Camera Straps Suck

Making a quality camera strap suitable for large, 400mm+ lenses must be harder than making high quality 400mm lenses, because we have many choices for excellent lenses in the 400mm range; and no good reliable straps for those lenses. You may recall that a couple of years ago a Black Rapid RS-7 strap disconnected and dropped my Canon 7D and 70-200 f/2.8L IS II lens onto the street, severely damaging the camera. It ended up costing me several hundred dollars in repairs. That was not the first time the Black Rapid strap dropped my camera onto the ground; but unfortunately I was too stubborn to learn my lesson the first couple of times my camera fell off the strap because the camera wasn’t actually damaged.

Since then, I’ve been using a Carryspeed strap. The original plate was prone to disconnect, and it too dropped my camera on the ground once and almost dropped it several times more. Fortunately, the one time I didn’t catch it before it hit the ground, I was on the beach and the camera fell into soft sand. Since then, Carryspeed has redesigned the plate; and the new plate seems to be somewhat more stable and reliable, so that’s the strap I’ve been using. However, on a recent trip to Costa Rica, a new failure mode appeared. The Neoprene shoulder strap tore several days into the trip, not so badly that the camera fell; but badly enough that I wasn’t comfortable using it any more. Unfortunately I had not brought a spare camera strap with me so I had to shoot off a tripod for the rest of the trip, which was especially inconvenient with a group in the tight spaces of some of the rain forest trails.

Torn Carryspeed Neoprene Strap

I think there may be something fundamentally wrong with the idea of hanging a large lens off of your shoulder by the tripod mount. The screw hole just isn’t meant to take the weight. The alternative is to attach a strap to the strap handles on the camera body or the lens. Medium-size lenses like the 70-200 f2.8L don’t have strap handles though. Furthermore, I’ve yet to find a long enough strap that’s designed to attach to these handles. Most of those straps like the Canon Professional Services Op-Tech manufactured straps are meant to be slung across one shoulder but not across your chest. This works for small lenses, but not for the 400mm+ lenses I work with.

Has anyone found a camera strap suitable for over the shoulder or over the back carrying? That attaches to the strap handles rather than the tripod mount? I like to handhold, but it’s really hard to do when I’m constantly worrying that the strap will break and drop several thousand dollars worth of expensive camera equipment on the ground. I really want a flexible, comfortable strap, either sling or backpack style, suitable for hiking with and handholding an 8-12 pound rig. Is that really beyond the reach of modern technology? Is there a better way to hike with an SLR and large lens?

One Response to “Camera Straps Suck”

  1. John Cowan Says:

    It looks to me like you should take the strap shown above to a tailor and have him stitch a piece of thin but good leather into a cylinder, good side in, and then stitch that on both sides of the hole. This is a little hard to explain in words, but the effect will be that the hole will be surrounded by a ring of leather on both sides, and (except for the seam) the leather will be continuous through the hole.

    I can recommend my neighborhood tailor on the west side of Second Ave. between 3rd and 4th Streets in Manhattan. Note that he is open weekdays and Sundays but closed Saturdays.

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