Video sliders are one of the easiest tools to add smooth dynamic camera movements. One of the problems you might face though is when you have to mount it over a single tripod. The weight of the camera when traveling from end to end can cause the slider to sag. In this case we often use two tripods, or one tripod and a light stand.
Konova's latest Tripod Stability Arm product tackles this problem. The telescoping arm clamps to one leg of your tripod and with a tie rod end can be positioned to support a slider perfectly horizontally, or even at various angles.
Konova is heavily promoting the fact that the Tripod Stability Arm is not just designed for Konova Sliders. The flat base and 1/4" thread allows this system to be used with just about any tripod and any slider (so long as you have a 1/4 or 3/8 tap). You can opt for one piece or a two piece kit if you're working with very long sliders, and this means you only need to travel with one tripod. Available now on the Konova website or following the links below.
I have used and abused my Steadicam Merlin Vest over the years, and although the ISO Arm has lasted me this long, the actual worn vest has slowly been degrading. I love the Steadicam Merlin Vest, and highly recommend the performance it gives, but even at $1500 dollars for the vest only (seen here) this is considered the low end of Steadicam's Stabilizer Vests. There are other more professional Steadicam vests, but obviously much more expensive. While I continued patch-work on my Steadicam system, I took the time to test a few other vests on the market.
Plastic Chest Plate Cracked on my Steadicam Merlin Vest
Build quality on the few aftermarket Stabilizer Vests i've tried over the years were good, in fact many of the worn vests I thought to be more comfortable and better designed than the Steadicam Merlin Vest. The only problem was that each ISO arm on the vests seemed to require a decent amount of weight to work smoothly. The springs were basically 'too strong' to fly your basic Glidecam HD4000 and DSLR Camera. In order to work properly the stabilizer should float in the air and the ISO arm should be very flexible and responsive to movement.
For this new vest that i've purchased, the dual arms can be dialed down to fly an average DSLR lightweight setup, or dialed to support a heavier payload. The ISO arm is responsive, reduces movement that would normally transfer to the stabilizer, and allows the stabilizer to just float. I'm not a fan of a few aesthetic pieces such as the bright blue locking knobs and metal chest plate, but overall the build quality on the vest is good, lightweight, and comfortable.
The length can be quickly adjusted with a simple pull-pin, something the Steadicam Merlin vest does not offer. The Dual ISO arm can be repositioned on the left/right side, or removed completely very very easily. To attempt this with the Steadicam Vest requires more time and more effort. The buckles allow you to get in and out without having to lose your personal fitting.
Metal Plate, Quick Adjustment, Quick Release Arm, Reverse Mount
I purchased this Dual ISO Arm Stabilizer Vest with the brand logo Wieldy, but has since undergone various name changes. The common one found (at time of writing) is under the brand 'CAME' (terrible name). If you're planning to use this vest under a Glidecam or Flycam, the post diameter is just a bit small. You would need to find a way to increase the diameter a bit for a snug fit with the Glidecam or Flycam handle.
Wieldy Handle Diameter vs. Glidecam Handle Diameter
Video Camera Steadycam Dual Arm Stabilizer Load Vest
The vest is very helpful for longer video shots, but is not required. You can always purchase the vest at a later time and just start with the Wieldy Carbon Fiber hand held stabilizer. I have additional information and sample video footage shot with a Wieldy (found here). So if you are just looking for the Hand Held stabilizer, that can be found via eBay (Click Here).
Preparing for a last minute shoot today, I found my Steadicam Merlin Vest had cracked on the upper chest piece. Crap. The quick fix for me today was to use the top portion of the Konova Vest and mate it with the Steadicam Merlin Arm (which is held on with the waist area). There was a bit of hackery, drilling, and modding, but it managed to all come together in the end. The reason I needed to stick with the Steadicam ISO Arm is because the rig I had already built up was fairly lightweight. The Konova requires a good payload to be effective, but the Steadicam arm can be dialed to fly lighter sleds. So for today's shoot i'm Frankenstein-ed out with a vest that consists of a Konova Chest Piece, Steadicam Arm, and Glidecam sled...
It looks similar to the Konova and Varavon, but hardly up to the same standards. The bearings are adjustable. I've seen these Smallism sliders before, but they were always expecting way too much. Seems like they know where they stand and have finally brought prices down below Konova. Although the feet/legs aren't anything to brag about, it is an actual roller bearing slider if you want to stray from the IGUS rails.
You can find Konova's roller bearing track slider (click here).
You can find the Smallism slider at auction (click here).
The 144 LED Video light was quite elusive. I've seen this light available from a few retail companies with pretty inflated prices for a few months now. Unavailable on the big auction site up until a few days ago, the 144 Bi-Color LED Video lights are now available via eBay at more than half off other retail website prices. These are a smaller version of the popular 312 LED Video lights that are powered on Sony batteries, looks like the same manufacturer. Color changing from Tungsten to Daylight and also Dimmable. Great build on these little lights, and very good overall light output. A small chance to catch the few amount online while they are available.
Olivia talks to Eric from International Supplies about a few of Varavon's products. One product is the Slidecam Slim slider that is said to hold up to 41lbs (that's pretty hefty), comes with a Video Head, legs, and travel bag. This new all aluminum Slim Slider will weigh about 2.5kg and be available in 1m length. Sounds pretty cool so far. Varavon has a few different model sliders available, and below is a comparison chart.
One Slidecam Slim showed up on eBay for an asking price of $550, which is almost twice the price of the current popular Konova slider. Pricing has always been an obstacle for Varavon products so far, so let's hope that's not going to be the retail. You can find other Varavon products including their popular View Finder products on eBay following the link.
The original SpiderTrax Dolly is no longer available via PhotographyAndCinema.com, but the Korean company Konova copied the design pretty much dead on. This would be the better alternative aside from making one on your own. Here's some friends working with the dolly during Valentine's day. They let the dolly control all the camera movements with no fluid head. Since there wouldn't be any panning involved during the motion, they mounted a simple Heavy Duty ball head normally used for photography.
By just using the wood flooring, table tops, counters, and other flat surfaces, they were able to achieve a variety of different movements you can't replicate with just a straight slider. For areas that might not be completely smooth, you can carry a roll of Heavy vinyl plastic (comes in rolls) found at any hardware or fabric store. This Vinyl material will even allow you to run on firm carpet. If you haven't had time to make one or if you're not rockin' a rotating dolly yet, this gives you an idea of how versatile it can be. It's an extremely inexpensive tool that can boost your entire video production with these unique movements. [Thanks Guys]
First few hours with the new budget camera slider, and trying to figure out the best way to to use it. Here's what I came up with. First thing you need to know, is that the slider requires a tripod head of some sort. If you've been following my Spider Trax dolly project, I went through quite a few different inexpensive heads before I settled with the 717AH. To prevent vibrations you need a good beefy mount between the camera and the slider. The 717AH was very heavy duty, but still the cheapest thing I could find that still served as an actual video Fluid Head. If you don't have a good solid head, check out the 717AH for this type of project.
Next up, grab yourself a good pair of sticks. I have a pair of Manfrotto Carbon Fiber's but I wouldn't trust it with a slider like this. You can go with lighter sticks, but make sure you have two of them (one each side). If you're like me and want to stick with one Tripod, here's something that's very solid, and cheap. This FT9901 has the same beefy legs as my WF717's, but because it's not the same head, it's way cheaper. Having a quick release adapter under the slider is heaven sent. Without a quick release plate you'll be spinning a 3 foot rail around in circles trying to unwind it and could also damage your threads when the weight is shifting. Get yourself a good mounting solution! With a Ball Mount Tripod head it's also the perfect way to Level your camera slider without having to fiddle around with each individual leg.
For this slider, part of it's marketing allure is the fact that you can mount it vertically at it's furthest end points. I did try this, but I found that it was much more stable and easier to just tilt the Tripod Head attached under the slider. Another huge reason why I suggest you go with a good solid tripod and tilt head as the foundation for your new slider. Vertical slides mimic a Crane shot, and here's a compact way of getting that rarely seen vertical camera movement.
If you attached the quick release plate in the other direction, then you can even mount this thing sideways (if you had to). They say two heads are better than one, and for getting your slider level and positioning it in different ways, I say that's true. Inexpensive, heavy metal legs, and a ball head mount for quick leveling make this Tripod a great inexpensive foundation for your new slider. And when it's not used for the slider, it's still a great inexpensive Tripod to have around.
Ok, I have to keep adding 'Roller bearing' to the description of this DSLR slider. Everyone keeps throwing in names like Igus and GlideTrack, but it's not the same. Those guys don't use actual 'Roller bearings'. I know all about the Igus based sliders, and you can find my version on this blog. My current fixation is about this particular 'Rolling Bearing' slider. If you've ever tried an actual roller bearing slider, you might not go back. The problem is that even the cheapest Roller bearing slider will run you close to $500 bucks. This is why I was excited to see something a lot cheaper show up online.
So here it is, and what do you need to know? For starters, it's a great deal. Even after posting this slider up, I haven't seen anything else that can come close to this as far as features, build quality, and price. I'm sure i'm going to start getting some 'I made mine for this price...' comments, but unless you're selling it, i'm not considering it as a readily available option.
This slider has a solid rail, no flex. It has 1/4x20 & 3/8" threaded tripod mounts in the center, and on each end. It also has 1/4 x 20 & 3/8" threaded mounts on the sides for 'vertical' mounting. It comes with adjustable legs/feet that can be removed. There's also padded platforms that allow it to be used directly on any surface without worry of scratching or marking the area. There's a brake to lock down the carrier when it's not in use. It also comes with a very slick looking quality travel bag. The Slider moves very fluid with zero lash and can be adjusted if need be. It's also very lightweight, but feels like it can slide even heavier cameras than a DSLR.
There is one thing to note. The platform is designed only for a 3/8" mount. This means you need a fluid head or some type of camera mount. You can't mount the camera directly to the platform. Not a deal breaker since most sliders require this anyway. The unit slides so easily, it would work perfectly for motion timelapse rigs. Any small motor can easily pull a heavy camera through it's entire rail. Overall it's more than I expected for the price. The first actual 'roller bearing' slider to break this price point, and here it is.
So another great cost saving product first introduced here on Cheesycam.com. If you want to show some support for what I do, hook a brotha up and link back to this article!