As a professional wildlife and adventure photographer, I am accustomed to carting heavy camera equipment from location to location. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever used 500mm+ lenses and pro-bodies. Nevertheless, in most situations, these larger-than-normal set-ups are used in conjunction with super-sturdy tripods with gimbal heads and or other supports such as bean bags, which comfortably take the weight and more importantly, the strain.
When I set up my UK-based dog photography business a few years ago, I rocked up to my outdoor on-location dog photo sessions with a lot less equipment than I was used to – which was awesome!
So I thought!
Holding Heavy Equipment
On most dog photography shoots there are periods where I’m holding a pro-body, with a 70-200mm f/2.8 or 24-70mm f/2.8 lens attached. I hold this in my right hand while using my left to attract my subject’s attention with squeakers, toys, balls, treats and more. I use my thumb to control the back-button focusing while using my index and middle fingers to control a multitude of features. I am crouched, lying down while looking up, standing while looking down, in water, or snow. You name it; I do it!
Now, I’ve always been a reasonably fit individual and look after myself, so when I started to suffer from a few unusual aches and pains, alarm bells rang.
First off, I experienced chronic muscle twinges and aches in my right shoulder. Then, depending on the demands of the shoot, I frequently suffered from lower back pain. These two issues were bad enough. However, the most painful affliction was in the index and middle fingers on my right hand. I only had to knock these two digits against something and the pain, although momentary, was excruciating.
So, after a couple of x-rays the verdict was in – Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). After I discussed my experiences with three fellow pet photographers with comparable stories, RSI was confirmation of what I suspected.
However, they are no longer sufferers, and each put their freedom of pain and increased productivity down to a couple of products from the SpiderPro range: the SpiderPro Camera Holster and the SpiderPro Hand Strap.
Their shared experiences were endorsement and encouragement enough to test-drive the SpiderPro Camera System V2 system and discover the potential benefits for myself.
SpiderPro Single Camera System v2
The Belt and Holster
The SpiderPro Pro 2 Belt features an improved design, over the original that is more optimized for comfort and flexibility and now features a heavy-duty triple-lock buckle. The whole belt and holster system is super-tough and expertly constructed with durable and wear-resistant materials.
My immediate impression, when first wearing the holster, is just how comfortable and secure everything feels. The build quality is excellent with stainless steel and hardened aluminum. The plate and pin system, that screws on to my camera’s base and engages with the Holster feels bulletproof and is not going anywhere.
The SpiderPro Camera Holster takes the weight of my pro gear away from my upper body relieving the strain on my upper back. The holster relieves strain in my shoulder areas, and distributes it at my waist, which according to Spider is “the most ergonomic place to carry heavy gear – just ask a carpenter with a full tool belt!” Moreover, I have to agree.
The SpiderPro Camera Holster features a two-position lock designed for flexibility – unlocked for quick draw action shots or auto-locking for security in any shooting situation.
The improved Pro2 Plate attaches to any professional DSLR and has is redesigned for a more balanced and comfortable carry. The new plate also features an improved and more secure pin and anti-slip rubber grips to keep the plate in place. It can be swapped easily for carrying on the left or right and is compatible with any tripod.
If you want a camera on each hip, you can now upgrade the single system instead of purchasing the dual system. The Dual Camera Upgrade v2 requires no tools, which makes adding a second holster extremely easy.
The SpiderPro Hand Strap
Over the years I’ve experimented with various hand straps and none, and I mean none, have worked for me. They’ve all lacked one or two crucial features such as comfort, performance and or ergonomic functionality.
The SpiderPro Hand Strap, however, is different. It has all of the features that make a good hand strap and has been an absolute game changer for me.
My hand slides in effortlessly.
The ‘S’ curved leather strap is particularly snug and follows the contour of the back of my hand, ensuring the weight of the camera is evenly distributed and secure. However, more importantly, the straps’ clever design ensures the correct position for shooting while allowing my thumb, index and middle fingers to operate the camera unrestricted.
Trust me – that’s a major coup.
The Strap is compatible with extended battery packs, vertical grips, and any tripod or Spider plate. There’s also clear access to the memory card slots. It’s available in a variety of colors, which is an extra touch.
I’ve been using the SpiderPro Camera Holster System, v1 and v2, in conjunction with the Hand Strap now for over a year and my strain-related pains have all but gone.
Photography, like many professions, can be physically demanding and you need to look after yourself. So, when a brand, like SpiderPro, takes on the challenge of designing and producing a product that not only enhances our lives but also increases our productivity, then I have to take my hat off to them.
Nowadays, manufacturers can tap into social media and online forums for real-time user feedback on their products. Armed with valuable, in-the-field insight, they’re able to improve each product based on what we, the consumer, would like to have.
The adage of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ very rarely applies to camera systems and camera accessories. SpiderPro’s products are indeed a testament to this.
All images courtesy of Spider Holster.