Guest post by Li-Lian Ahlskog Hou:
Like many DSLR shooters I mostly work alone, not as part of a crew. There are so many times I want a graceful slow sliding shot but just can’t carry a large slider or dolly with me. Even if I could I rarely have the time to set it up.
Enter the Varavon Slidecam Lite. It’s small, light-weight, thin and yet well constructed. Unlike some other budget sliders the Varavon uses metal roller bearings that run along rails concealed in a groove running down the middle of the slider. It is available in various differing lengths from 19 inches to 47 inches. The carriage of the Slidecam lite has a handy built in brake that can prevent the camera from moving. There is also a bubble level for making sure the slider is even.
It also comes in a handy bag, the short one I chose is small enough to throw into my tripod bag alongside my tripod. Alternatively you can attach to your backpack. Also included are short legs with adjustable feet that have a limited range of adjustment. These are fine for normal surfaces but are not designed for very uneven terrain.
To this I’ve added the compact and lightweight Varavon Panning Ball Head 35. It can be put onto the slider very quickly and comes with a novel little handle that makes it easy to do basic pans. It can handle a DSLR like the 5D mkIII but not larger video cameras. There are plenty of better pan heads but this one is a good match for the Slidecam Lite.
The Slidecam Lite usually attaches to just one tripod, in the middle, which is useful for a fast on-the-spot-slide when you don’t have time to set up two tripods. You can add a quick release plate for even faster attachment and detachment from your tripod. With some lightweight tripods the slider tilts slightly when the camera reaches each end. There are times when using two tripods, one at either end, is more stable if you can carry them.
What it doesn’t have is the super smooth friction control or larger payload capacity of more expensive sliders – but for the price you can’t really complain. A motor kit is also available but we didn’t have a chance to test it.
If you shoot a lot with DSLRs and other smaller cameras, and if you’re working as a single-operator with not much time to set up each shot, then I recommend the Slidecam Lite. These days I bring it to almost all my shoots and couldn’t live without it.
Additional shooting by Sarah Shi and Seth Coleman.
More details about the Varavon Slidecam Lite are available on their website.
Li-Lian Ahlskog Hou is a videographer from Sweden now based in Beijing. Previously working for a publication that investigates the Swedish Armed Forces, she now shoots documentaries, concerts and promotion videos. She is based in China. You can see more of her work at http://www.li-lian.com/