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Old January 21st, 2013, 11:13 PM   #1
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Sliders: ball mount or tripod head?

Hi guys,

I just picked up a Cinevate Atlas 10 35" Slider for my Sony F3, and I'm trying to decide on what I should go with to mount the camera to the slider.

A large part of the reason for opting for a 35" slider was for speed and versatility - I wanted something small enough that I could centre-mount it to a tripod for setup speed. The idea being that for bigger tracking/sliding movements I'd probably want to hire a dolly anyway.

What I'm wondering though, is whether for small 35" slider moves the pan/tilt versatility of a tripod head really needed? Or would a sturdy ball head (like the Manfrotto 057: 057 Magnesium Ball Head With Q5 Quick Release MH057M0-Q5 - 057 Series | Manfrotto) for more straightforward movements, make more sense? (being smaller, lighter and simpler)

If anyone has any thoughts or opinions on this particular conundrum I'd love to hear them. Any recommendations/experience with different ball mounts/tripod heads would also be appreciated.

Cheers,

Mark
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Old January 21st, 2013, 11:43 PM   #2
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Re: Sliders: ball mount or tripod head?

I prefer a fluid head so that I can do smooth wraparound pan shots or dynamic tracking. It might not be the best head out there, but for the price, the Weifang 717AH does a decent job. I made a video review here:
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Old January 22nd, 2013, 01:09 AM   #3
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Re: Sliders: ball mount or tripod head?

Thanks Oren, any thoughts as to how large a camera the Weifang might support? Rigged up with my basic kit, the F3 probably weighs in somewhere around 17-20lbs.
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Old January 22nd, 2013, 02:34 PM   #4
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Re: Sliders: ball mount or tripod head?

I went with the ball head approach. Sometimes I need to set up the shot so it's "off" at the start of the slide, but "on frame" at the end.

A fluid head sounds good in practice, but I find it's hard enough to get perfectly smooth motion by hand with a non-motorized slider. Add a moving fluid head and things only get harder to control.

It really comes down to how smooth you want things to be. If you seek perfect motion, a ball head is all you need. If you will slide and frame dynamically, you will want a fluid head. Of course, you can always lock down a fluid head, so it's more flexible.

Personally, I think it depends on what you shoot. If the scene is of static objects, like pictures on a mantel, motion needs to be as perfectly smooth as possible. If you are tracking moving objects like people, animals, and toy cars, the audience can live with imperfect motion and best-framing becomes the goal.
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Old January 22nd, 2013, 04:03 PM   #5
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Re: Sliders: ball mount or tripod head?

I just swap out the head according to the situation. Horses for courses, and all that. It tends to have the ball head on most of the time, but that's probably because it won't fit into its case with a fluid video head attached.
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Old January 22nd, 2013, 06:19 PM   #6
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Re: Sliders: ball mount or tripod head?

The main reason I go with a ball head is that my 75mm fluid head would be crazy top-heavy on a slider. And I've yet to find a small, flat-base, fluid head that I really like.
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Old January 22nd, 2013, 06:30 PM   #7
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Re: Sliders: ball mount or tripod head?

Mark, I don't know how well the Weifang would do well above 12lbs, but I haven't pushed it that far. With the FS-100 and a short lens, I'm hitting 6 or 7 lbs max.
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Old January 22nd, 2013, 11:37 PM   #8
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Re: Sliders: ball mount or tripod head?

Thanks so much for your thoughts guys. I've decided to go with the ball head for the time being - my main philosophy behind getting the small slider is for quick, simple camera movements (for when I don't need the complexity of more elaborate dolly movements), so I think it's best to keep things simple with it.

Having the ball head will also, hopefully, allow me to keep the whole setup in one piece in its bag (for quicker setup), and I don't think that would be possible with a fluid head.

Cheers
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Old January 23rd, 2013, 06:01 AM   #9
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Re: Sliders: ball mount or tripod head?

I prefer a ball head for exactly the reasons you stated - its fast and easy. I can set up the slider without a tripod on any surface - uneven rocks, furniture, shelves, etc - and then get my horizon straight within seconds. I don't generally shoot narrative though; most of my work is events and action sports where time is not a luxury, so that was a big factor in my decision.
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Old January 23rd, 2013, 08:25 PM   #10
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Re: Sliders: ball mount or tripod head?

You can still pan with a not-over-tightened ball head using two hands on the camera. That is to say one hand in front of the ball head axis, and one behind.
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