Forgotten in its old age

by Aditya

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Let me start by saying I prefer not using a strap at all.

I know this is personal preference and is related to shooting habit but lets try to list out the pros and cons for using the strap that came with the camera (and not other speciality straps).

Also, what other straps are available? How do they address the problems of the default strap?

Thanks!

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9 Answers 9

Context is what defines what a photographer should use. Without knowing in what context people use camera straps, it's tough to pick if a strap is right for you, and if so, which.

The strap I use is a heavily padded version of the standard neck-strap. It makes a world of difference for comfort but otherwise works much like standard strap. Actually, it has a quick-release system which I rarely use.

PROS

  • Faster lens changes: Straps allow a camera to hang conveniently right in front of me -- a great spot to change lenses, which I sometimes do dozens of times per day. When strapless it takes me at least twice the time.

  • Fail-Safe: The neck-strap I use stays on my neck most of the time. If I set up my tripod on a precarious location, I keep my neck through the strap. Shooting downwards from a balcony, you better keep the strap on!

  • Security: Keeps the camera safe from accidental knocks. If it gets knocked or I get pushed, chances are the camera will not fall. In some environments such as crowded streets or markets, it is impossible to prevent something from knocking the camera.

  • Hands-Free: There are plenty of things to do while taking pictures that work better with both hands free: handing out business cards, writing people's emails, handing model-releases, etc.

  • Anti-Theft: There less risk someone can take away my camera if its attached to my neck. Some camera straps have en embedded metal wire to prevent slashing.

  • Multiple Cameras: The straps may get entangled but at least it makes it easy to shoot with multiple cameras.

CONS

  • Noticeable: A camera strap makes it obvious that there is someone with a camera taking photos.

  • Shooting Down: When shooting the nadir shot for a panorama, the strap needs to be carefully folded up to prevent it from showing up in images.

ALTERNATIVES

There are a few different straps which I use regularly, mostly with smaller cameras. My favorite stealth strap is a Hand-Strap, which wrapes around the palm, though some photographers prefer a wrist strap. Pros/Cons for these straps:

  • More safety than no strap. Particularly from accidental knocks.

  • Strain risk: With a hand strap you support the weight of the camera at all times, so I rarely use it with something big.

There are tons of custom straps and I have had issues with all of those that I've tried (I haven't tried them all) except for the Bosstrap:

  • Block the tripod mount: Most rapid straps hook to the tripod mount which can be annoying when using a tripod.

  • Poor tripod contact: Even the few models with a pass-through offset the mount making it so your camera is no longer aligned on its optical axis. Straps can also reduce the contact-surface between the camera and quick-release plate.

  • Where is the bag?: Have you seen the videos selling rapid straps? People never use a camera bag! My guess is that it would get entangled with a shoulder-bag (my favorite) and not work at all with a sling (second favorite) and probably cause difficulty with a backpack, which you should probably never use for photography anyway.

There are a few more complex options aimed at professionals that I haven't yet tried:

  • Harness: Good comfort and distribution of weight. Holds multiple cameras easily. Extremely secure.

  • Holdster: You can have holders which attach to your belt (actually, a friend had two sown to a padded belt) and simply draw the cameras out and drop them back when you need to free your hands. This worked well for 2 cameras with one lenses each but probably wont scale.

  • Belt-Clips: At a local store I saw a clip that attaches to an ordinary belt with a matching piece that screws into the tripod-mount (not my thing) but lets the camera slip and lock into the clip quickly.

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Just a bit of nomenclature. A wrist strap is different from a hand strap. A wrist strap goes around your wrist, a hand strap goes around your palm, but not your thumb typically. Also - people using rapid straps don't carry a bag. They have assistants at the event who do that :P I'm serious! –  dpollitt Nov 20 '12 at 16:23
    
Indeed but there are hybrids. The one I use is a hand but Brando makes one that goes around your palm and holds on to the wrist as well. A call wrist straps those smaller ones which only go around the wrist. Those only attach the an eyelet while hand-straps have two points of attachments, the eyelet and the tripod socket. –  Itai Nov 20 '12 at 17:08
    
I think this is a really good list of pro/cons. Couple notes: I haven't used one but Black Rapid has a connector that works with some tripod plates for flexibility. I've also used my RS7 with a light backpack on with no problem. –  Rob McCready Nov 27 '12 at 0:51

Pros:

  • You can free both hands even when you have no surface to rest the camera on. I don't babysit my camera and I put my camera on the ground as long as it is dry, but putting it on the ground would not be an option when its muddy/wet, or is covered in wet grass etc.

  • People knows that you are a photographer. Obviously not good for candid shots, but in a wedding people immediately recognize your role and that can be a good thing.

  • You don't drop your camera when it slips out of your hand.

  • Ergonomics perhaps? This might be more true when you are using a small lens. When you have a huge lens mounted however, I doubt if your neck should be doing all the lifting.

  • Some people use it as a stabilizer. There are a few ways to do this, actually. Some wrap around the wrist, some have the strap pulled tight against the upper arm (triceps). It can be used creatively as a mean to stabilize the camera a bit more.

  • The strap is a great for lens change, especially when you cannot rest your camera body somewhere.

Cons:

  • I had actually dropped my camera once because I had a strap. Call me an idiot, but I actually released my hand believing that the camera was strapped to my neck only to find out that I took the strap off my neck earlier because of how frequently it got in the way. I have learned the hard way to not rely on a strap after that. I have also dropped my camera because something caught the strap and yanked it down from my table.

  • People notice you. Seriously, a strap is designed to be noticed, if you wear it you are bound to be noticed like the people noticing the bastard who didn't turn off his cellphone in the cinema. With a strap dangling around, it is also hard to conceal your camera unless you fold the strap into a ball.

  • It gets in the way of shooting a lot. If I am using a strap, I must take it off my neck before I can shoot from close to the ground, shoot from my hip, shoot high above my head. The minute you take it off it will block your lens when you are shooting downwards. Using a wide angel lens I sometimes shoot "blind" and the strap get in the way more often than I would have thought.

  • It puts strain on your neck especially when having a heavy lens mounted.

  • The length is never right. The more you shorten it the more you want to take it off because of the limited reach and how uncomfortable it is. The more you lengthen it the more you swing your camera around banging it into a table or other things. It also becomes easier to slip off your shoulder and block the lens when shooting downwards.

  • You must fold/tuck it in every time you put it in a camera bag. You must also unwind, untangle and flip it so it is not twisted every time you put it on your neck.

For me, the cons simply out-weight the pros. I rarely use a strap. Occasionally I would decide to use a strap because of some of the pros I mentioned above, however I usually end up removing it minutes after I started shooting because of the exact problems I listed.

Alternatives:

I am not familiar with other strap systems and frankly I don't have much faith in them. I shall leave this section to people who have tried other strap systems and found something that they enjoy using.

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I'd like to add another pro. It takes the weight off your arms when you are not shooting. Especially with a long lens things get heavy after a while. –  Rene Nov 21 '12 at 11:34
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It gets in the way of shooting a lot; The length is never right -- You're using the wrong strap! –  Flimzy Nov 23 '12 at 18:15
    
+1 I have accidentally pulled my camera off a table because the strap got caught on my arm somehow. Ended up flying off the table and caught it between my legs and the table ... was a close call :) –  Nippysaurus Nov 26 '12 at 5:47
    
@Flimzy I am the OP of this question and mods suggested me to separate my question and my own answer to better structure it for future viewers. I have also added in my question to ask for alternatives, it seems like you have something nice to suggest? –  Gapton Nov 26 '12 at 6:21
    
@Nippysaurus I have no strap on my 60D for many months, ironically, the very day I put the strap on, I almost yanked it off a table exactly the way you described. lol –  Gapton Nov 26 '12 at 6:24

Most of your negative points stem from having the camera strap around your neck. What I do is wrap the strap several times around my wrist and already a lot of your negatives dissapear: strap around wrist

  • because the strap is wrapped so tightly around your wrist, the camera will drop only a few centimetres if you accidentally drop/release it

  • The strap doesn't attract much attention any more

A drawback of this method is that you are almost forced to walk around with your camera in your hand because it is cumbersome and time-consuming to unwrap.

Also, part of the strap can obscure the viewfinder while shooting.

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6  
If you are going to use a neck strap as a wrist strap, it might be more convenient and comfortable to just buy a wrist strap :) bhphotovideo.com/c/product/542422-REG/… –  dpollitt Nov 20 '12 at 15:55
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I wrap the strap around my wrist, too, though I do it looser than is in the picture. Loose enough so it doesn't obstruct the viewfinder, though loose enough to fall further, too. The major benefit of this technique over not using a dedicated wrist strap: it's also still a neck/shoulder strap. –  Dan Wolfgang Nov 20 '12 at 16:43
    
How will you swap lens ? shouldnt that be in cons list ? –  GoodSp33d Nov 20 '12 at 18:34
    
I tried this. It is either too loose or too tight, and when I want to temporarily hold my camera with my left hand, I have to go through the untangle and re-wrap process. Like @dpollitt said it might be easier to just get a wrist strap. –  Gapton Nov 21 '12 at 1:38

If your camera is not very heavy, I highly recommend a 'hand strap', like this. I use it on my 20D and 5D Mk2 with all but the heaviest of lenses. It makes a great carrying handle as well when I'm not shooting.

Hand Strap mounted between camera strap point and tripod mounting point, holding hand tight to camera body.

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I have considered something like this, it is good but perhaps not the best. When this is compared to holding your camera with no strap at all. I think it only offers one advantage, which is safety. It does not free both hands to assist lens change, for example. Personally, I have never dropped my camera while I am holding it. I have knocked it off a table, but I just don't think loosing my grip on the camera happens to me very often. –  Gapton Nov 26 '12 at 6:32

In addition to camera bags designed as a "holster" such as the Naneu C5, there are systems such as the Capture Clip, and the Spider Holster which allow you a little more versatility.

The Capture is pretty nice because the mounting plate is Arca Swiss (you have to use their plate with their bracket, but their plate works with other Arca Swiss things, like tripod heads), and it has a fairly low profile. I have medium sized hands and I can use my camera in portrait mode with my hand wrapped around the grip and over the bracket without any issues. It's not uncomfortable like other brackets I've tried. The only disadvantage I can think of is that the bracket can be uncomfortable if you're sitting down and it's around your waist.

The Spider Holster comes highly recommended from some pros I know. At $135+, the Spider is relatively expensive, but it is supposed to be very comfortable and secure.

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I've stopped attaching to my tripod socket. There's a fellow on the Nikon FF forum at DP Review that did some major damage to his D800, enough to prompt me back to a more traditional option for mine. I'm just not willing to risk that kind of damage only to have Nikon tell me I'm out of luck. –  John Cavan Nov 21 '12 at 1:15
    
I'm not sure what camera you use, but if you have something like a 60D or any of the Rebel series (I'm not familiar with Nikon models at all), then you can get the battery/portrait grip and if any damage happens to the tripod socket then it is relatively inexpensive to replace. –  tenmiles Nov 21 '12 at 1:42
    
I have a D800, the full frame high-resolution monster from Nikon, so I'm a little more nervous about the risk these days. I did use the Blackrapid's R-strap with my Pentax K-5s quite happily, but the D800 is larger and heavier. It's just worth remembering that the tripod socket isn't really designed with this in mind. –  John Cavan Nov 21 '12 at 2:21
    
+1 for Capture, I kickstarted that and have been using the original ever since. Two 3-day trips to Disney and dozens of hikes in the mountains later, still going strong. –  Dakine83 May 16 at 18:17

As an alternative strap I'd recommend the Pacsafe Carrysafe. It contains thin metal wires that protect the camera from getting ripped by a cutter knife.

The strap is much more inconspicuous then the original yellow Nikon straps. On the downside, a pickpocket could become angry about a failed theft...

I usually carry my camera over neck and shoulder, somtimes like BioGeek. The length allows me to get free from the strap very fast.

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I use a BlackRapid RS-Sport strap. One of the best purchases I made. Stops the camera from hanging around your neck and is really easy to shoot with while keeping the camera secure.

http://youtu.be/s6xJYNhlVkQ

Works great for pros or just amateurs carrying around a camera around all day on vacation. I've walked up mountains with this thing and it never gets uncomfortable or in the way and easy to get to when you want to take a shot.

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Cons: I've seen several cameras crash to the floor after being accidentally dragged off some horizontal surface by their strap.

What I do to every camera I get is to put a small loop of strong nylon cord through the eye. I carefully size it so my first two fingers fit through snugly. Now, I can work my fingers through the right loop and the camera is more or less attached to my hand.

You can still attach a strap to the nylon loops, but unlike the metal split rings that are often there, the nylon won't scratch up the camera body.

Some cameras have flat strap eyes. You can use nylon webbing in such cases.

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I would use the Black Rapid Tether kit on the D800 for additional safety

http://www.blackrapid.com/products/tether-kit

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Could you add a little more detail? Why does this give additional safety? Is safety the only advantage over the default strap? –  mattdm Mar 8 at 21:55

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