Photo Equipment Reviews



Father Anthony's Photo Gear

While the age old question of what is more important, the photographer or the gear is constantly asked, I intend to review some of the gear that assists me in the work I do in these various shoots.

While I think the photographer is very important, the gear that I use helps me accomplish achieving the photos I desire for all to see. I intend to periodically review this gear as I use it in the field.

A minimalist’s dream camera bag – Think Tank Photo Mirrorless Mover 25i

January 11, 2016

Over the past two years along with my complete move to micro four-thirds mirrorless gear for photography, I have become a minimalist photographer. What is a minimalist? It is a photographer that carries less gear with them and yet has enough to get the job done. But with a lot less gear being taken with me, that meant that most of my shoulder messenger style bags were HUGE and not meant for just a body and 2-3 lenses with a few minor accessories.

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Strap. Strap, who needs a camera strap? – The Spider Holster Black Widow Kit

June 21, 2014

One of the first things you find when you unpack your camera after you purchase it is a camera strap, and most photographers find the manufacturer’s camera strap to be literally a pain in the neck. Think about it, you are suspending at least an additional pound plus from your neck and that adds to fatigue and possibly pain. Add to that the various angles and positions you use your camera at and the strap is constantly going on and off your neck. Not a very practical solution. Then you have the advertising on the strap to the make and model of the camera, so why not yell out to potential thieves, "Take me!"

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Strap. Strap, who needs a camera strap? – The Spider Holster Black Widow Kit

June 21,2014





I found the Spider Holster Black Widow Kit to be a great tool for having your mirrorless camera with you and accessible while shooting.

One of the first things you find when you unpack your camera after you purchase it is a camera strap, and most photographers find the manufacturer's camera strap to be literally a pain in the neck. Think about it, you are suspending at least an additional pound plus from your neck and that adds to fatigue and possibly pain. Add to that the various angles and positions you use your camera at and the strap is constantly going on and off your neck. Not a very practical solution. Then you have the advertising on the strap to the make and model of the camera, so why not yell out to potential thieves, "Take me!"

Up until about four to five years ago there were no alternatives to this issue with camera straps. Since then a number of products have been invented, and I have tried a few. The first was a Black Rapid strap, and I was fortunate enough to have them given to me, and yes I mean plural "straps". I have had each incarnation in their line given to me by various companies and individuals as prizes or gifts. I really tried to like the Black Rapid, but in the end I wound up not using them. The strap had a number of issues that irritated me. One no matter what I could not keep the strap in a comfortable hanging position. The next since it was a sling type strap, wearing and using it with a sling bag was impossible and when I used a shoulder bag it put a lot of weight on one shoulder. I also use at least on one body, the Lowepro UltraStrap. I like it since it does not move like the Black Rapid, but I found I would take it off frequently when shooting. I also used the Lowepro Ultraplate with hand grip. Definitely an improvement for comfort and work, but not the ultimate solution when I would have to rest the camera body when not shooting.

What to do then, the manufacturer's strap was a pain, I did not like the sling straps for the reasons stated, and the hand strap was an improvement but not the solution. I then decided to look at a system that could work from a belt and yet be easily accessible. I actually started looking into that idea a little over a year ago. Nothing seemed to be jumping up at me that was comfortable and easy to use. That is until I was networking with another photographer on social media. He suggested the Spider Holster line of products. In a short time Spider Holster themselves contacted me, and after exchanging some information and reviewing their product website, I decided to purchase the Black Widow kit, since it seemed just right for a mirrorless system.

The kit arrived a few days after I ordered it, and upon opening it I found a steel pin that is screwed into the tripod mount on the camera body, a Black Widow clip that can be affixed to any belt, a Black Widow Pad to make having the camera rubbing against your hip more comfortable and a Black Widow belt. Putting all together was an easy job that took a total of five minutes. The pin was tightened in with a wrench that is supplied and can be kept in a zipper pocket in the belt. The clip is of sturdy construction yet lightweight and easy to engage. The belt was comfortable with a larger back for more support and is Velcro fastened (a rather large and strong Velcro area) that would fit most people.

Now for the field test and for that I was going to be using both my Olympus OM-D with battery grip and my Panasonic GX7. I had some concerns that the weight of the bodies would be uncomfortable on my hip, but with the Black Widow pad, I never noticed the body being uncomfortable. The bodies were able to lock into the clip and released very easily, and I never was concerned that they were at risk. The clip has a click that lets you know the body is properly secured. The belt held in place which was another concern I had. I was able to work for a few hours with the cameras coming on and off the Black Widow and was pleased by how I felt regarding the camera's security and not feeling sore or tired.

No matter what system you use, camera strap or belt system, the question of what to do when a tripod mount is required during a shoot. Well, Spider Holster has the Black Widow Thin plate which I will be ordering in the near future. From the product website it seems to be a reliable product that will allow going from the Black Widow to a camera tripod without having to remove the pin. Again, a working solution that is comfortable.

Now for the all-important question, what is the price? I ordered the Black Widow kit directly from Spider Holster's website. The cost was $65.99 less 10% they extended me for signing up for their newsletter. Not a bad price and actually less than one of the sling straps while giving a comfortable system that I can work with in just about every situation I shoot with.

I have to give this a top rating of 5 stars. I can recommend it, and if you do run into me shooting, I am sure you will find me with not only my gear, but also having my camera on a Black Widow clip from Spider Holster. For those that have larger DSLRs and other things there is the traditional Spider Holster and also some of their other accessories and that can be found also at their website which is listed below.

So for any that may be wondering what became of my collection of Black Rapid straps, well I gave them away to some photographers that think they were getting something special. I still think I have the better end of the deal.

Spider Camera Holster







Camera Hand Straps and Belt Systems Peak Design Clutch and Spider Pro Hand Straps

March 18,2015





I personally find hand straps for my cameras to give that sense of security and control when I am out shooting. See what I find with the two newest entries into the market and how they fare against each other.

Well, it is winter time and I am gearing up for the spring photographically. It has been a long and very cold winter. Not much inspiration to get out and shoot, especially since cameras and their batteries do not like the cold. So it is time for me to look at some more comfortable options for my cameras and how to carry and hold them while shooting.

As you may know by a previous review I posted, I simply love the Spider Holster Black Widow kit for my Panasonic GX7 and my Olympus OM-D E-M5. I do not intend to retract anything from that review, but will add to it in this review. But, what most are unaware of, is that I had about 2 years back purchased the Peak Design Capture Clip. I have to say that the Capture Clip has been a system in development. After stating how uncomfortable using the Capture Clip on my belt was, the team at Peak Design suggested the use of a Pro Pad would address the issue. They were right, but the heavy-duty construction of the Capture Clip system in my opinion required a larger camera system to work with. I had my E-30 which I still use from time to time but it would be a shame to dedicate the Capture Clip for that camera.

Then, last June, Samsung had a promotion at Times Square in New York City in which you could trade in an old DSLR and they would give you a new NX30 camera, no strings attached. Well a free camera, I was there and long story short, after a full day spent, I had a new Samsung NX30, a rather substantial sized new camera, which I use for personal projects.

Now with two versatile and heavy duty belt systems that are to my liking, there was still one gnawing thing that made me feel not all that secure, something that would help protect my gear in case of a bump or if my hand loses grip for some reason. That matter could be solved with a comfortable and strong hand strap.

Well, it happens that Peak Design and Spider Holster within a matter of a month designed and had on crowd funding hand straps that would go with their respective systems late last summer. Both were similarly priced for the pre-production purchase, so I decided to give both a try. I carefully reviewed the videos and the offerings from each hand strap.

The first to arrive was Peak Design’s Clutch strap. I was impressed at its feel and how fast it installed to the camera body, in this case the Samsung NX30 and integrated with the Capture Clip’s arca swiss plate. I had to make sure I had the bottom fastener called an anchor link was positioned properly, but that was a “me” issue rather than a design issue. The only concern I had was the anchor link’s construction which is plastic with cord/cable loop which affixes to the plate. The strap is otherwise strong and comfortable to use and the body felt secure on my hand using it. The strap is also adjustable for large and small hands. To me it completes the system with Capture Clip, now that I have the Pro Pad and the Clutch strap.

About two months ago, Spider Holster’s Pro Hand Strap arrived. From opening the packaging I could see a lot of thought went into the Pro strap’s design. The only negative I could find immediately, was the installation took more than the 5 minutes I expected. It was more like 15 minutes. I installed it on the Panasonic GX7 which along with the Olympus OM-D that use the Spider Holster Black Widow system. The Pro strap is more contoured for one’s hand making it very comfortable to work with along with it being easily adjustable. The Pro strap also has one additional feature that I have not seen on a hand strap to date, and that is a wrist strap attachment that is included with the strap. By using this additional wrist strap I could completely relax my hand and the body would not fall. I intend after using this strap to purchase another to put on the OM-D. I like it that much.

Both the Peak Design Clutch and Spider Pro Hand Straps are compliments to the respective systems. Because of the weight and construction of Peak Design’s Capture Clip, I would really only see it used for large cameras like DSLRs or large mirrorless cameras. The Spider Holster system I personally find to be a bit more versatile as a belt and hand system.

For a rating, I would have to give the Peak Design Clutch an overall rating of 4 stars out of five. The anchor link design concerns me as possibly having a failure due to wear when one does not want one. To remedy that though one should inspect their gear before and after each use. To be fair, they do include an extra one just in case wear shows, and additional anchor links can be purchased separately. The production price for the Clutch according to Peak Design’s website is $39.95. If you are wondering what the Capture Clip, Pro Pad, and Clutch strap will cost together, that according to their website is approximately $140.

The Spider Holster Pro strap I am going to rate 5 stars out of 5 possible stars. I find the construction, design, comfort and versatility to warrant this rating. The price for this strap is a bit more at $65 but I think it is an investment well thought out for those that are not into neck and sling straps. For those that may be curious, the Spider Holster Black Widow kit which includes the Black Widow clip along with a belt and pad along with the Pro strap the price would be approximately $130.99.

Both systems I can recommend, but as to which would be better for you to have and use depends on your gear, the environment you intend on using it in, and your personal shooting preferences. Either system to me is well worth the investment.

Peak Design

Spider Camera Holster







A minimalist’s dream camera bag – Think Tank Photo Mirrorless Mover 25i

January 11, 2016





Finally, a great bag for the Minimalist Photographer in mind. This bag I fell in love with right away and has been on several photo walks and small shoots with me.

Over the past two years along with my complete move to micro four-thirds mirrorless gear for photography, I have become a minimalist photographer. What is a minimalist? It is a photographer that carries less gear with them and yet has enough to get the job done. But with a lot less gear being taken with me, that meant that most of my shoulder messenger style bags were HUGE and not meant for just a body and 2-3 lenses with a few minor accessories.

So my search was on. Though mirrorless gear has become very popular, the bag manufacturers have not been embracing the concept enthusiastically. That does not mean there are bags for mirrorless, but I found most to be quite lacking or really poorly designed. So the search for the most part was quite frustrating.

Then towards late summer, Think Tank Photo came out with an addition to their Mirrorless Mover line of bags. When I looked at the line originally, I felt like Goldie Locks with the bags are too small or in the case of the 30 size bag no tablet pocket. But the 25i (and now the Mirrorless Mover 30i) was the right size, included the tablet pocket and had enough room for some accessories, at least according to the specifications announced.

I am not a person that can rely on just the specifications, because I am not going to sit there with a ruler and measure all my gear and see if can fit in a bag. I have to see it and actually sample pack it. That was a bit of a problem initially. Being it was announced, there is a lag time between the announcement and when it is available in actual stores. Well, towards the end of October there was the Photoplus Expo Show in New York City which I attend every year. Think Thank Photo was one of the numerous vendors that are at that show faithfully. So I messaged the company, and they stated they would have the Mirrorless Mover 25i at the show and for sale along with their entire line.

With my Lumix G7, my iPad Mini and a few lenses I went to the Think Tank Photo booth. I located the Mirrorless Mover 25i and started to sample pack it, and everything fit nicely within. The main compartment had several adjustable dividers that were flexible and fit the contours of the lenses. One divider had pockets for SD memory cards and was split or doubled to fit your phone or spare batteries. It had a specific area for an iPad Mini or 7” tablet. So the main compartment met and exceeded my expectations and requirements. Inside the main compartment cover is a see-thru zipper pocket in which I store microfiber cloths. That and the main compartment had a great zipper.

The front compartment which is also zippered with the same strong zippers fits a all weather cover, business cards, lens pen, memory card reader along with some note paper and a pen. One cool feature was a magnetic held flap that covers also the front pocket concealing it to outsiders. On the back of the bag is Velcro belt loop for those that want to attach the bag to a belt. To me, it was not a make or break on the feature, but it is nice to know it is an option for using the bag. There are expandable pockets on either side of the bag that can be used to put various things into such lens caps, small water bottles, etc. Last but not least is neck strap that has a no slip pad on it.

Now for the WOW factor for this great bag. On top of meeting and exceeding what I wanted in a bag, the price lists for $64.75! The only thing that even came close to this bag was Tenba’s DNA Messenger 8, but that bag is $25 more. With that said, I can highly recommend the Mirrorless Mover 25i. For minimalist photographers I can highly recommend Think Tank Photo Mirrorless Mover 25i.

Think Tank Photo Mirrorless Mover 25i link