Glidetrack HD Hybrid Slider £382.8
16th Mar 2012 | 10:36
The Glidetrack Hybrid offers a portable dolly solution for DSLR cinematographers
Overview and features
The rise of HD video-capable DSLRs has led to a thriving market for accessories to help the professional or aspiring videographer achieve high quality moving camera shots.
Alongside a slew of steady cams and cranes, the portable dolly slider is becoming increasingly popular as a must-have tool for achieving smoother camera moves, and higher production values.
The HD Hybrid Slider fits into the range of Glidetrack sliders - following the Glidetrack HD and Glidetrack Shooter HD - and comes in 0.5 metre, 0.75m, 1m, 1.5m and 2m sizes. We tested the 0.75m model. It offers a robust solution to the problem of camera shake during tracking and crane shots.
Despite its apparent similarity to the other models in the series, the Hybrid offers a new carriage design that significantly improves performance, along with a new variable-position foot that enables the carriage and track to be leveled on any terrain.
The Glidetrack HD Hybrid Slider uses the same track as the original Glidetrack HD, but improves on the carriage and adds a new foot mechanism.
The new carriage design has been developed in partnership with Igus, a specialist in precision-engineered moving part assemblies. The tie-up has paid dividends: the new unit is reported to be up to four times smoother than the previous model, with significantly less friction - all of which leads to a substantially smoother track.
The carriage sits on a combination of roller bearings and plastic sleeves that prevent additional weight adding friction, and because they're self-lubricating, there's no need for oil.
If the system gets gritty, as ours did when we tested it on a sandy beach, the whole thing can be safely rinsed under a tap and left to dry naturally.
In addition to the new carriage, Glidetrack has added a simple adjustable foot mechanism that enables each foot to be positioned individually. The rubber balls at each end of the foot add fantastic grip, enabling the entire slider to be positioned over a door for use as a crane, or even upside-down.
The balls themselves mean that no matter what angle the slider is positioned at, the foot will make good contact with the surface it's up against - a simple but clever design.
The final new addition is the locking screw on the carriage, which enables you to prevent any movement. Reducing the pressure on this screw enables the carriage to move with more or less force, giving good control on slow tracking shots.
Build quality, handling and performance
Our test unit was well built, and feels robust enough to throw in the boot of a car without any concerns. The whole assembly is easy to take apart, enabling you to separate the components for easier transportation.
In use the slider feels smooth and the benefits of using a slider to control your camera track become immediately apparent: great technical shots become straightforward to achieve.
All sliders need a bit of practice to achieve the best results, but the Glidetrack HD Hybrid Slider is easier to get to grips with than some of its predecessors, because of the super-smooth gliding action. New users will quickly be able to achieve fluid motion in their shots.
And with the versatility to use the device as a miniature crane - and even upside down - without affecting the smooth passage of the carriage along the track, the device performs admirably in all conditions.
We tried a couple of bigger cameras on the Hybrid, including a Sony PMW-EX1, and found the slider continued to perform well, despite the additional weight.
One of the biggest limitations of the device is the length you opt for. Our review unit is 0.75 metres long, and we found ourselves wishing for a 1m or 2m track. However, you can do a lot with a short track, and in some ways it forces more creativity on choice of shot and composition.
The carriage fits a Manfrotto 701 or 501 fluid video head nicely, but an extension tube would come in handy to elevate the video head away from the surface of the carriage. We found we needed to make constant adjustments to the arm of the video head to get the best leverage on the camera.
The Glidetrack HD Hybrid Slider is a great investment for the more serious videographer, or for photographers looking to get into video and cinema.
The Hybrid is a big step up from the previous models in terms of performance and versatility, and the only likely cause of regret will be not going for a longer track. But this is likely to be true regardless of the length you opt for, as the full set of possibilities this device offers start to become clear.
The cost is broadly comparable to similar products on the market, and offers good value for money. Cheaper options from Glidetrack still offer much of the functionality of the HD Hybrid Slider, without the refinements, and might be a better bet for cost-conscious students or hobbyists.
The Glidetrack enables you to add an instant production value 'power-up' to your DSLR shots, providing the smooth tracking and crane motion associated with professional film crews.
The versatility and relatively low cost make this a great investment for any film maker hoping to use a Canon EOS 5D Mark II or similar video-capable DSLR to make movies on a budget, without compromising on quality.
The carriage-retaining screw is milled with a very tight tolerance, providing little clearance into the foot area and potentially causing a shudder in your shots. The weight of the slider is enough that a single tripod mount isn't enough should you want to elevate the slider, and the foot assembly can be a touch wobbly (although this doesn't affect the camera's shots).
Offering to add a utilitarian but highly effective visual polish to your DSLR video shots, removing camera wobble and with highly versatile usage scenarios, the Glidetrack HD Hybrid Slider is a great bit of kit, and we're fully sold on the idea.