The edelkrone Wing 7 is a portable solution to investigate if you need a slider extending to 40cm and also want to have a dolly. It’s a manual slider where the user is the “engine” that makes it move.
The quest for a portable slider may take some of us towards a name like edelkrone, a company known for its original solutions for video and photography. Although I could name different gear from edelkrone’s catalogue that attracts my attention, one piece in particular seemed to fit my needs. I am a photographer first, and video comes second, so my needs are not the same as a videographer. My main camera for video is a EOS 80D, which works with my lenses from 14 to 400mm. I needed a support for the camera and lenses that would take any of them, would give me the movement a slider gives and still be portable.
A slider is, probably, one of the most important elements you integrate into your videography, because it allows you to move the camera in ways that introduce an extended dynamic to your videos. Even the smallest of regular sliders, which usually are around 40cm, offer results that take your footage to another level.
A slider means, invariably, a tripod, and one that can hold it stable when the camera moves. If you travel with your gear in a backpack, and have to carry all that load around, you’ll always have to make compromises, and it starts here. A tripod has to be stable enough to hold a slider on top and not move when the camera moves on top of the slider. Usually, I will hang my backpack from the hook under the tripod head to add weight. These hooks are usually present at the bottom of the center column, but the tripod I use for video, a Gitzo GT 3542LC, does not have a center column so the hook is right under the head. If your backpack does not fit there, you can carry a bag that you can attach to the hook with a string, and fill the bag with rocks, to create a makeshift stable system for your tripod.
Even if there is no wind, I will use the backpack or any other method to gain extra weight, as I’ve discovered that sometimes, when the camera moves to the extreme of a slider, the tripod tends to move in the same direction. I am still testing a mount solution that gives me a more stable platform using the exact same gear, but that’s for another article, in the future. Now, I want to share my initial experiences with the edelkrone Wing 7.
A slider and also a dolly
I am fully aware that with longer sliders a two tripod solution is the best choice, but if you want to carry all the gear with you, two tripods are one tripod too much. Anyway, a 40cm slider is what the Wing 7 offers – or the Wing 3 or Wing 15, as they all offer the same travel –, and the way it is built you would never be able to mount it with two tripods. And it makes no sense, really, because this is a portable slider, and that’s the whole idea that led edelkrone to design it.
The advantage of the edelkrone Wing 7 over a normal slider is its size when you need to pack: it has 176x60x89 cm closed, still extends to a 40 cm travel. It’s magic, but the weight is something to consider, as it reaches 1.4 kg. Closed, it looks a bit like a brick that you place in a compartment inside your backpack or shoulder bag. When you open it, though, you’ve a slider that also doubles as a dolly, without the inconvenience of using a slider as a dolly. In fact, as there are no rails for your camera to move on, even with a wide-angle lens you never feel that you’re limited on the traveling forward/backwards. The whole arm of the Wing moves with the camera.
To change between the slider and dolly functions, you need to move the direction in which the camera points. This means you need to rotate the head you’re using. Choosing the right head to use with the Wing 7 is not easy. Although edelkrone suggests small ball-heads, as there is a limit in terms of weight the Wing 7 can carry – 3.2 kg or less – I found that some of the heads I tried have a problem of height: the adjustment knobs would collide with the body of the Wing 7, stopping it from moving freely, as intended.
Choosing the right head
I’ve tried two different heads with the Wing 7 and both work, but I ‘ve yet to decide which I will keep using all the time. I started with the Manfrotto X-PRO 3-WAY head, which I like very much, but then changed to a Manfrotto RC498RC2 which I’ve used for a while now. It works, but I am going back to the X-Pro 3-Way, which apparently is better suited to use with the edelkrone and has the advantage of having two handles that allow me to do some panning, if I need to.
One interesting aspect of the edelkrone Wing 7 as a slider is that because it folds to a small size, even with the head on top, it’s portable and easy to set up and use, in less time than I needed to write this paragraph. In fact, I keep the whole system mounted on top of my tripod, as it allows me to quickly set it up when needed. Besides, it is a very simple system, adequate for someone that needs to travel fast and be able to jump from video to photo in the blink of an eye.
A 40cm travel slider may not be much, for some uses, but it is sufficient, especially if you’re moving around a lot and always want to carry it with you. What’s important with a slider is that it offers you smooth operation. Manual sliders are always a compromise, first and foremost because of the way they are built, but also how they are supported. Essential, though, is that the travelling movement is smooth. This is a department where edelkrone had to think differently, because the way the Wing 7 moves has no relation to normal sliders. You really need to mount it on a tripod to fully understand the magic there is behind the design.
The magic of the Wing 7 – or the other versions – happens by hand, meaning you’re the “engine” that moves the slider. This introduces a variable, you, that has to be taken into account. The system of gears and pulleys inside the Wing does a good job to provide a smooth operation, and there is also a friction adjustment knob that allows to control the drag of the system, but ultimately it depends on your ability to keep a steady movement of your hand(s) to achieve a smooth result. Different users will adopt different ways to hold and move the slider. I find that holding it by the adjustment knob provides the best – for me, at least – results.
Movement and a Zen moment
Using the Wing 7 means having to learn to be smooth. If moving a camera on a regular slider is already a process where control of the movement is needed, it reaches a whole new level here. From my experience with the Wing 7, it takes time to get everything right so the footage recorded can be smooth. I would say that using the Wing 7 properly requires users to enter a Zen moment that allows them to concentrate on the movement of the slider. I found out, also, that once I’ve defined the coverage of the slider, and the camera starts to roll, it is best not to look at the subject or try to follow the image on the LCD, but keep an eye on the movement of the arm.
Using the system in different situations, I found out that the start and end of the movement are critical parts, meaning that from the 40cm travel you may end with a bit less usable footage. That’s something to consider when shooting. From my experience up until now I also found out that I may need to repeat a scene 3 or 4 times to get the results I want. While this may work for me and the work I do, it may not work for other people. Final adjustments in post, some to minimize the speed variation you may have introduced, are also to expect. This said, I believe different users will find different ways to make the magic happen with the edelkrone Wing. Another important point to remember: the more you use the Wing, as with everything else, the easier it becomes to assess what can and can not be done.
Wide-angles are great to use with sliders, because with a subject close to the camera the apparent travel is greater than it really is. For me, though, the use of long lenses, even a 100-400mm at its longer focal length, is also important and while it is not easy to use I’ve managed to get some footage and an understanding of the potential, something I want to explore further. Still, my first tests with long focal lengths really need some improvement… With wide-angle lenses, results tend to be easier to achieve. The video published with this review shows some examples and also the problems.
Can we add a motor?
The Wing is a slider, but it is also a dolly, allowing movements forward/backward, with the advantage that there is no rail limiting the travel of the camera. That’s a bonus that you’ll appreciate. One thing that I found difficult is to track and pan simultaneously, as I need to keep an eye on the stability of the tripod. I am not saying it is not possible – with a fluid head it will be easier, no doubt – but it introduces a level of complexity that I do not need or want right now.
I wish edelkrone would come with a motorized solution for the Wing, or any other way to make the movement of the slider – more – smooth and not so much dependable on the user, but I understand that even the “magic” has some limitations. This said, the Wing 7 is a well engineered piece of kit, built with materials that make it able to stand some rough treatment, and something you may want to have in your bag.