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Review of the Glidetrack MobiSlyder for the iPhone and Interchangeable Lens Cameras


Review by Ron Risman, Updated 01-02-2012


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Review Update

(01/02/2012) I have just finished my updated review of the shipping (production) version of the MobiSlyder and am happy to report that most of the issues that I pointed out with the pre-production unit have been corrected. Glidetrack also sent along the optional longer track, which I showcase in the updated video review (below). While the ballhead is still made of plastic, the center collar of the ballhead was extended to better hold the ballhead in position and will not easily pop apart like it did in the pre-production version. The ballhead tightens enough to keep your camera phone into position, yet is easily manuvered by hand without having to loosen and re-tighten. The phone mount has also been improved and will now securely hold the iPhone or other mobile camera phones in position. Also, the production version of the MobiSlyder now ships with a round, felt stick-on pad located between the underside of the carriage and the track. This pad helps to add a slight amount of friction, which allows for a more controlled slide, less wobble, and improved performance when doing vertical or angled slides. This pad can easily be removed by sliding the carriage off the track, removing the felt pad, then sliding the carriage back onto the track. Without the pad the carriage moves more freely, but also exhibits a bit more wobble during a slide and is more difficult to handle when doing angled or vertical slides. As mentioned, I prefer the movement with the felt pad, but try it both ways to see which works best for you. The only issue that wasn't really resolved in the shipping version of the MobiSlyder is the carraige lock still doesn't really do anything. However, with the felt pad in place the carriage stays in position, even when vertical, as long as the weight of the camera is similar to that of a typical camera phone or iPhone.

If lightweight and a compact size are important considerations then you may find the MobiSlyder to be a welcome tool for compact camera videography. However, if you don't mind a little extra bulk and weight then personally I would still recommend a beefier slider like the Glidetrack Shooter SD. Using a larger slider creates better looking slides (aka, smoother) and you'll have the bonus of being able to grow into it as you upgrade to a video camera or HDSLR.

Updated Video Review


(12/5/2011) Glidetrack contacted me this morning to let me know that the unit we received was a pre-production unit and that the problems I pointed out with the articulating ball head, phone mount, friction brake, and play in the carraige are already being addressed and will be corrected before any product ships to end users. I will re-test the mobiSlyder once a production unit is ready.

Original Review of a PRE-PRODUCTION MobiSlyder

Introduction

The MobiSlyder is an ultra compact video slider / dolly designed for use with compact cameras and smartphones, like the iPhone and Android phones. You should watch the video to see the product in action and to make your own judgement, but I will tell you that the iPhone does not lend itself well to slide-style movements as you'll see in the video at the end of this review. Also, the MobiSlyder itself looks as if was designed to sell for $20, not the $130 - $200 that Glidetrack is asking.

I have been a Glidetrack fan for the past couple of years and continue to use their Glidetrack Shooter SD on virtually every shoot. With this in mind I was looking forward to testing out the MobiSlyder as it appeared to be a great portable solution for enhancing the video captured with Micro 4/3 cameras and other compact cameras. Glidetrack offered to send me out a unit and it arrived just two days later. I opened the package with the anticipation of a kid on Christmas morning, but it wasn't long before the excitement waned.

The MobiSlyder measures 17"L x 4.5"W and features a 12" track. The carriage, which slides the camera down the track, measures 2.5" wide, leaving 9.5" for the actual slide. The carriage features a slide-in quick release "tab" that accepts the three different slide-in attachments that are included with the MobiSlyder.

  • Pivoting Ball Head
  • QR tab with 1/4" Screw
  • Round Ball Head mount with 1/4" Screw

The Pivoting Ball Head is made of green and black plastic and does not live up to the quality I would expect from Glidetrack. It's flimsy, barely stays into position holding an iPhone 4s, and comes apart with the slightest twist in the wrong direction - which is surprisingly easy to do. Luckily this snap apart design helps to keep pieces from breaking, but come on - a basic metal ball head, one strong enough to keep a lightweight phone into position, wouldn't cost more than $10 or $12 in bulk, maybe less.

The adjustable 'squeeze-style' phone mount included with the MobiSlyder is as cheaply made as the ball head. I physically had to squeeze it tight in my hand in order to get it to stay closed, the only position for which it can hold the iPhone snug. Without a firm squeeze it kept springing back to the next slotted stop, which was too loose to hold the phone. This style mount has proven fairly reliable in car mounts, but the one included with the MobiSlyder is much lighter and flimsier than any car mount version I have seen. Once I got it to hold the iPhone snug it worked well and didn't cause any additional problems, but its ability to hold up to steady use over time is questionable.

The carriage that sits on the aluminum rail slides with ease and didn't have a problem supporting the weight of an iPhone 4s. It has some play in it, which means that you'll need to put slight pressure on it during any movement in order to keep things smooth. The carriage also features an integrated lock, but it unfortunately doesn't work - at least on the unit I received.

The track itself is what you would expect in a slider designed to be portable and light. It features a solid aluminum track with end bumpers along with four weighted round rubber feet that keeps the MobiSlyder from moving around in use. The exposed track is 12" in length and offers a 9.5" slide distance. The 1/4-20" mount located on the underside of the track allows you to mount the MobiSlyder to a tripod and I found that the Joby Gorillapod Focus to be a perfect setup for this purpose. Glidetrack also offers a longer 660mm track as an optional add-on, which more than doubles length of the original 300mm track included at purchase.

Shoulder Rig for the iPhone? (Added 12/07/2011)
One thing I forgot to mention in this review was the ability to use the MobiSlyder as a make shift shoulder support. Slide the iPhone and carriage to one end of the slider, pointing outward, and place the other end on your shoulder. This allows you to get improved stability while placing the screen out in front of view for easy framing. Since I'm far-sighted this configuration was a bit tough on my eyes, but for many of you it shouldn't be a problem.

Conclusion
The MobiSlyder at this point seems to be a good idea with poor execution. The track itself makes for a solid platform for which to build a decent slider, now we just have to convince Glidetrack to beef up carriage and ball head to make this a potentially useful tool for compact camera filmmaking. The slider footage I captured with the iPhone was terrible. Slight movements of the carriage during the slide translated into jumpy and fluttering (jello-like) video that makes the product seems senseless for its intended target customer. I will say here that I did not use the built-in stabilization feature of the iPhone since I opted not to use the standard camera app. The standard camera app doesn't allow you to lock focus, exposure or white balance - all the things you would want control over when shooting video. Instead, I used the app Filmic Pro, which offers all of the manual features that I just mentioned but doesn't offer the digital stabilization feature. I did try the slider using the standard camera app, but found the stabilization feature did not take out the jello effect caused by the instability of the carriage. Update: When I first tested out the MobiSlyder with the iPhone's camera and integrated stabilization the results weren't good because of the instability of the phone mount. After getting the phone mount tight I decided to retest the slider with the iPhone stabilization feature and the results were better than without. I have posted a second video (see bottom of review) showing the footage. At the end of the video review you'll see the slide footage that I captured with the iPhone 4s. I have no doubt that results would have been better using a Micro four-thirds camera, but I did not have one in-house to test it with.

At the suggested street price of $130 or higher I cannot recommend the Glidetrack MobiSlyder, but if Glidetrack upgrades the ball head, camera mount, and carriage I could see this product finding a market. Even then I think this product needs to be priced at $79.95 or lower. After all, you can pick a pretty solid indiSlider mini for just $99. While the indiSlider mini is larger in size and doesn't come standard with a ball head, it is far more competent as a slider, and with the cash you'll save you'd have plenty of cash left over to pick up an inexpensive $15 ball head. Personally, I love the size of the MobiSlyder and when the components get beefed up I'll gladly retest it and update this review.

Video Review



Updated: Test Footage with iPhone 4s stabilization

Additional Information

Disclosure
Glidetrack sent us a MobiSlyder at no charge to review. Cameratown reviews and opinions are never based on whether a manufacaturer sends us a unit to test or we purchase one outright. Our goal is to share our experience with a product with our readers. Our experience is just one opinion, but it's based on years of experience with similar products within the industry.

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