Production, Video

Camera sliders: adding dynamism to static scenes

As equipment has become increasingly more affordable, we’ve seen the rise of of a new generation of freelance video journalists and individual film makers producing digital films like documentaries, corporate videos, short movies and news. Many of them are using dSLRs because these can be handled by a single operator while offering excellent image quality. While most of them lack a team necessary to handle dollies and cranes, they will often take a camera slider with them to introduce dynamism in otherwise static scenes. Sliders are great to pull the viewer into the scene.Camera sliders for video and film come in two categories: the expensive heavyweights that have been around since the time of film and the inexpensive lightweights that target the market of that new generation. Among the old-timers you’ll find Kessler Crane, while the market of inexpensive sliders is littered with IGUS rail based models (not too smooth, certainly not fluid), Chinese toys and “inventive” designs that won’t work.

rhino camera slider

One design that I found to work well is Rhino Camera Gear’s camera slider that was released a couple of years ago. The company is now introducing a new generation of sliders with an optional motor and a flywheel accessory, the Rhino Slider EVO, which seem very promising.

If we are to categorise camera sliders in those that work and those that won’t, we should first define the criteria a good slider must meet. Ask any film maker and they’ll tell you the following characteristics are paramount for a camera slider:

  • As lightweight as possible
  • Robust enough to carry the load of a camera with lens and accessories, such as a mic, a monitor and perhaps even a recorder or video lamp
  • Smooth and fluid ride
  • Sturdy enough to take a hit in rough terrain
  • Easily transported.

Personally, I would add the availability of a motor accessory as a first necessity, because more often than not I fail at holding a continuous, consistent — fluid — sliding speed, certainly after a day’s carrying around and working with equipment.

When evaluating camera sliders using these criteria, you will find most of them fail in one or several areas. But some small companies are delivering camera sliders that perform as good as the heavyweights at a fraction of the cost. Rhino Camera Gear came out with their high quality, low cost first generation slider a couple of years ago, while Trost released theirs a year ago. And now, Rhino Camera Gear is upping the ante by introducing a motorised slider, while Trost has just introduced their second generation — which for the time being you can still not motorise.

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J.D. – Copywriter – Tech. Writer – Editor at Visuals Producer – Contributor at Photoshop User, Studio Daily – Sub-editor at RedShark News