Functionality over fashion: Choosing a camera strap for your DSLR

 In Gear

When I look inside my camera bag, there’s several things that are always there. My camera and everyday lenses, first and foremost. But the one staple that a lot of photographers don’t think about is something you can pick up for around $50.

It’ll be one of your cheapest accessories for photography. It’ll be something that comes free with every camera — a camera strap.

Those of us who have ever worn the standard neck strap that comes with our camera know the hardships we face. They’re itchy, they make your neck sweat, and most importantly, it makes your camera bounce along with every step you take.

So when I first got my DSLR, the first thing I bought was a camera strap.

I invested in a BlackRapid strap, which, being an event photographer, was perfect for those long shoots where I was walking around for eight hours. It was padded and comfortable, and it didn’t sit on my neck. I had easy access to my camera at my side, making it easy for me to quickly whip out my camera for a shot when necessary.

I had the Curve, which I absolutely loved for over three years. But then I lost it (before I found it again, sitting in my trunk).

But before I stumbled back upon it, I was introduced to Peak Design, a company that makes various camera accessories — everything from bags to clips and covers.

And they also made a strap I was beginning to hear a lot about — the Slide. In what I can only compare to the look of a car seatbelt, the Slide is super comfortable, and it just clicks into place with your camera.

I thought I’d give it a try. It offered a different strap adjustment system, my only real qualm with my BlackRapid. You lift the lock and slide…and that’s it.

For me, it was the perfect solution for my camera usage. It was the most comfortable camera strap I had used, and it was super easy to work. It also had a ARCA tripod plate that attached to the bottom of my camera, so I didn’t have to remove the strap in order to connect it my tripod.

It’s a sling strap, but it’s also a super comfortable neck and shoulder strap, if you prefer to wear your cameras differently.

Regardless of what brand you choose, both BlackRapid and Peak Design have some really great options. BlackRapid does have more selection — there are straps that work with two cameras, straps that go over two shoulders and more. Peak Design also has mirrorless camera straps and hand straps, but they don’t have a strap geared towards supporting two cameras yet.

Long story short, a sling strap completely changed the way I shoot. For me, function was key over how a strap looked. I didn’t care if my strap had a zig zag pattern on it or was my favorite green color (though Peak Design does offer some colorful options now).

In the long run, I wanted a strap that supported the way I wanted to photograph. And a sling strap did just that — it made it easier for me to get the shot I wanted. I couldn’t be happier with it.

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Showing 6 comments
  • Joan

    Hi Bryan,

    I totally agree. Seems we both have tried many of the same straps. I finally found the Slide and have to say – no more discomfort – even with a larger lens in place. Like the Slide so much I added another to my collection.

  • Gary

    I’ve used my Spyder holster for both my 5D m 3 and GH 4 for a couple of years. They make a model for DSLR’s and ILC’s. I would not consider going back to s strap. You can carry you camera all day with no strain whatever. I’ve even done 50 mile bike rides with my GH 4 ready at my side.

    • Bryan Esler

      I know a lot of people who use Spider holsters as well, Gary. For me, a sling strap works because I usually have a battery pack on my D800, meaning that thing can get heavy if I’m at a really long shoot. But I totally get why you like Spider holsters; they’re a great alternative as well!

  • Tom Szydelko

    Thank you. I hope you are getting a kickback. I ordered a Slide based on your article. My new Slide was delivered today and I already love it.I can’t wait to get out and shoot with it.

    • Bryan Esler

      Haha no kickback here, but I’ve had my Slide for about a year now and absolutely love it! Couldn’t resist not writing about it 🙂

  • John Pabst

    Have tried all of the straps on the market and found the Peak Design to be the most comfortable
    to use for a prolonged time.

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