Backdrop Stands Buying Guide: Different Setups and Review
Published 23rd July 2020
You probably know that having a backdrop can make a massive difference to your photography and videography, but did you know there are different backdrop stand options and setups?
Backdrop stands are essential for photographers or filmmakers and can be used in a studio or on location. They allow you to put up a clean, seamless backdrop such as cotton muslin or paper rolls safely.
This buying guide aims to make it easy to find out about backdrop stand setups, and also how to set up a backdrop stand. So, read on to find out about all things backdrop!
Pop-Up Collapsible Backdrops
Pop-up backdrop stands are great for using if you don’t have a great deal of space. They are basically a light stand tripod with a clamp or peg at the top so you can mount a collapsible backdrop. These backdrops come in different sizes and can be as big as 1.5 metres x 2.1 metres. This makes them very light and portable, so are ideal for use on location.
Setting up pop-up backdrop stands is simple. You put the stand up to the height you want, and there’s a big clamp that mounts directly to the top of the stand. You can move the position of the spigot to be at the top position, and then mount the head clamp and tighten it up with the thumb screw. You can also tilt the head so you can change the angle of the backdrop once it’s clamped on.
Pop-up backdrop stands are around 2.6 metres high, and that lets you mount large collapsible backdrops. It’s nice and easy, and perfect for quick setup on location.
T-Stand Backdrop Stand
T-stand backdrop stands are made of a light stand with a crossbar that mounts on the top to form the shape of a ‘T’. It comes with a carry bag, and inside is the stand and the crossbar which is in three parts. You connect the crossbar pieces together, and that lets you have the crossbar at the top where you can mount the backdrop using pegs or clamps.
This is a great backdrop option to go with if you just work with small paper sheets, light cotton muslins, or diffuser sheets. T-stands are also very lightweight and portable, so again, are a great option for use on location or in a studio.
4KG Standard-Duty Backdrop Stand
The next step up from the lightweight backdrop stands is the 4KG backdrop stand, and that’s a standard duty stand that can take cotton muslins or half-length paper rolls. The half-length rolls are only about three kilos or so, which makes them a good choice for the four kilo stands.
This backdrop comes in a carry bag and is essentially two tripod legs that are placed at each side, and four segments of the crossbar for the top. The crossbars connect together, and you mount the bar to the tripod legs. The crossbar has screw threads that mount straight on to the stands and to lock the crossbar into position you simply screw down the wing nut.
This is a fairly lightweight stand too, and is great for use in the studio or location. You can stabilize these stands further by using some sandbags at the bottom, and you can use backdrop pegs to pull the backdrop taut between both sides of the stand to give a smooth, uniform look.
8KG Heavy-Duty Backdrop Stand
The 8KG load backdrop stand is the big brother to the 4KG, and you can mount full-length paper rolls on it that weigh around six kilos. You can use cotton muslin backdrops, vinyl backdrops, or other types of backdrop with this stand.
It comes in a bag like the others, but is heavier to carry around. You can still use it on location, though, as well as in the studio - it’ll help you tone up your arms!
It’s good if you want a permanent backdrop set up, and you can simply store it away when you’re not using it. It goes together much like the 4KG stand, so setup is simple.
Double C-Stands Backdrop Stand
The Double C-Stands backdrop stand is the big daddy! This setup can take up to 20KG and is made up of two C-stands or lighting stands and their relevant boom arms. The boom arms are put out straight to each other so they meet in the middle. You can insert each boom arm in your backdrop to hold it up, especially paper backdrop rolls that have a hollow tube in them. You just slide them in and you’re ready to go.
This is a great way to use lighting stands you may already have that have a boom arm.
Telescopic Background Stand
The telescopic background stand is becoming ever-more popular and it’s a great way to set up your trade show displays. It has two crossbars - one at the top and one at the bottom, and it has side legs. These stands are telescopic, which means that you can adjust the length of the actual crossbars. You can use C-stands with the telescopic backdrop crossbars.
These are great to use for paper backdrops, cotton muslins, or trade show displays. If you have a backdrop printed for your trade show or exhibition, then these stands are a great way to display it.
General Setup of Most Backdrop Stands
Here’s a quick rundown of how to set up most backdrop stands (including the T-stand, 4KG, and 8KG stands).
Open the tripod legs by grabbing two of them and expanding them slightly. Push down on the center column, and that expands the legs out even more. The wider the legs, the more stable the backdrop stand will be. You then need to tighten the screws to ensure the legs are locked tight.
Extend the segments of the vertical pole on the tripod until both legs are at the same height (for the 4KG and 8KG backdrops - the T-stand only has one set of tripod legs). Once they’re even, undo the wing nuts on the top and remove them, along with the washers.
To set the crossbars up, there’s usually three segments for the T-stands, and four segments for the 4KG and 8KG stands. The ends have larger holes in the top and bottom, and that’s to place on top of the tripod stand on either end for the 4KG and 8KG stands. The T-stand crossbar has larger holes for the tripod in the middle, instead of the ends.
The middle crossbars have smaller holes on the openings, and they have a silver side which is the locking tabs. You push down on these tabs to insert the crossbars into each other and lock them - hold them down on either side with your fingers, and insert the second part of the crossbar and push until the tabs spring up and lock into place through the holes on the second part of the crossbar.
Place the crossbar on top, and then put the washers and wing nuts back on to tighten them and lock the crossbar into place.
So, as you can see, there’s a backdrop stand for every occasion! We’ve looked at all the different stands, their portability, and weight limits, as well as how to put them together.
Here’s a quick recap of ideal uses for each type of stand:
- Pop-up collapsible backdrop - lightweight and ideal for location shoots
- T-stand - lightweight and ideal for studio and location
- 4KG standard backdrop stand - a larger backdrop stand suited to studio or location that can take paper rolls up to 4KG
- 8KG heavy-duty backdrop stand - a sturdy backdrop stand that can take full-size paper rolls up to 8KG. Great for keeping set up in the studio.
- Telescopic backdrop stand - the crossbars are adjustable and it is an ideal stand to take to trade shows as well as to use in the studio.
- Double C-stands - super heavy-duty stands with boom arms that can take backdrops up to 20KG in weight.
Hopefully, this backdrop stand buying guide has been useful to you and helps you decide which backdrop stand options will suit you best.