SpiderPro Holster Single Camera System Review
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Note: This review is for the updated version of the SpiderPro Holster that was released in the last few years. There are many reviews floating around that came out before the company addressed the concerns of the initial release of the product.
I have a confession to make; I hate camera straps. They are always in the way, they put strain on your neck and shoulders, and they make you stand out with your camera even when you’re not actively taking a photograph. Hiking with a camera on a strap has always been a pain in the butt that I usually avoid by bringing a dedicated camera bag/backpack, but that can be overkill if you are just going out for a little while. Enter the SpiderPro Single Camera System, a camera holster that alleviates all of these issues. Read the rest of my SpiderPro review to see how getting rid of the camera strap and moving the camera to a holster that rests on your waist is a wonderful idea.
SpiderPro Single Camera System: How Does it Work?
The idea behind the SpiderPro holster is simple but it’s the well thought out details that make it stand out. The system comes with a special attachment called a Pro Plate that connects to your DSLR’s tripod mount and includes a little ball head pin. The holster itself comes attached to an adjustable belt (which can be removed as I’ll discuss later) and rests on the side of your hip. The pin on your camera slides easily into the holster and lets you walk around hands-free and strap-free. The key to this system is that the engineers took into account how the camera and lens should hang on your body for maximum safety and designed the SpiderPro so that your camera lens points backwards so that you can squat down without fearing damage. Thankfully, the placement of the pin, which allows this to work, can be moved to accommodate right or left hipped location of the holster.
The SpiderPro Camera Holster includes a safety latch that provides two options for security. In the lower position, the latch must be lifted to release the autolock and in the upper position, the camera slides easily in and out without locking. In practice, it quickly became second nature to reach for my camera at my hip, shoot with it as needed, and then put it back in the holster for storage. The holster has a nice wide opening that guides the pin into place and with some practice, you can definitely do it without looking. For the majority of situations, I’ve found myself keeping the safety latch in the unlocked position because gravity and the design of the holster does a good job of keeping it securely attached to your body. The following sections of my SpiderPro holster review will look at how the system works in various real-world scenarios, but first I want to mention the build quality and design of the device.
SpiderPro Holster: Exemplary Build Quality
Few things stave off buyer’s remorse like a product with incredible build quality and the SpiderPro is one such product. The holster and Pro Plate are made of hardened cast aluminum and stainless steel of a very high quality. Everything just feels reassuring and solid. The components are so well made that you really want to hold it in your hand and appreciate the weight and precision machining. It is clear that Spider Holster wanted users of the SpiderPro to feel very confident about hanging potentially upwards of $8000 in camera/lens combination on their hip. I’d be much more concerned with the camera tripod mount breaking before the SpiderPro and the tripod mount is designed to allow a camera to be mounted upside down on a tripod, so I’m sure it can handle the weight. In addition to the metal components, the Pro Belt, which is included with the SpiderPro Single Camera System, is made of durable nylon materials with a hefty belt buckle. All told, I have nothing but great things to say about the build quality during my SpiderPro Holster Review.
SpiderPro Holster Real-World Review: Going for a morning hike
I was a bit conflicted when writing this review because Spider Holster actually offers an alternative product that is better suited to certain uses like carrying a small/mirrorless camera system. The Black Widow Camera Holster is specifically designed for these cameras and I ended up using the SpiderPro because I found it so versatile, being able to accommodate large professional cameras and smaller mirrorless cameras like my Fuji XT-10. The concept is the same but the Black Widow is worth checking out if you only have lighter weight cameras. That said, I often like to bring a full-size DSLR with me to be able to be able to take really high-quality photographs of the place I’m hiking to. I’ve usually relied on a camera backpack for this but the issue I’ve always found is that it takes time to pull out a camera and that can lead to missed moments and less motivation to take photos. To see if the SpiderPro Holster would be my savior, I mounted a 50mm lens to my Nikon D750 and threw on the belt. The Pro Belt is very adjustable for almost any waist size and uses a full length Velcro system to ensure it doesn’t slip once adjusted. A key feature of the Belt is the Pro Pad that sits below the holster and acts as a padded barrier between the camera and your thigh. I found this to be a very nice feature when hiking because it pretty much eliminates any feeling of rubbing by the camera on your body. One complaint, which is unavoidable when using the pad, is that you pretty much are forfeiting access to your pocket because it sits on top of it. While hiking, I immediately felt less encumbered by my camera than I normally do because I didn’t have a backpack or a strap hanging off my neck with the camera flinging around. The pin attachment of the Pro Plate allows just enough movement to keep the camera from sitting too rigidly in the holster. I really enjoyed being able to quickly pull out my camera like a wild west gunslinger whenever I wanted to grab a shot. I also found that the weight was well distributed to my hips like a backpack’s waist straps would do. On a long hike, you might find the weight to be too much on one side but you can temporarily swap the holster to the other side to even it out for a bit.
SpiderPro Holster Real-World Review: Photographing a portrait session
For years, I have used a Holdfast Gear Moneymaker dual camera strap while photographing portrait and wedding sessions and while I always loved the style and the way it kept the strap out of the way when I lifted the camera to my eye, my shoulders and neck were very sore after 6-12 hours of shooting. I’ve seen many of my friends switch to using the SpiderPro Holster and I was very excited to give it a try. I normally carry two pro-size DSLRs while photographing weddings and Spider Holster thankfully offers a dual camera system for this that I will be acquiring but was unavailable for review. So for a test, I took the Single Camera System out with one Nikon D810 and a rolling camera bag with my extra lenses. Very simply, I found this to be life-changing for me and the way I shoot. As I said earlier, I hate straps and on portrait sessions, I usually just have my assistant hold my cameras and give them to me when I’m ready or I put them on the ground somewhere, which is not always the safest option. In addition to having straps in the way when I shoot, I also like to not have a camera in my hands while I’m directing and posing. The SpiderPro holster eliminates these issues elegantly and effectively! No strap to get in the way and a very quick and safe method of getting the camera out of my hands. The Pro Belt was plenty comfortable when worn over my short’s belt and lo and behold, no neck or shoulder discomfort. I used a large Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 lens and it worked well, although I’d call it the definite upper limit of lens size you can comfortably use. While the lens does point backwards for protection, it should be noted that you still want to be careful when kneeling/squatting down because an on-camera flash or trigger can conceivably hit the ground hard. I quickly adapted to making sure I was aware of the camera if I was going down from standing. The SpiderPro holster has definitely replaced my previous strap system for shooting professionally and I’ll be using it in all of my shoots from now on.
SpiderPro Holster Real-World Review: Out and about during a friend’s wedding
Occasionally, I go to weddings that I’m not photographing and I love to bring a small, less obtrusive camera with me to take some snapshots. I was recently in Iowa for a wedding and this was a great opportunity to try out the SpiderPro for general travel use. The camera I use for this is the excellent Fuji XT-10 mirrorless camera system, which has understated looks that go a long way towards avoiding looking like a professional photographer. Unfortunately, even though it is a clean and black design, the Pro Belt that comes with the SpiderPro Single Camera System is a pretty big statement that you are doing serious photography. Fortunately, the SpiderPro holster can be removed from the belt and used with most regular belts, either by sliding it through the opening or using the clip. I suggest using the slide through approach as it is more secure. This is also a good thing to know if you don’t love the style of the Pro Belt and want to switch it for something else. The Pro Plate is designed for DSLRs and should not be used with small cameras and thankfully, you just need to transfer the pin from the plate directly to your small camera’s tripod mount. For the entire weekend, I walked around with my little Fuji in the SpiderPro holster and it was such a great experience that I ended up with way more great photos than I normally would. I barely noticed it while it was on my hip but it was always within quick reach for shots. Not having a strap on the camera helped make it very unobtrusive and didn’t make anyone uncomfortable. The people who did notice the holster all had great things to say about how cool they thought it was. As much as I love the SpiderPro holster system for professional use, it’s use for walking around while travelling on my next adventure is truly awesome and will lead to fewer missed photographs.
My SpiderPro Holster review can be summed up by saying go buy it if you own a camera. The system removes camera weight from your shoulders and neck and puts your camera in an easy to access location. The build quality is exceptional and has to be felt to really understand. Spider Holster thought long and hard about how this product works and it shows. As a professional photographer, I loved this system for long days shooting and as a traveller and adventurer, I loved how it kept my camera on my at all times without me worrying about it. If you only carry a lightweight mirrorless camera or point and shoot, check out the Spider Black Widow holster as an alternative. The SpiderPro is also available without the belt and as a two camera system.
For more info visit, amazon.com/spider.