Custom SLR - The Ultimate Camera Strap?

Dec 13, 2011 at 16:08
by Ian Hylands  
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 CSLR

The 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 CSLR

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesIf 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 SLR

www.customslr.com


36 Comments

  • + 12
 I'm really glad that the site is taking a positive look at photographers and reviewing gear using the whole "Pinkbike's take" thing. It's great for us photographers wanting to learn more and more on the gear in the industry. Keep it up guys!

Good on ya Ian!
  • + 1
 I'm always somebody that has used a strap and in doing so I have spent a lot of time and money on them, I currently have a neoprene camera strap, from Jessops in the UK. It's one of the cheapest straps I've had but yet it still seems to be comfortable and I get on well with it. If I spend a whole day shooting, for around 8 hours, I don't feel the strain that I once did with the original Canon camera strap that I used. I like the idea of the split strap and it looks a better design than the clip one that I currently have and I will look into purchasing it, because the design looks solid and it looks comfortable also.
  • + 1
 I had been looking for a new strap for the longest time, but hesitant to purchase. Then I met Ben from CSLR at AT's Showdown in 2010. He let me try out the C-Loop and I was impressed at how much time and effort went into it's creation. Many other designs are some version of an eye-bolt and a clip attached to a strap. I have been using my C-Loop since Sea Otter 2011 and the split strap shortly after that. In the world of cameras, it's difficult to find this kind of quality for a decent price. Well-made and well-thought products. It's cool to see Ben out using his product at bike events as well. Good on ya, Ben!
  • + 1
 No matter how innovative your C-loop (a tripod mounting point with strap loops) is, by pricing it at $40 USD, you automatically kick a large portion of your market out the window. $40 for a piece of metal with two moving parts (I think), is a bit much - especially considering that you have to buy the rest of the system. Unless you plan on only marketing it to professionals as a "overpriced but worth it...sorta" piece of gear.
  • + 3
 I hear what you're saying, but if you're talking to professional photographers you really can't say "overpriced" at only $40. Even a camera cable is $40 to $120 or more, anything under $250 is honestly a pocket expense. So for an amateur photographer it may be a bit much, but for a pro if it's useful, it's simply an expense...
  • + 1
 Are you saying that it is priced for professionals rather than for the actual worth of the product? I think that companies which start and follow that kind of principle are a little evil. "I think pro's will pay x dollars, that's all I care about". I mean, at the end of the day, you have many competitors offering their versions of the same thing for something like 10-20 dollars. When your product is priced like this, not only do you choose to exclude a section of the market, but you may not have made enough of an incentive for anyone using BlackRapid's to switch over.

The biggest incentive that I see as a plus is that your strap + c-loop combo is only 60 dollars which is highly competitive. The C-loop by itself is not really priced so well, though.

Lastly, is the c-loop tripod plate mountable?
  • + 1
 Ok, I'll reply again, but keep in mind that it's not my product. I'm simply replying as a professional that has used this product and happens to like it. I'm not saying that it's 'priced for professionals' I'm simply saying that for a useful product that is honestly a very cheap price if it works. It's custom CNC'd in reasonably small quantities, so I'm sure that price is not at all exaggerated, if it was a bike part it would probably be twice the price. I can remember buying CNC'd anodized brake bits over 10 years ago that had no moving parts and were $50 or more, so really I think the price is not an issue.

As far as being tripod plate mountable, no, the c-loop is not compatible with a tripod plate, however it's very easy to remove with your fingers. If you want to have both check out the new M-plate camera QR plate they're working on, you can see the latest video of it here. It works with Manfrotto RC2 and Arca Swiss heads as well as the Really Right Stuff QR, and gives you a strap attachment similar to the c-loop.
  • + 1
 I shoot events and am usually on my feet and on the go for anywhere from 8 - 12 hours per job and I swear by the BlackRapid strap (RS-7). The ability to throw a tripod plate on and still use the strap is a huge advantage. My cameras feel way better when they're not swinging off my neck.
  • + 1
 I've been using this strap for about 6 months with the c-loop. I must say its super comfortable even when carrying my Gripped 7D and 70-200 2.8. also for those of you who use qr plates the are in the process of making them.
  • + 1
 I use a Spider pro Holster they come in single and double camera .
Camera does not move when walking and I like it much better than my BlackRapid strap.

www.spiderholster.com/spiderpro-systems.html
  • + 1
 yeah I saw those a while ago, haven't tried one yet. How are they with bigger lenses and while you're in a crowd of people? or running to get a shot? Those would be my biggest concerns. Let me know!
  • + 1
 Camera does not move .
Weight is of large camera and lens is minimal compared to straps.
You still need think about your camera at your side when moving in close quarters but way less than a strap since it does not swing out or move like straps.

:-)
  • + 2
 I am a fan of having a QR plate on my camera and no strap... but if it wasn't for that, looks kinda cool.
  • + 2
 Check out the new M-plate camera QR plate they're working on, you can see the latest video of it here It works with Manfrotto RC2 and Arca Swiss heads as well as the Really Right Stuff QR, and gives you a strap attachment as well...
  • + 1
 It's so awesome, and exactly what I need immediately (no joke, need this next week). I want to have access to two cameras (one attached on molle straps located on the hip belt) using a system similar to this. www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/762494-REG/SPIDER_HOLSTER_100_SpiderPro_Single_Camera_System.html

Any thoughts Ian?
  • + 1
 Nice. I've been looking for something like that to easily carry my camera while hunting.
  • + 1
 been using the CLoop for a while and its been great. why no one thought of this before is beyond me
  • + 2
 mmm, might be purchasing one of them...
  • + 1
 Love the idea of these! Just need to find one like it that allows us DSLR video nerds a way to still attach a QR plate Frown
  • + 0
 I'm an idiot, should have kept reading about their Kickstarter project!
  • + 1
 And it looks way better now, check out the latest here It works with Manfrotto RC2 and Arca Swiss heads as well as the Really Right Stuff QR, and gives you a strap attachment as well...
  • + 1
 there we go . . . i am lost in this thread, , but one thing i noticed, camera also got some pretty sick gadget!
  • + 1
 Blackrapid rs-5, hands down, Black rapid wrote the book on straps.
  • + 1
 It looks like a good strap, but for my use shooting with 70-200, 300 f/2.8, 200-400 f/4 etc it just simply won't work. It needs to have stretch in the shoulder pad (that's not an option with a heavy camera and lens), and it needs to be usable off of one shoulder, not just cross chest. I normally shoot with 2 cameras on two straps, and cross chest means one of them won't work. I tried one in the store and if I just wanted a strap for a smaller DSLR with one lens around town it would probably be awesome, but for shooting events it just wouldn't work for me personally. Also the pouch on the shoulder strap is great for around town shooting, but for event shooting it would probably just get in the way. The DR-1 Double Strap from Black Rapid is something that I would like to try at some point though...
  • + 1
 I shoot stockcar racing during the summer with dual cameras, usually a 70-200 f/2.8 and a 18-28mm, some times a 400 f4 at the road tracks. the pocket is perfect for holding cf cards and my lenspen. It works great with the ds system, the rs-5 and rs-1.
  • + 1
 Might have to try it then and see. I spend a lot of time hiking up and down mountains and running, and it just didn't seem that comfortable when I tried it in the store. I might end up liking it...
  • + 1
 Nope, the best is blackrapid
  • + 0
 Cottoncarrier works most excellent for serious bikin,, designed in north Vancouver,, we do a lot of riding
  • + 1
 I saw these the other day somewhere, looks pretty nice!
  • + 2
 Blackrapid straps FTW
  • + 1
 Double noobs comment... -_-'
  • + 1
 I haven't actually seen that before, looks interesting. Too many toys to try out... For events I currently use a Think Tank belt system, and keep one camera in hand and one on a strap, or two on straps. I'll probably be using two straps for Sea Otter. Have to sea how it goes...
  • + 0
 This look amazing but had you try blackrapid's strap Ian?
  • + 1
 I've tried black rapid straps in the store, not in real life situations though...
  • + 1
 how about a review of pov cameras Ian, I don't know what to get...................

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