So you may have known I’ve been into making videos lately, and I’m going to shoot a video for a Kickstarter project in a few weeks, I finally took the plunge and decided to get a slider. After shopping around, it seems like sliders are expensive pieces of equipment. After reading and watching a bunch of reviews on camera sliders, I went with the Opteka GLD-200 23″. I was a bit skeptical by some of the reviews I found online, and now that I’ve got the unit, I’m going to post what my thoughts are on the unit.
TL;DR: you get what you pay for.
Video of some test shots is at the bottom of this post.
The slider came in a nicely-packaged box from Amazon. Inside the product box, the slider was padding with foam to dampen any shock during transit. When I opened the box, everything was intact. No complaint there.
Setting up the slider was a breeze. You only need to mount the legs from both sides of the slider using the screws that came with the slider. You’ll definitely want to have a dedicated tripod head to mount on top of the slider if you don’t want to twist your camera in and out, as the bottom 1/4″ screw doesn’t move. The slider came with a 1/4″ to 3/8″ adapter screw for your standard tripod head. I have the Manfrotto 496RC2 coming my way.
I mounted my camera on the slider and took it out for a spin. The results I got were a bit less than expected, especially when the slider was sitting on my tripod. First of all, there are 4 pieces of rubber on the bottom of the legs. Unfortunately, one of the rubber pieces is a bit shorter than the rest, so I had to press the entire slider down as slider the camera. These rubber pieces are supposed to lessen shock that’s generated when your camera is in motion, but I’m not sure if it’d perform better WITHOUT the rubber pieces.
The slider is made from aluminum, so it does feel flimsy. In fact, it looks like it could barely support my setup, which is a D7000, 35mm f/1.8, and a Manfrotto 322RC2. Inside the platform where it touches the rail, there seems to be a thin layer of wax to lessen the friction from the movement. I feel like this wax barely works at all, so when I slide, I could hear the noise from the parts rubbing on each other. At times, it does feel a tad jerky. I might need to oil up the rail to improve the movement.
The real disappointment didn’t show until I put the slider on my Manfrotto 55XPROB tripod. You can see the in the video below that about 5 seconds after I started sliding the slider on my tripod, the whole thing started shaking like it’s the earthquake right before the world ends. I suspect this is due to the friction and tension forces accumulating and finally exerting back out to the system. It probably doesn’t make sense right now, so you’ll have to watch the video below to see for yourself. On a second trial of the same exact shot, I used my other hand to hold down the slider base, which help tremendously, but you could still see a tad of shakiness after a few seconds in. I’m sure this could be fixed in post using the Warp Stabilizer tool in Adobe After Effect or Premiere.
In conclusion, this is a useable unit with the price tag that won’t break your bank. If you only shoot videos for fun, and want to get some cinematic panning shots, this is the unit for you. What you save in the bank will end up costing you time in post. What I do like about this slider is that it’s small and versatile. I travel quite a bit, and this looks like it’ll fit in my backpack just fine. For anything else that professional or semi-pro, I suggest you get a stronger and sturdier slider.