In a way this is kind of a follow on to my post about Why I love my Black Rapid Strap – I love it. I love everything about my Black rapid strap BUT….. I do not like how freely it swings. Like when I lean over into a car it will swing forward… And BAM! camera into car. Or if I am climbing up some rocks of a spit into the bay. CRASH! into the rocks.
So I went to look at alternatives.
If you don’t care how you look there is the Cotton carrier system. But to me you look like an alien out of Dr. Who with all that gear. Cotton also has a Lite system on a belt. The Spider Holster has the holster system on a belt as well. After a few hours of research I found that most users seemed to prefer the Spider system.
I also saw that a lot of people, while they liked the holster, they did not like the belt. Those people tended to really like the Think Tank Pro belt. Its a better belt. Spider sells a kit so that you can put the holster on. And the belt allows for putting other lens and camera accessories on it.
I have always liked the belts on my backpacks….so it seemed that this was a good idea. In addition I saw that some people keep the Black rapid strap attached. The logic is that if you are walking or climbing you have the camera in its holster. Then when you are staying on one local area you pull the camera out of the holster and the camera is secure and accessible all the time.
So I ordered a Spider Holster with the adapter for a Think tank belt. I also ordered a Think tank pro belt and Think Tank Lens Changer 75 Pop Down bag. The bag looked great. It could fit my 70-200mm f2.8. It has a pop out lower section so that I can store the lens WITH the hood on. Also comes with a rain cover.
Wow… this is going to be great right !!!!!
I wait a week in excited anticipation……
Well….. My Mom taught me to always say something nice before you tear something apart. OK….
All these items came exactly as advertised. Every one of the items was very well made. I am sure they would last for years. They all have lots of flexible features. And when you wear it ….. it does look cool. And it FIRMLY holds the camera in place. The camera rotated a little the ball joint but not anywhere else. So the problem of a swing camera is GONE.
When I put all of that stuff on my belt it felt heavy on my hips. I noticed the weight more than the combo of camera bag and rapid strap. I also noticed that you had to have the belt fairly tight so it did not start slipping down over my hips. Note that this could be a function of my age and body condition. But to make it work I had to tighten the belt more than what I am used to…. So now I am noticing the weight and the tightness around my waist (but on my hips). The holster came with i’ts own camera plate. I guess you could do with out it and just screw the ball connection straight into the camera but you would always have to remove it for tripod/ monopod mounting. The plate is VERY well built BUT its heavy and adds some volume to the camera. It does come with 3/8″ threaded attachment holes for mounting a quick dicsonnect plate. I use arca swiss so I put a small one on the spider plate. The bottom of the camera is getting a little busy now. It has this hefty plate on it. My arca plate is attached to that and then there is the ball attached thing. If you hold the camera at all from the bottom….you are now dealing with a few new things.
The belt tends to pull my pants down…..This might have been cute when I was 20…. but at 60….. not so much. Next… there is a little lever lock that you can set to be open all of the time or otherwise it will lock the ball in place. Here is the problem. I like to carry the camera in between the side of my hip and my butt. It seems to be most stable there AND I can naturally swing my arm as I walk. But….if you use the lock. Which is a good feature. You have to reach around your front with the opposite arm and find the lever to lift it. Its not only a long reach but you can’t see it. AND then there is the spider plate, the arca plate, the arca clamp on my black rapid strap, and the ball joint connected to the holster. All of this is in a small space between the camera and your hip and holster. So you have to reach way over and work by feel to push the lever up to unlock it so you can pull the camera up with your right hand. It could be easier without the BR strap but then nothing is securing the camera when its out of the holster. Maybe a hand or wrist strap might be better. Also you could put the holster closer to the front of you but I don’t think that would be that comfortable.
So I was just getting frustrated with the whole set-up…… Look for it on EBAY!
While writing this I just had an Epiphany! I love the Black rapid strap….BUT it swings forward and can bang into stuff. Well….. what is right there by the camera….I always have a belt on and there are also belt loops. I also always carry a couple of large carabiners. on my camera bag. I use them to attach the bag to the bottom of my tripod for stability. So I hooked it on a belt loop. Guess what. I do not feel it there. Ok…. now I hook it to the strap, then even better I hook it to the hardware that attaches the strap to my arca clamp that is part of the attachment. Whoa…. the camera stays put. And it does it just as good as the spider holster. It does take a few seconds to disconnect the clamp to free it up. But it took that long with the holster. Check out the video I made. BTW I know its out of focus and the lighting is not great and its a greatly down sampled video….but it helps to show what I am talking about.
Well this is going to work. I am surprised that Blackrapid does not sell some fancy expensive alternative that does the same thing?
Now someone might argue that it puts the weight all on your shoulder again. Well I don’t think it is that much. I don’t notice it at all with the Canon 5DMkII and the 24-70mm f2.8 L. When I put the 70-200mm f2.8 I feel some weight but its not oppressive.
It also occurred to be me that in stead of a carabiner you could use piece of rope, or a velcro strip or a clipped wrist strap or bracelet.
Update (28Apr11) –
Some people suggested that I try the RS-7 with a Brad strap or the newer Black Rapid Sport Extreme. It had a built in stabilizer strap like their BRAD strap. So I ordered it and got it today. It is much more stable than the RS-4 and it does limit the movement of the camera to a large degree. But when I leaned over….BAM it hits me on the elbow and end up swinging about 6-12 in below my belly. While this is much better than the bare RS-4…. it is not nearly as good as my carabiner idea. The BRAD strap is also something to get used to.
Then there is the Bag
The Think Tank Lens Changer 75 Pop Down bag. It looks great. It went on the Think tank belt great. You can set it up so it slides or can be fixed in one place. But here is the problem. It looks like it is a custom fit to the 70-200mm. So it sits in the bag with a nice comfortable fit. No looseness. I go to change lenses and when I pull the lens up the bag wants to come with it. Now it is firmly attached to the belt that is TIGHT around my waist. So it does come out. But I have to get a really good grip on it when I pull it out. I also tried it with the hood on. Again it fit really nicely. And I loved it that I did not have to fumble with the lens and have to put on the hood everytime I have to change lenses. BUT with the lens hood on. Its like twice as hard to pull it out of the bag.
I am used to having another bag around my shoulder with a lens or two in it. Now with that weight you do feel it on the shoulder a bit….but its not too bad. I have a 6 million dollar crumpler. With only a couple of added lenses in this bag they are secure but have a little space between the bag wall and the partiiton (that I place in it) So its REALLY easy to pull out and put back in