As a wedding photographer, I run around a lot and need to be ready for any moment. Because the day of a shoot can always bring surprises, I have a motto of always being prepared with extras of everything. Usually this means my assistant or I lug around a bag or two with extra flashes, batteries, and other accessories. I'm always looking for things to help me smooth out my work flow and make any wedding day easier to handle. So, when Spider Camera Holster released their new Spider Monkey for camera accessories at WPPI 2013, I was eager to try them out.
Spider Camera Holsters have had a good reputation of keeping your equipment accessible without hampering your movement or comfort throughout the day. If you don't mind having the “utility belt” look in front of your clients, Spider's easy clip on system allows you to keep your primary or extra camera at waist height without having to worry about them falling and breaking. The newest addition to the Spider group, the Spider Monkey offers the same concept as its predecessors. Instead of keeping a camera, the Spider Monkey is designed for some of your smaller pieces of equipment, such as extra flashes, light meters, and other accessories.
Upon receiving the Spider Monkey, I was pleased to find it was just as light and simple to use as other Spider devices. The first part that makes up the Spider Monkey is the belt clip. The clip is made out of sturdy plastic with a spring held clamp system to hold it in place. By squeezing on end of the clip, it opens to snap on or take it off of your belt. I appreciated that the clip is not exclusive to the spider belts that are sold. The clip can be attached to just about any belt I would wear to a wedding.
The other part of the Spider Monkey that secures your accessories is a Velcro strap with the Monkey Tab locking device. The strap is only about an inch wide but is about a foot in length giving plenty of room to fit around any small flash or other accessory. The Monkey Tab is secured to your accessory using a strong sticky tab. When I first saw the tab, I immediately grew skeptical. I live in Charleston which usually is a very humid place. I've had one too many pictures fall off my wall because sticky tabs gave way to moisture. To Spider's credit, the sticky tab has a fairly big surface area and seems to hold to the plastics of flashes particularly well. After sticking it on my flash, it didn't want to budge at all. To confirm it's security, I jogged around with it and let the flash bounce around a bit. Both the lock and tab held very firmly. Though this leaves me great piece of mind that my equipment will remain secure, it also means that once a tab is in place there's no swapping it around. In order to attach any given accessory to your clip, each device needs to have a separate Monkey Tab.
One downside to most Spider gear is the price. While their camera holsters offer great security, a single camera holster system is around $135. Not so with the Spider Monkey. I was pretty surprised to see that a complete single clip only costs $17. While each accessory you want to attach needs a separate Monkey Tab, sets of three can be purchased for $10 more.
What I Liked:
Versatility of use for any given accessory
Easy to clip and unclip an accessory into and out of the lock
Can be attached to any belt
Security of locking mechanism
Security of sticky tab
What I Wasn't Fond of:
Once a Monkey Tab is attached, it cannot be transferred
The Spider Monkey is an excellent simple device that can hold a wide range camera accessories securely at your side. The simple clip in and out system allows you to keep more pieces of equipment available without having to carry around extra bags. It can greatly enhance work flow in a fast paced work environment.