Best Camera Sliders for Creators

Need to create buttery smooth shots? Try some of the slider options below. 

There are too many sliders to choose from. It's a luxury to have that much choice, but it can be a frustrating one when setting out to decide which slider is right for you in your workflow.

Maybe it's because one of the central features of sliders is just pipes, many, many companies think they can easily build one even if they have no motion picture expertise whatsoever. In our research and experience, there are not that many good sliders, and the best sliders are made by companies with a deep filmmaking focus.

What we're looking for in a good slider is a combination of ease of use and durability. We want to be able to set it up quickly, execute a beautiful shot with it, then move on to another shot with speed without worry. We want a slider that integrates well with a variety of other tools and systems we use on set. And we want one that's flexible to a variety of configurations. And most importantly, we want one that will last a long time.

There are a few units available that are designed with the filmmaker in mind that won't completely slow your production to a crawl.

Best Overall: Syrp Magic Carpet Pro

Syrp, from New Zealand, makes a wide array of cool film gear with the Magic Carpet Pro being a truly stellar slider at the top of the pack. It has made the Magic Carpet slider for smaller camera packages for a while, but a few years ago, Syrp came out with the Magic Carpet Pro for professional packages and it remains our favorite slider to work with. Whether setting it on the ground for a quick slide or rigging it upside down for an overhead tracking shot, the Magic Carpet Pro offers a ton of versatility in a tight package.

It hits all the main points with each. Easy to assemble, with smooth transitions between segments, and easy mounting on tripods, light stands, or the floor or table, it hurdles over the basic requirements. Where it shines is in two features that help make life easier and faster on your shoots. The first is with the internal flywheel that adds smoothness to your shots. This is one of the keys to executing really beautiful moves on this slider with ease.

The second is the quick-release system to make it easier to get your camera on and off the slider. Most sliders require you to take the whole sliding plate off the tracks to mount or unmount your camera, which can be a real time killer when you've already got your slider pre-set for the perfect shot. With the quick-release plate, you can pop the camera off and take the plate off with ease for a fast change over to your tripod or another setup, without disrupting your slider setup. It's a huge time saver and we're surprised to see that it hasn't been ripped off by more competitors.

It does come at a hefty price when compared to the lower-end competition, but we believe it's worth it when working with heavier camera systems. If you are working with a smaller package, you can consider the original Magic Carpet and Magic Carpet CF for carbon fiber, which are also great.

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How We Picked

Our main priority was getting the best shot as fast and reliably as possible, so we focused on the sliders we've used that enabled us to do that, repeatedly, on our productions. We looked at the plethora of models available, and especially on those we frequently see showing up on a wide variety of sets. We looked at reviews, both consumer and professional, paying attention to ease of use and durability reports.

Best Universal: The Dana Dolly

If you are looking for a more rugged dolly designed to work with even heavier camera packages, you should look at the Dana Dolly. As opposed to the Magic Carpet Pro, which works with its own customized track, the Dana Dolly works on speedrail, which most larger productions will have on the truck anyway. Like the Magic Carpet Pro, Dana Dolly can also be rigged normally over the tracks or can be set up with the slider and camera running under the tracks for an overhead shot, making it super versatile for all the shots you want on a slider. Chances are if you are seeing a BTS show from a major production with a geared head and a massive camera with a zoom lens on a slider, it's a Dana Dolly. And for good reason.

It stays out of the top spot for two small reasons. First off is the lack of any kind of dampening or flywheel system in the basic setup. This isn't ruinous. Amazing shots can still be gotten without dampening, but it's so nice to have in the Magic Carpet Pro that it gives that slider an edge.

Second is the speedrail. While any big production will have a ton of rail on the truck, meaning if you work mostly big shows you can get away with just buying the skateboard and rain mounts, but for little shows you won't always have rail around. This means buying your own speedrail and lugging it to set, which isn't terrible, but isn't quite as easy as the pre-built track pieces from Syrp.

Best for Timelapse: Syrp Genie II 

If you want to add motorization for timelapse, you can do so easily with a variety of tools, including Syrp's own Genie II. While the Genie II is mostly designed for timelapse work, it can also do some slower motion control as well, and it really shines in its intuitive app-based control. One of our major frustrations with most motion control systems is how difficult they are to program in a busy set environment, especially when you might want to tweak take to take, and the Syrp Genie app overcomes all of that. You can set up your shot, and if you don't like take one, easily make tweaks to all the motion parameters without having to restart your programming from scratch.

Its main limitation comes down to its weight limit, though that scales with your pan range. If you are only tilting up/down 90° you can run rigs up to 13.2lbs (the pan limit, we're assuming you'll be panning and tilting), but if you take advantage of the full 180° of tilt range you need to limit your package to 7.9lbs. 13.2lbs supports a wide range of cinema camera/lens combinations, but you get very limited camera options with 7.9lbs for your package. We also wish that you could add a focus motor to the system.

With a maximum pan speed of 25° per second, tilt at 15° per second, and .01° resolution, you can create some pretty cool shots, and the control can't be beat. The Genie II comes in a variety of different kits too with the pro version providing everything you need. 

Best Motion Control: eMotimo Spectrum

If you want to add motion to either the Magic Carpet Pro or the Dana Dolly and are looking beyond timelapse to larger cameras, faster moves, and better focus control, we recommend the eMotimo Spectrum. It ups your pan speed to 120°/s and your tilt to 60°/s, which is great not just for faster operation but also opens up the possibility of programming slow-motion shots as well.

The eMotimo fully integrates all of its pan, tilt, and linear motion motors into a single unit, and offers control through a PS4 controller, which is a handy and intuitive interface. Best of all it offers an integrated focus control unit for adding focus racks to your controlled moves, which is a huge benefit when trying to choreograph particularly intense shots.

Of course, to do all of this, the eMotimo can be pretty costly. 

Best Alternative: Edelkrone SliderPLUS v5 

If you are working primarily with smaller mirrorless packages, and want to integrate motion and motors into one compact unit, we have to mention Edelkrone. Makers of popular sliders, jibs, and dollies, Edelkrone is best known for using innovative designs to eke out longer camera moves from smaller devices, making transport easier. 

Their latest is the SliderPLUS v5, which comes in four different options: a pro and non-pro version with either a long or shorter slider rail. 

By using a sliding rail system, Edelkrone can effectively offer almost twice the amount of slide for the same length of track. Using belts for drag and stability, incredibly smooth shots can be created. The tradeoff is the weight limits are lower than comparably priced products. Mounted to a tripod, the SliderPLUS v5 tops out at 25lbs payload, while the Syrp Magic Carpet Pro can hold up to 70lbs.

You might think 25lbs is still a lot, and it is when working with mirrorless or small body cameras, but once you add a good quality tripod head (especially one with motor control), a proper cinema body and lens, mattebox, wireless video, and more, you can eat through 25lbs pretty quickly.

You can also add motor control in a snap with the Slide Module, which is well integrated into the design and easier to add than the motor units of competitors. Or you can add additional smoothness to your shots with a Steady Module with adjustable tension for various camera weights and inclines.

Final Thoughts

When working in small spaces, a slider has rapidly come to replace a dolly for getting moving shots. But even when working outdoors, sliders are wonderful for how small they are to pack up and transport. Because of how simple they seem, it can be deceiving when you first start investigating adding a slider to your regular package. We think most users are going to be very satisfied with the Magic Carpet Pro, and users working more on larger productions will be happy with either that or the Dana Dolly.     

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