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Opinions on Camera Sliders that have a parallax panning feature and cost less than $500?
  • I am prepping for a shoot in 2 weeks. I am looking for PVer's opinions on the various parallax systems for sliders that are (or used to be) available.

    Since I don't have an existing slider, I could either go with an all-in-one unit or an add on unit. The cheap add-on units from Neweer have mostly disappeared off eBay and Amazon. If anyone has one for sale, let me know, I could buy @aksels slider in the market place and add it on!

    Ideally I am looking for something I can get in 2 weeks time, ca. 120cm long, quiet for sound recording, smooth (roller bearings are best?) can utilize a 2nd tripod for stability, and that works reasonably well for medium and close shots of an interviewee). At this budget level, I don't expect perfection, but, want to strive for it as always :-) .

    Can one take noisy bearings apart and try to re-grease them, if loud?

    Are there any DIY's you could recommend for this parallax add-on? Here's a complicated design DIY:

    -I don't have that much time, lol.

    Design examples:

    Neweer 120cm add-on: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NW9SBRU/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00NW9SBRU&linkCode=as2&tag=hyperlapsed-20&linkId=VCYBCGBQ4SLETTX5%3C/span%3E

    Konova 120 cm add-on: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QLJULOE/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00QLJULOE&linkCode=as2&tag=hyperlapsed-20&linkId=YRFKPOJWA647PXVQ%3C/span%3E

    All-in-one (looks like a Rhino "inspired" design): https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/ASHANKS-A120A-120cm-Carbon-Fiber-Track-Slider-Adjustable-Angle-Tube-Follow-Focus-Pan-for-Stabilizer-DV/1970333_32670908629.html

    Also available directly from CAME-TV. Just emailed them about availability. http://www.came-tv.com/cametv-camera-slider-carbon-fiber-120cm-lightweight-gp120q-p-732.html

    -If no one can sell me a parallax add-on, this might be my only choice for a 120cm model, due to my time limitation.

    Same design here: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1210956-REG/came_tv_gp_120q_1_gp_120q_lightweight_carbon_fiber.html

    Fixed designs. CON: Subject must be distance X away from camera to get optimal effect: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1237083-REG/alzo_1639_smoothy_radius_and_linear.html https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1078663-REG/promediagear_vs32_pmg_duo_32_video_slider.html

    And I won't list the one-man-band design from Redrock due to $$$.

    Have I missed any others?

    I am sure Kessler got all the rip-off designs off the market or these things didn't really work that well -and that's why there are so few around today…?

    Your thoughts please!

  • 8 Replies sorted by
  • A little bit of general information ^^.

    Forget about the cheap add-ons. They are working in theory - But not really good in reality overall (as they are not stable enough). So it´s no wonder, that they disappeared from the market (especially the universal ones you can mount on any slider). I have actually the CAME-TV / ASHANKS / Commlite 80cm version here (with the parallax rod within the two carbon fibre ones).

    It´s working "ok" as a normal slider (especially if you apply a little bit of teflon aka PTFE spray to the rails and to the guiding rod in the middle). But the parallax feature is stuttering a little bit in the original shape. I need to modify it over the next few days (change the original - maybe too thick - grease). Because: In the original delivery state it´s only usable for super wide angle shots (otherwise you can see the stutters in the image when using the parallax feature).

    Btw.: I also planned to get the Curve-N-Line before I went for this parallax version. But I decided otherwise, because it was too expensive for my taste (for a fixed curve slider without any brakes or a flywheel or so). And it´s also quite heavy -> Because of the rugged full metal construction. Don´t oversee: Overall it´s really hard to get smooth shots without any assist features (brakes, dampening systems on the carrier, cranks, flywheels or motor-systems). Really good are the sliders with flywheel (out of the "not-motorised" crowd).

    The iFootage Shark S1 is a good option for example (used it already once). Or the "Polly Slider" looks also nice (which is WAY more lightweight -> Just 1.5kg vs. 3.8kg with the Shark S1). Though: They are both more expensive than 500 bucks already (especially the Polly). And they are not coming with a parallax feature. Plus: I cannot tell you how good the Polly is vs. the S1 (as I never used the Polly til now in real life) ...

    Btw.: I just mention them (altough they are not coming with a parallax feature), because it´s easier to get such a slider and use a fluid head, instead of trying to find a super cheap parallax featured slider. They are just not working as advertised (at least in the original delivery state). Though: I really need to regrease my parallax slider before I completely give up the hope for fluid slides with it ^^.

    Hope that helps as a starting point ...
    Have a nice day.

    /EDIT/:

    Btw.: I forgot to ask - Do you have a good gimbal already?
    As it´s way more useful than a slider (even if it´s a parallax one) ...

  • @Tscheckoff Thanks for your reply and sage advice, especially on the CAME-TV / ASHANKS / Commlite 80cm version (with the parallax rod within the two carbon fibre ones).

    Let me know if you get it smoother, by re-greasing.

    No I do not have a gimbal. How would a gimbal supersede a slow smooth slider move?

    I am doing mostly interviews, like to shoot 2 cameras, let the power of the interview and cutting with some close ups, push the story along.

    The director on this one, likes to have an "off camera angle" of which I am not a fan, but, can swallow if it's a nice parallax "dolly" (slider) move.

    Do you find 80cm is long enough to give you a enough room for a slider move? I am un-initiated, but, am thinking, longer is better (as did Rhino, in their kickstarter phase).

    Thanks!

  • I've been pretty interested in the 80cm Came/Ashanks/etc, would also like to know if regreasing helps with smoothness for you.

  • Well - Your post drove me to disassemble the whole parallax slider today ^^.

    I cleaned and regreased it with special optical grease (also tried to adjust everything as good as possible). Now I have to wait for the glue to dry (as i removed the glue at the bottom of the slider, to be able to unscrew the turning plate on top). Overall it´s now better yes -> Tried it once before applying the glue. But it seems like the main ball bearing which is inside is just a little bit too cheaply built (as there are still small "jumps" in the panning - Altough quite small ones now).

    Let´s see how stable it is after it dried out.

    Btw.: I asked about the gimbal, because if you would need the slider for other purposes (not interviews), a gimbal is a better investment than a slider nowadays. I also went for a Zhiyun Crane gimbal yesterday (should come within the next few days) - As I saw how much value it adds through a detailed Pilotfly H2 test I made with a colleague about a week ago.

    Sliders are nice - Sure. But if you compare the usability, a slider is WAY, WAY worse. You need a good tripod, you need to carry it around additionally (beside a steadycam or gimbal), you maybe even need to use two tripods with the longer ones, and then you can use it just for a few special shots (not all the time like a gimbal). PLUS: A good slider is quite pricey as you already noticed ...

    Interviews are problematic overall. You need VERY, VERY slow movements (constant ones) to be able to cut at the right points. And you cannot reshoot one scene many times to get a perfect move (like you need to do with many of the manual ones). So a motorised one or at least one with a flying wheel is nearly a "must have". Btw.: I also searched for such a solution once, to get nice "background moving image" shots or closeups of the people while interviewing them -> Yes. The same requirements like you have now ^^. But I gave up as the prices for good motorised sliders are already quite high - And the panning heads add up additionally price wise. PLUS: For interviews you also need a VERY silent motorised one (otherwise you have the motor sound on your audio recordings).

    Btw.: Longer Sliders (> 80cm) are nice for sure. But you need to use them with two tripods then (which should not be a problem in studio use though). But the smaller ones are also still usable on a good single tripod (with a bigger base with more surface on top) -> For example a 75mm half bowl tripod with a flat base adapter (without any rubber on top - As the rubber also adds movement to the outer parts of the sldier. The longer ones are not really usable just with one tripod. At least keep that in mind, if your setup is already quite "crowded". If not, a longer one is also ok and usable ^^.

    Btw.: Here are two clips - The first one is the slider I have (but with a motor). Overall I think for timelapse it´s ok - As it seems like there the ball bearings are not a problem at all. (And it´s a super cheap option to get timelapse shots with parallax feature - As you only need one motor.) But the loud motor and the "jumpy" panning base (without modification) is a problem for video usage - With faster movements.

    The second clip is of a new panning head (which is maybe a nice solution).
    And the only useful solution I could think about for your purposes:

    http://www.shootools.it/autopan--preorder--/9064

    Think about this head with a used Shark S1 slider (which you can get for about 300 to 400 bucks or so). You are still WAY over your 500 bucks. But with the flywheel of the S1 you should get nice, smooth and SILENT movements. And if the ShooTools autopan is not loud, you should also get nice "interview compatible" panning (with more freedom in movement too - As you can program it).

    And the most important point is, that the head knows if you stop the slider through the string. So if you get to the end of the slider, you just need to stop (let the wheel stop freely) and reverse -> And through the string the head also starts to pan back to the other programmed position. That way you can slide all the time (from left to right) without the need of reprogramming / stopping the movements (like it´s the case with the Redrock One-Man-Band - Though with more freedom as you can program different angles and distances.)

    Good question, if it´s possible financial wise ...
    Just tell the director that this is the cheapest possible solution.
    And everything else is thrown out money. And I think it´s really the cheapest (capable) solution out there.

    LG

  • @Tscheckoff Thanks for your detailed report and I am looking forward to hear if your re-greasing the parallax movement helped. Can you mention which grease you used? I think in one of your old videos on de-clicking a Nikon/MFT adapter you mentioned a product like this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/HELIMAX-XP-Camera-Telescope-Optical-Instrument-Focusing-Helicoid-Grease-w-PTFE-/271194713421?hash=item3f2476ed4d:m:mAF2oqM4LNQGv6vRNVl8zXA -That one?

    I saw Cheesycam's video before and that's what gave me some hope for this slider! The quality looks good enough but motor noise is a problem with most sub $2000 devices, so I was not surprised. I think the motor version is rather cheap @$400 too. I think I would look a options to Servo City to later build a quiet motor for the slider.

    I hear what you've said about gimbals and I agree, the ability to look like a Steadicam without the years of "skill building" a Steadicam Op has, is an enormous advantage. I'll look for one in the future when I need one. Like a lot of things on the cutting edge, if I can wait (as with this slider or the Shark S1), the designs only get better, by the time I really need it. At the moment, I am not needing a gimbal yet.

    The new head from Shoot Tools I saw too. It looks amazing, I love the concept with the string (simple!), but, I realized long ago it's better to wait and let the bugs get worked out before taking the plunge on such things.

    When I worked in the big budget film biz as a camera assistant, I saw what a professional Steadicam Op needs to get shots that look that good (like a grip holding a big wind baffle to keep the sled from shifting in the wind) and what the dolly grip has to do to get his tracks super smooth. Things like cleaning the wheels before mounting the massive dolly on the tracks, then greasing them with "End Dust" a wax based dusting spray, some people use at home on furniture. Once the shot is done, everything gets cleaned before being put away. That way the massive and heavy dolly and camera are riding on a thin film of lubrication. So I expect in miniature, on a slider, all of these methods become more important: rails that can be cleaned and proper grease/lube being used.

    This production is on a shoestring, so this is purely an investment on my side. They will be happy if I bring even a basic slider, I am looking at what's a good investment for me even at this small amount.

    Thanks for your help & LG zurück!

  • You´re welcome ^^.

    About the grease types - I used OSIM Optik FTS5 (a "middle fluid" one) for the ball bearings and FGF5 (a "low fluid" one - which contains adhesive additives) for the parts which needed just a protection surface - Or which were only held in place by the grease. Worked fine at the first glance. But overall I recognised now, that it didn´t help that much (basically nothing at all). I think I forgot to disable the lens stabiliser at the first test after the modification. Checked it again today (after the glue dried out). So - Still not an option (not even after the mod).

    Btw. - About the grease: OSIM Optik is based in Germany - They also offer grease types, which are compatible to pastic parts (which is important with more modern lenses sometimes). Lithium soap additives, which are standard in many multipurpose grease types, is not compatible to many pastic types - And as you never know, which type of plastic a lens has, it´s better to use grease types without Lithium. I don´t find the datasheets from OSIM Optik actually (need to ask the support for stats again). But I think both grease types mentioned are lithium based (and the MKL1 which is compatible to all plastic types is for sure on silicone base). Overall keep in mind (in general), that you can use Lithium based ones as far as you only grease metal to metal contacts. PLUS: Don´t oversee - You always need to remove the old grease and dust residues as good as possible before applying new grease. Otherwise (with wrong grease mixtures), you get more problems than the new grease solves old ones ^^.

    Yep - In the video the slider looks ok because you don´t see the problems in timelapse videos - Maybe you could see them even there if you´re unlucky. It´s price wise quite interesting - But it´s as always: You get what you pay for. Also thought about a more silent solution. Maybe one of the brushless motors, which are designed for gimbals. They should be strong enough (maybe not for heavy purpose - But at least for such smaller slider it should work).

    Btw.: I see a last hope for the parallax slider - I think I will try to mount the gimbal on top (to compensate for the laggy panning / jitters). Quite useless setup yes (as you need both parts all the time -> Gimbal AND slider). But at least I can use the slider that way - Even with the parallax feature. The only question remains, if it´s not the same if you just use the gimbal as slow as possible (handheld) -.- Maybe I also sell the slider (with parallax removed) as a normal carbon fibre slider. Makes more sense - As it´s working quite ok without the parallax feature. Though it´s really missing a flywheel or a break or something elase for more professional use ...

    The ShooTools looks promising yes. But also quite pricey for a brand new tool (which isn´t testet in detail already). That´s true. So just go for the Shark S1 if you can find it cheap somewhere. With the S1 you can at least modify it to a motorised one in the future (even by yourself) -> As there´s already the teethed belt included / built into it (you just need a controller + motor + belt to connect to the flywheel port). Other solutions which are capable for interviews INCLUDING parallax or tracking systems of any kind are just too pricey.

    Btw. - Another weird method:

    It would be also possible to modify a gimbal to use it together with a motorised slider (or a flywheel controlled one). Just program in a VERY slow panning with all other axis locked to one of the profiles (AlexMos Simple BGC for example). And then control the gimbal with a remote (wireless or cable driven) and start the movement of the slider simultaniously. Should work nice too (at least with a flywheel - Which you can also turn REALLY slowly for longer takes). Pretesting is then required -> To find the best speed combination (manual slider + automated panning speed). But even motorised it shouldn´t be that of a problem to implement a controller which also enables the gimbal over a cable remote (directly to the micro USB port of an AlexMos / Simple BGC gimbal for example). You just need to know the implementation and emulate a standard remote. Would be the best low budget 2-axis movable solution (which is full programmable). And which you could even upgrade to an all-axis solution (if you control also the other two axis - Not only the panning). PLUS: You could still use both seperately -> The slider AND the gimbal. ^^

    LG

  • @Tscheckoff again thanks for the great report! I was sorry to hear re-greasing the bearing did not help. Sounds as if the bearings are the problem...

    I looked at a lot of videos of the shark S1 and it looks very promising on it's own as a slider (thanks for mentioning it) and hen better when later using something like the Shoot Tools head.

    I spoke with Rhino about their Arc solution which now is an electronic head, that works only in combination with their "Motion" motor. The combo costs $1000 on top of the cost of the EVO slider.

    They were going to produce it like the CAME-TV / ASHANKS / Commlite model with the parallax rod, until they were asked by some lawyers not to: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rhinocg/rhino-slider-evo-rhino-motion/posts/1328688

    You can see the design they had in some shots of this teaser video several times and up close at 3:54: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rhinocg/rhino-slider-evo-rhino-motion/description -It looks like they were using 4 metal rollers to smoothly glide on the parallax bar. That looked promising. Perhaps this info will inspire someone to do a DIY retrofit.

    I had been thinking the same thing as you. An add-on in the meantime might be as you mentioned: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1133719-REG/syrp_0032_0001_genie_mini.html/pageID/accessory has an ease-in and ease-out programability or the cheaper w/ no ease-in or out: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1152164-REG/vidpro_mh_360_motorized_time_lapse_pan.html http://www.ebay.com/itm/360-Panoramic-Rotating-Time-Lapse-Stabilizer-Tripod-Adapter-ForGopro-DSLR-Camera-/112041065503?hash=item1a162afc1f

    The good news for me is that as of yesterday the shoot has been pushed back 1 month. So I have more time to get this sorted out.

    Thanks again for your help!

  • Hi there again.

    Sorry for my late reply (I oversaw a little bit to check for this thread) ^^.

    Meanwhile I tested btw. the slider with the Zhiyun CRANE on top (horizontally mounted on the panning plate). But it makes no sense basically. It´s easier to use it directly. At least if you have the option to stand straight / upright OR to sit somewhere in front of the object or subject to get even better stability (and move only with your hands). And as always it´s very important to keep in mind, that you save the additonal payload if you use it directly without the slider -> As you don´t need the bigger tripod AND also not the slider with the two clamps on top to mount the gimbal.

    Beside that I still missed a flywheel to get really smooth slides. And the Zhiyun CRANE gimbal is good - But not freely programmable (like the SimpleBGC / AlexMos gimbals). So it was also not adjustable to a slower panning speeds. But it´s very good overall - So I am still very happy with the purchase. It´s a good option (at least for system cameras).

    It´s a shame yes that the Rhino ARC mechanical parallax system got cancelled. Seemed quite nice. But I understand that they cancelled it (instead of fighting for it over months or even years). It would have been the perfect combo together with the controller & motor units (also according price / performance ratio). BUT: If they sorted out a good motorised solution, it´s also nice and ok.

    The good thing is, that with a motor you can freely adjust the angles (mechanically you´re also limited by the max. possible angles of the parallax rod). It was the same with my slider - You need a certain distance to achieve the centered panning. With an electrical controlled solution you can start and stop basically everywhere ^^. PLUS: It´s way easier possible to set an offset centre -> For example set the start point for the panning head on one side (centered on object or subject), then move to the other side and program it again to the centre - That´s it. The controller then knows exactly the distance inbetween the points and how much degrees he has to turn the panning head.

    Maybe it´s even good that they designed a new electronical head solution ^^. Mechanical solutions are also more prone to problems (mechanical play, dust in the bearings, dent´s on the guiding rod(s) and so on). Btw.: Maybe it´s a good idea to start now with the Rhino EVO with the flywheel (which costs just 75$ extra). At least if you plan to add the motor-upgrade / add-ons in the future. If you don´t, the Shark S1 is for sure also more than good enough and it´s easier to get it used too. Btw.: You can upgrade both sliders with the ShooTools head anyway (if the whole Rhino Motor- and Panning-System isn´t possible price wise in the future). So it´s basically up to you (and your "mood" ^^) to choose one of the two - Or up to the fact if you can find a cheap Shark S1 kit (used) or not.

    Btw.: I don´t know how good the small heads are you linked to. Maybe they are also an option. But I think the ShooTools is worth it already because of the motion sensing wire. That way its also possible to change the direction of the slide - And the head still follows. And THAT is the important point for your application(s) ^^.

    Have a nice day!
    And choose wisely ^^.

    LG