In this review we’re going to take a look at a handy tool for those hoping to add a nice video effect to their projects. It’s the Imorden 40 inch ball bearing slider.
If you’ve visited my RCPlaneviews.com channel on YouTube or RCPlaneviews.com, you know that it’s primarily about building and flying radio controlled model airplanes which is my primary interest and hobby. To bring that to you, however, means having a secondary interest and hobby in photography and videography.
In order to do a better job bringing you some fun videos about RC planes, I’ve had to up my game a bit with some tools for recording those outings. One of those is this nifty camera slider.Camera sliders are one of those tools that allow you to add some creativity to your shots and some overall steadiness that a similar handheld shot just can’t reproduce.
There are two types of sliders in this admittedly low price category. Friction sliders and roller or bearing sliders. Make sure you know what you’re purchasing.
Friction sliders have a trolley or carriage that simply slides along the slider’s rails using a plastic bushing or other smooth surface in contact with the rails. Most Do It Yourself sliders are friction sliders. With these sliders, the trolley gets harder to push the heavier the camera rig. With more friction, it will take more practice and perhaps more takes to get a nice smooth video.
Roller or bearing sliders have wheels or ball bearings mounted in the trolley to reduce friction and increase smoothness. Assuming good quality wheels or bearings, the result is a smooth track across the length of the slider with much less effort by the person taking the video.
What’s in the box
The Imorden 40 inch ball bearing camera slider came in a long narrow box not much bigger than the long nylon case that holds the device.
The pieces were all wrapped in that light flexible foam sheeting and then again in bubble wrap. The result was no nicks or chips on any of the finishes. The slider will support up to a 15 pound camera rig and by itself weighs in at a hefty six pounds Let’s look more closely. Besides the slider itself, you get the two end pieces with the adjustable feet, a couple of hex wrenches and a small bag to put the end pieces and wrenches.
The slider goes together easily. the end pieces have groves that fit onto the ends of the slider itself. There is a right and wrong side so if it doesn’t seem to want to go on, flip it around. They should slide on easily. The adjustable feet can be screwed up or down to obtain a level lie and the small nut between the end piece and the foot of the adjustable leg can be snugged up to help ensure the adjustment stays put. There is a screw lock on the trolley assembly to hold it in place but it really doesn’t work as a friction adjustment. Speaking of adjustments, the two hex wrenches included with the kit are to allow you to adjust the fit of the rollers on the slider. There is a video on YouTube demonstrating this but in a nutshell, you use one wrench to remove the trolley cover and then use the other to loosen the screw holding the front and back rollers. Using the points of a needle nose pliers, you rotate that small circular plate until the rollers make a solid but not tight fit against the slide rails and then tighten the grub screws. Put the plate cover back on and you’re good to go. This allows you to adjust out any wobble you might have which can mess up your shots.
Mounting the slider
There are a couple of ways you can use or mount your slider. The easiest is to simply place it on a table or on the ground, use the adjustable feet and the small bubble level to ensure its level and shoot away.
You can also mount it on either one or two tripods. The slider has a plate mounted in the middle with both ¼ and 3/8th inch threaded holes for single tripod mounting and similar holes on each end to support the slider between two tripods. The weight of your camera rig and the strength of your tripod will be a factor in whether you choose one or two supports. I found with a light weight travel tripod, the slider was too heavy and the tripod head tilted as the camera moved from left to right.
You can also mount the slider at an angle to get some more artistic or creative shots with the camera moving either up or down.
Using the slider
As you may have noticed, the Imorden 40 inch ball bearing slider kit isn’t exactly complete. That’s because you may already have the missing piece or may want to choose your quality level. That piece is a fluid head.
It would be hard but not impossible to mount your camera directly to the slider. The end result would be a static shots in terms of angle to the subject as the camera moved along the slider or wobbly shots if the camera was loose on the trolley. For many shots, you’ll want to change the direction the camera is pointing during the slide or point the camera either up or down depending on the perspective you’re planning for. That’s where the fluid head comes in.
By mounting the fluid head firmly to the slider, you can use the adjustable aspects of the fluid head to both pan and or tilt the camera during its slide along the slider track. Having a fluid head with a handle will make this easier. This will also take some practice. You’ll need a flat base fluid head or one sometimes called a half ball mount fluid head.
For hobbyists, you can find fluid heads from about $25 to the hundreds of dollars. Professional fluid heads can easily top $10,000! The one shown here was about $30 on Amazon.
For a sub $100 dollar slider, the Imorden 40 inch ball bearing mid-level slider is solidly built with some great features including adjustable feet, adjustable bearings in the dolly and a smooth action. For the hobbyist or enthusiast adding skills and capabilities to their repertoire, it’s a great choice.
My sense is that this isn’t a tool you’ll just carry around with you in case you stumble into some perfect moment. Rather, it’s a tool you’ll use when your shot list requires a certain creative effect. It’s a bit heavy, which is good for shooting but bad for lugging around, and it’s too large to stash in a backpack.
I’ve got three or four standard shots I frequently use in my videos that this slider will definitely improve.
Products from Amazon.com
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