I have a bit of a thing about simple design. My appreciation for products that function to solve a single problem perfectly is something I think I’ve mentioned a fair few times on this blog. The problem in question here is how to attach a camera to a belt. The elegant solution to the problem is the Scarabaeus.
Once in a while, someone will get in touch asking me if I would like to try their “thing” for a review on this website. I don’t get that many offers like this, and the ones I do get, I am quite selective about. The things I agree to be sent to me – or indeed ask to have sent to me – are usually things that I am specifically interested in, or I feel will in some way enrich my life. In the case of the Scarabaeus, I must admit I was drawn into the idea on much more shallow terms. Adrian got in touch to ask me if I might like to try one, I clicked the link, and the first picture I saw on his website was a Leica M3…
The product photo on the home page of his website showed this M3 neatly clipped to the belt of its owner. I guess because I’m so familiar with the M3 both in terms of its weight and size I was intrigued as to how this clip works. On face value, it looked as though it meant having some great big metal thing hanging off the bottom of your camera when in use. A couple of clicks into the website and I could see that this wasn’t the case. In fact, it looked as though it solved the belt clip problem very neatly indeed.
The trick to the Scarabaeus is the fact that it comes in two parts.
The smaller unobtrusive part screws into the tripod mount of your camera using a countersunk Allen bolt.
The Allen key for fixing comes included in the box. This part is made of a strip of metal with a hard but very grippy bit of material fixed to the side that interfaces with the camera.
Hand tighten the Allen bolt and this bit of metal will not shift from its position on the bottom of the camera. Thanks to the grippy pad, you have to loosen it a good deal before its movable – I must admit, given the nature of the product, I found this reassuring.
The second part is where the clever design is found. The back part of it is a strong metal clip that hangs onto your belt. The front part is hinged. In one state – when the camera is not connected – the hinge allows you to close the Scarabaeus flush to your belt. In the closed state, it’s very unobtrusive. There have in fact been a couple of days when I’ve left it clipped to my belt and forgotten it was there.
When you want to clip the camera to it, you unfold it, pull up the locking latch on the top slot the camera in, then close the latch. Once latched in place it feels very strongly attached.
I posted a picture of this on Instagram and Facebook the other day – a couple of people commented that they thought I was brave hanging my M9 from my belt. Honestly, I don’t think I am brave using the Scarabaeus – I’m not sure how it could feel any stronger. It’s made out of what appears to be steel, the belt clip is a tight fit and the latch for holding the camera in place clicks closed and is designed in a way that no amount of move to from the camera could possibly dislodge it.
I literally jumped up and down on the spot in the office to test it the day I got it – it didn’t budge, the camera stayed safe. Since then, I’ve used it for a couple of long events where I have been running around for a good few hours. There was a 5-12 midnight event with the Leica hanging off it, and more recently I’ve shot a 10 hour wedding shoot with a Sony A7s hanging off it. On both occasions, it worked very well and actually made a good partner to the Camslinger bag I use for these sorts of jobs now. In short, I don’t have any concerns about it letting go of the camera.
A potential issue
That being said, it does introduce one potential issue. You do get the sense that it might leave the camera open to being knocked on something waist height as you walk past. I was on a job the other day taking photos for a company that makes windows and doors. There were a lot of work benches and trestles about the place and on two occasions I nearly bashed the camera. Nearly. But, I am a clumsy person by reputation, so this might just be me.
But, I am a clumsy person by reputation, so this might just be me and to be fair, once you get used to it, you develop a bit of a habit of more frequently walking sideways through what might look like spaces that could see the camera getting knocked. At the wedding I did with it – perhaps encouraged by the fact that I had a bag on the other hip – my small gap walking became a subconsciously sideways thing that I caught myself doing a few times.
My only real complaint
This all said I do have one complaint. Though, this is again something that’s more likely more unique to me than the “normal” photographer. Many photographers have one camera – I don’t, I have many. Having many cameras means swapping the Scarabaeus from camera to camera, and sometimes taking it off the camera altogether.
The problem with taking it off the camera is that there lacks a means of storage for the Allen bolt. The bottom plate slots into the Scarabaeus, but the bolt has the potential to fall out of the hole. I mention this mainly as after thinking I was clever by trapping the bolt in side the Scarabaeus for storage in my bag, the bolt worked its way free and made its way underneath some padding in my bag. I thought I’d lost it, and had to pull the bag apart to retrieve it (though I did also find a pound in there whilst I was searching).
Skip to the end
I like the Scarabaeus a lot. It’s a lovely bit of German engineering. It’s not cheap, but I haven’t picked up on this point in the review as I think if you’re going to attach a Leica (for e.g.) to your belt, you wanna be damn certain it ain’t going to fall off. The Scarabaeus gave me that confidence from the moment I touched it – and to my mind that alone justifies its value! Admittedly, you do have to think about walking sideways more in tighter gaps, but that’s probably a given for any product on the market that fixed either a camera or a lens to your belt, so I feel I can let it off that too. I can even nearly let it off the lack of storage solution for the bolt when it’s not in use – as being fair that’s as much my issue of multiple cameras as it is an issue with the product itself.
In short, if you have any desire to fix a camera to your belt, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the very well (German) engineered Scarabaeus!