Top positive review
One person found this helpful
Awesome stands, awesome customer support, buy this instead of that cheap kit.
on November 11, 2015
I've had this and used it quite a few times and I'm generally quite pleased, and given it's lower price now, assuming it's the same, it's still a great deal. I have to agree how3ever that my 107" roll has been damaged and does not unroll when mounted on the smaller arrangement of pipes. If I add another pipe, it gets long enough but then becomes a bit less stable, a little saggy, and takes up more space. Had they added literally one INCH to the pipes' complete length at this size, it would have solved the issues.
I'm currently using it for a projector background and it's holding my white backdrop roll, and has been for months, without issues. I have noticed several dents in the upright tubes from tightening the risers though, so I'm a little sad they dented when firmly tightening the locks. I'd be cautious and avoid really cranking down the locks or the aluminum will dent. A few dents is no biggie but a BUNCH over time might weaken it too much.
After contacting SPN performance per their request, I was contacted several times in order to address my concerns and my, I am impressed with their follow up!
Any issues I had with this set were resolved. Primarily I did receive a few bars of the horizontal section with very minor scratches that were rough to the touch. A bit of a bummer, but nothing that would really affect the performance of this kit. I thought perhaps it could catch on the muslin but realistically the ground, being dirty, is a greater threat.
I was compensated adequately for the shipping damage and I'm more than happy with the set, regardless of that compensation. They stated there are lifetime warranties on all their products, so if I did have an issue I'm sure it would have been resolved with little effort from me.
Secondly, the issue with whether the horizontal bars should literally LOCK was resolved; they told me they are not designed to tightly lock (and stop spinning) when twisting, but rather link together in a locked position, if you will. They easily rotate 360 degrees, but during 180 degrees of that rotation, there are indents in the pipe and connector that prevent them from sliding apart. Simply line up the arrows on each piece. This is by design as I figured, but it was nice to hear them say for sure, because another review had concerns about this. I'm confident it won't be an issue, especially since they would stay together without locking notches simply because of friction. You could probably assemble this kit without lining up the lock arrows and it wouldn't separate (one cylinder tightly inside another creates plenty of static friction under a small load).
As for my first test, I was pleased when I used this on the job. I used it to hold a portrait backdrop, I had no stability or quality concerns and ignored the stands for the majority of the shoot...without safety weights. I had my assistant help me move them, that was it...no fuss. This is ideal; gear you can ignore is good gear. Gear you have to mind generally isn't.
The air cushioning was practical in actual use. Nice and prompt but it won't slam down on you or make you wait. I had my doubts but all things considered I am VERY pleased. Adjusting my review to five stars because simply put I'm blown away by the value and quality of this set. I've borrowed a cheap set before, one of those $30-$40 wonders available here or on 'the bay', but they don't instill ANY confidence. The plastic castings are crap, they spare plastic anywhere possible, the locks hurt, the stands sway, and the footprint isn't even sufficient for a stand-alone lightstand, let alone a backdrop with a bar and heavy cloth near someone's head. Also, adding weight isn't an easy solution because you fear one of the joints will break under the sandbags. The Ravelli kit is well built, doesn't beg for a counterweight, and wouldn't mind it if you used one.
Do yourself a favor, skip the crappy sets and get this. My buddy mentioned getting a new set soon, and his $40 set is the one I borrowed...
I'll be recommending this kit to him.
P.S. the keychain light they threw in with my kit has come in handy several times. I'm going to find a pack of generics online so I have more...lol
ORIGINAL REVIEW on 11/11/2015
There are some hiccups in this set; almost five stars. I'll take it to work in a few days for further test. Set up fine without help though!
I just unpacked this and sadly one horizontal bar has scratches on it that feel rough. Not sure if they will catch the muslin, probably not. Since all others are clean, this might cause more scratches in transit later though and you can see the marrs to the nicenblack finish.
The cross bars also do not lock like the user manual states they should, so perhaps I got a poorly made set. I could see difficulty arising if you decide to remove a section after assembly; it may loosen other sections as you unlock one. It may also reduce rigidity. Wasn't an issue on first setup though...natural friction would make this solid even without locks. Just a bummer there isn't a positive lock. I like the extra security especially when photographing children.
The air-cushion function seems a little lackluster compared to another stand I have, I may try covering vents on the bottom to get a slower action. Not terrible but still came down pretty quick with a 10x12' muslin mounted and all 5 crossbars installed. Not a huge deal, just take care with heavy lights if you mount any on the stands (duh). I didn't get a slam like an open stand at least.
The bag is double layered with good thick material, lined with parachute pant material. There is a thin foam inside the fabric that make the inner pockets to discourage things banging together, too. The ends of the bag have the foam inside too, and the zippers work well. Bag has good handle with support straps and clips. If you're lazy you could skip the long zipper, even.
The package included two nice large clamps made of plastic with rubber clamping surfaces, held my muslin well. They threw in a keychain light (actually works ok and its tiny) and a soft cleaning cloth, too. Nice touch.
There is a slight sag in the bar at full length but if you need a perfectly straight bar, get steel, carbon, or rethink your photo style. It's a 15' aluminum tube, lol.
The stands have a good footprint and good section locks, I would trust them not to break. There is a two step system to remove the top stud which suggests safety was a concern; that's a good sign.
All things considered it's a nice set, much better than a cheaper set I've used with crappy, narrow footprint stands with cheap plastic parts, and stupid button-lock connections on the cross bar. I hate those because they hurt my fingers.
I would recommend the set, for a little over $100 it should last twice as long as $50 sets, while looking and working better, and being safer. It is a solid value.
Ill report back about the horizontal sections of they become a problem because of loose locking.