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One of the most useful photo and video accessories you can buy is a magic arm. Magic arms attach microphones to boom poles, monitors to camera rigs, lights to cameras, then bend, flex, and lock in place.
Or at least that’s how magic arms are supposed to work. There are plenty of cheap magic arms out there that aren’t built well or strong enough to hold much of anything (I’ve been burned by a couple of bad arms in the past). A good magic arm uses quality materials, is built to withstand constant use, and stays upright and in position when locked.
In this review, I’ll be testing out three Spider Crab magic arms made by iFootage: the Spider Crab MA 5-6, Spider Crab MA 3-4, and Spider Crab LT 2-3.5. All arms carry a maximum payload of 14.5 pounds / 6.6 kilograms, and are offered in different arm lengths and configurations.
Disclosure: iFootage provided me with all of the Spider Crabs featured in this review. iFootage has not had any editorial input, nor have they read this post prior to publication.
Spider Crab MA 3-4 / MA 5-6
The Spider Crab MA arms feature two quick release heads, one at the end of each arm. Each head has a 1/4″ male thread wrapped with a spring-loaded 3/8″ male thread to support female threads of either diameter.
The Spider Crab MA’s quick release heads are detachable; allowing independent mounting and un-mounting from either end of the arm. Accessories may then be added and removed without unscrewing the entire arm. The arm itself may also be quickly detached and reattached.
The heads detach by opening the red “iFootage” latch, pressing a security unlock button, then pulling the head out. Each head has an integrated red handle on the bottom that folds-out for tightening, then folds-in when not in use. The heads are exactly the same at both ends, so they may be used interchangeably.
Each Spider Crab MA arm include a single hot shoe adapter. This adapter attaches to one of the quick release heads for mounting the arm to a hot/cold shoe mount on a camera, cage or rig.
Spider Crab LT 2-3.5
The Spider Crab LT magic arms provide the same basic functionality as the MA arms, but are smaller and more specialized.
The main difference is with their head design. LT magic arms do not use quick release heads. Instead, LT arms offer a fixed cold shoe mount at one end, and a fixed 1/4″ thread with red locking wheel at the other. The LT arm stems are also shorter.
Tip: The LT shoe mount may be unscrewed and removed from the Spider Crab arm (revealing a 1/4" stainless steel thread).
Spider Crab LT arms are intended to be used when mounting hardware close to a camera body, cage or rig. Their relatively short length and mount design is more well-suited for monitors, microphones and lights.
Construction and build quality
Compared to cheaper magic arms I’ve used (and broken), the iFootage Spider Crabs are durable and well constructed. No plastic here. Everything is made from solid aircraft grade aluminum and stainless steel — the latter of which is used right where it counts in the elbow joint and ball heads.
These are also the first magic arms I’ve used that actually hold and position accessories exactly where I want them. Lock the arms in place, and they stay put. No drooping, sagging or falling.
As long as you keep your payload within reason (7 pounds / 15 kilos or less), the Spider Crabs will be strong enough to suit your needs.
Which Spider Crab should you buy?
The Spider Crab MA and LT arms offer similar functionality and quality, but the MA arms offer support for more types of accessories through their combined 1/4″ and 3/8″ thread mounts. If you plan on using the arms with a variety of accessories, the MA arms offer the greatest flexibility and widest range of use cases.
That said, the LT arms are also excellent when used on-camera. For example, mounting an HDMI monitor (like the Atomos Ninja V) to a camera cage or shoe mount. The arms are shorter (so hardware doesn’t stick out as much), and their 1/4″ joint controls allow accessories to be quickly rotated and locked without loosening the elbow lock.
Overall, the Spider Crabs are exceptionally constructed, durable, and highly configurable.
More information about the iFootage Spider Crab
For more information and to check current prices, click the buttons below.
Note: If you purchase the Spider Crabs directly from iFootage, you should see special coupon (from me) at bottom-right on their website.
Below is the video version of this review from my YouTube channel.