iFootage Shark Slider Mini and a beautiful Prague night.
ViewsPosted on: 28/01/2019
A Shark by the river. Prague. A warm and beautiful night by the Vltava river, where you can enjoy the view of magnificent buildings from the middle age at the same time of modern ships full of tourists who come and go through peaceful waters. You can’t avoid glaring at the lights and reflections on the water, the city monuments, it's bridges and castles.
So, can you think of a better place to take your camera and shoot some shots, just for the sake of it? I sure couldn’t. Besides, I was looking for an opportunity to try the new camera slider, the iFootage Shark Slider Mini Complete, and it was the perfect time to do it. I took then my Canon 700D with its kit lens, Sirui T-2004X tripod, and went out looking for a good shooting spot.
When you are shooting solo, weight is an issue. You don’t want to be wandering around with a pack so massive and heavy which will take away your will to shoot. The high-quality backpack of the Shark Slider Mini Completebundle was able to take all the necessary equipment that I had to have with me. The total weight of the backpack ended up being approximately 6kg only. I found out the slider didn’t need any extra tool to be set up (no screwdrivers or allen wrench etc...). So that was the Shark scoring a point to itself. Once I found a "sweet" shooting spot by the river, it took me around five minutes to set up the slider over the tripod, and within ten minutes, the camera was ready to shoot.
I always liked motion controlled time-lapse shots, because if you set it up right, you can get amazing results with a single take. You look for a fixed object nearby, set your camera at an interesting angle and let the city come alive behind it. It almost can’t fail. And when it comes to motion time-lapse, the more motion, the better: I mounted both slider tracks of the iFootage Shark to get a 59 cm. of camera movement which is quite impressive for a backpack-size slider. But it gets even better since the slider has a seamless buckle-lock system, you could keep adding extension trails, achieving amazing lengths while having it all wrapped in a backpack. Unlike the other sliders on the market, iFootage Shark Slider has a built-in aluminium gear system, so there is no need to deal with attaching a different length of rubber belt after adding or removing an extension track. I definitely want to try to shoot with more extension tracks someday. But for now, two tracks would suffice, I said to myself and started shooting.
After a few tests I realized I was going to end up with some rather shaky footage while using a high-focal length (telephoto) lenses, the long bar perhaps was too much for a single support point, but I tried it without the tripod, and it got quite better. The downside of it is that I was forced to shoot from the floor since the little legs of the slider are… well, little. I guess I could have solved this by using two tripods, one on each end of the slider, but I only had one at the moment.
The flywheel was amazing at easing the movement flow, if you are looking to shoot simple camera movements, that’s all the gear you are going to need. But of course, I wanted to try the whole complete bundle. The complete bundle of this slider comes with two motorized modules, the Slide module, and the X2 Mini, which allows you to move the camera automatically in almost every direction. As you can see in the video, that’s quite literally.
Removing the flywheel and installing the Slide Module and X2 Mini was as simple as unplugging and plugging. Within a couple of minutes, both devices were connected via Bluetooth to my smartphone. The app is really intuitive, and if you ever flew a drone or even just played on a PlayStation, the three-axis control won’t be an issue. There are different modes on the app, and I think each one could be useful at different circumstances, but the one I liked the most was the Target Control mode: It allows you to set a starting point and a finishing point to the camera flow, even letting you control the easy-in and easy-out parameters. And there is even more, you can connect your camera to the X2 Mini with a shutter release cable that is provided with the complete bundle, and now the camera will begin shooting automatically when you start the slide movement from your cellphone.
Think of the possibilities of that. You are shooting your short film, you set up a complex camera movement, perhaps for an action shot or a sequence shot, and you rest assured the camera will move exactly the same every single take. The only thing that could fail is… well, everything else. But, hey, a camera movement that can’t fail is a great start! I’m not sure you can have this kind of insurance for this price anywhere else.
Now that I’m talking about filming, there is a catch with this slider: the payload is just 4kg. when using both trails. This means that you will be ok filming with a DSLR, like the Canon I shot with, or any other compact cinema or mirrorless camera without much extra equipment installed on it, but if you want to use a big, robust cine camera, the Shark Mini is not your choice. You may consider taking a look at its big brother iFootage Shark S1 Complete. I played for some time with the motorized modules and I was somewhat impressed with some of the features. Through the app, you can manage to shoot some really amazing shots, with complex and very flexible camera movement. You can customize the frame-rate, the flow, the angles, the timing, etc...
A couple of hours passed, and after some shooting up and down the river, I had shot everything I needed to and went back to watch the footage. Now I can say for sure this slider really excels at shooting a motion time-lapse. I mean, you can make great shots only by playing with the app. But if you really want a mind-blowing shot, I suggest you dedicate some time thinking on what you want and then program it into the app. You can get truly amazing results with this gear if you know what you are doing, things that I only thought possible spending a bunch of extra hundreds of Euros.
My conclusion? The iFootage Shark Slider Mini is a great camera slider on its own, super compact, extendable and very light weighted, but if you go all the way and get the Complete Pack, it becomes the most affordable 3-axis motorized camera slider that I know of, and it allows you to set automated camera movements from your cellphone. And a personal plus, I love the backpack!
Not every aspect was all roses, of course. As I mentioned, the payload is kind of low and you may notice some shaking while using teles or extreme close-ups. Also, if you are not careful, you can feel some gear vibration while using it manually.
In the end, I think the iFootage Shark Slider Mini Complete is an affordable 3-axis camera slider that can serve you well in more cases than not, but as with any other equipment or accessories, make sure it matches your needs.