BlackRapid R-Strap Review

I enjoy photography as a hobby. I make no claim that those viewing the photos get the same enjoyment, but hey, if it were easy everyone would be good. When I first bought the Canon I immediately knew I was not going to be happy with the stock neck strap. It was thin and uncomfortable, very uncomfortable for long wear. Not being a pro, I decided I should just live with it. Then it happened. I wore that thing in San Francisco during a family vacation… all day. We went to Alcatraz and walked that island up and down. By the time we were back at the pier, and waiting for a ride back to the hotel, my neck was killing me. I started looking for a new strap that day and I actually settled on two. The BlackRapid R-Strap and the Optec Pro Loop Strap. I will review the Optec soon, but first the R-Strap.

This is not a normal strap. It is worn from one shoulder to the opposite hip – diagonally. This places the camera weight on your shoulder instead of your neck, and it is very comfortable. The interesting part is the camera attachment. It screws into the tripod mount on the bottom of the camera or lens. Yes, the camera hangs upside down. The strap allows adjustment so the camera hangs where you want. For me that is just around my back pocket with the lens behind my belt.

I find a number of advantages to this strap. When a camera hangs from your neck everything becomes a test of how to not hit the camera or lens on things. We have all had the issue of trying to bend over without it flying forward. Plus, there is always the ego boost of having a 70-200 2.8 sticking out from your chest like an alien. With this strap, and the camera behind your hip, keeping the body in check is easier. The lens sitting along the small of your back means no huge lens in the way either. The mounting system is attached to the strap via a d-ring that slides up or down. So, when you want to shoot, you grab the body and slide it up… shoot… then slide it down. There is even a clip-on piece that stops the camera where you like it. Fast and easy. If you use two bodies (which I don’t), this could be great. One body, for example, on a monopod and the second body out of the way on your hip.

What are the disadvantages? Most of these are not the strap’s fault. The sling and bottom mount concepts simply don’t play well with other gear. Sometimes I wear a Tamrac sling case because I don’t need a lot of gear. I can easily have the Tamrac on one shoulder and the R-Strap on the other. However, sometimes I like to bring a backup of gear. Multiple lenses, flash, water etc. There is no easy way to wear this strap with a backpack. I like the strap enough that I have worn the backpack on one shoulder just to allow the R-Strap to be used, but in those cases I always bring the Optec Pro Loop strap just in case. The problem I have with the bottom mount is related to lens changes. With most lenses, the strap mounts to the tripod mount on the camera body. Changing a lens can be done easily in that case. With a larger lens, that has a tripod collar on it like the 70-200 2.8, I connect the strap to the lens to more evenly distribute the weight. Changing a lens becomes more difficult because you need to remove the mount first. A few times I have been in a hurry and removed the lens only to be reminded the body had nothing holding it. While the mounting system is very secure, I do find myself checking the connection to the camera periodically. That is an issue with me though, and not the strap.

Bottom line? I love the strap. Great for a photo walk or shoot where I know I want one lens, and no backpack. I recently was shooting at a concert at The Fender Center and walking through the crowd was soooooo easy using this strap. I highly recommend it. The BlackRapid site does have some videos to help you see it in action.

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