iFootage has just released their long awaited product, the Shark Slider Nano. The slider has been introduced during NAB 2019 and ever since, iFootage was working hard to refine the product and introduce something that can be beneficial for many during their productions.
The iFootage Shark Slider Nano – a compact motorised slider, ideally suited for DSLR/mirrorless cameras and smartphones – is now here and thanks to the company sending us an early sample, I was able to “play with it” just a bit already. Originally, I was panning to make a video review of this new and awaited device, but decided to put it on hold as the product is not quite there yet, at least as far as I’m concerned.
iFootage Shark Slider Nano – The Concept
This would be a typical scenario for using this type of motorised head slider: a broadcaster/production company, or whoever else is asking to film an interview, and if possible, with 2 cameras but on a budget. In the old days, placing a single camera might have done the trick, especially when time is crucial, and then slowly and surely, the request to become more creative and include a second camera while interviewing a person had become popular. Recently, things have evolved again and things “started to move” on our screens, which is legitimate of course, but sometimes not really justified. Anyways, with the introduction of small mirrorless cameras (and mobile phones) that can shoot high quality video alongside affordable portable sliders, it was only a question of time until those will be deployed in such shooting scenarios. Up until now, the most common way was to slide from point A to B, and either have the camera point at a single direction, meaning not really being “locked” on the object (which in our interview example would be the face), or have an additional component like a motorised head attached to the slider and make it more versatile. The result is a much more interesting movement, one that can be manipulated in many ways.
Now, here comes iFootage and incorporates this motorised head into their slider, making it a unified, single, affordable product. Mind you that this solution is enabling two axis movement only (no tilting), but in all honesty, this might satisfy many. And back to our interview scenario example, with the iFootage Shark Nano Slider it is now possible to set a “point A position” lock on a subject (the interviewee’s face in our case), move the slider to “point B” and lock it again on the face. The result will be a sliding shot where the face will stay in the center of attention. Needless to say that this type of solution is a “piece of cake”, as now you can operate 2 cameras in an interview, having one of them sliding till the battery dies (or the interview ends, whatever comes first…)
iFootage Shark Slider Nano – What’s in the Box (Bundle Package)
The slider comes with everything you might need in order to start working with it out of the box. It has a nice, small traveling bag, a Sony NP-F type battery (7.4V, 4400mAh, 32.5Wh), various camera remote connection cables to support the Time Laps mode, a USB-C charging cable and a versatile mobile phone holder. I do salute iFootage for including it all in this package, as it really helps not needing to start looking for different components and cables when wanting to to go out and shoot.
Shark Slider Nano – Operation and User Experience
My observations are based on the supplied firmware. iFootage was kind enough to share with me that many of the concerns I have in this review will be fixed in the next firmware update. Please see their official response below.
Unfortunately, this is where the slider falls short. Let me calcify first. The sliding itself and the built-in motorized head are working very nicely! So the end result is fine. Also, it is a very flexible device, where “normal” sliding, Time Lapse and StopMotion can be executed. So, if the concept is great and the potential for having a winning product is absolutely there, what is wrong you might ask. Personally, I was a bit disappointed to find out that the product is actually “half backed”. This also led me to decide not to conduct a video review just yet, but rather wait and see if some of the issues found can be fixed in the next firmware update. I know first-hand that iFootage is very responsive and take feedback given by users into account, so I have all the reasons in the world to believe that sooner than later we will see a much more refined and matured product. But for now, here are some of the things that I would like to see changed:
Start up time: Currently standing on 70 seconds (!) and not only that, you will have to go through the process of calibrating the slider (and wait 70 seconds) EVERY time you turn it on. IFootage is currently checking the possibility of offering a “bypass” alternative, where the slider calibration won’t be happening every time it’s being turned on.
Start-up time: iFootage’s response: Based on feedback, we have updated the firmware and as of now user can skip the calibration if they wish and we have reduced the startup time to under 20 seconds. The final product will already have this firmware installed.
Slow starting operation: In general, the IPS screen works very well but at times, there is a case of big delays happening right after setting up points A and B and wanting to press “Start”. Then, the screen becomes kind of unresponsive. I can only guess that the slider is doing its own calculations and therefore does not allow immediate execution of the movement when pressing the “Start” box on the LCD screen.
Slow starting operation: iFootage’s response: Based on feedback, we are working on optimizing the software in order to reduce the possibility of unwanted bugs and we will continue to improve the user experience.
Adjusting sliding “A” and “B” points: Probably not a big issue, yet you will find yourself reading the slider manual in order to learn how to do so, or look at the supplied sticker before it disappears forever. In any case, let me save you some time: Simultaneously press on both buttons (On/off/play and Fn) in order to start the process.
Adjusting sliding A and B point: iFootage’s response: We have produced and will post quick video guides on how to operate the Nano slider. Also we will improve the Touchscreen and App, to incorporate more visual prompts. In-depth tutorials will follow. https://youtu.be/FwiE6BxM9JA https://youtu.be/qklWz1Tltl4 https://youtu.be/OoboWz_OHOM
App not connecting to the slider: Like with most modern sliders, iFootage is offering a free App download, so that the slider and its functionality can be controlled via smartphone. Somehow, I had no luck with seeing the App on my old iPhone 5SE (got a blank page), so I tried the same with an Android device (latest edition). This worked, but I frequently saw that the phone is searching for the slider, so it looks as if the bluetooth connection between the two devices is not solid enough.
App not connecting to the slider: iFootage’s response: Our team has tested iPhone 5, iPhone SE, 7 and above devices, we are working on optimising for older iOS models. As long as the iOS system is 9.3 or above, it should be fully functional.
Opening App page not being intuitive: When I first opened the App on my mobile phone, it showed me that I can use the phone as a camera (with iFootage’s own dedicated filming interface). What I could not figure out alone was how to control the slider, when a mirrorless camera is attached to it. iFootage were kind enough to let me know that all that is needed is a simple screen touch and swap to the next page. I hope iFootage can consider redesigning the welcoming page and already then offer the possibility to choose with which device one would like to work.
Overall device weight: This is of course a given and cannot be changed in any way, but it is worth noting that I was extremely surprised to see how relatively heavy the slider is. I’m noting it here, as if you plan to do some traveling and have that slider with you, you might have to consider if to actually bring it. This can be determined by the type of job you do and the way of traveling you choose. For example, when flying (and needing all my equipment together with me in my bag), I might consider taking the Smartta SliderMini 2. I’m kind of comparing apples to oranges here, but for basic camera sliding movements, the much smaller, lighter device might do.
Nano Technical Specs:
- Total weight of unit: 2.15kg
- Dimensions: 421mm x 108mm x 71mm
- Operational temperature range: -25C to +65C
- Horizontal payload: 3.5kg
- Vertical payload: 2.0kg
- Power: Single standard NP-F battery
- Materials: Aerospace grade aluminium and SUS304 stainless steel
- Operational voltage: 7.4VDC
- Current: 1.2A
- Max tabletop travel length: 200mm
- Max tripod travel length: 320mm (bi-directional use)
- Compact, portable camera slider solution
- Two control interfaces, via Smartphone App or the built-in IPS touch screen display
- Two axis, bi-directional design. No additional head needed although using one might add greater flexibility
- Almost silent movement and a smooth one! (I had no way to measure how silent / loud it is, but my overall impression is very positive!)
- Easily supports DSLR/mirrorless and smartphone recording
- Fully featured Android and iPhone App with lots of functions
- Good runtime: One NP-F battery lasts over 3 hours in continuous use (Tested and verified)
- USB-C charging port for use with external power pack
- Battery charges whilst using external power supply
- Four height adjustable feet (short feet but can help at times)
- Carriage lock fitted for safer transportation
Pricing and Availability
The iFootage Shark Slider Nano is available now for pre-order at iFootage’s site (U.S and Europe) and shipping is scheduled for January 2021. For 10% price reduction, please use CINED as code during checkout. The discount is valid until Jan 1st. 2021.
You will be able to choose between:
Standard package: Slider, USB-C charging cable and smartphone holder for $499
Bundle: Slider, USB-C charging cable, smartphone holder, carry case, NP-F battery, 5 pieces shutter cables for $599
The concept and idea of a compact slider with a built-in, motorised head is truly great and I do appreciate the time iFootage took to bring it to the market. As mentioned above, the actual movement is very smooth and I wouldn’t hesitate using the slider in different shooting scenarios, especially when more of a sophisticated motion is needed. On the other hand, it should be clear that this slider is not for run&gun assignments (at least for me). Product weight and the long startup time might be the obstacles here. I’m really looking forward to seeing what kind of firmware updates and improvements the company can come up with. When this update becomes available, I’ll be more than happy to put the device through its paces and dive into it even deeper.
Are you one of those who have been waiting to see what iFootage will come up with? Do you find this new Shark Slider Nano interesting? Please share with us your thoughts in the comment section below.