I'll be the first to admit that I hate spending money on some things. I refuse to pay more than $25 for a pair of jeans, or blow a couple hundred dollars on dinner at a restaurant. But when it comes to camera gear, I usually don't bash an eyelid at dropping $300 randomly for some new toy for my cameras.
There are many low-budget sliders out there for your average prosumer/freelance videographer like myself. But when I say low-budget, I'm talking in the range of $300 for the slider rail and a carriage to hold the camera. After realizing that a handful of the companies selling budget sliders get their parts all from IGUS, I was hellbent on saving money and doing this myself!
First up, I had to source out the rail and carriage parts. IGUS has recently realized that many camera junkies want this system, and actually have a section of their site dedicated to 'camera slider' packages. It actually proved cheaper to buy it from Amazon.com instead of directly from IGUS themselves. Here's a link to the camera slider system I purchased.
Next was to find a low budget fluid video head for the slider. Thanks to my new favorite website Cheesycam I was able to pick up a decent fluid head for cheap.
The slider system and the video head showed up within a few days of each other, so then it was on to complete the build!
Here's the list of EVERYTHING that is needed to complete my version of the slider:
- Power drill
- 3/8" drill bit (another small bit as a pilot hole will be helpful too)
- Tripod QR plate
- 3 Brass Pan head Slot Screws 1/4-20 X 3/4"
- 2 1/4-20 Washers
- 1 1/4-20 Jam Nut
- 2 Rubber 1/4-20 "Well Nuts"
- 3/8" slotted pan head bolt (not 100% sure on the pitch)
First step was drilling the carriage. Here's a better look at the pan head bolt used for mounting the video head. (This bolt came with the video head I bought)
Next I mounted the Tripod quick release plate using one of the Brass Pan head slot screws, two 1/4-20 washers, and one Jam Nut.
Underside w/QR plate.
Top view of the rail. I used a Jam Nut because of its lower profile which will give clearance from the carriage.
Next was to mount the video head to the carriage system with the supplied bolt, and then slide the carriage onto the rail. Then attached the whole system to the tripod via the QR plate. Almost done!
Now since the carriage moves SUPER easily along the rail, any slight tilt of the rail will send your precious camera right off the end! To solve this, I used a "Well Nut" (found in the specialty bin at Lowes) at each end, attached by one of the brass panhead screws. It is a rubber cylinder basically, with the metal threads on the inside for the screw to thread into. I wanted something soft to cushion the carriage and I think this works PERFECT (and cheap)
And now you're done! Here's how it currently looks!
The rail system is 1000mm long, which i think works fine for dolly moves with the 7D (time will tell). Any longer of a rail and the system no longer becomes 'portable', which was my main goal. For the studio setting, a long rail and two tripods would be really nice.
Price breakdown for parts:
- IGUS Camera Slider system: $92.99 after shipping
- Video head: $80 via eBay.
- Pan Head Screws (2 packages of 2): $2.60
- Washers (package of 16): $1.18
- Well Nuts (2): $2.78
- Manfrotto QR plate: $14.99
Grand total: $194.54
Not bad considering some sites sell just the rail + carriage for upwards of $250. I bought most of the nuts/bolts in packages of 10+ so you could prob squeeze a few more dollars in savings if you bought just a few individual. But its always good to have backups!
Lucent Productions is not held liable for any injury to your person or camera from following these steps. If you poke your eye out our drop your camera off your slider, I am not responsible!
Special thanks to Brandon Turman and Spomer at VitalMTB for information provided for this project!