Muslin, Paper, or Vinyl for Backdrops...any advice???

Bubbles22

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Goal: Set up my own small studio for my children.
So have you used muslin, paper, or vinyl back drops if so which to you like to use better, what size do you prefer and where you like to buy from? I'm trying not to spend more money by buying before I truly investigate. I checked a search on this topic but didn't find much. Thanks for your input!!!
 

tirediron

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Paper: Good for high-key (white) or low-key (black) backgrounds. Reasonably priced, but has a limited life-span, and may not be the best for young children. Not terribly portable.

Muslin: Infinite number of colours & patterns, but (comparitively) expensive. Much more portable, and generally in one of two styles. Wrinkled or non-wrinkled.

Vinyl: No.
 

Derrel

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I'd actually class muslin as a very affordable, economical background compared with 9 foot wide seamless paper--economical because it is fast to set up, easy to set up, and it is "economical" in terms of time spend hassling with it, and "affordable" in the sense that one muslin will last 20 years or more, and is a one-time expense, whereas I have spent a fair amount of coin on roll after roll of thunder gray seamless paper...so, while muslin costs more at purchase, once bought, it is yours for life...and it does not soak up moisture, get torn, ripped, wrinkled irreparably, etc,etc. Muslin can also be dyed a different color, painted on, etc,etc. Not quite the same with paper.

Some of the vinyl smaller sheets are used by product shooters and small-scale still life people, to good effect.
 

Quentin_Moyer

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+1 for muslin, I use it for chroma keying all the time.
 

g-fi

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I use all 3, whatever is right for the circumstances. Vinyl can be extremely versatile, check out Denny Manuf. to see what you can get in vinyl (the prices are definitely a little on the high side, but their products are pretty good). I don't find paper to really be a hassle to transport, strap the roll closed and go. Muslin is fine too, probably one of the more affordable options, but it's hard to get the seamless look you can get from paper and vinyl with muslin. Each has their own place. For children, I prefer the seamless paper for the look you can get, I think it's just cleaner and nicer overall. When it gets too wrinkled/manky, just cut it down and move on, no laundering or wiping down or maintenance necessary. I use the Savage seamless, and I think it's pretty economical at around $50 for a 8' wide by 12' long roll. With children, I really don't recommend going any smaller than 6 feet wide, you need that room. Good luck!
 
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Bubbles22

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Thanks guys! So I will look into white paper to start and then maybe get a muslin or two.
 

Big Mike

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Be aware that not all muslin is created equally. The cheaper stuff isn't as durable as Derrel make out. I borrowed a muslin from a friend once...I had to tape a corner, and when I tugged it from the other end, it ripped.

Now, if we are talking about a canvas backdrop, that stuff is heavy weight material and can last for decades.

As for shooting kids, I have a vinyl backdrop that I use to get that seamless look. It's great because it's more durable than paper and easier to transport than paper...but after rolling & folding it up...it was never as smooth as when I first took it off the roll. It has small wrinkles in it, but I can 'shoot' those out by cross lighting it.
If you don't plan on transporting it, I think it's a great option.
To be fair, I didn't buy it as a retail photography backdrop, I work at an industrial fabric company and I had them make me a backdrop from a low reflectance vinyl, usually meant for making signs.

But for ease of use and a nice clean look, it's hard to beat paper. The only downfall is that it gets damaged easily.
 
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Bubbles22

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How do I know which muslin is good? Any preferences? I know there are tons of places to buy from does anyone know where NOT to buy from? Thanks
 

gsgary

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This was shot with cheap black material off the market, the only editing on this photo is sharpening for printing on site

1221198821_HR3ae-L.jpg
 

scorpion_tyr

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A king sized, black, jersey knit sheet from wal-mart hung up and weighted at the bottom to stretch it out makes a great solid backdrop provided you have the means to bounce a flash. You can make it work if you don't but it's a little tricky.
 

fotosource

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Paper is less costly compared to muslins. I suggest backdropsource for quality backdrops.
 

AmazingGrace0385

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Vinyl is very inexpensive and the cool thing about it is you can print anything on it... our backdrop company also carries a thinner, polypropylene material drop that is light weight and versatile and we offer custom designs. Another cheap, but effective option is fleece material from your local fabric shop.
 

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