I am currently gearing up for a feature film and the script calls for some nice slow, small dolly moves. Due to the size of production and budget, renting a large rail dolly system or a peewee doesn’t make sense and is not at all practical so ultimately the best option will of course be to use a slider.Â With a good slider and a steady hand you can accomplish some beautiful shots, but if you choose the wrong slider your shots will be unusable.
Of all the gear I’ve purchased over the years, one of the few items I’ve never owned is a slider. I’ve rented and shot with many sliders but never found one that stuck out to me enough to invest in. They all seemed to be either really cheap and flimsy, or a bit overkill for my needs. I was looking for something in the middle that was still cost effective but wouldn’t sacrifice end results. It wasn’t until this film project that it became necessary to purchase one and as such I’ve done my homework and share of testing in the past month.
I will discuss a few sliders I had my eye on and explain which one I chose and why. But first, for those of you new to sliders an important point to note is that there are two main types of sliders: Those that use friction and those that use smooth bearings. Generally any slider that uses bearings will be smoother. They just tend to glide along the track almost effortlessly. The friction based sliders are typically more sticky and give slightly lower quality results. With that said though, depending on the camera you are using and the specific slider, some of the friction based sliders are decent options as well. Also, on higher end sliders you can often purchase a motor that will slide your camera automatically based on a speed that you can adjust. This is often great for time-lapse shots and other situations, but the motors can be quite expensive. In some cases, almost as much as the slider itself.
When I started looking for a slider I looked at three seriously, one of which was friction based and the other two bearing based:
Hague Camslide – $300
Â Cinevate Atlas FLT – $579
Kessler Stealth Slider – $899
All three of these were enticing. I came across the Hague (which I had never heard of before) at a local camera shop. Out of the three it is the only friction based slider, but after trying it initially I was quite impressed. It was exceptionally smooth considering the price point and build. I bought it, took it home and started test shooting. The shots were looking really good when using lenses with IS, but not so great with lenses without IS. Ultimately, I wasn’t 100% satisfied and continued my search for a slider.
The Cinevate and Kessler sliders seemed like the next best options for me. They both use bearings and were more solidly constructed, which is equally important in my opinion.
After doing some camera tests on both the Kessler and the Cinevate, I ended up choosing the Cinevate. Both sliders are very well constructed, and both are very smooth – but I ultimately I was able to get better shots on the Cinevate, it just seemed to work. At over $300 less, it’s a great value as well.
All in all, I would highly recommend the Atlas FLT as it has a great cost to performance ratio. If you’re on a tighter budget though, the Hague is a great option as well. You may be more limited in where and when you can use it, but in many circumstances it would be a viable option.