Cincinnati Portrait, Wedding & Lifestyle Photography-Breighton & Basette Photography

Blog

REVIEW: SpiderPro SCS (Single Camera System)

breighton-and-basette-photography-copyrighted-image-blog-spiderpro-scs-review-title-image.jpg

Leading up to one of our weddings last year, I began thinking about my neck and the pressure that would be exerted on it during the rigors of a day-long wedding and reception.

More specifically, I began thinking about the stiffness and soreness I was bound to feel afterward…

3 pounds (approximate weight of my Nikon D3—without a lens) doesn’t seem like much, but tote that thing around your neck for 12-14 hours and you’ll understand. Unfortunately, I’d gotten used to the feeling but who wants to be used to feeling awful all the time?

SpiderPro SCS

SpiderPro SCS

Something had to give.

I’d come across the SpiderPro SCS ("Single Camera System", $135 + shipping, available here) a few months back, but had never taken the time to give it a shot. There are so many carrying systems out there that claim to be “the answer”, so naturally I was skeptical. Plus, the thought of carrying my camera so low on my body seemed strange. Until I bought it.

The concept behind the SpiderPro SCS is simple; carrying a camera’s weight lower on the body provides more stability and reduces fatigue. Exactly what I want!

I purchased it two weeks before a wedding at a local vineyard. Knowing that we would be doing a lot of walking on the vineyard grounds, I knew this would be a great test for the holster. Still, I wanted to have some time to test it out before deciding to use it on the wedding day.

MATERIAL & DESIGN

The SpiderPro SCS’ strap material is what you’d expect; black nylon secured around the waist with Velcro fasteners. What I wasn’t expecting was for the Velcro strips to line the entire strap. At first look it seems unnecessary, but I assure you it is not! Having the strap secured all the way around the waist provides a great deal of stability; once you attach it, it’s not going anywhere. It did take some time to find the right fit, but once I did, it felt snug and secure. However, every time I re-sized the strap, I had to pull apart roughly 24 inches of 3” wide industrial-grade Velcro…not exactly the quietest action, and definitely not something you’ll want to be fumbling with in the middle of a wedding. Luckily there’s a two-step locking clasp for quick removal and fastening…whew!

The holster plate is well designed and feels substantial; which is good, considering I’ll be hanging $6,000 worth of gear…from a 1 inch ball pin. The locking mechanism for the plate is ingenious; a small metal switch toggles from locked (preventing removal from the belt) to unlocked (allowing quick camera removal and holstering on the fly). This feature proved to be invaluable, as the locked setting saved me from a myriad of potentially fateful camera tumbles (I find myself in some pretty precarious positions when I shoot). The unlocked setting allows me to holster the camera quickly, freeing my hands when I need it. Another fine piece of engineering can be found in the funnel-shaped guided receptacle that receives the ball pin; a couple of practices and I was able to holster the camera without even looking…very useful.

SpiderPro SCS

SpiderPro SCS

Another great addition to the design is the option to attach a hand strap to the holster plate, providing an extra level of protection when holding the camera off-holster. For an extra $10, SpiderPro provides a D-Ring attachment that allows you to attach a hand strap from the holster plate to the camera's neck strap connection point. I picked up a CaseLogic hand strap on Amazon for $10 and it's worked just fine. Removing the Nikon neck strap from those dastardly triangular coil rings is a bear, I'm just gonna tell ya, but essential to the process. If you've ever had to do it, you know what I'm talking about. 

The ball pin is attached to a metal plate that screws into the tripod screwhole at the base of the camera (don’t worry; the plate provides a secondary tripod screwhole). The plate is secured using the supplied allen wrench, which stores neatly in the plate itself via a spring-loaded receptacle. Fitment is secure and tight, with a simple “Lens ↑” reminder stamped on the plate to indicate the proper orientation. The pin comes installed for right-handed use, but can also be mounted to accommodate left-handed holstering. The allen wrench performs double-duty as the pin removal tool; just insert the wrench into the hole at the base of the pin and twist (easier said than done however, as it took a bit more elbow grease than I expected in order to loosen it...my sympathies in advance to you southpaws out there).

PROTECTION

So, I must admit: I am not as careful with my gear as my esteemed brother—we both know it. This was one of the primary reasons why I hesitated to purchase the SpiderPro. I have a hard enough time keeping my gear protected when I have it in my bag, let alone dangling from my hip! To be fair, the SpiderPro SCS’ protection is mainly focused on just making sure the darn camera doesn’t fall off the holster, but it does have another very useful design feature; a nylon flap that extends from the bottom of the holster and sits against the thigh. At first glance, this doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal, but its importance becomes very evident once the camera is holstered. The natural walking motion causes the camera to swing a bit, which causes the camera to rub against my thigh. I found myself steadying it with my hand slightly as I walked, but the swinging motion still causes a it of friction. Having the nylon flap providing a slight buffer gives me some comfort.

SpiderPro SCS

SpiderPro SCS

FIT & FEEL

The fit and feel is surprisingly comfortable, given the obvious imbalance in weight distribution on the hip. Which brings me back to the previous section about resizing the strap. Trial and error taught me that what may feel tight around the waist at first becomes “just right” when the camera is holstered. My recommendation? Size the strap slightly tighter than would feel comfortable; once holstered, the weight of the camera pulls on the strap ever so slightly, easing the tightness and ensuring a snug fit throughout the day.

Walking with the SpiderPro does take some getting used to-especially as it relates to the increased width it causes at the hip. I found myself knocking my camera into doorways and walls at first, not being used to the added width. Luckily, I learned this rather quickly in my trial runs; be prepared to get used to having a wider hip radius.

SUMMARY

I’ll be the first to say that no camera-carrying product can address every concern—we photographers can be a persnickety bunch—but for what the Spider Pro SCS does, it’s wonderful. Since purchasing it, I’ve used it on a number of photoshoots and weddings, and at the end of each I’ve yet to feel the kind of fatigue that typically comes from carrying my camera around my neck. I’m very pleased to this point, and I think you would be too.

- Basette