Ask a photographer about the “best” camera strap (or carrying system) and you may get sucked into a surprisingly complex conversation, no less debated than other classic photography arguments like Canon vs. Nikon or must-have lenses. For every need relating to camera carrying systems, there is a solution. Some photographers like to keep it simple (and cheap) and go with basic solutions like the default neck strap, while others prefer more complex, borderline monstrous solutions like the Comfort Cotton Carrier.
Then there are those that prefer abandoning the idea of a strap altogether. The Spider Camera Holster was created for those who prefer to place the weight of the camera at the hip instead of their upper bodies. This alleviates many of the upper body pains associated with long shoots and heavy equipment. The holster gives you “quick draw access,” hanging comfortably at your hip until needed.
After the basic introduction to the camera carrying system, we’ll go into the pros and cons of the Spider Camera Holster, followed by a brief summary. If you would like to add your experiences with this product, we invite you to comment below.
Compatibility: “Designed all pro camera bodies and lenses”
Official URL: http://www.spiderholster.com/
Where to Buy: Official Spider Website (Not yet available at Amazon, B&H, or Adorama)
Founder: Shai Eynav http://www.shaiphoto.com/
Includes: spyder camera holster, spider belt, and the spider plate (see video below for details)
Before we go any further, we can get a good idea of the basic features, functions, and aesthetics of the Spider Camera Holster by watching their official introduction video.
1) Comfort – This is by far the biggest pro for this camera carrying system. While back and neck problems are almost inevitable with any occupation in which you’re carrying around 5lbs or more for 12 hours straight, using the Spider Camera Holster will significantly reduce the pain in both your neck and back in comparison to a basic neck strap.
2) Quality Construction – From the packaging to the actual product, you can clearly see the high quality of craftsmenship in this product. The Holster Belt itself is made from what appears to be a webbed nylon material which Spider states is the same material used in army/police equipment. We can say quite assuredly that there is no chance this belt would ever rip or tear during use. In addition, the actual Spider Pro Camera Holster is made of steel and hardened aluminum. From its smooth beveled edges to its overall polished look and feel, the Spider is definitely a well designed and manufactured product.
3) Placement – Girls with fairly large bust lines may not feel comfortable with straps that cut directly through their chest as they can often be uncomfortable as well as create an awkward appearance. Since that the Spider Camera Holster isn’t a strap based solution, this issue can be completely avoided.
4) Dual Camera Solution – Before the Spider Camera Holster, photographers that carry two cameras on their bodies, had very few options. You could use two neck straps and carry them both around your neck, putting all of the pressure around the neck and risking the collision of your equipment. You could use a basic neck strap in conjunction with a strap that slings around the shoulder and hangs down by the hip (like the rapid strap). Or you can use full two camera solutions like the DR-1 Double Strap by BlackRapid. While this is a better option than using two neck straps, all of these solutions still place all the weight of the two cameras around the upper body. Using the Spider with a basic neck strap, you have the weight of one camera around the neck and the weight of the other camera around the hip, creating a comfortable disbursement of the weight. (See left image below)
5) Compatibility with Tripod Mounts – Unlike solutions such as the Rapid Strap which screw into the camera’s tripod mount, the Spider Holster is compatible with tripods and accessories that attach to the bottom of your camera via the mounting holes on the Spider mounting plate (see right image above).
6) Free Movement – Using the Spider mounting system gives you full mobility and usage of your hands while the camera is secured in the Spider holster. Most strap solutions require you to use your hands to prevent the camera from swinging, moving, or bumping into other objects, thus restricting your movement and what you could normally carry or move with two hands.
7) Belt Usage – The Spider Holster is removable from the Spider belt allowing you to place the holster directly on any leather belt. You may need to tighten your belt quite a bit, as hanging 10 pounds from your belt can cause your belt to hang low. The image left shows the plate being attached to the belt and the image right shows the belt with a camera hanging from it. You will notice how it pulls the belt down, which can get uncomfortable with larger setups.
8) Pleasing Aesthetics – While the belt and holster may appear a bit bulky at first sight, we find that once you are wearing the belt it actually looks quite good on the body. When shooting in casual attire, we found that our un-tucked t-shirts completely concealed the belt making only the camera visible. While wearing professional attire for wedding shoots, we found that the black belt on our black pants actually looked quite decent. See the pictures below.
9) Safety – The Spider Holster has a locking feature which will keep the camera from coming out of the holster while still allowing the camera a limited amount of movement to shift naturally while walking (left picture below). It also has a safety on the buckle so that the buckle doesn’t accidentally come undone (right picture below).
1) Security – Slight user error can cause thousands of dollars in repair bills. If you decide to use the Spider Holster, make sure you’re always using the protective band to hold the plate to the belt (see left picture below). Without this band, gravity and friction are the only things holding the holster onto the belt. If you happen to bump into something or wear a photography bag like the Shootsac on the same side that happens to bump the camera, you might knock the plate (and the attached camera) off the belt (see right picture below).
Unfortunately, the protective bands have come loose several times while testing the Spider Holster. While most of the time we noticed this issue and quickly corrected it, there was one instance during testing where this issue went unnoticed; and a slight bump from a tripod bag that I was putting on my shoulder knocked the holster along with my 5D Mark II and 50mm 1.2L straight off the Spider Belt and onto the concrete floor. Therefore, it does bear mentioning. However, this can be prevented by checking the bands throughout your shoot and avoiding the carrying of bags on the same side as the camera. In particular, we noticed that the bands tend to come off the holster when sitting down with the camera in the holster, taking off and putting on the belt, and while standing/sitting in awkward shooting positions while using the holster.
Along the lines of security, throughout the years, my camera has been saved by the strap in a few situations where a near drop is prevented by a last second, mid-air grab of the strap. Without a strap, you lose that added security. However, if this is a major concern for you, we find that a lot of Spider users will use them in conjuction with the Rapid Strap for an added layer of security if the holster were to come off the belt, or if the camera was about to drop.
2) Difficult to use with large setup – The holster works well if you have camera body, a smaller lens and maybe even a flash. But once you add on your Battery Pack, your telephoto lens, and your diffuser (a basic wedding reception setup), the holster becomes difficult to use, especially if you kneel often during your shoots (see picture below).
We find that the holster really shows its strength during portrait shoots and engagement sessions when your camera body consists of, at most, a telephoto and a flash. Any more than that, and it becomes rather large and cumbersome to hang from the waist, making it less useful in night time wedding reception situations. However, depending on shooting style, this may not be an issue, as many photographers may not need or use such large setups.
3) Single Lens Shooters – For those of us who switch lenses often during a shoot, changing lenses from a camera hanging from the neck is much more convenient than changing lenses from a camera hanging on one hip. Admittedly, I got faster and faster as I used the Spider more and more, but the task never became as natural or as quick as it was with a neck strap solution.
4) Attaching The Mount – Attaching the mount could be made a lot easier with a hand twistable mounting screw. Currently, the Spider Mounting Plate can only be attached with an Allen wrench which adds an additional component needed to attach the plate and makes attaching the plate more cumbersome.
5) Allen Wrench Security – The Allen wrench that fits into the Spider holster easily slides out, making it easily dropped and lost. In fact, we lost our Allen wrench that came with the Spider Holster on our third shoot. If this was to happen during a shoot, you would not be able to remove the holster, which could lead to some trouble if you had to remove it for any reason (to attach a battery grip, etc).
6) Added Width – With the holster on your hip, you add an extra 4-6 inches to the overall width of your body. This can be an issue in tight spaces where you have to quickly move to be in position, such as a small wedding reception venue.
The Spider Holster is a great product. It’s innovative, comfortable, and most importantly, it puts the pressure from the weight of your camera somewhere else other than your overworked upper body. This is one of those products where there isn’t a clear cut yes or no as to whether or not a photographer should use it. It depends on a variety of factors, from your shooting style to your typical equipment set up. However, if you understand the cons outlined above and feel that the pros outweigh them, you can be assured that you’re getting a high quality, well thought-out product.