The Highest Rated Responsive & Motorized Camera Sliders in 2017
If you’re a filmmaker looking to produce smooth shots of motion and take your work to the next level, you’re going to need to invest in the best camera slider that you can find. While hand-held camera work is perfectly fine in some circumstances, this method needs to be used correctly and cautiously. Professional films are slick and steady, featuring smooth, dynamic camera movement. Camera sliders were created specifically to help make films with this professional quality. A camera slider is simply a mechanism consisting of a set of bracketed tracks with a moveable carriage mounted on it.
Once you attach your camera or tripod head to your camera slider, you have a wide-variety of angle, movement, and panning options at your fingertips and can capture amazing tracking shots that are guaranteed to impress your audience. But with so many options out there, deciding which camera slider is right for you can be somewhat confusing. Camera sliders come with different features, styles, capabilities, and of course, prices. But we’ve done all the hard work for you. In this article, we look at the best models available and have come up with our list of the 10 best cheap camera sliders on the market in 2017. After reading through our recommendations, you’ll easily be able to decide which camera slider is right for you.
Buyers Guide Questions
What is a Camera Slider For?
A slider is an incredibly versatile tool in a cinematographer’s arsenal. While filming by hand in some situations is great, frequent shakes and uneven movement can make an otherwise stunning piece of video seem amateur. But a slider allows you to achieve smooth camera movement in a variety of situations, enhancing the quality and production value of your work. Professional filmmakers and even big-budget Hollywood blockbusters all use some form of slider to create these kinds of movements in their films. You can’t sit through any major professional-quality production without seeing some of these dynamics at work.
Below are some of the most practical shots that you can achieve with a camera slider. With a name like camera slider, you should be able to guess that the most common movement is called a slide. This is when you use your slider to move your camera horizontally in a side-to-side motion. This is best for tracking motion or panning a shot. Another movement that you can perform with a slider is called a boom. This is when you film while moving up or down. While you can easily just raise or lower your camera by hand, most sliders can be operated vertically.
This means that the slider gives you a fixed plane of motion as you move upwards or downwards, delivering professional, smooth booms.The next movement that you can achieve with a slider is called a parallax shot. This is when you slide your device in one direction and pan in the other direction. This slider movement is best for adding a dynamic sense of motion to your film while keeping your viewer’s focus on your intended subject.
The fourth most common movement a slider allows is the push and pull. A push movement is when you move in towards your subject while a pull is when you move away from your subject. This slider movement is best for dynamic effect and allows your viewer to pay closer attention to your subject or slowly reveal more of the scene. By mounting your camera onto a slider for a push or pull movement, the movement will be impressively clean and fluid.
How Do Camera Sliders Work?
A camera slider allows you to capture creative motion while shooting film and even slow motion moving still photography. A camera slider is a key element to professional filmmaking and visual storytelling, allowing the cinematographer to make visually captivating works that are capable of manipulating the viewer’s expectations, evoking emotion, and directing audience attention to an intended subject. The basic mechanics of a camera slider is relatively simple.
Sliders are a set of bracketed tracks that mount on either a set of tripod legs, a light stand, or on the floor by using its own adjustable feet. The camera slider has a movable housing that you can attach right to your camera or tripod head. This allows you to produce panning and angled shots as well as basic movements along a lateral plane. A camera slider can accept various photographic devices depending on its load capacity.
A sturdy camera slider can secure any device from a small smartphone to a DSLR to a bulky professional video camera, allowing you to use them for practically any application. As you guide your camera along the rails of your camera slider, the shot you take is smooth and vibration-free, adding to the professional quality of your film. And with various motorized sliders available, you can even program the travel speed of your camera slider to achieve perfectly time movements in mere seconds.
What Does it Mean to Dolly a Camera?
You’ve probably heard the term “dolly the camera” but you might not know exactly what it means. Dolly is simply a term used to describe a specific camera movement that is frequently used in cinematography. When you move closer to a subject, it is referred to as dolly in while moving away from a subject is called dolly out. This movement can be performed with hand-held recording (click here for the review) but the results can lack true professional quality. This is why most videographers use a camera slider that keeps the camera moving smoothly on a fixed plane to perform this technique.
Can You Use a Slider on a Tripod?
Sliders are designed to be mounted, specifically to a light stand or a tripod. A camera slider often allows you to choose from two options when it comes to mounting one of these useful filming tools onto a tripod, center or end mount. Both of these methods have certain advantages and disadvantages. The easiest way to mount your camera slider is to attach it to a single tripod using a mounting point that is located in the middle of your camera slider’s track.
This method only requires you to have one tripod and is perfect for a short camera slider that measures less than 36” in length. The drawback to this camera slider mounting method is that it’s not practical for a longer camera slider because it can cause the track to shake and wobble since all of the weight is supported in the center of the rails. The second method that is available for mounting a camera slider is to attach a tripod to each end of your slider.
This method is best for long sliders that are over 36”, or 3 feet, in length since it provides more support to the camera slider and prevents the track from shaking or bending as the camera slides from one end to another. The downside to this method is that it takes a bit more time to correctly set up your camera slider since you are mounting your tool onto two separate tripods and need to make sure that it is perfectly level.
What to Look for When Buying a Camera Slider?
Purchasing a camera slider is one of the best ways to really boost the production value of your films and videos. A camera slider is a versatile tool that allows you to make smooth, controlled movements while filming that are the perfect way to transform any project into a professionally-made masterpiece. But choosing the wrong camera slider for your needs can lead to some big problems.
If the camera slider that you purchase offers unsteady movements, is too heavy or cumbersome for your needs, or isn’t suited for the style of camera that you plan on working with, you run the risk of ruining your shot. But by considering 5 factors before buying your new camera slider, you can make sure that the camera slider you purchase is quick to set up and delivers amazingly smooth footage.
A camera slider can come in a variety of lengths. Because of this, you need to consider the range of motion, or how much travel, that you’ll need the camera slider to offer. Longer slides will give you more travel but sometimes that simply isn’t practical. While a longer camera slider will provide you with more shooting options, it also means that it’s going to be heavier, require more time to set up, need the support of two tripods instead of one, and can prevent you from using your device in tight shooting areas.
Shorter sliders will provide less travel distance but they’re also much lighter and easier to transport. This camera slider is perfect if you’re going to be shooting on the road and only require one tripod to support them since it’s not going to start bending or flexing as your camera moves along the track.
While long sliders are possible the best because they offer more travel, most professionals believe that a slider that measures between 18” to 24” is best. A camera slider that falls within this range is easy to carry, can be mounted on a single tripod, and still provides an impressive amount of movement.
You want to make sure that the model you are buying is suitable for your shooting needs. This means that you should look into its mounting options. Models can have center mounts, end mounts, or better yet, both. Center mounting is perfect for shorter slides that measure less than 3 feet. These simply require you to attach the center of the device to one tripod.
Since the rail isn’t too long, you don’t need support on either end of the track and you don’t have to worry about your footage wobbling as you move your camera along the sliding track. End mounting is best suited for use with sliders that are 3 feet or longer.
Because of the longer length of the tracks, these sliders require two tripods to support them, one on each end. This will provide the stability you’ll need while operating on these lengthy sliders. Since some sliders offer both, it’s best to invest in a device that features both options.
While there are a lot of great manual models that offer incredibly smooth movement while filming, there are also some devices that feature motorized movement. These electric sliders run on either rechargeable powerpacks or batteries. The benefit of these models is that you can simply set the speed and length of travel that is perfect for your shot and then let the device do the work.
This allows you to forget about your equipment and focus on your shot. Another benefit is that these sliders are perfect for making precise movements. Since you program the speed, it’s easier to ensure that the speed your camera travels is even compared to pushing your device along the track manually.
Some lighter, plastic sliders can only support smartphones, GoPros, or light point-and-shoot models. While most of the more sturdy models have a higher load capacity, meaning that they can secure lightweight devices as well as bulkier DSLRs, camcorders, and even heavy professional video cameras.
Not every camera slider is made equal. Some have plastic parts while others are made of high-strength materials like carbon fiber, stainless steel, or aluminum alloy. The difference here is how much weight these sliders can carry. This is important if you are planning on using your camera slider to shoot with a variety of photographic equipment (click here for the study guide). Look into the load capacity of the camera slider you are thinking about buying and consider what styles of equipment you intend to work with.
The final factor that you should consider is the actual weight of the camera slider you are going to buy. Sliders can weigh anywhere from 1 lb to almost 10 lbs. While this might not seem like a big issue, it can greatly affect the portability and stability of the model. Lightweight sliders are best for anyone who is planning on shooting on the road. They’re easy to carry and can generally be set up in less time. The downside is that some of the lightest options out there can be slightly unstable and won’t have the load capacity required to support heavier models like DSLRs cameras and professional shooting equipment.
Heavier sliders will be able to support almost any shooting equipment that you decide to use. Plus, the heavier weight often gives the device a bit more stability during operation. The downside to these sliders is that they might require more time to set up and can be more cumbersome if you intend to frequently carry it around.
The best option is to find a camera slider that falls somewhere in the middle. Unless you are only planning on using your smartphone or a compact digital camera, you want to purchase a camera slider that weighs between 3-8 lbs. This will give you enough load capacity and durability for almost any filming project while still offering easy portability.
Our choice for top pick on the market today is the IMORDEN 48” Camera Slider. One of the best sliders on the market, it offers an impressively long 48” travel range which is capable of handling practically any shot you can imagine. With center and end mounting capability, this sturdy model will work best with any setup you come up with and its 4 ball bearing wheels offer amazing smoothness and stability.
Built from high-grade aluminum alloy, this model is hefty and durable enough to withstand years of use but is light enough to pack up in the included carrying bag and take anywhere. Capable of securing any photographic device that weighs less than 15 lbs, this model is perfect for shooting with a smartphone, point-and-shoot, DSLR, camcorder, and even professional video equipment.
This model is built to offer precise movement with incredible control and is perfect for producing truly stunning video footage. And at less than $90, the IMORDEN 48” is one of the best buys on the market today.
Our pick for best premium choice on the market is the Shark Slider S1. If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line option that is capable of delivering professional-quality films and videos, then this is the perfect model for you. With a 31” rail, this model is short enough to be supported by a single tripod but, thanks to the included extension rails, which go up to 47”, it’s also a versatile dual-tripod mount unit that’s perfect for when you need longer shots.
Built from carbon fiber, it’s incredibly durable and lightweight (perfect for hiking and travelling), but strong enough to mount any equipment weighing up to 15 lbs securely. Its silent, smooth bearings glide effortlessly along the sliding tracks for fluid-like movement without any noise. And with its triangular feet and tool-less operation, this model is incredibly stable and easy to operate.
At over $700, the S1 is not for everyone. But if it’s in your budget and you’re looking for a truly professional-grade model, it’s one of the best buys out there. Designed with smooth performance, durability, and stability in mind, it’s perfect for shooting cinema-quality films and will be the only sliding rig that you’ll ever need.
If you’re looking for a great bargain, then the Neewer Tabletop Mobile Rolling Slider Dolly is our recommendation for the best value on the market today. It was designed to offer simple, effective performance that is perfect for new filmmakers who are on the market for an economic alternative to some of the more expensive sliders on the market.
Simply mount your shooting device on top of the dolly and use it as either a slider or rolling dolly. The dolly rolls thanks to smooth roller bearings which glide effortlessly on any flat surface and its easy-to-use string allows you to steer your device while you shoot.
At only 1.4 lbs, this is one of the lightest options on the market making it perfect for any traveling filmmaker. While simple in design, this device will allow you to capture dynamic motion while only setting you back around $17. At this price, there’s no better option for boosting the quality of your projects.