A camera neck strap – the essential accessory

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You probably already have a camera neck strap. When you buy a new camera it likely came with one in the box. The standard issue camera neck strap works fine until it doesn’t. Extended use while on a trip or just on a local outdoor adventure with (especially) a heavy DSLR around your neck or hanging on your shoulder will eventually lead to discomfort.

Neck strap features and benefits

Features

  • Attachment to camera body
  • Adjustment of strap length

  • Strap “grip”

  • Strap padding
  • Strap width

Benefits

  • Clip on anchors are preferred to fixed attachment
  • Quick adjustment preferred over strap holds that pose greater difficulty
  • Higher friction material on at least one side of the strap helps prevent it from slippage in carry mode
  • Padded straps offer greater comfort than those without
  • Wider straps are preferred for heavier camera/lens combinations

Features of the standard issue neck strap

Standard strap attachment on split D-ring

Many, if not all, new cameras come with a narrow woven nylon neck strap. Larger DSLR camera bodies may have a wider strap in the center with some cushioning for comfort. This arrangement is fine if you are using this carry method for a short period of time.

Wider, semi-padded Nikon strap

Strap width

A trip to the zoo, hiking with family, or sightseeing for much of the day will result in a pain in the neck. Some straps of this type have a wider portion that is padded to ease the discomfort. My old Nikon D1x came with a strap like this. The width of the strap that hangs on your neck or shoulder is OK, but its no solution for all day fatigue issues.

Camera connection

The connection to the camera is also a “pain point” – not so much in physical pain but the lack of flexibility in use. Once you attach the strap to the camera it is a royal “pain” to get it off. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to easily attach and detach a strap? For example, as when you need to use a tripod and the strap just gets in the way.

Some replacement designs do have a detachable connection. I have a third party strap that is a next-step improvement over the standard issue for my Nikon F5 camera. It has the standard “pain” attachment, but part way between the shoulder pad there is a “buckle clip” connector (see below).

“Buckle Clip” Connector

This makes it convenient to detach a strap from your SLR/DSLR when using a tripod, because the strap just gets in the way. In my case with the F5 I can detach the strap, but there are still two floppy ends to contend with (below):

Nikon F5 with strap detached
Strap cushion with “grip” dots to prevent slippage

So while a step forward compared to the standard issue, this is not an optimum solution. The one nice thing about the strap though is that it has a grip feature beneath the shoulder pad (pictured above).

Alternative to the standard issue camera neck strap

There are also some third party or replacement straps that have a”grip” feature on the bottom side of a wide cushioned strap to prevent slippage of the strap from a shoulder-carried camera. I recently purchased the “Slide” camera sling strap from Peak Design. It seems to have addressed all of these issues when using a camera strap.

Attachment to camera body

Just a tug tightens it up
“Anchors” attach easily to split rings
Anchors most easily connect to split rings on
your camera and the strap is on with
a quick thumb action
Easy connection/disconnection is evident
with this strap system
A base attachment and extra anchor
(included) make a handy third connection point
Unique attachment clasps engage/disengage the
anchors attached to the camera with a swift thumb action

Adjustment of strap length

Large buckles tighten/loosen strap length adjustment

Strap “grip”

“Slide” material is on one side of the strap
“Grip” material; is on the other side of the strap
that contacts the shoulder/neck area

Strap Padding & Width

A full 12 inches of the strap that sits on the shoulder or neck area has a firm yet comfortable pad material within. This “Slide”model has a strap width of 1-3/4 inches, and the name applies to its behavior too. When the padded area is flipped around you can easily slide the strap to bring your camera into shooting position. Peak Design offers thinner models too – the “Slide Light” and the “Leash.”

The third anchor point makes use of the slide too. By disconnecting the anchor on the grip side of the camera (right side on Nikon bodies) and re-attach it to the base connector you now have a “sling style” carry position which has better distribution of weight and is a more comfortable carry position. This is where the strap is suspended from one shoulder over your head onto the opposite hip.

Time to use and review

As this was a recent purchase I have not had an opportunity to use this strap regularly. Over the next several weeks I intend to use it on each of my cameras to compare and contrast how it works on each of them. Fortunately Peak Design offers a 4-pack of extra anchors for only about $10, so I’ll be ordering these right away to put on all my camera bodies.

Where to buy?

These area available directly from Peak Design on their website: PeakDesign.com and also from B&H Photo. You can also buy from Amazon:

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Check back next month for a more thorough review of the Peak Design Slide neck strap system. I am looking forward to using it and lketting you all know how it works for me.

Happy Shooting!

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