Using a Collapsible Backdrop On Location – Product Review
Some time ago, I was contacted by B&H to do a review on Impact’s Collapsible Background (Black and White 5′ X 7′).
I love using collapsible backdrops on location as they give me some freedom with regards to choosing a background. While I prefer working with existing walls / plants / fences to crate appealing backgrounds, this is not always possible. And this is where the collapsible comes in handy.
The most common situation that I like having a collapsible backdrop in my car is when I arrive on location and find out that the room is way, way to small to have a portrait session. The other situation is when I need better control of the background than what the environment can supply.
Impact’s Collapsible Black / White backdrop
The model I used for this review is Impact’s Collapsible Black / White backdrop. The “dry” features are:
- Size: 5 x 7′ (1.5 x 2.1 m)
- One side black and one side white
- Collapses into a “disc” of 24″ (60cm) in diameter. (See through carry case included)
- Has Velcro side straps
Size and “In The Frame”
When using a backdrop which is limited in size, you need to consider your frame. This means that you – the photographer – your subject and the backdrop need to be aligned. If you are not aligned, your subject will not be fully wrapped by the backdrop.
Your ability to work in the frame that your backdrop dictates depends on three factors:
- How big is your model – Obviously bigger models (adults Vs. Kids) will work better with bigger backdrops.
- The camera to model Vs. Model to backdrop distance ratios. The closer the subject is to the backdrop, the easier your life will be.
- Is your subject still? Kids will rate great on the size parameter, but will kill you on staying still within the window that the backdrop dictates.
The Impact Collapsible size (5×7′ / 1.5×2.1m) worked great for me when doing head to medium shots and when working with kids and that I could gaffertape to the chair keep their interest so they won’t move. It worked best when doing seated head sessions. I would not use it for anything bigger or moving.
The Collapsed Disc And Disc Bag
Once collapsed, the disc goes down to a 24″ disc and can go in the carry bag. It is a tight fit. Now collapsing the backdrop takes some practice, but once you have the system in place it only takes a second (ok, 3 seconds). See the “stop motion” below for a crush collapsing course. (I am putting this image under CC license, so it can be printed and shared)
I also like the fact that the bag has a see through window. I carry more than one discs and having the window allows me to see which disc goes in which bag.
I also added a small ball-bungee to the bag’s handle – it makes it easier for me to carry it and store it hanged.
White Vs. Black
The nice thing about this backdrop is that it has two sides. A white side and a black side. This means that you can take only one disk on location. It also means that the backdrop is opaque. So you don’t need some extra “primer” backdrop to get good color.
I use the white side to get seamless white shots, and the black side to get more dramatic shots. It’s nice since I can get two different looks with the same tool.
Another nice thing is that if you can get the disc stabilized, you can use it as a flag (black) or reflector (white). As with any large sail piece of cloth the challenge will be to hold it still.
Build And Overall Impressions
Overall I was very impressed with the build quality of the backdrop. The metallic frame that surrounds the backdrop is wide and steady and fills nice in your hands.
I used it for a while and did not see any significant wrinkles, which is good. If they do appear they can be steamed off, as the backdrop is spot washable.
A great feature of the backdrop is a set of Velcro straps on the sides and top of the frame. Once you have your lightstand secured you don’t need any clamps to attach the backdrop. It is just one less thing to worry about.
Overall I was very impressed with the backdrop and found it very useful as a backup plan in my car. I like how it is compact on the travel and expands to a decent size.
Price tag is $69.99 @ B&H which I consider well invested at $35 per color.
I wonder what are your thought on this travel solution. You Likey? Tried it and happy/sad? share your experience in the comments.
Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.