A good percentage of Apple World Today readers are owners of Digital SLR cameras (DSLRs) who use the interchangeable lenses and advanced capabilities of their cameras to take their photography beyond what's possible with iPhone cameras. While the photographic options are definitely better, carrying bulky DSLRs with the traditional neck straps can be a painful experience. Today I'm going hands-on with the SpiderPro DSLR Holster System (single camera starting at US$135), a unique and comfortable way to carry a DSLR -- on your hip.
As someone who lugs his Canon DSLR around the world, I've been waiting for something like this. Up until now, I used one of the better neck/shoulder straps on the market from Joby (UltraFit Sling Strap), but after a long day it was still a pain in the neck and/or shoulders. The problem is simply with carrying that much on a shoulder or on the neck, and the camera tends to bang into your body if you're walking quickly or climbing stairs.
Not so with the SpiderPro. It's a holster you wear around your waste like a belt. A plate is attached to the bottom of your DSLR with a standard 1/4-20 tripod screw. That plate has a pin with a ball on one end that goes towards the lens end of the camera. Strap on the belt, slide the pin into a receiving slot on a metal plate on the holster, and the camera hangs from your waist with the lens pointed backward.
There's a lock mechanism on the holster to prevent the camera from popping off by itself; it's locked or unlocked with a single thumb movement up or down. Unlock the camera, grab it and pull up, and you're shooting photos.
Are you a southpaw? You will be pleased to know that the SpiderPro can be set up for right- and left-handed users. You just move the pin from the side marked R to the side marked L. Done. The only negative I found is that the bottom plate must be removed when I'm changing batteries in the camera, but at least that's fast and easy to do.
The fit of the belt is nice and can be adjusted quite a bit. You want the belt to actually sit on the hips, so the weight of the DSLR is transmitted down into the lower legs. There's a very nice quick-release belt buckle on the front of the belt, and Velcro® straps make it easy to make a fast general adjustment. Fine adjustments are made with pulling on another piece of webbing, and then putting the excess material under an elastic loop.
That plate that goes on the bottom of the camera? It has a few holes for mounting on a tripod or monopod, and the Allen wrench that's used to screw the plate to the bottom of your camera is ingeniously spring-mounted into its own niche on the plate. You'll always have the plate wrench at your fingertips.
If you want a bit more hand support when using your camera, there's an available ($65 - $75) hand strap that attaches to the bottom plate. Other accessories include a dual camera system if you want to carry a DSLR on each side and look like an old-time gunslinger, a memory card organizer, and lens pouches for medium and large lenses.
How does it feel to have a DSLR hanging from your waist? You can barely feel the weight! The lens faces backward so even if you're using a long lens, you can kneel, squat, or even sit and the end of the lens probably won't hit the ground. I found it quite comfortable to sit in a chair with the camera in the holster, although I'm sure it wouldn't work if you tried to wear this setup in a standard economy airplane seat.
The locking mechanism feels solid but can be released almost instantly. There's also an available tether for those who think they might drop their cameras while getting used to the SpiderPro holster.
After years of neck and shoulder pain from carrying DSLRs on traditional camera straps, I'm not going back. The SpiderPro DSLR Holster System is well-designed, built to put up with the rigors of years of professional photography, and every DSLR photographer should use it.
Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★★