A quality tripod is the one piece of video equipment that can last a lifetime — not something you can say about a camera or computer. The Libec ALLEX Camera Support System is one such quality product that will support present day cameras, and those in the foreseeable future. And there’s more: a slider.
A slider is a sturdy device that allows a camera to smoothly glide along a short track, often mounted atop a tripod. Strategic, small camera movements can have a big payoff. Today’s sophisticated audience is accustomed to more than pan, tilt and zoom camera moves. The slide component of the ALLEX system offers a way to make your videography look more like the pros, at a cost that won’t break the bank.
Adding sliding motion to your productions offers the opportunity to move your work to the next level.
The ALLEX system includes three pieces: ALLEX T tripod, ALLEX H head and ALLEX S slider. Combining these three components produces dynamic camera movements. Let’s look at each part more closely. [vm_ads:segment_break:1]
Legs of Three
The 8.4 pound (including head) ALLEX aluminum tripod sits on three grippy rubber feet. The 2-inch round feet allow a generous range of swivel to conform to uneven surface variations — like the top of a granite boulder.
Twist the rubber feet and a metal spike appears. Keep twisting if you wish the tripod to sit on 100 percent spikes — perfect for the fairway of the local disc golf course. Twist a little less if you want a rubber foot with just a hint of spike in the middle.
Finger-friendly sturdy, plastic knobs secure the tripod at the desired height. The locking mechanism does its work without leaving a mark on the legs thanks to a plastic brake mechanism. A 75mm ball system attaches the head to the tripod.
Two nesting leg segments telescope to heights of about 25-inches to 59-inches, as measured to the shoulder of the tripod — where the legs attach. The usable height of the tripod increases after attaching the head.
An adjustable mid-level spreader assists with tripod stability. A knob on each of the three spreader elements allows for locking throughout the adjustment range. For maximum stability, fully extend the spreader; this is essential when using the slider. More on that later.
A clever locking clamp with a handy strap holds the legs together for transport between locations. The folded travel length is about 26-inches and fits securely in the included padded travel bag.
Head and Shoulder
Smooth is the word that describes the number one requirement of a video camera tripod head, and smooth is what the ALLEX H head delivers. The fluid head weighs about 3 pounds and supports up to a 9 pound load — enough for essentially all affordable cameras including DSLRs.
The pan (side to side) and tilt (up and down) movements lock using knobs of similar design. Once unlocked, pan and tilt drag effort is not adjustable. This may seem like a shortcoming, but tests revealed that the pre-set pan drag was at a level that permitted smooth camera movement. When tilting, the head has a propensity to return to the level position when not locked.
The head attaches to the shoulder of the tripod with the adjustable 75mm ball that allows the videographer to find a perfect level. A 3/8-inch screw mounted at the end of a special handle does the attachment work. An LED illuminated bubble balance confirms when the head is plumb.
The supplied pan handle mounts on either side of the head. When mounted on the left, it’s possible for the pan handle to interfere with the pan and tilt knobs — an easy fix with a little adjustment of the handle.
A one-button quick-release mechanism makes fast work out of mounting and removing a camera. With the release button activated, simply tilt and lift the camera for removal. The system moves fore and aft to achieve perfect balance for a camera that might be front or back heavy. A locking knob secures the mechanism once equilibrium is found.
The camera mounts to the quick release plate with a standard 1/4-inch screw and a spring-tensioned alignment pin. You’ll need a flat-blade screwdriver, or coin, to attach the plate — too bad it is not more finger-friendly. An extra 3/8-inch screw stores under the locking plate. [vm_ads:segment_break:3]
The 4 pound slider offers a silky smooth range of 28-inches. The type of professional camera movements possible through this relatively short distance is nothing short of amazing.
A clever design feature allows the slider to attach directly to the tripod via a 3/8-inch connection, freeing the head to mount atop the slider. Adding a second head directly to the tripod increases the range of movement all the way to 100 percent vertical. A nice touch is a mount on both ends of the slider for monitors and other accessories.
Once removed from the tripod, the slider uses its adjustable legs to sit on any relatively horizontal surface. In this configuration, the slider can accommodate a 33 pound camera. This set-up would produce a dramatic effect, for example, when placed on the road surface of a busy highway.
The slider has its own bubble level, but ignoring it can produce interesting results. A tilted slider can help make an otherwise boring product shot come alive. Simply let go of the camera and let gravity smoothly glide the camera down the slider. The results were professional quality.
When sliding, leave the camera lens in the wide-angle range of its zoom settings — or the smallest bump will have a shaky Richter scale effect. Using a remote control for zoom and focus further assures a smooth shot. Be sure that the legs are fully spread and rock steady before sending your precious camera along the slider’s track.
For a dramatic effect, arrange objects in the foreground and background, then watch the change as the slider alters the camera’s perspective. Not every situation will benefit from the slider. Rehearsing the shot before recording is essential. You’ll need a steady hand to get good results — especially if you are attempting a slide while panning, tilting and zooming.
Ball bearings and special grease are the magic that brings the smooth gliding motion to the slider. A friction control knob allows for slight adjustment in slide resistance. Another knob locks the mechanism. The slider ships with a small brush for removing dust from the rollers and track. Noise generated from the slider is minimal, but enough to require an external mic to capture audio while sliding.
Looking to do more than just pan, tilt and zoom? The long lifecycle Libec ALLEX Camera Support System can take your videography to the next level by adding smooth sliding camera movements to your production work.
Libec Sales of America
Material: aluminum and plastic
Weight (head attached): 8.4lb (3.8kg)
Height (head attached): 29-inches – 65-inches (736mm – 1651mm)
Ball diameter: 75mm
Leg Sections: 2 stage
Maximum Load: 9lb (4kg)
Drag Mode: Fixed
Tilt Angle: +90° / -80°
Bubble Level: Illuminated
Attachment: 3/8-inch screw or 75mm ball
Quick Release Plate Sliding Range: +/- 1.6" (40mm)
Camera Plate Attachment: 1/4" screw with alignment pin
Weight: 2.9lb (1.3kg)
Material: aluminum and plastic
Weight: 4lb (1.9kg)
Tabletop Payload: 33lb (15kg)
Head Attachment Screw: 3/8"
Rail Length: 32.5" (830mm)
Sliding Range: 28" (708mm)
- Professional looking camera movements
- Sturdy, durable design
- Reasonable price point
- Slider resistance control has little range
- Poorly translated manual
David G. Welton is a professor of Media Studies.