There's been a lot of buzz about the Black Rapid range of camera straps and I've been wondering for a while what all the fuss is about. Until recently I never really thought twice about the stock-standard Canon strap that came with my 450D, it did a fine job as far as I was concerned.
What is the Black Rapid strap?
I tested the RS7 strap, which is part of Black Rapid’s innovative R-Strap range, designed to make access to your camera easy and safe. The strap attaches at the tripod socket and is worn diagonally across the body, with the camera hanging upside down at your side.
In Black Rapid’s own words, the strap allows you to “manoeuvre easily through a crowd, carry a tripod or other gear, or simply have both hands free. When you’re ready to take the shot, the camera quickly glides up the strap into shooting position”.
My camera already has a strap, why would I buy another one?
Valid question and it’s one that my husband certainly asked after I brought this one home. The camera straps that come standard with any DSLR do the job and they don’t cost you any extra.
However, I’d suggest you consider an alternative camera strap like the Black Rapid RS-7, if you find yourself agreeing with any of the following statements in regards to your current strap:
- I find it uncomfortable to wear my camera around my neck for extended periods of time
- I don’t like to carry my camera over my shoulder, especially when I’m travelling or in busy places
- When I carry my camera for long periods of time I often feel strain on my neck or shoulders
- I need to keep both hands free while I’m carrying my camera but still be able to start shooting again quickly when I need to
Most of my photography experience involves travelling and when I find myself in a crowded street or a big city, my trick has always been to wrap my camera strap around my wrist/forearm a few times, which has never let me down but isn't exactly a flawless system.
So, how was it?
In a word? Excellent.
Just after I got the Black Rapid RS-7, I took it to Istanbul for 5 days and gave it a pretty good run. For the majority of the time I was using my Canon 450D with the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Lens, a combo that weighs approximately 1kg - not a particularly heavy SLR/lens set-up, but my aim wasn't really to test its weight limits but to figure out whether the RS7 would make carrying it easier than my usual method...though if you're curious, we successfully carried a Sigma 300-800mm lens with one of these straps at the Outdoors Show:
Squeezing into a jam-packed tram carriage in 30-degree heat and finding that my face is, alarmingly, the same height as the average man’s armpit, is not my idea of comfort - but who ever said travel was supposed to be comfortable? Carrying my camera, however, was extremely comfortable with the RS-7 – absolutely no signs of a sore back, neck or shoulder complaints from me after a full day’s tourist-ing.
Set-up & Handling
Setting the RS-7 up was fairly straightforward but there are a few steps involved, including locking the two bumpers in place and attaching the fastener to the tripod socket before clipping and securing the connector hook (which is essentially a carabiner). Part of the process is figuring out what length of strap you need, which I found I had to readjust quite a few times on my first day of wearing it to get it just right. Once you've found the sweet spot, it’s a dream to use.
I tended to keep the camera at my side resting a little higher than the recommended length, just above my hip or held towards the front of my body for increased security in certain situations (like on the crowded tram for example). When I wanted to take photos, it was a quick, simple and natural action to just grab the camera and pull it straight up to eye-level without needing to worry about re-positioning any straps.
When I pulled the Black Rapid out of its packaging, I could see it was really well made. The padded shoulder section of the strap softened up really quickly after the first wear and doesn't inflict any strain across my shoulder or neck, like some of my shoulder camera bags do. It's a strange feeling at first to see your precious camera hanging upside down from your hip! But rest assured, the carabiner and fastener combo have a solid and great quality feel to them, so you soon learn to trust it wholeheartedly.
Any down sides?
There is one down side to the Black Rapid strap and that is it keeps your tripod socket occupied. If you usually keep a quick release plate attached so you can get your camera on and off a tripod frequently, then this strap may not be for you. If you use a Manfrotto RC2 Quick Release Plate then you're in luck though, as there is an attachment (the FastenR-T1) that will allow you to keep the plate attached and the Black Rapid strap attached to your plate.
If you're more of an occasional tripod user like myself, then it's pretty quick and easy to detach the fastener from your camera and reattach it again.
I really love using the Black Rapid strap, and it has genuinely made carrying around my camera easier and more comfortable, especially when travelling. As with most accessories out there, it's not for everyone and depending on what and how you shoot, it may not be a perfect solution. For me though, and a lot others it would seem, it's a small change to my camera set-up that's made a huge difference.
|Comfort||10/10||No stress or strain after a full day carrying my camera with this strap.|
|Handling||9/10||Take the time to set it up correctly and it will be very natural to use.|
|Quality||10/10||Very well made - an investment that I expect will be in my kit bag for years to come.|