The first product review in the series, The Photographer’s Toolkit, is on finding a great camera strap to add to your toolkit. For all you women photographers out there, you’re going to really like this strap.
RS-W1 WOMEN Camera Strap
Being a woman editor and photographer reviewing camera straps, it was an easy decision when it came to choosing from the award-winning BlackRapid line of camera straps. It’s the RS-W1 WOMEN – the world’s first strap designed specifically to fit the shape of a woman. They even took it a step further to adhere to a woman’s sense of style, by adding a subtle, but elegant design to the fabric of the padded portion of the strap.
This is one strap that really does fit comfortably – no more challenges on how a woman should wear her camera strap
diagonally across her chest. The traditional “Built for Speed” strap is sewn securely to a padded upper portion, which is curved in all the right places. The first curve comes up and over the shoulder, keeping the strap away from your neck, and then curves once again to fit the female form. And once you pull the camera up to make your image anddrop it back into position at your side, the camera’s weight pulls the strap right back into its proper place. There is no need for further adjustments.
Testing the BlackRapid R-strap Features in the Field
The ConnectR-2, CR-2 & FastenR-3
1.) The Ripstop nylon strap is very lightweight and worn diagonally across the chest from the left shoulder to the right hip. Its length is easy to adjust so your hand falls on the right-hand grip of the camera when worn, making it quick and easy to pull your camera up for photographing. And it has bumpers that slide along the strap and snap into place, so once your camera is in the correct position at your hip, one bumper will stop it from sliding further behind you, while the other bumper can be used to stop the camera from sliding forward when you are not photographing.
I’m 5 foot 8 inches tall with a fairly long torso and there was still excess strap remaining, so if you are even taller, you should not have a problem with the 60″ length of this strap.
2.) The shoulder area is padded for comfort with a breathable mesh on the underside. One will always feel the weight of the camera and lens, but after hours of photographing in different situations, the weight is distributed well and I felt no strain on the top of my shoulder.
3.) The camera hangs upside down from the tripod socket by utilizing the ConnectR-2, the FastenR-3 and the CR-2. The metal ConnectR-2 is permanently attached to the smooth gliding CR-2 by a swivel connection and has a locking mechanism that protects against accidental disconnection from the FastenR-3 tripod socket connector. You’ll find that the CR-2 indeed slides quickly and easily up the strap – the meaning behind the “Built for Speed” phrase: Grab. Glide. Click.
I think it would be a bit inconvenient for those who have to screw in and unscrew the FastenR-3 each time they want to utilize their tripod, but comfort and easy access to the camera probably outweighs that issue. I’m fortunate that I have a Manfrotto tripod with a quick release plate that has a ring already in place on the screw, so I merely leave my quick-release plate attached to the camera and attach the connector to its metal ring. Now it’s just a matter of seconds to unhook the connector.
I also found myself thinking of the “what-ifs” and found that I was frequently checking to be sure the screw on the quick release had not loosened. The last thing anyone wants to happen is to watch your camera fall to the ground. So, for an added safety measure, I have a short nylon webbed strap and buckle going from the left camera strap lug and looping through the ConnectR-2. It does not interfere with the glide system and only takes an additional second to un-loop it from the connector when I want to use the tripod. Better safe than sorry! BlackRapid, you may consider this extra safety measure and peace of mind for your customers as an addition to your product line.
The overall construction of the strap and its parts appear to be of high quality and made to last the test of time. After hours and days of testing, it has shown absolutely no wear and tear. They also have a 1 year warranty: “We guarantee the quality of our R-Straps. If you find your strap is defective within a year of purchase, we will gladly exchange it!”
It’s not inexpensive at $58.95, but it is certainly worth every penny when it comes to a great shape for women, comfort and relief from neck strain, quality craftsmanship, quick access to your camera, hands-free convenience when you’re not photographing, and it’s stylish to boot.
I would highly recommend the RS-W1 WOMEN to all female photographers and this is the perfect gift for the upcoming holiday season. Check it out here…
For the photographer who is making images in crowded areas or while traveling to destinations that are unfamiliar, this is a nice addition to the BlackRapid family of products. It is an added layer of security to prevent would-be thieves from cutting your camera strap from behind and running off with your camera.
The ProtectR is made of light weight material that wraps around the portion of your camera strap running along your back and down to the side bumper. It is easily hooked together with Velcro on the underside and has partially exposed sections of the 1.5mm steel security cable that runs around its entire perimeter. By exposing portions of the cable, it lets the would-be thief see that they can’t cut your strap with ease.
It’s actually quite comfortable and adds a bit padding along the strap, but in the hot Florida sun and humidity, this rubbery fabric on the strap creates perspiration under the strap when you wear light weight garments. This is a minor issue when it comes to protecting your camera from being stolen.
It comes in two lengths, regular and long, and is priced at $24.95 and $26.95 respectively. Check it out as a great stocking stuffer for any travel photographer.
SnapR35 Midsize Camera Bag and Strap
This is a great 3 in 1 solution for all of you who have light weight point and shoot cameras, and, you still get the benefits of a quick sliding sling strap. With this convenient and versatile system, you won’t have to worry about dropping or leaving your camera behind ever again. Use it with the bag attached, use it with only the strap and slide system or just attach your camera to the adjustable wrist strap. You decide – use them all independently or together.
First, you’ll get a padded camera bag that opens from the end of the bag, which makes it easy to just slide your camera out when you’re ready to photograph. Each side of the bag has padded zippered pockets which are convenient storage areas for your cell phone, keys, credit cards and/or accessories. It is designed well with durable fabric and quality construction.
Second, you’ll get a detachable sling strap with buckle connectors. It is easily shortened or lengthened with an adjuster on the back of the strap. The padded portion of the strap can slide into the position that is most comfortable for you. It can be worn across the chest from either the right or left shoulder and can be used with or without the bag attached. Attached to the strap is a short strap with the special FR-SnapR, the FastenR and the connecting hardware that allows your camera to slide along the strap. Here it is: Grab. Glide. Click. It’s so fast and easy.
Again, your camera will rest upside down and be held by a connector that screws into the tripod socket. To feel totally safe, I would be sure to check the screw on occasion to be sure there is a snug fit, especially since the connector on this strap does not have a swivel connection as the R-strap series does.
If you just want to carry the camera alone, you can detach the buckle from the sliding connection and attach the wrist strap. Both come with a Velcro piece that wraps around the buckle to avoid it from being opened accidentally.
It’s a sturdy and convenient little bag and sliding strap system that you will enjoy for many years.
This is the largest bag BlackRapid makes, fitting cameras up to 5.25″ x 3.25″ x 3.25″.
It has a price point of $44.95 and again, it’s worth every penny.
This is another BlackRapid product that will make a wonderful holiday gift.
If you have any questions about any of their products or how to use them, you can check out one of their many helpful video tutorials on individual product pages or visit the Setup and Tips page for further instructions and videos.
Want to find out why they are award-winning? Just click here to see their many awards.
And just last week (August 2012), they were given recognition on Inc. Magazine: Read what the buzz is all about.
Visit BlackRapid to see all of their products.
by Marla Meier, APM Editor
Review: © 2012 Marla Meier. All Rights Reserved.
Photos provided by Black Rapid.