Best Slider for DSLR Video
As you will begin to discover, when I am preparing to spend a significant quantity of my hard earned dosh, I want to make sure I get it right. I don’t want to experience that dreaded regret or disappointed feeling when you buy something and then realize there was something better and cheaper out there. This is the reason for my elaborate and often over the top research.
So, to the matter at hand, the golden question – What is the best slider for a DSLR?
As a precursor, while I don’t plan on to pussy foot around in my analysis like most comparison reviewers do, I will say this: the above question is impossible to answer objectively. In other words, the requirements of the user effect the determination of the ‘best slider’. However, I WILL give you my opinion of the best slider from a subjective point of view, based on the following requirements:
- Solid construction
- Tripod mountable as well as legs for floor use
- The most smooth sliding shots possible
- The capability of being mounted vertically
Those that have already been researching sliders will know what I mean when I say that there are a lot of opinions on this topic and not too many clear cut comparisons to back them up. So I am going to try and summarize the numerous forums and reviews I have been through and give a more concise comparison between the different options out there. Hopefully this page will be a one stop shop for your slider research, where everything you need to make your decision is right here on this page.
Two types of Sliders:
As I discovered early on in my research, there are two types of sliders on the market:
- Drylin sliders – sliders that use a lubricated (or sometimes not even lubricated) rail system and rely on reduced friction for the sliding motion.
- Roller bearing sliders – Sliders that adopt a bearing system whereby the wheels roll over the railing system.
It might not take much imagination to realize that the roller bearing sliders are usually preferred. Once I discovered this, I was only really interested in roller bearing sliders, however, I will briefly run through some of the drylin options as the cost difference can often be quite dramatic.
1.0 Drylin Sliders
Price: $240 – $720
Pros: Portable, large range, hybrid option.
Glidetrack offer a decent range of what seems to be well priced sliders. In fact I was quite tempted to go with the Hybrid slider (above), which adopts a combination of both rail sliding and roller bearings. Glidetrack claims this combination will “offer you all the advantages of both types of bearings without any of the disadvantages”.
While somewhat self proclaiming, have a look at the following review:
However, the majority of the Glidetrack range “consists of a moving carriage plate that slides along industrial grade extruded rail”…in other words a drylin system. This is not necessarily the end of the world. In fact many people are of the opinion that the drylin method offers the necessary resistance to achieve ultra smooth shots. Certainly, good videographers are able to achieve fantastic sliding shots with drylin systems. For instance, Phillip Bloom made a couple of short videos using some of the Glidetrack sliders and as you can see he managed to get some nice shots with them:
It is hard to tell whether it is the skill of the shooter that is lacking or the slider itself, but you can notice with a couple of these shots a slight unevenness in the slide.
Other useful reviews of the Glidetrack:
1.2 Zaza Slider
Price: Price varies considerably (you could probably build a system for around $100 – $200)
Cons: DIY, smoothness is questionable, noisy.
It isn’t disputed that the DIY ZaZa slider gives you the most bang for your buck. I didn’t really look into this option to any real extent because number one; I couldn’t really be bothered constructing the gear and number two; as I said previously I became disinterested in the drylin options. However, it seems Igus (the distributor) makes the construction process extremely easy, with all the screw holes already tapped.
This link gives a little insight into how easy the process is:
2.0 Rolling Sliders:
2.1 DP Slider
Price: $399 – $724
Pros: Solid construction, vertical mounting plate, well priced.
Cons: No ability to alter resistance
For me this option was very similar to the Glidetrak. At one point I was convinced that my final decision was between the DP slider and the Glidetrak. At the end of the day, based on the weight of opinions within various forums, I would of chosen the DP slider. There were a few reports of its build being quite a bit sturdier than the Glidetrak. Also, the DP slider offers a vertical option whereby a mounting plate is positioned on the end of the slider allowing it to be mounted vertically without any adaptions or extra equipment. This made the DP slider very tempting for me. However without the ability to control the resistance of the slide I can’t see anyone getting smooth and consistent vertical slide shots unless they have extraordinary hand control. Please anyone correct me if I am wrong.
Once again, remember I have not tested this equipment. The conclusions I have reached are based on an amalgamation of other people’s experiences, common sense and multiple reviews.
There is a bit of talk about DP slider (especially in comparison to the Zaza) here:
You might also enjoy DP Slider’s promotional attempts. They have a DP girls section of their website which I thought was pretty funny…and a little off-putting hehe.
2.2 Konova Slider
Price: $300 – 400
Pros: Cheap, roller bearing, numerous mounting options, comes with carry bag
Cons: No ability to alter resistance, flimsy.
The Konova slider is the cheapest roller bearing slider I have come across. I have seen mixed reviews. Some people say it is extremely versatile and quite smooth while others say it is cheap and crappy. Here are some of the reviews to help you out.
2.3 Kessler Crane Sliders
Ok so by all accounts Kessler make some pretty sweet gear. They have Bloom on board promoting all their gear, which certainly helps their cause. The problem is…their stuff is NOT cheap. Being new to the game and therefore not having any basis of comparison, it is hard to tell whether their exorbitant prices are justified.
Anyway…Kessler offer 3 products in terms of sliders:
- Pocket Dolly
- Phillip Bloom Pocket Dolly
Price: $1200 – 1700
Pros: Solid construction, very smooth, little sound, adjustable drag control.
Cons: Big, heavy, no bag, no vertical mounting option, expensive
Quickly and simply – The Cineslider seemed awesome and by all accounts is an amazing slider that gives you very smooth shots. However for me it was not an option because it was too big and too expensive (I would have had to buy a separate case etc).
One of my favourite reviews is one by Tom Guilmette, which features some nice shots that he got using the Cineslider.
2.2.2 Pocket Dolly
Price: $500 – $650
Pros: Solid construction, compact, smooth.
Cons: No adjustable drag control
The pocket dolly is quite an affordable option that still utilizes Kessler’s smooth bearing system. However, it lacks the adjustable drag control that the Cineslider has. This was the primary reason I did not go with the Pocket Dolly.
2.2.3 Phillip Bloom Pocket Dolly
Pros: Solid construction, compact, smooth, quiet, foam padded bag, adjustable drag control.
Cons: Expensive, no vertical mounting option
This was my dream slider. Compact, well made, adjustable drag control, dead quiet and comes with a nice foam padded bag. Enticing you to spend another 1500 with Kessler is the ability to hook up a motor to the slider (which is pretty easy to do with their elektrodrive system) to enable sliding time lapses. A lot of money to spend for a type of shot you will use once in every 4 projects if you’re lucky.
The only issue I was had with the PB pocket dolly was its’ inability to be easily mounted vertically. It turns out that it isn’t too difficult to do and the following video from Kessler shows you how to do it. The problem is, is that you need quite a heavy-duty tripod head to do it. Naturally, Kessler demonstrate using their Hercules head.
The other problem is that, because your tripod head is being used to flip the dolly on its side, you are one tripod head down, so that if you want to do vertical slides combined with tilts or pans you will need a second fluid head. However, combination shots of sliding and panning is pretty difficult so I wouldn’t worry too much about ensuring you have the ability to do so.
Check out this review of the slider:
UPDATE: I have been using this slider now for about 8 months. It cost me around $1800 to get it to Australia. We are getting some nice shots with it, however if I had my time again I probably wouldn’t choose the PB Pocket Dolly. I had a few issues with the cart catching or ‘pulsing’ along the rails. Kessler do provide a pretty good tutorial on how to fix this issue, but for me it took a lot more fiddling around to get it right. It’s just not something you’d expect to have to worry about with such a high end product. It also isn’t “dead quiet” as some reviews have suggested. In saying this however, it is still the only slider I have ever used, so maybe I would change my tune when comparing its performance with one of the cheaper competitors.
2.4 Cinevate Sliders
In the same league as Kessler is Cinevate. In terms of sliders, Cinevate are most well known for their Pegusus, which many videographers use. Apparently it is very sturdy and very smooth. However, without the adjustable drag control and the ability to center mount on a tripod, I disregarded this option. Like the Kessler Cineslider, it is also quite expensive. However no one can deny its ultra smooth sliding mechanism. The main thing I like about the Pegasus that the Kessler doesn’t do is the 100mm bowl attachment, which is very nice for quickly attaching and removing tripod head. Kessler does offer a high hat accessory, which will allow you to attach a 100mm bowl and an adapter which allows you to attach a 75mm bowl. If you comment as to what tripod head you own I will try and help you suss out exactly what extras you need.
Other than the Pegusus, Cinevate offer the Atlas 10, Atlas 200, Atlas 30 and the Atlas FLT. All are quite pricy. The latest release is the Atlas 10, which I was very, very interested in. Check out the following links that convinced me it is such a good slider.
It comes standard with various mounting options, it is much cheaper than the PB pocket Dolly, and has the option to be retrofitted with vertical mounting solutions like a counter weight etc. In the end, the fall back for me was that it is slightly noisier than the PB pocket dolly and doesn’t have the adjustable drag control option. However, it does offer more flexibility, and will probably cost you a few hundred dollars less. Actually after looking at the below picture again I’m starting to wonder why I didn’t choose this instead…pretty cool eh?
But wait…there’s more!
There are many other sliders available on the market, for instance the Ultraslider, the DitoGear CrankSlider, SlideKamera…. I didn’t consider these sliders as there were was very little discussion of them on the net. They could, however, be quite promising.
Check out a couple of these compared against the Konova and PB Pocket Dolly at http://www.vimeo.com/21808888?ab.
Just recently I came a slider made by Ronford Baker, which looks really nice. Check out his range:
I have no doubt there are countless others on the market. Please comment if you think any are worth mentioning and I’ll add them to the list. Let’s get a database of all the sliders so people can easily make an informed decision!
My final choice:
In the end I chose the PB Pocket Dolly. I am still unsure as to whether I made the right decision. I still feel it is the best slider on the market, however the price I end up paying was ridiculous. The slider, a wapping $230 for shipping (to Australia) plus the accessories brought the grand total to around $1800. Crazy hey! And really…every thing this slider does could be achieved with a cheaper option…everything except the ability to alter the resistance (the drag control). I essentially paid $1000 just for this feature. So to the other manufacturers…please offer drag control with your products because if consumers are anything like me, your sales will skyrocket!
As mentioned in the recent ‘update’ paragraph above, I probably wouldn’t choose the PB pocket dolly if I had my time again. Please refer to that section for more details.
I have a Sachtler Speedlock tripod with the fsb8 75mm bowl fluid head. So the accessories I ordered were the high hat, 75mm bowl adapter, Kessler Ball Mount and the M10 knob. I am currently in the process of shooting a quick review of the slider that will go through in detail the aspects of the slider and how it interacts with various tripods. I found this to be the biggest issue when choosing between sliders; making sure I had the right parts to make it perfectly compatible with my existing gear.
I hope this give you some direction in choosing you’re slider.
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