Head to Head: Traditional Shoulder Straps vs. Hand Straps

It’s a debate that’s getting more and more interesting with each passing year: Should you continue to use your traditional shoulder strap, taking solace in the comfort of the familiar? Or should you jump ship to a hand strap, getting out of your comfort zone and exploring what photography is like without your camera literally tied around your neck?

There are pros and cons to both sides, of course. Let’s see how these old-school and new-school accessories stack up!

The Case for Shoulder Straps

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You only have so many hands, and shoulder straps give you the ability to make the best use of them. You can carry multiple cameras at the same time, which is sometimes necessary, like when you’re shooting a wedding. Utilizing a shoulder strap also means your hands can be free to do other tasks if need be, like handing out business cards. Additionally, lens changes are pretty easy if you use a shoulder strap - the camera is right there in front of you - which is just about the easiest location to change a lens.

Shoulder straps provide a certain level of security as well. It’s probably more difficult for a thief to steal something that’s around your neck, especially if you have a strap that has wires embedded into the strap to prevent them from being cut. Shoulder straps also serve as a fail-safe - if you’re shooting downward from a balcony or another high vantage point, it’s nice to know your camera won’t slide off your neck into the abyss.

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There are, of course, some drawbacks to shoulder straps. First, they are quite obvious and will draw attention to the fact that you’ve got a camera and are taking pictures. Secondly, when shooting long exposures, the strap can catch the wind and cause blurry images due to camera shake. But most importantly, if you’re a shooter that spends any amount of time carrying your camera around, you know the trials and tribulations of dealing with traditional neck straps. They get tangled up. They restrict the movement of your arms and shoulders. They get caught on things. And, most of all, many of them are exceedingly uncomfortable and cause undue strain on your neck and shoulders.

The Case for Hand Straps

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It stands to reason that the failings of the traditional shoulder strap are the primary arguing points for making the switch to a hand strap. Hand straps have come a long way in terms of features and design, and offer photographers a safe, secure, and comfortable means of maintaining control over their cameras.

The biggest benefit of a hand strap is the comfort level. Rather than weighing down on your neck and shoulders, a hand strap keeps your camera snugly wrapped around your hand for worry-free shooting. There’s no long shoulder strap to contend with either, so photographers that use a hand strap have a freedom of movement that is unparalleled. Move your hands, arms, and shoulders with ease and without worry of snagging your strap on object or people as you move around taking photos.

Hand straps are also incredibly easy to use - just slip it on and you’re ready to go! If you spring for a top-of-the-line hand strap like the Spiderlight from Spider Holster, that ease of use means you can quickly and easily mount your camera to a tripod with the Spiderlight Thin Plate, even with the hand strap still attached. Even better, the Spiderlight fits so well that your hand is in the perfect position for shooting with the ability to reach all your camera’s controls without stress or strain on your hand or fingers.

Arguments against hands straps usually focus on the flimsy construction and uncomfortable fit. And while that might be true of lesser products, the Spiderlight performs well on both fronts. It’s constructed of high-quality materials that remember the form of your hand. The lining of the inside of the strap is even covered in velvet to reduce sweatiness! The s-shape curvature of the strap ensures the load of your camera is distributed across your hand, minimizing fatigue and maximizing comfort as well.

The Spiderlight Hand Strap was designed specifically for mirrorless cameras, which are too small to handhold for long periods of time. It’s a new product, currently available on Kickstarter, and was designed with Spider Holster’s highly popular SpiderPro Hand Strap in mind. It’s proven features have been extended to the Spiderlight so mirrorless camera owners can enjoy the freedom of using a hand strap and cut the cord - so to speak - and get rid of those pesky shoulder straps once and for all.

The Final Word

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The choice you make regarding the type of strap you use will be determined in large part by the type of work you perform. If you need the option of being hands-free or have multiple cameras immediately accessible, using a shoulder strap might make sense. However, the product line offered by Spider Holster, from their hand straps to tethers to hip holsters, allows you to accomplish all the same tasks without shoulder straps getting in your way. Carry your cameras and accessories on your hips, easily grab your camera and slide on the hand strap, and go about your shooting with the freedom of movement and comfort that you deserve!

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