Review of the Black Rapid RS-5 Camera Strap

The longest I have ever used the camera strap that comes with the DSLR is about 5 minutes.  They are so uncomfortable that I can't stand it.  In fact, Canon and Nikon even sew little bits of broken glass into the fabric of their camera straps just to make it as uncomfortable as possible.  At least, that's what it feels like after a day of shooting.

I have gone through a number of different camera straps, but I always balked at the premium $50 camera straps.  There was no way I was going to pay that much money for a piece of material that holds my camera.  After buying an unusually heavy lens recently, I decided I would put down the money on a nice camera strap and see if it made holding the camera more comfortable.

Here's my review of the Black Rapid RS-5 and why my neck is happier than it has ever been.

What is the Black Rapid RS-5?

Like many premium camera straps, the Black Rapid style is a sling rather than a neck strap.  In my opinion this is more comfortable to wear because it puts the weight of the camera at your side rather than pulling down on your neck and giving you bad posture.  Also, it gets the camera out of your way so your hands are free to set up a tripod or work with the subject.

I chose the RS-5 over the other Black Rapid R-Straps because it has TONS of pockets for memory cards, business cards, your cell phone, or even a lens cloth.  The pad on the strap is a bit bulkier, but I prefer the storage in it.  The little bit of extra bulkiness doesn't bother me.  If you don't like the bulkiness, check out the Black Rapid RS-7 from Amazon, which is basically the same strap without the pockets in the pad.

Advantages of the RS-5, what I liked

The cool thing about the Black Rapid Strap is how easily the camera lifts up and down from your side.  You can almost just let go of the camera when you're done shooting and it slides down to your side.  Very convenient.

Having a lot of pockets is nice.  Sometimes I don't even bring my photo bag on photowalks anymore.  I can fit the filters and cards in the strap and I just deal with not having my other gear.  It makes photography more fun when you can travel light sometimes.

The system seems very secure and well-built.  The part of the strap that connects to the camera has a locking carabiner.

The pad itself is comfortable and never slides off my shoulder.

Holds my Droid Incredible perfectly.

I really like that it uses strong magnets to keep the pockets closed rather than velcro.  This would be a deal-breaker for me since I often shoot wildlife and velcro would scare the animals away.

Disadvantages to the Black Rapid Strap

No doubt about it, the main disadvantage is that it uses the tripod socket on your camera, so you have to unscrew it to put the camera on a tripod.  Definitely don't dig that, but I think the convenience of a nice camera strap makes it worth it.

The price is unreasonable.  Although I'm happy with the purchase, I think $35 would be a more reasonable price for a camera strap.  On the other hand, the Black Rapid prices are comparable to other premium camera strap manufacturers.

The Competition

There are lots of other premium camera strap manufacturers.  Before choosing the Black Rapid R-Strap, I looked at the California Sun Sniper on Amazon but decided on Black Rapid because it had more reviews and pockets.  I have never tried the California Sun Sniper, so I can't say whether or not its better.

I also checked out the Cotton Carrier camera strap on Amazon, but I thought it would be too bulky and cumbersome.  Then again, I haven't personally used it so I could be wrong.

Where to Buy

If you're interested in buying a Black Rapid Strap, you can check it out, go to the Black Rapid RS-5 page on Amazon

If you like the Black Rapid Straps but want the skinnier pad without the pockets, check out the Black Rapid RS-7 page on Amazon.com

Disclaimer: Improve Photography is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

6 thoughts on “Review of the Black Rapid RS-5 Camera Strap”

  1. I purchased the black rapid camera strap about a month ago and I am so happy that I did. Because of the ease anc comfort, the price was well worth it to me! I really like having my hands free with my camera at my hip. It feels very natural. Best of all….No more neck pain! : )

  2. I got a Black Rapid 5 about a month ago and had to return it because it was just too big. I’m 5’3″ and have somewhat narrow shoulders and it just wouldn’t stay on; kept sliding off the side. I replaced it with the 7 and love it. Much more comfortable than any other strap and much easier to shoot and carry all day. So, if you’re a small woman, don’t bother with the RS5, great as it is. Too many photography things are made for 6′ tall guys. 🙁

  3. I bought a ‘swift clamp” from Acratech that eliminates the need to screw the Black Rapid eye retainer into the bottom of the camera. The clamp attached to the L bracket using a locking lever with a detent for release. The strap attaches to a securely fastened eye on the bottom of the ‘sift clamp”. This enables me to detach the Black Rapid strap and use a tripod in seconds and not have to worry about the screw loosening up.

  4. Jim,

    I do a lot of travel photography among other things. I bought a Cotton Carrier (two camera model) a few months ago and I think it is a much safer way to carry my cameras because the Black Rapid and similar style straps allow your camera to hang at your side where they can swing and are susceptible to collisions with surrounding objects if you are not very careful. With the Cotton Carrier, both cameras are locked in place with a quick release mechanism. To release a camera you simply rotate the camera 90-degrees and lift. There is a safety strap attaching each camera to the Cotton Carrier to prevent the camera from falling to the ground if you should have an accident. My D800, usually with a 24-70mm f2.8, is on my chest directly in front of me and another camera securely on my side with a super wide lens. I can move about and even sit down comfortably without having to be concerned. On the negative side, I felt very conspicuous at first warning the device, but I would rather feel conspicuous than pay for a camera or lens repair.

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