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Is it time for a new camera strap?

Is it time for a new camera strap?

Most people, myself included, simply use the straps that come in the packages with their shiny new cameras. But there are other choices. I decided there must be more than being a walking billboard for Canon.

The straps included with new cameras really let everyone know which brand you are carrying. Between the two, I will give Nikon the nod for more subtle colors. Canon wins with the look-at-me award.  I’m a Canon user, sporting their bright red coloring.

These straps tend to be basic and wide enough — and did I say very basic? I have used this style of camera strap for years, so I decided it was time to try something new. Certainly over the years, technology has changed so much that there must be something new with the simple camera strap.

Picking a new strap for your camera should be simple. After hitting the local camera store and the Internet to investigate, there appear to be a number thoughts about how to build this mouse trap.

The BlackRapid R-strap, a popular newer design, lets the strap be worn diagonally across your chest. This allows you to easily bring the camera up to your eye from a resting position at your side.

It did take a little time and effort to set up the strap. But BlackRapid does have a nice tutorial on its website, giving detailed instructions. This always looks easier when you know what you’re doing. You only need to make the adjustments, and you’re ready to go.

The strap connects to the camera or lens tripod mount, making it completely different from a conventional strap.  Also, the camera hangs upside down, pointing backward at your side. Though this may seem odd at first glance, it’s very convenient  and is a comfortable way to carry your camera. I used the RS-4 strap with my Canon EOS 7D and a 70mm-200mm lens for the test.

The camera moved easily up along the strap to my eye and back down to my waist. This is really a nice way carry your camera. But I’m not sure I can get used to the strap going across my chest. I guess I’m a little too old-fashioned. BlackRapid does offer a strap with a curved, more ergonomic pad: The RS-7 looks more comfortable, but I didn’t get a chance to try it. Also featured in the catalog is a double strap made for carrying two cameras.

Since I wanted to try a new approach to carrying a camera, my next pick was the Spider Holster Black Widow. No strap at all. We are talking a about an entirely different way to handle your camera. The camera simply clips onto your belt with a pin connected to the tripod mount on your compact, micro four-thirds and lightweight DSLR cameras. For heavier cameras and lenses, Spider Holster offers a heavy-duty Spider Holster version.

Shai Eynav, president of Spider Holster, came up with idea while traveling on assignments. He decided carrying a camera around his waist would be a better way than around his neck and shoulders. He started with a weight-lifting belt cut in pieces, meshing with some welded metal. His first design was the SpiderPro holster made for professional photography equipment.

Next came the Spider Black Widow Holster. He says the Black Widow is more for serious amateurs or consumers on vacation — people who are just taking snapshots and don’t want to worry about the camera dangling around the neck. For those using the Black Widow with a DSLR, he recommends the additional Black Widow belt, pad, and quick release thin plate, which works with tripods.

The thin plate helps hold the camera in a more comfortable position with the lens pointed backward.

I used my Canon G-10 attached to the connecting tripod mount pin to the Spider Holster. Spider Holster also sells a heavy-duty Black Widow Thin Tripod Plate which gives you more support for heavier cameras and lenses and allows you to mount the camera to many tripods while keeping the pin connected, for a tight hold on the camera to your belt.

The belt clip made of stainless steel and strong plastic resin holds the camera secure, taking the pressure off your neck and back. The belt clip does have a simple locking lever which gives you more security against the camera falling out and keeps people from stealing it off your belt in a crowd. It did take a little getting used to, but it was nice not having it bounce off my shoulder. It also stayed hidden since the sweater I was wearing covered my belt.

I felt I needed to pay extra attention to how securely I was holding the camera out of the holster since there’s no strap. An additional wrist strap might have helped me.

The Spider Black Widow Holster with pin cost $49.99. Other accessories — including the Spider belt pad and thin plate — cost extra.

The UPstrap falls into the conventional camera strap category. What makes this different is the knobby grid surface of the pad. It’s made to stick to your shoulder. This may sound silly, but I found it the most important feature. My Canon strap can be tough to keep on my shoulder unless I’m thinking about it, especially if it is resting on the emblem side. It also depends on what kind of fabric you’re wearing.

The UPstrap is all stick, no slide.

UPstrap inventor Al Stegmeyer’s first design was made out of a bicycle tire tube. He affixed it to a Nikon strap for one of his first prototypes. Next he decided to make it a double-sided knobby strap. He explains:  “It’s two-sided because when you’re working the camera, the strap may flip over 180 degrees.  You can learn how to walk in your natural gate without it sliding off your shoulder. The camera stays parked there.”

“With UPstrap, it’s not a balancing act. Your body can relax and you can concentrate on shooting photographs. It’s the ultimate non-slip shoulder strap.”

Stegmeyer points out that when choosing a strap, “It’s important to remember what lenses you’re going to be using.”

The UPstrap SLR/LT large pad black Kevlar web strap cost $43. Other straps are available on their website.

Read more reviews and photography tips by Robert Lachman

8 Comments

  1. March 31, 2011, 10:07 pm

    I replaced my Nikon straps with neoprene Tamrac straps, no sense in advertising that I am carrying an expensive camera on the street, and the neoprene is much more comfortable.

  2. April 2, 2011, 5:55 am

    Upstrap has been my choice of straps for several years. They are simple and they work. I even use one on a travel valet bag that use to slide off my shoulder all the time.

    By: EdStead
  3. April 2, 2011, 8:05 pm

    Per usual Bob, you do an excellent job exploring and explaining options – I loved the video! Beautiful setting and I enjoyed actually seeing the straps in use – great idea!

    By: Kellie
  4. April 3, 2011, 11:11 am

    I went with the BlackRabid RS-4 strap (http://bit.ly/2sm5SL). The zipper-pocket on the strap was a nice bonus and comes in handy for my cards. The strap is very comfortable and took all the strain off my neck. It was well worth the purchase.

    By: nick@planetspeck.com
  5. April 3, 2011, 1:51 pm

    The best strap I've ever used is the Crumpler "Industry Disgrace" which is actually designed to fit a human shoulder and neck! I'm amazed at how many straps don't seem to take ergonomics into account. But this one distributes the weight of the camera perfectly – for those who prefer to carry their gear around their neck.

    By: panikspace
  6. April 3, 2011, 8:29 pm

    I've used the Spider Pro holster system a year now and is by far the most suited for what I shoot. Motorsports and high school sports. Highly recommend the whole system.

    By: Thaibbqs8@aol.com
  7. April 4, 2011, 11:38 am

    […] Checking out Camera Straps Check out the post on the LA Times Framework blog. […]

  8. April 23, 2011, 3:05 pm

    My fave strap is the Domke series. Black or tan with the non-slip.

    The spider looks like a disaster waiting to happen.

    By: pablo

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