Camera straps are now officially dead to me. ;-)
When I shoot weddings and events, I usually use 2 camera bodies - a 5D mkII with a 24-105 f4 L and a 7D with a 70-200 f2.8 L IS. On one of my recent beach wedding shoots, I nearly dropped the 5D mkII into the sand when the camera strap came undone right in the middle of the bride's processional. Luckily I was able to catch it before it hit the sand, but I didn't have time during the ceremony to reattach the strap.
Thankfully, on that particular day, I was testing out my DIY BlackRapid sling on my 7D. I shoved the 5D camera strap into my pocket and quickly swapped the sling from the 7D to the 5D. Since I had my Think Tank Skin 75 lens bag on my hip, I used that as a temporary camera holster for the 7D/70-200 lens whenever I needed to use the 5D on the sling.
I had originally thought about going with a Digital Holster bag attached to my Think Tank belt, but to accommodate the 70-200 lens I would have had to get the large Digital Holster 50 which would have added a lot of unwanted bulk to my setup.
So instead I started looking around for a better way to carry 2 camera bodies around and have them readily accessible to shoot. Some of the things I looked at were the Cotton Carrier system and the Black Rapid strap system.
I didn't really care for the Cotton Carrier system. Looked too much like a baby carrier and since I shoot a lot of outdoors weddings, I would be sweating all over the chest mounted camera.
The Black Rapid system looked promising and as I mentioned, I was testing a DIY version of it on the day my other camera strap decided to malfunction. I might use it from time to time, but I think I prefer a completely strapless setup.
Mahalo to fellow Maui photographer Donald Nakooka for turning me on to the Spider Holster System, which is what I finally settled on.
While I was shooting video for a recent Japanese wedding, I noticed another photographer using 2 of these holsters, one on each hip. He was able to quickly switch between cameras and get a lot more shots done quickly. That is what really won me over to this system.
The Spider Holster system is great because it takes all the camera weight off of your shoulders and puts it on your waist.
The kit comes with a plate and pin assembly that attaches to the tripod socket of the camera body and a metal holster that attaches to your belt. You can also order the Spider Holster belt, which is specifically designed for the Spider Holster.
I chose to order it with the accessory that allows you to attach it to the Think Tank Pro Speedbelt.
The plate comes with an allen wrench that fits into a slot on the plate. This keeps it handy in case you need to retighten the screws in the field.
The top of the plate has two curved edges which help hold it in place against the edge of your camera body or grip when you attach it to the camera.
The included allen wrench is also used to tighten the spider pin into one of the holes on the bottom. You can do left or right, depending on which side you plan to wear the camera on.
I chose to go with two pins since I ordered 2 holsters for left and right sides. This allowed me to use either camera in either holster.
The release lever on the side has 2 positions. When set to the middle position, the holster will lock the Spider pin in place so you can run, jump, spin around, whatever and your camera will stay locked on your belt. To release the camera, simply pull the lever up a little and pull out your camera from the holster.
The lever can also be pushed all the way up. This locks it in the open position. This is good for if you need to quick draw your camera to get a shot and don't want to mess with unlocking it. The groove the pin slides into is deep enough that gravity will make the camera will stay in place on the holster. You can walk around and not have to worry about your camera falling out of the holster. As long as you don't plan on doing any jumping jacks, you should be fine.
I used this system on a few beach weddings and I found that once I got accustomed to sliding the Spider pin into the holster, it made switching between cameras much easier. The holsters don't weigh very much themselves so there were times during shoots where I was lying down to get a certain camera angle and forgot that the empty holster was on my belt. Because of the simple slotted design of the holsters, I was able to quickly clear the holster of sand once I stood up. What little sand that got into the lever was quickly removed with a few clicks.
Couple of minor issues that I ran into. I ordered two of these and while I was attaching the holsters to the belt, I noticed that one of the screws on one holster was slightly stripped ( I was able to remove it eventually with some effort ). On the other holster, I found that one of the screw holes was completely stripped, so instead of using 4 screws to attach the Think Tank adapter loop to the holster, I was only able to use 3. I contacted the company about this and they were very quick in getting back to me to arrange a replacement.
I also ordered the Arca-Swiss adapter plate which attach to the bottom of the Spider Plate so that you can still use the camera on a tripod. Unfortunately the plates were just a hair too narrow on my ReallyRightStuff ballhead, so they kept sliding out of the slot. I ended up having to return them. I was told by the Spider Holster company that they outsource the manufacturing of the Arca Swiss adapters and might have to discontinue doing that.
What I might end up doing is getting a RRS quick release plate and mounting the Spider plate to the bottom of that, so that I have the option to quickly take off the Spider Plate in order to mount the camera on a tripod. Similar to what this guy has:
Another issue that I ran into is that since the camera is simply attached to your hip by the metal clip, it offers pretty much zero protection for your camera. Have to be careful when walking through doorways and such because since there's no camera straps, it's very easy to forget you have the camera on your hip and accidentally knock it against something as you're walking by.
The last issue is that when you're walking around with your camera swinging from your hip, it's kinda hard not to get this song out of your head:
You can see more about the Spider Holster here: