. I was able to take it apart two sections (lightstand and softbox from the cart) very easily. The cart folds up into about 24″ x 34″ and it’s fairly light (about 11 lbs) because it’s mainly aluminum. I think it took me about 3 minutes to put it together from the car. First you expand the cart, put the camera bag on, secure the lightstand with a thumbscrew, and then secure the softbox with a thumbscrew.
  2. Manueverability — The cart, when the wheels are extended all the way out, is slightly narrower than a width of a standard doorway, so I had to be careful going through doorways as I pushed it out from my house, but there was no problem fitting through them. On the beach, I had expected the wheels to skid or dig into the sand, but they rolled along fine. As with anything in the sand, you do still have to fight it when pulling and forget pushing. I’m guessing I had about 35 lbs, including the cart. That said, on flat ground, it was a piece of cake to push and turn.
  3. Stairs — I didn’t expect stairs that I needed to go down to the beach, but it was a good test. I had someone help me going down, but I was able to pull it up one step at a time without any problems. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure I could have pushed it down one step at a time without any problems. It helps to make sure the lightstand is contracted all the way to keep the center of gravity towards the middle.
  4. Stability — the wind was kicking up quite a bit, and the softbox swayed, but the cart did very well. There was one time that I had the cart sitting slightly at a sideway angle and had to catch it when the wind caught it, but that was more my fault for not keeping the cart more level. Other than that, the weight of my gear bag was good enough to keep it steady. So my advice here would be to make sure the softbox is at the center of gravity as much as possible, especially when it’s extended up.
  5. Practicality — Throughout the shoot, everything except my camera was on me as you can see in the photo above. Everything else was in my camera bag which was acting as a sandbag. I was also carrying a 8 lb. tripod (with head) on the cart as well (you can see it strapped to the shaft of the cart in the photo above), so imagine having to carry around lightstand, tripod, camera, camera bag, and sandbag around separately a pretty large beach. I didn’t have to do multiple trips to the car and I really didn’t need any help. I do find it easier to push it around in the wind when I contracted the lightstand to keep the center of gravity low, especially on sand. But I didn’t find it to be a hassle at all doing that. Once I got home, I took the cart and hosed down the wheels, and everything looks as good as new!

Here’s the last shot of the day using the light stand…

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