As a DSLR photographer, you likely carry your camera with you most of the time, which means having the right kind of strap is extremely important. You want a strap that is strong, comfortable, durable, convenient and never an obstacle to going wherever your photography passions take you and capturing your unique visions. Follow these 7 tips when you’re in search of the perfect camera strap and you just might find it.
1. Ditch the Standard
With all due respect to the camera companies, they make excellent cameras, but the camera strap that typically comes with your camera is essentially an after-thought. It’s functional, but doesn't have many of the features you want in a high quality camera strap.
2. Strength = Security and Safety
The quality of a camera strap’s construction is a sure sign that it is strong. Whether you wear it around your neck or over one shoulder and across your chest, you want to make sure it can take your sudden movements, working at all angles and positions and can’t be easily detached from your camera by a grabby thief.
3. A Material Difference
Although a plastic strap may seem like a good choice, especially in wet weather, it can also become brittle after exposure to temperature extremes, discolor and become stiff from repeated use. Humans have been using good old cow leather for thousands of years for many uses and it’s still a superior material.
4. Well Connected
Pay careful attention of how the strap attaches to your camera, especially the metal parts. Some have a buckle configuration while others connect with a tripod mount. If they’re cheap and lightweight, then they can break under maximum stress or even become brittle in cold weather.
5. Designed for Durability
Active DSLR photographers shoot in all kinds of weather conditions and environments, whether it’s in a travel crowd, on the street or deep in the woods or backcountry. Choose a strap with the quality construction for all these challenges as well as one that will last a long time, providing you the most bang for your bucks.
6. Look Ma, No Hands!
When a camera strap is well made and strong, then you know you don't have to be concerned when it’s hanging around your neck or across your body. Both of your hands are free, so you can adjust light stands and light, move natural objects to give you a better view of amazing wildlife or use a digital device.
7. Double the Comfort
Generally, a wide strap, 1 inch or wider, will provide the most comfort; but straps with twice the width for the section that sits on your shoulder or neck is preferable. Check the thickness of the padding and whether the back of the strap has a webbed covering. You probably don't want a strap with any stitching on the surface, as it could cause wear on clothing and irritate skin; a side stitching is better.
8. A Free-Sliding Sling
A sling-type strap is also a great option, since you’re usually able to bring the camera to your eye faster; but check how freely it slides and whether the construction quality will allow it to continue to slide easily after years of use.
9. Carry It with Style
All these practical considerations are certainly important, but there is no reason why your camera strap can't be stylish, reflect an artistic aesthetic and even match your personality, too.
Recently, Alex Schult, president of PhotographyTalk.com, had an opportunity to talk with Rachael Becker, the founder of Heavy Leather NYC, and discovered she has a bit different perspective on what makes a great camera strap.
“Let’s jump into the ‘wayback machine.’ Tell us about why you decided to start Heavy Leather NYC.”
“Heavy Leather NYC was a long time in the making. When I began the business, I was through designing corporate products of poor quality and style to cut costs. I wanted to create goods made in America, and take personal responsibility for those products. I had, and still have, an overwhelming desire to share my take on style and beauty with the world.”
“When you designed your camera straps, did you had a certain audience or avatar you wanted to attract. Who is this person?”
“My camera straps sling over the shoulder of photographers and everyday enthusiasts who believe in personal style and detail. Functionality is essential, but aesthetic and quality are personal choices. Photographers who buy my camera straps are expressing a lifestyle. They value an awareness and refinement reflected in their gear and art. They enjoy a product that tells a story, whose maker is close to home.”
“Your camera straps have this swanky, rugged look. What material do you use?”
“Cowhide leather; and wax cotton is coming soon!”
“What are the advantages of a camera strap made from these materials?”
“Leather is soft, yet durable, and breaks in with age. With proper care, it can outlast the elements. It's a multipurpose natural material that mankind has been using throughout time for function and aesthetic. I add padding and webbing for extra strength and comfort.”
“Do you design straps for many types of cameras?”
“The Classic strap is designed for smaller cameras: point-and-shoot, compact and mirrorless. The Slingshot strap is designed for smaller cameras and DSLRs, including those with heavier lenses, etc.”
“How do your camera straps differ from others in the marketplace?”
“My straps have a timeless, yet current edge, that stems from my background as a guitar strap maker and motorcycle rider. I've done custom work for a variety of well-known musicians, including Prince, Cat Stevens, Black Sabbath, Motorhead, The Original Wailers and others. I try to bring a taste of that customized high-end rocker flair to my camera strap line while keeping the functional, vintage Americana styling I've designed into my motorcycle gear.”
All of the straps are made in the Heavy Leather NYC studio in Brooklyn, NY and are individually reviewed upon completion. I take special care to bring you the best quality product.”
“If someone wants to order one of these straps, where can they purchase one?”
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