Quality lighting can make or break a video production. It sets the mood, draws the viewer’s eye, and brings out the colors and textures of the scene. But placing lights exactly where you want them on a video shoot isn’t always easy. That’s where lighting booms and arms come in handy. These adjustable poles allow you to mount lights and precisely position them above or around your subject.

In this post, we’ll be spotlighting the top 5 lighting booms and arms that provide versatility, mobility, stability and reach for professional video shoots and indie productions alike. We’ll cover the key features and tradeoffs of each option so you can determine which is best suited for your lighting needs.

An Overview of Lighting Booms and Arms

First, what exactly are lighting booms and arms? As the name suggests, they are poles or arms used to boom, or position, lights on a video set. They allow lights to be mounted overhead or out of frame and adjusted to get the perfect angle on the subject.

Lighting booms have a heavy weighted base, vertical stand, horizontal arm, and movable joints. Sandbags or other weights are often added to the base for stability. The arm can be manually extended, raised or rotated to place the mounted light where desired. This adjustability makes lighting booms incredibly useful for crafting professional lighting setups.

Alternatively, lighting arms are connected to a grip head or stand via a fixed or flexible joint. They are often modular, allowing multiple extendable arms to be combined to extend the lighting even farther. Arms tend to be lighter weight than traditional booms, but less stable.

Having the right lighting boom or arm for the shoot allows cinematographers and photographers to move lights off-camera and craft lighting that looks great but doesn’t interfere with the action. Now let’s spotlight the top options available!

#1: C-Stand with Boom Arm – The Traditional Stalwart

The traditional c-stand paired with a high-quality boom arm remains one of the most popular lighting boom setups for video productions. This combo has been used for decades to provide flexible, stable overhead lighting. Here’s an overview:

The C-Stand – The “C” shape heavy-duty stand has a ponderous weight at the bottom and 3 splayed legs with wheels, allowing easy positioning, rolling, and weighting down. The vertical arm has a rotating head to angle the boom precisely.

The Boom Arm – Attaches to the stand via a horizontal pivot joint. This lets it rotate 360 degrees. The arm can telescope out several feet, with additional extensions possible. A high-quality boom will be sturdy even when fully extended.



If you need overhead lighting that can stay locked in position with heavy-duty lights, the classic c-stand with boom arm is hard to beat. It may not be as sleek and portable as other options, but it gets the job done.

#2: Telescoping Lighting Boom Pole – Extending the Reach

For productions where lights need to be extended really far horizontally, a telescoping lighting boom pole is ideal. These poles are specialized to provide maximum overhead reach from a lightweight design.

Telescoping Lighting Boom Design – The pole is segmented into multiple hollow aluminum or carbon fiber sections that slide into each other. These segments telescope outward, with the thickest segments at the base. Fully extended, the pole can reach from 16 to over 20 feet horizontally.



For indie productions on a budget, a telescoping lighting boom is great for run-and-gun shooting needing to extend lighting far. The length comes at the cost of stability however, so they aren’t suitable for heavier lights or sets requiring rigidity.

#3: Rolling Lighting Stand with Boom Arm – Mobility Focus

Having lighting that can be easily repositioned during a video shoot to follow the action can be invaluable. That’s where a rolling lighting stand with boom arm shines. The wheeled base allows the entire rig to be moved around quickly.

Rolling Lighting Stand – The base has large wheels and handles for maneuvering. The vertical stand telescopes up and down. A rotating mounting head provides flexibility.

Boom Arm – Attaches to the stand via a multi-jointed system. This allows the arm to be positioned in almost any orientation. The arm extends horizontally to suspend lights overhead.



For studio productions with smooth surfaces, the rolling base provides awesome convenience. But the wheels compromise overall stability, so it’s not ideal for locations with uneven terrain.

#4: Low Angle Lighting Boom Arm – Down Low Lighting

Getting lighting positioned at a low angle can be difficult with traditional booms focused overhead. That’s where a specialized low angle lighting boom arm comes in. This positions lights down low to the ground.

Low Angle Boom Arm – Attaches to a light stand via a ball head or flexible joint. Two articulated segments allow the arm to extend outward and downward.



The ability to safely boom lights from such low angles expands the artistic possibilities enormously. Just don’t expect to get them high in the air.

#5: Overhead Lighting Boom Arm – Specialized for Top Down

When overhead top-down lighting is paramount, a dedicated overhead lighting boom arm gives ultimate control. The specialized counterweighted design keeps the arm extended directly horizontal.

Overhead Boom Arm – Attaches to a swiveling stand via a horizontal pivot. A long horizontal arm has adjustable counterweights to prevent tilting and sagging when extended.



This specialty boom arm really only does one thing – top down lighting. But when that’s needed, its precision can’t be matched by standard booms. Just be prepared to pay more for such specific functionality.

Choosing the Right Boom/Arm for Your Lighting Needs

With the top options covered, how do you choose which is best for your production? Here are some key factors to consider:

Considering these factors will help you select the optimal boom or arm for the shoot. Having the wrong lighting supports can sabotage an otherwise great production.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lighting Booms and Arms

Let’s shed some more light on choosing the right lighting boom/arm by answering some common questions videographers have:

What are the different types of joints and how do they affect adjustability?

The joints between the stand, boom arm, and extension segments greatly affect the range of adjustment possible. Some key joint types include:

Ball Heads – Provide a ball joint for adjusting angle through a wide range in all directions.

In general, gobo heads provide the most flexible adjustment range, with ball heads close behind. Flash brackets trade off adjustability for lower cost. Consider which joint movements are most important for the desired lighting position.

What is the maximum weight capacity I should look for?

The weight rating depends on the size lights you need to mount:

Exceeding the recommended load risks equipment damage and injury. Leave a buffer if possible.

Are lighting booms and arms easy to travel with?

They break down into fairly portable components, but some are definitely more travel friendly than others:

For travel, choose options that pack down into lightweight components rather than fixed bulky stands. Soft case protection is also a must during transport.

Should I buy aluminum or steel booms/arms?

This comes down to a weight vs. strength tradeoff:



For travel and extended use, aluminum provides the best combination of strength, weight and longevity. But steel works for more budget-conscious productions.

How can I prevent boom wobble when fully extended?

When booms are extended to their maximum reach, stability decreases and wobble can occur. Some tips to reduce shake:

With careful setup and use, even budget booms and arms can deliver professional results. Proper stabilization is key to getting steady overhead lighting.

Shine On by Choosing the Right Lighting Boom or Arm

We’ve covered a lot of ground on lighting booms and arms. To recap, the five best options for professional productions are:

Consider your own needs in terms of load capacity, extension, mobility, setup time and budget. Testing options in person first is highly recommended to assess stability.

With the right lighting boom or arm for the shoot, you can position lights exactly where you need them with rock solid support. This expands the creative lighting possibilities dramatically and allows composing truly professional shots. Just be sure to choose wisely based on the lighting gear you plan to use and the scenarios you expect to encounter on set and location.

Then you can extend, position and lock the lighting in place to achieve perfect illumination every time. Have any other questions about selecting the ideal lighting boom or arms? Let us know in the comments!

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