May 012012
 

In my long search for a better camera strap it never occurred to me that a camera could be carried on the hip like a six-shooter—until I tried out the SpiderPro® holster from the folks at Shai Gear, LTD. 

My first camera; a classic Kodak Brownie, had a thin leather strap attached to a thick leather case. A similar flimsy strap was riveted to the cases of my Kodak Retina II, Rolleicord twin-lens reflex and Pentax Spotmatic 35 mm cameras. When the straps broke I sewed them back on, or substituted a length of nylon parachute cord. When I became a stringer (freelance) photo-journalist for the wire services I carried a bag of heavy, all-metal cameras, motor drives, batteries, speedlights, and accessories. Two cameras on thin straps dangled around my neck; one with a 35mm or 28mm lens and the other with something longer.

Better camera straps eventually hit the market: stretchy ones made of neoprene, wide ones with no-slip rubber tracks on one surface, and so on. Regardless of the material or the width of the straps, they all shared the same weaknesses: the camera always swings around. Today, the SpiderPro holster makes it so easy to carry a heavy camera and lens—or a light-weight camera for that matter—by doing away with the straps, the tangles, and the photographers lopsided posture.

The SpiderPro sets up in just a few minutes. First, you screw the cast aluminum baseplate into your tripod socket, using the supplied allen wrench which stores in the plate itself. Next, you adjust the hipbelt to fit your body. There’s enough adjustable hook & loop fastener on the 3 inch wide belt to fit just about anyone, and it’s likely to fit over a heavy jacket as well.  To secure your camera to the belt, simply lower your right hand to your side, and slip the stainless steel pin on the bottom of the mounting plate into the track of the metal holster. Position the camera so that the lens points behind you and the hotshoe and/or speedlight points down. The camera will swing back and forth, but less than it does on a strap. A safety catch on the holster ensures that the camera will be accidentally released.

On the job, it took me a while to get used to using the SpiderPro because old strap-hanging habits die hard. But in little time the weight of my DSLR and 70-200mm 2.8 lens felt magically diminished. Climbing around a photo location with a hip-mounted camera as far less trouble than moving up and down with a camera and strap.

Who is the SpiderPro for? I can see it making  life simpler and more comfortable for photographers who shoot fashion, news, sports, weddings, family portraits, and events of all types. Frequent tripod users can bolt quick release plates into the SpiderPro baseplate. The only minor complaint I have is that the baseplate and pin combination makes it a little harder to fit a bulky camera into a tight camera bag. Photojournalists working crowded street scenes or political rallies might find that the SpiderPro mounted camera whacks bystanders around a bit. However, this can also be true of camera fanny packs and backpacks. I am very impressed with the design, workmanship, and utility of the SpiderPro and suspect that I’ll be using it more and more on future shoots. I may be ordering a second baseplate for another camera along with a wrist-strap adapter from the manufacturer.

The SpiderPro System, as well as the Black Widow System for light weight to mid weight cameras is available direct from the manufacturer and from dealers nationwide. Visit SpiderHolster.com for more details. The SpiderPro Single Camera System I tested sells for $135.00. Numerous accessories are available, including adapters for use with belts made by Thinktank

Spider Plate and Pin

 

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