This week’s installment of our once-in-a-while-series-I-just-made-up called The Zohan’s “Silky Smooth” is a hands-on look at New Zealand startup Syrp Magic Carpet Slider. It is indeed silky smooth.
If you don’t already have a slider, you’ve probably already thought about getting one or maybe even building one.
And if you have one, odds are you’re wondering if you could have gotten something longer, smoother, lighter, or cheaper.
Or you’ve already gone through a couple of sliders already.
I know whereof I speak.
I bought the low-end (price and function-wise) slider of a highly regarded manufacturer, and it didn’t take long for me to want something longer and easier to move smoothly.
The problem wasn’t that it wasn’t smooth. It was too smooth, as in I still haven’t developed the combination of fine and gross motor skills to move the carriage and pan head down the track at a constant rate.
I understand now why drag is important in a slider, just like a fluid head.
And I recognize that if I practice enough, I can make my current slider work. Plenty of people do.
Ben Ryan over at Syrp recently provided us with their Magic Carpet Slider bundle pack, consisting of a short track (2.6 feet); a long track (5.2 feet); interchangeable end caps (more on this in a moment); and carriage.
I’ll just cut to the chase:I really like it. Time to put my old slider on eBay.
Like all of Syrp’s products, the Magic Carpet is distinct for its packaging and industrial design. But it’s the Goldilocks combination of light weight/stiffness trade-off, just-right smoothness and aggressive price point ($469) that make it a worthy entrant onto your short list.
Want to hock me about mixing metaphors?
Don’t mess with the Zohan.
The keys to the Magic Carpet’s functional appeal are the carriage itself and the removable/adjustable end caps combined with the hollow aluminum tubing (which I would have thought was welded to the frame but appears seamless) that together make up each track.
Two levers on each of the two end caps allow you to set the legs at any angle (or fold them up tightly for transport) and – when fully unlocked – allow you to remove them altogether. This in turn allows you to transfer them between the two lengths of track, as well as move the carriage from one track to the other.
There’s also a pulley on each end cap to allow threading of a cord or rope to attach a counterweight for vertical or angled movement (though using a Canon Rebel SL1 with their 10-18mmlens and Syrp’s Genie motion controller – we have a full review of that coming– no counterweight was necessary).
Syrp Magic Carpet Test Footage (with Genie motion controller)
As with all things, the Magic Carpet represents a set of tradeoffs, chief of which I alluded to earlier: weight vs. rigidity.
For our test we attached the Magic Carpet to a Manfrotto 100mm half ball via 3/8” threaded screw, and really clamped down tightly to a Cartoni tripod. It did the business, but even with this setup, at either end of the short track when completely horizontal, we saw some flex and had to be mindfulof it.
This was more than acceptable to me personally, as it still allowed very smooth shots as long as I excised the first and last couple of inches of travel during post – much easier for me to do than get my other slider to move smoothly, even though it was stiffer (and heavier).
Still, I think a set of ¼” threaded holes at either end of the short track to allow for a second support would be a welcome improvement (the long track does indeed have both ¼” and3/8” holes at each end, so I didn’t have this problem).
And it would be nice if one could somehow attach the Magic Carpet through those same end caps for 90 degree vertical movements — but I suspect this is infeasible given the current design.
So there you have it: Syrp’s Magic Carpet is a light-weight, beautifully designed and well-priced slider bundle whose trade-offs work well for me and the work I do.
For now, it’s my new go-to slider gear.
Our review of the separate Genie motion controller is coming up.
About Syrp Magic Carpet Slider
The Magic Carpet is a simple, elegant and durable slider for producing silky smooth professional tracking movements. Beautifully designed and engineered with you in mind, it's the perfect lightweight solution for manual tracking shots as well as being motion control ready. With quick release adjustable legs, a counter weight roller for vertical shots, and high precision ball bearing rollers, the Magic Carpet is ready for quick setup and professional film making. This product is NOW in stock and shipping worldwide. Are you from New Zealand? So are we. Email us direct for NZD pricing and shipping. [email protected]
(cover photo credit: snap from Syrp)