DSLR Sliding on a Budget (IGUS system)
Since the HDSLR video craze started a few years, sliders have become increasingly popular. A slider does the same job as a traditional dolly but runs on a track mounted to a tripod (or table, floor etc) and is therefore extremely light, affordable and can be set up quickly without having to run track along the floor.
The slider has become something that we now take with us on nearly every shoot. The buttery smooth camera movements add huge production value to any project. Initially when researching sliders we needed one for a shoot within the week. We first looked at buying a Konova slider but unfortunately we just couldn’t get one delivered in time from Korea. I then looked towards the British made Glidetrack products. These run on a ‘dry’ bearing system and require no lubricant or maintenance. The Glidetrack SD, which is aimed at DSLR users costs around £240 for a 1m track and carriage.
Not a bad price for something so useful however a little bit of further research reveals the Glidetrack is made from parts readily available from the manufacturer IGUS. A quick Google reveals you can buy the exact same track and carriage used in the Glidetrack SD on Amazon, direct from IGUS for £110. Always happy to save a little money we purchased the raw materials to create our own Glidetrack! The rails and carriage come without any tapped holes so you do need a little bit of DIY know-how to get this going. We drilled and tapped both the carriage and rails to 1/4″ BSW which allows us to mount all sorts of standard camera accessories to it.
Next we needed to work out the best way of mounting and using this slider. Initially we mounted the track to a single tripod but we found our Canon 5Dmk2 a little to heavy for this set-up. The track would flex quite badly as the camera went close to either end. Carrying an extra tripod was something we didn’t really want to do all the time due to the added weight and bulk. Our solution works using light-stands, which are very lightweight and something everyone has.
The middle hole of the slider track has a quick release plate mounted to allow a tripod to be used there. The holes on the end of the track have light stand adapters which allows any standard light-stand to be quickly mounted.
This still isn’t quite enough to stop any flex so the final bit required is a 3KG lead bag which is put on the bottom of the light-stand. These little things are fantastic and cost around £20 each. Who really wants to be carrying around huge sandbags? These little bags are filled with lead shot and can be found in any diving shop. They fit in the palm of your hand and have tons of uses, we always take at least one on a shoot.
Now our slider rig is ready to use and even with the camera on the edge of the unsupported end there is no flex. If you wanted to mount a rig with mattebox, follow focus etc, then another light-stand can be added with an additional 3KG lead bag. However if you are thinking about sliding heavy rigs, you should really be looking at a larger track with 2 tripods mounted. Also for anyone worried about the lack of end stops, you can add some yourself, just give it a quick Google for a whole slew of different DIY options.