Last month, Manfrotto added two new backdrop finishes to its range of panoramic backgrounds; Granite and Limestone. Both have a dynamic textured finish and complement the other three already in the range, which are Black, White and Chromakey Green.
I recently had the chance to use the new Lastolite by Manfrotto Panoramic Background 4m Granite for several pop-up studio shoots and have been really impressed. Here's why
Lastolite by Manfrotto Panoramic Background 4m Granite: It’s massive
I’ve used a loads of studio backdrops down the years. Wall-mounted rolls or paper, crossbar with rolls of paper, pop-up domes, you name it. One consistent problem with many backdrops is one of a matter of size.
When you start working with medium-sized families or your subject is moving around, the backdrop may often not fully surround your subjects. Certainly, if you start sitting groups down or they are jumping around.
If the backdrop doesn’t fully cover the frame once the picture is cropped to size, it is a very time consuming process to properly edit those uncovered areas to match the rest of the backdrop.
Size is the champion feature of the Lastolite by Manfrotto Panoramic Background 4m Granite. It’s positively humungous. A standard crossbar with paper roll is less than 3m wide. A pop-up dome might be 2m wide. The panoramic background is 4m wide and it’s approaching 8ft tall.
After a full day shooting family portraits, I have not had to edit out any gaps in the background post capture, unlike with my 2m pop-up dome. I estimate in this job alone that the Lastolite by Manfrotto Panoramic Background has saved me a day's worth of editing. Its appeal is immediately clear.
That said, without a floor covering as part of the package, you are restricted to upper body shots really. It will be possible to create solutions to cover the floor for full-length portraits, but not quite to the same quality as a roll of paper.
Lastolite by Manfrotto Panoramic Background 4m Granite: Portable
It may be a massive backdrop, but the Panoramic Background package is light and portable. It's a great solution for pop-up studios. Three frames are pieced together much like tent poles, with an internal elastic rope keeping the pieces together when packed away. The frame seems solid enough, though I wouldn’t throw it around too much.
It’s child’s play putting the frame together. Literally. I had my four-year-old do the job for me.
Once the three frames are constructed, there are two fasteners for each side of the larger middle frame, to connect to the two smaller side frames. Next up is the background itself, which has plastic clips that easily attach onto the frame.
When the background is fully connected, there is enough tension to stretch the material out and remove any creases in the fabric. Even on a first time use, the background takes less than 10 minutes to construct and ready to go. Taking the background down is equally easy and even quicker. This is one easy to use background.
Like with any portable backdrop, when outdoors it is worth taking some kind of weight with you - like a sand bag - I could easily see the background being blown over.
Lastolite by Manfrotto Panoramic Background 4m Granite: A new design
Strictly speaking, this is not a new product. The background design was launched by Manfrotto a little while back. However, up until now, there has only been Black, White and Chromakey Green options in the range.
These latest two; Granite and Limestone, feature textured pattern finishes. I have used the Granite version and the resulting portraits look great. The finish is good, plus it has a vignette which helps the centre of the frame to stand out all the more. For something a little different to a plain background, the Granite version is in our opinion very striking.
Lastolite by Manfrotto Panoramic Background 4m Granite: Availability and Specification
• Weight 158.72oz
• Height: 90.55in
• Width: 157.48in
• Weight (in bag): 19.84lbs
• Packed away: 11.81 x 40.94 x 13.78in
The Lastolite by Manfrotto Panoramic Background 4m Granite costs £305.95 for the background and £599.95 with the Panoramic Background frame.
I don't mind the price because I know the time saved editing. However, that price is around £150 more than the existing plain versions, which I think is a little cheeky.
More information can be found on the Lastolite by Manfrotto website.
Five reasons to love the Lastolite by Manfrotto Panoramic Background 4m Granite
• It’s massive
• Makes editing studio shots exponentially quicker (I'd gladly take any solution that reduces editing time)
• Its portable and light
• Really quick to set up and take down
• No creases in the material
What’s not to like about the Lastolite by Manfrotto Panoramic Background 4m Granite
• On one hand, the whole package is very expensive
• The Granite and Limestone background designs are twice the price of the Black, White and Chromakey Green versions
• Without floor covering it's not suitable for full-length portraits