Sandbags 101 – types of sandbags and how to use them properly

Mar 8, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Sandbags 101 – types of sandbags and how to use them properly

Mar 8, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Whenever you are using heavy gear on your set, you risk the stands tipping over and causing damage. This is certainly something you want to avoid, and this is why you should use sandbags. Some photographers and videographers don’t use it, and some do – but in a wrong way. In this video, Jay P. Morgan tells you all you should know about sandbags – different types you can get, what they are for and how to use them properly.

There are roughly four types of sandbags, and they differ in handle placement, weight, and filling. The weight depends on the manufacturer, but Jay typically uses those weighing 25 and 35 pounds.

The handle can be placed in different ways. It can be attached at the middle or on the sides of a sandbag. Typically, it’s easier to remove the bag that has handles on the sides, as the weight is distributed much better when you lift it.

Other than sandbags, there are also shot bags, filled with led shots instead of sand. They weight the same as lightweight sandbags, but come in a small and compact package. If you don’t want to deal with bulky sandbags, then a shot bag might be a good solution. You can use it on a boom or attach it to a tripod’s hook. It’s also good if there’s no tripod and you need to place your camera on something. All in all, shot bags are versatile and pretty worthwhile.

You can also get a sandbag you can fill on your own. Jay suggests the Rocksteady Bag by PhotoFlex, which has zipper pockets in it. It’s great for traveling and shooting on location, as you get to fill it only for the shoot. You can take some water bottles and place them inside (or some rocks or gravel, I guess). This creates a sandbag you can use on location, and you can empty it when you’re done so you don’t carry an extra load.

Proper use of sandbags

Sandbags don’t have much purpose if you don’t use them properly. Many people use the sandbags in a way that’s not really efficient, so Jay gives some tips on using them the right way.

Normal light stand

People often just place the sandbag on the outside of the light stand leg. This doesn’t make the light stand stable as it should because the sandbag can easily slide off and leave the tripod unstable again. The right way to do it is by placing the sandbag inside the leg. This way it can’t slip off and it will keep the stand stabilized.

Wrong
Right

C-stand

As for the C-stand, people often put the sandbag on the bottom leg. However, this puts most of the weight on the ground, and not on the stand. This means, if the C-stand starts falling over, there will be some time before the sandbag gets engaged. The proper way to secure the C-stand is to put the sandbag on the highest leg. This way all the weight of the sandbag is pressing the stand, and not the ground.

Wrong
Right

The last piece of advice – the sandbag should always be away from anything you put on a stand, as this is the only way to counteract the weight and prevent the stand from tipping over.

I hope you found these tips useful and that you will apply them to your sets. Tell us in the comments, do you have any extra tips for using sandbags?

[Studio Equipment- Sandbags Quick Tip | Jay P. Morgan]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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2 responses to “Sandbags 101 – types of sandbags and how to use them properly”

  1. Doug Sundseth Avatar
    Doug Sundseth

    When using my tripod extension to run my camera over a table for a straight-down shot, I typically hang a sandbag from the tripod. On my tripod, the most convenient place is one of the leg release catches at the top of the legs.

  2. Jake Avatar
    Jake

    …the idea of using a sandbag is to lower the centre of gravity, not to build a dike! Thankfully Jay teach many out there something any first year film, television or photography college student learns…