Today we are talking about something that can save you time, energy, and a lot of pain. It's also one of my favourite conversations and camera accessories as we are talking about three alternative ways to carry your camera, other than the branded camera strap. Yes, I realize most people use the camera strap that comes with the camera itself. And every time I see this, I cringe as there are just so many better options on the market.
Camera companies are exceptional engineers. They craft intricate devices that allow us to capture precious moments, create art, document the world, and change people's lives. Their cameras are wonderful. BUT, every single camera maker has one fatal flaw with every camera they release. Their carry strap sucks. They just do. I have yet to see a camera-branded camera strap that isn't uncomfortable, ugly, and an outright monstrosity gracing these otherwise beautiful devices. I haven't used a camera-branded camera strap in seven years, and I have no intention of ever doing so again. And neither should you. The strap that comes with your camera is basically useless. Don't even bother putting it on your camera.
Let's start with how a branded camera strap caries. They are designed to hang the camera around your neck and only your neck. This puts all the camera weight onto a delicate body part that, as it gets pulled on, can cause a lot of pain and headaches, ruining the rest of a day or even longer. You also really don't have any alternatives. These straps aren't designed to go sling-ways across your body or allow you much length flexibility. So, you're stuck with putting your entire camera's weight around your neck at one specified height. That's terrible.
Next, there's how these straps attach. They go on two metal loops on the camera and are very difficult to remove once they are on there. You aren't intended to detach the strap. But, let's say you want to shoot on a tripod for 2 or 3 minutes. That strap will just be blowing in the breeze, smacking into the tripod. Or, you want to carry it on the outside of your backpack, now you've got this extra strap dangling, ready to get caught on everything you walk by. Once again, how the strap connects leaves you with no flexibility.
Finally, the branded strap basically screams what your camera is to everyone around you. At its best, it's free advertising for the camera company. At its worst, it's a calling card for thieves to easily see that you have a very nice camera. So really, the look and design of these straps have no positives to them.
This comes down to comfort and flexibility. And camera branded camera straps aren't comfortable and offer no flexibility.
BUT, if you aren't going to use the camera branded straps, what should you use? While there are a lot of options on the market. And it really depends on your preferences and shooting style. I'm going to talk about three of them here, with my favourite examples, but there are so many great options on the market you'll have to also look to find one that works for your workflow.
First up is a camera strap that can go around your neck or across your body sling style. These straps work the same as your standard camera strap but have flexibility in length, so you can use them in a few different positions on your body. I suggest getting a strap that slings diagonally across your body because this puts less pressure on you and is easier to carry. My go-to for this type of strap is the Peak Design Slide. This strap is padded where it will hang on your shoulder, has grip padding on one side so that the camera won't slide around, and has a quick-adjustable length with a huge range, meaning you can get the fit just right for you.
I love all of those features and how comfortable the strap is. But my favourite thing about it is how it attaches to your camera. Peak Design created specialized anchors that attach to your camera, and these anchors attach the camera to your strap. This means, when you don't want the strap connected, you can remove it from your camera in under 10 seconds by detaching the strap from the anchors. The anchors stay securely attached to your camera, and you are free to shoot strapless (which I do more often than using a strap). You then reattach the strap to the anchors, and you are ready for some camera-carrying goodness again.
There are now a few companies on the market using this anchor system to attach straps. But Peak Design was the first, and I think they still have the best and most reliable method. Plus, their straps are beautiful!
The second piece up is the Black Rapid Camera Harness. If you need to carry two cameras at once, then this is the way to go. When I was a photojournalist, I had cameras hanging off each shoulder, sliding down arms, and getting in the way of shooting. Then I found this harness system, and things changed. The harness goes on like a running vest, hugging tight to your shoulders and pecks. It has two straps, one coming off of each shoulder. These straps are where your cameras go. And because of the design, no camera is pulling you down in either direction or getting in the way when you are shooting. You just need to remember which lens is at which hand, and you are good to go. Now, Black Rapid also has a unique mounting system that attaches the strap to the ¾ screw hole on the bottom of your camera (where you'd typically screw onto your tripod or tripod plate). This anchor is incredibly secure and means your camera hangs tight to your body, so it isn't swinging around hitting people around you (I've done this with other straps, it's not a good feeling for you, the person, or your kit). It also means you can quickly remove the strap if you need to mount the camera on a tripod or, once again, you want to shoot strapless.
I found this harness incredibly comfortable, even at long events where I'd have two cameras on me for 12+ hours. So, if you need to have multiple cameras on hand at once, then this is the way to go!
Alright, my third way for you to carry your camera. It's another Peak Design product, and it's one I've talked about on here lots before. The Capture Clip. This is by far my favourite way to carry my camera today. It's on my backpack every time I head out the door with my gear. The clip attaches to basically any belt or strap and allows you to carry your camera on the outside of your bag, giving you instant access to it. The clip can hold most camera and lens combinations (although longer lenses get awkward when using the clip), and it features a locking design meaning your camera won't accidentally fall out. Plus, it uses ARCA size plates, meaning compatibility with most tripods (and they have a special edition version that works explicitly with Manfrotto RC2 plates).
What I love the most about this system is the ease of carrying my camera while moving lots. I want my camera out while I'm hiking. It takes real dedication to stop hiking, take my bag off, and take my camera out to shoot. When this was what happened, I missed a lot of great moments on the trail. Now, it takes me less than 5 seconds to have the camera ready to go because of the clip. No more missing shots along the trail for me!
Now, I see a lot of people using straps while hiking and moving lots. I did this for a long time as well, but I found a few fairly significant problems. Firstly, the straps caused the camera to bounce and swing all over the place. I had my camera crash into rocks a few times when moving on tight ledges and into me when jumping off of steps. Basically, the camera became a wrecking ball, colliding with whatever was around. Secondly, carrying the camera meant I typically had it around my neck, which meant having my camera pull my head and neck forward while trying to hike. This caused some horrible neck pain.
The clip solves both of these problems because it leaves the camera securely attached to your backpack, so no more swinging. And my backpack now bears the brunt of the weight of my camera instead of my neck. Which means I can go for more extended periods while having my camera out.
All in all, if you hike or move at all with your camera. I'd thoroughly suggest getting a capture clip. At just $90, it is one of the best investments you can make for your camera kit.
And that's it! Those are my three alternatives to the standard camera strap. These are three systems I have used for years. And I will never go back to using the standard camera strap again. There is no reason to put yourself through that when, for less than $100, you can get all of these fantastic options! So go, look these up and see which one fits you.
You can follow along with Robert’s adventures on Instagram @RobertMasseyPhotography