Posted by: David Vernon | April 16, 2010

Straps

Blue Hour FarmingEver given any thought to changing the strap on your camera? Did you even think that was a possibility?

Well I’ll give you a bunch of reasons you might want to consider it (and one reason you may not). And none of them have to do with my strapping good looks.

(insert cricket sounds here)

Anyway… Camera straps are one of those often overlooked photography accouterments (yes I went with accouterments – that’s how I roll). If it’s doing its job then at best you ignore it. When it isn’t doing its job – and the camera is falling off your shoulder or the strap is continually twisted then you do notice it and not for the better. Believe it or not though there are vastly superior strap systems you might want to consider.

Let’s start with one reason down about strap etiquette. Most camera manufacturers provide you a free strap that advertises the brand. You get this when you unbox your camera and for the most part it goes right on and you forget about it. My Nikon straps are fine – I don’t have too many issues with them. The camera generally stays put and it doesn’t get too twisted too often. But Nikon takes their branding a step further. They actually print the model number of the camera for their high-end gear right on the strap. So now you’re essentially telling the world that you have a D3s and that folks should be jealous of your vast gear-acquiring skills. I see some downside to this. First of all it’s kind of rubbing it in and I hate you just a little for lording your D3s over me (although I can take the strap from my D300 and fold it over in such a way that it looks like I have a D3 – sadly that is also how I roll sometimes). But the real downside is this becomes an advertisement for thieves to identify just which high-end camera to steal from a distance. Canon doesn’t put the model number on their straps but still – in the on-going brand wars – well you paid all that money to advertise for them (or Nikon, or Sony, or Pentax).

Here’s a few things you might want to consider if you’ve always been uncomfortable with your strap. There are companies out there that specialize in better straps. One of the good ones is Op/Tech. I’ve got an Op/Tech strap on my heaviest piece of gear – my Pentax 67 medium-format film camera. That thing is a (lovely) beast and the Op/Tech just does everything right. I have no issues with the camera – it’s well supported, it hangs just right, and it doesn’t slip off my shoulder. A lot of folks swear by their Op/Tech straps.

There’s also a company out there that makes a strap system that is beloved by pros who shoot more then one body (and it’s perfectly valid if you just shoot one body too). The good folks at BlackRapid have invented the R-Strap. Instead of mounting to the real strap guides on the side of your body – this system uses a special mounting ring that goes in your tripod hole. It then locks to a strap system that is built for speed of access, expandability, and comfort. Check out the promo video – pretty cool system:

Finally, it you’re just about avoiding the advertisement and want to pretty up the place, then check out these very good looking straps from HighKey. Just lovely. As they say on their website: trendy, elegant, and athletic. Okay – maybe I’ve got another reason to hate on you now – for having a gorgeous strap. Quite possible. And they take it a step further too. You can download a Photoshop template from their site and design your own strap – for a very reasonable price – and it will be in your hands (and stay on your shoulder) in just a few weeks. Now that’s pretty cool (and thanks to Stacy for finding them).

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Responses

  1. Great post. A decent strap can make all the difference to your enjoyment of using a camera. When I used a DSLR I had an unbranded black neoprene strap which was very comfortable and I didn’t feel self conscious wearing it. Now that I use a Panasonic GF1, I go strapless 🙂

  2. Thanks Alan – glad you added the little smilie there at the end, you know – after the strapless comment. Left a much better image in my mind.

  3. When I first purchased the D200, I actually reversed the strap so that the D200 was on the inside for the very reasons that you list. Probably a bit silly of me, but at that point I hadn’t had a “higher” end camera and was a little paranoid. Good to know I wasn’t the only one. 🙂


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