I know what you're thinking...
Camera straps aren't that big of a deal, so why have an article that outlines how to choose one?
Well, if you've carried your camera around all day long with the original camera strap, you understand that there's a lot to be said for upgrading to something better.
Factory camera straps aren't meant to be anything special, which is why it seems that so many people think that one camera strap is just as good as the rest.
But once you experience the joy of an aftermarket strap that's designed for comfort, safety, and security, your view of camera straps will change - fast.
So, with that in mind, let's take a look at five essential questions you need to ask yourself when choosing the best camera strap for your needs.
What is It Made Of?
The materials used to make a camera strap are important for a variety of reasons - comfort, aesthetics, and, of course, durability.
For me, there is no better material for a camera strap than leather.
Not only does leather conform to the contours of your shoulder over time, but it's also incredibly durable.
That means that a leather camera strap, like the ALA TOP by 4V Design pictured above, will last you for years and years and will be something that you can move from your current camera to your next.
In fact, this and other 4V straps are not only for mirrorless cameras but also for DSLRs.
The soft and rich padding makes them very comfortable for heavier cameras like a large Hasselblad H system, even if the strap is relatively narrow. There's no need to go too wide to have a nice weight distribution if the padding is right!
The durability of 4V Design's straps isn't just great from a wear and tear perspective, but it's also nice from a budget point of view.
Sure, leather is a bit more expensive up front, but because materials like the vegetable tanned Tuscany leather used to make the strap shown above will stand the test of time, it's a smart choice to make an investment that will last for years, not for months like many cheap straps.
How is the Padding?
Naturally, when buying a camera strap, you don't just want something that's durable, but you want something that's comfortable as well.
Again, leather delivers on this front.
As I noted earlier, over time, the leather will conform to your body, giving it a fits-like-a-glove fit that will make carrying your camera a veritable breeze.
When inspecting potential camera straps, look hard at the padding, in particular, as that will tell you about the comfort level the strap can offer you.
In looking at the image above, you can see the full leather padding that offers plenty of support.
Actually, the padding consists of special close-cell memory foam for maximum comfort and adaptability.
Close-cells are great because they don't absorb humidity, which is very important for leather. It also offers all the support you need for long days of shooting - even if you're carrying quite the load.
The ALA and ALA TOP models from 4V Design feature long padding to protect the collarbone, chest, and back. It's perfect when carrying your camera across your chest. In fact, no other strap has such long padding!
What's more, premium camera straps like the ALA TOP features 4V Ultra-Grip technology, which means the strap doesn't just deliver a soft and tactile experience, but it is also sure to stay put on your shoulder.
That means your camera won't be sliding off your shoulder and won't rub your skin raw.
The ALA TOP even has a pre-curved cut to give it an ultra-comfortable fit that naturally conforms to your shoulder.
If you ask me, that's the kind of comfort we all need!
How Does It Connect to Your Camera?
All the durability and comfort in the world won't matter if the camera strap you want isn't compatible with your camera.
That's why when making your choice of camera strap it's necessary to investigate exactly how the strap connects to your camera.
Some straps, like the one shown above, give you two attachment choices: a universal 10mm aramid reinforced band with a Fit Kit or a fixed metal Spring Ring attachment shown above.
Either way, you can rest assured that these connections are solid and stable, offering you the utmost of security and peace of mind knowing that your strap is safely connected to your camera - and will stay that way.
What's more, 4V Design has excellent quick release systems. Their QR system is very unique in that it has the advantage of having no parts left attached to the camera.
That means you get maximum protection for your equipment, and maximum functionality for your mirrorless or DSLR camera as well.
The Piuma QR shown in the images above is the only one that's fully made of leather that has this QR feature. That gives you a strap that's soft and comfortable, and lightweight as well.
And like other straps from 4V Design, the Piuma it versatile with length adjustments (more on that below) and the ability to use it as a neck strap or across your chest. Of course, it's built like a tank too, with unparalleled attention to detail.
What is the Length?
I'm a pretty big guy. My wife is pretty small. That means that the strap that's best for me isn't necessarily the one that's right for her because I need a longer strap to keep my camera at my fingertips than she does.
But more than that, some photo shoots necessitate that I cinch up the strap to keep the camera a little closer to me - like when I'm traveling and don't want it to be flopping around at my side.
That means that you need to have a look at the camera strap's length, not just to ensure it's big (or small) enough for you, but that's it's adjustable to fit differing needs from one day of shooting to the next.
The ALA TOP camera strap gives you precisely that kind of versatility.
With plenty of length to accommodate short and long torsos, it's a one-size-fits-all solution.
Better still, this strap has the length needed to carry your camera around your neck or across your shoulder.
Notice in the image above how the strap has a double length adjustment - one on each end.
That's the kind of versatility you need when looking for an ideal camera strap.
What are the Features?
When you think about camera straps, I imagine that you don't immediately wonder what sort of features they might offer.
But trust me, if you go about things the right way and get a top-quality camera strap, you'll be surprised at just how many features you'll find.
For example, the strap featured in the image above has a folding flap that allows you to fold and shorten the strap.
Simply use the leather flap on the top of the pad to lock the strap ends into a folded position.
This is a great feature for instances in which you need to shoot with your camera mounted on a tripod, but don't want to remove the strap altogether.
Instead, by folding and securing its ends, this strap won't catch the wind like a typical strap would do, allowing you to minimize camera shake to get sharper photos when shooting with a tripod.
Another handy feature to look for is an attachment band, like the one seen in the image above.
This 10mm band is strong and durable, allowing for incredible resistance to wear and tear, and even resists cuts by would-be thieves.
And in the case of the ALA TOP strap, its attachment band features a herringbone design that doesn't just look good but provides improved strength for a much stronger connection. This enables the weight of your camera to be distributed more evenly for better comfort and performance.
As if that's not enough, this attachment band is folded and stitched, making it much more difficult for the band to slip out of its buckle. That means you get a much safer carrying experience than you do with lesser straps.
Lastly, a feature that we all want is a camera strap that looks good.
Sure, a beautiful camera strap isn't going to help you take better photos, but there is something to be said for sporting a strap that can be worn by photographers at weddings and other formal events.
Looking at the image above, you can see the height of camera strap design, with Italian leather construction and rich details like gorgeous stitching and hand-painted details.
When it comes down to it, choosing the right camera strap for your needs really comes down to five things: durability, comfort, compatibility, length, and features.
If you ask me, the ALA TOP camera strap by 4V Design hits all five targets. If you have a camera and you need a high-quality strap that looks great and will give you the utmost in comfort for years to come, I suggest you give the ALA TOP a good, long look.