Our Top Pick for 2018: Black Rapid RS-7 Camera Strap
Read our full review.
Any photographer knows that timing is key. It’s best to have the camera ready to go at all times in case the perfect shot comes along. For this purpose, a great camera strap can make or break any real photographer. Camera straps keep the camera handy and ready for shooting. A sturdy camera strap attached to the body of a camera can also prevent major damage to the camera and gear. Cameras with straps attached have fewer chances of taking a tumble to the ground than cameras without straps. Anyone interested in photography knows that photography gear is astronomically expensive. It is one of the most expensive industries and hobbies in the world. Since the gear is expensive, it’s important for any photographer to protect their tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of gear by attaching it to a sturdy strap. Straps hold the weight of a camera’s body in addition to gear like camera grips, lenses, flash and additional batteries. Many cameras often arrive with temporary straps, often referred to by the industry as the “factory strap,” but these straps are usually flimsy and don’t hold a large amount of weight over time. Making an investment in a quality strap protects cameras and gear more than any other preventive practice. A good strap offers the photographer peace of mind while using their gear.
Neck and shoulder injuries are also a potential concern for professional and hobbyist photographers alike. A strap with a thick shoulder or neck pad can absorb the shock from the camera and gear during use, eliminating the risk for neck, shoulder and back injuries. A great strap allows any photographer to shoot for hours without experiencing neck or shoulder pain. Let’s take a look at some of the very best camera straps available on the market today.
#1. Black Rapid RS-7 Camera Strap
This lightweight and durable camera strap from Black Rapid makes shooting photos a breeze. It’s an R-strap model, stretching around the shoulder to sling down across the torso toward the photographer’s hip for a more ergonomic fit. With the camera and gear dangling from their sides, some photographers express an initial feeling of discomfort with this design of strap; however, this sling style proves to be the most popular among professional photographers due to its comfort and durability. Long-lasting and snug, this strap is the perfect fit for any serious photographer. It holds up to 250 pounds worth of gear and distributes the camera and gear’s weight evenly throughout the strap.
This Black Rapid strap has multiple points of attachment to the camera’s body, making it a completely customizable design. It’s designed to connect to the midpoint of the camera’s body with stainless steel FastnR technology in order to distribute the camera’s weight evenly throughout the heft of the strap. The strap’s FastnR sturdily connects to the tripod socket on the body of the camera, hanging the camera upside down to rest against the photographer’s hip, back or stomach areas. With the camera conveniently located in the sling style of the strap, the photographer can obtain the camera within nanoseconds.
The strap is crafted with extremely durable ballistic nylon on top and a thick, comfortable foam pad along its entire underside. The underside material is coated with a knitted mesh that breathes on the neck easily in warm climates. The mesh curves perfectly around any shoulder area for added user comfort when shooting photos. A plastic length adjuster sits hidden near the rear of the shoulder pad, allowing its user to unnoticeably adjust the strap’s length.
This sturdy design is ideal for photographers who plan to rough it during photo shoots. It’s a popular strap among professional-grade nature photographers who regularly take extensive hikes with their cameras and gear. Since the R-strap, or sling, design allows the camera to rest low on the photographer’s midsection, the camera remains out of the way during hikes and treks through the wilderness. The strap’s FastnR technology keeps the camera in place during any combinations of quick movements, preventing the camera and gear from wobbling back and forth on the photographer’s hip or middle area. This is the perfect way to transport a camera with added convenience over rough terrain.
This strap is easy to care for and clean. When it’s time to give the strap a wash, Black Rapid recommends giving the strap a wash by hand and allowing it to air dry.
Unfortunately, this Black Rapid strap is designed for right-handed photographers only. Left-handed photographers will find it difficult or impossible to use this strap.
This camera strap from Black Rapid has everything a serious photographer needs to connect to their camera and start shooting immediately. Made of hefty nylon with a thick foam shoulder pad, this strap proves its durability and comfort through the ages for any photographer.
#2. ONA Lima Camera Strap
Arriving in gorgeous waxed canvas and grain leather materials, the Lima camera strap by ONA racks up major points in attractiveness and durability. Wear and tear through the ages won’t beat this strap up, but will instead contribute to the overall rugged look of the grain leather material of the strap. This strap is one of the more stylish options around.
It’s a more classically-fitting strap, draping around the neck to rest the camera atop the photographer’s stomach, chest or midsection, depending on customized adjustments. The strap is completely adjustable, dropping from 19 inches to 23 inches with the help of two chrome buckles. If preferred, the customizable adjustment feature allows for this strap to fit around the shoulder in an R-strap design. This versatile feature makes the Lima strap a great choice for the photographer who travels through different locations and environments. The strap is slim and light, making it the perfect option for any photographer on the go.
The neck of the strap is soft to the touch. It’s lined with neoprene, allowing this Its hardware accents are crafted with shiny chrome rivets that match the adjusting chrome buckles, pouring polished detail onto this rugged strap.
This ONA strap is built to handle cameras that land on the lighter side of the spectrum. The Lima strap can support up to four pounds of a camera’s body and gear. Photographers with DSLR cameras plus large lenses and grips should steer away from this strap for this reason. The build of this strap handles small mirrorless cameras much better.
The Lima camera strap from ONA is the perfect option for any photographer who wants to look stylish while they shoot. It’s a comfortable, durable fit for cameras and gear on the smaller, lighter side.
#3. Peak Design Slide Camera Sling
The Peak Design Slide Camera Sling is perhaps the most customizable and unique camera strap available on the market today. The strap easily reconfigures into cross-body sling, shoulder and neck strap positions. Adjustments between strap configurations are quick and simple.
The sling-style strap attaches at either side of the camera’s body using Peak Design’s Anchor Link quick connectors. These connectors are durable and sturdy, but easy to unhook when a camera is ready to be swapped out. This quick feature is ideal for photographers who work with multiple cameras and types of gear during a photo shoot. With the quick connectors, multiple cameras can rotate on one great strap. Peak Design sends four anchors along with the strap in addition to a standard plate for attachment to the camera.
The Slide Camera Sling is designed to resemble a stylish, streamlined car seat belt with red accents. This material provides 45mm of width for extra support. It’s padded on the inside for additional comfort. The thickness of the strap distributes the weight of the attached camera and gear evenly throughout the strap, boosting comfort during use. One side of the strap is smooth; the other side is gripped, making it nearly impossible for the camera to bounce around during use. The strap measures and ample 53 inches in length. It’s ideal for outdoor photographers who plan to wear an extra layer, such as a jacket or parka, while shooting.
The seat belt strap design incorporates quick adjusters, allowing the photographer to adjust the strap’s length and configuration with just one hand. A protective coating covers these quick adjusters along the strap, leaving the adjusters without a scratch through the years.
This camera sling can maintain the weight of any camera and its gear, ranging from large, heavy DSLR and medium format cameras to small, compact mirrorless cameras. The strap holds up to 200 pounds of weight from a camera and its corresponding gear.
Stylish and sturdy, the Peak Design Slide Camera Sling is a great choice for any level of photographer. Its inner grip allows the camera to stay put during use, minimizing bouncing movements while the photographer walks. It’s a customizable and versatile pick for any photography needs.
#4. OP/TECH Pro Loop Strap
The Pro Loop Strap from OP/TECH is the most durable strap on the cheaper side. With a thick and wide neoprene pad at its center, it’s extremely comfortable for long-term use.
The strap attaches by looping through each of the camera’s connection points, forming a tight, secure knot. Initially, some photographers do not trust the security of a loop connection system versus a metal clamp system, but the manufacturer has tested the slip knot design with many different weights and models of cameras to ensure a tight hold on the camera’s connection points. Though the strap incorporates fewer materials than other straps, it has proven to be a durable and secure fit for any camera. This strap can maintain the weight of most cameras, from professional-grade DSLR models to small, mirrorless options. Fabric loops are also more gentle on a camera’s connection points, preventing the scraping that metal connectors often cause over time. In addition to the loops, the strap has a buckle feature that can come apart easily in order to attach the camera to a tripod or elsewhere.
The neoprene pad at the center of the strap has a slightly curved shape, resting lower on the neck than most camera straps. It measures just under three inches wide, providing ample comfort during use. The strap has a grip material coating one side, preventing the attached camera from bouncing around when resting. The pad also absorbs the shock from the weight of the camera and gear, distributing the impact of the camera and making the gear feel half as heavy. The strap is available in a wide array of colors.
The thick pad on the Pro Loop Strap is designed to sit around the neck, but can be configured to sling across the chest as an R-strap model. For those who enjoy an R-strap design across the chest, the manufacturer recommends ordering the “extra long” version of this strap for added comfort. Ordering the “extra long” version is also recommended for taller photographers.
Photography gear costs an arm and a leg, but a durable strap shouldn’t have to. The OP/TECH Pro Loop Strap is the best option for serious photographers on a budget. With wonderfully thick padding, this strap is sure to provide long-term comfort to any photographer during photo shoots.
Any photographer looking to purchase a new camera strap should consider a few factors before diving in. Here are a few aspects of camera straps a photographer ought to observe while shopping.
Weight of Camera and Corresponding Gear
Some straps can carry more weight than others. When shopping for a strap, it’s wise to consider the total weight of a camera and its corresponding gear. Some straps hold up to 250 pounds of gear; other straps can only handle four or five pounds attached to its end.
Leather straps typically carry less weight than a nylon strap. Unlike nylon, leather can crack and crumble when stressed. Leather straps are a stylish option for compact mirrorless cameras, but does not suit professional-grade DSLR models, or cameras with long, heavy lenses.
A thick pad along the neck or shoulder area of the strap will absorb the weight of the camera and gear, distributing the shock of the camera’s body evenly throughout the strap. This allows the camera to feel much lighter to the photographer during use which makes for hours of comfort during a day’s photo shoot.
Where the Camera Will Travel
When shopping for the perfect strap, photographers should also consider where they plan to take their camera along to shoot. Different styles of straps are ideal for different scenarios.
An R-strap design is best for the photographer who plans to explore the great outdoors through the lens. This design slings over the shoulder and across the chest to rest the camera upon the photographer’s hip. Contrary to popular belief, having the camera at the hip is the most protective resting place. Since these straps move across the body diagonally, R-straps are typically longer than other straps. Many sports and wedding photographers tend to prefer the R-strap design for its added comfort and protection. R-straps often arrive with thicker shoulder pads than neck straps.
A classical neck strap is perfect for the casual photographer. They allow the camera to rest on the photographer’s stomach or midsection. However, a neck strap provides less protection to the camera and lens. Neck straps are more uncomfortable than an across-the-shoulder R-strap, making them better for short-term, casual use.
For the photographer looking to snap great photos in all locations, a versatile strap with multiple adjustment options is most ideal. The photographer seeking a versatile strap should search for one with a combined neck and shoulder pad that protects either area of the body.
Camera straps come in all types of materials. A durable material like nylon is sure to maintain the weight of any camera and its gear over time. Added materials like foam or mesh along the neck part of the strap provide additional comfort during use, and are most ideal for photographers who plan to shoot for several hours at a time. Foam protects the photographer’s shoulder and neck areas which ordinarily experience pain during hours of camera use, and mesh, ideal for outdoor shooting, allows the strap to breathe. Some nylon straps are lined with grip material, allowing them to tightly hug the photographer during use to prevent the camera and gear from bouncing around.
More stylish material options, like leather, are available on the market today, but it’s wise to keep in mind that leather can experience more wear and tear over time than durable nylon. When purchasing a leather strap, it’s best to look for one with a plastic or equivalent coating to protect the material over time during use.
The materials of the connection points of the strap are equally important. Today, most high-quality straps arrive with metal loops or rings to connect to the points on the body of the camera. These metal rings often lock in place to ensure a secure hold onto the strap. Many photographers prefer a strap that arrives with fabric loop connectors. A fabric option protects the immediate exterior of the camera, preventing chipping and damage to the camera body’s paint. However, fabric loop connectors run the risk of coming unknotted.
Strap Length and Adjustment Capabilities
Straps arrive in a wide array of lengths, measuring from less than 30 inches all the way up into the 60 inch range. Photographers on the taller or larger end of the spectrum should put length into the equation of the perfect camera strap. Many manufacturers include an “extra long” option for various models of straps. Adjustable camera straps are popular among photographers looking to move their strap into varying positions during use.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
Camera straps are an important investment for any photographer, professional and hobbyist alike. Any photographer who’s made the investment in a great camera shouldn’t skimp on their camera strap. In addition to protecting the camera and its gear from taking a preventable tumble, camera straps protect the photographer from shoulder and neck injury during use. Straps keep the camera ready to go at the hip or neck when the perfect shot comes along. Every photographer should feel prepared with a great camera strap on their chest, holding their tools of the trade nearby.