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.
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
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