I tried to lay the foundation for this review in my Wotancraft Ryker (S) review. To me, the Ryker (S) and the Python will always be inextricably linked. Although I have not used them simultaneously, they have both featured heavily in my recent minimal setup.
Before I continue I should probably preface this post with a little background -
Firstly, wrist straps have always been my preference. Typically when using a pair of Leica rangefinders I’d either have a wrist strap on both if I’m taking a bag. Or, if I’m leaving the bag behind, I’d go with a wrist strap on one and a neck/shoulder strap on the other.
I don’t have a great record with neck straps, there was the time I lost a Contax 645 and 80/2 off the side of a bridge because I didn’t have the strap around my neck or even my wrist. Instead I left it hanging and it snagged, resulting in the camera being tugged from my grip. Alas, it was lost to the sea, dark days indeed…….After that, well I was more disciplined with neck/shoulder straps, I had to be!!! Truth is though, I’ve never found them comfortable. Looking at the Wotancraft Python I saw it as a way out of neck/shoulder straps. The camera is secured in the Python, your expensive camera is no longer hanging loosely, rubbing on your neck or slipping off your shoulder. Plus, the big added bonus is you still use a wrist strap.
The Wotancraft Python - Full Leather Holster is primarily aimed at the current digital Leica M cameras.
Ultimately, the biggest potential obstacle to me bonding with and getting the most out of the Python wasn’t necessarily the camera I used it with. It was more about wether I’d feel self conscious wearing a design that I associate less with cameras and more with guns. I needn’t have worried, after the first couple of times using it and seeing the benefits I forgot all about people thinking I was NZ’s worst undercover cop….
Package Contents Include
Camera holster x1
Cotton dustproof bag x1
Vegetable tanned pebble grain cowhide
Vegetable tanned 2-tone cowhide
Ultra-strength bonded Nylon 6,6 thread
Hypalon ® lining (lens cap slot)
High-strength zinc alloy & brass hardware
Latex foam padding
Weight: ± 0.3 kg
Cushion padding to make up for the thickness difference among Leica M versions
Adjustable shoulder strap length
Leather lens cap slot with anti-slippery Hypalon ® lining
I think it’s important to acknowledge that there really isn’t a right or wrong way to go about using a holster, shoulder straps, neck traps, wrist straps, one camera or two cameras simultaneously. There’s really only the way that works for you!! What can be logical and straightforward to me, may indeed seem like a pain in the backside to you….and vice versa. I’m utilising the Python in a two camera setup, you may use it with a lone camera, you may never even take it out of the holster. It’s all about personal preference. Indeed, it may seem excessive to some that I’ve effectively used the Python to replace a camera strap but I think it’s made things a little easier when I’m out and about and that’s never bad.
As with the new Wotancraft Ryker (S) the Python comes in two finishes: Black with Coffee Brown Accent was my choice, to coordinate with my Ryker (S). Essentially, the visible elements of the Python (excluding the adjustable strap) are black pebble grain cowhide and the reverse side is brown two tone cowhide. Alternately, if you want to be a little bit more adventurous than me with your colour choices it is available in a Safari Green with Coffee Brown Accent.
There is, what I’d describe as a “range of wearability” with the Python. Maybe more than you’d think although it may vary slightly depending on your build!!! As I see it, the Python can be worn slightly to the side at waist hight. More centrally, just below the Sternum and anywhere in-between the two. It almost follows an arc along your bottom rib line. I wear it roughly a third of the distance in from the waist position.
Wherever you decide to wear it, there’s one big advantage of the Python over a regular shoulder strap. The camera is within your body profile not outside it. To this end the camera is less vulnerable to knocks against objects you walk or squeeze past. It’s also more secure if you find yourself in areas where your cameras security is at risk. Another advantage, plain and simple, the camera is just more accessible than one in a camera bag and maybe even one hung on your shoulder. Obviously, these advantages are more pronounced if you regularly use two cameras at the same time. Worrying about what’s happening to the camera hanging off my shoulder while I’m looking through the viewfinder of another camera has been an distraction in the past.
There is merit in utilising the Wotancraft Phython into a “discreet’ street shooting style. It’s possible, if you wish, to operate the camera shutter, lens aperture and focus with the camera secured inside the holster. Certainly, if this kind of operation allows you to capture images you wouldn’t normally feel comfortable taking then that can only be a positive thing. Personally, I say its much better to work on pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. After all, rejection only hurts the first couple of times…I’m fortunate to live in a part of the world where people are generally amongst the friendliest you’ll find anywhere. What’s more, I actually really enjoy those interactions with strangers, almost as much as the photography itself. Maybe, for some people the Wotancraft Python can be that intermediate step in making this transition? I haven’t used the Python in this way because I’m happy enough asking or just taking a shot in the street, maybe I’ll give it a go and see what I can come up with.
I’ve been shooting two cameras simultaneously a lot recently, one colour & one B&W at a ratio of about 3:1 in favour of B&W. Therefore, with the colour designated Leica secured in the holster and the B&W designated Leica to hand via a wrist strap I’ve got along extremely well with the Wotancraft Python. When the need has arisen to use the Python secured camera I have simply released the camera in my right hand to hang via the wrist strap. Withdrawn the Python mounted camera, taken my shot and inserted it back in to the holster with the minimum amount of fuss.
When withdrawing the camera from the Wotancraft Python and inserting it I secure it with the left hand first. I maybe expected the Python to move around a little more than it does. Walking, bending, twisting etc I was pleasantly surprised by how well behaved it was. I guess it’s possible that body shape could have a bearing on that characteristic.
We’re approaching Summer here, it’s actually been a little bit warmer than usual, 24-25’ at times and I’ve found myself getting a little sweaty under the leather holster. It’s not a major and it’s certainly not unusual to get a bit of a sweat on when walking the streets.
Below: Wotancraft have incorporated a pad into the rear of the Python, this builds in an amount of tolerance for Leica Cameras of varying thickness.
Below: The nylon strap is adjustable to ensure you can tweak the fit of the Python more accurately to your torso shape.
Below: Everything you’ve come to expect from Wotancraft in terms of quality is present in the Python. Top grade leather complimented with robust fixtures. The design is minimal yet stylish and as one would expect there’s nothing superfluous about it. There is a lens cap slot stitched in to the strap above the camera holster. The inside of this is lined with Hypalon to increase grip. It’s a nice little touch and typical of the Wotancraft attention to detail. That said, I have a well established habit of putting my lens caps in a certain pocket. When you get to my age it becomes slightly more difficult to condition your brain into consistent patterns of behaviour. So, when you’ve established one you’re reluctant to break it!!
Unofficial Guide to the Wotancraft Python with Film Leica’s.
Important Note: The Python Holster was designed for use with the latest digital Leica M Cameras. I do still own a couple of digital Leica M’s but as I’ve never managed to move on from the look of CCD sensors I’m still attached for all time to my M9 and the original M Monochrom. They do, as you’d expect both fit the holster perfectly well. I have shot both recently while using the Python but when editing my images I found myself recreating a film look…….so I set them aside. In line with my current desire to shoot anaIogue I decided it would be interesting to see how the Python handles various film Leica’s.
Everything I’ve discussed thus far on the Wotancraft Python is relevant to it’s use with Digital M Leica’s. So, what follows here is a little more insight in to the fit of various film Leica’s with the Python, unofficially of course.
If it’s your intention to use the Python as a “discreet” street shooting aid with a film Leica then you’ll need to remove the camera from the holster on each shutter actuation in order to advance the film winder.
I’ve always been a creature of habit whenever I’ve bought myself a film Leica.
1) Buy camera, 2) buy wrist strap, 3) buy soft release and 4) buy half case. On top of that I have 2-3 Neck Straps that I swap around depending on what, how and where I’ll be shooting. I like the idea of my M’s being in a half case, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever shot them without it. Almost instinctively, the first thing I thought about was, did the Python have the ability to hold my Film M in it’s half case? This way the camera still had a level of protection when in the hand.
With that in mind I’ve tested the Wotancraft Python “fit” with a selection of Film Leica’s, with half case and without. This can never be a definitive guide, there are numerous manufacturers of half case, so many leather grades and camera variants. However, as I use the same fairly inexpensive and common half case make with all my M’s I thought I’d at least show the results.
The following Film Cameras will fit the Python without a half case.
Leica M2, Leica M3, Leica M4, Leica M4-P, Leica M5, Leica M6, Leica M7, Leica MP
The following Film Cameras should fit the Python in a half case with a leather thickness of 2.5mm or less.
Leica M2, Leica M3, Leica M4, Leica M4-P, Leica M6, Leica M7
Note: This is not the target market for this version of the Python. Maybe in future there could be a specific film Leica version but for anyone keen to try it there are some considerations. Firstly if we say the fit of the digital Leica’s is perfect, the fit of a film Leica without case is a little loser, still safe and within the realms of acceptability to me but something you should know. Likewise, with the half case the film Leica is a little tighter, again still acceptable to me.
Secondly, with no half case the lens may rest on the lens opening of the Python, I’ve seen no wear on either lens or holster but its a something to be aware of.
Lastly, when inserting the film camera into the holster you should pay attention to the film winder, there’s plenty of room but it could catch.
Below: Leica M4 in Half Case - The film M’s are slimmer than their digital counterparts. This permits the use of a half case. The fit is snug but I’m confident it will only get better with continued use.
The Wotancraft Python is a classic example of why it pays to keep an open mind. In all honesty, that’s not something that comes easy to me. I am, if nothing else, a creature of habit, what’s more I’m a sceptic at heart. Obviously, I was keen to try the Python and of course I hoped I’d like it. But, deep down I wasn’t convinced I would…..so??
Well, I have to say I’m a convert!!! As a replacement for a neck/shoulder strap the Python wins hands down for me. At times it’s certainly been a huge benefit having that second camera more accessible than one in a bag.
I’ll continue to use and update this post with any further thoughts.
Price: The New Wotancraft Python retails at US$209
Shipping: Free International Shipping
Warranty: Wotancraft offers a 3-year Free Repair Warranty, given intended use with shipping fee paid by the sender.
Local Taxes: Painful I know but please check as the buyer is responsible.
For full details on all of the above please refer to the official Wotancraft Website.