Best camera strap: 6 tested
21st Jun 2012 | 08:00
Six of the best alternatives to standard camera straps
1. Think about the frequency and duration of your shoots. A large sling strap may provide great comfort, but if you're not lugging a heavy full-frame camera around all day, then a neck strap could offer similar comfort levels while being more practical.
2. If possible, try before you buy. Comfort and quality can only be fully assessed up-close.
3. Don't get distracted by extra features. A good strap should primarily offer maximum comfort and secure camera attachment. Storage pockets and quick-release clips are useful, but by no means essential.
4. Consider your budget. Spending extra won't always get you a more comfortable strap, while the practicality of additional features may not justify a higher price tag.
We tested each strap extensively in the field to assess factors such as comfort, manufacturing quality, practicality and value for money. In addition, consideration was given to the potential user of each strap, to help you to find the right camera strap for your needs.
Matin Neoprene Fast Access Strap - £40 (about $62)
This sling design has an 8mm-thick neoprene shoulder pad finished with an elasticised soft rubber coating, making it one of the most comfortable straps on test. Matin also includes a detachable under-shoulder strap for additional security, although the resulting harness can be fiddly to thread around the head and arms.
The tripod mount attachment is a solid, all-metal design, but requires a coin or screwdriver to tighten. Overall, the Matin Neoprene Fast Access Strap is a comfortable and well-made strap that's best suited to heavier cameras requiring greater support.
Black Rapid RS-5 Cargo - £70/$70
The Black Rapid RS-5 Cargo is a sling strap with a comfortably wide shoulder pad, though it lacks the softness and elasticity of the Matin sling. The strap is fixed to the camera with a chunky metal clip and tripod mount screw, giving simple yet secure attachment.
Extra features include a storage panel containing a convenient flip-top pouch and a concealed zip pocket beneath. A third zipped compartment atop the shoulder pad itself is less useful, since anything larger than a memory card can be felt through the shoulder padding.
JJC Quick Release Neck Strap - £11 (about $17)
This no-frills sling is equipped with a thick, wide shoulder pad. However, the pad feels more like polyester-covered foam than neoprene, and as such lacks the flexibility and stretchiness of rival straps. The tripod mounting plate is simple but effective, and is attached via a quick-release metal clip for easy separation of camera from strap.
A zipped pocket on the shoulder pad provides a home for a memory card, but is too small to hold much else comfortably. The JJC Quick Release Neck Strap is good value for casual photographers.
OP/TECH USA Pro Strap - £15/$20
A conventional neck strap, the OP/TECH Pro Strap features a wide neoprene neck pad that's available in a variety of colours and attached via two quick-release catches. Comfort from the wide neck pad is generally very good, although its width and square-cut neoprene edges may not suit those with shorter necks.
The positioning of the quick-release clips so high up isn't ideal, because the majority of the strap is still left attached to the camera. The clips can also potentially catch on things when out and about.
Matin Neoprene Joint Strap - £12 (around $19)
Consisting predominantly of a thick, slightly elastic and highly flexible neoprene neck pad, the Matin Joint Strap is exceptionally comfortable. The addition of a textured rubber coating, which is easily cleaned, adds further comfort.
Two quick-release clips mounted close to the camera body mean only short sections of strap remain if the neck piece is removed; these can then be joined to form a small hand strap. This is a great-value strap that may lack features, but is the most comfortable neck strap on test.
Tamrac N-5057 Neoprene Boomerang Digital Strap - £25/$30
The Tamrac N-5057 Neoprene Boomerang Digital Strap offers both features and comfort. The 70mm-wide, boomerang-shaped neck pad spreads weight comfortably around the neck, while two ladder fasteners on each side give added security, and a pair of flip-top pouches fall within easy reach to store small accessories.
Strap length adjustment is slightly limited by the fixed fasteners, pouches and quick release clips lining each side, but this is a minor criticism.