Review: Westcott White X-Drop Backdrop Kit

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As I have grown as a photographer, I have taken on new styles. One of them is portraits, specifically head shots. As I was learning more about this style of photography, I came across the Westcott X-Drop. I had already purchased a portable backdrop kit, which was sort of big and in parts. The X-Drop is the total opposite of that, and not too expensive. It is extremely portable, and I could use the Westcott White X-Drop Backdrop Kit anywhere.  I purchased it, used it on an actual shoot, and here is what I thought.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Lightweight
  • Extremely Portable

Cons

  • Outside or near a door, it’s a giant sail when set up. The wind will take it away, even when it has some weight added.
  • The white background is a dust magnet.
  • The Westcott  X-Drop takes up an awkward amount of space. It would be nice you could somehow make the third leg flat and stand it against a wall.

Gear Used

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I used this for a corporate head shot at my workplace using a minimalist kit. My Nikon D700 with a Tamron 28-105 2.8, and a Yongnuo YN-565EX ETTL Speedlite Flash for Nikon on a 3leggedthing Brian tripod with an umbrella. All that gear was carried in a Think Tank Urban Disguise 60.

Tech Specs

This list is taken from B&H’s product page.

  • Stand Features Easy Setup / Tear Down
  • Telescopic Legs and Arms
  • Grommets on Top/Bottom for Hanging
  • Machine Washable / Cold Water
  • 100% Polyester Material
  • Wrinkle-Resistant
  • Lightweight Kit / Perfect for Travel
  • Carry Case Holds up to Three Backdrops

Ergonomics

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The X-Drop easily comes out of its bag and is easily assembled.

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The Westcott X-Drop is built from aluminum and plastic which keeps its weight under 3 lbs. The poles attach to the middle platform and slide in and out easily.

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The leg locks are simple, but they work well–it’s like a simple tripod.

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This little hook is meant to add extra weight to the X-Drop. It also holds the bag while shooting.

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When the arms extend all the way up, the machine washable white background gets tight and smooth. The Westcott X-Drop gets to a nice height.

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Connecting the backdrop to the frame is pretty straightforward. Just connect the grommets to the hook and it’s done. It’s all rather simple really.

Build Quality

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When you first put it together, the X-Drop does not feel like the strongest thing in the world. In use, however, it’s not bad at all–as long as you are indoors. It’s well designed and is really easy to put together. The piping feels like it can take a bit of punishment. You’re not supposed to support body weight with it, though, but it can take a little weight. The framework is aluminum, which makes it light. The backdrop has a nice soft feel to it, and while I would not throw stuff at it, it seems like it’s durable. The grommet is securely attached to the backdrop and does seem like it can take a little abuse.

Portability

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This kit is easy to keep with you. Very light, no bigger than a regular size tripod when packed away, it’s easy to take anywhere.  Taking it on the train or a bus is no problem. Storing it in you car is easy as well. My old background  kit consisted of two light stands with a cross-bar that was 4.5 feet at its smallest, and much heavier. I would never consider taking it on a train. The Westcott  X-Drop, no problem.

Ease of Use

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This kit is  much easier to use than a kit consisting of two umbrella stands with a bar to hold the backdrop, like the Impact Background System Kit. I prefer to leave that kit in a more stationary setting. Setup time is minimal with the Westcott White X-Drop Backdrop Kit. The backdrop also gives you space to hide your gear and bags on a shoot. It gives your work area a neater look. Breaking down the kit is also easy. The best thing about this kit is that you don’t need an assistant. Any photographer can work with this on their own. I let my wife set it up–she’s not a photographer–and to her it was extremely easy. The learning curve with the Westcott  X-Drop is pretty low.

Other uses.

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If you ever need to do a video chat where you want to hide the background, then this is for you. You can get a fair amount of use beyond portraits. There’s a green screen kit available for the Westcott  X-Drop, so if you want to play with your background in post, no problem.

Image Quality

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I did actually use this on assignment and it worked very well. Even while testing it I was impressed. When using the Westcott  X-Drop, the quality of the image does depend greatly on the photographer. If you have an understanding of how flash photography works, then the Westcott  X-Drop will perform as intended.

Conclusions

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The Westcott X-Drop is not perfect, but it’s a nice piece of kit to have. For what it is supposed to do, it’s fantastic. All levels of photographers on the go will find this useful at some point. You can always tape white paper to a wall. However if you are starting out in portrait photography and you want to look a little more professional, this is for you. You can easily earn back the money you spent on it.

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Gevon Servo

Gevon Servo aka @GServo is an eclectic, NJ/NY Photographer. He’s a Nikon shooter, by choice nevertheless, will always test any piece of photography equipment. He believes that like ‘Photography’, ‘Coffee’,’Beer’ and ‘Comics Books’ and other things ‘Geek’ “You must try everything once to discover what you want to try again.