With all of the technical considerations that go into choosing a digital camera, it's easy to forget the strap. You get one with your camera, but it looks like an afterthought—a functional necessity with no style. If it were a fashion statement, it would be the equivalent of wearing black knee socks with a cocktail dress—functional, but less than attractive.
You can easily improve this situation by picking up a higher-quality strap that's more comfortable, functional—and better looking. Plus, you don't have to break the bank. There are straps to fit any budget, from very affordable bargains for casual shooters, up to high-quality harnesses for the pros. You can outfit yourself in leather for that new-car smell, or bedeck yourself in a decorative strap to let everyone know you have an eye for more than just flash photography. Whichever way you go, it will likely improve your shooting experience.
The decision to make is whether you want your camera simply strapped to your wrist, or hanging from your neck. If it's a wrist strap you want, you're likely looking to replace the thin and flimsy one that came with your camera. Replacement straps offer high-quality material for durability and comfort, and some add a little bit of style. Make sure the attachment will fit your camera's lugs—if it offers both a flat and round connector, you should be covered.
The simply named Camera Wrist Strap from DSPTCH fits all these criteria. It's designed for mirrorless cameras and is made of nylon paracord—that's the rugged yet cozy material used on parachute static lines. Army Rangers entrust their lives to this material as they jump and holler, “Geronimo!” The braided paracord has something of a retro look about it—you might say it's reminiscent of a Niihau shell necklace or crochet. The two half-inch quick-release connectors easily unclip the strap from the camera. In addition to Black, this strap comes in Black Camouflage, Gray, Olive, Slate Blue, or Red. Though you may not want to carry a heavy camera on your wrist, it's comforting to know that this strap is rated to support 10 pounds of gear.
Large cameras, such as a DSLR, can be heavy around the neck. If you prefer to handhold it, try a hand strap. They hold the camera snug in your grip, like the hand strap on camcorders. The Pro Strap from Camdapter is exactly that, designed to fit professional SLRs and keep your hand on the grip. The strap is adjustable, made of soft leather, reinforced with heavy-duty nylon thread, and is available in seven colors. To keep the strap from slipping, the buckle locks. You can use a tripod without removing the strap; it attaches to a Manfrotto 3157N Plate or RC2-Type QR Adapter. If you don't already have a tripod plate, you may need an adapter.
Wearing a DSLR neck strap that screams out the camera-maker's name isn't for everyone. Some people prefer to be more innocuous when they are out in public with a camera. You can set yourself apart with a comfortable and stylish strap that's often better made. Neck straps come in various configurations for cameras from big to small, and in many styles, though many are best suited for super zooms and SLRs. Some straps offer ornate designs, while others are made of attractive leather, some with a retro look.
Most neck straps attach to your camera's lugs, or eyelets. Another choice is the slingshot strap, which attaches to the tripod-mount threading on the bottom of your camera. Some photographers argue that this style makes it easier to keep a camera close, and to bring it to your eye more quickly. One word of caution, though: Routinely check that the connector is fully threaded, or get a lock to ensure your camera does not fall unexpectedly from the strap.
If it's a highly decorative touch you're looking for, consider the Symphony or Harmony camera strap. Both nylon belts are made by Capturing Couture, and boast the comfort of velvet backing. The intricate woven patterns are reminiscent of the 1960s and will set you and your camera apart from the crowd. Both 2-inch-wide straps feature a 30-inch decorative band and 14-inch nylon belts at either end to offer a total length of 58 inches.
Straps for Smaller Cameras
If you have a relatively light, compact camera, you can still benefit from slinging it over your neck or shoulder. Perhaps the simplest in design is a cord at fixed length to keep your camera at chest level. What's not so basic about the 35.4-inch-long Silk Cord Camera Strap from Black Label Bag, however, is that it is made of silk (I'll bet you guessed that from the name). You get four colors to choose from: Black, Peat, Red Dot Red and Royal White.
Another way to go is an adjustable sling strap. While some of these attach to the tripod thread on the bottom of your camera, the Standard Camera Sling Strap from DSPTCH attaches to your camera's lugs. This 1-inch wide strap is adjustable from 36 to 48 inches, so you can wear your camera anywhere from your chest down to your waist (depending on your height). The company designates this strap is for cameras up to 5 pounds, including the lens. The quick-release connectors make it easy to remove. The strap is made of nylon, with plastic connectors, and is available in seven colors: Black, Coyote, Gray, Olive, Black Camo, Red, and Camo.
For Fans of Leather
Leather jackets don't work for everyone, although some of us can pull off the look with ease. Leather accessories, on the other hand, make a quieter statement. With the variety of leather used for camera straps, you can match it to a belt, a pair of boots, a camera bag—even a leather jacket. If you're looking for something on the lighter side (that is, a 1-inch wide strap with 2.5" shoulder pad), try the NYC Slingshot Camera Strap on for size. It comes in Black, Brown, or Camouflage, and is adjustable from 54 to 59 inches, using the silver buckle adjustment. This strap is tailored for pros, with a business card holder built in. And, it comes with a tripod-mount attachment.
Also at the lighter end, the Lima Camera Strap from ONA is rated for cameras up to four pounds. This 63-inch-long leather strap has neoprene padding for comfort, adjustable connector belts for a customized fit, and chrome hardware for, well, for the same reasons car makers used to wrap their muscle cars in chrome bumpers—it just looks cool. You get the color choice of Black, Field Tan, or Smoke. ONA also makes the Presidio Camera Strap, which also sports chrome hardware, and is 63 inches long with connector belts that adjust to your taste. The strap, though the same 0.4-inch width, is heavier duty, and rated to hold up to 6 pounds. This strap comes in five colors, some of which you may confuse with a vice: Antique Cognac, Black, Dark Tan, Field Tan, and Smoke.
For heavier cameras, you may want a wider neck strap. Long shoots can leave your neck or shoulders sore, and distributing the weight a little more evenly couldn't hurt (or, at least not as much). You can get a strap with a 1.5-inch wide neck panel, such as the Leather Camera Strap from Celia Gallery. This strap is made from Argentinean cowhide and nylon webbing, and has an adjustable length range of 26 to 52 inches. It comes in Black and Brown.
Going even wider, the NYC Classic Leather Camera Strap from Heavy Leather has a 2-inch wide shoulder pad. The soft cowhide is heavy duty and comes in Black, Camouflage and Vintage Brown.
Straps for Multiple Cameras
If you're the type who wears two cameras, you probably need to be harnessed—that is, wearing a two-camera harness rather than slinging two separate camera straps. These harnesses hold two cameras at your side, with an X pattern for stability. The Money Maker Two-Camera Harness made by HoldFast Gear is worth a look, and is available in an array of sizes and leather combinations. All of the assorted models have a speed clutch, so each camera glides smoothly into shooting position, and you can use the additional D-rings to attach other accessories.
Whatever the weight of your camera or your sense of style, there's a camera strap to fit you. From silk to 1960s weave to cowboy cowhide, camera-strap makers offer a look and feel to fit almost any ensemble—and configuration options to fit your shooting style. Whatever your personal taste, B&H can help you select the right camera tether. Drop by the B&H SuperStore in New York, call 1-800-606-6969, or contact us online at Live Chat.