Field Test: Syrp's Magic Carpet CF is a User-Friendly Lightweight Slider
New Zealand company Syrp introduces its lightweight, extensive slider system.
It's no surprise that the New Zealand company Syrp has focused on creating outdoor and adventure-sport filmmaking tools. Inspired by the country's natural beauty, the company was founded (and is currently run) by outdoor enthusiasts who make tools capturing the dynamic imagery often shot on hikes with nothing but the gear on your back. Best known for its Slingshot rope-based time-lapse tool, the company also has a popular slider, the Magic Carpet.
However, the original Magic Carpet was aluminum, and while the material was lightweight, it still added up when carrying on one's back, and so the company has returned with the Magic Carpet CF, a carbon fiber rod system slider that makes bringing a slider along with you for travel extremely easy.
To be clear, the aluminum Magic Carpet isn't too heavy, weighing in at a total package weight of only 3.88lbs for a 600mm length—the weight includes both the endcaps (with feet) and a carriage for your camera—especially when compared to the CF's "somewhat trimmer" 3.3lbs, only half-a-pound of weight in savings. That insignificant difference in weight isn't worth the price premium of $150 for Carbon Fiber.
The distance (600mm) is relatively short, and while it will may be handy for performing quick moves, if you want to do a really dynamic shot, you will need more length. Extra length is where the CF system really shines. CF extension rods add an extra 600mm (about 2 feet) while only weighing 380g (0.84 lbs), and, provided you have enough support stands along the way, can extend indefinitely. As you start adding up length, the pounds will begin to pick up too, and you'll get the benefit of the carbon system, especially if you're stuffing it all in a pack and heading for the woods.
Learn as you unpack
One of our constant goals is to put off reading the instructions for as long as possible. Yes, there are some things that require instructions and are too complicated to just "figure out," but we think a well-designed system should be relatively easy to figure out with guides! This is an area where Syrp really shines.
The system is packed in such a way that it forces you to learn how it works through the unpacking process: as you open up the case with the end caps, to remove them, you will first need to learn how they attach. By the time everything is unpacked, you're ready to work regardless of whether or not you've read the manual. This is a huge point in Syrp's favor.
Leather tabs make for an easier grip
We also appreciated the small details that demonstrated that Syrp has put a tremendous amount of thought into the end user of the design. For instance, you need both small and large thread mounts for the multiple types of heads and cameras you might attach, and so Syrp has designed a system that allows for fast flipping between systems.
Best of all, it relies on a little pull tab, and for it, the company has used leather, which is durable and easy to grip with wet fingers (a situation likely to occur on a dew-frosted morning). While the company could have opted for nylon, that would've been slippier, and leather is clearly the right choice for a small item such as this.
The built-in brake is appreciated
We found that the whole system holds together tightly, and, despite its low weight, appreciate the stiffness of the carbon fiber rods. We rigged up a few shots where the arms stuck out over a ledge where we couldn't support them, and the shot stayed level throughout, even with the weight of a Genie, two motor arms, and an XT2. We also appreciated the built-in "brake" on the carriage—something many sliders at this price point neglect—enabling users to lock the platform in place.
This is especially useful during the setup phase or simply when you need to step away from the camera and block a shot. The built-in level is helpful for the setup of the platform and serves as a strong indication that it was designed by filmmakers in the field who would actually use this tool.
Final takeaways and drawbacks
The drawbacks are minor. While it may be unnoticeable in the photos, our greasy hands left marks on the carbon fiber casing. This is not a structural issue (unlike, say, leaving greasy marks on a light bulb, which can lead to a bulb explosion!), but it is one of those things that leaves you wondering if the oil will slowly eat away at the carbon. Our fingers were greasy enough to also leave marks on the aluminum plates, although it's easier to clean aluminum than CF, of course.
Another very minor frustration is that there isn't a way to daisy chain charging the Genie motion control system. The Genie and the pan and tilt motors all need to be charged separately. And while this is by no means a deal breaker, it feels surprising that there wasn't an octopus cable or a way to stack everything together to charge as a single unit.
For most outdoor, cycling, or hiking applications, it will be worth it.
The final drawback is the cost. The Syrp does a great job of hitting a "reasonable" price point for what it delivers, and considering the engineering and design, it's not really overpriced. However, carbon fiber costs more than we wish it did, and this unit sells at a $150 premium over the aluminum unit. For most outdoor, cycling, or hiking applications, it will be worth it. If you are trecking into the woods to get an amazing nature timelapse, or lugging these up five flights of stairs to get a great rooftop vista, you'll appreciate the weight savings.
We also had a chance to play with the aluminum legs, and they are just as functional, if a hair heavier. The Genie and pan-and-tilt motors work well on both systems, and so if you're lucky enough to be able to drive a vehicle with your kit in it, you can consider aluminum as an option. But if you have the money (and need the weight savings), the carbon fiber setup is quite impressive.
Tech Specs (short leg kit)
- Load Capacity of 11 lbs / 5kg
- 24" / 600mm length
- 5"/125mm track width
- 1.5lb/670kg weight (tubes only)
- 3/8"-16 and 1/4"-20 (reversible)