I recently had the opportunity to review the Spider Camera Holster SpiderPro Single Camera System. The system seeks to solve a fairly common complaint: These cameras are awkward! In order to get the best picture quality we carry bulky SLR cameras with giant lenses and external flashes. Unfortunately, these can be a bit obnoxious and uncomfortable when they’re hanging around your neck. SpiderPro Camera Systems move your camera and accessories from your neck and shoulders to your hip, making it easy for event photographers to carry multiple cameras. Each camera uses a mounting plate and pin, attached to the camera’s tripod mount, to connect securely to a locking holster on the SpiderPro belt.
For those who use smaller DSLR cameras or advanced point and shoot cameras and really don’t need the strength of the full SpiderPro Holster, Spider Holster does provide a smaller model. The Black Widow is purchased by component through Spider Holster’s website or through an authorized dealer (such as B&H Photo). The full rig consists of a pin which attaches to your camera’s tripod mount, or a small plate which can be attached between your camera and a tripod mount plate. The pin / plate attaches to a holster just as on the SpiderPro System, but with lighter hardware. After careful consideration, I decided the SpiderPro was a better fit for my particular camera as I often use rather large lenses and an external flash which can add a lot of weight.
My first impression of the SpiderPro Single Camera System wasn’t a good one. As soon as I opened the package, I noticed what appeared to be rust on the SpiderPro Holster. The holster is supposed to be made of Stainless Steel with an aluminum coating, so any oxidation was unsettling right out of the box. Oxidation and discoloration aside, all of the components felt decently sturdy, so I took the SpiderPro Single Camera System for a test drive.
The SpiderPro Belt is exceedingly comfortable; I wore the system around with my camera and an external flash for a full 8 hour work day without any discomfort aside from the constant questions it drew from coworkers. The belt adjusts using a Velcro strap that doubles back to nearly the full length of the belt. The velcro strap that lines the belt is made of 2″ nylon webbing (double the width usually used in anchors for rock climbing) for extra strength and uses a triple-lock buckle for added security, making it nearly impossible to accidentally unclasp the belt and drop your equipment. Anyone who works around children or has a tendency to fiddle with buckles will find this particular feature to be a welcome addition.
I feel that I should mention one minor issue with the SpiderPro Belt; while it will fit a wide range of sizes, there is definitely a lower boundary. I have a 32″ waist and had no problem fitting the SpiderPro Belt – a few moments adjusting the velcro and I was ready to go. However, I did run into some issues when I asked a friend to try it on and give me her thoughts on the belt. My friend happens to be a very petite woman who’s waist was just barely narrower than the belt would allow. What I had initially overlooked was the fact that the two halves of the velcro belt are different widths. This means that anyone with a waist narrower than about 30″ will have a tough time getting the SpiderPro Belt to fit properly. Now this is obviously a very small percentage of the intended audience, so I wouldn’t count it as a serious design flaw, but it is something that should be taken into consideration prior to purchasing a SpiderPro Holster.
[Editors Note: The SpiderPro Belt will fit those with smaller waists, but a portion of the belt will be in excess. The belt would need to triple back on itself and stayed with loops on the belt. Alternatively, one could presumably cut the excess velcro off the belt.]
I took the SpiderPro System to photograph a friend’s family last weekend and was really happy with the overall performance. You never realize just how much of an obstruction your camera can be until you no longer have it hanging around your neck. Being able to drop my rig into a holster at my hip really freed me to move around. It’s amazing how much of a difference this can make when you work with a family that has young children.
According to the company, the pin can be moved to any of 3 holes on the mounting plate. However, after straining against the pin with all my strength, I broke my allen wrench. I double checked the treading on each of the holes to ensure that I hadn’t been turning in the wrong direction and tried again with a new wrench. When this one began to bend, I gave up. It appears that when the SpiderPro mounting plate and pin were initially assembled, the pin had been so overtightened that it simply cannot be moved! Between this issue and the rust spots on the holster, I was seriously starting to doubt the manufacturing and quality control of SpiderPro Systems in general.
All of my misgivings aside, I there is potential for this to be a fantastic product. It takes a very simple approach to solve a rather annoying issue. I loved the fact that I could adjust the holster to either lock the camera in place automatically, or allow me instant access. I don’t do as much event photography as most who would use this product, so I personally found very little use for the unlocked mode. This would primarily be used by event photographers sporting two or more full rigs at any given time. I did, being a bit of an outdoor junkie, find that the locked setting on the holster allowed me to “safely” carry my camera at the ready on biking, hiking, and rock climbing trips. I still felt the need to pull over / anchor myself prior to unlatching the camera and taking any photos, but the fact that I didn’t have to search through a backpack for my camera and accessories was phenomenal! There are obvious risks any time you use your camera without a strap. However, SpiderHolster does provide an accessory that allows hand straps to be attached to the Spider Plate. Unfortunately, it isn’t included in the original kit and must be purchased separately through their website.
As I reviewed this SpiderPro Holster, I became more and more enthralled in the freedom it allowed me while carrying my camera, but every time I put on the SpiderPro Belt, I was reminded of the manufacturing flaws that had made me initially doubt the product. The fact that I couldn’t adjust the pin meant that the camera always sat at a rather awkward angle, thereby making the holster less comfortable than I think it ultimately could have been. Again, it wasn’t discomfort so much as an awkward camera angle that really irked me about this product. Had I been able to move the pin to the other side of the mounting plate and reversed the angle of the camera, I would have been significantly happier. In the end, I think the SpiderPro Holster is a wonderfully devised system, but I can’t ignore the obvious oversight in their manufacturing process. I can only hope that the company will step in to correct these issues in the near future, and perhaps address how a piece of stainless steel coated in aluminum could possibly rust prior to removal from its packaging.
To any who are interested in purchasing this product, I would strongly advise that they fully inspect all parts and attempt to move the mounting pin prior to take it out for a full test run. Nothing can be worse than finding out that a product is flawed only after the manufacturer will no longer accept returns.
Things We Liked
- Comfort – getting the camera off your neck really gives you freedom.
- Convenience – having the camera at the ready at your side is a benefit, especially to event photographers.
- The triple-lock buckle adds to the security.
Things We Didn’t Like
- Manufacturing flaws – The pin was over-tightened and oxidation was present on the device.