Have you ever had a piece of photo gear that everyone asked you questions about? For me, that was the Spider Holster. Everywhere I wore it – on engagement sessions, at weddings, everywhere! – people would stop and ask me about this camera carrying system.
What is the Spider Holster?
The Spider is a camera belt system that allows you to feel like an Old West gunslinger with your cameras. No, seriously! With a metal plate that you attach to your camera (or lens) tripod mount, you can slide your camera into a little metal holster that you can clip on your belt or use the Spider belt system.
The purpose is to create a more ergonomic way of carrying your camera gear for those who don’t like or can’t use camera straps.
No, really…how does it work?
Well, you attach the metal plate to your camera – you can also choose which side to screw the metal post that attaches to the holster (see how your camera hangs in either position before deciding to take it out in the world).
By adjusting the position of the screw in the slot, make sure the ‘lip’ of the plate is flush against your camera body before you tighten it down.
You can also attach the plate to larger camera lenses that have a tripod mount plate.
Pros of the Spider Holster
Quick access to your camera!
You can choose to lock the holster – so that no one can grab your camera out of the holster or so your camera can’t accidentally slide out. The lock disengages easily with a flip of your thumb, and you have your camera in hand and you’re ready to shoot. No getting caught up on a strap.
Freedom of movement
Ever had to take your camera strap off so that you could hold your camera in a certain position to get a shot? No such worries with the Spider Holster. Also you don’t have straps pulling at you all day if you’re shooting for a long period of time.
If you have a bad back or there’s some other reason you can’t use a camera strap – a holster system is a much better option. The wait is distributed around your waist and at your hips instead of across your back and shoulders.
It just looks cool!
It’s definitely a conversation starter. Total strangers would come up to me on the street and ask me about it. Guests at weddings would inquire about how it worked.
Cons of the Spider Holster
Not terribly stylish
The belt that comes as part of the system is not exactly the height of fashion. It’s built to be durable and has big plastic clips. If you’re shooting lots of portraits, you probably won’t mind, but if fashion is key to you, or you do a lot of higher end events, it might not be the right fit for you.
But you said I could attach it to my own belt, didn’t you? (Yep, but keep reading…)
Hauling heavy equipment – take care
I couldn’t wear the big industrial strength belt to a lot of the events I was shooting, so I’d use the system with my own belt. As you can see from the photo below, it starts to sag if you’re using a heavy camera or lenses in this type of setup.
I would spend half the night trying to pull my pants up against the weight of my gear. Also, if you’re not used to it, all that weight being distributed to your hips can leave you a little sore the first time you use it with heavier equipment.
Tiny parts, tiny problems
Within a day of using the Spider Holster, the included allen wrench (for tightening and loosening the screw that holds the plate to the camera) slid out of the slot in the plate that’s designed to hold it and was lost to me. I had to go buy a new allen wrench (and figure out what the correct size would be) to put in my camera bag to remove the plate.
Then, the locking mechanism (you can see the lock in the closed position in the photo below) spring broke. I was having enormous difficulty getting the holster to unlock. When I contacted Spider Holster about the problem, they told me I’d have to order a new holster because they didn’t have repair parts. And that’s when I stopped using it.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This review is based on one of the earlier models of the Spider Holster – which I used happily for several years. According to their website, the holster is “newly redesigned to be better than ever.” Perhaps they have found a way to solve some of these design flaws.
If you don’t like or can’t use a camera strap, the Spider Holster system is a great alternative. The “pro” system (which I’ve reviewed here), is something I would recommend for DSLRs without a large battery pack or large lenses (if you’re using them without the included belt).
The company also offers a Spider Light system (for lightweight gear like mirrorless cameras), and the Black Widow (an even smaller clip which could work for small mirrorless cameras or point-and-shoot cameras).
A single camera pro system (pictured below) is $135. A dual camera system (with one belt and two holsters) is $235. The SpiderLight (without belt) runs $95, and the Black Widow (again, without belt) is $45. You can click here or on the image below to check out all of the different systems Spider Holster has to offer as well as full pricing information.