Carrying around a camera can hurt! No, seriously. When I was first getting into photography, the cameras were heavy and the straps were uncomfortable and virtually worthless. Those thin leather straps could really bite into my neck and shoulders with a large camera rig attached.
As these pieces of kits are so valuable to my photography, I have researched and revived what I believe are 5 of the best camera holsters on the market!
How a camera holster can benefit your photography
Neck straps, hand grips, slings, and other options exist for our camera carrying comfort. One of the more comfortable options are camera holsters.
Just a like quick draw gunslinger in movies about the Old West would use a holster. A quick draw photographer with the most modern equipment can benefit from a holster. But what types of photography are suitable for a camera holster?
- Sports Photography: In sports photography, having a camera ready to go at a moment’s notice may make the difference between getting the image or not. If using two cameras, using a camera holster allows us to keep a long lens on one camera, and a shorter zoom lens on another. Thus, being ready for action close up or some distance away.
- Nature Photography: Similar needs relate to imaging in the wilds of nature. Especially while hiking or backpacking. Having a camera safely attached and ready to go is a big plus. Either a single camera, or another multi camera rig. For a single camera, not needing to worry about a heavy camera and lens swinging around from our neck or shoulder, but still ready to shoot as needed, is a good opportunity to use a camera holster.
- Wedding Photography: Again, I’m imagining a two-camera scenario. One camera with a long, fast zoom, the other with a shorter lens, maybe a prime. Also, one camera set up for still imaging, the other filming video.
- Vacation, Touring Photography: Another great opportunity for a single camera, perhaps with an all-in-one lens attached. With a holster, we’re far less likely to set our camera down, which opens us up to possible loss, either by theft or our own careless forgetfulness. Using one of the best camera holsters in this type of situation can really save our neck or shoulder from unnecessary pain. After all, we may be walking around for a fair length of time, looking for all the good stuff!
- Studio Portraiture, Fashion Photography: Work with me, here. Yeah, that’s the look! Again, I’m envisioning a two-camera operation. One on a tripod, perhaps remote controlled. The other ready for quick candids or a different view. One camera operation could be for environmental portraiture or any other on location job.
How I found the best camera holsters
After my own experience with camera holsters and using multiple brands, I have come to a list of things that I always look out for. Below are the things I always try and find in a good camera holster.
- Weight is a major consideration for me. Having used other belts, such as a tool belt, I know the extra weight of a heavy tool belt can really tire out a person. Since some of my cameras and lenses can be rather large themselves, I don’t want to add too much extra burden.
- Size is closely related to weight. A large mount can overwhelm a compact camera, but a mount that is too small may not up to the task of securely holding a larger camera.
- Mount types tend to come two basic configurations. A quick release mounting plate that fits into a receiver, just like on a tripod. Or, a pin that slides into a receptacle. Both are fine, but I will admit that I prefer the pin type of mount. It is more comfortable when squatting, sitting, bending, etc…
- Waist Size needs to be very adjustable. Besides the honest truth that we all come in different sizes, we also may wear the belt on the outside of bulky winter clothes. Sports, wildlife, and other nature photographers are all nodding in agreement with me. Thanks for your support.
- Functionality may be my most important criteria. If it doesn’t do the job, what good is it, right?
Top 5 Best Camera Holsters For Serious Photographers!
1. Spider Holster SpiderPro Single Camera System (SCS) Review (Best Tested)
Coming in first on my list is the mighty SpriderPro holster which has quickly become my favourite piece of gear. I no longer have to worry about neck burn from all those pesky nylon straps.
Let’s go through how you use it. Attaching the mount to my Canon 80D was very straightforward using the 1/4″ thread. It fits many current cameras as well. I feel like this unit would feel right at home on a full frame DSLR with an accessory battery pack and long zoom, or an APS-C mirrorless ILC with a pancake lens.
A pin is attached to the bottom of the mount. I slide the pin into the slot on the belt and let it slide down to the bottom. A locking mechanism keeps the camera from bouncing out during the most extreme movement. It’s not likely that a camera would work its way out of the slot in the first place, but having the lock gives an extra measure of security.
Besides security, comfort is one of the better features of this holster that I noticed. The belt of this holster has enough padding and width so that it feels like it’s barely even there. Where the camera rests against your hip is stiff enough to keep from digging into your body. It distributed the weight of my large camera evenly across my waist and hips.
Waist size is adjustable from about 28” to 50” or so, making it usable for a wide variety of waist sizes. I dressed up in my winter hiking clothing and gear and the holster fit nicely over it. I then changed clothes into summer weight garments and the belt felt comfortable with that, too.
About the only thing keeping me from ending this article right now is the price point of this holster. It’s somewhat pricey for a strap, but not too much more than some slings I’ve reviewed. For what it does, I can heartily recommend this as one of the best cameras holsters on the market.
2. Peak Design Capture Camera Clip V3 (with Plate) Review
Next up on my list is a holster by Peak Design that attaches to an existing belt. Since it fits on a belt you already have, or maybe a strap, this clip has a great price.
Using your own belt or strap also means that there is no limit to waist size, big or small, that will work with this holster. Another point of attachment could be a backpack strap or even some heavy duty webbed suspenders. Since it’s cheap enough, two or more could easily be utilized for different cameras.
One of the interesting things about this holster is that it uses an Arca Swiss compatible quick release plate. What this means is that a photographer can transition from the holster to a tripod and back again. It also means that you could have several different cameras mounted up and ready to go. Does it seem like we’re back to talking about Western movies again?
One of the things that makes this clip a shoe in for the best camera holsters list is the fast lens change capability when using it. Your camera can lock into clip in four directions, enabling easier lens changes. A photographer can speed up lens changes even more with the lens kit that is sold separately.
I thought of modifying the longer screws with a grinder or hack saw, but the material they are made of is pretty strong. I actually liked that, made me realize how high the quality of construction is on this holster.
I would consider this one of the best camera holsters for photographers needing a lot of versatile mounting options.
3. Spider Holster Black Widow Belt Kit Review
For small to medium size cameras, this holster from Spider Holster is a great option. Pricing is almost half of the cost of the above SpiderPro holster.
A pretty good idea, I thought. I think this holster would be a great idea for a vacationing photographer with an APS-C format DSLR or mirrorless ILC, or any of the Micro 4/3rds format cameras. Perhaps with an all-in-one zoom lens. With this camera holster, a touring photographer can roam around looking for all the good spots, all the while keeping the camera rig at the ready and relatively secure.
One of the advantages of a camera holster over a strap is that the camera does not slide all over the place when you move around or sit down. It is always snug against the hip and helps a photographer feel secure that the camera is not banging around.
While being very secure, the pin on the mount rotates the camera conveniently when you sit down. Which keeps the camera from bouncing all over the place like a strapped product might. An active photographer will keep the camera from hitting a chair or wall or fence post when using a camera holster.
Spider Holster’s Black Widow belt kit is very comfortable when used within its size limitations. Quality is top notch and the price is very attractive for such a versatile camera holster.
4. Spider Camera Holster SpiderLight Single Camera System Review
Any photographer using a mirrorless system should consider this holster. It’s a very heavy duty camera holster with a slimmer belt than the SpiderPro. It is about as expensive as the SpiderPro, but the reason is pretty clear when you take a good look at it.
Spider Holster also make a variety of accessories for their holsters, such as lens pouches of different sizes for carrying extra lenses. They are also very secure and easy to use, just like the camera mount itself. Since the belt is slimmer, it might not be as comfortable to wear with a camera and extra lenses.
Even though the mirrorless cameras are generally smaller and lighter, many of the lenses are just as big and heavy as comparable DLSR lenses for full frame.
Taking into consideration possible comfort issues, for anyone using mirrorless cameras, this belt and mount kit is one of the best camera holsters.
5. Movo MB800 Camera Holster Belt System with Quick-Release Mounting Plate Review
Another Arca quick release camera holster, this is very attractively priced. Its belt is adjustable up to around 50” and is nicely padded for comfort.
Padding was not as thick as some other holsters, but I thought it was adequate for all but the heaviest cameras. An APS-C format camera, even a pro or prosumer model, would fit nicely with this holster. The camera pad is also a little small and thin, but it still does an adequate job.
For the price, I can easily recommend this as one of the best camera holsters for small to medium size cameras.
I really did feel like a cowboy when I started testing for the best camera holsters, but I soon got over it. After a while, I found myself thinking that I may not always need to carry my camera, and maybe some lighter accessory gear, with bags or straps. The best camera holsters are excellent options for active photographer.
If you want to make the best of you Canon camera, you can check out my guide on the best accessories for Canon 80D cameras. Number 4 is my personal favourite!