By Don Chick, M.Photog.Cr., CPP
How many times have you spent the day photographing a wedding or other event with your primary camera and an extra camera hanging by a strap around your neck? Juggling two cameras on the job with the extra one always sliding off your shoulder? How does your body feel at the end of a day like that? How does your neck feel? Thankfully, there is an alternative to this pain-in-the neck occupational hazard. The solution is the SpiderPro Camera Holster by Spider Holster. Instead of wearing your camera around your neck all day, you can wear the camera in a holster on your hip like an old gunslinger from the Wild West!
I picked up the SpiderPro System at Imaging USA in January, and I've been using it ever since. It is safe and secure, but still delivers quick and easy access. You don’t even need to worry about the safety of your on-camera flash; the way the system is designed, the camera and flash hang upside down next to your leg, keeping the flash unit from potential damage as you walk around.
The Spider Holster concept is both elegant and simple. Using a hex wrench (supplied), attach the SpiderPro plate to the bottom of your camera.
Securely screwed onto this plate is the stainless steel pin that slides into the SpiderPro holster.
Now, with the SpiderPro belt securely in place around your waist, slide the pin into the holster and seat it at the bottom. Because the belt is designed with a generous width, the weight of the camera and lens is distributed to a larger surface area. This means your waist and hips are bearing the weight of equipment instead of your neck. Talk about a weight being lifted!
The Spider Holster is available in two versions: the SpiderPro (a single camera system for $135 and a dual camera system for $235) is designed for heavier camera/lens setups, and The Black Widow (kit $65) is designed for lighter DSLR camera/lens combinations.
The SpiderPro holster is an all-metal construction of lightweight cast aluminum. The designers have wisely used a stainless steel insert in the holster which is positioned at the bottom of the slot. This enables the user to replace just the insert instead of the whole holster in the event of excess wear. The pin that attaches to the camera plate is also made of stainless steel. Stainless steel provides a very rugged construction that should ensure many years of use and enjoyment.
The Black Widow version (below) is constructed of plastic into which the designers also inserted a metal piece for increased strength and durability.
Besides the ability to handle heavier camera/lens combinations, the Pro version has a two-position lock. In its lower position, the lock secures your camera each time it's placed in the holster. In the upper position the lock disengages for quick and easy access to your camera. In the lower position you must disengage the lock every time you remove your camera from the holster. On a wedding or location shoot, I found that I would often disengage the lock for ease of access, then engage the lock while walking around.
The Black Widow only has one position that always engages the lock, requiring you to disengage it each time you take your camera out of the holster. You can also see above the thin tripod adaptor plate. This plate allows you to also mount a tripod adaptor to the bottom of your camera. Without the adaptor the pin screws directly into the bottom of the camera and would have to be removed to enable tripod mounting. The other advantage of using the adaptor plate is that it enables the camera to be carried straight down. If you have a flash unit mounted onto the camera you’ll quickly see the advantage that carrying the camera this way minimizes the possibility for damage to the flash unit.
Both the SpiderPro and Black Widow can be used on your own belt or on a belt from Spider Holster. As with the holster, I was impressed with the quality of construction for both versions of the belt. They are adequately wide in order to distribute the weight of the camera/lens combination and are very well made for durability. They are designed with an adjustable length that will accommodate larger waist sizes (Black Widow 23-48 inches, SpiderPro 29-55 inches). The SpiderPro belt has a three-point lock on the buckle, so you can’t accidentally undo the buckle and it can also include a pad so that the camera hanging from the holster doesn't cause wear to your clothing. The Black Widow pad also includes an elastic/velcro loop that can either be tucked away or used to strap your camera in for times when you'll be walking more than shooting.
You might gather that I am really impressed with the Spider Holster, especially the Pro system, for its well-thought-out design and rugged construction. I confess … I am! It has been a tremendous physical relief to me to not have to wear the camera strap around my neck on long jobs. If you’re tired of getting that pain-in-the-neck feeling that comes from carrying your camera around, consider purchasing one of these two camera holsters. Your body will thank you.