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What Sliders and Stabilizers Are Videographer's Using for Real Estate?

In: 
Published: 14/10/2019
By: Brandon

Ben from Toronto writes:

I'm getting into real estate videography and am trying to decide whether I should purchase a slider, a gimbal, or both? There seem to be a ton of options out there with a wide range of price differences. I was hoping you could help point me in the right direction?

Ben, you're at a stage that most photographers turned videographers have been through at one time or another. It can be daunting with so many options out there so being diligent in your research can help save you time and money. I started shooting video a few years ago and have trial and errored my share of gear so I'll share some of my own experiences.

Sliders:

I started with a 48" manual slider from Rhino Camera Gear. It was relatively inexpensive and had a quality build. The Rhino slider helped add smooth slides to my footage but I soon realized that I needed more variation in my footage, so I picked up an Emotimo TB3 which motorized the slider and made it three-axis which allowed for more creative shots.

I recently upgraded to the Edelkrone system. The Edelkrone motorized slider (with all available modules) is the most comprehensive slider system that I'm aware of (click here for a great review). It's not cheap, but the capabilities are amazing.

Since you are just starting out, an entry-level option worth considering is the ROV motorized slider from Rhino Camera Gear. This slider is designed to be used with a smartphone so with the quality of video that phones can capture these days combined with a good wide-angle lens from Moment you could be up and running for around $500.

  • Slider pros:
    • Easy to use
    • Add smooth movements to your footage
    • Low cost (unless you go motorized)
  • Slider cons:
    • Can be cumbersome to set up
    • Difficult to get perfectly level
    • Not ideal for tight spaces
    • Limited movements (unless you go motorized)

Tip: If you are going to purchase a slider (manual or motorized), make sure you get a very solid tripod.

Gimbals:

I have a ZhiYun Crane V2 and although I don't use it very often, it works well. It took a bit of getting used to, but I like how it allows me to move quickly and go places that I can't with the slider. I've also heard good things about the Ronin S but can't speak about it from personal experience.

  • Gimbal pros:
    • Allows you to move quickly
    • Can be used in tight spaces
    • Quick set up and break down
  • Gimbal cons:
    • Can be challenging to get the hang of
    • No way to replicate exact movements
    • Can be tedious to balance

I think using a combination of gimbal and slider movements will allow you to get the most creative and compelling footage. It really boils down to how much time and budget you have for each project.

I would love for some of the more seasoned videographers in the community to speak up and share your thoughts on this topic.

9 comments on “What Sliders and Stabilizers Are Videographer's Using for Real Estate?”

  1. With sliders, like many people I discovered you need to mount a slider to either; 2 tripods at either end, or more practical is a tripod at one end and a lightstand or monopod at the other. Google some images to see.
    Otherwise, if just the centre of the slider is mounted to a tripod, as the weight of the camera moves to and fro, you get some flex, thus your horizon/levels dip. This can be even on quite robust tripods. Perhaps if a really lightweight mirrorless camera or certainly a phone it won't be a problem, but by the time you have a DSLR with eg a heavy tilt/shift lens, on a small tripod head which is in turn mounted to the slider... it's getting pretty heavy.
    To a certain extent you can do some crop/rotation keyframes in editing to deal with it but better to avoid that time-suck hassle of course.
    There are also stabiliser arms as another option, Konova make one https://www.amazon.com/Konova-Tripod-Stability-Arms-Slider/dp/B00VTF1KJA

  2. PS. I use a Zhiyun gimbal a lot on many other jobs and often mimic a slider/dolly move for a quick 1 or 2-sec shot on a wide angle lens, but on architectural videos I really prefer the slow, smooth, level move of a slider, can get levels and horizons more precise, etc.

  3. Using a slider takes a considerable amount of TIME. Be sure you know what type of video you want to produce, how much you want to charge, and more importantly what YOU can charge in YOUR market for a video. Using a slider + a gimbal will take considerably more time on site switching gear, setting it up, leveling, it, etc..... it can be very time consuming. Using a slider ONLY will take a lot of time, but also produce a pretty boring video - you might as well just take pro photos and do a "Ken Burns" effect over them as it is faster and pretty much gives you a similar result. Many slider movements can be mimicked easy and quickly with a gimbal saving you valuable time at the end of the day.

  4. Don't waste your time with a slider... that's like saying should I use gunpower as a flash?

    With in-camera stabilization and 60fps or even 120fps your footage will be buttery smooth it still requires some talent from the operator. Take deep breaths, walk smoothly, don't bounce, in no time you'll find that you don't even use the warp stabilizer button in the post anymore.

    To help yourself use a bar or an adapter so that you can hold the gimbal with both hands. Like most camera gear stay away from the cheap and buy a gimbal from the guys that have been around the longest. If you want a cheaper gimbal buy an older model.

    Zhiyun Crane, DJI Ronin-S you can't go wrong with either.

  5. As a new videographer, I learned everything I know and apply from Grant Johnston's tutorials. My market is small so I had a tight budget for adding video equipment to my still arsenal of tools. At his recommendation I bought a 31" Konova Slider and have not regretted it. It has a rigid trough rather than 2 parallel tubes, so it does not flex. What did flex was my Manfrotto tripod so I made my own support arm that screws into one end of the slider and clamps onto a tripod leg. Now it is rock solid. If I had known about the Kanova one referred to above (thanks for the link Round-Turner) I would have gone with that. When I saw another Knova for sale at $99 I bought it and had it cut down to 24" for smaller houses with tight spaces. I don't have enough commissions to afford a motor driven slider and frankly I don't need one. But if you don't have a steady hand it is probably a good idea. The biggest problem I have is to slow down. It is easy to try to get the whole room space in in one swoop that is far too much. Less is better and slow it better with sliders. But if a video is all done on a slider you either have a moving pan left or right and I have found that that gets pretty boring pretty fast. You can raise the camera up and down for some moves to include interesting ceilings which helps. Zooming in on a fire place, kitchen and other architectural details and interesting chandeliers can also break up any monotony.

    But a year ago last summer I bought a MOZA Air stabilizer that is great. The newer ones allow you to see the back screen on the camera that the one I got obscures. But I find with my elderly eyes, the little monitor on the back of the camera is not big enough to make sure of my verticals and horizontals so I added a separate a FEELWORLD F570 5.7 Inch which works on the MOZA Air (I bought the one with the cross bar and handles which makes adding such things like a monitor easy) which lets me see what I am getting much easier and to view the camera settings much easier as well. With the sun shade hood over the screen it is also great outside and I use it with the slider and the stabilizer and find mounted on my hot shoe it also works well for getting my stills level and vertical with more accuracy.

    I can shoot faster with the stabilizer for sure. I often mount it on a monopod with when used as an upside-down pendulum, it allows a steady platform for the MOZA to emulate the "reveal" move of the slider if you can't shoot with a slider and the stabilizer on the same shoot. Plus the monopod can allow you to raise the camera high and even walk with it where you can't shoot low shots with a drone. I have done the same in Europe with a stabilizer and GoPro for travel hotel videos where the use of a drone is much more limited than in the US. Plus it can make a crane shot steadier especially if you are shooting over water like a pool or spa.

    I am glad I stared with the slider since it allowed me to learn how video can look using a slider. But if I was limited to just one choice between a slider and a stabilizer, I would go with the stabilizer since you can do many of the same things (as noted above) with the stabilizer and you don't have to level the stabilizer all the time for each shot as you do with at slider. But I added a large bubble level to my slider that is easy to see and then also added a Neewer Tripod Leveling Base with Offset Bubble Level to make leveling the slider quick and easy; just takes me seconds even when my tripod is less than level.

    So now if I am shooting a large high end property and have the time to take my time, I shoot with both the slider and stabilizer (stabilizers are especially useful on the often small spaces of a bathroom and powder room) and usually with my drone. But if I have a smaller property that gives a small commission for my clients, the stabilizer allows me to shoot faster and be able to offer video at more affordable prices. I tend to set up the stabilizer in my studio before I go to the property, test it for settings, add on the peripherals so when I arrive I can start off shooting right away. With the foldable feet, you can just stand it up and support it in a simple bin to keep it steady while driving. Hope this helps.

    Your market, the about you can charge, the number of assignments you expect to receive to cover the costs of purchasing the equipment can affect what you buy and you must have a camera that will support a high enough video quality.

  6. I'm not sure if "Ben from Toronto" will see this post and I'm also not sure if this is an appropriate place to post an ebay link (and I'll delete the post if it is), but if you're looking for a great (inexpensive) slider, I just listed my Like New ifootage Shark Slider S1 Bundle on ebay for half what I paid for it. My video partner has all the sliders he needs so I'm selling mine. I only used it twice with a little Canon 60D.
    I'm not trying to use this forum to make money (since I already have the slider listed on ebay). The timing seemed right, so I'm just offering an option since you asked about sliders. 🙂
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/254388972665?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

  7. Kessler makes some really nice stuff. Of course you need monopods with non-rubber bases on each end, which makes the rig rather cumbersome. When filming expensive homes, it can be daunting to move a balanced slider rig around a home. Hitting walls is inevitable...so you've gotta think ahead. We switched from the 41" model to the Kessler Stealth Traveller for that reason. It is fits in a suitcase you can fly with as well, which is a game changer for international projects. Oversized film cases are the kinds of things that customs officials start asking questions like, "What are you here for?" or "Who are you working for?"...so when your gear can fit in a standard suitcase...you can pass on through quietly. The Kessler Stealth fit the bill on that...and it's smooth. We don't use motorized sliders because we like art by touch...but they are also good for size.

  8. I'll add one more to the mix and say I enjoy using fluid drag video heads too. Yes, they aren't the most inspiring moves, but pan shots don't get any smoother than a fluid drag head on a sturdy tripod.

    I use all three, gimbal, slider, and fluid head (along with drone), and my process is such that I can work through a property pretty quickly. First I mount the camera on my Crane 2 gimbal and really just walk through the property with my A7III autofocusing and often also auto ISO...I'll have enough footage without the exposure shifting to suffice. Then I will mount the camera on a Manfrotto fluid drag head already on my Promediagear slider for the pan shots, this time locking down my ISO and White balance, but still letting the camera focus. Lastly, locking down the fluid head and going full manual with all settings, the slider will give me my push in detail shots and such.

    The average sized house I can shoot like this in about 30mins using all three tools.

    ...and as long as I'm on the subject, I've really grown to love the Zeiss 18mm Batis for property video. Great lens.

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