I recently got my hands on what I think is the most incredible camera strap on the market today; the RS7 from the good folks over at Black Rapid. I’ve searched far and wide for a good camera strap and I definitely found it! In this review I’ll go over the pro’s and con’s of both the RS7 R-Strap as well as the pro’s and con’s of using the factory strap from your DSLR.
Black Rapid RS7 R-Strap Review
This strap is legit. Seriously. I could just stop there because if that statement is true, then what else do I need to say really!? But that wouldn’t make for a very good article and I know some people need proof, so allow me to elaborate.
The RS-7 is a camera strap that is designed to fit around your shoulder and across your chest (man purse/satchel style). The weight of the camera is then transfered to your shoulder instead of around your neck. It’s made of ballistic nylon and the build quality is superb, this thing is going to last a loong time for sure.
The RS-7 is also designed to be fully compatible with Black Rapid’s ‘MOD’ attachments to further customize your strap system to your specific needs.
On Using The Factory Strap
To be completely honest; I haven’t been a very big fan of camera straps. I do a lot of landscape and travel work where I use a tripod so I don’t really need a specific type of strap most of the time. And when I do use a strap for client and portrait work (at least before the RS-7) I always find myself not even utilizing it and I wind up simply hand holding the camera without the strap around my neck anyways. It’s just too uncomfortable trying to walk around with a big camera, a big lens and a flash dangling from my neck and bouncing off my stomach with every step I take. And forget about slinging the camera system and strap over your shoulder if you have a flash attached, it just doesn’t work!
The factory strap is a nice gesture from the camera manufacturer and they work fine for just slinging a camera around your shoulder for transport, but that’s pretty much where their usefulness ends. They are of course nifty because the new ones brag to the world about what type of camera you’re using so you don’t have to, but what if you aren’t in to that sort of thing? Or you don’t want anyone to know how nice your camera is?
Aside from those issues, the straps for Canon cameras (can’t speak for Nikon) take forever to put on and take off. It almost makes you want to choose once and for all whether or not you will ever use the strap.
On Using the Black Rapid RS-7
The RS-7 is a game changer when it comes to carrying around your camera. I can honestly say that it has completely changed my outlook on this sort of thing. I actually look forward to carrying my camera around now because this strap makes it so easy.
With my factory strap I could still carry my camera around on my shoulder or around my neck, but it was such a pain. With the camera around my neck the weight of the camera was always pulling down on me and it just wasn’t worth it. With the camera around a shoulder I get get to the camera relatively quick, but the camera was never really secure. I always felt that at any moment it could slide off my shoulder and fall to the ground. And when I picked it up to take a picture the camera really was fully exposed to the possibility of being dropped.
The RS-7 fixes all this nonsense. It goes around your chest and the camera simply hangs from the carabiner. When you’re ready to take a picture simply grab the camera, pull it up to the ready position and you’re ready to go. The camera travels up the strap in a quick and fluid motion while the strap stays in place the entire time.
The strap is very comfortable. As comfortable as carrying a camera around your shoulder can possibly be, I would say. The weight is distributed nicely across the shoulder you hang the strap on, and the camera simply hangs at your side until it’s ready to be used.
Walking around with the camera at your side is a breeze. The camera doesn’t get in the way of your arms while walking about, yet it’s always in a ready position if a photo opp arises.
Durability/Peace of Mind
The strap is extremely well built. I’m probably a little over-protective of my cameras because I’m always cautious about dropping them, bumping into something or falling down and seeing the pieces of my camera scattered on the ground. I feel very confident with the RS-7 strap. The cameras not going anywhere. The camera can twirl around in circles when dangling from the carabiner so there will never be enough tension to start unscrewing the fastener from the camera body. The threading on the camera bodies (as well as the fastener) are steel, so the threads aren’t going to wear down or loosen over time.
The strap itself is made of ballistic nylon so I have no concern that the strap will ever wear down or break.
Keeping the Camera and Strap in Place
The bumper on the front can be used when walking from place to place when you know you won’t need immediate access to your camera. Just slide the bumper down to right in front of the camera and clamp it down to keep your camera from moving around.
The bumper on the other side of the camera keeps your should strap in place. Sometimes when shooting for an extended period of time (without putting the camera down) the strap will slowly begin to fall behind your back and dangle there. If you then went to drop the camera back at your side without the bumper, the strap would still be behind your back in an awkward position. The bumper causes the strap to travel back up your backside and right into place where it was before. Brilliant!
The main thing I’ve noticed is that the strap works better with longer lenses. What I mean is that with longer lenses the camera will hug your side better and move around less. With a 70-200 lens the camera sticks to your side and doesn’t hardly move at all. But with a small camera body like a 5DMII and a 50mm prime lens, the camera will spin around from time to time as you walk. Sometimes the lens will be pointing towards your back like it’s supposed to, but at other time the lens will stick straight out and be exposed to bumping up against something or getting scratched.
Another thing I noticed is that while using the Black Rapid fastener (the part that screws in to the camera body) you have to lay your camera on its side while not using it. The fastener is round and sort of sphere shaped so the camera will just tip over if you try to lay it right side up.
I use a tripod quite often, so I need a quick way to switch from using a strap to getting my camera on a tripod. Using the fastener that came with the strap was a bit combersome. I had to unscrew the fastener, then screw on my tripod plate each time. My good friend Cliff Baise then noticed that the Manfrotto Quick-Detach plates will work in place of the fastener. This means that I can carry the camera around on a strap until I’m ready to put it on a tripod, then I simply remove the camera from the strap and attach it to the tripod! I did notice later that Black Rapid has already thought of this problem, and offer a Black Rapid branded swivel that will replace the ones on the Manfrotto plates, but I don’t see a big need to pay money for something like this when the factory Manfrotto plate works in just the same way.
Sun Sniper is Black Rapids main competitor. Black Rapid came first, then Sun Sniper basically replicated their design and tried to come up with something superior. I think they failed in every aspect except one: Sun Sniper straps have a steel wire that is woven into the strap so thieves can’t come up and slice through your strap and run off. Since Sun Sniper seems to have forged Black Rapids entire product and idea, it seems fair that Black Rapid should be able to incorporate the steel wire idea!
This strap is just awesome. I have absolutely no hesitation to attach thousands and thousands of dollars worth of gear to this strap and let it dangle from my body without a care in the world. No more rubbing my neck, no more feeling like my camera is going to fall at any second, no more discomfort at all! If you’re in the market for a strap, I highly recommend getting your hands on one of these straps! Not that you’ll need it, but Black Rapid offers a 30-day return policy, so if you’re not happy for any reason you can simply return the strap for a refund.
Get your hands on a Black Rapid RS-7 from Amazon.
As always, be sure to follow me on twitter (@jamesdbrandon) if you don’t already. Always looking for interesting and fun people to follow!