Here's an update on that new Varavon slider ' Slidecam Lite ' that is currently on Sale. The video looks good, but I don't think it's going to be as robust as a larger Konova slider, but for those who want something extra small and light for traveling and packing, there's nothing like it in the current price range. I ordered mine yesterday, and hoping to have it in before I go on vacation. Don't worry i'll still be blogging when on vacation. I've some cool toys to show when I get to my location. You can find these new Varavon Slidecam Lite video sliders following the link (click here).
So you want the lightest 'roller bearing' slider available? Varavon's got a pretty good thing going with it's slim version sliders, but pricing has not always been in our favor. Today that's all changed. There's a pretty good sale going on right now, and It appears there's been some design changes to their slider product. This is a new Slider in their product lineup called the 'Slidecam Lite'. It's still the slimmest and lightest roller bearing slider on the market, with adjustable legs / feet. Starting as small as 24" long and prices just over $250. I just picked up the 24" version, couldn't pass up the price. You can find them on sale right now following the link (click here).
The Varavon Sliders come in a few variations from Slim, Mini, EX, and ENG models. The 'Slim' is the smallest and narrowest version of their slider weighing in at around 5lbs total. It's the common roller bearing carrier design, so it's very smooth, and friction can be adjusted with the bearings.
Old video above of NAB 2011 where we first saw the Varavon Slim video camera slider. Normally even the smallest and cheapest Varavon slider will still run you about $600 dollars retail (seen here), but yesterday there's been a few listings of the Slim Camera Slider on sale for just under $330.
Right now, that's a bit cheaper than even Konova's 31.5" (first gen) slider. The Varavon ultralight Slim version is the narrowest slider on the market at 42mm wide, coming in at 39.4" long, and says it can carry a max payload of 19kg (42lbs?). You'll find those Varavon Slim Camera Sliders on sale following the link (click here)
It's a special bracket combined with the latest Varavon EX-Solo Loupe LCD Viewfinder to work with the GH1/GH2 cameras vari-angle LCD screens. This will allow you to still have full tilt use of your LCD screen for low angle shooting, magnify the image on screen, and provide shade if you're working in bright sunlight. Using a loupe also gives you a nice little stabilizing point of contact if you're shooting hand held or on a small rig. There certainly isn't too many LCD Loupes for the GH1/GH2 cameras, mainly because people have been happy with the mini EVF eyepiece resolution. But if you had to choose one for these M43 cameras, I feel Varavon makes the best. Of course it's also one of the priciest. Find more of Varavon products available at B&H (click here).
Varavon has posted more images of their latest follow focus system with two adjustable hard stops and reversible gear. A quick release type clamp to 15mm rods. Along with the FF, they also offer 'Short Rod Plus' and 'Short Rod Slim' 15mm base rod sets. Varavon seems to have good integration with their existing products to make everything nice and compact. Seen (above) is the new Follow Focus, on short base rails, with Varavon Pro Finder. No definitive pricing information, but if the early listing at B&H is correct, then it's going for more than $500 dollars. The listing is pretty empty so who knows if this is a bundle to include rails and viewfinder too. If you want to see that listing (click here).
Here's a better look at Varavon's latest Loupe Viewfinder. This one has a 180 degree flip up loupe that will provide you shade from the sun, even when you don't need a magnifier. The lens is glass and has a diopter to adjust for vision imperfections. Solid build with metal mounting brackets that can be positioned to fit a variety of cameras. The bottom thumb knob is all metal with a large base so that you can position a quick release plate underneath without wobbling.
The view finder is a solid choice amongst some of the other high end brand names, and is available for Canon, Nikon, and Panasonic GH1/GH2 cameras. Varavon also makes DSLR sliders, Cages, Video rigs, and other viewfinders. I'm extremely fond of their cage. Simple, ergonomical, functional, and lightweight. You can find more of those Varavon products available at B&H (click here).
At first glance most Varavon products take unusual routes in designing camera gear. One example is how they opted to design their ViewFinder with a pop open door and mirror for low angle shots. Unusually I find myself using this feature quite a bit now. This time they've designed their Armor (cage) to not look so 'cage like' when compared to all the other square or rectangular boxes on the market. Varavon sent over the Armor [Thanks Varavon] and it looked like a weird contorted frame, but that's all designed to make your camera still feel like a camera. We didn't really notice this until mounting the 5D Mark II and using it as we normally would hand held. The frame is very lightweight, but it's far from flimsy. Not exactly sure what's it's made from but it feels more like steel not so much aluminum.
Since most DSLR cameras have the hand grip placed on the right side of the body, I guess Varavon figured you'll be focusing with your left hand and supporting the camera with your right. For this, they provided some 15mm standard stubs only on the right side of the Armor body and include a well crafted wide grip handle for support. Instead we tested different things from Shoulder Pads to Target Shooter style gunstocks mounted on the stud. You can use this 15mm mount for a variety of things, but if you build up too far, you might have a tough time getting on and off a Tripod head.
The Armor comes with a mounting base, which is already designed to accept the Varavon View Finder. I have one for the 5D Mark II, so it fit in place perfectly. The entire package together really works, but it has it's 'cons'. The quick release is still a propriety system. The View Finder I have is only for the Canon 5D Mark II, so this won't mount correctly if i'm using a 7D, 60D, T2i, T3i, GH2, etc. For people who own multiple cameras, expect that you'll only be using it for one. Another thing I found was the many many threaded holes around the cage. It's nice if you're mounting a direct 1/4-20 bolt directly. But I tried mounting a hot shoe adapter and it continuously positioned the wrong way. This is due to the threads not allowing a bolt to spin freely before locking it down. I may have to drill a few of these out to remove the threads. For most people Varavon products haven't been competitive in pricing, but that could be contributed to quality. Also, tools like the Varavon ViewFinder and Cage don't exactly fall under 'Future Proof' designs if someday you choose to change cameras. All in all, in the time i've had a chance to use Varavon products, I've been really impressed. They make excellent quality ViewFinders, Sliders, and now this Armor Cage. More information on the Armor can be found at their website (click here).