BlackRapid Sport Camera Strap – Review
To some photographers a strap is something used everyday with their gear. To others it’s just something that gets used once and a while. Regardless of use, camera straps must be able to stand up to the most demanding of tasks. After all, they latch on to some very expensive gear so would you really want to be cheap when considering purchasing a camera strap?
I’ve used many BlackRapid straps before. I use them multiple times a week at concerts and festivals. They’re amazing essential pieces of gear, especially in my field of photography. The last thing I need is some crazed fan to fly over the barrier and land on me, sending my camera flying. Not a pretty picture, but it can happen.
There are solutions though. Photographers can take the chance of holding on to their gear or going the safer route by using a strap that suits the needs of the moment. Straps are a great solution to almost any issue a photographer runs into regarding taking his or her hands off the camera, but one of the better solutions I’ve seen an used is the BlackRapid Sport sling strap.
As a live music photographer I’ve been using the BlackRapid Sport Strap for quite some time now. There are many things I enjoy about this strap, primarily its extreme level of comfort and stability. Out of all the BlackRapid straps I’ve used this is by far the most stress-free. That is, if you’re only using one camera. For a strap that can handle two bodies check out the DR-1 Double.
If companies want photographers to use their straps they have to work 100% of the time. In other words, they can’t get in the way of a photographer’s daily activities. For live music photographers, this is especially important, as most of us have extremely limited time in the photo pit to get what we need and get out. There’s no time for fumbling around with straps that get in the way.
For the most part the BlackRapid Sport strap is a well-oiled machine in the field. While using it I could easily bring the camera up to my face without any interference from the strap. Most of the time I forgot it was even there. Sure, there are times when you might snag the strap on your camera bag or arm, but that’s to be expected. With BlackRapid it’s negligible.
Now, this is only with the Sport strap. I have a big problem with some of the other BlackRapid straps, primarily the RS-5, because when you bring your camera up to your face, the weight (from the camera) is lifted off the padded shoulder section of the strap and it falls behind your back. This is a huge pet peve of mine and I can’t tell you the countless times this has happened at concerts.
There is an accessory called the Brad attachment, which is an extra strap that goes under your arm to make the strap stay in place and solves this issue, but unfortunately it has to be purchased separately. Since this is the case, my recommendation is just to buy the BlackRapid Sport strap because it comes with it. When you lift the camera to your face, the Brad attachment holds the padded part on your shoulder where it should be making a better experience for you and your camera.
Another amazing feature of the BlackRapid Sport Strap is the curved shape of the part that sits on your shoulder. CURVED! Finally a strap that conforms to the natural shape of the human body. The shoulder piece is also very nicely padded and wide enough to not dig into your shoulder when used for long periods of time. That’s especially useful if you’re a staff photographer and are allowed to shoot an entire concert.
Coupled with the BlackRapid Sport strap I use my ThinkTank Speed Racer on the other side of my body. I cross the two straps to make an “x” down the middle of my body so everything stays in place. It balances everything out quite nice too. Thanks to the Brad attachment that comes with the Sport strap, I wasn’t choked by my strap at any point in the night either.
Speaking of staff photographer, I was assigned to shoot Rock The Green by their awesome media team and had a chance to use the BlackRapid Sport strap all day long. Having worn it for 9 hours straight, I can say that it was a joy to use. It was extremely comfortable and kept my camera accessible the whole night.
There is one thing that really gets in the way for me while shooting. There are a good amount of photographers who shoot with the vertical grip, and ANY sling strap, not just BlackRapid, can get in the way if you use the vertical grip all the time like a concert photographer.
Since the anchor for the strap screws into the tripod mount slot, it’s harder to get your hand on the vertical grip without at least some discomfort. You’re fighting the anchor in the bottom of your camera with a strap attached to it, and sometimes it can be a little annoying. Personally, I’ve gotten over this unfortunate trade off and can get my hand around the anchor for the strap, but for some people that might be an issue.
Another characteristic of this strap that I really dig is that it’s just a strap, nothing more, nothing less. There are no bulky pockets or extra storage on the strap to get in the way. The BlackRapid RS-5 had these pockets which were a huge nuisance for me. It just wasn’t a good experience. I’ll just keep my memory cards in my Gepe CardSafe.
Aside from all the luxuries of a sling strap, especially one from the good people over at BlackRapid there are various no-brainer advantages to having a strap like this. This strap is something I use everyday and I highly suggest it to anyone that photographs anything with a lot of activity, especially live music.