An Insanely Long and Detailed Review of 3 Sling Straps

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Ray Sachs, May 14, 2010.

  1. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Upon my re-entry into photography (beyond family P&S snapshots) a month or two ago, I quickly realized I didn't like the traditional hang it around your neck strap - the camera moves around too much while walking. I saw some comments about Black Rapid straps, loved the "sling" concept (where you wear the camera kind of like a messenger bag and it rests by your hip or side, rather than on your belly, and the strap doesn't really ever move - the camera slides up and down the strap, always at the ready by your hand), and bought one to try it. It was awesome, perfect, hard to imagine improving upon it. BUT..... its really overkill for an m4/3 camera with any m4/3 lens. So I also, being the thorough type, bought the other two, more minimalist, products that are out there in this sling strap market - Gordys and the Y-Strap. I've used 'em all for a while now and can now offer this review. Which is guaranteed to include FAR more information than you ever needed, wanted, hoped for, or dreaded about sling straps. Here's how they break down, in my occasionally humble opinion:

    Black Rapid - The Taj Majal of commercially available sling straps. So well thought out and implemented it hurts. I think there are four basic models, plus a two shoulder option for folks carrying two cameras at once. All of them contain a large and well-padded shoulder strap, the basic strap, a "brake" to keep everything in place, and the best fastener system for connecting the camera to the strap of any of them. It attaches through the tripod mount (I think they're working on some sort of accommodation for people who use tripods a lot and need a permanent way to allow both - I don't so its a non-issue for me) and has a swivel that assures that the camera can always be gotten into the right shooting position without twisting the strap or rubbing in ways that makes it harder to get the camera quickly to eye level. The fastener is easy to get in or out, but is very secure - your camera isn't coming off of this thing. The strap itself is basic nylon/synthetic strap, about an inch wide. The length is fully adjustable so you can place the camera exactly where you want regardless of how tall or short or wide you are. I like it right at the hip, where I can grab it and get it to my eye pretty much instantly and that length gives plenty of slack to hold the camera some distance away from your eye if you like.

    The differences in models basically has to do with the shoulder strap. The most basic one has a little zipper with room to store a couple of memory cards and maybe a small spare battery. The bigger one has room for all kinds of stuff, including cell phones, batteries, you name it. There's yet another modular system that allows you to hang additional stuff off of it for yet more storage. And there's a women's model that routes the strap such to let it avoid the protuberances found upon the chests of women (I guess some men could probably benefit from this as well).

    These shoulder pads are a great thing, but also the only weakness as these straps pertain to m4/3 use. As noted above, they're overkill. If you're carrying a big-ass DSLR with a big-ass lens, I suspect this would be a god-send. But you really don't need it for any m4/3 camera with even a Pany 45-200 lens, which I think is as big as any of the m4/3 lenses. They're just not that heavy. And all of that extra bulk on the strap makes it a real pain in the posterior to stuff into a camera bag that's otherwise sized appropriately for m4/3 use (ie, small). I used it for a couple of weeks and liked it, but found it a bit much to deal with when stowing the camera - and I have the smallest, most basic, shoulder pad option. So I checked out the other straps to see if either was as useful.

    Gordys - Gordy's is perhaps the Mona Lisa of the available sling straps, beautiful in its simplicity. Gordy makes leather camera straps of all sorts, including a sling strap option, which he professes to prefer himself. His straps are really quite attractive with that great leather feel that improves with age. Aesthetically, these are the best of the bunch and its not even close - really quite good looking. And to suit your specific aesthetic preferences, there are options for leather color, the color of the thread he uses to sew the whole thing together, options for the (optional) neck pads, and options for various types of tripod or lug mounts to connect the camera to the strap.

    Ahh yes, where to attach the strap to the camera?? A big issue with a sling style strap. Having tried both, I STRONGLY prefer a tripod mount than a lug mount. The camera will hang very easily and can be grabbed very easily with either a tripod or lug mount, but with a lug mount, the strap is always in the way of something when you raise the camera to your eye. If you mount the strap to the right lug, the strap will interfere with the various buttons, wheels, and other controls on the right side of the back of your camera. If you mount it on the left, its bound to cover part of the LCD viewing screen. Mount it to the tripod socket and its completely out of the way when you raise the camera to your eye. Some folks probably prefer a lug mount, particularly if they like to leave the tripod socket free. To me, the tripod socket is the far better way to go.

    As noted, the strengths of Gordy's straps are the aesthetic beauty and the simplicity. So what are the weaknesses? First, they're not adjustable - they're made to order in the length you specify and sewn in such a way that you're not gonna change that length. Ever! So you need to KNOW how long you want the strap to be when you order it. Gordy has some recommendations on the web site. But, based on my experience with the Black Rapid, I knew that the length he was recommending for someone my size would be too long for my liking. Since Gordy's was not my first strap, I could order the right length with a good bit of confidence. If it had been my first strap, I'd have probably taken his advice and would not have been nearly as satisfied with the finished product. The other disadvantage is that the fastener that connects the camera to the strap and allows the camera to slide along the strap as you raise it to your eye and drop it back down again, does not have a true swivel like the Black Rapid does. The practical effect of this is that there's a right way and a wrong way to put the strap on. Put it on correctly and the camera will slide up and down the strap without any real friction or twisting or binding and all is good with the world. But if you put it on backwards you'll feel like you're fighting the camera and the strap as you try to use it. The strap will twist as the camera slides up it, there will be notably more friction, and the whole process of getting the camera up to your eye and correctly positioned is a small burden. Not a horrible experience, but not nearly as good as when your put it with the right side forward. You could put a little mark on the strap so you'd always know which way to put it on and this would quickly become a non-issue. Its just something you do have to think about and take into account, so be aware of it before you order one of these. The strap itself, at least with the optional neck-pad (which is about an inch wide) is perfectly comfortable and appropriate for an m4/3 camera and lens. I'm not sure how it would feel without the neck pad as the strap itself is only about a quarter of an inch wide and might be less comfortable.

    The downsides can be overcome. If you manage to order the right size and figure out how to put it on with the right side facing forward each time, it is functionally just about as good as the Black Rapid. The camera doesn't slide up the strap QUITE as smoothly as with the Black Rapid because its a leather cord on metal rather than a nylon strap on metal, which slides a noticeable bit more easily. Overall, there's not much to dislike about this strap. And it should last at least as long as the camera.

    The "Y" Strap - If the Black Rapid is the Taj Majal and Gordys the Mona Lisa of these straps, the "Y" strap may be the K-Mart special. Any of these are arguably over-priced, but the other two do add some real value beyond what you could rig up yourself with common, everyday, stuff. This one arguably doesn't and after paying for it, I wondered why I'd bothered. I think I could have put the equivalent together for a couple of dollars in parts and they're not complicated parts either. This strap consists of a 1" nylon/synthetic strap (very similar to the Black Rapid strap), sewn together into a loop (for absolutely no reason than I can figure out), with a plastic adjusting buckle toward the sewn end of the loop, and a one and a quarter inch keyring to attach the camera to the strap and which slides up and down the strap. It also comes with a smaller keyring to attach the "slider" ring to the camera lug. That's it. Nothing to it. It all works quite well except for the problems noted above with attaching the strap to the camera lug - its gonna be in the way of SOMEthing. It also lacks any sort of swivel, so its easy to get the whole contraption twisted up and have it grab and bind if you don't keep things straight. The strap itself, at about an inch wide with NO shoulder pad, is just about perfect for an m4/3 setupIf you like this sort of lug attachment, there's no downside to this strap except the price. But you can go down to the local supply shop and probably buy everything you need for a do-it-yourself version for a couple of dollars and it would take about a minute to put it all together. I paid full price so you won't have to!!!

    The Verdict? - So after all of this, what is my personal favorite working setup? I cut the sewn end of the "Y" strap apart so I could use the Black Rapid fastener (which, as I noted, is the BOMB) with the much simpler strap and with no bulky shoulder pad. I had to cut the sewn end because there would be no way to get the Black Rapid hardware onto a closed loop. But since there was absolutely no useful reason to have sewn the two ends together in the first place, this was no problem. I have the best attachment of the bunch paired with a good basic, workman-like, strap that I can easily wrap around the camera or lens when I stow the whole thing in a case. Since Black Rapid sells the two parts of the fastener individually on its web-site, you could easily do the same thing. Go find about 5' of basic one inch strap, get a buckle to thread the two ends together so you can adjust the length to your liking, order the fastener pieces from Black Rapid, and you're good to go for about the same price as the "Y" strap but with far greater function. The Gordys strap is so pretty I'll probably use it sometimes if I'm shooting someplace where looks matter and I'll probably use it sometimes just because I bought the damn thing and I feel obligated to use it! But if I knew then what I know now, I'd buy the fastener hardware from Black Rapid, a strap and buckle from my local hardware / sewing / outdoor shop, put 'em together, and be done with it.

    I didn't know then what I know now, so I didn't know that would be the best option (and the one I'd end up using the most). So I spent a lot of money and trial and error to come to this conclusion. But now you DO know what I know (and didn't know then), so you can save yourself a bunch of time and money and do a quick do it yourself version.

    -Ray
     
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  2. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Moderator Subscribing Member Charter Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Real Name:
    Jason
    Wow. Good writeup. I haven't owned any of these.

    In my own experience, most straps I found weren't long enough, they were designed more for neck straps or for shorter people. I actually found a bag strap instead, which is overkill for my EP1. The problem I have found with using any strap that attaches to the body, neck, shoulder, or messenger style, is that when I want to go to then use the camera while attached to the strap, I don't have enough freedom of movement. For putting the camera to your eye, thats fine. But with live view, I want complete freedom. If it makes sense, what I need is a strap that is long enough to hold the camerea at my hip, but then can be extended for me to put the camera far outside my chest or whereever.

    Maybe one of these straps solves that problem.
     
  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    You should check out the videos on the Black Rapid website - they show you how these things work and there's a good bit of flexibility. The longer you make the strap, the more slack you have to move the camera around at eye-level (or held over your head?). With the strap slung over my left shoulder and the camera resting on my right hip, I can put it anywhere I ever want to for shooting. That said, I'm not one to want to hold it at full arm extension over my head or in front of me. If I wanted it that long, there'd probably be some tradeoff between the comfort of where the camera sits (well below the hip?) and getting that extra range.

    The other option is one of the holster systems that are out there that allow you to wear the camera on your belt and pull it out to shoot. But then you're gonna want some sort of wrist strap to make sure you don't drop the camera and getting in and out of that creates its own tradeoffs. I've never tried one of these. And don't plan to!!! :cool:

    -Ray
     
  4. Stephen Geis

    Stephen Geis Mu-43 Top Veteran

    538
    May 13, 2010
    Charlotte, NC
    Ray,

    Thanks for posting - I use a Domke Gripper neck strap hung over my right shoulder, but after reading your review just may need to sample one of these options ...

    Stephen
     
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  5. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Moderator Subscribing Member Charter Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Real Name:
    Jason

    I keep a wrist strap attached. If I need flexibility, I end up uncliping my shoulder strap and then using the wrist strap.

    When carrying the camera messenger style, the camera follows a line from the hip, across the body to the opposite shoulder. I came into a problem when I was on vacation when I wanted to take pictures of birds in the air or something on the ground. Just not enough slack. If I gave it more slack, it then would no longer sit at my hip, but flop around my thigh, lol.
     
  6. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    yet ANOTHER one

    Oh jeez, another one I was unaware of - the HORROR!

    Its called the luma loop. Its a bit pricey (about the price of the most expensive Black Rapid - the low end BR and the Gordys are less, and the home-made or Y-strap are MUCH less), but I don't see any downsides to it without trying it. It attaches to the camera any number of ways (including at the tripod mount) but via a lanyard with a quick release that you can use to quickly connect or disconnect the camera from the strap (if, say, you wanted to raise the camera waaaay over your head - so, Djarum, this might be the ticket for you). It doesn't have a built in swivel like the Black Rapid Hardware, but it probably doesn't need one since the lanyard is just a cord that can likely twist a few times before it causes any problem with the free movement of the camera along the strap.

    If I didn't already have two others that work really really well, I'd try this one out. As is, I probably won't. But it looks like it avoids the downsides of the others and might be a pretty great combination of the best features. If anyone tries it, I'd love to hear about it.

    It occurs to me I haven't posted web links for any of these. So here are the links for Black Rapid, Gordys, and Luma Loop. Also one for the y-strap, but you really should just make this one yourself if you like the idea - there's just no value added to what you could easily assemble for $2-3, at least that I can discerne. All are arguably horribly expensive for what they are, but the other three include some features you'd be hard pressed to put together yourself - the Y strap (despite being the least expensive) adds no value to the easy home made dime store solution.

    Luma Loop - Luma Labs

    Gordys - gordy's camera straps

    Black Rapid - RS-4 R-Strap BlackRapid.com

    Y-Strap - Y Strap The Figital Revolution

    -Ray
     
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  7. Richard W

    Richard W Mu-43 Regular

    74
    Mar 21, 2010
    Sydney Australia
    Great Post. Here's another one for you Ray.

    I have the "Sun Sniper" which I got for my Nikon D200. Its easily interchangeable between cameras and I use it when out for prolonged periods with the EP2 when I don't want to use the wrist strap.

    Here's the link:
    SUN-SNIPER-ONE
     
  8. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Man, there are a lot more of these than I thought. This one uses a two-piece attachment system that, as far as I can tell, is IDENTICAL to the one used by Black Rapid. Exact same hardware with different graphics, or near enough for the differences not to matter. So the only difference is the shoulder pad (not as huge as the BR and evidently removable, which the BR isn't) and they offer an option for a strap with a steel band in it which should be more theft resistant. Another good option - THANKS for the link.

    -Ray
     
  9. deBult

    deBult New to Mu-43

    3
    May 15, 2010
    Thank you for that Sun Sniper one I have orderred one tyh see how it works out.
     
  10. Mr Hahn

    Mr Hahn Mu-43 Veteran

    239
    Jul 9, 2010
    SLC, Utah
    Real Name:
    Nate
    Funny, with my E-3 I've been using a single point weapon sling and that's basically all these are... only for cameras. The advantage of my weapon sling is that the attaching point has a bungee section so if your carying around a larger camera (or weapon) it gives some shock absorbion for your shoulder.
     
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  11. LisaO

    LisaO Mu-43 Top Veteran

    798
    Mar 18, 2010
    New York Metro Area
    Real Name:
    Lisa
    For the ladies who might like to know Black Rapid has released a strap made for women.

    RS WS-1 BlackRapid.com
     
  12. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus Charter Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    That's a great tip... I did a quick search, and is this the kind of thing you're using?

    Tactical Bungee One Single Point Rifle Sling

    Oh, and welcome to the forum :2thumbs:

    Cheers

    Brian
     
  13. Mr Hahn

    Mr Hahn Mu-43 Veteran

    239
    Jul 9, 2010
    SLC, Utah
    Real Name:
    Nate
    This is my sling, available at Ranger Joes for $26
    Sling - Cobra Adjustable One Point Sling | Ranger Joe's | Military and Law Enforcement Gear | ACU's, BDU's, army boots, rank, and custom name tapes

    [​IMG]

    The airgun sling you posted should also work fine for a camera, I'm still on active duty in the Army so I use the more rugged stuff.

    We use the single points for the same reason you guys do, the weapon hangs comfortably at your side but remains in a position for ready access. It also allows a rapid transition from primary weapon (rifle) to secondary (pistol), we simply drop the primary out of our hands and the sling will safely carry out it of the way and to our side while we reach for the secondary.
     
  14. Starred

    Starred Mu-43 Regular

    134
    Aug 7, 2010
  15. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Ray, thanks very much for the insanity! I read your post three days before leaving the US on an international tourist trip. Due to the short time and the fact that I had all the materials, I made my own variation on the Y-strap design. Things learned:

    From my first camera, I have been using the wrong type of strap. This thing is fantastic for all the reasons others have mentioned.

    I think the camera strap lug connection is better than using the tripod thread; for me the camera hangs more comfortably.

    I added a lightweight stainless steel cable, threaded inside the tubular webbing. It weighs nothing and is virtually undetectable, but it makes the strap highly cut-resistant. Comforting when walking through a crowd in a third-world country.

    I added a large (stainless) ball-bearing fishing swivel between the sliding ring and the camera lug. Said to be 80# breaking strength but I have not tested it. This eliminates twisting of the strap.

    I found that length adjustability was important. My most comfortable carry is with the camera hanging an inch or two below belt level. Unfortunately, this makes it hang below the bottom of my rain jacket. So, I shorten the strap when in the rain.
     
  16. RichardR

    RichardR New to Mu-43

    8
    Oct 23, 2010
    I like your idea of getting the Black Rapid fastener and connectors. I've just noticed that they also sell what they call the FastenR-T1, which (if I understand it correctly) replaces the screw in your tripod quick release plate. You can then connect the strap to your tripod plate, which allows you to quickly release the strap and place the camera on the tripod. So you can use the strap and be ready for a tripod. As I use a tripod sometimes, this was an issue for me with tripod mount connectors.

    I think I'll get this and the FastenR-2 (for when I don't have the tripod plate attached) and the ConnectR-2 to connect the whole thing to a strap. Some great ideas on this thread.
     
  17. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    I prefer the camera lug connection primarily for balance, but I do have a QR plate on my camera so that's another reason for me to not use the 1/4" x 20 type connectors. I suggest that you try the lug connection for a while before spending the bucks for the Black Rapid. You may find that you don't need to buy the extra hardware.
     
  18. RichardR

    RichardR New to Mu-43

    8
    Oct 23, 2010
    Good point. I'll give it a try.
     
  19. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    A minor update: I decided that a large split ring was not the ideal link for my home-made y-strap, both because it is a bit bulky and because the sharp ends on the one I had were roughing up the nylon strap. So I made a better (IMHO) link from stainless steel:

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    I like that a lot...any suggestions for where one would find the parts?