This is obviously not my usual blog post, it’s clearly a promotional one for Kessler Crane who make my wonderful Bloom branded Pocket Dolly, they are also my main site sponsor.
I 100% still believe it’s the best on the market and I have played with most of them. There are some fantastic ones though, and the competition is more fierce than ever. Kessler never rest on their laurels though. The current “Aloominum” (that’s aluminium of course) one is tweaked and improved with almost every batch. Taking on customer feedback and also figuring out subtle ways to make something great even better.
Just over a year ago I had a prototype Stealth slider made from carbon fibre. It was lighter but offered the same performance. Light is important to me, especially if you are carrying it around all day! It’s very hard to make, especially if when it needs to be perfect, which is what Kessler do. So it’s taken a year for them to be finally ready to sell them.
Both the Stealth and my one, The Philip Bloom Pocket Dolly are now available in Carbon Fibre or “Fiber” as the Americans spell it! 🙂 Only in Black, there is no red carbon…sorry! 🙂 As a carbon based life form, it was only a matter of time before I had my slider made out of carbon too 🙂
Eric Kessler, the owner and brainiac behind Kessler Crane is just about my closest friend. I still give him lots of grief and tease the hell out of him as of course, as that’s the English way! So I asked him to tell me about why he makes them, what’s better about them, and of course why they cost more…I know they came really close to folding the project, as the increased cost in making them was becoming a major worry for Eric, as he didn’t want to sell a $2000 slider. Thankfully they managed to find a more cost-effective, but still perfect, way to make them, bringing the cost down. They still cost around 30-35% more, and if you are happy with your current aluminium one, then I see no reason to change for the Carbon unless you need a lighter one. If you don’t already own one, then weigh up the cost vs features. Personally, once I have used the carbon one, the aluminium ones feel so heavy…but that’s because I am feeble and weak! 🙂 The carbon just feels SO light!
Size is important and personally I still think, for JUST video, the mini is their best model. For video and timelapse, the traveller is my go-to one. I never use the standard. It’s too long to travel with as it won’t go in any of my cases and it requires two tripods, or one tripod plus a light stands to keep it stable. I think for longer dolly moves then look at a dolly and track. A slider is for reveals. In fact the traveller length with the new “Parallax” is going to be an amazing video combination probably now making it my favourite video one again! Keeping an object centred when dollying, that looks slick, and when you try yourself with a fluid head on the cart it’s impossible to get it as good as this. That Parallax, when it comes out, soon will be compatible with all the sliders, cinesliders too!!
P: What prompted you to make Carbon Fiber sliders?
E: We had a lot of customers working in extreme environments that need the lightest and most durable slider possible.
P:What were the main obstacles to come?
E: Carbon fiber is an extremely hard material to work with. It is very hard to machine, you cannot thread it, so metal inserts have to be fabricated into the design, and the assembly process is done with fast setting epoxy glue not the usual nuts and bolt construction.
P: Are there any advantages to the Carbon one?
E: The main advantage to Carbon fiber is the weight to strength ratio. Our new Carbon slider are up to 29% lighter and are stable in extreme temperature environments.
P: Will you be discontinuing the Aluminum ones?
E: No, our current aluminum sliders are still one of best sliders on the market today and perfect for 95% of applications and are much more cost effective. Carbon is a very expensive and labor intensive material and is only really warranted for the user looking for the absolute best.
P: Why are they more expensive?
E: The material itself is very expensive but most of the added cost is in the tooling/jigs to insure the Carbon is perfectly true and the amount of labor of both machining and assembly is easily 2-3x as much as working with Aluminum.