Manfrotto 1051BAC Mini Air Cushioned Light Stand Review – Over Engineered and Under Developed


At myself, but also at the idiots who review things. Mostly at myself though.

I was going to call this post ‘Don’t Believe The Hype 2: aka Don’t Assume.’ It’s also a fairly comprehensive review, cos that’s what I needed. What I didn’t need was idiots going “Great stand”. Lot’s of photos below too, cos I reckon it helps.

Anyway, I just bought two of these. Online, so that makes returning them a hassle. Also, I’m going overseas soon, and I need two more light stands. So I don’t have much free time and this also makes returning them a hassle.

Earlier in the year I bought a Manfrotto 1052, on account I had read the foot print was quite large, and that’s what I was looking for. Unfortunately, it was’t really what I needed, and I ended up with something too big. I never thought about it’s compacted height, and ended up with something I have to strap on the outside of my bag, rather than put inside.* This also means I can’t pack it for international travel unless I make up another box to put it in – pain! Also, while the large footprint is great outdoors, it’s a little too big indoors.** Still, I figured, I’ll use it. And I do.

So, when I needed two new stands, I decided on the smaller 1051 model. I checked the compacted height this time – great, basically the same as an 8 ft LumoPro air cushioned stand, so will fit in the bag I check in for flights. Also, they have that space saving stackable goodness. Great, right?

Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

I didn’t check the actual size of the footprint.* Turns out it’s so tiny it actually looks wrong. These things tip over so fecking easily, it is ridiculous.

Solution – sandbags? Nope. First, you need to constantly move light stands a few centimetres this way or that, to get the perfect fall of light, so sandbags are a pain. Second, my presumably standard sized sandbags don’t work, cos the stands’ legs are too short / steep. In one direction, the stand falls half way over before it catches, not really a solution. In the other direction, is slips out completely and falls all the way over, not a solution at all. See the photos below.

Part of the problem here is that Manfrotto uses really large clamps to secure the extended tubes. These take up a huge amount of space, and mean the legs are forced to be relatively short. You can see this in the photos below.

Stackable goodness? Well yes, the system works really well. It’s clearly a carefully designed well engineered effortless marvel. Great. Except, while the design does mean they fold down space savingly thin, it also means they fold down space consumingly wide. Also, as you can see below, they’re not all that thin anyway.

There’s a whole bunch of photos below, where you can see the problems. The first softbox shown is a relatively small 60x60cm / 24 inch one, and the second is slightly larger at 80x80cm / 32 inches. In other words, neither is very big.

The other stand is an 8ft LumoPro air cushioned stand, which I think is really great. Works a treat, and has a decent footprint. It’s actually more stable in the worst set up position than the Manfrotto in its most stable set up position (weight hanging between legs vs. over leading leg).

In the photos – standing, the LumoPro is always to the right of the 1051, while lying down, it’s to the left. The last photo of them standing also has the 1052 on the right. Also, in the standing & comparing shots, while it’s not obvious, the centre tubes are all over the same line on the floor & thus the footprints can be compared with confidence. Bear in mind too, the 1051 and the LumoPro are essentially the same length when collapsed (the 1051 is 2 cm longer with the ‘Baby 5/8″ top’ fitted or 3mm shorter without), yet the LumoPro has a max. height of advantage of 13 inches / 34cm (8ft / 2.44m vs. 6.9 ft / 2.1m).

It’s “Would I recommend this product to a friend” time: Nope, nope and nope.

Over engineered and under developed.

If you live in the US, or somewhere else where the shipping makes no odds, get the 8 ft LumoPro Air Cushioned stand from Midwest Photo Exchange. It’s better, and around half the price.

_DSF5903  _DSF5904  _DSF5906 _DSF5907 _DSF5911 _DSF5913_DSF5915 _DSF5918 _DSF5919  _DSF5921 _DSF5924

* Grrr at myself

** see my previous post where I talk about the cramped conditions in Japan.


2 thoughts on “Manfrotto 1051BAC Mini Air Cushioned Light Stand Review – Over Engineered and Under Developed

  1. Hi, thank you for this wonderful and thorough review. I am also planning a trip requiring me to bring a number of lightstand for a photo shoot. I had planned to get the manfrotto 1051 but your review has helped me changed my mind and go for the lumopro instead.


    • Hi there. Yes, just about two days ago I found myself wishing I had more of the Lumopro air cushion stands. They’re great and also great value for money. Kinda, not too much and not too little in terms of their engineering / weight / strength / etc.


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