About the only aspect of DSLR photography I do not enjoy is neck strain. DSLR’s are not intolerably heavy, but after carrying the weight of the body and a lens all day it begins weigh a bit heavy on one’s shoulders. The normal neck strap of most DSLRs, while simple and positioned to make the camera easily accessible, isn’t ergonomically designed.
As the strap for my Nikon was beginning to become “fuzzy nylon 1” I had been looking for an alternative which would be better for my neck and shoulders. This past week, I made my choice. Specifically, I purchased the Altura Photo Rapid Fire Camera Neck Strap w/ Quick Release. This cross-body strap shifts the weight of carrying a DSLR to a wider portion of a user’s body. This cuts down on neck strain, while still allowing rapid access to the camera.
The Altura Rapid Fire attaches to a camera through the tripod mount, a universal mounting screw holds a bottom plate to the camera. This place contains an eyelet which the strap’s double alligator clamp hooks through, providing a secure fit. The mounting screw also contains threads which allows the camera to still be mounted to tripods or other attachments which utilize a universal screw mount. I actually utilized this pass-through thread to attach the mounting plate securely after my hand tightening proved insufficient. Screwing on my tripod’s quick release plate gave me the leverage I needed to more firmly attach the Rapid Fire’s hardware.
The strap also comes with a safety harness which threads through a standard neck strap mount on the camera body. This harness is designed to slide up and down the strap, along with the main harness, as the camera is brought up for a photograph. While this significantly reduces the “quick release” nature of the strap, for paranoid sorts like me it’s a must have. I can’t afford to replace my camera!
The strap is adorned with a comfort cushion which contained a zipper compartment. This is the perfect size to hold an extra battery or several SD cards in some included slots. This adds some utility to the overall convenience of the design.
Wearing the strap is comfortable. I worried holding a my camera with only one point of connection to my tether would make it feel too “dangly.” Thankfully, this is not the case. While it is necessary to make certain the main tether and safety harness aren’t twisted, cameras attached via the strap sit comfortably against the body. Walking doesn’t cause the camera to bounce or swing, and it’s easy to adjust any tethered device to avoid traffic.
The resting position with the Altura strap, however, places the camera lens facing downward. This actually helps to stabilize the camera along the body, but users of telephoto lenses may want to work out a way to prevent “lens creep.” I added a rubber bracelet to my 55-300mm lens, and a simple rubber band to my 18-105mm, which prevents lens creep while allowing the lens to function properly.
Using the strap while taking photos is easy, but there is one non-critical glitch. Theoretically, the camera’s tethers are supposed slide along the strap as the camera is raised. In practice, this works most of the time. Every so often the tethers will catch on the strap, causing the shoulder cushion to shift positions. It’s not aggravating, as the cushion is easy to readjust, but it is a minor inconvenience. It’s also necessary to be careful not to twist the main tether with the safety harness when one lowers the camera back to a resting position, as that will make the problem with the shoulder cushion worse.
I’ve enjoyed using this strap thus far, and appreciate the greater feeling of movement it gives me. The way the strap manages to redistribute the weight of the camera across my body makes it much more comfortable for long photo walks, which is always a win. Thus far, I am quite impressed.
- Fuzzy nylon is when the fibers begin to loosen, and a general weakening of the tensile strength of the fabric. ↩