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Gear & Apps

Which Camera Strap is Right for You?

By Tanya Goodall Smith on June 2nd 2015

Welcome to Time Out with Tanya, where I’ve put my fast paced graphic design career on hold in favor of adventures in motherhood. I’m capturing every moment on camera, and you can come along if you’d like. Sign up for my weekly email here, so you’ll never miss a Time Out.

I’ll never forget the first wedding I photographed as a second shooter. I was only there for about 8 hours and by the end I had a killer, killer migraine. It took a couple days to recover, and I was like, “Wow, maybe weddings are not for me.” I actually ended up having to go to my chiropractor because my neck was so stiff. He recommended I try a different camera strap. I had been using the standard neck strap that came with my camera and my neck just couldn’t take the weight for all those hours.

[Free Tutorial: How to Pose Couples, Brides and More]

I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect camera strap ever since and have discovered there are so many different types that work for different types of photographers. Here’s the bulk of my research. You can decide for yourself which one is right for you.

Kit Neck Strap

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This is the strap that typically comes in every DSLR camera kit. It usually features the brand name of the camera and is made of a durable synthetic material. There’s nothing wrong with this strap, and it’s what I used for years as a hobbyist. If this strap is working for you, why spend money on a new one????

Decorative or Artisan Neck Strap

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From one fashionista to another, I’ll admit decorative, and artisan leather camera straps make me drool. Brands like Capturing Couture and Artisan & Artist offer well made, beautiful camera straps from materials like leather, silk, scarves, knit cloth, etc. I’ve refrained from buying them, though because I’m not 100% sure of the functionality of these straps.

If you’re a hobbyist or photographer who does short shoots every once in awhile, these are worth checking out. Or, if you use a rangefinder or micro 4/3 camera, these would be great. For hard-core, full day shooting with a heavy DSLR, I would consider other options or at least thoroughly test these straps before you buy. Make sure you check out the return policy.

Sling Strap

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The Sling Strap is actually what my Chiropractor recommended for full day shooting, and he made sure I promised I would use the strap equally on both shoulders throughout the day. After asking my local wedding photographer friends, many recommended the BlackRapid Sling Strap, so I went with that. The fact that they have one designed specifically for women appealed to me. I used it for awhile, and it was, in fact, 100x better than using my plain old neck strap.

I had some issues with this particular strap, though. I didn’t like the fact that my camera was swinging around by my hip, sometimes banging into things. Plus, a few of my friends had experienced major damage to their camera or lens when the strap came undone unexpectedly. Yikes! It was still causing strain on my neck, too. After awhile I started ditching the strap and going without any strap at all. For one nicknamed “Butterfingers,” this was not a good idea.

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I came across the Peak Design Slide strap at WPPI in March, and they let me take one home (yay!). I was skeptical because I just didn’t see how it would be much different from the Black Rapid Sling strap. I did like the fact that you can use this one as a neck strap, sling strap or shoulder strap (versatility is good!).

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After using it for a few months now, I’m in love. It’s comfortable on my shoulder and easy to adjust. Instead of swinging by my hip, I can slide my camera around to the back and have it nestle there nicely. It’s sturdy and firmly attaches to my camera. I’ll keep it!

Hand Strap

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Peak Design let me test out a hand strap, too. I honestly thought this would be the best solution for me since it takes the strain off the shoulders, so I was surprised that I didn’t really like it. I found I missed having my hands free when posing or moving lighting around. Especially when working with kids, I need to have my hands available and setting my camera down on the floor was not a great solution.

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For someone who has an assistant for lighting and posing or is doing street photography, I think a hand strap would be fantastic. There are various brands available at different price points. I’ve heard great things about the Spider Pro Hand Strap (check out a full review by clicking here).

Wrist Strap

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For small point and shoot or lighter weight cameras, I love a wrist strap. Peak Design Cuff is actually designed to hold up to 100 pounds! So you could technically use it with your DSLR. I like that it’s a thicker strap than most, easily adjustable and secure on the wrist (remember the Butterfingers?)

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The nice thing about wrist straps is that they can be a more affordable option to keep your camera secure. The Joby DSLR wrist strap is just over $10. There are also options available for keeping your waterproof point and shoot cameras afloat, like the Ruggard Floating Wrist Strap for only $4.99!

Double Camera Strap

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Photo courtesy of Jay Cassario

Hard-core wedding photographers who shoot with two camera bodies during a full day of shooting need a heavy duty solution for carrying around all that weight. A double camera strap is one option. I haven’t tried one myself, but I know several photographers who swear by them. Various brands manufacture them. I’ve heard great things about the various models made by Blackrapid, and this one called the Moneymaker by Holdfast looks super sexy on Jay, don’t you think?

Holster

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A holster style, like the Spyder Pro Holster, has caught my eye recently. I’ve seen Photographers like Sue Bryce and David Beckstead use them in person and they seem super handy. If you need to have your hands free but keep your camera securely tucked by your side for easy access and get the weight off your shoulders, this seems the way to go. You can even use two, one on each hip.

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Check out these full reviews of the Spyder Pro Holster:
SPIDER CAMERA HOLSTER REVIEW
THOUGHTS ON THE NEW SPIDER CAMERA HOLSTER ACCESSORIES | SPIDER MONKEY & SPIDERPRO LENS BAG

Which camera strap type do you use? Which do you want to try out? Don’t forget to enter our Peak Design Giveaway for a chance to win a Slide, Clutch and Capture Pro bundle! Hurry, the giveaway ends soon.

Tanya Goodall Smith is the owner, brand strategist and commercial photographer at WorkStory Corporate Photography in Spokane, Washington. WorkStory creates visual communications that make your brand irresistible to your target market. Join the stock photo rebellion at workstoryphotography.com.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Abigail Odom

    My right thumb is actually broken and doctors have said there’s nothing I can really do to help it and that I’ll have to live with the pain (yeah still fighting that one). I have found to have good hand support I absolutely must use a hand strap. I tried without and after 10 minutes of shooting my thumb was shot. But I love having hands free and so I use my hand strap and have a neck strap connected as well. That way when I’m shooting I have the thumb support but when I want hands free I just drop the camera for posing and adjusting lighting and stuff. It actually works surprisingly well!

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  2. Aakash Sohani

    Nice post and it is helpful too.
    SNAPSNAP is also designed for photographers and wanderers. Try it once.. Get more details about it at BETAPAGE.

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  3. Mark C

    Nice write up Tanya! I found this article whilst researching for my own 2016 camera straps round up (http://shotkit.com/best-camera-straps-on-shotkit/) One thing’s for sure – you never settle on the first strap you buy! I’ve got 5 straps which I rotate depending on usage, but am always on the look out for that elusive ‘perfect’ camera strap! All the best, Mark

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  4. Charles Hunt

    I use the black rapid when not using a customized vest. The ring on the threaded screw on a quick connect tripod mount is what I use to connect to the strap (when I am not using a side-mounted O-ring from any locksmith or hardware store on either side of my camera body- I keep those permanently mounted on both sides of the body.) In addition to the quick tripod mount capability, the tripod mount has a strap slot that allows me to semi-permanently attach the mount to the camera. If the screw comes loose, the camera would fall about 2 inches, until it reached the limits of this safety strap. A bit bulky, but well worth it for the safety. I would not use the blackrapid otherwise, but it has now saved my neck for 2 years. BTW, the adjustable stops on the blackrapid strap will prevent undue swinging. That’s what they are there for. With a little customization, the best system yet, at a good price point.

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  5. Barry Cunningham

    I use Optechs: sling and hand strap. I use the hand strap for shooting. But when I want to rest my hand and walk around, I unclip the camera from the hand strap and clip it onto the sling. I don’t really like shooting using the sling: if I get it the right length for walking around, it’s not the right length for bringing the camera up to my eye comfortably.

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  6. DeOren Robinson

    I need an artisan strap. Time to go find one

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  7. Ralph Hightower

    I used Optech’s shoulder harness for carrying two cameras. I had a Canon 5D Mk III with EF 100-400 4.5L II hanging from the left shoulder; I removed the battery grip to lighten the load. Hanging from the right shoulder, I had a Canon F-1N with an FD 28mm f2.8; I removed the AE Motor Drive FN, again to save weight.
    After carrying that gear at Augusta National Golf course during a practice day at The Masters, I was quite surprised to feel as well as I did; I had an extra day of vacation for recovery, which I didn’t need.

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  8. Dustin Baugh

    I must be the lone one that likes a basic neck strap like the kit one. I always have them the right length so a couple wraps around my hand and they are the same grip as a hand strap. I can still hang it around my neck when I need hands free for something. And I can put it on like a sling to keep the camera under my arm pit when scampering over boulders on a trail. I think out of all the ones above the Peak Design Slide is the only one that would cover all I need.

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    • Scott Pacaldo

      high five on that! but I’m looking to replace it because of the giant brand name written across, for now, I wear it so that the black leather-ish part is showing but bec of that my sweat is accumulating on the nylon/thread part .
      a stylish wide leather would be nice for a heavy dslr

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  9. Stephen Velasquez

    The wrist strap from Peak Designs is alright if you have a CSC camera and your just shooting personal and travel images. I used it at an event and found many times placing the camera down. The money maker is totally my style but I can’t justify the price right now because I’m not shooting events every week. The black rapid sling strap is awesome for events attached to my FF SLR with 70-200 lens. I bought a second strap but it got lost so I could swing two cameras around.

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  10. Cyril Charpin

    On my monobloc, I use BlackRapid Sport
    On my second one, the Nikon one

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  11. Ronald Mathis

    I use the cotton carrier system, I am an older adult and it uses a lot of points of contact to carry the weight. I also have their hand strap. with a tether for the butterfinger problem. could not go back to anything else.

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  12. Tanya Goodall Smith

    Holy comments, Batman! You guys are awesome. Thanks for sharing your experiences and opinions on the dizzying array of camera straps available. I hope it helps anyone trying to decide which kind to buy (or DIY if applicable).

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  13. Anthony McFarlane

    I own and use the BR Yeti, the Peak hand strap and slide. All are great products!

    I find the holdfast moneymaker very sexy however the price does not turn me on at all…

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  14. David Hall

    I love Peak Design’s straps. I alternate between the Slide and their older Cuff wrist strap. That, along with the capture system, and I’m a happy camper.

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  15. Leslie Troyer

    I have both a Black rapid and Peak Straps(slide, hand, capture) – haven’t used the peak enough to know if I like it better than Black Rapid or not.

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  16. J. Dennis Thomas

    I use a standard Tamrac N-45 padded leather strap for my DSLRs most of the time since I typically only use one camera these days.

    For my Leicas I use a Pete Schmidt strap. It’s company based out of Austin that I started buying guitar straps from. I helped them refine some of their designs and get the quick-release up to a better standard. They’re high quality and handmade in Peru.

    For smaller cameras I used a Spyder Black Widow. It worked pretty well for my Nikon Df, but I just prefer a standard strap and It doesn’t get much use anymore.

    For big events, I still use my Black Rapid double strap, but it’s rare I carry two DSLRs around these days even for big events.

    I checked out the Moneymaker and it’s really nice, but it’s pricey for something I would rarely use and it’s basically a leather version of the Black Rapid Double.

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  17. J. Cassario

    I used to be a Spyder Holster fan…until I tried the Holdfast Moneymaker. As you can in the pic of me in the article, I wear it on engagement shoots, weddings, even some personal work because its extremely comfortable. The other thing I like about them over the Spyder system is that its very easy to swing your cameras behind you and out of the way from bumping into things. When I had the Spyder system, you add almmost 2 feet of width to your body which makes it a pain in the ass moving around in tight spots, you have to turn and walk sideways, theres no moving the cameras out of the way. My wife now shoots with a Moneymaker as well.

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  18. Paul Empson

    You can’t get them anymore but I bought the CarrySpeed Pro Double.. and it is perfect for weddings… they were threatened with legal action I understand.. for getting their design right and far superior to the established competitor that threatened them… imho..

    I need to be silent when I’m in church and the leather and metal of the one of those shown just makes it an instant no go.. no matter how cool they do look.. the BR’s I’ve never liked because I see several design flaws that would affect the way I want to work…

    Like camera bags, I find straps are just as imperfect… many have good points but none get it all right… even my CarrySpeed… if I want to use just one camera, it feels unbalanced when I remove the other strap.. for two cameras though it is as perfect as I could want it: easy to change cameras, secure two hand release, quiet.. takes my tripod plate with camera attached… and I can work all day with 2 big cameras and not have neck ache.

    Real shame they got banned…

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    • Mike Chan

      You can still get carry speed, just not in the US. You can find it in Canada and overseas. Yes, they were sued by black rapid but legal fees were too much for them to afford from what I’ve read. David vs Goliath and Goliath won because of deeper pockets.

      Luma labs was also sued. They ended up stopping the strap and didn’t go to court. They just redesigned probably one of their best straps because of the law suit

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    • Mike Chan

      Also, it’s spelled Spider not Spyder. People who are going to be searching for it will not be able to find it.

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    • Paul Empson

      well it turns out you can still get them… just not in the USA…

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  19. Dragoș Ardeleanu

    I’m using Spyder Pro Holster and Spider Pro Hand Strap and I just love them both.
    The Holster carries without any problem a Canon 5D MKIII with a 70-200 or a 24-70 AND a Speedlight on it

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    • Scott Mosley

      Me too, I use them with the think tank pro speedbelt. Recently I have stopped using the side pads altogether and have found it easier to be aware of exactly how camera is laying and get better (much better) access to pockets.

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  20. Mike Chan

    I found a coupon code online. Coupon code “1kindphoto” gets you 10% off at Peak Design – https://peakdesign.com/store/?coupon_code=1kindphoto

    I love my Slide strap. One of the most comfortable straps I own. I also love the anchor links because it works with any of the Peak Design products. With the coupon code, it makes the Peak Design products that much more enjoyable knowing that I saved some money.

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  21. Joram J

    I got multiple peak design stuff. The leash, cuff and the capture. Super handy on my backpack. And the leash/cuff click easily on and off. (e.g. on a tripod you wanna lose the strap.)

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  22. Kenny Van

    I use the sling strap for outdoor shooting and the hand one for in studio.

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  23. Matthew Kozovski

    When shooting weddings, the Holdfast Moneymaker is the only way to go. Absolutely fantastic. For when I’m shooting with my Fuji, the Artisan & Artist Silk Cord strap is unbelievably comfortable for a full day out.

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  24. Peter Nord

    Like all the grippers on an UPstrap.

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  25. Derek Schwartz

    I also tried out a wrist strap, and maybe it’s just my gorilla-sized hands, but I found it both frustrating in the way you mentions AND found my hand cramping after a short time. It went away on eBay a while ago.

    I currently shoot with a Blackrapid sling, and I really like it. I own many bodies, but rarely ever have a need to have two of them on me at once, so the Sport version I have works great and also takes the weight off my neck (I occasionally walk around for a few hours at a car show with my Hasselblad 500cm and 50/f4). That all said, with the Sport, because of the strap that goes through your armpit to stabilize the camera, you’re kind of locked into a side. Due to that, and a nod towards awesomeness, I’ve been lately thinking about a leather sling strap from Jessup Leather, which uses a BR-style connector, but haven’t pulled the trigger on it as yet.

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  26. Black Z Eddie

    I use the Holfast Money Maker. I can’t go back to using any other strap. I primarily use 2 bodies. One hooked up to a 35mm and the other to 135mm (sometimes 50mm).

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  27. Steven Pellegrino

    All of my kit straps sit folded, unused in the packing they came in. Instead I used three different solutions. For casual and street shooting with my Fuji X cameras I have a couple of Think Tank camera straps. They’re light, flexible and have a non-slip material on both sides of the strap. Easy to hang on your shoulder without worrying about the strap sliding off. There are times when I’m shooting on the street that I will wrap the strap around my wrist.

    For situations when I’m shooting in a crowd, whether it’s sporting event or protest I use BlackRapid straps. They’re great for any size camera. At times when I want extra security I will lock my straps to a belt loop with a carabiner.

    And if I know I’m primarily shooting with one camera, but want a back-up camera and don’t want it hanging on a strap I use a Peak Design CapturePRO with the Arca Plate. These are so versatile because you can have it hanging off of your belt or if you’re carrying a camera bag, it can be attached to your bag strap as well.

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  28. adam sanford

    Unlike camera bags, where I almost always espouse a DIY approach, I recommend most folks buy a solid strap that does *exactly* what they want. DIY like Thomas talked about (above) can work, but I prefer to trust the pros to avoid a tear/fail leading to a drop.

    My strap priorities are:

    * Have a comfortable resting position when you are walking around and not shooting
    * Doesn’t fight with your clothing, grab your neck or collar
    * Secure, well-built, comfortable, and breathable (I live in California, it’s a bit of a must)
    * No gaudy logos or brand names on it.
    * Doesn’t require using the SLR ‘eyelets’ on the sides, because…
    * …it must be very quickly removable to not interfere with tripod work

    And I’ve opted for the BlackRapid standard/original design. Fast, comfortable, and very well built. It fails the logo test, but it’s not nearly as bad as your billboard ad of a Canon/Nikon strap. Highly recommended for any glass up to and including a 70-200 f/2.8.

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    • Thomas Horton

      “* Doesn’t require using the SLR ‘eyelets’ on the sides, because…
      * …it must be very quickly removable to not interfere with tripod work”

      I use the Nite Ize locking carabineer. Plenty strong and it can be safely taken off for tripod use in about 2 seconds, but locks securely to prevent accidental opening.

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    • adam sanford

      Interesting. I tried some tiny REI carabiners some time ago, but they were only rated for 1.5x my payload. I could pry those open in my hands, so I stopped using them.

      Please link the specific one you are referring to as Nite Ize has a bunch. I would check those out, thanks.

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    • Thomas Horton

      http://www.niteize.com/product/S-Biner-SlideLock.asp

      I used the size #4.

      But it turned out I was a lyin’ sack o’ poop. The rating on this is 75 pounds not 95 as I originally wrote. But even at a paltry 75 pounds I am not worried about my rig breaking. :)

      I like that the individual gates can be locked with the sliding lock. Adds one more layer of security.

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  29. Moise Oiknine

    I had the over the shoulder and double from black rapid…they were both giving me issues and did not relieve the strain on my back. I picked up the peak strap at the expo by the Javits last year and I have not been happier with it. the fact that you have so many options to use it for one camera make it so versatile. I also bought extra connectors and only need one strap for both of my cameras. If I want to switch its only a couple of clicks. I also pack my cameras without the lenses attached so the strap disconnects for storage so quickly. Highly recommended and its worth spending the time checking one out before you buy. For Nikon users using battery grips on their cameras, that use manfrotto or arca swiss tripods, they have both plates available with capability to connect the strap to the bottom of the camera. They though of everything making this strap. The customer service is also very complimentary and they were very personal when I came over to give my complaints with the original batch of manfrotto plates that they eventually fixed.

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  30. Rob Harris

    I use the Blackrapid sling strap. I also use its backup line which attaches to one of the side strap holders which are normally used for neck straps. With all of the twisting the camera does during a wedding, I have had the camera come off the sling strap, but the backup line caught it. I was very thankful to say the least. Redundancy is not just for files….

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  31. Thomas Horton

    I made my own sling strap for about $10.00 in materials. This is not rocket surgery. The prices that some of these companies charge is outrageous. By building my own, I was able to control the materials that went in to it as well as eliminate the advertising!

    The Bosstrap is a good basic design and is a good place to start when designing your own sling strap.

    The attachment to the camera is a contentious and personal issue. I choose not to mount my sling strap to the tripod socket, but used the camera strap lug with a safety to the other lug. Never had an inkling of any loss of security.

    What I like best about the sling strap design is that the camera tucks nicely behind my hip where it can be cradled naturally by my left hand. This makes maneuvering through crowds easier and safer. I can’t imagine going through a crowded area with a holster.

    Because the strap is thin, but wide, the weight of the camera is spread over the shoulder and you can wear a coat over it to keep your camera either protected or somewhat out of sight.

    To shoot, the left hand is in the natural position to grasp the camera from the bottom (another advantage of not using the tripod hole) and it is simplicity to lift the camera up to your face while bringing your right hand to the shutter button.

    The only downside as been using longer lenses. For that, the sling strap really needs to be attached to the tripod hole on the lens collar. But that is a simple modification.

    But, in my opinion, a sling strap is definitely a DIY project, unless you either have money to throw away or you like wearing advertisement. I looked long and hard at commercially produced straps (sling and other wise) and simply could not find any rational for the added expense (sometimes significantly higher expense)

    The materials to make your own sling strap are easily available on the internet and you can verify the quality since, unlike a company, you are not interested in saving $0.03 per copy as you are only going to make one or two copies you can easily afford the highest quality materials.

    My DIY sling strap has a weakest link with a safe working load of 95 pounds. Not worried at all about anything breaking or coming loose.

    (stepping off my “why pay more for a sling strap” soap box) :)

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    • Andrew Leinonen

      Totally agree. Though I’m actually making myself a DIY sling strap out of some leather because I want something a bit more stylish, and all the options on the market are a little bit too ballistic-nylon for me…

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  32. Chuck Eggen

    I’m a Black Rapid fan. I have two of the single straps and I just bought the double carrier. I shoot a lot of events to include car shows and find being able to move the cameras to my front and back helps me maneuver through tight places without beating my cameras or objects up. The double strap is very comfortable and I’ve worn it all day long toting my D800 and D4 with 24-700mm and 80-400mm while running all over a Motocross track. I tried the hip holster and while it’s convenient for studio it’s a pain in a fast paced event and catches/clangs into everything in sight when moving around. To note, I’ve never had the carabiner on the BR strap come loose like some have reported.

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    • adam sanford

      Chuck, they’ve eliminated the carabiner opening problem with a doodad called the Lockstar.

      http://www.blackrapid.com/products/lockstar

      It’s a pricey upgrade for existing users, but I believe it now comes standard on most of their straps.

      The entire ‘fastenr’ can still back out of the tripod mount on your camera, but you’d need to have severely underthreaded the fastenr *and* be using a highly unbalanced rig (like a 70-200 f/2.8 but the BR is still threaded to the camera body) for that to happen from my experience. I’ve never had anywhere near a drop before.

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