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Review: Spider Black Widow Holster

by Mike Pouliot on 07/23/2011

Today, photographers have a million different ways to carry their camera. There are traditional neck straps, slings, harnesses, crazy contraptions that strap to your chest, and the list goes on. Just like anything else, one option may work for you but that doesn’t mean it will work for the next person. But I think we can all agree that options are a good thing to have. One fairly new player to the game is Spider Pro Systems. Spider produces holster style carrying systems. Today, we’re going to take a look at the Spider Black Widow Holster.

How To Use

It’s quite simple actually. Thread the holster through your own belt, or the belt offered by Spider, and put the belt on. Next, put the washer on the threaded section of the pin and screw it into your camera’s tripod mount (make sure it’s nice and tight). Finally, drop the section of the pin that is sicking out of the tripod mount into the holster. That’s it! To remove the camera, simply pull up on the red lever with one hand and pull up on the camera with the other.

What You Get

If you order the basic Black Widow setup, you get the holster and pin/washer. Keep in mind if you order the basic package, you will need to loop the holster to one of your own belts. I wear belts with 99% of my pants and shorts so this is not an issue for me. If you usually do not wear a belt, you may want to considering picking up the belt to go along with the holster as it works very will with the Black Widow Holster.

Accessories

  • Belt: I highly recommend picking up the belt (and pad) if you plan on carrying around a small DSLR or if you do not wear belts with your normal clothing. I found that carrying heavier cameras (e.g. small DSLRs) on my own belt often made me feel like I was going to loose my pants. The belt is made of heavy canvas with hook and loop (a.k.a. Velcro) that runs along the inside to ensure the belt is securely fastened at all times. The belt is also fairly wide which makes carrying around heavier cameras much less of a burden.
  • Pad: The pad is also a very nice accessory to have for heavier loads but it is also a good to have even if you are carrying smaller cameras. The pad helps stop the camera from bouncing around while you’re walking and it also provides a bit of protection from scratches and constantly bumping up against your body. It would be nice if this was included with the belt, unfortunately it’s an a la carte option.

  • Thin Plate: For those of you that use your tripod frequently, Spider hasn’t forgot about you. The thin plate allows you to use the holster while your head plate is still attached. This works quite well and the camera still sits comfortable on your side when using the thing plate.
  • Extra Pins: Extra pins can be purchased to allow for quick switching between cameras.

Other Spider Products

The Black Widow Holster is designed for loads under 2lbs. This covers most small DSLRs with kit lenses along with Micro Four Thirds (M4/3) and advanced compacts. For photographers with larger setups, Spider makes the SpiderPro Holster. With its all metal construction, the SpiderPro is much beefier than the Black Widow and is designed to carry full sized DSLRs with pro lens. The SpiderPro also has a dual carrying belt option for those that need to quickly switch between cameras.

Look and Feel

The Black Widow Holster is made of high quality plastics which feels great in the hand. When I first saw that the holster was plastic instead of metal, I became slightly concerned; I really don’t want to trust my camera gear to a piece of plastic. Thankfully, after I opened the package, I have to say that I was really impressed with the build quality. Nicely done Spider. My complainant with the holster is the release mechanism (the red lever). I thought it would have more of a spring action to it to let you know when it was unlocked vs. locked. It seems like it is just a piece of plastic that you bend back to release; I’m not sure how that will hold up after a few months of constant use.

Spider did a great job with the belt and pad as well. The hook and loop on the belt is very strong, it could probably handle more weight than you could. This is comforting because one thing that originally concerned me was the security of my gear when wearing the belt. I didn’t want someone to be able to rip off the belt and run off with my belt and camera. Well, not to worry. The belt is very long and the high quality hook and loop runs almost the entire length of the belt. Trust me, it would take a pretty strong and quick thief to make off with your belt and camera.

In Use

To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with the Black Widow when I first used it with my Rebel XT. I thought it felt odd having my relatively small DSLR jutting out of my side. I knew if I had worn this for an extended period of time, I would have eventually smashed my hip and camera into something.

So I moved the holster off of my hip pushed it in more towards the front of my body. This made things better, I was less worried about hip-checking someone with my camera but it made it slightly less comfortable to carry. So at this point, I wasn’t overly impressed with the Black Widow. It did securely hold my camera in place at my hip, but it just didn’t fee right to me.

So I didn’t love the Black Widow with a small DSLR, but how would it do with my an advanced compact like the Sigma DP2x? Let me tell you, it’s money. The Black Widow Holster is the carrying solution I’ve always wanted for large advanced compacts (think Sigma DP2x, M4/3, Panasonic LX-5, Olympus XZ-1Canon G12, etc.). These cameras are too big to simply drop in your pocket but they are small enough to not really need a big case or neck strap. I usually carry around my Panasonic GF-1 in a small case that can hold the camera along with extra memory and batteries. I could easily put the accessories in my pocket, so I only really need the case because I don’t want to string the GF-1 around my neck like a tourist or carry it around in my hand all day. The Black Widow allows me to ditch the bag while keeping my hands (and neck) free. Plus, you can access your camera much faster from the Black Widow Holster than you ever could from a bag. Brilliant.

As a side note, I showed this holster to my dad, who has been looking for a carrying solution for his Nikon D60 forever, and he was more than excited. Like me, he doesn’t like having a camera swing around his neck and he isn’t fond of the sling straps (e.g. Black Rapid & Sun Sniper) like I am so this solution is right up his ally. See, to each his own.

Likes

  •  Quality: All pieces are well made which is a must for something you are trusting to carry your expensive gear.
  • Versatility: Being able to carry a small DSLR or an advanced compact means this can serve double duty for many photographers. Also, I like the fact that you are not forced to buy the bet from them, you have a choice. Use your own belt or buy theirs.
  • Innovation: This is really a great idea. I’ve been waiting for something like this for my GF-1 since I purchased it over a year ago.  It is a comfortable way to carry and quickly asses your camera without adding bulk or weight.

Dislikes

  • The Pad: It’s nice the the pad is an a la carte option but it should be included with the belt.
  • Price: If you buy all of the accessories, it can get a bit pricey. The quality is very good so you’re not wasting your money on a cheap product, but it does make this one of the more expensive camera carrying options.

Suggestion to Spider

I carry a backpack around quite a bit. I would LOVE to be able to thread the Black Widow through the waist strap of the backpack but most backpacks have large buckles that will not fit through the Black Widow‘s belt loops. It would be great to create a holster that could be easily disassembled (maybe the back could come off) to work with different types of belts.

Conclusion

The Black Widow Holster is a great way to carry around your camera when you need to access it quickly. I personally wouldn’t use it with a DSLR if I had to walk for miles or shoot in a very cowed situation with strangers (e.g. in a crowded city or event), but Spider’s holster system may be the perfect solution for wedding photographers, sports photographers or anyone that needs to quickly access their camera. Heck, it would even be great at a child’s birthday party as it allows you to keep your hands free when you need them but you can quickly grab a shot when the time is right.

While I personally didn’t like the Black Widow Holster for carrying around a DSLR (my dad disagrees), I think this is one of the best, if the the best option for M4/3 and advanced compact cameras that are simply too big to fit in a pocket. Attach one of these cameras to the Black Widow Holster and you will probably forget that it’s hanging off of your hip. And because these cameras are much smaller than a DSLR and lens combo, I would have no worries about carrying one on my hip all day. I wish I had the Black Widow Holster this on my last trip.

Remember, if you are looking for a holster for your DSLR and you have a full sized or prosumer body, I would seriously consider checking out the SpiderPro has it is quite a bit more rugged.

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