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Know The Differences: Choosing the Best Camera Slider

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Until very recently, the one and only way to get good steady moving shots tracking your subject was with a dolly and tracks. These were expensive and took time to set up. Around the late 00’s, the DSLR revolution happened. Now, high-quality cameras have become accessible to the general market. With this, sliders have become more common and are a simple solution to creating tracking shots on the move.

We have put together this guide to guide people that haven’t bought or used a slider before, and have covered the main questions you may have when purchasing one.

Gimbal vs. Slider

The first thing you’ll be wondering is if you need a slider or a gimbal. A gimbal is just a little more expensive, and for the extra cost, you get far more mobility. A slider only moves forward and backward, or side to side. But, depending on your needs, sliders are very different tools. There are several differences:

The first difference is the distance they operate over. Sliders are around half a meter to two meters long. Gimbals, on the other hand, can move as far as you need them to, depending on your strength and stamina.

When deciding between a slider or a gimbal, the type of lens you use is essential. You’ll generally be using a wide-angle lens while trying to keep everything in focus as you move. You got more options when it comes to sliders, as you can use the focus and zoom while moving sideways. This means you can move forward and backward, or side to side while focusing on different things. This isn’t possible on a gimbal that you would buy for a similar price. More expensive gimbals allow one person to move around while another person zooms and uses the focus. While this is a great feature, it requires more investment and another person. The advantage to using a slider is that you can slide and zoom at the same time with only one crewman.  The next thing you have to think of is how your slider is built and what it’s made of. There are a few options of materials including aluminum, steel, or a combination. If you need something as portable as possible, a carbon fibre build will make sure the slider is as light as possible. Something like the Hereon camera slider would be ideal for this.

After deciding on the material, the next thing to consider is the length. You can now buy mini sliders, at only around 30cm, which are very light and portable, all the way up to a 2m slider for maximum movement.

Drive belt vs. crank

One of the skills of using a slider remembering to do everything at once, and between moving yourself, looking through the lens, and focusing it can be easy to forget to slide as well. By adding in a drive belt or crank, this is automated slightly and makes the process easier. Both are good options, but a drive belt is somewhat more comfortable to use.

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