Which is the best Camera Slider? A Comparison of 18 Camera Sliders for Travel and Timelapses

What’s the best way to test a camera slider? The hard way.

The typical scenario is you walk into a store or trade show, swipe the carriage a couple of times and go gaga over how smooth the slider is, then try the other hundred or so sliders and forget what the first one moved like.

The only way to really test a slider is to test it to its limits, everyday, for years. I can’t afford to do that. Nobody can. Ultimately, you have to boil down your choices to a few and hope for the best.

So the next best thing is this comprehensive monster comparison of 18 camera sliders for travel and timelapses, something that might help you whittle down your list to a manageable number.

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SliderExampleMotionControl

The basic parts of a Slider and Motion Control System

The slider just forms the physical track. This can be either:

  • Rods – two rods spaced apart, or
  • Rigid – a fixed construction that might have permanent rods as its track

The best material is stainless steel (or an alloy), but the most common is either aluminum or carbon fiber.

In addition to this, you can add two physical components to the slider:

  • Flywheel and crank – for smoother lateral movement (slides) in case your hands are not up to the task
  • Parallax (for lack of a better word) – this is an additional mechanism that keeps your camera centered on a subject mechanically. I haven’t considered this in the comparison because it’s not important, and a motion control system can take care of this anyway.

A slider has four modes of operation:

  • Horizontally.
  • Angled – the steeper it is, the harder you’ll have to work to control movement.
  • Vertical – not all sliders can accomplish this, because the carriage/plate might just fall off.
  • Underslung – the carriage is under the track, and the camera is upside down.

A slider can operate in three axes:

  • 1-axis – only lateral or slide motion
  • 2-axis – slide plus pan
  • 3-axis – slide, pan and tilt
  • 4-axis – all of the above, and open a bottle of beer at the same time. Just kidding. Rotation is another option.

For more complex and automated movements, you need a motion control system. A system can do one or more of these:

  • Track at a defined speed, and vary the speed if required.
  • Take two or more initial positions and move repeatedly along it.
  • Track a subject
  • Timelapses (you’ll need a shutter release cable that works with your camera)
  • Pans/Tilts
  • Wireless control – either via a controller, tablet of smartphone. This could be wi-fi or bluetooth.

The typical parts of the motion control system (that no manufacturer educates you about!) are:

  • Slider
  • Motor – the thing that actually moves the carriage automatically
  • Controller – in your hands, so you can program or move things in real-time
  • Battery (and adapter if accepting generic batteries) – to power everything
  • AC input – if it can be operated off mains
  • Shutter release – for timelapses, you need one that is specific to your camera
  • Pan-head or tilt-head or both – this is a separate mechanism that replaces the ball/fluid head for panning and tilting. It has an in-built motor, like a gimbal.
  • Cables to connect everything – if it runs on cables. Even though cables look ugly, they guarantee operation.
  • App – if you’re using a tablet or smartphone, you need a proprietary app, usually free

So, at what point does a slider not become just a slider? When you have to buy it.

The criteria

We all have different needs, and sliders are built for specific needs. I need a slider that I can fly with, and has all the bells and whistles for motion control and timelapses. This may not apply to your situation, so don’t assume this comparison is the only way.

Now because motion control equipment is expensive, there’s no point in saving a couple of hundred dollars buying a cheap slider. Therefore, I also need this slider to operate manually with heavy loads. In other words, a one-time purchase that must last many years.

These conditions have to be met:

  • About 3 feet of travel.
  • 3-axis motion control and timelapses.
  • Good battery life.
  • Full manual operation when required.
  • Angled and vertical motion if possible.
  • Underslung operation if possible.
  • Good resistance to weather.
  • Small enough to fit in checked luggage.
  • Professional grade and tough. Rugged and long-lasting.
  • Must support about 10 kg (give or take).
  • Combined weight of slider and motion control system must be as low as possible.
  • Which can be fixed or maintained during travel with just hex keys or some screws.

Size limit

Checked luggage has to meet an approximate size limit of 60″ when all dimensions are added up. That gives me about 40″ for the slider in total, and this should give me about 3 feet of travel.

I find 24″ sliders too limiting. I’m not after gimmicky movements to ‘up my production values’.

Here’s my take: If what’s in the frame isn’t worth looking at, then moving it a bit to the side won’t make any difference. But if you get paid for it, why not?

3-axis motion, good battery life, resistance to weather

The motion control system must be able to pan, tilt and slide. Hopefully with repeatable movements – that’s what makes a motion control system. Set it, go to sleep, and wakeup with a gorgeous timelapse. That’s the idea.

This means the battery should last for about 5-8 hours approximately.

Weight limit

The allowable limit for checked luggage is getting lower every year. It’s almost impossible to carry a motion control slider rig in carry-on, not if you want to throw your lenses and camera in checked baggage.

But if the slider is too light, it loses some stability.

Yet it must be able to take a camera, battery, monitor, matte box, lens and fluid head. All this can easily add up to about 10 kg even with DSLR/mirrorless cameras. I don’t need this kind of rig for timelapses, but I need the slider to double-duty in manual mode as a quick dolly.

Construction

Tough. The lesser the number of moving parts the better. Easy maintenance and troubleshooting.

The slider should be able to take hard knocks without losing alignment. Which means good materials, tolerances and a design that has foreseen these problems.

The sliders compared

I asked my subscribers what sliders they used, and I picked the best 18 ones I could get specs for. There were others, but I got fed up after 18. So I’m sure there are worthy candidates out there I’ve missed.

Here are the sliders that made this comparison, in no particular order:

  1. Kessler Cineslider (B&H, Amazon)
  2. Edelkrone SliderPLUS Pro (B&H)
  3. Cinevate Duzi v3 (B&H, Amazon)
  4. Konova K7 (B&H, Amazon)
  5. ProMediaGear PMG-DUO (B&H, Amazon)
  6. Glide Gear Gemini (B&H, Amazon)
  7. Dynamic Perception Stage One Plus
  8. Libec ALX S8 (B&H, Amazon)
  9. Modern Studio 3′ Camera Slider
  10. HexaSlide PRO
  11. Rhino EVO Pro (B&H)
  12. Redrock Micro One Man Crew Director (B&H)
  13. Trost m100 + Ditogear MotionKit
  14. Ditogear T’rantula GO + Evolution Kit
  15. Smart System Smartslider Reflex S + Digidrive (Amazon)
  16. iFootage Shark slider (Amazon)
  17. SlideKamera HSK Slider PRO + X-Motor
  18. Rigwheels Raildolly 2X and Syrp Genie – as a control group. (B&H, Amazon)

When I was faced with more than one model, I chose the more Pro version. If there was more than one pro version, I chose the lighter option. If you think there is a cheaper alternative, I rejected it because it probably didn’t fulfill one of my criteria. Or maybe I was just pissed off at that point and decided to toss a coin.

As you might know, if you’ve been crazy enough to keep tabs on all sliders, some of the sliders on this list don’t meet all my criteria, especially motion control. However, you can use the Syrp Genie with any slider so I thought it might be a good idea to give them a fair shot.

What am I looking for?

I’m looking for size and weight obviously. I’m also looking for horizontal and vertical payload with and without motion control. I’m looking for features, battery life, price and sanity when all the smoke clears.

Before I hit you with one of the most complex charts I’ve created in over a year, I want to applaud four manufacturers for providing us with websites that actually made it ‘somewhat’ easy to find information relevant to my needs:

  • Ditogear, and
  • Smart Systems
  • SlideKamera
  • Edelkrone

I’m sorry, but the others don’t cut it. Some come close, but many leave out even basic specifications they assume are not relevant – or want to hide. To make matters worse, some have multiple models – and nobody can figure out the differences between them. Maybe even they don’t know it themselves.

To the worst offenders: Shame on you. You know who you are. It’s a wonder anyone would buy anything from you.

Comparison of 18 camera sliders

Here’s the chart (click to enlarge):

Important: Specifications, values, prices, features might be incorrect or just plain wrong. Even though I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time putting together this list, I don’t claim it’s accurate or up-to-date. Please contact the manufacturers directly, and refer to their websites for accurate and correct information and prices. If you find something wrong, please let me know in the comments below. But there’s one thing I’m not going to do, and that is update this chart.

Comparison of 18 Camera Sliders

Notes:

  • *They claim something’s coming soon.
  • ^I’ve not considered parallax, speed of sliders, ramps, etc. because it’s too specific. If you haven’t used sliders, you’ll have no idea what speeds you need. Not all companies have shutter releases for all cameras. Maybe they’re not doing enough business to keep up?
  • ^^This is the best battery option I could find. Some allow for additional batteries or adapters. Good luck.
  • **Some don’t do vertical movements, or advertise if they do or don’t, nor mention if they support angled movements at all.
  • #I might have added an accessory I shouldn’t have, or missed an accessory I shouldn’t have, or missed an offer I shouldn’t have. Sometimes the prices are the sum of all parts, other times the final price is the kit offer. Whatever I could find.
  • ##Angled plates, tripod heads, magic arms, etc. not considered. These don’t have to be proprietary most of the time.
  • @Not many mention packed lengths, and not many mention the right weights for accessories. There’s a lot of guesswork here regarding everything. Even with materials, not all metals and alloys and bubbles are created equally.

Takeaways

My needs are specific, and so should yours be. If you’re looking for a generic slider, you’re wasting your time and money. When it comes to sliders, generic isn’t generic enough.

Due to the physical nature of our work, one tool rarely does everything. This is true of cameras, lenses, tripods and DPs. A slider that works perfectly for one might not work for another at all.

All I wanted to accomplish with this comparison was to whittle down the list to a manageable number, and then look for honest and long-term assessments (it’s surprising how few there are out there) of the merits of each slider. Like I said at the start, you really can’t assess a slider unless you’ve abused it and pushed it to its limits – over a long period of time. That’ll have to wait.

If my chart looks too complex, here’s how I used it to narrow down my choices:

  • First, list the features that are most important to you. In three groups – Essential, useful, useless. Be as pragmatic as you can.
  • Then tick the sliders that fulfill all the essential features. Any that don’t are out. I managed to take out 8 with this step. 10 left.
  • Then from the leftovers, find the ones with useful features. Remove the ones left out.
  • Finally, look at price. Leave those that don’t make sense.
  • From the rest, find the ones that you can actually test or buy, or sell if it doesn’t work out. Be as cold-hearted as you can.

So what do I think? I’ve isolated the features most important to me, and have narrowed down my choices to these four options:

  • Kessler Cineslider (B&H, Amazon)
  • Konova K7 (B&H, Amazon)
  • Ditogear T’rantula GO + Evolution Kit
  • SlideKamera HSK Slider PRO + X-Motor

The X-Motor might not do tilts. I can always add a Syrp Genie Mini as a work-around. But then why bother? The problem with the Syrp Genie is the low payload capacity, and the tilt option won’t be available till next year.

The problem is, there isn’t a single kit screaming out at me. They’re all a bit meh. Personally, the one I’m leaning towards is the Ditogear. Their MotionKit can be used with other sliders (but I think it’s either the BD Controller or OmniController and not Evolution). But it’s also the most expensive. Konova might be the cheapest, but it also has the most mixed reviews for heavy duty work. Same goes for the Kessler Cineslider – too many negative user reviews. My second preference would be the HSK, but the lack of tilt option might be a deal-breaker. Even though it didn’t make the cut, I was most impressed by the Trost m100. Maybe if somebody can figure out a way to give it all terrain legs…

Sigh.

I will be spending a few months finding more information on each, and will probably wait till NAB 2016 to see if any new products are released. There’s a lot of room for improvement as far as motion control equipment is concerned, and the T’rantula GO is the slider I prefer the most because it can be extended and broken down. Very versatile. For heavy-duty studio setups, I can always hire a dolly or get a Rigwheels RailDolly 2X.

What do you think? Which slider do you find most appealing or bang for the buck?

Exclusive Bonus: Download my free swipe file on how to shoot night scenes well (PDF file optimized for mobiles and tablets).

15 replies on “Which is the best Camera Slider? A Comparison of 18 Camera Sliders for Travel and Timelapses”

  1. Thanks for writing this. I’ve fallen in love with syrp’s product line. You should really look into their systems if you haven’t already.

  2. hi im looking for a timelapse slider bundle that has 3 axis and compact enough to bring it with overseas travels and hiking/mountaineering. im looking between:

    dynamic perception
    http://www.dynamicperception.com/SapphirePro-Stage-One-Portable-Time-Lapse-System-p/bdl-1-vx3pro.htm

    syrp genie 3 axis kit
    https://syrp.co.nz/products/genie-kits

    emotimo st4
    http://emotimo.com/ifootage/

    im leaning towards dynamic perception and syrp genie 3 axis they seem to be more compact and emotimo cost a lot more for the same features that i need but im not really sure. which one do you think would be the best choice? and if you could recommend other bundles that you think would be great im open to suggestions it would really help a lot. i only do timelapse i dont really do live shooting. thank you.

    1. I’m having the same struggle. The thing that bothering me is the fact that there are way too many wires in other system like the kessler one, or it would take so long to set up like the ifootage. One thing i really like the syrp system is that i can take it apart and use it individually. The disadvantage of them is app control — which means that i need a working phone (not a great choice during winter shoots). I also have concern that elastic band other sliders are using will get soggy over time. Much struggle.

      1. i really like syrp genie 3 axis my only problem with it is it looks so high that i might have problems getting low shots.

        1. That and the low payload keeps it from becoming a truly professional system. But still, it’s great for timelapses.

  3. Hi I’ve been looking for a timelapse slider. The syrp genie now has the 3 axis solution. What do you think, looks pretty easy to use and compact than other set ups.

  4. And what about slidercamera with 2d bull head and x-motor? I don’t know if it’s possible in slidekamera but in Kessler you can chain motors and pull focus

  5. I bought the iFootage Shark. Use it manually (no motion control). As smooth as the comments on the web say it is. Used it with video cameras and dslrs. A very fine piece of technology. With the damping wheel, of course it becomes heavy (I even added a second one for light cameras) but really worth the weight. Extremely smooth speed ramping at starts and stops.
    Their motion control system is expensive. Now eMotimo is working with them to bring their expertise in motion to the Shark. Should be a very nice mix.

    1. Hi. I’m looking at the extended version. Have you had any experience with it. If so does it it hold up with heavier (15lbs) cams. Thanks.

  6. Check this out, http://gearslidercamera.com/

    French product . First release in 2014. Their slider comes in two flavors, Slider GSC ATTRACTION (for camera < 5kg) and Slider GSC PRO (for camera up to 20kg)

    Upcoming features like pan/tilt and electronic stabilizer, http://gearslidercamera.com/a-propos/

    Customers seems very happy. Next month, I'll maybe buy the Slider GSC ATTRACTION for my GH4/ Honu V2 Cage/ Samyang lenses config. I'll then let you know what I think about it.

    Cheers,
    Mike

    ps: you can ask me for translation as I'm french

    1. Hi Mike, I am also interested in that slider system, have you had the chance to try it? I can’t find any reviews online!

  7. I’m also shopping for a slider and would ideally like 3axis (or the option to add them later). Quiet motors would also be preferable (I nearly went for the new digislider but videos of it in use seem noisy and the parallax rail not providing smooth results).  Lightweight would be nice for carrying on hikes. I couldn’t seem to find any information regarding using them in poor weather. They often show videos of them in use for night time time lapses, though I’ve not seen anyone touch on the threat of them getting wrecked if it happens to rain.

    From what I’ve seen I do like the Rhino slider though it doesn’t appear to be able to use vertically (though I did find something saying they are working on a counterweight system). I do have to question myself if I really need vertical movement anyway, but my thinking was why not get it if it’s an option at a similar price point.

    I think overall the ifootage shark system seems to fit the bill (though I do like some aspects of the edelkrone system, but as you mentioned reviews indicate it’s not very solid). Reviews for the shark slider seem to be generally positive so I was wondering on what grounds you discounted it from your choices as it appears to fit the needs you outlined?

    Syrp also caught my eye again as they are working on a 3 axis set up using the genie and 2x genie mini, it does seem to be a more expensive option and it isn’t out yet, potentially lighter than the ifootage. I think the shark slider could potentially do something similar, though they’ve not said or indicated that in any way. I also like the idea that you can screw in extra rail sections to the ifootage slider. Choices, choices and no easy way to test them…

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