Tech

Product review: Think Tank Stand Manager 52

November 2019 issue

Product review: Think Tank Stand Manager 52

Think Tank Photo’s mission is to prepare photographers to be ready before the moment. As an owner of eight Think Tank rolling cases, two backpacks, and a shoulder bag or two, I can attest that its products work reliably in the real world of location photography. And its customer service is outstanding, including its ability to provide replacement parts if something eventually wears out.

Internal straps hold stands firmly in place, and exterior compression straps collapse the case to the minimum size it needs to be. A deep pocket on the inside of the top cover protects umbrellas.
© Courtesy Think Tank
Internal straps hold stands firmly in place, and exterior compression straps collapse the case to the minimum size it needs to be. A deep pocket on the inside of the top cover protects umbrellas.

In recent years Think Tank has begun offering larger cases. The Logistics, Production, Stand, and Video Tripod Manager cases are large-capacity, heavy-duty rolling cases designed to protect large pieces of equipment traveling by air or road. I use the Logistics Manager 30 for lights and the Production Manager 40 and 50 for stands, modifiers, and extension cords. I’ve encountered only one problem with the Production Manager 50: It can hold so much gear that it’s hard for one person to pick up. Enter the Stand Manager 52 to address this problem.

The Stand Manager 52 is two inches longer than the Production Manager 50, but it’s narrower and shallower. Different from other Manager cases, its rigid walls extend just halfway up the sides, so the soft-sided top half can be expanded or compressed to fit the amount of gear stuffed into it. Its maximum interior is 12x52x7.5 inches, and its 7.5-inch depth can be compressed to 4 inches. It doesn’t come with the generous set of movable internal dividers included with many other Think Tank rolling cases, making the empty weight about 8 pounds lighter than an empty Production Manager 50. Fully loaded, it can hold up to four turtle base C-stands plus an Avenger or Matthews Studio Equipment Mini-Boom (a full-length C-stand column with a grip head welded to the lowest collar and a hook for ballast on the rear end), a couple of modifiers, a tripod, and a sandbag or two.

It shares several attributes with the rest of the Think Tank rolling case series, such as a sturdy, water-repellent shell of black 1680D ballistic cloth, a silver-colored nylon interior to make little things easy to find when they get loose, large and easy-to-clean and -replace wheels, robust abrasion-resistant lockable zippers, skid rails the full length of the back, and an oversized heavy-duty bottom plate for easing over curbs. Where it differs is its structure, its side compression, and heavy straps that can be joined together to form a lifting handle. Between the outer ballistic cloth shell and the inner liner, two layers of ABS plastic with a honeycombed core create a protective shell. End and top panels are similarly reinforced.

The shock-absorbing design of the oversized wheels allow them to roll over bumpy surfaces and door thresholds. Once the case is filled and upright, it rolls easily even on gravel and grass. Because the case is much taller than it is deep, be careful to distribute more weight to the bottom so it doesn’t keel over when standing on its own.

The Stand Manager 52 is especially useful for simple one- or two-light portrait shoots. I load it with a 15-pound sandbag, a 40-inch C-stand, a couple smaller and lighter weight stands, a 46-inch white umbrella, a 28-inch deep parabolic soft box, and my tripods.

At $279, the Stand Manager 52 costs less than half of the Production Manager 50.  

Ellis Vener is contributing editor for Professional Photographer. 

Tags: camera bags & cases

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