In this article, we are going to take a look at why you need to upgrade your camera strap. As a photographer, there's nothing more satisfactory than the day you finally get to bring home your brand spanking new camera.
It is true, especially if it is one that you've had on pre-order for months. You get home, clear a workspace and begin your private unboxing. If you're anything like me, you unwrap the small bits and pieces first before you reveal the camera body.
And, if you're like me, you probably put the stock camera strap to one side to attach it later. But once you have finished admiring your new gear, and before you attach the kit strap, you should consider upgrading that strap.
There's a whole range of reasons why you need to upgrade your camera strap, including comfort, durability, material choice, style and much more. But finding the right strap is not always clear-cut. There is a lot of products available, and some of them are just as basic as the kit one.
Benefits Of A Camera Strap
Before we get into what sort of camera strap to look for, let's take a closer look at the benefits of using a camera strap. There are excellent reasons why pretty much every new camera includes a camera strap.
For one it is an accessory and photographers are suckers for accessories. We love all the little bits and pieces we hoard as part of our GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome).
Beyond that, a camera strap provides a level of comfort to the photographer and a convenient way to carry your kit. While cameras are ergonomically designed for comfort when in use, they tend to be awkward items to carry around.
For the most part, we can't pocket them, and we don't want to put them away in a bag in case a great composition appears before our eyes. But hand holding a DSLR with a kit lens or a mirrorless camera with a telephoto lens for long periods becomes uncomfortable and tedious.
We tend to experience fatigue but are too stubborn to put our gear away. A camera strap provides the ideal tool for supporting the weight of a camera kit while still making them accessible. When worn right, a camera strap can support your gear and keep you out and about all day.
The next benefit of a camera strap is to provide security and a form of insurance against loss and damage. It is especially the case when you are out and about in an unfamiliar location or on travels abroad.
You spent a lot of money buying your camera and lenses, and the last thing you need is a pickpocket doing a runner with your kit. Even putting your camera down for a few moments to adjust your bag or look for your spare battery is a risk.
By having your camera secured to a camera strap, you minimise the risk of theft and loss. On occasion thieves have slashed the fabric of a strap to dash off with a camera, there are even ways to beat that kind of nonsense.
The other benefit of a quality camera strap is for the protection of your gear from yourself. Let's face it; we have all had situations where we have dropped something precious. Or, been in a situation where you felt like you were going to drop the items in your hand.
Why should photography and carrying camera gear be any different?
Our camera gear is precious to us, and we spent a lot of money acquiring it. There are situations where you need to know that your gear is safe. It is especially the case when you are out on an adventure shoot, or perhaps traversing tricky terrain.
At the extremes, you may be doing a shoot from a helicopter or at the water's edge. In any case, your camera strap keeps that gear out of harm's way.
Unbox And Toss The Kit Strap
When camera brands pack a camera strap in the kit, they are usually just providing a value-add to enhance the purchase experience.
As a result, kit straps are not handmade with the finest of materials, and they are generally just mass-produced. Often the materials used are of low quality and construction with poor durability and longevity.
Imitation leather, nylon and other synthetic materials do the job, but they tend to wear quickly. And any sign of branding will rub off or crack before too long.
The other limitation with the kit strap is how they connect to the camera. While the nylon webbing is strong enough, it is also unyielding when it comes to threading it to your camera.
Once attached correctly, the webbing is reasonably strong, but if you want the ability to remove it quickly, be prepared for an exercise in frustration. Fortunately, there's a vast number of alternatives to the kit strap. Just take a look at your local camera store, online retailer or do a web search.
The key is to know what you want, need and what to look out for.
Comfort Is King
When it comes to upgrading your camera strap, your first consideration is the comfort a new strap should provide. I have shot with all manner of kits in the past. The one thing I found was that wearing my strap around my neck all but ruined my joy of photography.
Wearing a strap across your shoulder is a far more comfortable way to carry your gear. Your shoulders are strong and can endure long periods of supporting a lot of weight.
If you are carrying a compact camera, then you could also consider a wrist strap. I prefer wrist straps but always ensure I get good quality ones.
To get the best level of comfort in a strap, you need to think about the weight and size of the gear you have. Plus, keep in mind the gear that you hope to buy in the near future.
If you are rocking a lightweight mirrorless camera, then a narrow strap should provide enough comfort. But if you intend to buy a 200-400mm telephoto lens next month, that slim strap is going to bite into your shoulder.
In my experience, I always look for a strap that is more than enough for the gear I am using. Broad straps distribute the weight across the whole strap and don't bite into your body as much. Plus, having the right amount of length is essential to your comfort as you don't want to feel constricted by your strap.
The other comfort or ergonomic consideration is the ability to attach and remove your strap effortlessly. As mentioned, threading a new camera strap is a pain, so choosing a strap with a simple but safe attachment system is a must.
Attachment clips need to have a locking mechanism, so they do not come undone by accident. The last thing you want is watching your camera plummet into a gorge.
Plus, being able to remove a strap if you're going to swap it between different bodies is handy. Alternatively, changing your set up from shooting on the go, to studio work without the frustration of fiddling with your strap connections.
Built To Last A Lifetime
The best manufacturers have long held to the theory that camera bodies should last a lifetime. I know this to be true due to the vast number of classic SLR cameras and vintage lenses still doing the rounds today.
Plus, modern cameras consist of alloy monocoque bodies machined from materials like magnesium. As a result, you need a camera strap also to last a lifetime. Keep in mind the term 'buy once, buy right'.
It's for this reason that you need to toss the kit strap and upgrade it with a high-quality strap.
When making your choice, look for construction quality of the strap - nothing beats handcrafted and hand-stitched products. By far, the most durable option is natural leather. If it were strong enough to keep an animal safe for the duration of its life, it would be good enough for your camera.
While leather starts its new life as a stiff and rigid material, it will soften with age. What's more, leather is incredibly comfortable to wear as it forms to the contour of the wearer.
The other benefit of leather camera straps is that they age well and develop characteristics unique to the cut of leather and the use of the strap.
The other thing to look out for is the quality of the hardware attached to the camera. Ask yourself if it will last the test of time, especially when carrying your expensive gear. Look for potential weaknesses or issues that don't suit your needs.
Carry Your Gear In Style
Showing up to your local camera club meet only to discover that everyone else pre-ordered the same camera as you are a common occurrence. Your hopes to be noticed for your new kit quickly die.
Suppose you could do something to change the look of your kit.
There's not much you can do to change the look of the camera. You could add a soft shutter release, but that's going to remain hidden under your finger. That only leaves the camera strap.
Camera straps are a way to personalise your camera gear beyond what the kit offers. With a camera strap, you can express your personality and also differentiate yourself from others. If you are the fashion-conscious type, your camera strap can accentuate your style and personal branding.
For the hipsters, consider a hand-stitched leather camera strap. For the tech geeks, consider a streamlined strap made with space-age materials.
Promote Your Brand
If you are a pro photographer, you make your primary income from plying your trade day and night. If that's the case, you have to consider your marketing as a means of attracting clients. When you are on the job, you rarely have the time to stop and encourage potential customers to employ you for their next gig.
Having a unique and attractive handcrafted camera strap is undoubtedly an eye-catcher - especially if that strap also features your branding on it. The easiest way to achieve this is with a custom camera strap.
By having your business logo, name or even your artistic signature printed on your strap, potential customers will see it. And let's face it; any form of advertising is good advertising.
What If You Could Have It All
We have talked about comfort, durability, style and branding. But what if you could combine all of these features and functions into a single strap. Or even better, a series of straps fit for different uses and purposes.
Fortunately, Lucky Straps is a company that creates leather straps and accessories.
Their factory in Bendigo, Australia, has been producing leather goods for creative people for over 30 years. The founder of Lucky Straps is a photographer just like you, and he created the business to address the same issues raised here.
Lucky Straps are incredibly comfortable and made from high-quality materials, including oiled pull-up fine leather available in a range of finishes. Plus, they are available in a range of lengths and widths, giving you plenty of choices to find the right strap to suit your kit and use.
All Lucky Straps leather camera straps are handcrafted with tough stitching and use a patented slash-proof nylon webbing for extra security and strength. The webbing will fit any camera with either a 10mm attachment slot or a split ring.
The connection system is ingenious as Lucky Straps have developed a unique quick-release mechanism. A quick-release camera strap allows you to remove your strap from the camera for studio use.
Alternatively, you may like to swap from a shoulder strap to a wrist strap depending on your shooting styles.
One of the best things about Lucky Straps is the ability to tailor a strap to suit your needs completely. Lucky offers a range of custom camera straps in various sizes and styles, but they also provide a level of customisation unseen in any other strap.
You can order your strap to have embossing including initials, text, company name or even a logo. What's more, you can have this embossing filled with a coloured foil to make your emblem pop.
With a custom camera strap from Lucky Strap, the next time you show up to your local camera club meetup, you will be comfortable, cocky and stand out from the crowd.
So the next time you pick up your new camera, consider donating the kit strap to a high school photography class. Then, do yourself and your gear a favour and think about why you need to upgrade your camera strap.