Thursday, 11 September 2008

Camera Straps

I was just writing a post in reply to a query about camera straps on DPReview, and I realised that this is one of those questions that comes up as frequently as "What Camera Bag should I buy?". Of course, the answer is "the one that suits you!" which isn't very helpful, but it's one of those personal choice questions that has no universally right answer.

Because of my personal experiences, however, I have no hesitation in recommending that people look at OpTech straps ( here in the USA or here in the UK).

OpTech use neoprene to provide a soft and stretchy base for camera straps, which takes the "sting" out of carrying weighty camera bodies or bags, and springs slightly to absorb the weight. The net effect is to make it feel as though you're carrying something lighter than it is. Even with the small and (relatively) lightweight Olympus E-system bodies, that's still an important consideration if you're lugging them around all day.

I bought my first OpTech Pro strap in about 1989 on the basis of a favourable UK magazine review. I have no recollection now of where it was I saw it, but it was most likely Amateur Photographer magazine.

I've now been using the same OpTech Pro straps for the last 18 or so years - first on Olympus OM4 and OM2SP and now on the Olympus E1 and E510. The straps have been around the world twice, up mountains and on long hikes, on paid shoots and for pleasure. They’ve been used wherever I’ve had a camera.

I changed the terminations for the E-series cameras, as the originals were the wrong fit for the lugs, but the QR connectors on the straps are the same and have never shown any signs of quitting or fatigue. I now use a mixture of the '3/8" standard' and 'Pro Loop' connectors from the assortment of options available.

My only regret is that I have no excuse to buy the newer version of the strap - the non-slip is better on the new version! But why change something that works?

One thing I really like is that I now also often use an OpTech grip strap on the E510, and the neck strap can also be used in conjunction with that. The grip strap is brilliant, and gets in the way less than a neck strap. The design means it fastens around the wrist and means the camera can be safely carried one-handed by the grip. My only complaint is that it does get quite hot if used for a long time in warm conditions. The narrow loops that terminate the strap mean it can also be comfortably used alongside the grip strap on my E1/HLD2 battery grip combo.

The neck straps, with the terminations I have, are long enough to go across my (XXL-sized) body (Y-strap style) as well as round my neck or on my shoulder.

I also use an OpTech Tripod Strap, which is also excellent, and encourages me to take the tripod (which I don't use nearly enough) with me more often than would otherwise be the case.

Thank you, OpTech, for making such an excellent product. It’s nice to be able to recommend a product unreservedly.

(Photo with acknowledgements to OpTech USA)

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