A Better Camera Strap?
Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009 by Reed Hoffmann
Being a newspaper photographer for over twenty years has taken its toll on my neck and shoulders. I've grown to hate the weight of cameras around my neck, and am tired of trying to keep them from falling off my shoulders. One company looks like it has a good solution for me.
Last month a friend showed me a new style camera strap he was using. Made by a company in the northwest, BlackRapid (http://www.blackrapid.com) has a series of straps designed to change how we carry cameras. The basic one is called the R-Strap (latest version the RS-4) and you wear it across your chest, like a messenger bag. What makes it unique is that it connects to the camera using the tripod socket on the bottom. This lets it attach to the strap with a clip that slides, so when you want to pull the camera up to shoot, the strap doesn’t have to move. This is the best part of the design – it makes it easy to pull the camera up, since it doesn’t have to force the strap to slide around your shoulder. There’s a buckle on the strap that you can adjust so that when you drop the camera to your side it stops at the right spot. And, the connection from the strap to the body is a carabiner-style design, so it’s easy to remove from the strap. I used it to carry a D300S and 70-200 2.8 at a baseball game recently and was the most comfortable I’ve been with that kind of weight. When using one camera this will be my main strap from now on.
If you want to carry two cameras, a pair of these would mean one strap overlying the other, making it hard to use. For that they offer two solutions. The first is called the CoupleR and lets you use two of the standard straps, connected at the back. The other, my personal favorite, is called the Double Strap. There’s a bit more hardware (fabric?) to it, but ergonomically it looked more comfortable and since I regularly shoot with two cameras, that was important. I wore it a lot at the Long Island photo workshop recently, and was really pleased. Then last week I was shooting out the open door of a helicopter, and used it with a pair of cameras, D3X with 70-200 and D300S with 300 mm 2.8. Normally I would have had them tied into hard points in the helicopter, making it harder to switch cameras. With the Double Strap I had both of them in my lap, and could switch cameras easily.
I only see two drawbacks. The first is that if you want to still be able to use a traditional strap at times (and I do), then you’ll need to find something like the Domke strap that lets you remove the main section. Trying to tie a strap up to be out of the way is a pain. And secondly, The connector on the bottom ties up the tripod socket, so you have to remove it if you want to use a tripod (or add a plate that has a 1/4-20 thread hole). All in all, minor drawbacks that I’m happy to work around.
What I really want is cameras that are super-small with amazing quality, and a 10-600mm 2.8 lens that weighs less than 3 lbs :) In the meantime, I’ll continue to look for comfortable ways to carry the gear I’ve got, and that means I’ll be a customer of BlackRapid.