Back in June of 2011, I took delivery of the Dynamic Perception Stage Zero Timelapse Slider. Prior to this I'd been using various self-built rigs and still do but I was looking forward to seeing what this kit could achieve and it hasn't let me down since! In today's fast-paced world, a gear review is often done straight away so that the buying public can make up their mind for a purchase. Some of you may be thinking I'm four years too late but I like to think of it as an 'extensively tested' review!
The kit itself has changed for the better over the past few years and I've upgraded it accordingly with each new release. In it's most basic form, it comes in three parts:
They say the simplest ideas are the best and the slider itself is just a piece of #1030 Aluminium Extrusion which can be either purchased with the kit or found just about anywhere with an industrial background! You can buy it in varying lengths but the most common lengths of track I use are 4, 6, and 8 feet in length. Although it's made from aluminium, it's tough, durable and it's well travelled. Need to fly it? I use a solid ski tube or snowboard case so I can throw in a couple of tripods.
The Dolly or Cart is the moving section and holds the camera and motor (and there's a bit of room to place your controller as well). With the new 'EZ' swap motors, you don't have to wait what seems like an eternity to get the dolly to the other end of the track to set up your shots as you can simply remove the motor and push it to the end to frame up and return it to the beginning. Unlike a lot of sliders, it sits on plastic pads rather than bearings or wheels which doesn't make any difference to your shot. Having used this kit for the BBC's 'Great British Year' for two years, one of the editors told me it was some of the smoothest timelapse tracking shots he'd seen, and you can't argue with that!
When originally purchased, the dolly movement was controlled with the MX2 controller which I now believe is obsolete. I can't really do a review on the new MX3 controller it comes with now as I don't technically own one! I did use one for a day with a hired-in kit and it offers many new features of which I'll have a chance to look at once I've ordered one! I can tell you however, that my MX2 has been through the wars and has never let me down. It's not advertised as waterproof in any way but mine has survived many a wet shoot and also one occasion where it got completely submerged in the River Tay due to a delinquent salmon who managed to jump out the water and landed on the rig, knocking it over. An hour in the car drying it out and it worked again!
Why do I recommend the Stage Zero? For those moments when you're in a rush. The quickest thing to set up is a static shot but if you'd like a little movement and you just happen to spot that quickly fading sunrise, this, with practice, can be set up in under a minute. I tend to leave mine rigged (without camera) on my travels and I've been in a lot of circumstances, especially on longer shooting trips, where the director has stopped a convoy etc and asked me to grab a particular shot in a hurry!
On top of this, there's the fact that my Stage Zero has travelled far and wide and it's never let me down. The simplicity in it's design brings many options for modifications and add-ons and it's ability to be easily rigged in any position means that it rules over most of the other sliders available.
It doesn't just stop at a single axis though. Dynamic Perception released their Stage R kit this year which are rotary heads used for panning and tilting. With two rotary units and the slider, you've got a three axis system for some stunning results! You can also use the eMotimo pan and tilt head with the kit as well which will give you a three axis set up.
It wouldn't be fair to do a review and not compare the other sliders on the market and there are many out there, some of which I own and some that have been provided for me to shoot with. Kessler, Cinevate, Digislider, Konova, Shootools, PSETimelapseSlider, CAMBlock and Ditogear. I won't go into detail here as I'll be doing future reviews on them individually but I can honestly say the Dynamic Perception wins hands down!
If you're looking for your first slider, I cannot recommend this kit enough. It may be out of your budget right now but find a way to save for it as it will be worth it in the long run. Four years in and mine is still running strong - I've had cameras last less than that!
- Quick Set up time
- Light enough to carry around, even long distance
- Inexpensive in comparison to other 'pro' sliders
- Durable and Reliable
- Can easily be rigged in any orientation - horizontal, vertical, diagonally and upside down
- Compatible with lots of kit and many accessories available
- It's a solid slider so doesn't pack easily. For that, you'll need to acquire a Stage One
Where to buy
There's a growing number of internationally based outlets to get hold of kit but I tend to buy direct and you can do that here:
Every moving shot in the video below was shot with the Stage Zero, including the oak tree shot where I used the MX2 as a controller.
So - what slider do you use and why?