Camera Straps

ipstersIf you wear the standard “branded” strap that came with your camera please click out of this website and never come back, unless you are wearing it “ironically” – But you better look like one of these guys if you are using that escape clause…

Apart from the clear crime against humanity, branded straps are cheap, uncomfortable, and often a bit on the short side. If you regularly have one hanging off your shoulder or around your neck, spend the time to find a great brand of strap that you love. It is kinda like a great mattress – once you get a decent one,  you wonder why you spent so much time with a crappy one.

First things. Buy a neoprene based strap, regardless of brand. Forget leather. Leather looks great, but is not practical or as comfortable. Everytime I pick up a new camera, I take the train into town and visit the crumpler shop. It has gotten to the point where the girl who works on Saturdays actually recognises me. I also buy straps as gifts for mates who are photographers, so I do end up buying a few straps over the course of a year.

Next thing. What size camera? Little camera – little strap. Big camera – you get the idea…

Big Strap Recommendation : Crumpler Industry Disgrace

You can find them here.

Why?ind dis

  • Neoprene is soft, and a little bit stretchy. So when you are walking with a fairly heavy camera around your neck   the little bit of “give” absorbs the bouncing around of the camera.
  • The strap is nice and wide where it comes into contact with your body – spreading the load as much as possible and the neoprene has no sharp or hard edges that can cut into your skin. This is thing I dislike the most about fabric straps.
  • There are little sticky nodules on the underside of the strap to help prevent unwanted movement and slipping – either off your shoulder, or around your neck.
  • The system for securing the strap to your camera is virtually risk free. It can take a few minutes and an unending well of patience to get the straps on, but once they are on, you can have complete confidence.

Just be careful when securing the straps that you get them nice and even. The Industry Disgrace has a flap specially designed to rest against the back of your neck. If you don’t get the length right on both sides, the flap will not locate in the right place.

Make sure the strap is not twisted and is around the right way when you secure it. There are no swivels to enable you to rotate the straps independently – if it is twisted when you tie it up, it is going to be twisted the whole time around your neck. I usually secure the straps initially to the camera whilst in position around my neck!

At the risk of mothering you, only secure one side at a time. I often need to reference something to work out how to do the strap back up properly.

Don’t be tempted by the Convenient Disgrace, unless you are using it for a medium format camera! The increased width of the strap doesn’t really help much. I don’t like anything called “quick release” coming into contact with any bit of gear worth more than $200. The Convenient Disgrace has plastic quick release tabs. I am not sure how clicking out one or two tabs is any quicker or “convenient” than just lifting it off your neck? Quick release is just another phrase for “camera impact damage”.

I have the Industry Disgrace on my H1 which weighs at least 18kgs and it works just fine. Highly recommended for anything bigger than a 35mm rangefinder.

I would like a little bit more length than it currently has. It is just long enough to hang over a shoulder, which is my preferred mode of transport, and raise it up from the side still for the shot. I don’t like heavy stuff pulling at my neck all day.

Little Strap Recommendation : Crumpler Popular Disgrace

You can find them here.

The Popular Disgrace is the little brother of the family. It is suitable for smaller compacts, 35mm rangefinders etc. The strap is light, but a little on the short side still.

pop disA lot of compact cameras, particularly older film ones, have very small connection lugs that will not take the standard strap. The Popular Disgrace has nylon threads as an alternative. Whilst they do not look that strong, I have not had one fail yet. Quick releases that attach to the nylon threads on each side are a downer. Even more useless considering the weight of the average camera the strap is designed to hold. I look forward to a rationale from Crumpler one day!

My preference over the nylon is using split key rings to connect the strap.

I am considering re-strapping my compact cameras with them. They are much more secure than nylon. Or maybe it is just a perceptual thing for me?

The strap is very comfortable around the neck. Over the shoulder is a little more challenging due to the lack of sticky points on the neoprene – it is just waiting for an opportunity to slip off and introduce your camera to the concrete, so keep a careful eye on it. The neoprene section is not quite as flexible, and won’t quite mould to your body, making it more of a flight risk.

Despite these challenges, the Popular Disgrace is still my strap of choice on compact cameras. Both straps are relatively inexpensive and make carrying around a camera for a few hours around town less of a comfort challenge.

I have had a look at their other straps instore, and can’t say I was incredibly wowed – but then, fabric straps are not in my consideration set. The wristy looks interesting, but mostly as a safety.

Both straps are only mildly branded, which is a plus. You can check out the straps in their stores or buy online. They have a pretty good warranty and return policy – they seem genuinely proud of their products and stand behind them.

Other Alternatives :

I had a cheap Op/tech Neoprene strap for a while which also worked a treat. It was strong and reliable, but had a little bit too much flex for me.

There are plenty of straps out there that remind me of the guy selling Schtickys and Sham Wows. Any strap that uses the words “sling, quick action, stabilizing, fast action” or has more than two release clips is a gadget, not a strap. Don’t buy one unless you want to look like a tool. Don’t develop a gear addiction. Gadget straps are a gateway drug. And they tend to look ridiculous.

Any strap that holds more than one camera or would look at home on a soldier is also not okay to use. Two cameras? Whilst I am slagging off on less fashionable gear, it shouldn’t need to be said that camera vests are on a par with stealing from nuns. I long for the extra pockets, right where I need them, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea. I would also like an ass on the back of my hand to take a dump just by putting my hand in a rubbish bin when I am out… but whilst convenient, probably isn’t a great idea either.

The Only Acceptable Attachment :

Something like this can help your camera sit a little more naturally on your side. This one is called “The Strap Buddy” and comes from one of my favourite doo dad websites, Photojojo. $15 well spent, although you do have to occasionally check the screw is not undoing. Maybe a bit of Loctite could fix that?


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