iFootage Shark Slider S1 (Bundle Version)
This time we're reviewing a video accessory, the iFootage Shark Slider S1!
High production value accessories are becoming more and more accessible in lower price ranges lately. Competition has led to a level of quality never before seen in the amateur realms, particularly with video movement and stabilization. So much so that many people are asking the obvious question lately: will things like sliders and jibs be replaced by the surge towards brushless 3-axis gimbals? This review tries to address the question while simultaneously rating the iFootage Shark Slider S1!
Single Sentence Summary
This shark's not going to be able to swim for much longer.
Why I Bought It
I shoot more and more video lately, despite that my heart is truly in the photography field more than anything else. That being said, I can't avoid it, and if I'm going to do something then I'd rather do it to the best level I possibly can than not do it at all. Summed up: movements are critical in video, and I needed a method of achieving fluid movement with a DSLR. Initially I bought the Axis360 Pro by Cinetics, but its motion was RIDICULOUSLY slow, to the point where it was only useful for timelapse in my opinion. I wanted something that offered smooth motion at a reasonably fast pace, within a reasonable price range. Though the iFootage Shark wasn't motorized, it offered a fantastically smooth movement with the assistance of a weighted flywheel, and there's always the S1A1 option if I should ever decide I need that feature down the road.
What I Like
The weight. It's super light thanks to the carbon fiber design, which is fantastic when you're moving the rig around to get multiple shots at an event like a wedding. In as much as I have assistants for shooting weddings who are glad to help with lugging gear around, I don't need to make anything more complicated for anyone.
I also love that the bundle comes with extension rails that allow for longer movements. I was concerned that there may be a subtle bump at the joint of the extension rails that would be visible in the footage, but there isn't. It's smooth as satin, and there is no sign of a transition at all.
The slider comes pretty much ready to rock in its case, just add the flywheel on and you're in business. The length (unextended) is great, and functions perfectly for 80%+ of what I shoot with it. It's pretty rare that I have a shot in mind that requires the full extension.
What I Don't
When you're shooting a wedding time is absolutely critical. Though the basic form of this slider is pretty simple, add the wheel and the video head and you're rolling, the setup takes a bit of time when you're extending it. You need to remove the rubber cable beneath the unit, remove the end cap, screw the extensions in, replace the end cap, thread and set the new extended rubber cable, and then mount it (if necessary). That being said, the majority of the motions are enabled through simple turn releases which do make the process easier than excessive threading or needing a chuck.
I also wish that the motorized S1A1 addition wasn't so ridiculously expensive. I would have loved to have had motorized motion for this, but both the cost and the additional setup time made it less appealing. There are other cheaper and smaller setups than buying the iFootage Shark now, and likely if I had to choose again I'd choose something like the edelkrone SliderPLUS which is smaller and features motorized movement.
I'm less than optimistic about its longevity in the industry. The future of sliders is a bit shaky lately to say the least. Having had used the DJI Ronin from time to time it's becoming more and more likely that a 3-axis brushless gimbal will replace my need for strict unidirectional movement. Presently the DJI Osmo offers a really convenient and affordable alternative to sliding, however none of the options presently offer the dynamic range or shallow depth of field that using a slider can. Yes, the DJI Ronin allows me to mount the same DSLR, but when you're playing with an F/1.4's depth of field it's hard to keep the focus spot-on and move in a perfect straight line parallel to a subject, as I would with a sweep of the head table during a wedding. Some would counter that argument with the suggestion of programming a drone on a route, however again we enter the issue of the depth of field, and now we're adding noise, which wouldn't permit filming a slide during speeches or the first dance, etc.
These are very useful presently, but I think it's only a matter of time until something from DJI completely renders them a thing of the past. Once the depth of field versatility is managed and produced in the gimbal world then I believe there will be easier, smaller, and cheaper options that offer extra functionality that would even likely replace things like jibs. That being said, for the present foreseeable future they're worthwhile if you find one at a reasonable cost and want to increase the production value of your video work.
I'm not one to push products, and I'm certainly not sponsored by anyone. I'm glad I have it, but I'd totally understand why someone would prefer something else like the ekeldrone or an Osmo. This is just my perspective, so take it as you will.