My Quest for the Right Camera Strap

 An obtrusive, narrow, non-slip camera strap - that's the goal

An obtrusive, narrow, non-slip camera strap - that's the goal

I have long been an advocate of getting rid of those bright and flashy OEM camera straps.  It's in the company's best interest to supply them because you are advertising for them for free as with any label, and the branding does provide a self esteem boost to those who need someone else's label for self-validation.   Or to prove how much money they spent on a camera.

Those straps make you a target.   Your camera may be worth a retirement package to a thief in a country you visit.  You certainly aren't going to be doing any inconspicuous street shooting with that brightly coloured and logoed strap. 

They also encourage hanging the camera around your neck like a boat anchor and if you do use them on a shoulder they slip and slide like summer shoes on black ice.  All in all worth what you paid, ie nothing. 

Some folks like holster systems.   I'm not a fan.  I see lots of fumbling to get the camera out of the holster and a couple of "speed draws" that put the camera in the air,  as well as plenty of jockeying to get the camera back into the mousetrap when done.  I know all too well the impact on your lower back from having weight, even light weight, on your belt for any length of time.  Ask any law enforcement professional about back pain and stiffness.  Holsters are a great way to shear parts off your camera in a doorway or to drive your camera into a hard surface.

Another popular route is the sling.  They are handy, keep the camera at hip level and distribute the weight across your body.  Sadly they can be very uncomfortable to women and also to men as they will typically slide between the breasts or as RC Concepcion was fond of saying, "enhance your man-boobs".  I've also encountered too many folks for whom the connection is a pain because it occupies the tripod socket and so they have some weird meccano like contraption to attach the sling, and a tripod plate and goodness forbid if they ever use a holster.  You end up with more weight from plates and rods and pins than the camera itself.  Then there are the times where the screw in the tripod hole loosens off over time, followed by the crash of the camera on the ground.  After it happened to me with an early Lumix mirrorless, I started using blue loctite on the threads to prevent this kind of accident, but frankly it's a pain in the keister to deal with this nonsense.

So what do you do?

You could go with a no name neck strap, but so many of them are horrible.  They are underpadded, or overpadded, or too wide, or have sharp edges so you can build scar tissue quickly.  They are either super slippery, or have gripper pads that will remove skin and damage fabric if dragged across it.

Yuck.

I write from experience because the sad reality is that I have all of what I have described, from myriad providers.  None really work for me.  I was recently reminded, by one of my early teachers, my friend Larry Frank, formerly of the Nikon School of Photography, of something he taught when I was younger.  A narrow strap that is not too thick provides good support, can be built not to slide all over the place, and allows you to put the strap on your shoulder, with the lens facing inward and gently anchored by your elbow.  What Larry didn't mention, but that I know he knows, is that this orientation allows you to drop your right hand back and grab the camera in a very natural grip for a fast "draw" so you can make an image without looking like a contortionist or someone having a seizure.  Setting the strap to the proper length also allows you turn the strap into a ready brace, just like a professional rifleman's sling.  

I'd forgotten this very simple placement and advice.  So when I got home that night, I went online to my local store's website to see what they had.  I admit I had a product in mine, the Think Tank Photo Camera Strap 2.0.  I remembered the product, knew it was non-slip but narrow and flexible.  I knew it could work with any camera I own, and if I wanted to keep my Peak Design hand straps (I do), I could add a Peak Design anchor kit and use the existing anchors, and also make the strap easily removeable.  Seemed like a great idea.

Hmm no joy.  Hundreds of straps, holsters, cranes, studs, chest plates and other stuff that wouldn't do the job.  I reached out to my contact Brian at Think Tank Photo to see if the product still existed.  It does, but the store had discontinued it due to lack of demand for narrow straps.  Now I'm checking to see what a special order would cost me as I need about six of the things to go back to where I was in 1982, when I put a narrow suede lined unlabeled but clearly Nikon strap on my cameras.  It never slipped and allowed me to carry the camera unobtrusively but easily grabbable.  I was not shooting a Nikon at that time but didn't care that my strap didn't match, because it worked. 

Is a narrow no -slip strap right for you?  This is very much a personal decision of course, but as I own straps from some of the best in the business, I'm asserting that it's right for me.  No disrespect to Peak Design, BlackRapid, Domke, UpStrap, Cotton Carrier, Spider and the OEMs but they don't fit my needs, although the Domke straps come closest.  Now I wait on news from my local seller.  If they cannot help me there is always the Internet.

 Also comes in blue.  Pretty but a bit bright for my preferences

Also comes in blue.  Pretty but a bit bright for my preferences