Every photographer knows that a background can make or break a photo and for that reason a clean, non-busy background is desirable for many photos. Having a light, portable and inexpensive system is helpful for both portraits as well as product photography and the Impact Background System Kit with 10′x12′ Black and White Muslins may fill that need for you. The kit for this quick review of how it handles has been kindly provided by B&H Photo.
1) Product Information and Specifications
a.Impact Background Support System – 12′Wide
The Impact 12′ Background Support System will support seamless paper up to 11′ in width, as well as accommodate the 12′ width of any brand of muslin background. Total weight distributed across the length of the crossbar should not exceed 20 lb.
The system consists of 2 heavy-duty professional support stands with 3 positive locking knobs and tubular legs, a sturdy 4 piece crossbar that snaps together with positive button locking devices, and a heavy-duty canvas carry bag. The stands are adjustable in height from 39″ to 10.5′ and the 4 piece crossbar can be, 6′, 9′ or 12′ in width depending upon the number of sections used providing support for paper or cloth backgrounds.
It is suggested to secure the stands with gaffer tape, or weight bags when using any background setup where there are several people, or active children on the set.
b.Impact Muslin Background – 10′x 12′(White)
Impact Muslin Background – 10′x 12′(Black)
- Machine Washable 100% Cotton
- 4′ Rod Pocket on top edge for easy hanging
c.Adjustable Clamp Company Pony Spring “A” Clamp with plastic Tips-2″ (Two)
Strong, rust-resistant and durable. This size is perfect for holding a reflector board, gathering cloth backgrounds or drapes, or securing a roll of seamless paper to its crossbar. Also known as a Pony Clamp, it features replaceable plastic end tips to avoid marring delicate finishes, and plastic handle caps for comfort.
The entire support system packs neatly and compactly into a zippered canvas bag that has individual pockets for each piece and a handle for easy carrying and portability. The Muslins come packaged in clear zippered plastic bags so that you can see the color without having to open the sleeve.
Setting up of the support system is a breeze, the crossbar snaps together with marks on the tubes to indicate alignment and then with a simple twist, the sections lock together. The air cushion stands set up easily with the height adjustment carried out by simply turning the large knobs. By unscrewing a pin at the end of each one, these stands can also be used to hold a strobe which makes them handy for more than just a background support.
The system itself is very light and compact, making it easy to both transport as well as store. When used with two crossbar sections (6 feet wide) the stand is stable and works well. A third section of crossbar makes it a little less stable but if you add the 4th section, the crossbar is now 12 feet wide and you have to watch the 20 lb weight limit. It is okay with the muslin but a large heavy roll of seamless paper could exceed the weight limit. I had no problem with a 6 foot crossbar and 48″ wide seamless paper. When using rolls of paper, the pony clamps come in very handy to prevent the paper from unrolling and when using the muslin, they can be used to gather the material.
The muslin backgrounds come out of the clear sleeves complete with many creases. Not wanting to have harsh shadows in my product shots created by the creases. I tried to iron them out. I quickly found out that it is easier said than done and by the time I ironed one end of the 10′x 12′ sheet of muslin, the other end was getting wrinkled. Photographers will give differing opinions on how to handle these wrinkles/creases. Some suggest not folding but rather stuffing the muslin into the sleeves so that the wrinkles are not uniform and possibly less deep of a crease. Others suggest allowing the muslin to hang for a period of time to minimize the wrinkles but this isn’t always feasible. Lastly, steaming the fabric and using clamps to stretch it can help.
There are only two “A” clamps that are included in this kit and so if you are using the muslin often, I would consider buying more of these inexpensive clamps to help hold the drape the way you want it.
Due to limited space, I found that for product shots, it is easiest to use paper or a light box if the item is small enough. If I want to use a muslin as a background, then you would need to separate the subject further from the background or use flashes to overexpose the background in order to eliminate the shadows caused by wrinkles in the muslin.
Overall, this is a good system offering a compact, light and affordable background system. It is quick to set up, portable, easy to use and works with both muslin or paper. The 6-9′ width crossbar (2-3 sections) works well, but it gets a bit tipsy when it is 12 feet wide.
5) Where to Buy:
The Background Support System Kit with the Black and White Muslins can be purchased at B&H Photo as a kit for $217.87 (prices as of Nov. 7, 2012)
Or if purchased separately:
- Impact Background Support System – $99.99
- Impact Muslin Background – 10′x12′ White – $58.95
- Impact Muslin Background – 10′x12′ Black – $52.95
- Adjustable Clamp Company Pony Spring “A’ Clamp with Plastic Tips 2″ – $2.99 ea.