Master Rail

What exactly is a Master Rail Suspension System?


It’s a way to give you greater control over light placement, and do it more easily. Two or three aluminum rails are fixed to the ceiling and they run the length of your studio. Connecting these rails are traverse rails. Each traverse rail holds one light mounted to a light lift. The traverse rails slide back and forth and adjust diagonally, and the light lift slides along the traverse rail, suspending up or down.


What does it do?

  • It gives you virtually total three-dimensional freedom to move the lights
  • It means more time spent shooting and selling instead of arranging lights
  • It creates a safer shooting environment and a neater-looking studio

Here’s How to Design Your Own System

The Master Rail® System is designed to be used in studios with a minimum clear ceiling height of 10 feet.

Step 1. Decide the length and width of the area you wish to cover. You can cover your entire studio or just a portion of it. Maximum possible coverage is one foot less than the actual studio length and width.


Step 2. Choose The Fixed Rails: Master Rail® comes in standard lengths. Choose a length that will adequately cover the effective length of your studio. It is suggested that this length extend from the background wall to a point behind the camera when used at its furthest point back. Two (in some cases three) fixed rails are necessary for each installation. On one end the fixed rails must be at least one foot from the wall to allow for installing and removing traverse rails.


Step 3. Choose The Rail Supports: Ordinarily, use three supports to hang each fixed rail. For rails over 14 feet, place supports every 6 feet. For ceiling heights 13 feet and under use one AD74 rail clamp and one AD73 channel for each support. For ceiling height over 13 feet use one AD71 rail clamp and one AD73 channel, and the proper length of AD75 threaded rod for each support. Cut the threaded rod so that the fixed rails hang 12 to 13 feet from the floor. For proper spacing between the fixed rails, consult a Master Rail® planner.


Step 4. Choose the Traverse Rails: One rail is needed for each light suspended. The background lighting unit can remain on the floor, but if photographing children against scenic backgrounds, the background light should be suspended. Determine the width of area you wish to cover, and consult a Master Rail® planner to get the length of traverse rail required and the spacing between fixed rails. To support each traverse rail, two double carriers are required (or three on a three-fixed-rail system). Also order sufficient cable carriers for each traverse rail—one carrier is required for every two feet of traverse rail.


Step 5. Choose the Light Lifts: Light lifts are available in various capacities, terminating at the bottom in a 3/8-16 threaded hole. Select the light lift with a capacity greater than the weight of your lighting unit. To achieve a floating suspension, weight may be added to the lighting unit if used with the AD54 weight adapter.


The Master Rail® planners at Photogenic will gladly assist you with the layout and identification of the individual components required to construct the most efficient suspension system for your studio. Please call us at 800-682-7668 or fax your studio dimensions to 630-830-2525.