After years of trying out all kinds of camera-toting options, from hipster-tastic guitar straps to padded OpTech straps and back into hipster territory with some narrow leather straps I’ve finally found my perfect camera-toting kit: the Spider Pro Camera Holster system by SpiderHolster. I love it! And it works great with Fujifilm X-T1 cameras – not quite absolutely perfect just yet, but nothing that should stop you making the most of it.
What does the SpiderHolster do?
It also has the added bonus of making you look like a super cool cowboy/girl with cameras instead of pistols. I love it. Did I mention that already?
There’s two levels of Spider holster: the ‘amateur’ model known as the Black Widow Holster includes just the pin and a plastic clip to attach to a standard leather belt, and is designed for smaller cameras like the Fujifilm X100T and their ilk. The SpiderHolster Pro is designed for DSLR sized cameras and comes with a sturdy belt, a large pad under the clip to stop the camera digging into your leg, a much heavier duty metal clip to take the camera, and a metal plate to attach to the camera itself with a choice of two places to screw in the pin depending on which side of your body the camera will hang.
You can also get the metal clip and pad separately if you want to attach it to an existing belt (the Thinktank Speed Belt is officially supported) or if you want to later add a second clip to the left side of the official belt. Alternatively, you can also buy the official belt with two clips included from the start, the SpiderPro Dual Camera System, which is what I did.
Is it any good?
Yes! It’s literally changed my world, no exaggeration. I specialise in weddings and family celebrations and having my pair of cameras on the the holster is so useful and so much fun. My posture feels better, my shoulders feel fantastic, I look and feel more professional, and I’ve had some great comments from guests and clients who’d never seen camera holsters before!
Going without straps can take a bit of getting used to though. I’ve had a few sweaty-palm moments leaning over balconies grabbing a dramatic top-down shot without a strap wrapped round my wrist for security so it might be worth keeping a strap in your bag just in case, although SpiderHolster do offer their own hand-strap of course!
Also, with the Dual Camera holster when you’re swapping cameras in a hurry you might spend a few extra seconds than you’re used to making sure the camera is secured, or fiddling with the optional lock mechanism, so if you’re brand new to the kit it’s worth spending a little time honing your quick-draw skills in advance. I can slot one camera away and grab the other in one movement without even looking down now!
The Spider Pro Holster for Fuji X-T1 cameras
I’ve long since moved away from Nikon DSLRs and am having a lot more fun at weddings and events with my pair of Fujifilm X-T1 cameras, so I’m pleased to say the Spider Holster system works great with the X-T1!
However, the camera plates are designed for larger DSLRs and cause two issues for me on the X-T1. Firstly, they stick out up to an inch or so at either the front or the back depending on how you position it. And secondly, they obscure the battery door – only just, but enough.
My advice with the plate position is to sit it flush at the back. This way it sticks out about an inch at the front, but if you let it stick out at the back sooner or later someone’s going to walk into your camera while it’s up to your face and that heavy metal plate will knock your front teeth out!
The overhang at the front is a little ugly but I’ve gotten used to it and it doesn’t get in the way of any of the Fuji lenses I use most often: 14mm, 23mm, 56mm, 16-55mm and 50-140mm. Plus, I’ve actually found the fingers on my lens hand wrap naturally around the pin underneath to provide extra support and grip, so that’s not been too bad.
The battery door issue is more annoying. I tried mounting the plate at a bit of an angle and found I could pop the door open a bit but not all the way. Thing is, that battery door is made of flexible (breakable!) plastic and I didn’t want to risk damaging it by forcing it past the plate.
So I seat the plate properly, obscuring the battery door, and when it’s time for a battery change I have to pop out the built-in allen key, loosen the plate, swing it out of the way, swap batteries, re-position the plate, tighten it up and pop the allen key back into the slot. This adds about 20-30 seconds to a battery swap, so you’ll definitely want to schedule them for when you have a safe time and place rather than waiting until it goes dead, to minimise the risk of missing a shot or losing the allen key.
The plates do work okay with the X-T1 but there’s definitely a need for a new range of smaller Pro plates designed to work better with mirrorless cameras (which SpiderHolster have hinted could be coming soon!). I could just stick the pin directly into the camera tripod socket but then the cameras wouldn’t sit anywhere near as comfortably.
One (or two) more thing(s)
As my X-T1s are now strapless, leaving the metal strap attachment nubs ‘naked’, I’ve found that left-hand nub on the camera that hangs on my right hip has been rubbing away at the Holster’s hip protector pad and in just a few weeks of regular use almost wore through the first layer completely. Turns out that nub has quite a sharp edge, so I’ve solved that by wrapping a very narrow bit of black gaffer tape around it.
I haven’t had the same problem on the camera that hangs on my left side, but that brings me to the second ‘one more thing’: I don’t know if this is a problem with left-slung DSLRs as well, but with the X-T1 the position of the ‘Left’ pin doesn’t allow the camera to hang in exactly the same way as the right camera, flush with the side of my leg. It hangs at a little bit of an angle.
On the one hand, this means the strap nub doesn’t rub against the pad. On the other hand, it’s a little annoying to my OCD tendencies that my cameras don’t both hang flush. But on balance it’s not been anything to cause a problem in practice, so I’m just being fussy!
Should X-T1 users get the SpiderHolster Pro?
Despite the large plates designed more for DSLR users, I’ve been using the Pro holster regularly for about eight months now and absolutely love it. At the time of writing (February 2016) SpiderHolster have hinted to me in social media posts that they’ve got something coming soon especially for mirrorless camera users, which I hope is a set of smaller plates I can use with my existing belt and clips. But I’ve got no idea what or when that will be.
On balance, if you want the SpiderHolster Pro kit now but you’re on the fence about current compatibility with the Fujifilm X-T1, I’d say go for it!
Disclosure: I bought the SpiderHolster kit myself for use in my professional wedding photography and event photography business, and have not been reimbursed for this review. My Amazon links are affiliated and if you buy the SpiderHolster kit via these links I’ll get a small commission.