As a professional photographer used to working with heavy cameras and lenses, I am always looking for ways to make my job easier. And one of the biggest issues is always how to carry a camera comfortably. And if I'm shooting an event or a race, that suddenly becomes two or more cameras with lenses attached. They're all heavy, and I don't want them swinging around and smashing into things. But they also have to be immediately accessible when I need them.
Over the years I've tried various different camera straps from a wide range of manufacturers. I've used leather straps, neoprene straps, quick release straps, and even tried a few glide straps although I've never actually used one in the field. The two most important features of all my favorite straps are stretch and grip. When you're carrying a heavier camera over your shoulder with a rigid strap, the weight of it causes the strap to dig into your shoulder, and it bounces a tiny bit with every step. This may not be overly noticeable if you're just going out for a casual stroll with a small dSLR and lens, but if you're carrying a larger Pro dSLR with a lens like a 70-200mm f/2.8 or even a 300mm f/2.8, it becomes irritating quite quickly. Also if you're moving around a lot camera straps tend to want to slip off your shoulder, perhaps not an issue with a smaller camera if you're not in a hurry, but it can be disastrous if you're running somewhere with a bigger camera. A strap with a bit of stretch tends to make the camera feel less heavy, a subtle things perhaps, but it's noticeable when you shoot every day. In the past my favorite strap was an old LowePro neoprene strap, the only real issues I had with it were that it was almost too stretchy, and once attached it was a bit of work to remove it (sometimes I like to shoot without a strap) Even with the grippy rubber dots on the underside it would slip a bit as the camera bounced while I walked or ran, I'm not sure exactly why, but it seemed a bit like a rubber band. It was definitely comfortable, but not perfect.The Split Strap
The CSLR Split Strap has become my new favorite camera strap.
Enter the Custom SLR split strap. It has a split neoprene shoulder strap that with a silicone print of the bottom for grip. The split in the strap helps to distribute the weight, while the silicone print keeps it from sliding off of your shoulder. The strap comes with two different length sets of quick release ends, and in my 6 months of using it I have never had a quick release even come close to accidentally coming undone. That's reassuring. I've really only used the short ends myself, but if you want to carry your camera across your chest the long ends are probably the best choice. You can simply attach the ends of the strap to your camera's strap attachments and be done, you'll have a comfortable, solid replacement for the strap that came with your camera. But Cslr also goes one step further and makes a little attachment that they call the C-loop. The Split Strap retails for $27.95 from CSLRThe C-Loop
CSLR's C-Loop is a great addition to any camera strap.
This is what completes the whole package for me, and really makes it stand out. The C-loop is a machined aluminum piece that threads into your camera's 1/4 20 tripod mount. It creates an attachment point for your camera strap that swivels and is easy to attach and remove. It also takes the camera straps and moves them off of the top of the camera and onto the bottom. This may not seem like any big deal, but in reality it does make quickly grabbing and shooting quickly much easier. One of the reasons I often shot without a strap in the past was that I don't like the way the strap can sometimes get in the way when you're in a hurry. With the strap attached to the bottom of the camera this is never an issue. One other important problem that is solved by the C-Loop is having a heavier lens hanging from your camera body. Even when using something fairly common like a 70-200mm lens, carrying it over your shoulder with a traditional strap puts the entire weight of the lens onto the lens mount. The lens is literally hanging off of the camera, and as you walk it bounces, putting a fair bit of stress on that lens mount. So with any heavier lens you should carry the camera by the lens itself, not the body. The C-loop makes this is really easy, you simply use your fingers to unscrew it from the body, and screw it into the tripod mount on the lens. The C-Loop is made in the USA from 6061-T6 aerospace aluminum and retails for $44.95 US from CSLRPinkbike's Take:
|If you're in the market for a new camera strap, we definitely recommend checking out the Custom SLR products. They are well designed and well constructed, and definitely make carrying a heavy camera easier. When used to carry a pro DSLR with a 70-200mm lens, the Split Strap and C-Loop combo make it feel significantly lighter, even a Nikon D3s with the Nikon 200-400mm f/4 doesn't feel overly heavy carried this way, and that's a heavy combination. The camera hangs naturally in a position that makes it easy to grab and shoot with, and I've never had the strap end up getting in the way of the controls. The strap is solid, and doesn't slip much in normal use. If you're walking with a lighter camera and lens over your shoulder it does move around a bit though, however no more so than any other strap I've tried. If you don't want to be constantly adjusting it while walking I recommend putting it around your neck as well. So far the only issue that I've had with the CSLR Split Strap and C-Loop combination is that I have to take it off to use a tripod mount, not that it's difficult to do, but you still have to do it. And Custom SLR seem to have addressed that issue anyway, they have a new product in the works that combines the features of the C-Loop with a tripod plate and other attachment points. You can find their Kickstarter page for it here. I can't wait to play with it. - Ian Hylands|
*Note- Since the writing of this review CSLR have also come out with a new version of the C-Loop called the C-Loop HD. It comes in various colors and uses a hex bolt to fasten to the bottom of your camera. Retail price is $34.95 US from Custom SLRwww.customslr.com