Sliders – Good, Bad, Excellent

A slider is a device that allows you to attach a video camera and then move the camera side to side or backwards and forwards smoothly and precisely for interesting video effects, and can create a sense of movement where there isn’t any. Sliders come in many different forms and sizes, from small units no longer than a standard ruler and weighing a kilogram or so, to behemoths metres long and weighing tens of kilograms (in many respects you could consider a dolly a slider). Like tripods and gimbals, sliders are typically designed to suit specific camera weight ranges with some only capable of carrying a few hundred or so grams, to ones that can carry 100kg or more. Sliders also come in various operating configurations, manually operated or motorised, with the more sophisticated (read expensive) ones able to be operated via a mobile phone app or through built-in controls to provide all manner of sliding options. There are also sliders that can double their effective length through clever mechanics.

Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick) - long dolly - (source: No Film School)

Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick) – long dolly – (source: No Film School)

I’d hazard a guess that most videographers would have at least one slider, or most certainly would have owned or used one at some point in time. Sliders are just another video accessory that enables you to produce different effects and can be very pleasing when done right and in the appropriate circumstances. Video is always about movement and a slider allows you to produce camera movement, especially in any static scene, or it allows a change of perspective in a scene by creating subtle transitions. I own three sliders, one that’s 120cm long, a short 37cm one and an even shorter 30cm one. The measurement or movement distance of a slider is the actual distance that the slider will allow the camera to move from end to end and, as I noted about clever mechanics, the shorter sliders I own can have an effective length of almost double the static length, depending on how they are mounted. The principle used with these double extension sliders is the same as with linear bearings and they are, more or less, a linear bearing (but used in a clever way).

Linear Bearing - (source: Wikimedia Commons)

Linear Bearing – (source: Wikimedia Commons)

Like many, when I got my first slider it was a long one thinking that the longer the better for more versatility and, if I didn’t need the length, I could just use as much as I required. However, as I quickly realised, while this thought was most certainly valid, there’s the aspect of hauling around a very long slider and being able to use it effectively. You don’t simply put a such a long slider on a tripod and hope to use it, you need to support the slider at both ends and perhaps even in the middle if using a heavy camera to avoid bowing. Additionally, I had to motorise the slider as it was impossible to get smooth movements pushing it by hand. Now my long slider is a carbon fibre model and when using the provided feet on a solid surface, can actually support my camera rig reasonably well without exhibiting much visible bowing and it’s easy to place an extra support in the middle if needed. But my problem is that I wanted to take the slider on my bush trips and use it elevated, so storing it and the other supports in an already packed 4WD became an issue and so it always stayed at home.

Selens Carbon Fibre Slider - (source: eBay)

Selens Carbon Fibre Slider – (source: eBay)

So I decided that I needed a shorter slider and I ended up buying a very cheap alloy one, which was the 37cm model that actually proved to be of reasonable quality. But, not all that long after getting it, it developed a bump in the rolling mechanism that could best be described as similar to what you get with a shopping trolley if a piece of food or such gets stuck on a wheel. There’s a constant bump at each revolution and that’s what was happening with mine. I disassembled it several times and couldn’t find anything obviously wrong, but the bump was still there. This made using the slider problematic, as I couldn’t get smooth motion because with every bump the motion would be interrupted and spoil the flow. Additionally, because this slider wasn’t motorised, you needed a deft hand to keep the motion steady and the bump just made things worse. This wasn’t an issue with the long slider as it was easy to add the simple motor, which made it very effective.

Andoer slider - (source: Andoer)

Andoer slider – (source: Andoer)

Then one day I came across a video demonstrating a new manual slider that was similar to the short one I had, but designed in an entirely different way. While it used the clever mechanics to enable it to effectively double its length, the special feature of this slider is that it uses fluid (or viscous) dampening in the pulley wheels such that, even when moving by hand, the motion is smooth and controlled.  It’s the equivalent of a fluid head on a tripod and in this case the dampening is outstanding, comparable to an expensive tripod fluid head. I’m absolutely amazed at how smoothly the slider works, some might suggest that it flows like butter, but it’s more like thick treacle. And with this slider being able to carry up to 8kg, it’s capable of carrying any of my camera gear (just). My cinema rig is 9kg +/-, but after trying it out on the slider, the slider didn’t show any signs of being overloaded.

Zeapon Micro2 Micro Rail Slider - (source: Zeapon)

Zeapon Micro2 Micro Rail Slider – (source: Zeapon)

Another feature of this slider, which is different to most similar ones as far as I’m aware, is that it comes with a purpose designed plate (an optional accessory that was included in my purchase) that, when attached, allows you to place the slider on a flat surface and still get full movement. Most similar sliders use legs at the ends of the slider and that limits the slider to just half its movement. Of course in this configuration, using my cinema rig is more difficult because once the camera starts to move towards one end, the slider will start tilting. You can hold the plate at the opposite end, but that can become awkward. There are also some other design issues, which I discuss in my video, that make this plate less than functional. I wouldn’t recommend this plate as a separate purchase, as it doesn’t offer great value. This slider isn’t motorised, but I’ve heard that the manufacturer is looking into providing a motor. So I decided to test the two good sliders to see how they compared, using my cinema rig.

Overall, the motorised slider works well, but is somewhat limited because of its size and the cheap Andoer slider is pretty useless because of the fault. However, the Zeapon slider is outstanding and something that I would recommend to anyone considering a short slider, which is really all that you would require in most filming situations. The added benefit of the short slider is that you’re more likely to take it with you than a long one like the Selens.

13 thoughts on “Sliders – Good, Bad, Excellent

  1. Spike Boydell

    Greetings from a very wet Otford, just South of the Royal National Park to the south of Sydney.

    Many thanks for your helpful review and use experience with the Zeapon 2 slider. I found you via the comments you made on the TLDR Filmmaker YouTube review. It motivated me to place an order for one. Like you, I am using a heavier rig… in my case a Canon 1DX2 which comes in at 3-4kg with a lens on. My usual tripod setup is the heavy duty Siriui R4213X with an Acratech video head and arca-swiss connections.

    As I don’t want to have to disconnect the Acratech video head from the video-bowl each time I use the Zeapon, I was wondering which circular (you mentioned fluid) top connector you are using on the Zeapon 2 in the video (which is arca-swiss) and likewise which bottom plate to attach onto your tripod? I am assuming you are also using the slider between your usual tripod fluid head and the camera rig?

    I have subscribed to your channel (using my Customary Land Solutions handle that I use for viewing YouTube). I like your approach – I guess we are a similar age, so it is always refreshing to see reviews that aren’t full over over caffeinated exuberant millennial! Are you selling any of your video for stock through BlackBox or other agencies? If you are interested in my workflow for stock video, check out my latest video at https://youtu.be/MoDblIQqfSY

    Look forward to hearing back from you on the slider connectors. Many thanks,

    Spike

    Reply
    1. Ray Post author

      Hi Spike and appreciate your input. Just a point on attaching the Zeapon to a fluid head. Depending on the weight of the rig and the locking strength of the fluid head, it may only be possible to use the Zeapon in a lateral movement, not backwards and forwards, else the forward moving weight of the camera can cause the head to droop. I can’t do this with my large rig, but the fluid head seems fine when using my second BMPCC4K which ‘only’ weighs 3.4kg.

      I have two options with my setup. Firstly, just moving laterally or I can remove the fluid head and replace it quickly with the 100mm cup that came with the tripod and was replaced with a Benro levelling ball, which allows me to use the Zeapon in any configuration. Tilting will mean just adjusting via the legs and not fluid head. Your tripod looks like it comes with a mounting plate and levelling ball, so I’d recommend getting an Arca Swiss clamp and attach that to the mounting plate for some of the slider use if weight becomes an issue.

      The Arca Swiss clamps and plates that I use with the Zeapon are Novoflex ones, Q-mount plates and clamps (stupidly expensive nowadays), as well as a Novoflex pan head under the clamp. I bought all mine from Mainline Photographics in Sydney years ago. You don’t need to get Novoflex ones, but in some applications they are the only ones that have a design that is most effective, like the square Arca Swiss plate which mounts in any direction. Like you appear to have done, all of my mounting is via Arca Swiss, even if that means attaching an Arca Swiss clamp to a Manfrotto plate.

      And yes, it looks like we’re of a similar vintage and, like you, I prefer product reviewers that more or less specialise and are in the industry, so that what they provide isn’t just advertising blurb. So far the best in my list are Curtis Judd for audio and Gaffer and Gear for lighting. I did consider stock footage, but have left it for the moment while I improve my video skills and ponder the options. As you may have gathered, I’m a semi-retired photographer that’s moved to video and now have to go through a complete learning process. I keep thinking I have plenty of time for anything, but that doesn’t equate with reality.

      If I’ve missed anything, please let me know.

      Cheers

      Ray

      Reply
  2. Spike Boydell

    Thanks Ray, I appreciate your prompt response and further insight. Like you, I am a longstanding photographer… I can claim 53+ years, having received a Boots 126 Instamatic for my 7th birthday, and progressed into the world of SLRs in my teens). I studied and practiced photojournalism alongside my undergrad degree, but ultimately focused on my academic career until I took early retirement three years ago. I had a play with video when we migrated to Australia in the early 1990s, but I have expanded into videography again in the last couple of years… I would call myself a hybrid shooter, hence the 1DX2 as preferred kit.

    It looks like the Novoflex fittings are in a similar price range and quality to Acratech (but the Novoflex bellows kit is just what I am looking for for macro photography and videography – see https://www.novoflex.de/en/products-637/macro/extension-bellows.html). Like you, I use a ball in the Sirui tripod cup (in my case a Manfrotto, permanently securely fixed under the video head with three sturdy screws)… but I could swop that out for the original plate if I need to. I went ‘hybrid’ on the video head as well, with the Acratech Video Ball Head, which works as a Video Head, Still Photography Ball-Head, Long Lens Head, Pan Tilt Head and a Panoramic Head. It has fully adjustable ball tension control and the Ball will not shift once tightened (not a cheap piece of kit, but if you are interested see https://www.acratech.net/video-products/video-head/video-ballhead/). I have a range of arca-swiss style adapters for my Joby and Glidecam (where I use an arca-swiss connector for lateral adjustment on a Manfrotto plate for forwards/backwards balancing), so I will see how best to adapt the existing arrangement on the tripod once the Zeapon 2 arrives and will let you know how I get on.

    Ditto re ‘Curtis Judd’ and ‘Gaffer & Gear’. I have only progressed half-way on the lighting front with an Aputure 672s panel and a Boeing RGB, which is sufficient in a small space but I will need to splurge on an Aputure 120D or 300D soon. My current search is for enhanced audio for some interviews I am filming for my book promos and also for my customary land/land tenure research. I learned the limitations of my RODE VideoMic Pro+ last year when filming an interview (see https://youtu.be/b5xwbgNCFz8), so I am looking at lavaliers and maybe a premixer. I was attracted to the Deity Connect duo-wireless system, but my more recent research suggests that I may be better with a couple of lavaliers and something like a Zoom H6, that will also let me boom my VideoMic, so that I can have backup audio on the SD card, a balanced line into the camera input and potential to monitor and adjust via an iPad in Garageband. I saw your video with the RODE Wireless Go (without lavalier) … do you think a couple of these with the Zoom H6 would be more flexible and comparable quality to the Deity? How far have you gone with your audio kit? I would welcome your thoughts… maybe email me if you don’t want to expand this blog response.

    All good,

    Spike

    Reply
    1. Ray Post author

      It looks like I have 10 years on you. I retired in 2011 and haven’t looked back. I have an Applied Science degree in photographic technology from 1980, but have done many things in between not related to photography. I was also a news and sports photographer for just under a decade. I did play with video (the tape variety) many years ago, but it was too expensive and difficult back then, much like photography for many.

      Gaffer and Gear has a couple of excellent videos on portable COB LEDs that are worth watching if you’re looking into these. I have both the VideoMic Pro+ and VideoMic NTG, but use LAVs when it comes to getting decent voice. The Rode Wireless GO units are very good for wireless work, though Deity (previously Aputure) are doing some interesting things. Some of the audio I’ve presented have been somewhat ordinary, as I’ve been experimenting with what works and what doesn’t and sometimes it’s a good lesson to show what can be quite ordinary.

      I’ve been mainly recording directly into camera, but do have an old Olympus LS-14 recorder which isn’t too bad, but not quite in the pro range, though acceptable when used correctly. I haven’t had the need for better audio recording at the moment and so have held off getting anything significant. If it came to requiring high quality external audio recording, then I’d probably consider stumping up for say a Zoom F6 (Curtis gave it a big thumbs up recently). The 32 bit recording is like shooting RAW video.

      I’m happy to keep the discussion going here, as it can inform others with similar issues.

      Cheers

      Ray

      Reply
    2. Ray Post author

      I had a look at your Timber Creek video and I think the VideoMic Pro+ on a boom should have worked quite well for the interviewee, as long as you could keep it out of view. The acoustics of the room didn’t help the audio. Two Lavs would have been much better in this situation, both inside and outside. This is where the likes of wireless units are so handy, as you can attach a wired Lav to the wireless transmitter and record directly to the camera. I have two Wireless GO units and a special splitter cable that can take the signal from each unit and split the signal into left and right inputs in the camera. Mind you, much depends on the audio quality of the camera.

      With interviews such as this, you don’t really need additional lights. In your case, a large, foldable, reflector on a stand would have provided great bounce light from the background, allowing even lighting. This means far less to carry around, such as heavy stands, power cables and the like. Powerful lights also mean that you need big softboxes or umbrellas etc. I well remember this from my photography days lugging around my Elinchrom flash kit (which I haven’t used in more than 15 years).

      If you plan on using an external recorder, then you’re going to also need a way of syncing the audio. The simplest is just the tried and true hand clap or dog clicker like I use, but if you want to go the full hog, then something like the Tentacle Sync is a must. Though to be fully ready, you’ll likely need three units.

      Reply
  3. Spike Boydell

    Hi again Ray,

    Thanks for the feedback on the Timber Creek video… we live and learn. Yes, I definitely needed a couple of lavalier mics for that shoot. We started inside as the boardroom was aesthetic, but being in a converted wharf the space opened into mezzanine offices without a ceiling and there was overmuch noise pollution from someone on a telephone, so we hastily relocated outside. A little extra light or reflector would, as you suggest, overcome the slightly blown out background of the harbour bridge. Critically, even though we were only 5ft from the RODE VideoMicPro+ there was too much ambient noise… that I could have overcome with lavaliers. Viewers are more tolerant of average quality video than they are of poor audio.

    The Timber Creek video was recorded almost a year ago, and I have enhanced my videography skills in the meantime. Before the Bridal Empowerment shoot (https://youtu.be/dd48bVl0OF8) in October, I hurriedly picked up an Aputure 672s and a couple of lightstands, including a reflective / shoot through umbrella that has paid dividends, as well as small Boling RGB that I attached to my Glidecam or tripod with a SmallRig clamp. Whilst the Aputure 672s is more of a fill light, it works well in small controlled environment such as my study and I now have a boom for the second lightstand that allows me to locate the VideoMicPro+ very close but just out of shot. But I take your point on carting a couple of lightstands and a couple of lights and boom alongside a sturdy tripod and heavy backpack of camera/lenses to locations. And that is before we add a sound kit…

    Which is why a couple of RODE Wireless GO sets + Lavs are an appealing lightweight option. I presume the cable you mentioned that enables you to plug 2 x Wireless Go receivers straight into camera is the Hosa stereo breakout 3.5mm TRS to dual 3.5mm TSF?

    Or, are you using something that will also power the lavs if not connected via the RODE Wireless GO like the Comica CVM-AX1 Microphone Audio Mixer Adapter (https://www.swamp.net.au/comica-cvm-ax1-3.5mm-dual-channel-audio-mixer).

    Are you using the RODE Wireless GO’s with the matched RODE Lavalier GO’s or still the SmartLav? When I rewatched your ‘BMPCC4K – Rode Wireless GO – Better Than You Think’ video it sounded like you were clipping a little in the studio shot, but the sound quality outside in the park seemed excellent.

    I was interested to see Curtis Judd’s latest video last weekend on Lavaliers, and all those he suggested were significantly more expensive than the RODE Lavalier Go with a Wireless GO (as in double)! I guess that is the difference between Pro, Prosumer and Consumer kit. The appeal of the Deity Connect dual wireless system is that it seems far more robust and controllable, with analogue limiters and the ability to balance mics and send a clearer signal into camera (or field recorder), albeit with a 19ms delay (compared to 6ms from RODE Wireless GO).

    The Deity Connect seems to be at the ‘budget’ level of Pro, whereas something like the Saramonic Blink 500 is clearly Consumer. I am assuming 2 x RODE Wireless GOs and a ‘Y’ connector into camera are somewhere in the consumer range, whereas combining them with a field recorder to balance audio with better preamps, and the ability to backup audio on the field recorder SD card or into computer or iPad… and thus allowing you to also boom the VideoMicPro+ as an alternative/backup channel – and adjust more in post – takes the system to the into mid Prosumer? The Rodelink Filmmaker kit, seems prosumer. Intrestingly, only today, No Film School put out a summary of wireless systems – see (https://nofilmschool.com/best-wireless-audio-kits?utm_source=No+Film+School+newsletter&utm_campaign=a8825f9789-Friday+Round-up+Newsletter+2.14.20&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_00e2faa2b4-a8825f9789-426951061).

    In terms of pricing, a Rode Wireless GO with Lavalier Go is currently around $350, so an interview set with just a Hosa ‘Y’ connector and no control on balancing the input comes in at around $720… and then spins out to $1500 if you add something like a ZOOM H6 and VXLR+ connectors… but that would allow my VideoMicPro+ to be added in as a boomed backup… plus with the ZOOM you have the benefit of balancing the output, recording to an SD and also using as a computer or iPad interface. I saw you suggested the F6 rather than the H6, and obviously it is at the next level… but importantly, Curtis mentioned in a comment on his review of the HD-TX the raw audio capabilities of 32bit float technology on the F6 can’t save clipped audio from a 24bit 48GHz wireless source!

    I keep coming back to the Deity Connect ($1,175), as it seems to give me the best chance of getting the feed into camera right in the first instance, especially given the limiters, gain and pre-amps in the TX and RX. This week I sent Andrew Jones from Deity a message on their Facebook group and received a reply within seconds! I mentioned that I’m looking at purchasing the Deity Connect for interviews and documentary projects. I film solo using a Canon 1DX mark 2. When filming, I use the WFT-e8A wireless transmitter with the 1DX to connect to an iPad as a wireless monitor so I can frame, adjust settings and pull focus as needed. In a selfie situation where I am interviewing, the iPad is mounted just below the camera on the tripod, and I also use a Parrot Padcaster with my iPhone on the front lens, connected to the phone with a Bluetooth remote.

    I asked (1) will my setup using the WFT-e8A on the Canon 1DX2 completely screw up the signal from the Deity Connect Receiver if it is mounted on top of the camera?

    (2) If yes… ho hum, and can I overcome this by running the Deity Connect receiver through a ZOOM H6 or similar giving me backup on the SD card and a monitor line out stereo track to the camera input for matching in post?

    (3) if using the Deity Connect and an extra audio input from a boomed shotgun mic on a ZOOM H6, will the latency from the Connect mess with the output tracks?

    Andrew’s instant response was “You should be totally fine. In regards to latency, again, perfectly fine. Use a sync by waveform method and you’ll have no issues.”

    I also heard positive user experiences from guys like us in other YouTube discussions from @JSW Photography (https://youtu.be/SjWuxF7pYps) and @John Cliff. This, coupled the latency free reply from Andrew Jones @ Deity as well as Curtis Judd (https://youtu.be/0sLC0WrU4F4) and Allen from SoundSpeeds (https://youtu.be/kHDdkIlFfQE) has pushed me to settle on the Deity Connect.

    So, I made my decision and returned to the checkout at Kayell the main Australian distributor for Aputure, and as a consequence given that it spawned from Aputure, the Deity Connect wireless system only to find that it was now showing as ‘out of stock’… and so it goes! I will call them when they reopen on Monday to find out when they are importing more. Anyway, that is my roundabout journey on audio that escalated over the last week!

    Meanwhile, the Zeapon Slider 2 arrived on Tuesday. I took some images of my setup to share with you, and then realised that I can’t post them here! I added the arca-swiss plate from my 5kg gorillapod, and installed it atop my Acratech video ballhead, with the ballhead from the Joby supporting the 3.5kg of the 1DX2 and it worked fine allowing a wider turn as a result. The downside is that it elevates the centre of gravity well and thus introduces micro tremors, that may prejudice 4K stock clips… so I will experiment in placing it on the Manfrotto base in the video bowl of the tripod. Hence the need to share images! Anyway, first impressions of the Zeapon align positively with your well informed video and blog discussion. I did get the Zeapon 2 base plate included, which seems to overcome the concerns you had with the feet and adjustments with the mk1 plate.

    Spike

    Reply
    1. Ray Post author

      For any voice recording, five feet is way too far a shotgun unless you’re in an acoustically designed room, even then it might not work well. The recommended distance from the subject’s head is around 18″. Lavs can be inconvenient to setup at times, but they beat just about anything else, if you can’t afford and audio guy. You’re absolutely correct about poor video vs poor audio.

      A week ago I shot my niece’s wedding ceremony, all hand held with my revised BMPCC4K rig. I wasn’t the official shooter, as I try to avoid weddings, but it was the first video that I’ve taken of a weeding and I’m quite pleased with the results. Those that have seen the first edit (put out for comment) apparently loved it, so hopefully it won’t be too long before I’m allowed to publish the final edit. I wasn’t able to set up any audio and what was provided was atrocious, so I didn’t even bother to try and use what I’d recorded on-camera.

      Yes, the Hosa breakout cable is excellent and will allow you to connect two of any mic configuration to the one stereo input and record on separate channels. It can actually be a lifesaver in case something goes wrong with one mic, so that you will at least have a backup. There are many other options, but I think wireless is the future with audio because of its flexibility and ease of setup, and no cables to lay out. And if you lay out cables, they’ll have to be XLR meaning more weight and hassles.

      I use the wired Lavs with the Wireless GO units as I don’t think the mic in the Wireless GO is ideal and it means that you can’t hide the transmitter very easily, if at all. The only thing you need to consider with the Wireless GO units is range and positioning. For weddings, interviews and the like, where you have more control over the subject positioning, I don’t think they’ll be a problem. Those indoor shots were affected by the acoustics of the hallway as well as not adjusting for the hallway, so not an ideal example. I’m still on a learning curve with audio and I doubt that I’ll ever be anywhere near Curtis Judd’s level.

      If I had the need, I’d seriously be looking at a quality recorder and sync device, and using that with whatever mics were necessary. Quality audio is never going to come at a budget price, but I think Rode is providing a good compromise for those that can’t justify a Rolls Royce solution. Others like Deity are catching up (as is its sister company Aputure with lighting). Anything that Curtis Judd recommends can be bought with confidence. I made the mistake of listening to other reviewers before I discovered Curtis and bought some pretty useless stuff (though thankfully not expensive).

      I’ve gone through that purchasing dilemma all too many times, which is why I always call the store first and ask them do they have the item I want in the store, not ‘in stock’ which means it’s at the distributor at the time of checking. I did this with my Shinobi monitor, as I wanted that for the wedding and after a bit of tooing and froing, they found the last one in one of their other stores. I’m still waiting for my IDX NP-F battery that I ordered from a Melbourne store a month ago.

      At 3.5kg you should use the bowl adapter and attach the Arca Swiss clamp to that and alleviate the balancing/CoG issue. I would be attaching the slider base without a head and adjusting the angle as needed with the tripod legs, slower, but better stability. When you think about the motion of the slider, backwards and forwards especially, angling the tripod is somewhat visually different to angling the tripod head. I hadn’t realised that Zeapon had already introduce the new baseplate. I think I’m just going to modify mine, as I’ve given it some thought and I certainly don’t want to buy a new one.

      Reply
      1. Spike Boydell

        Thanks for the ongoing feedback/discussion Ray,

        I look forward to seeing the wedding video when you post it. I watched your Cicadian Rythms video earlier today – exemplary work, great macro and nicely graded. Distinctly stock-worthy if trimmed and sped up to be <59 seconds. The first clip I sold was a Kookaburra devouring a blue tongue, which I heard whilst filming king parrots (https://www.pond5.com/stock-footage/item/106226194-laughing-kookaburra-dacelo-novaeguineae-consuming-large-blue).

        I will take your advice and try a few other configurations with Zeapon 2 slider… but it genuinely opens up some more smooth and stable stock video options… including filming all my cameras, which go back to my grandfathers Carl Zeiss Jena Compur glass plate kit which dates back to the 1920s.

        I have enjoyed working through some of your past posts. Your experience with the ‘BMPCC4K one year on’ is instructional, and you do indeed highlight that there are many components that are needed to expand it into a fully functional kit.

        I think you hit the nail on the head with your ‘Product Reviews and Reviewers’ post. I have tried several times to respond (from my Mac and iPad), but there seems to be a glitch on the WordPress page and it just goes into a vortex and unlike this page dies not flag that it is waiting for approval… so I will post the comment that I have been trying to post here.

        After a career as an academic, culminating with 10 years as a research professor, I always find it interesting when folk suggest you can learn everything on YouTube. Just as academe has become as billion dollar business in Australia, the active YouTube ‘influencers’ are small scale businesses striving to compete with one another… especially those involved in promoting the latest camera tech. When you were a full-time professional photographer, you just wanted kit that you could rely on and back in the day I doubt that you worried about the newest/latest features – you just needed robust pro gear that wouldn’t let you down and you didn’t (and didn’t need to) update it frequently.

        I share your recommendations for informed gear advice. Likewise, Alex Jordan from Learn Colour Grading and Film Simplified is the go to for DaVinci Resolve (https://filmsimplified.com). Alex, like Parker Walbeck from FullTimeFilmmaker (https://fulltimefilmmaker.com) use their informative YouTube videos to lead to a value proposition… and their professional and comprehensive paid courses. I am fine with this, as the YouTube content builds confidence in their skills and teaching approach – I have purchased both (on cyber Monday or in the Holiday sale) and I have not been disappointed. For me, Alex and Parker are to Filmmaking what Dave Morrow is to Landscape Photography (see https://www.davemorrowphotography.com), and Dave’s extensive free resources, guides and YouTube videos led me to purchase his excellent paid course that helped me up my landscape, Lightroom and Photoshop game.

        So the problem seems to be cutting through the chaff in YouTube to find like-minded folk you can share and collaborate with on the journey (like you, for instance), as well as discovering a few quality teachers (often way younger than us) from whom we can learn a great deal if we are prepared to make a modest investment and put in the substantial time requirement to learn certain skills… which is exactly the observation you made in your BMPCC4K update. All good,

        Spike

        Reply
        1. Ray Post author

          Apologies for the post issue, for some reason your latest ones went into the trash repository of my WordPress site and didn’t get an alert.

          One of the greatest disappointments for me has been the demise of many enjoyable and informative YouTube channels. By that I mean channels that were providing informative advice on techniques maybe two years ago, but have now become little more than product endorsement sites, not even balanced review sites. These channels are now simply reading off a manufacturer provided script and offering absolutely nothing of real value. I often wonder whether these YouTubers even produce video anymore and are simply earning their living off YouTube.

          In today’s world, I guess because of ready availability and comparably affordable price vs the past, people never seem satisfied with what they have and always keep looking over the fence. The biggest issue they have is not learning their gear well enough and when not succeeding, blame the gear and look for what they think is better. People disparage the BMPCC4K/6K cameras because they don’t have an EVF, IBIS, AF etc and much of it is to do with listening to naysayers and perpetuating false memes. When you learn to use such a camera, the results are outstanding and your operator skills become far superior to those relying on the gear to compensate for lack of skill and knowledge.

          I’m still using lenses that date back to the early 2000s and will only update if they stop working (being electronic lenses) and if I do have to upgrade it’ll likely be fully manual lenses. I started my career using cameras that were completely manual and now I’ve more or less come back full circle.

          I was on Pond5 for some time and I put up what I thought were some unique shots of Australian birds, but there seemed to be no interest. I haven’t looked at video and may consider it down the track if/when I get a better portfolio.

          Reply
  4. Spike Boydell

    Hey Ray,

    Good to see your impressive bird video on your YT channel. Thought I would follow up on our previous discussions about audio. I finally settled on the Deity Connect dual wireless kit and have been learning to use it for around a month know. The purchase was timely as interestingly, in this time of lockdown, I have found myself consumed by creation rather than consumption of media. My latest project, motivated by home isolation and my hitherto socially media averse wife’s desire to support her long term yoga and stretch students, is ‘Move, Motivate & Meditate with Marie’. Weekly episode #4 on alignment is uploading as I craft this response, for its scheduled premiere on YouTube at 9:30am Tuesday (per her usual class time). Episode #2 may be of more interest / a good place to start for those who have not explored yoga before but are looking to do some confined exercise: https://youtu.be/wBePB8GvhnA plus it contextualises our environment, especially in the latter section.

    Anyway, my latest collaboration with my favourite muse provides purpose, focus and support (for her community and beyond). It takes a while to produce as most episodes, like her classes, are over an hour long, inevitably with active and voice over audio, multiple camera angles and lighting requirements, so it keeps us away from the ever more concerning news cycle and the expectation of weekly upload means that shortcomings are ameliorated in subsequent episodes.

    I quickly realised the run-and-gun benefits, as well as the limitations, of merely using the Deity Connect on camera… critically, if I needed voice over as well as active voice I needed to strip the audio from a visual video image. So I added the ZOOM F6 field recorder into the equation, and this makes the workflow so much easier as the Deity Connect receiver has the same form factor and screws on top, I can capture multiple tracks, send a line out into the camera for synchronising, and it saves having the audio appended to the video files when preparing just a voice over of class instructions. Whilst I edit in iOS using LumaFusion because of the ease of playing high bitrate 4K without the need for proxies, I have just cleaned up the audio files in the Fairlight module of DaVinci Resolve (a noise filter for speech, a d-esser and a slight variation of the equaliser for my wife’s voice) with good effect. As I say, I am now up to my 4th hour long weekly output.

    A point to mention however, as I think you touched on the 32-bit float benefits of the ZOOM F6 and the Sound Designs series II… wireless audio, like your RODE Wireless GO’s and my Deity Connect (as well as more expensive Lectrosonics and Sennheiser) is 24-bit. So far this hasn’t been an issue as if forces you to master the gain staging through the wireless system as well as in the field recorder. Realistically, where the 32-bit comes into its own is in recording say birdsong and then a train goes past, rather than in narrative work.

    I have also added an Aputure 300d ii and Light Dome ii to my 3-point lighting kit (from episode #3 onwards) and that is something of a game changer both for indoor lighting and outdoor compensation.

    Reply
    1. Ray Post author

      Firstly, apologies for the delay in this reply becoming visible, it went into the spam section for some reason and I have no idea why. It was buried amongst other spam and I’m glad I checked everything before deleting the rubbish.

      I guess like with everyone else, this lockdown gives me more time to ponder things closer to home and for some reason the local predatory birds have started to come around every day now (helped no doubt by the fact that I have some mince on hand). I’m trying to record the wildlife in our backyard as a series of long-term video projects.

      Audio is still one of those challenges that I need to overcome but, thankfully, I haven’t had a serious need to lift my game. It’s pretty much accepted that recording audio separately with a quality recorder and 32 bit is the way to go nowadays. A syncing device also improves the workflow and the Tentacle Sync is one of the most preferred systems, but it’s not a cheap option, though it’s cheaper than most others. I’m really surprised that someone like Deity or similar hasn’t come out yet with a competing product and if/when they do, it’s something I’ll consider.

      The Aputure should provide some very good lighting, as it’s been a highly regarded light for some time. I don’t remember whether I’ve previously noted a very good YouTube channel for lighting, Gaffer and Gear, that provides very good reviews on lighting sources etc as he’s a working gaffer (based in Melbourne). His reviews are great in that they are warts and all reviews.

      Footnote. I’ve been watching a few reviews on the Sound device MixPre 3 II and Zoom F6 and there’s not much in it when it comes to audio quality. One thing that would lead me more towards the Zoom is the NP-F battery solution and internal AA option. The battery solution with the Sound Devices looks to be pretty poor in comparison. It doesn’t hurt that the Zoom is also around $700 cheaper.

      Reply
  5. Spike

    Thanks Ray,

    Yes, I also follow ‘Gaffer and Gear’ and we have both mentioned Curtis Judd’s ‘Learn Light and Sound’ as well. I was surprised at how small the ZOOM F6 is, and it has the same form factor as the RX of the Deity Connect. For the yoga series I tend to put them both on a light stand near the camera and tripod, but the RX can sit atop the camera and the F6 on a SmallRig clamp off the tripod when out and about. I confess I still have a lot to learn on the audio side of things, but have been very impressed with the F6/Deity combo for narrative work and inspired by the ambient birdsong collected from our garden (now of course a parabolic microphone, see for example https://www.wildtronics.com has been added to the wishlist, but at US$1000 may remain there long-term).

    Don’t be distracted by the whole 32bit float marketing of the MixPre series ii and the ZOOM range, especially if you are connecting to wireless lavaliers (e.g. as with your RODE Wireless GO or my Deity Connect) as they, like most wireless kit, are 24bit. As with filming RAW and the benefits of ‘getting it right in camera’, there is similarly skill in getting the audio right at the time of capture rather than assuming that by using 32bit float you can do all the fancy work in post. Fairlight now works with 32bit float since v.16.2 DaVinci Resolve, but not quite optimally yet.

    I have found the addition of the ZOOM BTA-1 bluetooth adapter ($53) has made monitoring via my iPad way easier than using the small screen on the F6. And yes, the deciding factor between the MixPre 3 Series ii ($1,484 from John Barry the Oz distributor) and the ZOOM F6 ($979 from StoreDJ) was the significant price differential here in Australia (whilst in the US they are similarly priced), as well as the need to pay extra for a bigger battery sled and mixAssist software for the MixPre… and of course the MixPre 6 ii (at $1,931) is the unit with similar capacity to the ZOOM F6, albeit the MixPre has potentially better preamps and the ability to back-up record onto a thumb drive (but you can also back-up direct into camera via line out of both – I do this anyway to match up the tracks in post). The ZOOM F6 also allows you to link/synch camera timecode via the ‘line in’. Usefully, in his ‘Learn Light and Sound’ session today, Curtis Judd mentioned that he will be releasing his course on the ZOOM F6 by 1 June.

    Reply
    1. Ray Post author

      For me, the 32 bit would come in very handy as I intend to be covering some fairly unpredictable audio situations (motor sport etc) and, as I use an on-camera mic, it can be very difficult to get ideal audio. I’ve heard that with some cameras, the line out can produce a lot of noise in-camera, the headphones output less so, but it may just be camera dependent. Have you tried this?

      What I’m thinking of trying out as well is using the WirelessGO to transmit from the F6 to the camera if I have the F6 and mic set up remotely. I’m thinking of this as there are situations when on-camera mic just doesn’t cut it (such as bird audio). The time code option is great, as then I won’t need something like a Tentacle Sync, as the BMPCC4K has a time code option built in.

      I’m currently waiting to see if this lockdown will provide some discounts and, if so, I’ll get the F6. I’m not in a great hurry as I everything that I want to cover is shut down, so even if I have to wait for end of financial year sales, it’s no big deal.

      Reply

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