I’ve used Spider Holster gear religiously since September 2016. Through long shoots, like the Barret Jackson car show in Las Vegas held over three days at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center; while walking around for 5 hours with my camera gear in hand and holstered to my Spider Holster belt system; while documenting weddings, photographing keynote events, and photographing in a studio.
Previously, I purchased and tried to use all the other top strap and holster systems on the market, ones that attach via the quarter twenty thread on the bottom of the camera to a strap. I simply don’t like working with straps at all and found them clumsy and likely to loosen from their mount. I purchased and really wanted to like another brand, which was masterfully made from hand-tooled leather and worn like a detective’s shoulder holster. But I just didn’t like the hardware and the awkward process of getting the cameras hooked and unhooked from the hardware. And as I walked with two cameras hanging from my shoulders, they’d swing around like pendulums. I’d have to cradle and protect my camera and lens with my arms to keep them near my torso so they wouldn’t smash into something as I walked. I ended up selling everything.
I wanted a camera support system that would allow me to safely and securely carry two cameras and two lenses and have them all at my fingertips. I wanted the impossible: a strapless support system. One that would allow me to have my hands free yet keep my cameras 100% secure and ready for use at a moment’s notice. I’d given up…until I saw Sue Bryce using the Spider Holster system on a video and thought I’d give it a try. Bingo! I fell head over heels for the system and now I never shoot an event without my Spider gear.
What you need to know about Spider Gear
I’m fortunate to have some of the best photography gear on the planet. When I shop for gear, I look for two things: quality and support. You get both when you purchase Spider products. Quality: damn this stuff is so well made. If you appreciate finely engineered gear, you’ll love the Spider system. All of their products are extremely well thought-out, both ergonomically and with fine attention to materials and workmanship. Support: Spider stands behind their products with an iron clad warranty. They’ll repair or refurbish your product as long as a bulldozer didn’t crush it or your Pit Bull didn’t get a hold of it to pay you back for not taking him out for a walk.
Fitting Tip: Unlike a conventional belt that is typically worn on your hips, when you are fitting the SpiderPro belt, make sure you wear it just above your hip bones – you’ll be adding weight to the belt and gravity will naturally want to pull the weight down. When you first get your belt, I highly recommend loading it up with your gear just like you’d be photographing an event, and then walking around your home with it on for 5-10 minutes or so. This way you’ll know that the fit and the position of your belt and your Pro Holsters are perfect and you won’t have to mess around with it during your pro gig. Once you’ve adjusted for that perfect fit, you’ll never have to worry about it again.
SpiderLight Backpacker Kit: Pictured with my everyday belt. It’s fitted with a pad and a SpiderLight Holster and ships with the necessary hardware to fit it to a backpack shoulder strap. I like to use it on my belt if I’m out photographing casually. It’s great for a one camera set up and will accommodate any of the Spider plates, which attach either to the bottom of your camera or to the bottom of a telephoto lens collar and fit seamlessly into any Spider Holster.
Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G: The 12-24mm exhibits minimal barrel distortion which is 100% correctable in Adobe Lightroom. The lens is always in my bag, fast to focus, razor sharp with zero vignetting, sharp in the corners and sharp edge to edge.
ZEISS Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T* Lens for Sony E Mount: Made by legendary lens maker Carl Zeiss, who has been producing superior optics for nearly 100 years. The Loxia is a fully manual focusing lens, which I use in conjunction with focus peaking for accurate focusing. Because it’s manually focusing, you can use Scale Focusing or Zone focusing by adjusting the etched scale on the bezel of the lens to choose an appropriate aperture to “dial in” your in-focus distance. For example, you could choose to have everything in focus from 5ft. to 10 ft. or from 5ft to infinity, the choice is yours. This allows me to “shoot from the hip,” or simply put the camera body up to my eye and shoot with no focusing involved. Zone focusing assures that you’ve already “pre-focused” the lens and simply need to trip the shutter. Its lighting fast due to the lack of focus acquisition.
Sony 70-200 f/2.8 G Master: My go-to telephoto lens. Razor sharp at f/2.8 all the way through the f/stops. I use this lens to photograph from a distance, unobserved. Most often you’ll find me photographing @ f/2.8 which isolates the subject and produces beautiful bokeh. Seen here with the Lens Collar Plate attached.
Lens Collar Plate: A welcome member to the Spider family. The recently-released Arca Swiss compatible Lens Collar Plate attaches to a telephoto lens collar and brings the center of gravity to the balance point on a long lens. If you used the traditional Spider Holster Camera Plate on the bottom of your DSLR or Mirrorless camera it would holster and lock into place with ease, but would then introduce some swagger when walking, due to the weight of the lens and the fact that the camera body acts as a pivot point. The Lens Collar Plate refines the balance and minimizes the swagger.
Sony a9: My go-to 24.2mp, full frame camera, with 5-axis image stabilization, a speed [email protected] 20 frames per second with no EVF blackout. Pictured here with the Sony VG- C3EM Vertical Grip, and Really Right Stuff [RRS] L bracket.
Sony a7sII: 12.2 megapixels, Full frame camera. I never have to think twice about photographing at very high noiseless ISO’s. I rely on the a7sII when I need a lowlight beast. You may think that 12.2mp’s is not enough when there are other camera bodies that feature from 24mp-42mp. Fact is, I’ve use this camera before the a7RII, a7RIII and a7III came on the scene. Images for the a7sII have been published as magazine covers. Producing super clean images, I can easily push the a7sII properly exposed to 10k and 20k ISO and it looks like 800 ISO on most other cameras. The a7sII Pictured here with the Sony VG-C2EM Vertical Grip, and Really Right Stuff [RRS] L bracket.
SpiderPro Clamp: When Shai Eynav, founder of Spider Holster, introduced me to the Pro Clamp a year ago at WPPI in Las Vegas, I was dubious about using it on a $4,500 camera setup hanging from my belt. So I put it to the test. I attached the Pro Clamp to my Real Right Stuff L bracket on my Sony a7sII, using a SpiderLight Holster attached to my leather belt as pictured above. My trepidation was that the Pro Clamp relied on a knob tightening screw that fastened to my RRS L bracket. I thought to myself: “What if it loosens up? Gravity would takeover, my camera and lens would fall to the ground and surely get ruined.” I’m happy to report I walked around with this setup for 2 1⁄2 days during WPPI and the Pro Clamp never, ever loosened. In fact, it kept its vice-like grip the entire time and has always kept its grip while photographing many events.
So what’s the benefit of using the Pro Clamp? I like that fact that I can put it on and take it off my camera in seconds. There are times that I don’t want a clamp on my camera and want to set it up on my tripod. Other Spider products are fastened to the bottom of the camera or the collar with a standard slotted & hex male quarter twenty screw that you’ll need to remove with a hex key or some spare pocket change in lieu of a screw driver. I like the speed of the Pro Clamp and keep it on my higher megapixel camera when photographing events in case I need to mount my camera on a tripod for group portraits. That being said, all the plates are Arca Swiss compatible, but since I work with the RRS L brackets I prefer to use them on my tripods.
Utility Pouch: Let’s face it: photographers have a lot of gear. We need extra batteries, a protein bar ‘cause you gotta keep up your energy, stuff in our pockets that might make noise, etc. In comes the Utility Pouch. A slim line and smartly designed pouch that fits onto the Spider Monkey Holster Kit, that in turn fits onto the SpiderPro belt. Pictured above with an iPhone and Pelican SD storage case.
SpiderPro Large Lens Pouch: Always innovating, Spider Holster created a new spin on the lens pouch. Able to accommodate at 70-200mm telephoto, the Large Lens Pouch folds flat. All other lens pouches that I’ve seen do not fold flat. The fact that it does allows you to easily fit it in any of your rolling gear bags or backpacks without it taking up any extra room.
Sony Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA: This FE 50mm f/1.4 is superb. Big and heavy due to its fast f-stop, ridiculously sharp, wonderfully built, with an aperture ring on the lens’s barrel. I really enjoy the feel and build of this beefy fifty. It produces a beautiful color rendition, and when wide open exhibits a rendering and color character reminiscent of Kodachrome film.
SpiderLight Holster: The SpiderLight Holster is the little brother to the more beefy SpiderPro Holster I have on my SpiderPro belt. The Pro is typically used for DSLR shooters and the Light for Mirrorless shooters, but both the Pro and the Light Holsters do the same job. All Spider plates come with a pin that has a ball-head at the end that slides into the holster. Each holster has an option to automatically lock your plate securely into place, or you can opt to not lock it, allowing you to quickly holster and un-holster your camera much like a gunslinger would with her/his gun. If you do elect to lock your gear into the holster, you only need to use one hand to easily flip the locking switch to the open position and then un-holster your camera.
SpiderPro Medium Lens Pouch, shown with Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM: An essential zoom lens in my photography kit. I use the 24-70mm on every shoot. Tack sharp at f/2.8 with lovely bokeh and a minimum focusing distance of 1.24 ft. The GM is the sharpest 24-70mm I’ve ever owned. Both the Large and Medium Lens Pouches are designed to accommodate lens storage with the lens hoods on.
Think Tank Photo DSLR Battery Holder 4: Small, well made, and will last a lifetime. Great for organizing my Sony batteries for all my bodies. I own three of them.
Spider Holster Sticker: Cool swag for putting on my Pelican 1510’s.
Spyderco knife: Comes in super handy for cutting stray threads, tape, boxes and other items. No affiliation with Spider Holster, just a cool coincidence.
Passport with Yen: Because I love to travel. I was supposed to go to Japan last year but had to cancel because a family member was gravely ill. Hoping I can go this year.
I used camera straps for my first ten year photographing weddings and events, when I needed to use two cameras. I tried everything, but they’d always fall off my shoulder or get tangled and twisted. When I was actually taking photographs, the straps would always get in my way. And when I needed to mount my camera to a tripod the strap would hang down precariously, just waiting to snag on something and invoke the law of gravity, which sucks for cameras and lenses alike.
That’s why I love my Spider Holster gear: it allows me to go strapless and still have two cameras within hand’s reach. And it allows me to easily holster those cameras when I need to use both hands. The lens pouches come with a two way Velcro locking system that attaches to my SpiderPro belt and allows me to have three lenses: a super wide, a midrange telephoto, and a long range telephoto. If you ask me, Spider Holster is the perfect system for photographing events.
About the Author: Marc Weisberg is an architectural and luxury real estate photographer and brand ambassador for Spider Holster, based in Southern California. Weisberg teaches a series of acclaimed Luxury Real Estate Workshops across the US. You can find out more about his workshops on his website.