With so many HDSLR sliders on the market today, choosing the slider best suited for your needs can be quite a challenge. And there many to choose from.
Here is a list of those which made our final round of consideration:
$799 – Kessler Crane Stealth
$497 – Rocket Travel Slider
$650 – Rig Wheels
$550 – Rhino Slider
$599 – Edelkrone SliderPLUS v2
$640 – iFootage Shark S1 Bundle
There were several obvious criteria we used for making our selection: The slider must have a smooth glide; it should offer a rock solid tripod mount; the carriage transporting the HDSLR should also be mounted in such a way that it will not accidentally detach; the overall length must be suitable for one’s needs; easily portable; the construction must be durable and yet be flexible in its design to allow for replacement of damaged parts; the price must be affordable.
After much researching and deliberation, our choice was the iFootage Shark Slider S1 Bundle.
The smoothness of the rails and fluidity of the slider movement of the Shark is nothing short of extraordinary. The rails are carbon fiber, while the resistance pulley/belt system provides a sense of weight and density to the movement (as opposed to a simple, free-floating sliding carriage).
The Shark features a baseplate which is essentially a cheeseplate. Subsequently, we are able to use a Manfrotto 501PLong video camera plate in conjunction with our Manfrotto 577 Rapid Connect Adapter system which we use on all of our HDSLR gear. The 501Plong plate can be attached with two bolts to the Shark slider which eliminates any twisting during use – essentially providing a rock solid quick release mount onto the tripod.
The sliding carriage – a wide, stable platform with ball bearing wheels – firmly grips the rails preventing any accidental detachment and damage to the camera.
The length of the Shark slider is not finite in that one can add additional rails to extend the slide distance. This comes in handy in case an occasion arises when a longer slide is necessary (obviously, a feature not possible in a fixed-length slider). However, most of the time, the standard single rails are usually an adequate length for most applications (one rail length permits a 20″ move).
Perhaps most important, the Shark is modular. If any component is damaged, it can be easily replaced. Fixed-length, enclosed rail systems will be useless as soon as there is any damage to the rails. And as careful as you might try to be, the chance of damaging the rails is a distinct possibility.
The price of the Shark Bundle was $640 delivered. We received our shipment four days after ordering. And the slider – as well as the additional extension tubes – came packaged in a well-made carrying case (an item that you sometimes have to pay extra for when buying a slider from other manufacturers).
Finally, iFootage displayed a new motion control system designed for the Shark Slider at NAB 2014, indicating that manufacturer support for this piece of gear continues to evolve.
Here are things we don’t particularly like about the Shark:
For one, the legs are not in the same league as some of its competitors who offer beefy “outrigger” type feet (albeit at an additional cost). This was not a deal breaker for us, as the legs that come with the Shark are adjustable (and attach via rosettes) and seem to be adequate for our needs. But, some may rightly feel this leg design is restrictive depending upon the environment where they deploy their slider.
And when the slider is center-mounted on a tripod, there is a noticeable bend in the carbon fiber rails when the camera carriage reaches the end of the slide. Not a lot of distortion, but rather just a couple of millimeters; once again – not necessarily a deal breaker in our book. However, in certain instances when the shot level is critical, we will have to switch to supporting the Shark on both ends of the slider (rather then a single center mount).
One final issue of concern we cannot overlook: We sent several messages to the distributor Gear Contact where we purchased the Shark and we did not receive a response. This is troubling as customer service is critical in our book. We will continue to attempt to make contact in order to determine if this is an endemic problem.
UPDATE: We again sent an email to the distributor and this time received a prompt reply. According to Gear Contact tech support, the reason for the lack of response to the previous inquiries was due to a holiday in Hong Kong.
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