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05-04-2012, 03:34 AM - 2 Likes   #1
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Need Some Cheap Backdrop Screens?

I found these on Amazon earlier and I bought them. I don't know how thick they are. I'll have to get back to you on that one. I've read a few reviews here and there. One of them says they're a bit thin, but most seem think they're okay. In any case you can always double them, hang two screens if they are, just clip the one you need to currently use in front, that's all. They're 5'x10' about 18" shorter than I'd ideally like for standing portraits. Tall guy, you'd have to flip orientations then clip instead of hang to be able to fit him okay, but at less than $30 I still think they are well worth the $$$. That's a total steal for 3 basic screens of any size. One 6'x9' green screen can run you this, more even. I was going to make my own white, black and green screens but it would me more 3X more just for the material so I decided to do this instead. I'm still going to paint/sew/macgyver a few backdrops to go with these. I still want to do several hand painted art backdrops. I have certain ones in mind, and I have a lot of other nice upholstery and evening type fabrics to play with as well in my fabric bins, but for the 3 basics I'm pretty well set with these. They're looking like they're maybe discontinued on the Limostudio site though so I'd get them while you can. LimoStudio Photography Muslin Background Backdrop, 5' x 10' White Photo Background + 5' x 10' Black Photo Background + 5' x 10' Green Chromakey Background, AGG427: Camera & Photo

Grand total so far for my new budget "studio on a shoe string" not including my actual camera gear....

2 Cowboy Studio light kits with one kit bag, $70
Backdrops $28
Backdrop Bar $25
5-way Reflector $11
Military Camera Gear Bag $28
Manhattan Portage Insert $20

If I am adding right it's $179 minus a $25 discount that I got, so about $154!!!! I'm going to have to buy a couple more of the higher end bulbs, $28 usually on Amazon, and a $12 wireless remote for my K-x next month, but I have extras of the lower end kit's bulbs so it's not a huge priority. I think I did pretty good all things considered. One of those light kits I saved $50 on and I definitely saved a fair bit on the material for those basic screens doing this so that's not too shabby and the equipment so far seems pretty usable. I was even being a bit indulgent with the bag and insert and I still came in under my budget. Still will even getting the lights and remote! Let it not be said that I don't know how to shop, lol. ;P

Last edited by magkelly; 05-04-2012 at 03:39 AM.
05-04-2012, 04:23 AM   #2
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Thank you for posting this info. I have been looking to get some equipment like this at a affordable cost.
05-04-2012, 04:48 AM   #3
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You're welcome. You could do worse than hit Amazon and get one of those Cowboy Studio kits. Stick to above 800 watt kits though. They have the better lights. Look for kits with the 150's, not the 45's. The $60 one with the white umbrellas the metal equipment is okay, but the lights are the 45's and they are just a bit too small and dim and those umbrellas are a bit small. They'd be okay as spot umbrellas but not as your main ones. I like the $80/800 watt kit better even though it didn't have the small spot. It had nicer black and reflective umbrellas and the brighter bulbs.

I bought both on deep discount, got a deal, but I'm going to end up using the cheaper kit's stands for the backdrop bar. I'll probably get one more light stand when I see one on of them on sale or maybe the $80 kit again if I get lucky and can get it for the price of the 2 big bulbs again. I got the small light with $60 kit though, and the stands work either way, as lights or with the backdrop bar, so overall it's fine. Just an FYI though the sockets in either kit are the same. You can upgrade the cheaper kit's bulbs at some point but the bulbs are expensive so it's a bit more cost effective just to buy the $80 actually at first. The $80 one it's a very versatile kit I think actually and fairly sturdy. More so than I would have thought for the $$$.

My ideal kit is 2-3 bigger lights and one small spot, reflective umbrellas, and I pretty well covered it. I could use one more big light but it's not a major thing. Two plus the spot might do me okay for a while. At home I may just put a wood bar on the wall for the screens and that way I can still use all the lights if I want, but I really needed a portable one too. I like that it works either way. You can't beat the prices on their kits. I priced all this elsewhere, and okay, the other stuff might have been a tad better in quality, but for what I actually paid I really thought it was well worth it. I probably saved $600 at the very least.

I sort of configured my whole kit out of two light kits and an optional bar, and saved a few $$$ doing it but their all in one kits are pretty cheap anyway. Those Limo backdrops are a steal. I must have looked at every screen on there and for $30 I got 3 basically for the price of a decent green one. I wish they were a bit longer, but that's easily worked around....

Last edited by magkelly; 05-04-2012 at 04:54 AM.
05-16-2012, 10:47 AM   #4
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On second thought, don't bother anyone. I'm returning these to Amazon as I type. Very bad quality. Very thin, nearly transparent.

05-16-2012, 01:25 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by magkelly Quote
On second thought, don't bother anyone. I'm returning these to Amazon as I type. Very bad quality. Very thin, nearly transparent.
Consider that if you angle improvised (or cheapass) materials off the focal plane, you might get something good. However expensive it is, control the light.
05-16-2012, 02:00 PM   #6
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Honestly, I can do better than these screens just by hanging up an $8 cotton curtain panel from Target. Or a sheet. That's how unimpressed I was with them. They were so thin it was almost like looking at mosquito netting. Even putting a sheet behind them wouldn't likely work. You'd get the white of the sheet straight through them. I felt bad even for suggesting them at first. Target and Walmart both have thicker cotton sheets for about $10 a pop actually in the right colors. For about the same money it's not worth it to keep these. I wanted something more professional looking but I won't use something like this. It will make me look bad. I'll just grab the sheets and sew them up on the machine.
05-16-2012, 02:41 PM   #7

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Don't get sheets. I don't mean to offend anyone, but sheets look like sheets, no matter what you do.
Go to a fabric store and get wide muslin fabric. It's used for making patterns, for lining other fabrics to give them weight, etc. If your fabric store is any reasonable size, it will be available in various widths from 45" to 120" (yes, 10 feet). Price varies, of course, but it's usually pretty inexpensive - used to be $1 or so per yard in the 45" width, more for wider. Usually, you can get bleached (nearly perfect white) and natural (kind of yellowish/cream colored).
And don't fold it neatly or iron it. I keep it crumbled into an old pillow case. Folding gives uniform lines of shadow which can be distracting.
Yes, you can paint or dye it yourself. No, it isn't easy to get it to look as good as Denny's - but it it's too hard to get it looking pretty good.
And Ratmagiclady is right. Controlling the light is key. One forum contributor once said you only need one backdrop paper, because you can get any shade between black and white by lighting it correctly.
05-17-2012, 01:10 PM   #8
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I can't get wide muslin here actually. I looked. The 2 fabric stores here just don't carry it wide. I'd have to special order it, a whole bolt apparently. I don't like the idea of buying it sight unseen online. In the end I decided to keep them. I had a credit so ultimately they cost me like $9 all total. They're cheap as heck, like a paper table cloth basically, but I decided that I'd rather Macgyver them than just send them back. I thought I'd just try and back them with some sheets I have to increase the thickness so that stray light will be blocked. I'm a little worried about putting feet or a chair on them because they're so cheap I'm afraid they'll just rip but I figure I'll try it for now then get something better in a bit.

I've got a shoot next week I really need them for and I don't really have time to be sending these back and fussing over getting better ones. I've also got some wide velvet in gray so what I may do is just make a backdrop from that for now. I can light that black no problem. I'd go with just that but I really need a light or green screen to be able to key and use the digital backdrops I have. I have a shoot coming up for a pre-school ad locally. She wants to put a rainbow backdrop I have behind the kids, which is fine because I have a digital one, but I really need to shoot that on a white or green screen to make it work. I like working with a white backdrop a lot anyway. In a pinch just for head shots I have a 100% natural cotton drape panel I can use. It's thick and it's got the same texture as muslin basically. Looks good when you photograph against it. It's just not quite big enough to shoot half a dozen toddlers against.

Biggest Muslin my local stores have is 45" wide. That's no wider than the curtain panels and it's nearly $10-13 a yard here besides. 3 yards would be a big waste of money and time when I can get thick cotton curtain panels at Target that are pretty much the same thing. I just can't find a green one so far. That's been the hard thing finding one I can key with. I'm about to go blue instead I think. Kelly green isn't the easiest color to find around here. But all the really wide fabrics here are mainly floral stuff for upholstery and most of it is $25 and up a yard besides.

I hate the fabric and craft stores here. They all seem to think sewing is just this expensive hobby lately and they price accordingly. I love to sew but they make it a major big deal just buying thread and stuff now. A lot of the time if I want something now? It's far cheaper to buy it ready made than to make it myself.

Last edited by magkelly; 05-17-2012 at 01:29 PM.

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