I’ve raved about this style of strap for ages now, but it’s hard to really convince people to switch over, without having seen it used. This is probably the best accessory I’ve bought for my camera as it makes it so much easier to walk around and use, meaning that I’m actually carrying my camera more now. I personally own the Sun Sniper Steel, but the design and quality is very similar to the Black Rapid so I’ve grouped them together. Clink the product names for links to Amazon US.
The gliding carabiner means that you can carry your camera over your shoulder, bring up the camera to your face, and back down to your hip again without having to adjust the strap. It’s such an incredibly simple idea, it shocks me that more camera manufacturers haven’t tried it – I’m sure that if they did, they could come up with a better system for attaching it to the camera. The fluid motion of the strap means that you don’t waste any time trying to get the camera out.
The padding at the top of the strap is designed so that it grips your shoulder, even when there’s very little contact, allowing you comfort at all times. This is also where the length adjustment is housed and is locked in place by the velcro padding. For the price, this part of the strap feels remarkably well made.
You’ll notice that throughout this particular strap, there is a steel wire that runs throughout it, stopping any would be thieves from cutting through it with a knife and walking away with your camera. The thickness of this wire isn’t particularly reassuring, and it feels like if you had a proper knife, you’d find your way through it, but, it is backed up with a $500 insurance from the strap manufacturer. This is a nice little touch, but if someone’s coming at me with a knife, it’s not my camera I’m worried about.
The shock absorber sits at the top of your chest, just below the strap padding and it does exactly what it says on the tin – it absorbs the shock. When you’re carrying around a heavy camera, lens and flash, it’s nice to have some of the strain taken off wherever possible, and this reasonably sized absorber is designed to do exactly that for medium to large cameras and lenses. It’s only when you’re starting to get into carrying around telephoto lenses on a regular basis that you may want to consider upgrading to one of their larger straps.
The strap mounts the camera in the screw mount at the bottom of the camera, which prevents you from keeping the camera attached when you’re mounting on a tripod. When I first used this, I found it a little bit annoying, but I’ve since come to appreciate the freedom of movement that you get from having your camera mounted there. It allows your camera to rotate 360 degrees, which is helpful when you’re walking around as it will adapt to how you’re moving, making it easier to tuck your camera in. I wasn’t too sure about the safety aspect of attaching the camera here either, but the mechanism and rubber grip stops the strap from ever loosening – I used to check regularly for this, but don’t bother anymore.
The only downside to the strap is that you can’t attach a tripod at the same time, and that there’s no small pocket to store a memory card or battery in, like some of their competitors straps. Theses are trivial points though and don’t effect the way I use my camera strap. We’re gonna look at some of the competitors in a moment, but I chose Sun Sniper Steel because of their clear quality and usability.
First, lets look at how you typically use a traditional camera strap. I’ve had years of experience using this sort of strap, but I still find myself fumbling and taking time to get the camera out. The way the camera sits with a traditional strap means that it’s often poking out, and just recently, I had a complaint from someone that I’d been poking them with my camera’s lens hood. As you can see from the animation below, getting out a camera, regardless of size, can be very awkward. And yes, I am aware that I left my lens cap on when shooting this demonstration…
When you compare the strap above with the Sun Sniper Steel strap below, you’ll see a very noticeable difference in the way that the camera is carried and used. This strap utilizes a carabiner which glides over the strap to a position which suits you best. The strap is also adjusted to an arms length so I can grab it and move it with ease. Because the strap is also thinner and longer, there is less strain on my body, making the strap less noticeable and more comfortable to carry. There has been more than one occasion where I’ve managed to get a good shot because I’ve been able to get to my camera exactly when I need it.
I’ve shown you what I think about the strap, but there are also alternatives that I think make perfectly viable options.
- Firstly, there’s the Black Rapid RS-5 strap, which is very similar is design, but doesn’t come with a steel wire or insurance, although it does contain a pocket. Black Rapid have a few straps on the market, which can get a little confusing, but from what I’ve seen, I don’t think their finish is quite as good, and again, the camera is mounted into the tripod screw mount.
- A much cheaper option would be the Black Quick, but you get what you pay for really and I’m not reassured by the quality of their materials. My friend has this strap and it’s good for his small SLR, but I wouldn’t want to use it with my camera. One thing that is worth mentioning though is that although the strap mounts to the screw mount, they do leave another screw mount on the strap. Unfortunately though, this is the part of the strap I trust the most – you get what you pay for.
- If you’re a pro looking to carry two cameras at the same time then you’d do well to choose either the Sun Sniper Double Press Harness or Black Rapid Double Strap which as very similar in design, although the Sun Sniper does have the option to carry an extra, small camera or binoculars on the front. These straps are very useful if you’re a wedding or sports photographer and need to have a wide angle and a telephoto lens at your disposal.