Gear, oh how you know I LOVE gear! I love looking at, trying on, and especially shopping for new gear. When it came to camera straps, though, I usually had a more utilitarian goal in mind. Does it work? Is it comfortable? Is it cheap? Sadly, these had been the deciding factors in the piece of my setup that influenced how I would lug around 10-20 pounds of stuff for 8-12 hours a day. After a season or two of this mindset, my body was definitely ready for a change.
[REWIND: THE CURE FOR GEAR ACQUISITION SYNDROME]
Before the Money Maker, I had used/tried a few other options including the Black Rapid strap, the Spider Holster, and the regular “camera strap” stuff including neck/hand straps. My longest use was the Spider Holster coupled with a few Think Tank Lens Changer bags. I loved this system, and it was honestly very functional. I just couldn’t get past the point that I looked a bit like a construction worker with the bags and belt hanging off and bumping into everything. I used to frame/roof houses, and this setup was oddly similar to my belt system I had for hanging tools and nails on my waist. With a brand that is SO intent on how everything looks and feels, I wasn’t really satisfied until form/functionality met STYLE with the Money Maker.
Many photographers I have chatted with love that, along with being highly functional and easy to use, it’s also very “cool” looking and fits well with a clean/modern fashion as well as the “down to earth” or more “hipster” vibe.
Performance can sometimes be a bit of a “general” topic with camera straps, but with the HoldFast system, the performance was an area I was pleasantly surprised to find it excelled in. Durable construction aside, this thing just WORKS. I’ve worn the leather version in pouring down rain, frigid cold and sweltering heat with zero functionality problems.
Aside from issues you deal with wearing ANY extra layer (sweat, a bit of irritating rubbing, etc.), the simplicity of the design and the extra steps they’ve taken to ensure security with the safety strap as a backup to the regular clasp means I never had to worry about the latches failing or the buckles coming undone.
The older version with the “O” slider attachments definitely took some minding to keep from pinching your arms or chest as you slid the camera up and down, but the upgraded sliders completely eliminate this issue. There is a slight “metal-on-metal” squeak that happens occasionally with the clasp and the part that screws into your tripod mount, but a little chapstick on the metal clip solves that rather quickly.
Using the tripod mount as your attachment point for the Money Maker does make that spot inaccessible for use with a tripod without taking the accessory clip off the camera (which is easy to do by leaving it attached to the Money Maker and turning it to loosen it/re-tighten it when put back on), but many tripod mounts have a clip on the bottom with a similar ring attachment that easily fits into the Money Maker clasp.
Long term wear of the leather and metal parts has proven to be very durable, and the performance is actually better with use/time as the leather molds to your body size and shape and the metal pieces have shown no breakdown or noticeable “loosening” over two seasons constant of use.
The Money Maker itself is a fairly simple system. It is designed to carry either one or two camera bodies as well as including d-rings to include an optional third camera or attaching one of the various new Sightseer accessories to make it truly multi-functional for holding lenses, carrying cards, wallet contents or a cell phone, etc.
Along with updating the slider design, the good folks at HoldFast have changed the slider strap from being a specific size to an adjustable length strap to accommodate shooters who prefer the camera being portrait style.
Being able to “add-on” your favorite size lens bags or the Sightseer modular system also allows you to modify the Money Maker to make it a hiker/adventurer’s dream. You can take as much or as little gear with you on your trips as needed and pare down the kit when not needed (up to 8 different pouches/accessories are available to be added on to the strap or attached to the lens bag via a double set of velcro backed/snap system on the front or two similar loops on the sides).
I couldn’t think of one single way I wanted to use this system that I didn’t have the option to do with the available pieces! As an added bonus, each accessory has multiple attachment points to use in whatever way you choose for the day you are using them.
[related products: NEED SOME HELP WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY? WE’VE GOT YOU COVERED]
I’ve highlighted most of the simplistic and functional design points in the other sections, so I will focus more on the style in this section as well as a few other options HoldFast offers.
With colors and styles to fit a wide variety of looks, the Money Maker was an obvious choice for someone looking for some style to their otherwise “techie-looking” gear haul.
There is also a cloth or “vegan-friendly” version of the strap now available called the Camera Swagg, as well as a single, cross-body style sling with attachment points for the Sightseer system of accessories!
Once you put your hands on any of HoldFast’s goods, you will realize they are made of rather stout materials. The Money Maker is 100% leather (American Bison, Water Buffalo, and Snakeskin are also popular options!) and they are very proudly made locally to the home base in Oklahoma, so they are 100% Made in the USA! The stitching on the closures are very smooth and heavily connected, so there is no problem with them coming apart. On the bags, the binding and even the zippers are super smooth, and the cloth inside is very fashionable, soft and well thought out with extra removable “pads” included to go between lenses, add extra padding on the bottom or as spacers. The clasp is a sailing rig that has been weight tested to over 200lbs (and as the site says in their F.A.Q., they stopped at 246 lbs b/c the machine they were testing it with broke, haha!) So, it’s safe to say that anything you can strap to it is going to stay attached!
The leather is going to be a bit stiff when you first get it, but they offer a leather cream in the store as well as using traditional “breaking in” methods of bending, flexing and rolling the leather to soften it up. It takes a bit for it to get “worn and soft,” but the work is worth the reward of having a super smooth, ruggedly constructed but clean and fashionable camera harness.
This is likely the area I have found the most kickback when talking to people about the Money Maker system. It isn’t “cheap.” But, remember when I said earlier that I looked for the CHEAP alternatives to using quality straps? Well, there are easily some places you can make sacrifices in cost with gear and be completely ok. This wasn’t one of those areas for me.
It is nearly impossible for me to separate quality and cost from value when it comes to products like this. The cost for the leather versions of the Money Maker is between $215 and $490 with the “Camera Swagg” cloth system weighing in at just $145. When I compared to what I had invested in the Spider Holster and bags for my lenses, however, I actually SAVED money being able to carry my camera bodies and lenses on my shoulders vs. strapped around my waist. Being able to have a system with incredible comfort AND being made out of long-lasting, quality materials made this a system that would cost my business less than $50 a year even if I only kept it for five years (and I’m halfway there already!).
The stress it takes off my lower back and hips coupled with the incredible functionality and fashion of this system makes it an easy win in my book. If you’re worried about being “cool enough” to wear one, believe this geek when I say you’ll look great! It’s actually another one of the F.A.Q.’s on the site, and this is what HoldFast has to say about that – “I actually hear this a lot, people say I like the strap, but I’m not cool enough to pull it off. Well, it’s designed to enhance your style along with being extremely comfortable. So we can ALL use more comfortable straps, and since it enhances your look then, of course, it works with anything. This strap is FOR YOU!”
Not physically holding the camera all day on shoots and weddings, being able to slide it up to shoot and then literally let it hang by my side all the while being suspended across the broad, strongest part of my back has made my body elated, my fashion sense satisfied, and my business happy knowing this is a solid value that will continue to serve me and my clients for years to come. If you’re looking for a new system or some additions to your current HoldFast lineup, you can enter the code “diblasio” in the discount area at checkout to save yourself 10% (and in case you’re wondering: no, they don’t pay me to say anything about their company. It’s not a kickback, just a discount code for our readers!) Click here to see the full HoldFast lineup.