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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gadget Bag: Strapped For Photos

Replace the strap that came with your camera for one that delivers all-day comfort and security

Labels: Gadget BagGear

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Crumpler Industry Disgrace
The lowly neck strap is both the simplest and most intimate part of a camera. Attaching it is the first thing you do with a new camera, usually while waiting for the battery to charge. It's the only part of the camera that you're in contact with at all times (except when the camera is on a tripod, of course). It's arguably the single most important accessory because it prevents your camera from crashing to the ground when not handheld at eye level. And in nearly every case, it's a two-inch-wide billboard for the manufacturer of the brand you wear about your neck. Therein lies the rub.

Two rubs, actually. Many people, myself included, suffer from back and/or neck conditions that render many camera straps downright painful. There are more comfortable alternatives available, however, for those of us who continue to carry heavy cameras despite the aches. The second rub comes from the fact that most camera straps brightly advertise that you have an expensive camera on your person. From the standpoint of security, that can be undesirable.

The good news is that there are many outstanding neck straps available that will protect your camera while saving your neck. I tend to avoid those with metal connectors (that can scratch cameras) and gravitate toward straps with nice, wide pads that distribute the weight over the largest area possible. Straps that quickly disconnect close to the camera body can be stowed separated from the camera during transport. That makes it easier to pack your DSLR into your bag without the danger of scuffing the LCD with the strap hardware. As a general rule of thumb, look to your favorite camera bag manufacturer; they usually offer a line of suitable neck straps. Here's the rundown of some of the best.

Tamrac Anti-Slip
A longtime favorite of many photographers, the Tamrac Anti-Slip (Model N-17) strap is made of nylon with two full-length rubber tracks woven into the material to prevent slippage. The quick-release buckles allow the camera to be removed for tripod or copy stand work and can be interchanged with all other Tamrac quick-release straps. It adjusts to 41 inches in length.

You'll probably never find a neck strap more unusual or comfortable than the Crumpler Industry Disgrace. Designed specifically to protect your neck, it's extra-wide in the middle and extra-long so you can adjust the length to suit your needs. The ergonomic neoprene neck pad sits on a breathable air-mesh strap. Nice touch: The neck pad features a lanyard slide-through so you can thread your binocular straps through the pad and redistribute that weight, too. Constructed of 900 denier flamed polypropylene and dual-layer nylon-reinforced PVC, "it's soft where it matters but strong where it counts."

Domke Gripper
You'll find many professional photographers using Domke Gripper straps because of their long history of high quality and performance. Available in 1.5-inch and 1-inch widths and three different colors, the Domke Gripper is made of the same thick webbing used on all Domke bags and has Gripper nonslip tracks woven in—which means it will never slip off your shoulder. Swivel clips keep the straps lying flat, untangled and easy to remove. Available in adjustable lengths up to 42 inches.


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