If you are relatively new to professional videography or are simply a hobbyist looking to up their home video game, then chances are you have no idea what a camera slider is. Camera sliders also referred to as dollies, are supplementary tools often used on film or television sets to assist the movement of the camera, typically in a panning motion.
Shorter sliders are better for amateur photographers, while medium to long sliders is more often used by professionals. The best length for a camera slider depends on the desired shot. There’s no overall best length.
In addition to different optimal lengths for different types of shots, there are also different types of camera sliders that may be more effective at performing certain movements or producing certain moods. Keep reading to learn more about what a camera slider is, the optimal length for a camera slider, and the various types of camera slider.
What Length Should Your Camera Slider Be?
There is no perfect length for your camera slider to be, but there are different benefits and drawbacks to various lengths of camera slider. Here is a table that outlines the benefits and drawbacks of various sizes of camera slider.
|Short||Light, portable||Less travel||1-3 feet|
|Medium||Best of both||Worst of both||3-5 feet|
|Long||More travel||Heavy, not portable||6+ feet|
Shorter camera sliders are far more lightweight and easy to transport than longer camera sliders. This is crucial for handheld camera operators who are holding these sliders for hours on end. However, the shorter travel distance can limit the dolly effect that camera operators are hoping to achieve in using a camera slider.
Longer camera sliders offer much more travel distance for your camera, but they are significantly heavier and can be harder to transport. Longer camera sliders can be up to 1900 millimeters long, which is more than 6 feet.
Medium camera sliders can be a respectable middle ground, but they tend to range from 3 to 5 feet, which is not exactly a lightweight option.
Ultimately, those who use their camera slider as a hobbyist or entirely handheld will likely favor the shorter length camera sliders. On the other hand, professionals or those looking for a traditional film aesthetic will favor longer or medium camera sliders.
Why Use a Camera Slider?
A camera slider refers to a set of bracketed tracks that your camera can mount onto, allowing it to move horizontally or forward and backward while remaining steady. Camera sliders always feature a movable carriage that your camera can mount onto, allowing it to fluidly move along the set track.
Some camera sliders are built along with a mount for the tracks, while other camera sliders can simply be mounted on the shoulders of the camera operator. The term “tracks” can also have a looser definition when it comes to certain camera sliders.
Most camera sliders feature a mount that is built onto bracketed tracks that allow the camera to move to and fro. These camera sliders are generally referred to as dollies. There are also modified versions of the camera slider that utilize other methods to achieve the same result.
One example of this is rolling sliders, which use wheels to achieve the dolly effect. Another example is sliders that use a crank or pulley system to move the camera along its tracks. This allows the camera operator to stay in place while operating the camera slider. Using a shoulder mount typically necessitates moving during operation.
Which Camera Slider Is Right for You?
At this point, we’ve gone over what a camera slider is and how different lengths will affect the usage of your camera slider. However, there is much more to a camera slider than its length. There are various factors you should look into before purchasing your very own camera slider.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular camera sliders on the market, see how they compare and contrast with one another, and ultimately come to a conclusion as to which camera slider is best for you. Here is a list of some of the most popular camera sliders currently available.
- Zecti Camera Slider
- Shark Slider S1
- Neewer Track Slider
- Neewer Tabletop Mobile Rolling Slider Dolly Car
- StudioFX 40 Pro DSLR
- Konova Slider K5 120
Now, let’s take a closer look at each option.
Zecti Camera Slider
The Zecti Camera Slider is an excellent short length camera slider option. At only 16 inches long and weighing 1.54 pounds, this is the perfect camera slider for vloggers or hobbyists looking for a lightweight, portable option.
This camera slider is relatively simplistic yet durable and precise, using four precision bearings and a carbon fiber rail system to meet these standards. The Zecti Camera Slider is also fairly affordable, priced at about $59.98.
Shark Slider S1
The Shark Slider S1 features a slightly longer travel distance of roughly 25 inches long. Although this does not necessarily make it a medium length camera slider, it certainly weighs noticeably more than shorter sliders at about 12.5 pounds. While this may not seem ideal, there are plenty of additional perks that come with this camera slider.
The Shark Slider S1 comes with extension rods and an extra belt to extend the moving range of this camera slider to 53 inches. Additionally, this camera slider features a counterweight that, when removed, reduces the weight to just 5.5 pounds. It is also built out of extremely durable carbon fiber.
This camera slider is meant for professionals and, as a result, is far more expensive at roughly $599.
Neewer Track Slider
The Neewer Track Slider is an excellent short to medium length camera slider that combines portability with durability. This camera slider is built out of aluminum alloy and can hold up to 17.5 pounds while shooting horizontally, vertically, and at a 45-degree angle.
The moving range of this camera slider is about 31.5 inches, which is rather long considering its lightness, weighing just 4.6 pounds. The Neewer Track Slider is also fairly affordable, priced around $79.99.
Neewer Tabletop Mobile Rolling Slider Dolly Car
Also manufactured by Neewer is their camera slider on wheels, the Neewer Tabletop Mobile Rolling Slider Dolly Car. This camera slider does not possess the smoothness or precision of more refined camera sliders. Still, it is an excellent option for hobbyist camera operators looking for an affordable option to get the job done.
Priced at just $25, the Neewer Tabletop Mobile Rolling Slider Dolly Car is certainly affordable.
StudioFX 40 Pro DSLR
The StudioFX 40 Pro DSLR is the first truly medium length camera slider in this list. Using a ball bearing system, this is one of the smoothest camera sliders on the market. It can also bear up to 15 pounds, which may feel much heavier when it is 40 inches away from you, the max length of this camera slider.
This camera slider is also exceptionally light at just over 2.6 pounds and is somewhat affordable, regularly priced between $100 and $175.
Konova Slider K5 120
Finally, the Konova Slider K5 120 is the longest of all the camera sliders in this list, approximately 47 inches in length. This is the closest camera slider to the dollies built on actual film and television sets. It supports loads up to 55 pounds and possesses a motorized system and flywheel.
This camera slider option is made for professionals, and it is priced accordingly, at roughly $519.
The best length for a camera slider all depends on your style of photography and the shots you most commonly take. Once you determine how you plan to use a camera slider, you’ll be able to choose one that best suits your needs.
Hopefully, the information above will provide you the guidance you need, so you can find the best camera slider to help improve your photos. Don't be afraid to experiment with different lengths before you purchase your next nice expensive camera slider.
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