A good backdrop stand or system is a bedrock in a photographer’s arsenal to help keep the scene fresh and lively. And it’s the unsung hero in many photography studies that helps bring a creative vision to life. These stands dutifully hold seamless paper, canvas, muslin, or any other fabric steady while remaining out of the shot. And when set up correctly, they give photographers peace of mind that the background will remain stable and consistent. But, it also ensures that the background sets the proper scene, highlights the strengths of a photo, and brings it to the next level.
As such, they’re a must-needed accessory, especially for those wanting to create their very own home studios. But, there’s much variety when it comes to backdrop stands. You can find these tools in various sizes, materials, and designs. So it’s not the easiest process to determine which is best suited for the particular backgrounds and use case you have in mind. With that, we’ve compiled a detailed guide discussing the relevant factors to consider when looking at backdrop stands. And we’ll also cover the best backdrop stands on the present market.
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5 – Emart T-Shape Backdrop Set
Emart’s T-Shape Backdrop Set offers dead simplicity. It features a single aluminum stand, which expands to a maximum height of 102-inches (8.5 ft). And it connects a two-section crossbar holding 59-inch backgrounds via four spring-loaded nylon clamps. But, interestingly, you can use a single section of the crossbar to hold a collapsible reflector or flag, doubling the system with 2-on-1 functionality. But otherwise, it’s ready to hang anything from seamless paper to a lightweight muslin. And everything tucks away nicely into the including carrying bag. Overall, Emart’s T-Shape Backdrop Set is perfect for those wanting a simple kit ideal for lightweight and easy setups.
4 – MOUNTDOG Adjustable Background Kit
MOUNTDOG’s Adjustable Background Kit comes in three sizes ranging from 6.5 ft to 9.2 ft. The 6.5 ft kit, in particular, offers excellent value considering what’s included. This background stand weighs 5.8 lbs and supports a 11 lb payload. And it uses two aluminum light stands, both extending to 78-inches (6.5 ft). The stands connect to a four-section crossbar, with a maximum width of 10 ft. MOUNTDOG also includes three heavy-duty spring clamps and two sandbags to stabilize the background. And everything stores neatly into the included nylon carrying bag. Other bonuses include a 12-month warranty. Overall, MOUNTDOG’s Adjustable Background Kit is a solid option for beginners, especially those wanting to shoot outdoors.
3 – Emart Adjustable Background Kit
Emart’s Adjustable Background Kit gives beginners a professional-level multi-functional system. This kit weighs 6.7 lbs and supports a 15 lb payload. It also features two aluminum light stands, expanding to 84-inches (7 ft), connecting to a two-section crossbar that extends to 10 ft wide. Emart also includes four heavy-duty spring clamps to secure the backdrop and two sandbags to secure the stands. And everything fits neatly into the included nylon carrying bag. Other bonuses include a 12-month warranty. Overall, Emarts Adjustable Background Kit is an excellent option for beginners wanting something fully featured, affordable, and ideal for the outdoors.
2 – Westcott X-Drop
Westcott’s X-Drop brings enormous versatility while remaining affordable. This backdrop system uses a telescopic aluminum frame that locks a 5×7 ft background into place through built-in grommets. Doing so stretches the backdrop tightly, preventing wrinkles and creates a seamless appearance. Yet, it only takes up a total footprint of 20-inches, great for tight quarters. And the entire package weighs under 5 lbs. So it’s unlikely that you’ll find it a burden to shoot on location. Westcott also includes a one-year warranty and a carrying bag. Overall, Westcott’s X-Drop is the ideal option for traveling photographers wanting utmost portability. And it’s one of the most convenient systems around for this purpose.
1 – Savage Port-A-Stand
The Port-A-Stand by Savage Universal is a sturdy background stand weighing 13 lbs supporting a 25 lb payload. This kit features two aluminum stands, both expanding to 115-inches (9’ 7”). Each stand also has a large footprint of 41-inches, significantly improving their stability. Both stands also use standard ¼-20” threads to act as light stands if needed. Otherwise, they connect to a simple crossbar with twists locks to extend the backdrop. But, at its maximum setting, it extends to 127-inches (10’ 7”), easily accommodating the largest seamless paper, muslin, or cloth backgrounds available. Savage also includes a carry bag for easy storage. Overall, the Port-A-Stand is an excellent system for studio photography and a long-standing one at that.
What to Look for in Backdrop Stands:
You’ll want to consider the size of the background you plan on using and find a backdrop system that’ll accommodate. You can find backgrounds ranging from 3 ft to 10 ft in size. But each backdrop system has a set width, and the sizes of backdrops they support varies. Generally, 3 ft backgrounds are perfect for single subjects captured at three-quarters or shoulder length. In contrast, 5-7 ft backgrounds are suited for full body images for a single subject. But, of course, anything large can accommodate groups of multiple people. And the specific size here that’s best will come down to the subject matter you plan on shooting.
Another aspect to consider is portability. If you only plan on shooting indoors, this will unlikely be a deal-breaker. But for those wanting to travel with the backdrop, it’s a consideration. Typically the large 10 ft backdrops tend to be heavier, usually weighing around 15 lbs. If you plan on shooting on location, the heavier setup will make them better suited for windy conditions. But, they’ll also be more cumbersome to carry. So ideally, look for a more lightweight kit, somewhere around 10 lbs, to reduce the load and maintain enough stability. You can also opt for a single stand model weighing less than 5 lbs. But, these will likely blow around during moderate winds.
Frame Design & Stability
The design of the backdrop frame will determine how much weight it supports and its maximum payload. This design will also determine its general durability and stability, especially when used outside. Most backdrop systems use an aluminum alloy stand with three legs. But, these stands do vary in their thickness and leg wingspan, both impacting their stability. So ideally, you want a thick heavy-duty stand with a broad base, somewhere around 40-inches. But, not every manufacturer specifies this information in their listing.
Another thing to consider here is dual-stand or single-strand backdrop systems. Single-stand models use a T-shape with a horizontal crossbar along the top of the frame. Generally, these designs are best if you want something quick and easy to transport and set up. But, they’re not ideal for use outdoors, as they’ll fall over easily on uneven surfaces or from a moderate wind. Dual-stand models use two stands with a central crossbar. And this design makes them more robust and less prone to falling over. But ultimately, the design that works best here will come down to the portability you want and the material you plan on using. Light fabrics like cotton, seamless, and vinyl will work fine with a single-stand backdrop. But heavier materials like muslin or canvas will need a dual-stand.
Construction & Frame Material
You can find backdrops in various materials, which affects their stability and overall weight. But most budget frames use aluminum or composite, while higher-end models use steel. Aluminum strikes a solid midground for most users in portability and stability. And for this reason, it’s the most common option around. But, generally, a steel frame is what professional photography studios use. And it’s a must if you want a system ready to withstand decades of use.
You can also find backdrop stands that offer a wide range of expansions or widths. Most use adjustable crossbars that can expand as needed. But, not all models offer this feature. So it’s essential to consider the amount of working height and the width needed to support your background. And if you want a long-term backdrop, it’s wise to get a 10 ft option so you can attach any background available. Otherwise, consider researching the backdrops minimum and maximum height and width to confirm it meets the largest background you use.